First Overall Female Win at Beach to Battleship Half

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Pre-race:

I used to think I really liked Saturday races but after this weekend I am now a lover for Sunday races only. Since I had to work on Friday, it was a rush to get to Wilmington Friday night. We had to go to packet pick-up, a mandatory pre-race meeting and rack our bikes all in about 2 hours. Added to this, trying to find some food for the night, getting our bags packed for all the transitions since it was a point to point race and trying to learn a bit about the logistics and the race course was a lot to cram in such a short period of time. While it was a bit hectic and had few hiccups, we ended up being able to have a nice dinner with friends and get to bed early.

We got to sleep in later than usual for this race since the half didn’t start until 8:30 and we had one of our friends able to chauffeur us to T1 for body marking and setting up our bikes and to the swim start right before our waves went off. Duran ended up having chip issues and was not able to go off with his wave so I was the first off in the swim. He was able to start in a later group. Last point about the start – it was 36 degrees out when we jumped in the water. Brrrrr!

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Swim: 35:06

This was my first ever ocean swim in a triathlon and pretty much in general. Sharks scare the crap out of me so I tend to avoid the ocean as much as possible. Yes, I am racing IM Cozumel in the ocean and yes I am fully prepared to be eaten by a shark. The Beach to Battleship swim is also known to be very fast with the current but this year the current was barely there and after speaking with most people and seeing the times – it seemed to be a pretty fair swim. My goals for this swim was to not swallow half the channel and to feel a burn  during it. There was a little chop and not swallowing the salt water was challenging and brought back many memories of boogie boarding in the ocean when I was little and getting water up my nose. But, I felt decent and didn’t feel like I was getting left behind from the group too much. The course has only one buoy the entire time so I know I didn’t swim the most efficient line and my feet were frozen about half way in but I was happy to see my time of 35 minutes as I was getting out of the water.

I knew I was in trouble as soon as I got out of the water and couldn’t feel my feet. The race had warm water for us to wipe off the salt and I tried to warm up a little before making the trek to transition. We had to run about 1/4 of mile on concrete to get to T1 and at this point I was almost in tears because of how cold my feet were. It felt like needles stabbing me the entire time. Once in transition – I couldn’t do anything. I had trouble getting my arm warmers on and gloves then I couldn’t get my nutrition in my pockets. I had to ask a volunteer to help me do everything. I pretty much thought the win would be out of the picture after taking 6 minutes in T1. Lastly, I put on a jacket and off I went with frozen feet and the least aero outfit ever.

Bike: 2:38

It is flat in Wilmington, which should mean a fast bike. Not today. My first ten miles were terrible. I knew having frozen feet would limit me a little bit but my jacket was not helping at all. At about mile 6 or 7, I stopped at a group of people asked who wanted a free jacket and handed it off to them because I knew I couldn’t lose free speed and my core wasn’t cold just my feet. I would say we had some sort of head wind for almost the first 30 + miles. I knew I wasn’t going as fast as I wanted but kept telling myself that I would have a tail wind home and could hopefully gain some time. I don’t have much to say about the bike – it’s on mostly highway, not great roads and there is a lot of congestion since there is a full Ironman and relay’s going on. There were about three bottlenecks where you had no choice but to slow down for a bit in order to fit in the course and not get hit by a car.

As I was heading in to T2 – I was ready to run but a bit nervous for my feet that were still frozen.

Run: 1:30:30

I got off my bike and ran over to where our T2 bags were hanging. One thing I didn’t like about this race with T2 was you didn’t know where your bag was when coming in to T2 since you had to hand it in on Friday night and they move the racks for the race. As I was running over the guy on the horn said my number, I yelled my number multiple times and then everyone was yelling 1982 but there was no bag coming for me. I looked for myself everywhere but still couldn’t find it. After more time than I would have liked passed, someone gave me my bag and I was able to put my New Balance 1400’s on and sprint out of the convention center to get started on my run.

I knew coming out I was not in first because of what the volunteers were telling me but I still thought I could run some of them down. I started the run and immediately saw some of our friends yelling for me which was great but the only thing I managed to yell at them was, “Where was Duran?!” I got my answer relatively quickly when I was coming back from the quick out and back and saw him flying past me. A relief fell over me knowing he was out there and that he looked great! I told myself I would take a risk and run hard in the beginning since I knew this course was flat and secretly wanted to make it tough for Duran to catch me which would mean I was keeping a fairly good pace.

I think it was around Mile 4 when I finally heard him behind me and just as quickly he was ahead of me. He was flying and the best part was I was feeling great. I had passed a few relay girls and wasn’t sure how many girls racing the half were still ahead so I just kept moving. I went into this race trying to break 1:30 and was not only racing the other girls but I was racing my watch to try to get that 1:29:59! I came upon a girl with a 33 on her leg and thought that she may be the 1st female but thought that her wave must have started after mine so I would have to put at least 5 minutes into her in order to win. I stayed consistent until I hit the 10 mile mark and then started to push much more than I had earlier in the race. It was going to be close for the win and to break 1:30. I gave it all I could in the last stretch but fell short by 30 seconds of the 1:30 and had no idea if I had put in enough time for the win.

I ended up coming in at 4:52 overall which I was pretty happy with considering I took a super long time in T1 and T2 and did not have a great bike. If the temperature had not been in the 30’s I think I could have raced a much faster race but everyone had the same conditions.

Overall: 4:52

Later on, I realized all of the females mostly started in the same wave and I didn’t have to put in any time into the girl I saw. Note to self: check this stuff before the race. After finishing, I found Duran and asked him about his race. He had a huge PR run and raced great! Then we waited around to see the results if I got the win. The results are still a little funky and no all correct on the website just so you know.

I was really happy to finally win overall female for this race after coming in 2nd for the past couple races I had raced.  It was also my first ever overall win in a triathlon!

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Now the focus is on one race – Ironman Cozumel.

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Garmin Talk and 15 mile run

When I first started running after college in 2011, I knew nothing about Garmin’s and GPS watches. I either ran on the treadmill, which tracked my mileage or I would wear a watch and use mapmyrun to figure out how far I went. A few months later, I started to read running blogs and hear all about these GPS watches and how they tracked your pace and mileage. I had finally signed up for my first marathon, Philadelphia at the end of 2011 (I got Plantar Fasciitis 2 weeks out and had to withdraw); I knew I would want/need one of these watches. For one, mapping out a 20 mile run did not sound like fun and since I usually go out way too fast, I figured a Garmin would be perfect to slow myself down and pace better throughout the run. After I bought the Garmin, I would never leave home without it and I definitely would never consider doing a race without it either. My thoughts on wearing a Garmin have changed a lot in the past year.

The first turning point was meeting Duran, who is a natural runner, and someone who did not wear a Garmin. He ran on feel and started to show me that running consistently even for just 30 minutes and more frequently can help you make big gains in the run. The second big turning point was after racing Raleigh 70.3 in June of this year. I only have the Garmin 305, which is not water proof, so I had to put my Garmin on right before the run in order to see my pace. Note: I always wear a regular Timex watch to track my total time for the race. Once I headed in to T2, I put on my shoes, visor and race belt and grabbed my watch to put on while I was running out to the run course. Of course it took over a mile for the Garmin to find the satellites and I realized that I never even looked at it for the run. I only looked at my Timex for overall time. When Lake Placid Ironman came about, I was also left with the choice of putting my Garmin on once I got off my bike. I barely used it. It’s an Ironman, you’re going to run as well as you can run. Would pace really matter to you at this point? Sure, I think knowing your pace in the beginning may slow you down a bit since it is common to go a bit fast but there are mile markers and a lap button on your watch to figure out your splits if needed. After Lake Placid, I haven’t worn my Garmin in any races nor do I plan on wearing it at Ironman Cozumel.

To add to this, I barely wear my Garmin when I am training now either. The only time I wear it is for key workouts. So back to the title of this post about my 15 mile run. I consider a long run during a key build for an Ironman to be an important workout. I wore my Garmin for this long run to gauge how my pace was after a hard weekend on the bike. I ended up finishing this run with a 7:37 average pace and stayed steady throughout the whole run even with a slightly hilly route I picked. It’s nice to be able to see look back on this workout compared to past builds where I have run similar distances, which is why I wore the Garmin.

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When I hit the road at 4:20 AM this morning for a 40 minute recovery run I just wore my Timex watch. I didn’t need to see how fast I was going, that was not the purpose of the run. I will have another 50 minute run later in the week that won’t be for recovery but just at a steady pace, I won’t wear my Garmin for this either. In my opinion, Garmin’s don’t allow you to run by feel or to your potential. If you are a normal 7:30 pace runner I think a Garmin may be holding you back from going faster since you are always looking for that 7:30 pace. Go out with a watch and just run by feel! If you feel like going fast then go fast! If you are sore or the legs aren’t there that day then slow down. I have learned that if I do that a few times a week for a couple of weeks – I start to really be in tune with my running and have seen a lot of gains because of it.

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After all of this rambling, the point is to not be tied down to your Garmin. Run by feel and I bet you will be amazed by how freeing it is.

Question for you all –

Do you rely on your Garmin? How often do you run without it?

Why did you stop playing ice hockey?

hockey A student in class the other day asked me why I stopped playing hockey. I played Division I Ice Hockey at RPI in New York for 4 years and all while growing up.  I had to pause a bit before I started to answer this question and think about it. Why did I stop playing hockey? I stopped playing hockey because the dream was over. My career as a female hockey player had finished when the buzzer sounded against Cornell. I still remember every detail and every minute of that game. There really isn’t an after to college hockey for females like there is for males. So after the last game – I was done. I moved on with my athletic career very quickly as some others stay with a sport either by coaching, joining a club or even just pick up hockey. I, on the other hand was completely finished with the sport. I put 22 years of my heart and soul into the sport of ice hockey. Looking back, the sport was very good to me. I found my best friends through the sport. The sport taught me what hard work is. The sport taught me how strong I am. I know I can keep going even if I don’t want to because hockey taught me that I am strong enough. I am looking at you 5 OT’s and the skate of November 6, 2006 (think of this for that day). The sport taught me leadership and patience. The sport taught me how to handle pressure of the “big” day. The sport taught me confidence.

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The biggest question I got asked once my career as  a Division I ice hockey player was over, what are you going to do now and are you going to keep playing somewhere? I always answered no to the last question but wasn’t sure what was next besides knowing I was done with hockey.

My good friend, Tara, who I grew up playing ice hockey with and now have completed our first Ironman together at Lake Placid, told me about this thing she had signed up for. She said you swim, bike then run. Now, I had started to run just to stay in shape and had completed a half marathon before so I wasn’t completely new to endurance sports but this intrigued me. Of course, swimming scared that crap out of me but biking and running sounded awesome. So what did I do, I bought my first road bike and started to get to work, just like I had when I was 5 years old dreaming of the Olympics except this time I was dreaming of Kona.

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Triathlon is my new hockey, except all of the things I mentioned before about what hockey had taught me, I am still learning in triathlon. I am still learning to have confidence. I am still learning to keep going even when it hurts. Yes, I think I can use my experiences from hockey to help but triathlon is still a new ball game where I need to learn a lot more. But, the more I think about it the more it makes sense. I took 22 years of learning in hockey, why would triathlon be any different. I have a long way to go in this sport but I will not give up on my dream and there is no end to triathlon like there was with hockey. Still, some things hold true. Triathlon has taught me humility. It humbles me everyday. It has taught me how important hard work is time and time again. Just like hockey gave me my best friends, triathlon has given me one the most important people in my life and for that I couldn’t be more thankful.

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Dreams never end, they just change. I may not be going to the Olympics with my skates on but I will try my hardest to get to our Olympics of Ironman Triathlons in Kona.

Carolina Half – Race Report

Even though Duran and I raced two weeks ago we were really excited to compete in the Carolina Half put on by Setup Events. It was the first year for the race in Charlotte and was getting a great following on their Facebook page. We headed to Charlotte Friday night to stay with one of Duran’s close friends. The race was on a Sunday which was really nice since we were able to have Saturday to get in a short pre-race warm up and then relax for the day aka watch College Football.

Saturday, we got up and did a 30 minute swim, an hour bike and a short 20 minute run to stay loose before the race. After the warm up all we had to do was check – in and rack our bikes at T1. Once all checked in – we thought it may be a good idea to take a look at the profiles for the bike and run. Much to our surprise, this race looked like it may be more difficult than we thought. It looked like it would be a lot of rolling hills for the bike and the run not too bad (we underestimated both!).

Swim: 36:52 – 24th female

Race morning – we woke up bright and early and headed to T2. A few people asked me to talk about what I eat before and during the race so before the race: I had two rice cakes with PB and Jelly on them. The Carolina Half is a point to point race so we went to T2 first to drop off our running shoes then took a bus to T1 to get ready for the swim. It was a chilly morning and the walk from T1 down to the swim start was a little over a ¼ mile, which meant a very long run into T1 after the swim. The race directors allowed people to put shoes down by the swim exit to put on to run up to T1 because of the length and some parts with gravel.

The swim was a beach start and the female wave was 2nd to last to go. After doing a setup event before, I knew the distance was going to fairly accurate and to not use the sight buoys but just to head straight to the triangle turn buoys. The water was perfect for a wetsuit swim. Once the gun went off – I ran as far as I could and just started swimming. I felt strong but more importantly smooth and efficient. The best part was I could see other pink caps around me, which rarely happens! I stayed with one chick side by side pretty much the entire swim until the last turn buoy where I felt I started to draw ahead. Once exiting the swim, pumped about my time (I swam a 46 half in Raleigh) – I started the long run up to transition. I thought about taking my wetsuit off before the run but decided to make the jog up with it on and I didn’t leave shoes down at the exit because I thought I was tough enough to handle the gravel areas. Looking back – I took a bit longer to deal with the rocks but I’m still glad I went barefoot.  In to T1 as quick as I could then I was out on the bike.

Bike 2:44 – 3rd female

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As I exited T1 – I noticed my heart rate was pretty high and felt a little out of control. I took the next 20 minutes to try and settle in and feel comfortable. Once I felt good, it was time to start my way through the field. This bike course is tough. You not only have to deal with the rolling hills but also the wind, terrible pavement and a million turns on the course. I knew going in I wanted to push on the bike because I really wanted to place 1st for female age grouper. The key for me on the hills was staying steady on the way up and powering down them. The guys that I would pass thought it would be a fun game that when I would pass them they would work hard to pass me but as we made out way up the hill I would power down and never see them again. That was until one guy came pass me with a fancy USA kit on with his last name on his butt and an age in the 20s. I was really confused on why he was back there when that wave went off way before mine and I hadn’t seen anyone on the side with a flat. But, as he went by I knew it was my opportunity to stay with him and legally draft off of him. This helped a ton except the fact he would slow down at random times…which meant I had to pass him and play that fun game over and over. Eventually, I had enough and as I made my way past him he muttered, “I flippin hate this course”. Probably not the best attitude to have, but after that I pressed on and just made my way into T2. The only annoying part about the last couple of miles is they had written 55 on the road and I was pumped to only have a mile left and my time was really good, but I noticed my Garmin only said 53 miles. I thought, they might have cut the bike a bit short to make up for the long run after the swim. Well, I was wrong again by the time I got to T2 my Garmin read 56 miles on the dot. Heading into T2 the guy in front of me did the fancy dismount and I could only laugh as I simply clipped out of my shoes and threw my leg around the bike like a true amateur!

Run 1:40 – 4th female

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To be honest, I don’t remember much about this run and to be even more honest what I do remember isn’t that all exciting. It was a hilly run with a good stretch of it on cross country trails on Davidson College campus. I ran out of T2 feeling pretty good and once you hit mile 2 and 3 the hills start a bit. In the beginning it wasn’t necessarily going up that was tough it was knowing as you went down you would have those hills on the way back. I saw the men’s leader James Haycraft who looked like he had barely run a mile towards the end and then passed Duran who also looked super strong. He had mentioned I was in 1st, which I knew he meant age grouper since I had seen the leader Jenny pass me already. I was pumped and knew to keep a strong pace but save some for the end. Little did I know, as I headed out on the out and back on the trails, I saw a girl with a 300 number on her arm. She was first, I was second. She was pretty far ahead and looked very strong. All I could do was keep running and do the best I could for that day. Nutrition wise: I tried to get water or HEED at every station and took 2 Gu’s during the run. As we got towards mile 11, my legs were feeling it. I made the final few climbs, saw Duran close to the finish and ran in as strong as I could.

Overall: 5:06 4th female (2nd Age Group female)

Always the bridesmaid

At the end of the race I felt like one of these girls…always the bridesmaid. Another 2nd place. My goal was to break 5 hours for this race but fell short at 5:06 with a 1:40 half marathon, which for me isn’t that great. Looking back now, I’m fairly happy with the race I had and the improvement of my swim. It’s too bad the swim once again is what caused me to lose out on first place. Duran did awesome and finished 1st in his age group and 8th overall! I am super pumped and can’t wait to see what is in store for both of us the rest of the season. B2B and IM Cozumel is all we have left!