People, Places, and Things of 2016

When I think back on this year I just see fragments, like the thousand pieces of a partially-completed puzzle all strewn across a table. I feel like every year for the past few years has been like that, but I especially feel it this year. This year I felt like I was always a step behind and couldn't catch up no matter how hard I tried. I look back on this year and see how nearly all of my actions were reactive, not proactive. Through really no fault of my own, nothing I did was totally intentional. I constantly tried to correct and to adjust - to getting a job in a new field, to moving to a city I had never really planned to live in, to getting injured  and figuring out how or even if my big race plans would proceed, to training for an Ironman and how it flipped my already-chaotic world upside-down, to losing a grandparent for the first and then second time and a pet for the I-don't-want-to-count-th time. With every turn I felt like I was living in a new reality and just when I started to get used to it, something else would change or throw me for a loop. 

And I don't mean to make it sound so depressing, because so many things of those things were just as good as they were difficult. I got a job in a new field! I moved to a new city! I trained for an Ironman! So many big things that I've wanted and have been working toward for years came to fruition this year, and though they brought a lot of challenges on the way, I am so grateful for that. 

2016 Running & Triathlon in Review

Going into this year, I knew it would be big. I signed up for my first Ironman just 11 days before the year began, but even with that on my mind as the calendar turned, I still never could have predicted the year I'd have.

My two big races of 2016 were to be the Big Sur Marathon in April and Ironman North Carolina in October. I spent the winter preparing for Big Surr and all was going well - I even PRed in the half marathon by almost a minute - until, almost literally overnight, I developed a foot injury that left me unable to walk for a couple weeks and unable to run for a couple months. I canceled my Big Sur plans and as the weeks of no running went on, I started to wonder how, or if at all, I was going to be able to make it through the 26.2 run of an Ironman. 

While I wasn't running I was swimming, biking, and supplementing my run miles on the elliptical. After almost two months and a couple of unsuccessful short run attempts, my physical therapist gave me her blessing to try to ease back into running. I actually just recently found the note from that appointment, with my prescription to try a 15-minute run 10 days after my appointment, and I laughed out loud to myself when I read it. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but I remember how anxious I was in those ten days and how nervous I was lacing up my shoes when the day finally came. FIFTEEN whole minutes. Was it even possible?! That first run back, I could tell that something was still definitely off. Not painful per se,, and it felt off for more runs than not for a while. But as long as I wasn't in pain, I kept running.

Ironman North Carolina: Final Thoughts

On Training
Training for an Ironman sucked. I don't think there is any other way to describe it, and I know that might be confusing because why would you purposely do something that sucks? To be honest, I asked myself that question constantly. I was unhappy throughout a lot of my training because it was just so demanding and I was so tired and really had no time for anything except working, training, eating, and sleeping. Looking back now, though, I realize that there were a lot of factors that played into it that I couldn't really see at the time. Life has been a complete whirlwind this year and right up until IMNC, I was going all day every day at 100%. My training started at the same time that I finished school, moved to a new city 2 days later, and started a new job 4 days after that. I realize now that that was just...a lot to take on all at one time. That's not to say that it wouldn't have been hard even without all of those other moving parts, but they certainly added to my already-full plate.

I have said many times that I knew training for an Ironman would be tough, but I never knew how tough. I am just now getting back to normal life - and well, really living a normal life for the first time all year - and every normal day makes me realize how insane training was and how it completely flipped things upside down. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, for so many reasons, but I’m really, really proud to be able to say that I did it and I made it through. I knew that the actual Ironman would be a 12+ hour day, but I don’t think I really envisioned 6-8 hour training days. I felt so weak at the time, but looking back now I can see how much stronger it made me.

On Doubts
It’s actually a little hard for me to look back at my training, because while I’m really proud of the fact that it happened, it didn’t happen gracefully and I’m a little bit embarrassed by that. I was plagued with fear and doubt and that overshadowed a lot of the months I spent training. An Ironman was a lot to take on, and I know that, but looking back I was just so…afraid. All the time. Afraid of so many things - of having to share my lane in the pool, of being by myself on the bike, of reinjuring my foot, of not getting to spend time with my family, of not getting to go do fun things - and that negativity really affected a lot of my training. I still managed to get it done, but I didn’t enjoy a lot of it and I think it was largely because I was just so scared, both of the work I needed to put in and of the idea of failing anyway. 

I have never been afraid of taking on challenges before this, no matter how unlikely they might seem, because I always believed deep down that I could do them. Even when I couldn’t run to the end of my block, somewhere in my heart I knew that if I just kept at it, I could eventually run long enough to do a 5k. I wasn’t even afraid of doing an Ironman when I signed up, but the more I trained and the harder I got, I felt like I was just barely getting by and that there was no way I could make it through the race. I said that, out loud, many times, and I honestly think I might have quit if I didn’t have 3 other people in this with me. The fear overwhelmed me and for the first time since I started all of this stuff about 5 years ago, I really thought I might have finally found my limit. 

On Overcoming
There is a reason for the saying, “Trust your training.” All of those months I spent doubting myself but pushing through anyway finally paid off on race day. I didn’t get to do the full race course so I’ll never know what would have happened with an additional 56 miles out on the course that day (and in that headwind, ugh), but I do know that the 9 hours I did spend on it were a testament to my training, my coaching, and my ultimate unwillingness to give up (despite the number of times I strongly considered it during training). 

I had hoped the bike would be my story of triumph, but with the shortened course and the strong winds, that’s not the story I get to tell. Instead, the run ended up being my story of triumph that day. I ran consistently and was training for the Big Sur Marathon up until March of this year, but then I abruptly stopped running when I injured my foot during the Shamrock Half Marathon, so by the time I started official Ironman training, instead of the solid running base I'd planned to have, I had to work back up from basically nothing. When my 20-week training plan started in June I'd only been back to running for about 3 weeks. I was still supplementing a lot of my runs with the elliptical and my longest "long" run was up to 5.5 miles. I think back to those two months from March to May when my foot just didn't seem to be getting any better, when it would feel kind of okay so I'd optimistically try to do a test "run" of a few steps in my parking lot only to be completely dejected when I felt immediate sharp pain, when I seriously tried to come to terms with the very real possibility that I might have to walk all 26.2 miles of the Ironman marathon if things continued the way they were. But by some miracle over the last 5 months I was able to get back to running, train for, and complete a marathon! I was so worried I wasn't going to be prepared for it, but I was able to run it pain-free (well, as pain-free as a marathon can be, I guess) in just under 4.5 hours. It wasn’t the PR I was hoping for, but it was closer to my PR than the other 2, standalone marathons I’ve run, so I was over the moon.

On My Journey
I don't know when my Ironman dream was born. I started participating in triathlons about 3.5 years ago and by the end of my first season, with one Olympic under my belt, I knew I would most likely do a half Ironman one day, and from there it followed that maybe, maybe, a full Ironman would be in the picture eventually. Then it took me 2 years to a 70.3, and training for that was the hardest, most-time consuming thing I'd ever done. I had a great race, but knowing how much work the training had been made me question whether I really had what it took to ever do a full, and it wasn't something I planned on doing for at least a year or two.

There aren't many full IM races on the east coast of the U.S. (I've never had to fly to a race and really didn't want the added stress of air travel and the associated logistics for an already high-stress event), and surprisingly few in the U.S. really, and none of the ones offered every really appealed to me. I knew what my options would be for the far-off scenario when I might want to do a full, but I figured I would cross that bridge when I came to it and pick the least uninteresting option. 

But then...the Universe spoke. Or at least I thought it did (more on that later). One of the major requirements I had if I were even going to consider doing a full was that it had to be put on by Ironman and not an independent race organization. I was browsing Reddit on my phone at dinner last December when I read that Ironman was buying Beach2Battleship, the independently owned race that had been my first half Ironman, and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve had the idea of a full Ironman in my head as a one day, far away goal for a while now, but I don’t know that I ever really saw myself here. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I actually made it this far.

On the IMNC Shortened Course Debacle
Time to face the music on this one. Let me just set the stage, though: it’s 4 days until race day. I’ve been tapering for 2.5 weeks and my emotions are running high. One second I can’t wait to get to Wilmington, the next second I want to crawl under my covers and never come out. I’m at work, and all I can think about is going home and packing in preparation for my drive to North Carolina the following day. It’s been 10 days since Hurricane Matthew hit and although rumors about how that may have affected the race have been flying around, they seem to have quieted. I mean, it’s 4 days before the race, it’s go time, right?

Getting the email about the shortened bike course less than FOUR DAYS before I was supposed to be riding it felt like I got sucker punched. I had been training for this race for ten months, with the last four of those being my intensive, official training. I had given up any semblance of a social life, had started getting up at 3:50am, and had hardly done anything except work, swim, bike, run, eat, or sleep since June, for one goal: to be an Ironman. Finding out that that all of that work, all of those sacrifices had been in vain, that at the end of the day I would have gone through all of that and still wouldn’t be an Ironman - and there was nothing I could do about it - yeah, it was devastating.

I was in a really bad mood the couple of days before the race. I tried to put on a happy face but I just couldn’t. Doing all of the pre-race activities felt like going through the motions, and not the exciting and nerve-wracking experience it should have been. Fortunately by race morning I had given in and accepted my fate: it wasn’t a full Ironman, but it was my Ironman. 

I put a lot of energy into hearing, “You are an Ironman!” at the finish, into being an Ironman, and at the end of the day…I don’t know how much it mattered. I thought that those things were important, but I learned and grew so much from my training and from race day itself, and from showing up despite it not being the day that I wanted, and ultimately that’s what I’m taking from this experience. And I know that sounds like something people say to make themselves feel better, and maybe it is, but I honestly just don’t care anymore whether I’m an Ironman or not. I had a great day and a great race and I was happy the whole time (okay maybe not that happy during the 25mph headwind on the bike) and even if it wasn't the full Ironman I trained and planned for, it was 14.6 miles and over 3 hours longer than anything I've ever done before. The biggest thing I got from this experience wasn’t a title, it was a lifestyle.

With that said…having completed 83% of a full Ironman, I hesitate to call or think of myself as one. I don’t really want to tell anyone I did it because I don’t want to have to explain how I didn’t do the full course, and no not because I didn’t finish or something like that, but because 84.6 miles was how long the course was that day. I bought a finisher’s jacket (even though I SWORE I wasn’t going to but ugh, I had to go by the convention center the day after and the expo was still set up and I was still under Ironman’s magic spell and it was really cute…) and I feel weird wearing it because I know it should have an asterisk or something. The story of my first Ironman will always be a weird experience that will have to come with a disclaimer, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m not an Ironman, but I am an Ironman*. Ironmanish? Something like that.

On What’s Next
It’s been my experience that the natural reaction to finishing a big race is, “Okay so when’s the next one?!” Although I knew this wasn't going to be a one-and-done for me, I was excited about not training so intensely for a while and wasn't planning on doing another Ironman next year. But with our first full IM not really being a full IM, that conversation actually started among our group during our pre-race prep. We talked a lot about pros and cons, and the discussion this time was so different than last time. We were so excited about IMNC last year - we were already familiar with the course from doing the half, it’s fast and flat, it’s in a coastal location that we love - but I personally wasn’t excited about coming back to Wilmington for a third time. My main consideration this time was actually the bike course. Since I hate the bike I think I’ve always been like well, I don’t like to bike so it’s probably going to suck no matter where it is, but then I started to think the opposite. The bike course in IMNC may lack hills but it is SO boring and not scenic at all, and I really wanted something different this time. I figured I could deal with whatever the run course is - IMNC was nice but not amazing. And of course, another down current swim would be nice but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we had a more (but still not super) challenging swim. And, not that it’s a huge consideration considering it makes up like 30 seconds of the whole day, but the finish line at IMNC was pretty lackluster tbh.

We talked about a few difference possibilities and quickly narrowed it down to two choices: Louisville and Chattanooga. Louisville’s swim is against the current for the first 1/3, but then with current, while Chattanooga is all down river with current. Both bikes are hilly. The run is hilly in Chattanooga but flat(ish? I seriously don’t believe people who use this word) in Louisville. I don’t know that much about the finish line at Chattanooga, but Louisville has one of the best finish lines in all of Ironman.  And the bike course at Louisville goes through horse country so….see you in 2017, IM Louisville!

Ironman North Carolina: The Run

Just like with T1, the first thing we did in T2 was grab our run gear bags and head into the changing tent. I immediately sat down on a chair and started digging through my bag. I’d packed shorts, capris, long pants, a short sleeved shirt, and a long sleeved shirt because I had no clue if I was going to want to change or what I was going to want to wear. I decided to keep on my tri kit and just throw on a long sleeve top - the one I purchased at Walmart for $10 two days before the race, intending to put it in my special needs bag as a throwaway (those bags are available at mile 13 of the run, and you don’t get them back), but at the last minute put in my run gear bag thinking it might be the perfect weight for the temperature. Turns out, it was! It wasn't fashionable and I hate my pictures from the run because my whole outfit looked so stupid, but it was functional. Other than that all I changed were my socks (at least I think I changed my socks?). My toes had been frozen for the entire duration of the bike and all I could think about for the last several miles of the bike was getting to the changing tent and warming them up! 

There are volunteers in the tent who will actually help you change and get your stuff out of your bags, and a woman came over to me and immediately started helping me. I didn’t need a ton of help since I wasn't changing al my clothes, but she helped me go through my bag to find what I wanted to wear, and when I had a pile of clothes and bike stuff I’d taken off piled up in a chair next to my bag, she told me to go ahead and that she’d take care of packing it back up for me. For some reason I was totally taken aback and I asked her, "Are you sure?" And she said, "Yes." I asked her her name to thank her, and when she told me her name was Cindy, I started laugh-crying and told her that’s my mom’s name and then I was crying trying to tell her that my mom wasn’t there, and she gave me a hug before I left the tent. It surprised me that I was so emotional, although it probably shouldn't have - it had already been a long day and I was about to go run a marathon and I knew I would get to see my family when I got out on the run and I just had a lot of feelings! And all day I was so thankful for all the volunteers and tried to thank as many as I could, and in that moment I was so emotional and just so grateful for her being there and it was honestly one of the best parts of the whole day. 

Ironman North Carolina: The Bike

If you're just picking up here, it's IMNC day and I've already checked in, racked my bike, and swam!

I entered T1 and immediately went to get my bike gear bag. Unlike past races I’ve done, including B2B last year, literally the only thing we had set up in our transition spot were our bikes. All of our bike gear - shoes, helmet, everything - were placed in a bag that we dropped off the day before and were waiting for us that morning. You have to write your number on the bags but people decorate them with markers, duct tape, etc. to try to make them stand out more so they’re easier to find. I had colored in my M dot in the Ironman logo on my bag just because I got bored when we were decorating ours the night before, but that actually turned out to be awesome because no one else had done that and mine was easy to spot! 

I grabbed my bag and ran into the women’s changing tent - everyone has to go through the changing tent whether you want to change or not - and put on my socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and a long sleeved cycling jersey. It was hard getting that jersey on since I was a little wet! I had also brought long pants but ultimately decided I didn’t want to wear them. I handed my bag to a volunteer and I’m only like 40% sure because I don’t remember her name, but I think I asked what it was and thanked her by name (thanks for that tip, Rebecca Jo!).

I ran out to get my bike, talked to myself out loud a couple times so I could remember my number and where my bike was, and then I got it quickly and was off! I saw Ben one more time as I was heading to the bike out.

Ironman North Carolina: The Swim

If you're just picking up here, it's IMNC day and I've already checked in and racked my bike!

As I raced on Saturday and thought about writing this recap I thought, “Hmm, I don’t think I have that much to say. I can probably fit it all into one post…” Um. NOT. Here’s part 1/3: 

We arrived to T1 when it was still dark and had just enough time to put water bottles and nutrition on our bikes, drop off our run special needs bags, and get in line for the bus to the swim start. The swim is point-to-point, with the start about 2.5 miles away from T1 at the southern tip of Wrightsville Beach, so the race runs shuttles all morning for the athletes. As I was standing in line I realized that we’d had to jump out of the car so quickly when Ben dropped us off that I hadn’t even said goodbye to him! I was pretty sure he would be at the swim start but I didn’t know that for sure. Luckily Tracy had his phone with him so I was able to call Ben and leave him a voicemail telling him I loved him and I was thankful for all of his support and I hoped I’d make him proud.

We ended up on the last shuttle, which I think was actually one of the charter buses used to take athletes from hotels in downtown Wilmington to T1, and I don’t think was intended to take athletes to the swim start as well. Because the bus was larger than the shuttles, we actually had to be dropped off a half mile or so from the swim start, so we got a bit of a warmup walking down there!

Ironman North Carolina: Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Bike and Run Gear Check-In

Although we picked up our packets on Thursday, we couldn't actually check in any gear until Friday. As it was when it was Beach2Battleship, IMNC (both half and full) the race is set up so that there are 2 different transitions about a 20-minute drive apart from each other. Logistically, that means that all bike gear (including bikes) has to be dropped off at T1 in Wrightsville Beach, and all run gear has to be dropped off at T2 in downtown Wilmington. Having done this race before and gone through those motions was hugely helpful the second time around! The logistics were really overwhelming to me last year, but this year I was cool as a cucumber. I had even already divvied up my bike and run gear into separate bags at home when I was packing (I used these Ziploc ones that I saw recommended somewhere, I think in one of the IMNC Facebook groups I was in?) and it made getting my actual gear bags together super easy!

Ironman North Carolina: Athlete Check-In and Expo

And so it begins: my series of Ironman North Carolina race recaps. I will go ahead and tell you now that there is an embarrassingly high number of five recap posts coming over the next week. I was going to start with the pre-race stuff but considering there were two days of prep and I just don't want to forget any details (as mundane and snooze-inducing as I'm sure they are for others), the pre-race post quickly turned into two posts, one for each pre-race day. And then there are the posts for the race itself (one for each event). And to think, I originally thought I could fit this entire experience into one post!

Athlete Check-In and Expo
I'm not going to lie: I was a sad panda the couple of days leading up to the race. I found out about the shortened course on Tuesday, and when I woke up on Wednesday and Thursday morning it felt like it had been a bad dream, and then it hurt all over again when I remembered it wasn't.

IMNC: All These Things That I've Done

It's here. The day before Ironman. I slept in this morning, a real rarity since I started training back in early summer. I'm sitting on the wraparound porch of the beach house we rented for the week, sipping coffee, writing my training wrap-up. It's the morning I've been looking forward for months, the last calm before the storm, and everything is as it should be. Except for one thing.

I'm allowing my emotions to go where they please and not passing any judgment about where they end up or how wildly they swing back and forth. This is a huge loss for me, and while its impacts might not last as long as more serious and permanent losses, it's still a loss. Ironman training became another member of our family, and not just any member but the most important member. Ben and I both worked so hard every day to do everything we could so that it survived - and we did! We made it. We made it all the way to the end, when all we had to do was set it free and watch it fly. Instead we watched it fall to the ground, by no fault of our own and with absolutely no recourse. It's going to take me a while to process that. I know it's not going to happen this week or maybe even this month and I accept that reality. It's sad. It's just going to be sad for a while.

But it's not all doom and gloom. It's been better being with my team, and not just because misery loves company. Our coach came down yesterday en route to Florida for IM 70.3 Miami this weekend, and he spent the day with us as we went to athlete check-in and checked out some of the course. We enjoyed a great lunch together (including dessert, coach-approved!) and walked around Wilmington and saw Mike Reilly speak at the welcome ceremony and, aside from the times when I felt like I got punched in the stomach, it was a really good day. 

But today isn't about the race. Today I wanted to talk about my training. Especially now, because even if I don't get to use all of it for a full distance race, I still completed it and that is still something. The news of the shortened course happened 4 days before the race. All of the training was done at that point. It's really been done for the last couple of weeks since I've been tapering, but this week especially wasn't true training. I had a few short workouts just for maintenance and mental sanity reasons, but the training was already done by the time I found out I hadn't been training for a full Ironman after all. 

I registered for this race on December 20, 2015 and my official 20-week training plan kicked off on June 6, 2016. The breakdown of the 20-week plan is as follows:

You Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone

Well, this is not the post I expected to write today. Although my posts have been scarce lately, and non-workout recap even more so, I've been planning a few Ironman training wrap-up posts for weeks. Today I had actually planned to do something a little different and talk about the music that has inspired me, motivated me, and kept me going throughout training - my IMNC playlist of sorts (even though music isn't allowed on the course so I'll just be singing the songs in my head rather than listening to them). Something light and fun before delving into my long, thoughtful race plan and my final training post before the big day.

But that's not what I'm writing this morning. Instead, I'm trying to process the 12-hour-old news that Ironman North Carolina will, in fact, not be a full Ironman. Due to flooding in the area from Hurricane Matthew, the bike course has been shortened to 50 miles, making the race total 78.6 miles rather than 140.6. It's not a full Ironman. It's not even close. Ten months of waking up every day with this goal in mind, and it's going to end over 60 miles short. I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it.

Hokie Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Oh my gosh I have so much to say about this race but all I really want to say is that it was the BEST race. THE BEST. I was so happy and my heart was so full I thought it might actually burst. It was so much more than I was expecting - because what did I really have to expect from a little ol' half marathon after training for an Ironman for 4 months? - and not in any ways that are quantifiable but it was a rare day for me when numbers truly did not matter.

Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City Race Recap

I signed up for this race way way back before a 2016 Ironman was on my radar. I saw an ad for it sometime right before or right after my first half Ironman in October of last year, the Beach2Battleship half, and something about it jumped out at me. I had never been to AC but from looking at the pictures it looked like it would be a fun venue, and it would give me an excuse to go to New Jersey and hang out with Alyssa. Registration opened at noon on November 1 of last year, and an hour later when I remembered to register nearly half of the spots were already sold out!

After I signed up it was always in the back of my mind, but since it was so far away and I was preoccupied with other races this year (initially, Big Sur, then Ironman North Carolina), it got pushed to the back burner. It honestly didn’t hit me that I was really doing this one until I arrived at packet pickup the day before! I think I tried to avoid thinking about it the week prior because both of my feet started being total assholes and I wasn't sure I could trust either of them.

Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 16

Nation's Triathlon 2016 Recap

I signed up for this race right after I moved to DC. I had heard of it previously but had never done it, so when I moved here, it seemed like a fun opportunity to do a race in my new city. I got my IMNC group on board and even managed to talk Ben and my brother-in-law into doing it (first tri for both of them)!

There is a sprint and an Olympic distance race, which both run concurrently, and we chose the Olympic. That distance was still pretty light for those of us in Ironman training, but after several long, hard weekends I was looking forward to having a distance a little more familiar to tackle. The others all made their travel plans, and all week we discussed weekend logistics. I was so looking forward to having a weekend with some of my favorite people doing an activity I love in a city I come to love a little more every day.

The Beginning of the End

I already wrote an update at the halfway point, and it's only been 3 weeks since then, but I'm feeling like I'm at another pivotal point. Maybe even the most pivotal point. Twenty weeks of training divides almost into thirds, putting me now in the final third. I can't decide if I feel like I should be farther than roughly 67% of the way through training or if I'm not where I should be yet, but in reality this last third will be about half work and half taper, leaving me just a few more weeks to get in as much training as I can before I start to rest up.

I've experienced significant mental fatigue and burnout over the last several weeks, so I wanted to break down the first two thirds of training to make a plan for how to successfully tackle this final third. All of my successes and failures thus far are worthless if I don't learn from them. 


Halfway. Ten weeks. Out of twenty. Beginning on June 6, ending on October 22.

I will no doubt post a summary of my Ironman training when it's all over, but I thought it would be interesting to post one at the halfway point as well and then compare at the end. I'm actually a week late posting this - of course - but only including everything up to the halfway point!

On being halfway: It definitely feels like it. It feels like a million years have passed since I started training, and like I have a million more to go until I get to mid-October. This is the longest training cycle I've ever had at 20 weeks, plus 8 weeks of pre-training if you count that. I guess technically I trained for my first marathon for 7 months, but I was also training for my first Olympic tri so the first 3 months of that we're focused on the tri, then the next 4 were focused solely on the marathon. I havent really have any other races that have been training goals this time, so it's 6 months of focusing on one race at the end. 

Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 6

I am ridiculously behind on my Ironman training recaps, and I had half a mind to let them slip into obscurity, but then I remembered you only get one first Ironman training cycle (and, very possibly, only one, period) and want to document them to the best of my ability. Truthfully, it's been hard to do just about anything other than work and train, so finding the time is hard, but I want to have these memories for better or for worse.

Cap2Cap: My First Century

A few months ago, my IMNC group - me, my dad, my dad's friend who is like a second dad to me, and dad's friend's girlfriend - decided to sign up for Cap2Cap, a century (a.k.a. 100 mile) bike ride. Unfortunately, the name is a little misleading: it doesn't actually go from Williamsburg (colonial capital of Virginia) to Richmond (current capital), but instead makes a giant loop between them. So you never actually ride in either city, which was kind of a bummer. It was on May 14, the same day as my graduation ceremony, which I had never planned to attend anyway, so what better way to celebrate than to ride with some of my favorite people (and a few hundred? thousand?) others?! It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

After injuring my foot in March, I had no races or endurance events planned for the foreseeable future except for, oh, this 100-mile bike ride. I expressed more than once that despite my best attempts, I was seriously undertrained, and the only reason I wasn't absolutely flipping out and debating bailing on the whole thing was because it was a ride and not a race. I knew I'd be with a group that wouldn't leave me, there'd be pit stops along the way, and it wasn't timed. But still, with a projected ride time of 6-7 hours it was slated to be my longest endurance event ever (both in time and distance), and none of those previously mentioned facts made riding my bike ONE HUNDRED miles an easy task. 

Ironman North Carolina Training: Week 1

Just like I did for Beach2Battleship, I plan on recapping every week of my Ironman North Carolina training. I don't know what day of the week I'll get them up, but I want to keep up with them because, while I log individual workouts on other sites, those logs don't tell a story. I know these posts aren't particularly exciting for most people and I may even end up turning comments off at some point because these posts are mostly pointless for anyone who isn't me - and that's okay!

So, this is it. My official 20 weeks of ironman training started this week. I chose to work with a coach for this one for, well, a lot of reasons, but the main one is that I just feel more comfortable having someone who knows what he's talking about walk me through this. My half Ironman last year was the first time I'd ever paid for a training plan, for the same reason: I just didn't think I could juggle three sports by myself. So I paid for a plan and was really successful with it, so logically, with even more complexities added in for a full, it made sense to work with someone. 

Training for Tuesday: Riding the Injury Train (and a Call for Help!)

Average monthly mileage in 2015: 93 miles

January 2016: 118 miles

February 2016: 136 miles

March 2016: 77 miles

April 2016: 3 miles

Yes, friends, I ran THREE miles in the entire month of April. And three more miles than I really expected to run, to be honest. You may not know this since I've been so secretive about it, but...I injured my foot in March. This is only the 3rd time in my 5-year running career that I've had a serious injury, which is pretty good by some standards, but the 3rd time was most definitely not the charm in this case. With the other two, I took some time off (7 weeks for shin splints in 2012, 2.5 weeks for piriformis syndrome in 2013), and although I had to ease back in when I did start running again, I more or less picked up where I had left off with no problems.

IMNC Training - 5 Months Out

It's been weeks since I posted any kind of workout update and 3 months since my last Ironman-specific update. I've made it no secret that the past few months have been the busiest and hardest I've ever endured, so hopefully that explains some of why these have been absent.

When I last updated, I hadn't swam at all yet, my cycling was going fine if not a little lax, and I was super on top of my running.

Oh, how times have changed. 

Sunday Sweats - Vol. 16

So I know I've been saying I've been Ironman training since December when I signed up (10 months out), but I really, actually started a training plan this week! And okay, actually this plan is more of a pre-training training plan - it's 8 weeks to get me ready for the official 20-week plan that will start in June - but it's a plan!

Sunday Sweats - Vol. 15

Sunday Sweats - Vol. 14

Training for Tuesday: Adapt.

I've talked a lot recently about a book I've been reading (for, erm, the last 4 months) called How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald, who both competes in and writes about endurance sports. The book explores the concept of "mind over matter" by detailing both experienced athletes' anecdotes and the science that backs them up. One of those athletes is Willie Stewart, a promising young rugby player and wrestler who lost his left arm in an accident at the construction job he was working on shortly after graduating from high school. A few years later, a friend of the family invited him to run a 5k race, thinking it would help with the depression and lack of direction he'd been suffering from since his accident. That run, coupled with seeing the TV coverage of Ironman Hawaii 1982 (arguably the most famous Ironman finish in history), gave him the inspiration to go out, buy a triathlon suit, jump in a river, and start swimming. With one arm. In 2002, Willie finished in the top third in a field of 1600 of the world's best triathletes at Kona. With one arm.

Sunday Sweats 2016 - Vol. 13

I Am The Luckiest: Shamrock Half Marathon 2016 Recap

Shamrock weekend, the highlight of my running year, has come and gone for the 5th year in a row. I've been looking forward to this for months, and like any good runner, I stalked for the two weeks leading up to Shamrock. Over those two weeks varying degrees of rain intensity were predicted, but up until Saturday night I held out hope that the predictions were wrong (you know, because historically that has worked out so well for me). I had made peace with the fact that the 20-30mph winds weren't going anywhere, but I was still hopeful we might get lucky and the rain might hold off. In reality, the forecast just got worse and worse and by the time I checked the hourly forecast on the way to the race, it was calling for 100% chance of rain during the exact 2 hours we'd be running the half. 4, Tracy: 0.

Sunday Sweats 2016 - Vol. 12

Shamrock Half Marathon Race Prep

Ten days. Ten days left until my favorite race weekend of the year (which is what I say in the winter/spring...ask me in the summer/fall and I might say Wicked instead), and I'm not feeling as prepared as I'd like to. This year I chose to run the half marathon Shamrock and while I do have a time goal (that I'm not at all confident I can meet), my main goal is to show up and run the best race that I can. So with ten days left, it's time to focus. I can do anything for 10 days, right?

How I prepare for a race depends on a lot of different factors. Sometimes I've been planning and training for months and I spend the week or two before creating a detailed plan for every aspect of it. Other times I sign up just 48 hours in advance and don't even get into town until 8 hours before I need to run. Most of the time I fall somewhere between, and I usually try to at least follow these simple preparatory steps that I'll be employing over the next 10 days as I get ready to run Shamrock for the 5th time.

From 0 to PR in 48 Hours: Adam & Eve Half Marathon Recap

I don't really have a strategy when it comes to registering for races. I know some people like to take advantage of early bird discounts, while others wait until the last minute to make a decision about whether or not they'll join the party.  I tend to fall somewhere in the middle....I like to be on the early side for races that I think will sell out, which is why I registered for an Ironman over 10 months in advance. I'm not usually swayed by the discounted prices, but the 2016 Richmond half marathon early-bird price was tempting enough that I registered 363 days in advance, which I think is my personal record. But typically what happens is that I'll get an idea that I want to do a race a few months before it actually takes place, then I'll wait a bit before mentally committing, and then I'll wait a little longer before I officially register, but not long enough that it's like, you know, a day or two before the race or anything.

Until now.