Training for Tuesday: 2015 in Review


2015 was a big year for me - considering the fact that I spent a good portion of it training for my first half Iron distance triathlon, that only seems logical. My total running mileage fell just short (16 miles) of my mileage from last year, but I swam and biked a lot more than I have in previous years. More than twice as much for each, in fact. While I love looking back on all the data and the hard numbers for the year, I have to admit that this year was so much bigger than I ever thought it would be. Not just in volume, but in experiences. In 2015, I...

Surf n Santa 5-Miler Recap

I know there have been a lot of race recaps here the last couple months, but the races I've done recently have just been too much fun to not recap! This past Saturday I completed my last J&A race of the year, the Surf n Santa 5-Miler. I've done this race twice before, when it was still a 10-Miler; the distance changed last year, as did the time of day: rather than an early morning start like usual, it became an early evening race. The 4:30pm start time was chosen so that the sun would be setting as runners ran along the boardwalk, which would highlight the light displays on the beach from ~10th Street to ~30th Street.
I didn't get to run this race last year, the first year with the new format, so I was excited that it worked for my schedule this year! I've run on the boardwalk a million times, but doing so at sunset with the lights displays all lit up seemed like a fun spin on an old favorite. And, as if I needed another reason (or another medal), a couple months ago J&A announced th Triple Jog Dare: participants of the Wicked 10k, Harbor Lights Half Marathon, and Surf n Santa 5-Miler would get an extra medal for finishing all 3. Sign me up!

The race starts and ends at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, which has a huge parking lot, so parking was easy. My dad was the only one I could talk into doing this race with me, so we rode together. We could have picked up our packets the day before, but we opted to wait until the day of so we arrived around 3:15pm. Pickup was quick and easy, as usual. We perused the expo for a few minutes, mainly because I'd been on the hunt for a replacement pair of Newtons and hadn't been able to find them online in my size. The Outer Banks Tri Sports booth ended up having a pair in a half size up so I tried them to see if the half size would make a difference. I momentarily forgot that we were there to run a race, not buy shoes, so I spent like five minutes going back and forth on whether or not to get them. Finally my dad reminded me that I had to make a decision because, uh, we had to go run in like 30 minutes, so I bought them.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Two weeks ago, I met Ben for drinks and apps at one of our local spots after finishing my first round of exams. We were each browsing Reddit on our phones, as usual, when suddenly I read something that made me gasp aloud. All I could say was, "Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god." Ben looked at me quizzically and finally I managed the words, "Ironman is buying Beach2Battleship."

To backtrack a little, B2B was my first half Iron distance triathlon back in October. While I loved the whole race experience and would strongly consider going back for the full, I've always felt pretty strongly about hearing, "Tracy Schoenfeld, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" at the end of my first 140.6-mile journey, something that wouldn't be possible if I ever chose B2B as my first full. It may sound silly, and it probably is, but that is the only piece of the puzzle that was missing from the B2B full.

...Until a week or two ago. When I first heard about the buyout, it was just a rumor. A seemingly well-substantiated rumor, but a rumor nonetheless. The B2B camp was mum while these rumors were flying, except for an announcement that the "new registration platform" they'd been working on would open on December 14th. I counted down the days, and woke up last Monday hoping to find official confirmation. Instead, I got confirmation that Alyssa, Lisa, and I had won the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler lottery! While that was awesome and exciting, it wasn't news I was expecting. A few more days passed, still radio silence from B2B, and then the email came in: "PPD Beach2Battleship Joins Ironman Family. Registration opens tomorrow at noon."

Confessions of a Running & Racing Addict

I ran my first race in May 2011. I completed 4 total that year, 7 the following year, and then...I fell off the deep end. I crossed 18 finish lines in 2013, 16 in 2014, and 16 (plus 2 still left to go) in 2015. I'm already registered for 8 next year and I have at least that many in italics on my race spreadsheet.

Hi, my name is Tracy, and I'm a racing addict.

And these are my confessions.

- My biggest fear is having a bathroom emergency in the middle of a race. I only need one hand to count the number of times I've used the porta-potty mid-race, but I'm still paranoid about it every single time. More accurately, I'm paranoid about not making it to a porta-potty.

- I check my Garmin I can never tell if I'm running too fast, too slow, or just right. Can I PR? If I run a 10 minute mile from now until the finish, what will be time be? How far have I run? Yeah, I know there are mile markers out on the course but those only come every MILE! And of course there's nothing more pressing when I cross the finish line than checking my final time.

Harbor Lights Half Marathon Recap

Two weeks ago, I ran the Harbor Lights half marathon, J&A Racing's most recent addition to their lineup. This race actually started last year, when J&A got rid of their February Virginia is For Lovers 14k and replaced it with the Harbor Lights half marathon (and accompanying Saturday 5k and the "Get Lit" challenge to complete both days). I opted not to run the inaugural race last year since I had just run the Richmond half the week prior, but this year I did the opposite specifically so I could try out this new race.

For me, the main draw of this race was getting to run through Norfolk. Norfolk is the big city in my area, just a stone's throw across the water from my house in Portsmouth. I have run literally hundreds of miles on Ptown's boardwalk while looking at Norfolk across the river, but there aren't a lot of races held there (compared to Virginia Beach, anyway). The only race I'd ever run in Norfolk was an 8k a few years ago.

My goals for this race shifted a lot over the weeks leading up to it. When I first registered last month, my only goal was to stick with my slower friend if I just wasn't feel it that day. A couple weeks later, once the B2B fog lifted and life (and running) did, in fact, go on, I was excited about having another big(ish) race to look forward to. Since it wasn't going to be a PR race I didn't have a specific time goal in mind, but I was hoping to beat my two recent half marathons (2:03 at the Hokie Half in September and 2:01 at B2B) and maybe go sub-2 for the first time this year. I was thinking about training for and running a half marathon PR in January, so I really wanted to establish a baseline.

Then, during a week with 2 speedwork runs, injury struck: I aggravated a hip issue that I've had on and off since January. It really hasn't bothered me in a while (and now I'm wondering if all of that swimming and cycling helped keep it at bay), but as soon as I started trying to push my pace, it flared up again. I spent 10 days leading up to Harbor Lights nursing it with copious strength exercises and yoga and icing and ibuprofen and KT tape. I was supposed to do a 10-mile long run the week before the race, but I only made it through 8.5 miles before I stopped so that I wouldn't completely destroy my hip. I took it easy the week of the race and I did start to feel a lot of improvement, but I knew it wasn't 100% better. The night before the race I tried to mentally prepare myself for my first DNF  - Did Not Finish - and possibly even my first DNS and altered my goal: Finish uninjured, or don't finish at all.

It was raining when I woke up. It was raining on the drive to the race. It was raining while we waited for the race to start. It was raining for the duration of the race and for the post-race party. Not torrential downpour, but steady enough that it was a very wet day. I had hoped to take some pictures along the course but, as I learned at RnR DC, rain and pictures don't mix. The course, or what I could see under the clouds and through the rain, anyway, was beautiful. I was familiar with most of the areas we ran through, although I can't say I've ever taken the route we ran or been to all the different areas at one time. It really was a great tour through Norfolk! There were a lot of turns on the course and a lot of meandering to get from one area of the city to another, which I personally enjoyed. Turns keep it interesting for me!

Training for Tuesday: All Because I Took That Extra, Little Step

Every few months I pop in to say something about how if I can do this, anyone can do this, and maybe you find that inspirational or maybe it's just annoying but for those of you in the former camp, today I'm laying out exactly how I got from zero - that's 0, zilch, nada, seriously can't stress the nothingness enough - to the half Ironman that I am today, 4.5 years after beginning my running journey. I don't write running posts because I consider myself a running expert who has a lot of insightful advice to share; I do it because I genuinely love sharing my story (and getting to know others' in return). I never want anyone reading to get the wrong impression and think that just because I run marathons and triathlons now, I've always run them. Or been able to run them. Five-years-ago me is hysterically laughing at that thought. I always strive to do that as candidly as possible so today I thought I would keep it simple by explaining exactly how I got from point A to point B...and what the next point on my roadmap might be. 
via @Nike

Double Race Weekend: City of Oaks Old Reliable 10k Recap

After I finished running and partying at the Wicked 10k, I took a shower and jumped in the car to head to Raleigh, NC for my second race of the weekend: the City of Oaks Old Reliable 10k. I've run the City of Oaks half marathon twice now and have loved it. I probably would have passed on this this year's race though, what with B2B two weeks prior and Wicked the day before, except that I had a very special friend running her FIRST FULL MARATHON and I wouldn't have missed that for anything! I did briefly considered running the half but ultimately decided on the 10k - luckily all three distances offered start at the same time, which meant I could hang with Alyssa for 5 miles before sending her off to finish the rest of her marathon! And after I talked to Lisa a couple weeks before the race and she confirmed that she was planning to run the 10k too, it was pretty much a no-brainer.

City of Oaks has no race morning packet pickup, which meant I had to make it to the expo before it closed on Saturday. I knew I wasn't going to have a ton of time to spare, but left with enough time to make it an hour before the expo closed. Then I had to stop 3 times on the drive there to pee and my ETA kept getting later and later until I finally arrived with 30 minutes until the expo closed. I ran in and went straight to the bulletin board where all the names and bib numbers were listed and...I didn't see my name.

I didn't see my name! What? My last name is hyphenated and I usually just go by the second one for simplicity's sake, but I checked the first one too just in case I had registered under that name? I felt a wave of relief when I saw that name on the list, but was almost instantly deflated when I noticed the age listed for that name was 31, not 28. I figured it could have been a glitch, but I really didn't think it was me (it's a fairly common name). I went over to the registration table to ask if they had any other identifying info (like a city or something) to help me figure it out, but that bib had already been picked up so nope, just someone else with my name. I looked through my emails to see if I could find a confirmation email from when I signed up but nope, nada. I distinctly remember being on the registration site so I suppose it's possible that either it didn't go through for technical reasons, or I did something wrong. My supposed registration date was 2 weeks before Beach2Battleship, so it's entirely possible that the latter happened. I was thankfully able to register on site about 15 minutes before the expo closed, so eventually I was able to get on my way!

Double Race Weekend: Wicked 10k Recap

This wasn't a weekend to update my PR board, but any weekend when I can update my list of completed races is a good one! I realized after the fact that it was a pseudo personal record in that, although I've done a race challenge once before (with an 8k on Saturday and marathon on Sunday), this was the first time I've run 2 totally different races in the same weekend in 2 different cities (in 2 different states at that!). Who says I can't have new experiences even with almost 60 races under my belt?

Just so we're all clear here, I should just go ahead and tell you that Wicked is my FAVORITE race of the year. Except you wouldn't know that if you were Alyssa or Lisa because when they asked me on Saturday night how it was I blandly said, "It was fun." (sorry for the lack of enthusiasm at the time but I just wasn't feeling very well!). But anyway, I love the time of year and the Halloween theme and the post-race beach party and literally everything about it from start to finish. It's put on by J&A Racing, who host several races from 5k to full marathon throughout the year. If you find yourself in the Virginia Beach area or are looking for a racecation, I can't say enough good things about these events! Wicked was my first 10k in 2011 and I've made it a point to come back every year since (same for their other big race, Shamrock weekend in March).

Training For Tuesday: Is 70.3 > 26.2?

I have completed 19 years of formal schooling in my 28 years on this earth, and in May I'll have an engineering degree. You'd think a simple inequality like 70.3 > 26.2 would be a no-brainer at this point. For those of you who have the math skills of a 3rd grader, then you can figure out on your own that yes, 70.3 IS greater than 26.2.
Can we take a moment of silence to appreciate how AMAZING it is that I have virtually the same photo of myself finishing two of the biggest firsts of my life?! it? I heard and read so many times leading up to my first half Ironman that a triathlon of this distance is actually easier than running a marathon. I even made sure I attempted a marathon before a half Ironman, because I was sure that if I proved to myself that I could handle 26.2, then I could definitely handle 70.3 (it only took me 2 more marathons and another 1.5 years after that first marathon to actually try out a half Ironman, but that's another story for another day). I could kind of see where they were coming from...even though the HIM is longer in terms of total time and distance, it's broken up into 3 different activities, whereas the marathon is literally one step in front of the other until you reach the finish line. But on the other hand...simple math tells me that 70.3 miles is much longer than 26.2 And taking 6-7 hours to finish is a lot longer than 4-5 hours. Still, as I raced my first 70.3 last Saturday, one of the things that kept my mind occupied was trying to figure out this answer for myself.

Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon Recap

Greetings from the other side! I am beyond thrilled to be able to say that I've now been a half Ironman for a whole 3 days! I want to jump into the recap - the weekend was long (6.5 hours of prep on Friday + 6 hours of racing on Saturday) and so is the recap, but I read so many thorough, detailed race recaps leading up to this race that I wanted to do my own experience the same justice. I just don't want to forget any minutiae about this weekend and I'm afraid that if I don't write them down I'll lose them, so here they are in all their glory. This is likely to be the longest post I've ever written - I figured I could either break this up into multiple posts or just get it all over with in one novel of a post, and I went with the latter so we can all move on with all our lives. I really don't expect anyone to read the whole thing so if you're just here for the highlights, feel free to quickly scroll through for photos and important things in bold. But, if you're a dork like me who happily devours detailed recaps and you're interested in knowing my every thought leading up to and throughout the race, and/or if you're looking for a Beach2Battleship or 70.3 recap, you're welcome to keep reading at your own risk!

Day Before (Packet Pickup, Expo, Bike Check-In)
I opted to drive halfway and spend the night with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Raleigh on Thursday night before heading the rest of the way to Wilmington early Friday morning. After a quick 6:30am shakeout run, Ben and I hit the road. We arrived in Carolina Beach, where we had rented a beach house, and met up with my parents and tri friends who had all gotten there the night before. Shortly after I got there we packed up all of our gear and headed to Wilmington Convention Center to pick up our packets and get race weekend rolling!

I had been feeling pretty calm up to this point; all week I had been anxious to get through the week and get down to North Carolina, but I wasn't feeling nervous or overwhelmed about the race itself. And then...I got to the convention center. It was clear from the moment we arrived that the field of athletes competing were of a higher level than we were used to being around (B2B only has a half and full, no shorter distance races). Packet pickup was easy, but when I looked inside the bag I was given and noticed the amount of stuff inside it, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. 

Beach2Battleship Half Ironman Training Reflections

This post comes to you live, en route to Wilmington, NC - finally! I feel like I've been waiting for this day forever, and this week felt especially long and torturous. But now that it's finally here, I'm so afraid it is going to slip by too quickly for me to take it all in. I just finished a short 10-minute shakeout run before getting on the road, and before I get to the race site, I wanted to take some time to jot down some thoughts during this brief time when I'm in between training and racing.

68587 yds = 38.97 miles = 23 hours 28 minutes
78% of workouts completed as scheduled
When I started training for this half Ironman, I figured the swim would be the least of my worries. I've never been a great swimmer but I've always been a naturally decent swimmer, if that makes sense. Plus, I'd swam the half Iron distance (1.2 miles) a few times before, albeit a couple years ago, just to see if I could do it, so I knew I could manage the swim just fine.
I spent the few months before I started officially training swimming a mile once or twice a week. So, besides those couple of times I had swam the full 1.2 miles, the longest I had really ever been in the pool was ~35 minutes. The first swim of my training plan had me doing 45 minutes (although not continuously; I had a handful of sets of different lengths with ~15 seconds of rest in between). So that first swim I recorded a distance PR of 2300yds and it just went up from there. The majority of my swims were an hour long (~3000yds), and most were comprised of sets, but I did once swim a full hour without stopping simply because I didn't want to count laps that day. My longest swim distance PR is now 3100 yds and I swam a total of 1276 laps in the pool over the last four you understand why I got tired of counting laps. I did 5 open water swims: 3 in races (500m, 750m, and 1500m) and 2 with friends.

And I feel...fine about the swim. My training plan originally had me scheduled for 3 swims a week but I knew that wasn't going to happen; it was a struggle to even make it twice a week. I feel like I swam a lot, for me, but my speed didn't really improve that much. I will say I noticed a big change in my endurance and that swimming for an hour now is a lot easier than it was the first time I did it in July. My open water swims weren't that great, but I swam in some tough conditions, which I am confident won't be the case on Saturday. Beach2Battleship is a wetsuit-mandatory (extra buoyancy!) point-to-point swim WITH the current. It boasts that a Doritos bag can traverse the swim course before the cutoff time. I'm glad I trained well over the distance I need to swim for the race, but I don't think I necessarily needed to for this particular race and swim course.

895.2 miles = 67 hours 49 minutes
90% of workouts completed as scheduled
This bike is the discipline that scared me the most when I was thinking about signing up for this race. It seems ridiculous - any fool can ride a bike, right? But for some reason cycling has never come easy to me. I've improved over the last two seasons, this season especially, but now I'm just on the high end of mediocre rather than the low end. I didn't really care for cycling because I had a hard time getting into a grove and, honestly, I found it to be pretty boring. And the other thing scaring me about it was that, unlike the swim and run, I had never done the HIM bike distance (56 miles) before - not even close (34 miles was my longest ride before I started training).

My bike training for this race was...interesting. I don't know how else to put it. My speed did start to improve, as did my endurance, and I did get to a point where I didn't want to die just thinking about being on the bike for 2 hours. I had hoped to get into 50-mile territory sooner than I actually did, and to get in more rides at that distance than I did, mainly for my own confidence. I ended up doing my first 50-miler 6 weeks before race day. I also did a 53-miler (the mountain ride from hell) 3 weeks out and a 56-miler the week after that. Surprisingly the 56-miler felt the best; it was on the trainer and I had lots of entertainment, so that helped, but so did having to rely on my stamina more than power after riding up the mountain the week before. And not that it counts as training, per se, but I bike commuted an additional ~175 miles over the last 8 weeks.

I moved back to the mountains about halfway through training, and the bike is where that had the most impact. Before I moved, I was riding with groups on flat, open roads, easily averaging 18mph+. After I moved, I had limited places to cycle, and the places I did have where hilly and fairly pedestrian-heavy, meaning constantly switching gears, slowing down, etc. I rarely got an opportunity to just...go, like I'm used to. My average speed dropped to 15mph on a good day, which is discouraging but I know the conditions are so different than it's not fair to compare that to what I'm used to. I also know that the race course will be flat and open like I'm used to, so I feel fairly confident that I will be able to maintain a decent speed. It's just the fact that I haven't done so in a while (other than on the trainer, if that counts), that's making me unsure.

My biggest bike nemesis is wind, and the forecast shows a probably 10mph headwind for a good portion of the bike course. That should mean there will be a tailwind during the last 15 miles or so, but I don't usberstabd how wind works because it always seems to be in my face no matter which direction I turn. If it is windy, I need to accept that early on and adjust my bike expectations accordingly. There is no point in fighting in and destroying my legs before the run, this ruining my run time as well. I hate the feeling of biking into the wind but I will really need to hunker down and grin and bear it the best I can.

379.20 miles = 58 hours
102% of workouts completed as scheduled

Although I feel like a decently experienced runner at 4.5 years in, the run is the most variable discipline for me in triathlon. I've given up on the run in a tri more times than I'd like, but by the same token, some of my best runs have been off the bike. It really just depends on what my mind gives me that day. My body isn't the problem; I've practiced so many bricks that my legs usually felt great at best and okay at worst. It's my brain that doesn't always want to cooperate. I'm extremely nervous about how I'm going to feel when I'm 4+ hours into this event and realize I still have to run a half marathon, a substantial event on its own.

As for my training, I went a little overboard on the run training but what can I say? I just like running. I hadn't run distance much in the few months following the Shamrock Marathon and it felt good to eventually get back to some semblance of long distance running. I logged 8 runs of 10 miles or more (including one half marathon) and 2 9-milers. I feel a lot more ready to run distance than I did at the beginning of training.

And even though I have the most experience with the run, that's actually where I feel like I learned and grew the most this training cycle. My training started in June and it was HOT in Virginia Beach this summer. No matter how early I got out I couldn't beat the heat and humidity and there were more runs than not that made me question why I was even out there. A lot of them tested me and some almost broke me, but I always got back on my feet. Even if it meant sitting on the beach for 30 minutes while I regrouped...I always finished my miles (except the one time I ran after work and just wanted to get to happy hour earlier ;)). Those runs sucked at the time, but looking back, they showed me what I'm made of. I now know that there is no reason I won't finish the race on Saturday. I can't guarantee that it will be pretty, but as long as nothing is medically wrong with me, I know I at least have the strength to put one foot in front of the other to get to the finish.

I've also adjusted my time expectations. This time last year I ran a 1:49 half marathon and I'm still not sure how, but I am sure that that's not where I am this year. My training focus has shifted a lot and so has my speed and I can live with that. I've never ran more than ~6.5 miles off the bike so I have no idea how my body is going to respond to that. I just want to listen to my body and hope it tells me I can speed up ;)

147 hours 42 minutes
165 Workouts Planned - 10 Missed - 8 Cut short = 89% Completed

Training for this race is the hardest thing I've ever done, and I didn't even realize it until this week. I've always heard people say that a half Ironman is easier than a marathon (fingers crossed that they're right!), but I think they must mean the race itself, not the training. Most weeks I put in 8-9 hours of training and maxed out at 13 hours. And the hardest part was that every workout counted. Unlike my previous training cycles, there were no primary (running) and secondary (strength and cross training) focuses. I had 3 primary focuses this time, swim-bike-run-repeat, and no time for anything extra. It makes sense; training for basically the equivalent of 3 half marathons should take up a lot of time. I just didn't fully comprehend the time commitment until I started doing it. I almost lost it; I thought about quitting so many times, something I've never truly done. I wondered why I signed up and honestly couldn't remember. I squeezed in workouts whenever I could; I wore my bathing suit under my normal clothes to get in a swim at lunchtime or I set up the trainer when I finally finished work for the day and should have been going to bed. I have to believe that for as hard as it was to get through this training, the race itself will be easier. It has to be easier.

I also didn't realize until this week just how long of a journey this has been. I remember taking my bike to get checked the day before my 2nd triathlon in June 2013 and parking behind a car with 26.2 and 70.3 stickers on the back. I didn't have either of those at the time, but I knew that's what I wanted on the back of my car too. At that time I was just about to start preliminary marathon training before my first full in January 2014, but the half Ironman has taken a bit longer. I thought my first one was going to be in June 2014, but on the heels of two marathons in two months, spending another 3 months in tough training to get to that start line quickly lost its appeal. Then around this time last year I started mentally planning for my first 70.3 to be in Princeton, NJ in September 2015. I even traveled to New Jersey early this year to see the course and made plans to sign up as soon as registration opened...but it never did. Beach2Battleship has never been my first choice for this milestone but, as I have found so many times in endurance sports, the Universe does not always care about my choices and often has different plans for me. 

And finally...the biggest feeling I have heading into race day is gratitude. Gratitude for my body for playing nice and allowing me to even attempt such a physical challenge. Gratitude to my husband who has put up with my crankiness and crying fits, who feeds me and takes care of our family when I need to work out, who is spending his birthday today helping me with final race preparations. Gratitude to my triathlon family, both blood-related and not, without whom I never would have entertained the thought of a race of this magnitude. Gratitude to my non-triathlete family and friends, whose support I have both at the race site and from afar. Gratitude to those of you who have virtually joined me and supported me throughout this journey. Gratitude wasn't always the first thought that came to mind while I was training, but now that I'm on the other side, it's all I can think of. How lucky I am to have the means and ability to take this on.

If you would like to track my progress on Saturday, you can do so here. I'm bib #1746 and my wave goes off at 8:50am!

Taper Thoughts

Most big race training cycles end with a period know as "taper time," lovingly regarded and profusely welcomed by athletes everywhere. Depending on the race distance, taper time constitutes the last 2-3 weeks before race day, when the peak of training has come to an end and the focus of the remaining weeks is rest for the body. This rest comes in the form of decreased mileage, intensity, and time for all remaining workouts. It's during this time that we endurance athletes use the word "only" to describe workouts that should not be qualified with "only", e.g. "Only a 12-miler this weekend!"

It's also during this time that, if we haven't done so already, we start to lose our damn minds.

So let me tell you how Beach2Battleship tapering is going for me.

You may have noticed and/or heard, but the east coast has been in a giant shit storm of rain and generally yucky weather for the last week and a half. The sun came out for 10 minutes (and only 10 minutes) yesterday, for the first time in at least 10 days (at least that's when I stopped counting), and I was legitimately perplexed why there was light coming from the sky. It's been bad. Not only has it been raining, cloudy, and windy 24/7, but it's been cold. Not frigid, mind you - it's still early October after all - but colder than what we've been used to the last few months.

Now, this whole time, I've been assuming that October 17 in Wilmington, NC will be quite pleasant, if not warm (I would actually prefer gross weather to this possibility). But after a week of this nonstop cold and rain, I started to panic. I have plans for what to do if it's chilly on race day, but not if the weather is the way it's been lately. I learned my lesson the hard way last week, after I got completely soaked to the bone from spending 4 hours out in the rain in the jacket I *thought* was waterproof, that I have no suitable jacket for those conditions and that I should probably get one. So I spent part of my birthday evening at a local bike shop and at Dicks Sporting Goods searching for any waterproof jacket I could find, with no luck. And that's how I ended up coming home, frantically searching the Internet for waterproof running jackets, and ordering 4 different ones...just in case.

And also because of this nasty weather, I let my taper brain convince me to reach a new level of insanity of Saturday by completing by 3-hour bike ride on my indoor trainer. If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that the trainer and I are not friends. I hate that thing. I hate it so much that I was supposed to ride on it for an hour last Tuesday, and I made it 5 whole minutes before I just had to jump off from general feelings of I checked Saturday's forecast all week, and I knew, even I I didn't want to admit it....I knew my choices for my long ride would either be to do it on the trainer, or not at all. I think I've only ever spent an hour and a half at most (maybe? That might be generous) on it, but amazingly, I made it through 3 entire hours on that freaking thing on Saturday. I would like to thank How to Get Away With Murder, Real Hiuseiwves of Orange County, Hulu, Hokie football (not going to lie, being able to hear Enter Sandman coming from the stadium even over the noise of the trainer was pretty awesome), and Gmail for making this possible. Shout out if you got an email from me between 10am-1pm on Saturday.

Don't try this at home.
And finally, as if that wasn't enough, the phantom injuries have set in. I have *knockonwood* had no issues with injuries or pains at all during this training cycle. But of course when I was on the bike on Saturday, the bottoms of my feet inexplicably starting hurting when I was only 5 miles in. And then of course my Achilles starting twinging during my run afterward. And it makes total sense that the opposite Achilles was twinging on my run the next day right? And let's not even talk about all the catastrophes I'm sure will happen to me at any moment. Like getting doored by a parked car while I'm riding my bike to the gym. Or slipping on wet asphalt. Or that guy coming up behind me on his bike, obviously slowing down because he wants to murder me (turns out he just wanted to ask about my Newtons...sure he did). 

Fourteen more days of this craziness. I just looked at my remaining workouts and freaked out when I realized I have less running to do over the next TWO weeks than I did THIS week. Now I'm positive I wasted a ton of money paying for this training plan and that I'm not going to finish the race. Pray for me.

Training for Tuesday: Beach2Battleship Race Plan

Before I get into today's actual post, I need to address a couple of things. First, thank you for sticking with me the past couple of days and for the consolation messages some of you sent me. I'm sure there were some of you who rolled your eyes - seriously, a ferret? - but in this house, size doesn't correlate to the amount of joy our animals can bring or the amount of space they can take up in our hearts. Even after 5 pet losses, it never gets easier. Our Lila was hands down the sweetest of the 8 animals we've had together over the last near-decade and she is already so missed!

Second, yes I turned Training for Tuesday into Training for Thursday this week. It's my link-up, I do what I want! Actually, it's not just my link-up; I lovingly share it with Alyssa, who reminded us all that it was a year ago this month that we decided to take our excessive fitness talk out in public and hope that others would share theirs. Thanks to all who have shared in our vision of cultivating a supportive and encouraging community for kickass ladies of all fitness levels and disciplines. Whether you've joined us once or every month over the last year, we're so grateful for your participation!

And finally, on to the good stuff. Last week I mentioned that I started reading Racing Wisely, written by Sage Rountree, a yoga teacher I was fortunate enough to take a class with at Wanderlust and who, as I found out afterward, is a triathlete and triathlon coach as well. The book is short and to the point (and free if you have Amazon Prime and/or Kindle Unlimited) and delves into several aspects of racing, from choosing the right race to what to do after you cross the finish line. I've enjoyed reading it so far, and one of the things I've liked the most is the worksheets she goes over (also available for free in PFD format on her website). I definitely plan to use the Race Week Worksheet to navigate my final week before Beach2Battleship, but I've already gotten started on my Race Plan. In the past my race plans have been pretty simple: run a PR, don't die, that sort of thing. This worksheet breaks down all of the key components of race day, mental and physical, to hopefully ensure preparedness for any situation that might arise. The best thing about making a plan like this is that it's completely customizable and adaptable to any race at any distance. This post is a long one and I don't expect you to hang on every word, but if you have a race coming up, or even if you just have a race in mind for the future, I encourage you to stick this in your back pocket and give it some thought as you prepare for the big day. 

All direct quotes from Racing Wisely are in italics.

Intention is internal and private. Intentions are philosophical. Your intention is the attitude you are bringing to the race. 
Intention feels like a bit of a buzz word lately, but I think it's so important for a big race (or any race!). Running and triathlon are not my job; they do nothing but nothing but drain my bank account, not the other way around, so there is no point in suffering through if I'm not having fun. Sure, sometimes I get a bit obsessive or a little competitive with myself but that's because deep down, I truly love these sports and always want to perform at my best. My intention for Beach2Battleship is to finish the race knowing that I did my best. I want to walk out of that finisher's chute knowing that regardless of what the day gave me, I handled it with grace and I performed to the best of my ability. Sage encourages boiling your intention down to a short phrase that can be repeated on race day; mine comes from a fortune cookie I got last month: "When one must, one can."

Goals are quantifiable, measurable, external, and public. Goals are useful in helping us control all the things we can control as we prepare to race: out training, our nutrition, our equipment, our pacing. Goals are practical.
Conservative goal: Finish (in under 7 hours)
The rule for any new distance is: don't worry about time, just get to the finish line. And that is my #1 goal for B2B. But even if everything goes wrong on race day and all my training flies out the window, I still hope to sneak in under 7 hours.

Public goal (what you'll tell friends and coworkers): 6 hours 45 minutes. 
This is (hopefully) erring on the conservative side and, in my mind, translates to a 45-minute swim + 3 hour 25 minute bike (16.5mph) + 2 hour 25 minute run (11:04 min/mi) + 10 minutes for transition.

Private goal: We're all friends here, so I'll let you in on this one. Realistically, if I can race the way I've trained, I think (and hope and have all my fingers and toes crossed) I'll finish in 6 hours 15 minutes or less. That puts me at roughly a 40 minute swim + 3 hours 15 minute bike + 2 hour 10 minute run (9:55 min/mi) + 10 minutes for transition.

Super-secret radical goal: The last time I made one of these (and it really was a radical goal), I missed it by almost 20 minutes. Not a big deal; that's why it's called the "super-secret radical goal." But let's just say that if I miss this one by the same margin, I'll still be in range of my private goal. And that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

Non-time goals: Remember to pack all of my gear. Put my timing chip on right away so I don't lose it. Bring toilet paper for the porta-potties. Remember to follow my nutrition plan and stay hydrated. Clip in and out of my bike without falling. Don't fall apart on the run. Smile at race photographers. Thank volunteers. Finish with a smile on my face.

Using: All of my gear (goggles, socks, race belt, that sort of thing) is covered on the handy Triathlon Race Day Checklist I made myself before the Patriots International Tri earlier this month. I recently bought myself a tri bag that's as big as my carry-on suitcase so that I can finally put ALL of my tri stuff in one place. All I have to do is worry about getting that bag packed and I'll be set.
(click to download)

Wearing: For the wetsuit-mandatory swim, I'll need my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit. Underneath it, and for the rest of the race, I'll be in my Smashfestqueen IROCK Tri top and shorts. I've practiced in the top a couple times now and, although I loved it for swimming, it gave me a riding up issue when I ran in it that took some getting used to. I think I've figured out the correct tucking-in strategy, though, so I should be good to go! And on my feet I'll be wearing the newest addition to my Newton collection (with bright pink Lock Laces that still need to be ordered...).

If it’s really cold: I think it will be cold enough in mid-October, at least in the morning, that at the very least I'm planning on putting on arm warmers after I come in from the swim. Still debating on whether or not I want to go all out and order the Smashfestqueen knee warmers and/or cycling jersey that match my kit, just in case it's really cold out there. I don't have a great cycling jacket but I do have a couple I'll pack just in case I really need them. Oh and socks! I usually go sockless but learned my lesson a few weeks ago on a chilly ride when my toes went completely numb. 

If it’s really hot: I think this is really only a possibility for the run, but in that case, I'll just be in my top and shorts and not bother with any of the extra layers. 

If it's raining: Two words: trash bags. I plan to stick a ridiculous number of plastic and/or trash bags in my tri bag just in case it's raining and I need them to protect my stuff while it sits in transition, and/or my body.

Pre-Race Nutrition 
Dinner the night before: My mom is an excellent cook and has already been designated team chef for our pre-race dinner. I don't know exactly what she'll make, but it will be some kind of pasta and there will be veggies and lots of bread and I will be in carb-loading heaven.

Breakfast on race day: Egg over easy on a whole wheat English muffin with a little bit of cheese, and yogurt. Maybe a banana closer to race time. I've really come to love this aspect of long distance triathlon, since breakfast is my favorite meal. I can eat a fairly large breakfast and I have plenty of time to digest it before I get on the run!

Race Nutrition
Food(starting when I get out of the water because obviously I won't be eating and swimming at the same time): Salt tablets every 30 minutes (on the bike and run), banana at 1 hour and 2 hours into the bike, raisins at hour 3 on the bike if I'm still hungry, raisins on the run if I'm absolutely starving

Water: As needed on the bike (I'll have 2 1-Liter bottles with me) and at every aid station on the run.

The plan:
  • Swim: settle into a groove as soon as possible; maintain a quick but steady and calm rhythm to the first buoy; back down a little if necessary until the second buoy; pick up speed at the 3rd buoy; give it all I've got after the 4th buoy.
  • Bike: this where all bets are off for me; it really could go really well or really horribly so I really have no pacing strategy. Since it's largely dependent on wind speed and direction, I'll likely have to wait until closer to race day to check the forecast for a more accurate idea of how I'll be able to pace 
  • Run: depending on how I feel, run the first mile no faster than 9:00 and no slower than 10:00; run the next 9 miles at whatever pace feels good (walking every aid station); if I can, push for faster miles in the last 5k
How I'll hold myself accountable to this plan: I'll have to hope one of those mantras comes to me in my time of need. I really don't have a specific plan for this; I know how important this is to me and that is enough to hold myself accountable. When things get tough, I'll keep the clock at the finish line in mind and remind myself that it's not forever, it's only a few more hours.

If my equipment doesn’t work: I'll probably sit on the side of the road and cry. Kidding! I think. If my Garmin decides that October 17 is a great day to screw up, I'll have to accept that early on and move on. Hopefully I'll still have some idea of the time and can do some mental math between that and mile markers on the course.

How and when I will warm up to best execute this plan: I've never done any type of pre-race warmup, but recently I found that I did really well in a time-trial swim when I did a few hundred yards of warmup first, so I plan to do a short swim the day before and get in the water for a few minutes before starting the race. 

Mental Strategies

Three workouts from this training cycle in which I learned something about my mental and physical abilities:

1. Hokie Half Marathon - I learned that I am physically capable of running a 2ish-hour half marathon without really trying (the ~ish comes from the 3 minutes I spent waiting for the porta-potty which probably pushed me over the 2-hour mark but whatever), and that I am mentally capable of running a half marathon without headphones! Seriously 2 things I never thought I'd be able to say.

2. Tour de Wolf Creek, or, That Time I Rode Up a Mountain - I don't know how many times I repeated to myself, "If you can get through this, you can get through race day," but it was enough times that I now believe it to be true. The weather and the terrain made this one of the hardest things I have ever done, physically or mentally, EVER in my life. There were tears, many of them, and not the slowly well up in the corners of your eyes kind, but the ugly cry kind. The thing that got me through it was thinking back to a brutally cold and windy 15-miler I did in training for Shamrock earlier this year, and how that ended up being a crucial point in that training cycle that led to my the best marathon I could have hoped for. From the beginning of this ride I could tell that it was going to be the definitive workout of this training cycle, the one that would suck to get through but the one I needed for a successful race day.

3. City of Oaks course/Reedy Creek Greenway run - I learned that I do not get scared anymore. I thought running after traveling all day, at a weird time of day (long run at 4:30PM?), without eating well beforehand, on a hilly course, after biking 53 miles up a mountain the day before (did I mention that yet?!) was probably my worst idea ever...and then I knocked it out of the park. Granted, I didn't exactly go out like a speed demon, but as soon as I started running I realized all my fears had been for nothing. I was making up things to be afraid about. Around mile 5 I realized that I could pretty much do anything, and by the time I finished at a total of 12.6 miles, I knew I could do anything.

Fears about the race, and how I plan to cope should they materialize (“in my control” or “out of my control”):

In my control:
Falling apart on the run - repeat aforementioned mantras to myself. All of them. As long as it takes to find one that works. Remind myself that 
Going out too fast - back it down if I see a pace that I know good and well I can't sustain
Not going out fast enough - don't let my mind convince me to do any less than I'm capable of doing (more mantras)

Out of my control:
Horrible headwind (especially on the bike) - tuck down in aero the best I can and pray for the next turn to come
Lots of sun and/or hot temperatures on the run - slow my pace and drink copious amounts of water
Stomach issues - slow my pace and find the nearest porta potty 

I love that Sage (do you like how I talk about her like we're besties?) included this because it honestly isn't something I would have given a second thought. I'm terrible at recovery unless I force myself to eat, drink, and rest, so having a plan (and people who won't have just spent 6-7 hours racing there to hold me accountable) should really help. 

What I'll wear in the minutes after the race: Provided I can hold myself upright and still have enough range of motion left to move my limbs (might need help from my mom and Alyssa tbh), I would love to change into a loose fitting tank (or maybe my race shirt since I will have earned that shit?!?!?), my most comfortable hoodie, yoga pants (with compression sleeves underneath), and my Oofos flip flops. I'm sure I'll spend a while after the race too afraid to leave the finishers area, lest I miss my dad or friends finishing...maybe I'll have my mom and Alyssa shield me with a towel and blanket or something so I can change without missing any of the action? Luckily there's really no such thing as modesty in triathlon.

What I'll eat and drink in the minutes and hours after the race: That Sage, she just thought of everything. I am horrible at making sure I eat and drink after a race, but I can guarantee I will at least immediately down the bottle of water I'll get at the finish line. And maybe I'll make sure my posse is ready with some post-workout drink and a banana. And after all my people racing finish....definitely beer. 

What I'll do in the minutes and hours after the race for your recovery: We already went over slipping into something more comfortable. And the fact that I need to eat something...anything...everything...And please for the love of god someone make me take a nap. I'm sure that at some point in the day my B2B peeps will all feel like passing out, and I need to do the same. I also need to make sure I do some yoga, but luckily I will have my own private soon-to-be yoga teacher present to make sure I get in all the asanas I need.

And....that's it! My plan to get from 0 to 70.3 and beyond in one piece. Anything I haven't thought of? Any crucial aspects of a race plan that I left out?

Training For Tuesday: Bear With Me

I was out of town yesterday and I unfortunately came home to the sad discovery that my ferret had passed while I was away.  Clearly that took precedence over pretty much everything else, so I wasn't able to hammer out the final version my last pre-Beach2Battleship Training for Tuesday post. Rather than throw something together in time for today, I hope to be able to give it proper attention today and post a day late to the linkup. So no post from me today, but instead a request that you do any or all of the following, if they're applicable and if you're so inclined:
  • visit my co-host Alyssa and the other wonderful ladies on the list below
  • join in the fun yourself by adding your own linkup
  • check back with me tomorrow 
  • squeeze your pets extra tight today

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Sunday Sweats [9/21-9/27]: B2B Training Week 14

I know it's been 3 weeks since my last Sunday Sweats (don't lie, you were totally counting) and honestly I haven't really felt like writing them lately, but this week was a big week for me and I just needed an outlet to talk about it (besides Ben and excessive text messages to Alyssa, that is). This week wasn't just peak week of training it as also, lucky for me, peak week of the semester. Because, you know, half Ironman training doesn't take up enough time or energy so why not throw in 3 tests within a 24-hour period? No big.

Monday: 70-minute spin + 22 minutes yin yoga

Tuesday: 2850yd swim @ 2:08/100yd + 5.60 mile run @ 9:04 | Oh hey, ridiculously slow swim. Not sure what's up with that.
The weather was so cool today (low 60's and cloudy, basically my dream) that I *almost* walked out of the house for my run in long sleeves and long pants. Actually, I did walk out like that and then I was talked back to my senses and settled for capris and short sleeves. The weather was weird and I'm not sure any outfit choice would have been 100% correct to be honest. My run was just fine; I took it easy because I was still a little sore from running the Hokie Half on Sunday. Ben rode his bike home the same time I was running so he rode alongside me for the last mile and a half and we talked. Definitely blaming him for the slowing down that occurred during that time.

Wednesday: Rest day | I'm using the term "rest" very loosely here because it was really anything but, as I worked pretty much nonstop from 8:30am-9:30pm. I was supposed to do my brick today but when I woke up and realized that I really needed those 2.5 extra hours to study today more than I'll need them tomorrow, I decided to flip flop days. I was antsy for the rest of the day but I tried to remember that I'm pacing myself, avoiding burnout, all that good stuff. I had originally scheduled Wednesday as brick days and Thursdays as rest days (since they are long days at school) but my Wednesdays have ended up being really busy and I've somehow managed to get the bricks in after class on Thursday, so maybe I need to adjust my schedule permanently (or for the next 3 weeks at least).

Thursday: 23.75 mile bike ride @ 15.1mph + 6.39 mile run @  9:24 | Does anyone else get anxiety about workouts, or is that just me? I had to squeeze this one in (well, as much as one can "squeeze in" a 2.5 workout block, I suppose) in between two tests and I was so nervous about actually getting through it. I mean, that's basically an Olympic tri (without the swim) in the middle of the day...who does that? The bike went pretty well, until the last few minutes when I was literally a tenth of a mile from my apartment but couldn't get on the trail because it was being paved, so I had to go allllll the way around, up a road that is basically a giant .75 mile long hill, which added an extra mile and change to my route. But whatever, it's fine. And because of said path closure, I had to run the hilly route, which I wasn't planning on doing and thought I might die sometimes, but I tried to stay positive.

Friday: 3000yd swim @ 2:01/100yd | This swim was a time trial for the race, so rather than having different sets, I just had a warmup of 400yds, the actual time trial of 2100yds (1.2 miles), and a 500yd cooldown. The time trial went just swimmingly (har har)! I felt strong and capable and I loved swimming straight through rather than pausing every 8-10 laps. I tried to swim confidently but conservatively so I could figure out how to pace myself. I felt myself slowing a bit just past the halfway point, but I started to pick back up after a few more laps. I suck at estimating distance in open water and I can't see my watch, but...I still wish there were some way I could have an idea of how far I've gone/how far I have left so that I can pace myself properly. Need to think of a solution for that.

Saturday: 53.29 mile bike ride @ 14.73mph + 3.18 mile run @ 9:26 | I don't even know how to adequately describe this ride. You can find all the gory details on my Dailymile. The tl;dr is that I rode my bike to the top of a mountain (in another state) and I didn't die, but I kind of wanted to. Easily one of hardest things, mentally or physically that I have ever done. 

Sunday: 12.61 mile run @ 10:42 | My alarm went off at 5:30am because I needed to run to be ready to leave to go out of town for an interview by 9:30. My body was so tired when I woke up that it didn't seem worth it to run myself ragged especially before an interview so I went back to sleep until 8. I brought my running gear just in case I decided to run once I got to Raleigh, and on the way I had the brilliant idea to ask Lisa if she would be up for running with me. I didn't think she would be since I only gave her a couple hours notice, but surprisingly she totally was! I ran the first 6ish miles of the City of Oaks course before meeting Lisa at Cup a Joe and continuing on another 6 miles with her. 

This Week
Swim - 3.32 miles 
Bike -  96.87 miles (+ ~20miles commuting to/from school)
Run - 27.78 miles
Yoga - 22 minutes
Total miles - 127.97

B2B To-Date Training
Swim - 30.25 miles 
Bike - 773.56 miles + 622 minutes spin (~171 miles)
Run - 313.02 miles
Total miles - 1287.83

Week 14 Reflections:
- This week turned out to be SO much more than I was expecting. I knew I'd get in some big mileage but even more than that, I got in SO much good race day prep! My brick on Thursday was great race practice since it was in the middle of the day, right about the time I'll be biking and running on October 17. I got in some great practice pacing for the swim on Friday. And while my long ride and run weren't exactly race day simulations, they were, I think, way harder than anything I'll get on race day (because even if it's cold and raining and/or windy, I won't be alone and I won't have hills and mountains to climb). 
- What I really wanted from my long ride was to get in the full distance (56 miles) at race pace (at least 17-18mph) but I think climbing a damn mountain makes up for AT LEAST those extra 3 miles. Maybe an extra 30, I don't know. After that I know I am more than capable of pedaling for 56 miles.
- After this weekend I am absolutely sure I can handle anything that that happens on race day. I've been waiting this whole time to find out what it will feel like to ride long distance and run distance, and okay fine, I had 24 hours in between them, but the bike ride was SO miserable and my short run afterward was just fine, yay! And my long run the next day felt great, even though the weather was once again less than stellar and I ran a hilly course. Somewhere around mile 5, when I was feeling completely unstoppable despite everything I went through on Saturday, I realized that I've done it. I've trained as much as I possible could for this race and I am ready. I cannot be scared away by terrain or weather because I have trained through them. Over 1200 miles logged and, mentally and physically, I'm ready.

11 Things I Learned From My 11th Triathlon

On Saturday I raced in the Patriots International Triathlon in Williamsburg. While I'm not exactly a seasoned pro, I am now in my 3rd season of triathlon. This was my 11th tri ever, my 4th at this distance, and my 3rd this season - you'd think I'd have this thing more or less figured out by now. But race day more often than not ends up being a learning experience, and I realized that I learned more at this one than I ever have.

1. I should put my timing chip on immediately.
So race mornings are a little crazy. When you arrive at the race site you have to pick up your bib, your race chip that goes onto an anklet that you wear, and you have to get your number Sharpied on your arms and legs, all while carrying your bag o' stuff and dragging your bike around. Let's also not forget the fact that this all occurs at 6am. So, in that chaos, somewhere in between picking up my chip and getting body marked (literally like 15 feet apart), I dropped my chip. At least I assume I did because I never saw it again. I combed through the grass where I walked at least 20 times and it was nowhere to be found. No one turned it in, either, so apparently it just vanished. I was eventually able to get a replacement so everything was fine, but I'm still sort of expecting a charge for it to show up on my credit card. From now on I'll slide it onto the anklet and put it on my ankle as soon as I get it.

2. I suck at sighting. 
The swim conditions were much rougher than anticipated and despite actually feeling like I swam strong and steady, I was all over the place. I suck at swimming in a straight line even in calm conditions so add in some current and I was zig zagging everywhere. I'm actually glad my Garmin can't accurately measure distance in the water because I don't even want to know how far I swam off course. I definitely could have scoped out the course better when I was standing on the beach, especially after the last turn to head back to the beach. I had no idea where I was going those last couple hundred yards because I really couldn't tell where I was supposed to end up. I've always known this is a weakness of mine but it became especially apparent at this race.

3. Training pays off.
I know, I know...who would have thought? This was my 3rd tri of the year and in all 3, the bike leg whas been my strongest. This is absolutely amazing to me because before this year, the bike leg was always my worst. Not coincidentally, before this year I trained 1-2 days a week on the bike, and this year I consistently train on the bike 3 times a week with a long ride every weekend 2.5-3 hours long (I also bike commute a total of 25-30 miles a week). I still don't feel like I cycle a substantial6 amount, but it's substantially more than I've ever ridden before and I've absolutely seen that reflected in my races.

4. People are rude.
I should preface this by saying that triathlon is an extremely welcoming sport full of friendly people. I should also tell you that when you pass someone on the bike, you should yell out, "On your left!". And usually I do, except when, like in the race on Saturday, the road is plenty wide and there is no one else around and I can pass without disturbing anyone. So I passed a lady, and I didn't say anything, and she got snippy with me. Maybe I wasn't exactly in the right, I can own up to that, but I wasn't in the wrong either. There must have been 20-30 people who passed me and literally ONE person alerted me of their existence before doing so. I imagine that lady must have had a long day giving people shit for passing her without saying anything.

5. Bricks are key. 
I do 2 bricks a week, one with a medium distance bike + medium distance run, and one with a long distance bike + short distance run. I've had so much practice with them over the last few months that I basically never even get jello legs anymore, and about half the time my legs feel better when I've just biked than when I haven't. I felt really good on the run on Saturday and felt confident that I could have kept going another 7 if I had had to.

6. Slow and steady wins the race.
I practiced running slower than I wanted to and, what do you know, I had the best run I've had in a while. It wasn't a fast time for a 10k by any means but it felt easy and was well under my goal pace for Beach2Battleship. 

7. Aid stations exist for a reason. 
I never used to stop at aid stations in races. I won't even lie: I thought I was too good for that. I told myself I didn't need or want to eat or drink anything while I was running, and I definitely didn't want my pace to drop at all by walking through water stops. Earlier this year I finally came to my senses and realized that that was stupid, that I somehow miraculously made it through distance events with that attitude but that my luck was running out. The Shamrock Marathon in March was the first time I ever made it a point to stop at the aid stations, and I had a great race that day. So now the volunteers at aid stations are my new best friends. You better believe I got water at every single one yesterday and my happy, hydrated body thanked me for it.

8. When one must, one can.
I ordered Chinese for dinner a few days before the race, and this was my fortune. For some reason, it stuck with me, and I found myself thinking about it a lot during the race. I almost always fall apart on the run in a tri - it's the end, I'm tired, and I just want to be done. This is my biggest fear about Beach2Battleship, that even if I do make it through a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike, I'll still have to run a half marathon and my mind, not my body, will be like, "Awwww hell no." So practicing staying focused and engaged was huge for me in this race and I felt like I was mentally present the whole time. Giving up wasn't an option I entertained for even a second. There was only one way to make the finish line closer and that was to keep moving forward. I kept going because I had no other choice.

9. It's not over until it's over.
A few days before the race I looked at my time from last year, and calculated that to do better this year, my best shot would come from improving on the swim. During the swim I felt strong and confident and even though it felt like it was taking forever, I kept the faith that I was steadily getting to the end and that my effort would be worth it when I had beat last year's time. But when I finally made it out of the choppy water and could see my Garmin for the first time, I was instantly deflated. I was 5 minutes slower than I was expecting. At that point I let go of any hope of PRing and just hoped I could at least maintain last year's results on the bike and run. I was determined to do my best, but I was still shocked when I got on the bike and was averaging way faster than I'm used to, even when I got to the turnaround and the tailwind became a headwind. And my run, while not super fast, was calm and comfortable and ended up being my best multisport 10k by about 15 seconds. In the end, I finished the race 7 minutes under the 3-hour goal I've been chasing for 2 years, and 10 minutes under my PR time. Like I's not over until it's over.

10. Anyone who can complete a half marathon could complete a triathlon.
Technically I kind of figured this out the day after the race when I ran 11 miles. The race took just under 3 hours and the run took just under 2 hours but the former was infinitely easier. In a sprint or olympic distance triathlon, you never have to do any one activity for more than an hour and a half, and you never have to run more than 10k. So even though, time-wise, it might take longer to do a tri than a just-running race, it feels like less and is way easier.

11. It takes a village. 
I'm not a member of a triathlon club or anything, and I don't even know more than handful of people who even care about this sport, but man am I glad to have the ones I do. My dad raced on Saturday and so did another couple and a guy we are friends with. We all started and finished at different times, but the race itself isn't when I benefit from having these people. It's the 3-hour training rides that I'd never make it through on my own. It's having someone to stand on the beach with while waiting for my wave, talking out our nerves. It's being cheered on at the finish by those who have finished before me, and then heading straight from the finishers chute back to the fence to watch for those who are still out on the course. I don't really mind when I have to train and race alone, but it's better together.