Props Wednesday #1- Meet Morgan

Meet Morgan.

The first thing you need to know about Morgan is that she lies.  Her real name isn’t Morgan.  She said she uses her last name as her first name because she was one of many Jen’s born in the 80’s, but I think she might work for the government so watch out.  I’m going to roll with it though, I don’t want any feds coming after me, so we shall call her Morgan as she wishes. 🙂

Here’s the another thing you need to know about Morgan…the girl can friggen run.  Morgan does a lot of running! As far as the 13.1 is concerned- well, she has been there and ran that!  She is currently training to kick some major ass at her first marathon; the Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2009.  Oh, and she is training in the Orlando heat- bonus points!

Morgan’s blog was one of the first I found; funny because we started our blogs around the same time and I later found out mine was one of the first she started reading.  Morgan was one of my first commenters and was always ready with a positive comment.  Her blog is one of my main go-to blogs for running advice.  Because her first marathon falls six weeks before mine, her training schedule is giving me a good idea of what to expect with my training.  Morgan writes with humor but keeps it real; I pretty much know my first 20-miler is going to suck thanks to Morgans post!

Morgan and I also have a lot in common; we are the same age (or so she says…I mean, she does lie about her name, so who knows!), we both traded the party life for the athlete life and we have many of the same goals when it comes to running.  We are both also painfully single (although living it up while we can!) and have been through a series of ridiculous dates along the way.  Oh…and we are both short fun-sized.

Here is what we don’t have in common: Our hair color.  Oh, and she is fast runner. And me, well…we all know I am the slow runner!

Morgan is no longer just someone who writes a blog that I read, Morgan is fastly becoming a good friend.  Someone I can email with stupid questions or asking for advice.  While our friendship is confined to email and blogging for now, since she is in FL and I am in NJ, that will all change soon.  This winter, I am flying down to Orlando and Morgan and I are going to take a weekend trip to Jacksonville to run the half-marathon at the The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer weekend.  I cannot wait!!!  A trip out of NJ in the winter is awesome…but adding to it a blogger meet up, a half-marathon, shopping and a massage…AWESOMER!  Yes, awesomer.

So what are you waiting for bloggies…go check out Morgan’s blog and show it some love!

Welcome To Props Wednesday!

Yeah, yeah…Wednesday is already hump day, I know!

Let’s move on, shall we 🙂

Last night I decided to clean up my blog-roll.  Some blogs weren’t being kept up with, some are ones that just don’t interest me anymore and some are known to do more than one of the things listed here.  I felt like my list was getting to long and it was time for an overhaul.  I have a lot to say in general about blog rolling, but that is for another post.   

Look, I am getting off track again!

Back to Props Wednesday. 

Where the idea came from–> over the last few weeks I have been thinking about how much some blogs impact my life as a runner/triathlete/person.  Over the last few weeks I have been receiving emails from readers that really made me feel good about blogging.  Turns out, to my surprise, my little blog means something to people too 🙂 When I started this blog I didn’t know how far it would go or what it would really turn into.  What I have found are fantastic sources of inspiration, awesome tips for running/biking/swimming and nutrition and best of all budding friendships. 

It works like this–>  each Wednesday I will highlight a specific blog and give it props!  I know how much it meant to me to know my blog meant something to people and I want to return the favor.  Basically each post will link back to the props blog, say a little something about the person (based on what I know from reading) and will highlight those blogs that I not only find to be resourceful but that make me laugh and keep me coming back.  There is no exact criteria but there are some things I am keeping in mind when I choose the props blog.  I think about how often I use their blog as a resource.  Does their blog make me think? Laugh? Reflect?  Am I learning from this person?  Do they answer questions/emails when asked?  And yes, I do also take into account if this person is a reader of my blog.  Part of giving back is getting back and if I am going to be promoting people’s blogs, I want to focus on those who give mine the time of day by reading and commenting.  So yes, that helps. 

Starts–> Today 🙂  I am going to do this starting today and for fourteen consecutive Wednesdays.  Why fourteen??  Because there are fourteen more weeks until my first marathon!!! 

 

Stay tuned…the first prop is coming later today!!!!

If You Can’t Swim In A Pool, You Can’t Swim In Open Water!

And even if you CAN swim in a pool, you may not be able to swim in open water. 

Read On.

“Twenty of the total 25 deaths associated with triathlons as recorded by USA Triathlon occurred during the swim portion of the events.”  Reported on 10/28/2008 by BeginnerTriathlete.com.

The best thing about Triathlon is that it is such an open community; always welcoming people to meet the goal of swimming, biking and running all in one race.  And I really truly believe that anyone can do a triathlon with the right training.  

Here’s the thing though: You have to know how to swim! 

This is something that has bothered me for quite a while now; how lightly people take the swim portion of a triathlon.   If you are going to attempt to race triathlon, it is of the utmost importance that you know how to swim.  I am not talking about leisure time in the shallow end of your backyard pool.  And for that matter, even if you can swim some laps in a pool…the open water is a far different kind of swim.  There are no sight lines, no places to stand, no places to push off from or ledges to hold onto.  It is you and the open water.   

Perhaps some of you are reading this scratching your head…”why would anyone enter a triathlon without knowing how to swim?”  You would be amazed.  I have seen numerous people pulled out of swims; in the ocean at Belmar there were at least a handful and even this past weekend their were four that came in from the water hanging on to the guard kayaks.  I actually had a guy say to me as he was hanging onto the kayak, “I don’t really know how to swim.”  I simply replied that I hoped before he entered another race he would learn.

Before I go on I should clarify what I mean by knowing how to swim.  I am not suggesting that everyone who enters a triathlon should know how to swim a perfect freestyle technique; I have seen plenty of people successfully complete the swim portion by swimming the breaststroke and/or backstroke.  You can even swim the freestyle with you head out of the water.  Whatever works to get you from one buoy to the next is fine.  However…and listen carefully…this is important-no matter which way you choose to swim, there is one thing you must be able to do-you need to be able to keep your head ABOVE the water.  At. All. Times.   

As a strong swimmer, even I have had times in the open water where I have to regroup…my goggles might have been kicked off, I might have swam off course or I simply may need to rest on my back for a moment…this happens to ALL swimmers at some point, regardless of their swim ability; but if you don’t have a swim ability to start out with, you could be in some serious trouble.  If you are a weak biker you can always stop or slow down and if you are a weak runner the same thing goes, you can always slow down and walk.  But if you can’t swim you could drown. 

The shortest races are usually 400 meters (1/4 mile) which may not seem like a lot, but for a weak swimmer can feel like eternity in the water.   And it is more complicated than just the distance; besides needing to physically be able to swim, one should also be psychologically prepared.  The swim portion of a tri is completed in the open water of a lake, bay or ocean (unless it is a pool swim, which is not common) and presents situations that cannot be simulated in a pool.  No matter how many hours/laps you put in at the local YMCA, it is never the same as open water swimming.   In addition to not having the luxury of a ledge to hold onto or ground to put your feet on, the water is typically unclear, usually cedar or salty and in most cases there is a current to work around.  Additionally, in open water you are contending with almost always cold, often dark and frequently deep waters.  Furthermore, depending on the location you also have the possibility to what lies beneath:  turtles, snakes, crabs, jellyfish…etc.  And lastly, since you never race alone, you also have to deal with all of the other swimmers in the water.  It is not uncommon to be kicked or hit in the swim; one must be able to withstand the possibility of being swum over or pulled under accidentally.   Even the most experienced swimmers could be dealt a blow to the head or suddenly have an unbearable cramp or come down with a severe case of vertigo.  This is why knowing how to swim is even more crucial for those who aren’t strong in the water. 

I urge people to go for it- go train for a triathlon and kick some major butt…but do it right.  Be safe about the sport.  If you are thinking about entering a race (or already have one coming up) and you are a weaker swimmer, I highly, highly recommend you practice in the open water.   And remember…never practice swimming in open water alone: the best bet is to find a place that holds open water swims that are lifeguarded, but if you don’t have that advantage, make sure to take someone along with you who also knows how to swim.   And if you have to question your ability, then you already know the answer.  There is no shame in not knowing how to swim but there is stupidity in not learning before TRI’ing. 

This is your life- you wouldn’t bungee jump without a rope, would you?

I’ll leave you with this picuture:

My first swim lesson: 10 months old

swimFuture Triathlete

Dear Craptastic Weather…

…Please get your act together.  K-thanks!

Today’s weather: ridiculous amounts of rain followed by the shortest storm ever, then more pouring rain and when the sun finally came out it was hot hot hot and brought out the gross humidity.  Up tonight:  more storms.

Tomorrow: 100 degrees. And no, that doesn’t include the humidity.

Really??? Really.

Moving on…

Today was a local race that I volunteered for as a lifeguard.  At first there were only two of us out there which was nerve-wracking so I was relieved when the other two arrived right before the race, and it was a good thing too; not only was it pouring rain but also there were a lot of weak swimmers out there today.  For the most part the entire lake was shallow enough to stand but weaker swimmers always feel better when they have a kayak to hold onto.  Unfortunately, we did have a few people who totally panicked and had to be pulled out.   We were definitely being kept busy.   And with only a few people left in the water the storm started.  I was definitely concerned being out in open water with thunder and lightening; luckily I was the first guard in so I was able to get to shore quickly.  And before I knew it, the storm was over just as fast as it had started.  The rest of the race went on…slow and steady and when it was all said and done fun was still had.  After the adult race there was supposed to be a kids race but by then the roads had flooded so they canceled bike.  The rain had thankfully stopped so the race was turned into a splash and dash and the kids did fantastic and had a blast despite the small set back.  Overall, despite the rain and cold it was a good time.  And I snagged another free race for my volunteer efforts- score 🙂

After the race I came home and slept for a while and then relaxed while I watched the worst Phillies game ever.  I cannot believe the ridiculousness of the game.  Besides the bad pitching, blue was calling the game as if he had his eyes closed and he threw out the outfielder Victorino- I never saw such a thing!  It was crazy! If you are a Phillies fan you understand. If you aren’t a Phillies fan…well, why not?!? 🙂

Once I had enough of the game I decided to head out for a short run.  It was my worst run ever.  Nothing went right.  The humidity was almost unbearable (usually I can deal with it, but tonight, even in the shade, it was gross) and I just didn’t feel right for most of the run.  Not only did stupid stuff keep happening- my ipod was getting tangled in my watch (no clue how this was happening), my hair was getting on my nerves and worst of all my stomach kept cramping.  This has never happened to me before to this extent.  About .5 into the run I actually had to stop because the cramp was so bad.  I thought about turning around but I figured I could walk it off.  Every time I would walk, the pain subsided but then I would get into a good stride and it would start up again.  It wasn’t like a stitch, it was more like a cramp all the way from one side to the other.  This went on for about 2 miles…walk, run…walk, run…I was frustrated and agitated.  The last .5 was okay and I probably could have kept going but I was so over it by then I just wanted to come home and take a cold shower.  I know I have to expect bad days…and trust me, there have been plenty along the way…but this was just so out of the ordinary.  I can’t figure out what cause the stomach problems…I had eaten, I was hydrated and I felt fine before and after the run.  Anyone have this happen before??

OK blog friends…time for some chicken fajitas and Sunday night T.V.  🙂

But first…in honor of Beth’s most recent posts about Halloween costumes (a direct result of Jamoosh being a party pooper posting about how he is NOT dressing up at his Halloween race that takes place ON Halloween), I’ll leave you with this photo of one of my favorite Halloween costumes of all time…I give you….LAUPER!

lauperUnfortunately, the photo ripped coming out of the album so you don’t get the full effect with the leg warmers and shoes, but you get the idea.  This costume was a HUGE hit!

It’s A Good Day!

Last night I slept a FULL 8 hours.  This has been a struggle recently because my neighbor above me NEVER stops making noise. She sucks at life. A lot.  Normally, I either struggle to fall asleep or I am woken up at some point in the night by her unnecessary and unreasonable noise level.  I think last night I was just so tired out from the week that once I fell asleep I was out like a light.  I woke up feeling so refreshed and ready for my day.  Thankfully it is Friday so I have off.  Work has been completely overwhelming me and I needed this three day weekend in the worst way!

I started my day by going for a fabulous three mile run.  The weather this morning was great!  Perfect running weather 🙂 I decided to run a new route through the town next to me.  The town is beautiful…lots of big fancy houses and little shops and restaurants; often times there are a lot of runners out there so I figured I would give it a try.  The route was very shade friendly which made it even better.  I plan run in this area much more during my training

My plans for the rest of the day can be summed up with four syllables-  re•lax•a•tion!  I am spending the entire afternoon at my friends pool.  I haven’t been to a pool, other than to swim laps, all summer. I cannot wait to bask in the sun (while wearing my SPF of course!) for a few hours, just reading a magazine and relaxing with a friend.

The rest of the weekend is pretty busy; in fact, I was looking at my calendar and August is a super busy month for me.  Races, BBQ’s, shore day trips and best of all….my vacation in Wildwood!!!  I love summer and hate when it ends, but I do love that it ends with three consecutive long weekends downtheshore 🙂

I hope everyone is having as good a day as I am!  Enjoy your weekend bloggies!

So Much Can Happen In A Year

A year ago I was in the final week of training for my first tri.  So much has happened in the year since.

Since I became a Triathlete almost one year ago:

…I ran my first 10-miler.

…I ran my first half marathon.

…I ran/biked my first duathlon.

…I successfully completed the Belmar triathlon and will be participating in another race on August 22.

…I am currently training for my first marathon!

Since I started this journey, I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities.  I once hated running and now I love it- and I am getting better at it every week and it shows in every race.  I learned to ride a bike and I am getting more and more confident with each ride.  And I can dismount without falling now!  I have far surpassed my initial expectations for myself in this sport and I continue to surprise and amaze myself with what I can do!  From my first tri last year to my second tri last week…almost a full year; the difference between those races and who I was then and who I am now is something I can’t even put into words.  I really feel like things have begun to fall into place for me, both in my life and as an athlete; I am healthier than I have been in the last 15 years, I train regularly, I keep a healthy balance between work/school/training/life and I am happy.  🙂

Basically what I am saying is…I am pretty frigging awesome!! 

Is that narcissistic of me???  Probably. Even so, I don’t take it back. 

I. Am. Awesome. 🙂

I still  have a lot planned for the rest of this year and I have begun making plans for next year (that post will come eventually) that will further test me as a person and an athlete.  I am looking very forward to these challenges as I feel each one contributes to who I am as a person. 

 

Ok..enough about me, how about you?  What has happened for you in the past one year?  Comment it here or write you own post.  I love reading about all your journeys.

Hope everyone is having an enjoyable hump day 🙂

Belmar Tri Race Report

Race Morning: woke up super early…my alarm was set for 2:50am and I was out of bed as planned by 3am on the dot! This was my earliest wake up call to date.   Despite my nerves, I actually slept decent.  I woke up a few times but was able to get right back to sleep.  Probably got 3.5-4 hours total which is pretty good for me on a pre-race night.  I had packed everything the night before so all I had to do in the morning was wet my hair, get dressed and rack my bike.  I was out the door a few minutes before 4am right on schedule.  My mom came with me (she is the #1 TT jockstrapper* and new photog!) and we headed to Wawa (must. have. caffeine.) then to my teammate Kurt’s house…again, right on time 🙂  We racked my bike on Kurt’s car and headed downtheshore.  Then we headed back to Kurts…he forgot the directions….then we really headed downtheshore.

Pre-Race: we got a parking spot one block away from transition (whoo-hoo!!!) which was great because even though we were there before 6 it was pretty packed.  Luckily I got a good racking spot on the rack closest to the bike out.  We went inside to get marked up and then just hung around.  After some potty stops (Note: the had REAL bathrooms!!!!! Real as in with a door and plumbing and a sink and everything!!!  Racers of all kind know how big of a deal this is!!!) and chit-chatting it was time to head down to the beach.

The Race:

400 meter swim (more like 500 meters), 11.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run (longer if you ask me)

Swim: 13:30/16:11*; 274/375

Heading down to the ocean I was a nervous wreck, becoming more panicked the closer I got to the water.  Once we got to the water, I went in and kind of just floated around for a second.  It was clear that the swim was longer than 400 meters and it was later determined by the RD that this was in fact the case.  While waiting for my wave, I ended up meeting a few other girls who were panicked too.  In most situations, I would advise against finding people who also panic, but in race situations I find it oddly calming.  There were 5 waves and I was in wave 3.  When the whistle blew I was off and splashing- I just put my fears aside and pushed through.  The waves made it tough to get out to the buoys but I just took my time and jumped over them as they came at me.  A few were pretty big and pushed me back but I kept on moving.  Once I was out swimming, I felt great.  I was actually really enjoying myself and having a good time.  It was really difficult fighting the current, as we were swimming against it, but the gentle waves made me feel more buoyant and therefore safer.  Before I knew it, I was swimming to shore!  It was so much fun riding the waves in!

*I say 13:30/16:11 because when my actual swim time was 13:30 when I checked my watch…my total swim time is 16:11 because it includes the long hike up to T1.  I know everyone had time tacked onto their swims because of this, so it is totally fair, I just want to make the distinction.

What I would do differently: hopefully now that I have an ocean swim under my belt, next time I won’t be as panicked!  And next time I will try to dive through some of the waves going out to the buoys instead of jumping them all- a few of them were way too big and pushed me back, creating even more work for myself.

T1: 3:11

After the long run from the beach to my transition area I needed a minute to get my act together, yet I was still trying to move as fast as possible.  I washed off my feet (I HATE sandy feet!), put on my socks/shoes and helmet and off on the bike I went.

What I would do differently:  Nothing. I had my area set up well and felt like I did everything I could do for a fast transition.  I know I could save time if I didn’t wash my feet, but I am OCD, so that won’t happen.

Bike: 49:19- 14mph/avg, 359/375

So the good news is…my bike time improved .6mph! 🙂 And in other news…my bike was still slow, slow, slow!  Even though I am still slow, the steady improvement is a reason enough to be proud of myself.  The course was 3 loops (with a few tight turns) and I just took my time.  During my first loop I saw a bad bike accident and it really shook me up.  I had to take a second to get my composure.  As most of you know, the bike is still new to me and seeing this accident really got to my core.  Honestly, I think even if I was a super great biker it still would have upset me.  She was really bloody and looked like a broken doll.  She was clearly seriously injured and that is never something you want to happen.  I saw her on my second and third loop as well; on the third loop they were getting her into the ambulance and I just prayed that she was alright.  I won’t lie, seeing the accident affected my ride for sure, but I still pushed myself the best I could.

What I would do differently: I need to figure out what gears to be in.  When it comes to the gears I am pretty clueless. I noticed that I felt like I was pedaling much harder than I needed to and not going as fast as I should have been.  This is my #1 priority to work on before my next race.  Also, I have to remember to drink more on the bike.  I didn’t drink enough on the ride and came off feeling weak.  This is no way to start the run.

T2: 1:03

Not much to say here; I racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed a GU and off I went.

What I would do differently: Nothing. I was stoked with this time.

Run: 32:50- 10:36 avg/mph; 325/375

As I mentioned, I felt a little weak coming off the bike so as soon as I got on my run I took a GU and washed it down at the first water stop which was right after the transition exit.  I felt better within seconds.  I had a really good run for the most part.  About 2.5 miles in my right calf tightened up so I did a little walk/run/walk/run and was able to walk it out.  After that, I only walked once and it was only for a few seconds.  Total walking time was probably less than 2 minutes!  I once again sprinted through the finish and I felt great!  I personally think the run was longer than 3.1 and I am further convinced of this because of my time.  I could be wrong, but I really think I had a better run than 10:36 pace, even with the walking.  Regardless, I am mostly happy with my performance.

Overall: 1:42:39, 348/375

I’m still in the back of the pack, but improving with every race.  Each finish is a success- in this race I felt mostly good about all three disciplines, so I have no reason to be disappointed.

Pros: great venue, lots of volunteers, nice course, warm water, great weather and lots of spectators.  I really enjoyed this race from start to finish.  I am definitely putting it on my “to-do” list for next year.

Cons:  in my opinion, the only cons to this race were the miscalculated distances and the accident.  No one likes to see anyone get hurt and it was hard not to concentrate on her misfortune.  They announced before awards that she was stable and en route to a hospital;  I emailed the RD today but he hasn’t been updated yet.  I am hoping she is making a  quick recovery.

Post Race:  ate some watermelon and oranges.  I usually can’t eat a whole lot right after racing.  Didn’t stick around too long post-race.  Got changed, cleaned up transition and took off.  The weather was supposed to get bad and we wanted to beat out the storms.  Good thing too; as soon as I got my bike through my front door it started raining.  Ten minutes later when my mom and I pulled into breakfast, it was down-pouring!!  We were soaked going from the car to the restaurant- it was my second swim of the day!  I ate the biggest plate of potatoes you can imagine and had a bagel with cream cheese to go with it.  Fatty carbs and I loved every single bite!!!  After breakfast my mom left and I tried to nap but for some odd reason got a major second wind. I spent the night hanging at my parents house watching a movie with my dad.  Then I came home and crashed finally!

bel9My teammate Kurt, me and my teammate Brian- the after race picture 🙂

*Jockstrapper= athletic supporter

Belmar Tri Photos

Here are some photos to hold you over until I can write my race report tomorrow.  Right now, I need sleep in the worst way; been up since 3am and I am exhausted!  I will say this…it was a great race and I will for sure be doing this one again next year.  I made it through my first ocean swim- another hurdle jumped!!!

bel5Coming in from the swim

bel6Just riding along on the bike 🙂

belrunSprinting into the finish

Stay tuned for the race report.

Does tomorrow HAVE to be Monday??? I need more weekend in my life!