Props Wednesday #2- Meet Ulyana

Meet Ulyana.

Ulyana is a great writer; funny, expressive and honest.  She is also an amazing runner: she has many small distance runs under her belt and a few longer distances as well.  And, she is known to run under a 7 minute mile!!! UNDER!  Just last weekend she took first place female in a 5k.  So yeah, girl can run.  And this year she completed her first Sprint Triathlon- YEAH for triathletes 🙂

I can’t remember how I first came across Ulyana’s blog, I just remember loving the name of it: Shaped By Running.  And after going back and reading past posts, I became aware of just how much she has overcome and how pivotal a role running has played in her life.  And while she has been through some major crap and been struck by tragedy you won’t find her feeling sorry for herself one bit.  Instead, Ulyana has perfected the art of looking at the bright side.

In December of 2008, Ulyana ran in the Dallas Marathon with her friend Erin.  Ulyana has said Erin was “just a running friend” but we all know how important our training buddies become to us.  Erin was the perfect run buddy for Ulyana…they ran roughly the same pace, had the same goals and were running in the same race.  They ran most of the Dallas Marathon together, they were on pace to qualify for Boston and then tragically, at mile 23, Erin collapsed and died.  Ulyana, having finished the race with the assumption that Erin BQ’d, found out later the horrible news.

Putting on her sneakers to run again was not easy; running took her friend away.  Running stood for something new…something painful.  But as Ulyana does best, she turned this into something that could be positive.  She put on her shoes and began running again.  In January 2010 Ulyana is running in the Houston Marathon- a race Erin had planned to run but was sold out.  Instead Erin ran Dallas with Ulyana.  Now Ulyana is running Houston for Erin and she “thinks she will BQ”.  I however, KNOW she is going to kick some butt and get to Boston!  And I am sure Erin will be with her all 26.2 miles.

Ulyana inspires me to have confidence, be more positive and keep running no matter what obstacles stand in my way.  I admire her strength and her resilency…and her ability to run under a 7-minute mile!!!  And she cracks me up too!

Go check out her blog- follow her journey to Houston and get some laughs along the way 🙂

Questionable Behavior

I am sure anyone who has had a blog of the athletic type has at one point bitched about people’s general lack of gym etiquette.  Now it is my turn.

Get off your cell phone– I find this exceptionally annoying.  First of all, if you are capable of talking on the phone while working out, you aren’t working out hard enough.  And second, oh…its rude.

Dress yourself completely– Complete=  Bottoms, tops and ladies please PLEASE please wear a bra. Please. (I am going out on a limb here and guessing men do not see this as a problem.)

The locker room is not your bedroom– Is it really necessary to blow dry your body hair while standing naked in front of the only mirror in the locker room?  I know the answer- no it is not necessary.  This of course doesn’t stop people from doing it…or staying naked while they apply their makeup.  Get dressed.  Save the show for your boyfriend.

Don’t be a stalker– You do not have to stand next to the machine I am on or in front of the weight bench.  I see you. And because you are breathing down my neck like a thirsty dog, I am going to do extra reps.

Don’t stare– Um, this is easy…it’s creepy.

Put the equipment back properly- You think they mark those weight stands for their health?  No, they do it so the 10lb weights end up in the 10lbs spot.  I know, reading is tough.

Clean up after yourself– Don’t be pig; wipe up your sweat.  It is about as unsanitary as a person can get and oh yeah, its super gross too.

There are so many more I could list but I thought I would open it up to my readers: What are your biggest gym pet-peeves?

Apparently, My Ass Blocks Traffic

This past week was great!  Seriously, it has been a really long time since I had a week that was so productive.  Even work wasn’t as bad as usual (just jinxed that for this week, I’m sure) which was a bonus.  I have been right on schedule with my marathon training  and I attended two nights of a swim clinic this past week.  As good of a swimmer as I am, I still took so much from this clinic.  When I train, I usually just swim laps…intervals, tempo, different strokes etc, but I never really learned any specific drills to improve my speed and endurance until last week.  I even spent some time being social and went to dinner with an old friend.  She is also into running and we have reconnected recently.  She was an acquaintance in high school but over the last few months we have become good friends and it was so nice to relax with some drinks and just catch up.

This weekend of course flew by again!  I caught up on stuff around the house all day Friday and then stayed at my parents house that night.  Since I was going to be at my parents, I held off on my morning run so I could run the river by their house.  They still live in the town I grew up in, which will always be home and the river is still one of my favorite places to run!  On Saturday, I spent the day with my Mom.  We went to breakfast, farmers markets, got pedicures, went shopping and got lunch. 🙂  I pretty much love mommy-daughter days!  Saturday night I just hung around my house, watched some pointless TV and relaxed.

This morning I woke up and got dressed for my run.  Then I got undressed and went back to bed.  I was overtired and just didn’t have it in me.  I ended up resting/sleeping for two more hours and when I got out of bed I felt so refreshed.  After I finally rolled out of bed, I made an awesome fruit salad for breakfast with all the goodies I got at the farmers market yesterday morning.  It was super yummy!  Then, I spent the day at the Jersey Shore 🙂  One of my teammates has a place in Ocean City for a week and invited us down for food, beach and drinks.  I, of course, indulged in all three.  It was a great day to be downtheshore and I hated having to come home!

Since I had pinkie promised myself this morning when I ditched my run that I would make it up tonight, I immediately got dressed when I got home from the beach.  Had I done anything else first, I knew I would never actually run.  I decided on an out and back route from my house and was on my way. I had a fabulous run!  It is runs like that, that make all the training worth it.  It is what gets you from one run to the next.  It is what gets you over the bad runs.  There is nothing like a great run…short or long, slow or fast…a great run is a great run!

While I was on my run I had the most bizarre encounter:

About .5 into the route I have to cross a major highway.  Since it is a busy intersection I always turn my IPOD off while I am waiting to cross.   As I am standing on the sidewalk next to the street, waiting to cross, a convertible approaches.  What happened next still has me laughing to myself.

The Over-Made Up Girl in Car: “Your ass is blocking the traffic!”

Me: (look over kinda of with a WTF face)

The Over-Made Up Girl in Car: “Moooooooooooooovvvvveeeeeee”

Me: (still looking with a WTF face)

As this was happening her totally mortified boyfriend who was driving puts the top up on his convertible.  News flash- I can still see your asshole girlfriend even with the top up.  Since it was obvious that the closest this girl ever came to sweating/running was when she went as Work-Out Barbie for Halloween, I just shrugged, ignored her and laughed as I crossed the road and kept on running.  Perhaps she should pay less attention to my ass and more attention to fixing her awful make-up lines.

I would like to point out, that while it might be true that for my little self, I do have a fairly big ass…it does not block traffic.  Maybe I should let you decide for yourself….

bigbutTraffic blocker????

Do you have a similar story?  I remember reading  one from JILLWILLRUN about boys who told her she had that “Boom Boom Pow” which totally cracked me up.  What is the funniest/rudest/oddest thing ever said to you on a run?

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

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!