Sunday, July 16, 2017

Recapping the Races I Haven't Yet

Okay, so if I'm being honest, I just don't remember any/all the details of these races anymore.  But I gotta mention them before continuing to write about other things out of chronological order.  It's been driving me crazy!  So here's the nitty gritty.

Frosty 5k - Lewisburg, PA
February 4, 2017
2/36 (F 31-40)
34/205 Overall
Got to run with Aaron!  His brother ran and my good friend Kristen too!  I was a lot slower than last year though (booo!), however, still earned second in AG!
Enjoying some hot cocoa with Sweet One Thing

Run for the Cookies 10k - Berwick, PA
February 25, 2017
91/253 Overall
Did NOT feel very good during this race.  Temps were in the mid-60s, which felt so hot. Did get to run with Aaron again, so that was a ton of fun!  Plus smaller age groups means better chance at placing, which I did, so I got cookies!!!
COOKIES!!! (plus I couldn't get over that threatening sky!)

Scranton Half Marathon - Scranton, PA
April 2, 2017
47/196 (F 35-39)
673/2346 Overall
Ran with Aaron AGAIN!  Loved the course, loved the finish line atmosphere, loved running 13.1 miles with my hubby, would definitely race here again.
Stud muffin and a cool medal... I'd say that makes for a great morning.

Millheim Pool Sprint Triathlon - Millheim, PA
June 24, 2017
2/5 in AG (F 35-39)
15/73 Overall
3rd Female Overall and fastest female on bike (I'm super proud of that!)- WOOOO!
Swim - 5:46 (1:55/100yd)
TI - 2:26
Bike - 45:17 (20.3mph)
T2 - 1:40
Run - 26:18 (8:12/pace)
This day was one of my favorites ever.
PC to M. Kelbatyrov and C. Guttendorf

And I think that brings me up to date!  On deck to recap is Rev3 Williamsburg 70.3!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Team CJ at River Towns 2017

You guys.

You did it again.
Do you have any idea how amazing you are?  
Completely amazing.

Do you understand how your kindness, your bravery, and your willingness to try has a ripple effect?
It does.
Team CJ 2017

We were able to spotlight many of the team members on our Facebook page prior to race day, but I just gotta talk a little bit more about you all here. 

We had some first time half-marathoners- Arielle Webb, Travis Weaver, Shelley Merrell, Kira Leitzel, Tiffany Stevens, and Christian Kauffman.
It takes a lot of bravery to decide you're going to do something you've never done before, and running a half marathon is no small thing.  Thank you for that bravery and willingness to try.
They all look so amazing.... is it really their first half?!

We had some seasoned runners with us as well who showed us their athletic prowess.  
Kelly Harris earned 2nd Overall Female, narrowly missing First Place by only 26 seconds!
Shannon Pyles, Krista McCrum, and Glen Stook all placed in the top 25 runners overall.  
Arielle Webb (one of our first timers) placed 3rd in her age group.
Thank you for sharing your fire and drive.
Go Kelly!
Glen finishes with his family looking on.
Shannon and Krista stop for a photo!

But sometimes, it isn't where you place that makes you stand out, but rather it's the tenacity it took to get you to the finish.  Check out the photo collages below and be inspired.
I mean, c'mon!  Here are Aaron and Robin.  They're expecting their first baby this summer, so hey, better squeeze in one more road race first, right?!  Robin finished strong and made it look easy!
This is Steve.  He decided he was going to beat the guy in black to the finish.  So he gritted his teeth and he did.
And here is Jenn.  You ever get to that point where you just want to quit, but then you remember why you started in the first place?  I think that's what we were blessed to witness here.

Now I don't know why all these wonderful people decide to run with Team CJ, but for some it is a close connection to a person with autism.  As parents to children with autism, the cause hits close to home for Justin & Kristen Brouse, Don Shipe, Kira Leitzel, Krista McCrum, and Aaron Weaver.  I don't know what each of you go through every day, but I have a very good idea, and I just want to thank you and applaud you all for helping me spotlight in your daily lives what autism is (and what it isn't), as well as the extraordinary capabilities of children like ours all while working to secure the special accommodations they may need.  You are all total rock stars. 
Yep. You're all rocking it.

We also had Team CJ volunteers supporting the race this year!  Thank you so much Lynn, Erica, Cathy, Betsy, Meagan, Steve, and Misha!  I wish I had gotten a photo of all of us!
Thank you for volunteering!

You may be wondering how the fundraising side of all this worked out.  Well, I really thought this group could surpass our previous campaigns so I set the goal at $8501.  As I write this we collected a total of $8417.  So close!!!  There will be a few more donations coming in, so I'm crossing my fingers that it will push us over our goal.  If you're reading this and want to help with that, the link below will remain open for the rest of the month of June.  

Proceeds will be donated to ADERS (Autism Diagnostic Evaluations Resources & Services), a local non-profit located in Montandon, PA.  ADERS's mission is "to provide comprehensive diagnostics, evaluations, resources, and advocacy to drive treatment and intervention planning to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families affected by ASD."  They are working toward comprehensive autism services across the life span.  
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 So now is the part where my eyes get misty and my heart swells 
as I try to tell you all how grateful I am.  

Thirty three runners.
Our orange Team CJ shirts could be seen all over the place!

One-hundred-sixty-seven donors.  
That's 167 people who thought about those individuals touched by autism and took action.

Thank you to Aaron B., Robin, John, Steve, Justin, Kristen, Jamie, Jenn, James, Kelly, Kelli, Dave, Christian, Julie, Rachel, Kira, Krista, Bill, Shelley, Alex, Shannon, Stephany, Don, Kristin, Michelle, Ali, Tiffany, Glen, Jen, Aaron W., Travis, Arielle, and Rob.  What you did was no small thing.  Your willingness to run for autism and bring Team CJ to life is incredibly inspirational.  I am deeply grateful for your kindness, your bravery, and your willingness to try.
Thank you.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kinetic 70.3

One week has already passed since my second half-iron distance triathlon, the Kinetic Half hosted by Virginia | Maryland Triathlon Series (VTSMTS).  I'd first like to say that it was a great experience from registration to finish line and would recommend it to anybody.  They have a huge line-up in their series and I hope to compete in more of their races in the future.

Training for Kinetic was a completely different animal than training for Timberman (my first 70.3.)  I heard people talk about how tough "early season" can be, and I figured it would be different, but it was even more challenging than I anticipated.  Motivation is tough when it's dark and cold outside.  The pool, trainer, and treadmill can become super boring.  And May just seems so far away in January, February, and March.  But then suddenly it's April and my race is in six weeks and I feel totally unprepared.
Photo from my one and only OWS prior to the race

I trained for seventeen weeks, beginning on January 16th, under the careful guidance of my amazing coach.  During that time I swam about 40 miles, spent about 55 hours on my bike/trainer, and ran about 207 miles.  And even though I had included long rides and brick workouts in those seventeen weeks, none were as long as my prep for Timberman.  By comparison, for Timberman I trained 32 weeks, including 66 swim miles, over 100 hours on my bike, and 405 miles on the run.  Furthermore, so much of the seventeen weeks training this time around was indoors.  What I'm trying to say is, I was a little bit nervous about Kinetic.  I knew I could do it, but I also knew I wouldn't be setting any records.  So I needed to shift my focus and expectations.  Here is my Facebook post prior to the race:

"This early season stuff is tough. I've been trying to shift my expectations and adjust my focus. This isn't Timberman when I trained for nearly eight months working up to that day. This is Kinetic where I trained sixteen weeks and heavily indoors.
So, I'm going to expect to have a solid day, but not the fastest. I'm going to focus on things within my control and putting forth the effort. I expect this to show me where I'm starting this year and where I need to put my focus for the rest of 2017. So... here we go!"
Cute shirts!

Now on to Kinetic.  My husband and I were traveling down on Friday before the race, which was on Saturday morning.  It was only a four and a half hour drive to Lake Anna for us so we got the kids on the school bus and hit the road.  
Park Entrance

We arrived around 1pm and met up with our friends, Lynn and Charlie.  Lynn would be racing the international distance aqua bike in the morning.  Packet pick-up was scheduled to start at 4pm, so we decided to drive the course.  Aaron drove as I noted the hills, turns, and rough pavement.  Overall, the course looked awesome.  No large hills and several areas to get aero and move fast.  We got back to the park and learned that Lynn and Charlie were delayed on their drive due to a downed tree on the course.  
Best. Spot. Ever.
Race staff had opened packet pick up early so I got my stuff (including a cute tee and nice socks!) then headed over to find my spot in transition.  Let me just tell you, I did a happy dance and could barely believe my eyes when I got to my spot.  I was on the rack closest to the bike out/in entrance- in my opinion, the best spot ever!!!  

Once Lynn and Charlie got back, Lynn and I put on our wetsuits and went for an orientation swim. The water wasn't bad, warmer than the air.  
Orientation Swim
Photo cred: Charlie Guttendorf

It had been raining the entire day so we decided to forego any bike riding in favor of heading to our AirBNB house.  We got all settled and ordered delivery from Bella J Cucina.  After dinner it was time to race prep and then turn in for the night. 
Must lay out all the things, check and double check!

Alarm woke me at 4am.  It was still raining.  Hard.  We had seen the forecast and were ready for it, but had been hoping for a dry day.  My breakfast was two pieces of really hearty peanut butter toast, a banana, and coffee with creamer.  We all got ready pretty quickly and left a few minutes before 5am.  Getting into the park was no problem at all.  The volunteers parking us did an amazing job.  We unloaded our bikes and headed toward transition.  On the way was body marking, and since we had picked up our bibs the day before, we stopped and got our ink.  At the entrance to transition is where you picked up your timing chip.  Chip in hand I made my way to the best spot ever and discovered I was the first one to my rack!  I set up my transition, checked it, double checked it, went to the bathroom, and then triple checked my transition set up.  I had a Clif bar and some other things to eat, but my nerves got the better of me and I just couldn't do it.  After a final check of my transition, I finally left to head over to the swim start.  
In there somewhere!

SWIM: 00:44:22 - 2:06/100yd - 6/10 in AG The race started at 7am and my wave went at 7:08.  Miraculously, it had stopped raining!  The water had a bit of chop, so that was a surprise that I wasn't really prepared for.  Sighting was a little tricky because of the small waves as well as a mist hanging over the water.  I don't think I ever really got off course though.  Finding clear water was a little tricky, but possible.  No hard hits but plenty of bumping around with the other athletes.  I tried to breathe left and right but very shortly into swim I found myself breathing only to right.  When I tried to alternate sides again I got very dizzy and disoriented.  So as much as my neck was getting sore breathing to one side, it was preferable to being dizzy!  The only other issue I had during the swim was a desperate need to pee!  I cannot do it in motion.  Just can't.  Something to work on in training I guess!
Leaving the water
Photo cred: Charlie Guttendorf
T1: 00:04:49 During the pre-race announcements they stated there would be wetsuit strippers, which was awesome because at packet pick-up they had said that there would likely not be.  However, I exited the swim and there were none to be found.  Bummer!!!!  So I ran up the sidewalk, into transition, through a ton of squishy mud, to the best spot ever.  Got my wetsuit off, toweled off, magic jacket on (thanks Coach!!!), sock, shoe, sock, shoe (that part was tricky- fingers and feet kinda numb), helmet, glasses, gum in mouth, go!
Tent is bike in/out.  Didn't I tell ya?!?!  Best. Spot. Ever.

BIKE: 03:13:52 - 17.3mph - 5/10 in AG  The bike begins on a hill.  I already had my bike in an easier gear, so I had no issues getting going.  Aaron said he saw at least five athletes pop their chains and one guy fall coming out of transition.  Best advice is to start in an easy gear!  The bike course is great, totally loved it.  The rain was still holding off, the volunteers were wonderful, and although the roads were open, traffic was very light.  The vehicles that were on the roads, however, acted totally clueless about what to do with the bikers everywhere.  Multiple times I saw cyclists pass a car on the left because the car was going that slow.  And the course has zero shoulder.  It was a little frustrating, but slow and cautious drivers are preferable over fast and reckless drivers any day.  Aid stations were at miles 15 and 26, and since it was a double loop you hit the same stations again at miles 35 and 46.  My neck and seat were starting to complain only 20 miles in.  A bad sign.  Also, taking food and drink was totally unappealing to me.  A big problem.  By mile 40 my neck and seat were in agony and I just wanted to get off that bike.  And I had probably only eaten 5 of my Power Bar Cola Chews (I had twenty ready), my Lara Bar, half my bottle of Tailwind, and only sips of my Power Bar Perform.  I lost a lot of steam toward the end.  Definitely was getting passed a lot more than being the one doing the passing.  Was so, so glad to be done.
Five mile splits: 17.6, 16.3, 20.2, 18.2, 17.8, 16.7, 18.3, 17.3, 16.5, 15.9, 17.5

Deliriously happy to be done with bike.

T2: 00:04:52  Rode to the dismount line, dismounted my bike and that's when I realized the extent of the numbness of my feet.  It felt like I was walking on ankle nubs.  But I had the best spot ever in transition so I didn't have far to go.  Racked bike (after moving another rude athlete's gear away from my stuff), helmet off, change shoe, change other shoe, swig of Perform, gum in mouth, hit up portajohn (I was still holding it!!!), then ran through the muddy transition which they had since covered up with hay.  

Heading out on run!
Photo cred: Lynn Pierson

RUN: 02:09:52 - 9:53/pace - 7/10 in AG  I was still wearing magic jacket but realized very quickly I didn't want it on anymore.  The rain had held off all day.  It was still cool and overcast, but the sun was peeking through every now and then and it doesn't take much for me to get hot.  The course is a 4.5 mile loop that you get to run three times.  You were supposed to get a green silicone bracelet at the completion of your first two loops so the volunteers would know to direct you into the finish chute on your final lap... as if I could possibly lose count!  It's pretty hilly, nothing soul crushing, but I felt the hills a lot more than I thought I would.  My nutrition was all but nonexistent during run.  I tried the chex mix, but that was a no go.  The gatorade was a mouth-puckering, toxic sweet, lemon-lime.  I couldn't do it.  So I'd swish and spit water.  Bite and suck on an orange slice.  I felt extremely tired, like sleepy tired.  I kept imagining laying down in the grass and taking a nap.  There were four aid stations on the course and you went by each three times.  The volunteers were really nice and helpful. 
First loop! Thanks for the pics, Aaron & Lynn!
The first two loops went by pretty good, but the third one was rough.  I had begun walking quite a bit and then three in my AG passed me in the twelfth mile.  That super sucked.  Although I guess there's no way of knowing which lap they were in.  Maybe they looked so good because they were only in their second lap.  I suppose that's possible.  I am proud of my last mile, though.  I saw the twelve mile marker and thought, "When you get there, you can walk."  But I got there and thought, "Hell no!  Finish this!"  And the last mile was one of my quicker miles, so yay!
Splits: 9:04, 8:40, 9:35, 9:02, 10:36, 9:13, 10:46, 9:24, 11:06, 10:13, 9:51, 11:57, 9:13, (0.10) 7:54
Photo cred: Charlie Guttendorf

TOTAL TIME: 06:17:46 - 7/10 in AG

Got done, layed down in the grass, very quickly became cold, so I got up and moved toward truck.  Aaron reminded me I had to go get my bike (waaaahhhh!) so we got in truck and drove to transition where I almost puked in the parking lot.  So I gave Aaron my bib and they let him get my stuff.  I slept on the way back to the house wrapped up in a fleece blanket and Aaron's fleece-lined Gortex coat with the heat blasting in the truck.  I was able to drink some ginger ale (which I had the foresight to bring from home- go me!) while showering and I started to feel much better.  
Oh so done.

It is so funny.  During the race I'm thinking about how dumb it all is, how crummy I feel, and wondering why in the world do I do this to myself?!  During the race I'm regretting already signing up for two more 70.3s this year and I'm thinking that I have no business dreaming about a 140.6.  

But less than 24 hours after crossing the finish line all those bad feelings lift and fade away.  I feel amazing.  I can own my achievement.  I got myself to that starting line and I crossed that finish line on my own two feet.  And I honestly can't wait to do it again.  
Kinetic Finishers!
I just have to say a big THANK YOU to Coach Dennis.  I was worried.  You knew that.  But you also knew I didn't need to be.  I'm glad you were right. 😉

And another huge THANK YOU to my husband and kids who continue to be the best ever crew this athlete could ever ask for.  I simply could not do it if you didn't support me.  I hope I make you proud.  I hope I inspire you to try your best.
Simply the best.

Monday, January 30, 2017

4th Annual CJ's Resolution Challenge

Our fourth year was a tremendous success! There were 170 participants out there who braved the chill and covered 1596.8 miles. 

Let me say that again for emphasis. 

Collectively, in our three hour event, you all ran/walked 1596.8 miles. That's over 500 miles an hour!!! And if we had been on a plane together we would have flown from R. B. Winter State Park to Denver, Colorado!  We also had 42 Virtual Participants in twenty different states plus one who ran in Canada.  I am completely blown away!  You are all amazing.
CJ's Participants- photos courtesy Charlie Guttendorf

Last Friday night I was able to donate $6000 to this year's beneficiary!  ADERS, or Autism Diagnostic Evaluations Resources Services, Inc., is a 501c3 nonprofit located in Montandon, PA whose mission is to be able to provide comprehensive autism services from diagnosis across the lifespan. They have several ambitious projects on the horizon, including renovations to a newly acquired large meeting space (which have begun!), a pilot social skills program for elementary kids, a day habilitation program, professional trainings, and much needed social events for people who are affected by ASD (they have an event coming up next month!) Please check out and 'like' their Facebook page.   
Cullen handed Steve the check with a "Here ya go!!!"

As usual, I'd like to share some of my favorite comments from this year's participants.

"I have to say that this was the most organized, friendly, and all around awesome race I have ever been to. I was absolutely freezing, and I stopped in to warm up with a half a bowl of soup and bread between laps and everyone was so friendly! The soups were FANTASTIC!!! I couldn't believe how much food, snacks, and drinks you had available. The volunteers were so cheerful, even though they were probably freezing. I hope you continue with this race and I will definitely see you next year!" Heather

I wanted to say thank you so much for organizing such an awesome event for a great cause. This race was so much fun! The energy facilitated by the dedicated runners and organizers would make anyone hyped up enough to run for 3 hours. It was so encouraging and exciting to see so many people come together to promote physical activity and autism awareness. This is a very unique combination! The positive energy and determination of the runners and volunteers was super motivating and inspiring. It made the weather conditions more tolerable!! I can't wait for next year!"  Arielle W. 

"Thanks for a great race this past weekend! And congrats to all the participants who toughed it out on a very chilly day!  Funny how a 1.6 mile loop can fly by, and before you've run 20 miles!" Kelly H.

"I loved it!! What a fun event...even in the cold!!! I've never been to a race that is designed for the casual exerciser and the competitive runner! It was neat to see so many doing what works for them!! And it was my first trail "jog" in the snow!!!  Whether it is about resolving the challenges of autism or about your personal resolutions for the new year (or both)...don't miss this run next year!!!  The food was free, the music was fun, the course is flat, the PEOPLE were fantastic, the fire was warm, the T is a keeper, and the cause is meaningful!!!  Thanks so much to everyone that came.  You would love this race because you can go farther or stop early, take a break and go was fun!!" Christy R.

"Year four of CJ's Challenge to benefit Autism charities. Collin and I have run every year. We love this three hour challenge on the trails at RB Winter State Park. The temp at the start of the race was a balmy 15' degrees which was warm compared to the -8 our first year when Collin was only 11! Thank you for organizing this race and choosing a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  See you in 2018!" Tracy W.

"I ran more today then I have the entire month of December. I did 16 miles for a great charity for Autism, CJ's Resolutions Challenge in a chilly 15 or so degrees on trail dotted with ice patches. It wasn't easy and I'm definitely way out of shape but I'm happy with the distance I covered and glad that I was able to help out for this great cause and see some of my good running friends. Thanks for organizing this great event and also to all the friendly volunteers who helped out to make it a great success!"  Paul H.

"One of my favorite running events provided over 9.5 miles of icy trails and frigid temperatures but the people at this event have the biggest hearts and are so supportive! Happy to have spent the morning with many friendly faces raising money to support local autism charities! Great job as usual putting on a fantastic event!" Michele B.

Feedback like that helps keep us going.  I thank you all for your kind words.  Also, a special thank you to the Mifflinburg Community Ambulance Company for being available to come to our aid as needed. Thank you to Charlie for taking photos throughout the day. Thank you to all the volunteers who arrived early and stayed late to ensure a great event. Thank you A.W. Entertainment for the music- we loved it! Thank you to our Super Soup Ladies- that soup was oh so yummy and oh so necessary! 
Nom nom!

An event like this simply could not be put together by a single person.  I could never say the words "thank you" enough to express how much gratitude I have for each and every one of you who helps make this race happen.  To my friends and family, runners, spectators, and volunteers who have for four years now, voluntarily froze beside me on the mountain, you believe that this is more than just a race.  You understand that we do this to honor my son, to shine a light on autism, to have the conversations that make an impact, to connect someone to the resources they may need, and to build a network of support that could last lifetimes. 

And yes, we have a ton of fun, but surely, this is more than just a race.

See you next year!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Game Face

I'm running my seventh marathon (the Apsire Harrisburg Marathon) in the morning.  I'm nervous. Not because I'm unprepared.  I am trained to have a great race tomorrow.  I'm nervous because four of my previous six marathons have not been ideal, even though (with the exception of one of them) I had trained decently well.  I've put a lot of thought into the reasons why I choke on race day.  And I still don't think I've quite figured it out.

Marathon #3- River Towns Marathon, May 2014 (my recap of that race here)

Marathon #4- The Philadelphia Marathon, November 2014 (recap)

Marathon #5- River Towns Marathon, my DNF, May 2015 (unfortunately the last year they held the full- recap) In this recap I never even mention my own race or that fact that I did not finish.  Instead, I layed down in the grass with ONE MILE to go and waited for my husband to come pick me up.)

Marathon #6- Wineglass Marathon, October 2015 (Apparently I never recapped this one.  But here is a short blurb I wrote about it- 4:25:50 - 10:09/pace - 99/198 in AG (F30-34) - 964/1931 Overall - Trained well for this race, but choked on race day.  Ran with Misha who could have/should have left me.  But she didn't and for that I am grateful.  I hope someday she gets the marathon she deserves.)

Rereading all these recaps I notice a common theme, I trained well, I hoped I could do it, something went wrong, and I fell to pieces.  I suppose it's okay to hope for the perfect race, but it's not okay to count on it.  It's not okay to not plan for what to do if/when things don't go right.  So I'm visualizing.  

What if I oversleep and don't have time for breakfast? - I'll grab a banana and Clif bar.
What if my Garmin quits working? - I'll ask other runners about pace and do my best to run by feel.
What if I drop my gel/water bottle? - I'll use on course nutrition or wait til I see Aaron.
What if I become nauseous? - Depending on how bad it is, I'll run right through it and puke if I have to.  If need be, I'll slow down and goal will change to making it to the finish line.
What if I get that terrible foot pain? - Again, I gotta run through it.  Acknowledge the pain, slow down if necessary, but keep moving forward.  Then think about anything and everything else.  Strike up a conversation with a stranger.  Sing a song.  Smile.
What if I fall off pace? - Remember that #1 goal is finishing this race with a smile.  Does it really matter if I hit 3:43:00 versus 3:53:00?  No.  Not really.  I might be disappointed.  But I gotta remember that my marathon has gone from bad to worse and this race has the potential to end that spiral.

It's interesting to note that my current marathon PR (3:55:29) was at Harrisburg (recap here.)  What I remember most about this race is that I was not in my own head until the last three miles.  I was having a great time, engaging with spectators and fellow runners.  I truly had fun.  So in addition to planning for all the scary what-ifs of marathon, I'm going to be proactive and try to have fun tomorrow.  Smile, wave, fist-bump, cheer on and encourage other runners.  
What a Feeling!
I still don't really know why I choke, and I'm still nervous.  But I feel slightly better having acknowledged the feelings and put a plan in place.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Cost of a 70.3- Time and $$$

I knew getting into triathlon two years ago that it was an expensive sport.  For example, you quickly learn that your running clothes are not great for swimming or biking.  Tri specific attire is preferable, and expensive.  Need a new kit?  Be prepared to shell out $120-$180.  And cycling.  Oooh, cycling.  I was lucky enough to find a used road bike for $200 two years ago to get me started.  You also learn that bike ownership comes at a cost.  Get used to paying maintenance fees at your local bike shop.  And even race registration fees seem to be far more expensive than for regular old running races.  In 2014 I did my first sprint.  In 2015 I did my first olympic distance tri.  So naturally, despite the expense, I knew I'd be going for the half Iron in 2016.

I began searching the web for an average cost of such an endeavor.  I found one woman's blog regarding her expenses for a 140.6.  She spent over $3000.  I found another really eye-opening blog comparing Budget Triathletes to Big Spender Triathletes where the author puts costs for Budgets at $7900 and for Big Spenders at $34,000.  Yes, all those zeros belong there.

But surely a Half Ironman will be half the cost, right???  I decided to track my expenses and below is what I came up with.  I tracked everything with the exception of gas.  Everything.

Janell's IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman Expenses

Registration Fees $677.60
  • Frosty 5k $30
  • Race for Women's Health 10k $25
  • Lake Raystown Sprint Triathlon $91.99
  • Wally Man Olympic Triathlon $108
  • Musselman Sprint Triathlon $86.30
  • Flutopia 5k $25
  • Lewisburg Sprint Triathlon $60
  • IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman $251.31
Lodging $743.49
  • camping at Raystown $41
  • camping at Wally Man $64.99
  • AirBNB house at Timberman $637.50
Memberships $614
  • Danville Area Community Center (pool- six months) $234
  • USAT (annual) $50
  • Indoor Cycling Session at Simons Says Fitness $300
  • Team Taper Tri Club $30
Swim $284.14
  • D&J Sports- suit, paddles, goggles $78.33
  • 2XU tri kit $72.48
  • Tri 'n Sell It- random tri clothing $133.33
Cycling $1271.92
  • TT bike (used) $900
  • Bike Maintenance $146.99
  • Gear $224.93
Run $268.97
  • Inside Track - shoes, socks, snacks $181.25
  • MoJo Compression Socks $19.95
  • 2XU Compression Tights $67.77
Well-Being $788
  • Massage (13 appointments) $615
  • Chiropractic (3 appointments) $173
GRAND TOTAL - $4648.12

So was all that stuff necessary/ worth the money???  Well, yes.  You could argue that I didn't need to race so much leading up to my goal race.  But I find real races give me real feedback as to how my training is really going.  You could also probably argue that I didn't need so many massages or chiropractor appointments.  My perception of these things has shifted from one of "luxury" to one of "required routine maintenence" instead.  You'll notice that I don't have a wetsuit listed in my expenses.  That's because one was given to me by a friend.  

I'm hoping that future 70.3s won't be so costly.  (I'd like to do three next year!)  But I love triathlon, so to me, it was worth every single penny (and every extra minute spent at work to earn those pennies!)

Monetary expense isn't the only cost to triathlon though.  If you're considering taking on your first 70.3, be prepared for how much time it might cost you.

Swam nearly 66 miles in over 41 hours
Biked 1394 miles in about 100 hours
Ran about 405 miles in over 60 hours
Core workouts ???
I am quite certain I cut out miles/hours because my current yearly mileage is 2289 miles, and I haven't moved that much since Timberman!

GRAND TOTAL - Covered approximately 1865 miles in over 201 hours

I spent anywhere from six to nine hours a week training, with a few ten hour weeks, twelve hour weeks, and one sixteen hour week.  This is only time in motion.  Those hours do not count time it takes to get to wherever I might be working out.  It doesn't count time spent working with Coach. And it doesn't count time spent planning out how on Earth I was going to fit in all those workouts around the rest of my life.   

But just like the money, the time was well spent.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman

Can I say something?


I mean, seriously.  That was awesome.  I want to recap my experience at IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman in Gilford, NH and I probably shouldn't do it all in one post, but..... 

Thursday before the race was crazy, busy, and hectic.  Thankfully, I had been packing and preparing all the things for three days straight.  I got to bed at an almost decent time and woke around 5am Friday morning with a goal of departing at 6am.  We left at 7am.  There was a lot I wanted to do on Friday and Saturday before the race, so I was already anxious about being able to get it all done.  Maggie was sick (strep throat) and threw up her medicine in the truck plus we ran into quite a bit of traffic, meaning we spent more time on the road than I had anticipated.  Helpful Hint #1- if you're traveling a distance to get to a big race, leave as early as you are able!!!  It would have been so nice to get to Gilford on Thursday evening.  But anyway, we got there on Friday evening with about an hour left of athlete check-in.  So Coach Dennis and I jumped back in the car to take care of that.  We meandered through the IRONMAN Village very briefly before we headed back to our house. Helpful Hint #2- The Village was practically empty at that time.  We literally walked right up to the table and immediately got checked in.  No line.  No waiting.  I don't know if it's always that way at that time, but it sure was nice!  We had rented an AirBNB house that was near both the Village and the race start/finish.  It was really ideal.  We ordered pizza for dinner that night and planned out what we'd do the next day. 
Getting ready.

Saturday had a full itinerary- preview bike course, preview swim course, check in bikes, mandatory athlete briefing, and IRONKIDS run.  Oh yeah, and getting ready for the race on Sunday morning. The day did not go as planned at all.  We did get out on the bike course pretty early.  We drove the first part, parked the car, and then biked the middle portion.  We planned to attend the 11:30 briefing but when we arrived at the race site for it, we learned that the briefing was actually at the Village. Oops.

Helpful Hint #3- Carefully read and reread the provided athlete guide.  Even though Dennis and I had both done this, we completely missed the location of the briefing.  So we had to reformat our itinerary for the day.  We decided to make a quick trip to the store to get some groceries.  By the time we were checking out it was 12:20 and the IRONKIDS race started at 1pm.  We raced home and Dennis unloaded the groceries so Aaron, the kids, and myself could jump in the truck to head to the Village.  We got to the start of the race in time to see all the little kids take off.  Ack!  We stuck their bibs on their shirts super quick and Aaron manned the camera while I ran with the kids.  We elected to do the quarter mile race which was downhill for the first half and then back up the hill for the second half.  Cullen wasn't having it.  He managed to do the whole thing, but not without quite a bit of protest.  Maggie also needed some coaxing.  But once she saw the finish chute she really took off!  It was kind of a proud moment for me.  And she really loved getting her shiny medal.  Helpful Hint #4- If there is a kids race (and you got a kid or two!) put them in it!  It was really short and sweet and for just $15 they both got an IRONKIDS cinch bag, t-shirt, stickers, and medal.

Mandatory athlete briefing was next.  Aaron took the kids back to the house (it was really hot and there was a bazillion people everywhere) and Dennis and I had a beer at the beer garden waiting for the briefing to begin.  We quickly decided that the briefing was a waste of our time when the speaker stated he didn't know the course.  Although the speaker did tell us to try to avoid parking at Ellacoya State Park (the race site) because you will likely get trapped there until the end of the day.  Helpful Hint #5- Read as many race recaps as you can about the race for which you are preparing.  Having read at least a dozen on Timberman, and not seeing a single complaint about getting out of Ellacoya, I had my doubts about the speaker's comment.  So we left the Village to go get our bikes checked in and test out the water.  Bike check-in was a breeze.  Since you are assigned a spot all you have to do is find it. Then we figured out where we would be entering and exiting for transition and that was that.  Time to test the water!
Beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee

The water is clear and cool and beautiful.  Dennis and I walked out to the first buoy and still were only knee deep in the water.  We wondered how they would start us the next day.  (Answer- we walked out to the first buoy and waited to start.  But don't worry, there was still 1.2 miles of swimming.)  Now, having completed the bike course preview, IRONKIDS run, athlete briefing, bike check-in, and swim preview, all there was left to do was get ready for the next day.
Helpful Hint #6- Lay out EVERYTHING you need the night before.  

Dennis got himself squared away then turned his attention to me.  We got all my gear, hydration, and nutrition prepped then sat down at the table to "relax."  The house was quiet, so quiet that the clock on the wall counting the seconds was kind of driving me crazy.  Honestly, I can't even remember what we talked about.  In retrospect, I think I had already slipped into "go through the motions" mode.  So off to bed relatively early in preparation for a 3am wake up call.

Now for a side story- Dennis told me to find my One Thing rebuttal for when I want to slow down. He says success isn't in going fast, its in not slowing down.  So have your One Thing ready.  Why did I want to compete in a 70.3?

I contemplated this for days before the race.  Then I realized I really need to do it to shut up the voice that tells me I can't.  Because I've had a string of bad marathons and I hate the way that DNF and that almost DNF made me feel.

But that really isn't enough.  I mean, finding confidence in yourself again is great, but for some reason, it isn't super motivating to me.

Then like a ton of bricks I realized I need to find the voice of truth, the one that says I can do all things, for Maggie.  I need to show that little girl that there is NOTHING she cannot do if she sets her mind to do it, just like her mama.

Then tucking her in the night before the race I finally tell her that I'm racing for her in the morning. And she tells me in her sweet, sleepy voice, "Okay. Just don't slow down." (Really!!!)

So I promised I wouldn't.
My Sweet One Thing

My alarm woke me up and I felt like I had been gut checked.  I was definitely in "go through the motions" mode at this point.  Dennis and I left earlier than planned since we were ready early. Sometime between 4-4:15am we headed out.  Ellacoya was less than five minutes from our house, which was a good thing.  By the time we got there, there was already a good number of cars parked and lines of cars waiting to get in.  Helpful Hint #7- go even earlier than you think necessary!  We did get parked, no problem.  A helpful volunteer advised that when we got a moment we should turn our car so that it faced the road to make leaving easier.  We did and he was right about that!  (And by the way, leaving at the end of the race was not an issue!)  We got body marked and set up our transitions.  Helpful Hint #8- If you are setting up transition prior to sunrise, bring your headlamp!  In the darkness, we did manage to set up our transitions and put some air in our tires.  Then I nervously tried to eat my breakfast, a banana and a Clif bar.  
Pre and Post Sunrise

I was so grateful that we did everything as early as possible.  There were still people racing to get body marked and set up their transition with only 15 minutes left before close of transition!  I don't need that kind of anxiety and stress right before a race.  Before I knew it we were being herded to the swim start.  I immediately got in line for the portajohn and Dennis wandered off.  Pros started at 6:30, Dennis's wave started at 7, and my wave was 7:16.  The line was not moving.  People ahead of me were giving up and leaving.  I knew Dennis would need to be getting in the water when he appeared for a hug and a "stay in your box" and was gone.  Eventually the line did move and I was able to get down to the water and put on my wetsuit.  I was searching the crowd for Aaron and the kids and I just couldn't find them anywhere.  It made me really sad and I just had to push that aside. Next thing I know I'm standing in the water, close to the buoy, and I'm crying!  A woman close to me notices and asks if I'm okay.  I tell her yes, I'm just emotional and so excited that this moment is finally here.  Another woman nearby hears and says, "I'm right there with you."  There is nothing like that feeling of anticipation, anxiety, excitement, fear, pride, curiosity, and hope.  I knew I had done the work.  I knew I was ready.  And finally, I was going to be put to the test.  

THE SWIM- chip time 39:30/ Garmin time 39:21 (1:52/100yds)
There were at least 100 swimmers in my wave and we were the 13th wave, so there were a lot of people in the lake.  I very quickly realized that finding clear water was not going to happen so my focus shifted to protecting my face and getting to the next buoy.  Only took two hard elbows- one to the skull and one to the ribs.  I was caught by the first guy in the 14th wave at the first turn buoy.  He was like a bull shark plowing through the water.  Once you turned you were heading into the sun, but sighting wasn't that bad.  You turned at the red buoys and they had a random orange one that almost tricked me.  Once I turned to head back to the shore I tried to pick up my pace and imagined what I'd do once my feet hit the sand.  I swam until I could touch the bottom with my hands, stood up, and started to run while unzipping my wetsuit.  
Swim Finish
T1- Swim to Bike- chip time 2:57/ Garmin time 3:17
You run out of the water, up a couple of steps, and along the bank to the wetsuit strippers.  I had never done that before but knew they'd help me save a solid minute in transition so I decided to go for it.  Already had the suit at my waist when I stopped in front of two girls.  I looked at them.  They looked at me.  They didn't tell me what to do and I wasn't exactly sure so I just laid down, they grabbed my suit and yanked, I popped back up, they handed me my suit and that was that.  Found my bike without difficulty.  Shoes, glasses, helmet, chamois butter, go!  

THE BIKE- chip time 3:12:04/ Garmin time 3:11:50 (17.49/mph)
Biked out of transition (in easy gear!- that's Helpful Hint #9!!!) right onto a hill.  Dennis warned me that people would be mashing up the hills and that I should let them go.  I have a tendency to do that too so I had to really "reel it in" because there is a whole lot of race left.  Overall, Timberman is a challenging bike course.  I remember the hill right out of transition, a long hill around mile 5 and then the Marsh Hill Monster at mile 10.  Then all those guys on the way back too.  I felt really good overall on the bike with the exception of the flat portion in the middle.  So uncomfortable!  My watch was in a position where I couldn't easily see my pace, so unfortunately I didn't check in on that.  That also means that I wasn't keeping a close eye on timing for my nutrition.  Helpful Hint #10- if you have a watch that enables you to set alarm reminders, use that feature!  But despite that, I felt like I was eating and drinking at good, regular intervals.  I planned on eating my Lara Bar at the midway point and I really didn't want it at that time.  It took several miles, but I'm glad I got it down because I definitely needed something more substantial than chews.  I took water at all the aid stations, chugging as much as I could in the allowable space before chucking the bottle.  Additionally, I almost finished the two bottles of Perform I had on the bike as well as probably two packs of PowerBar cola chews.
5 mile laps
1- 16.8mph
2- 16.9mph
3- 15.8mph
4- 18.4mph
5- 19.5mph
6- 17.8mph
7- 18.3mph
8- 19.2mph
9- 14.3mph (WTF?!)
10- 16.3mph
11- 17.8mph
That averages out to 17.49mph.  Could I have biked faster?  Yeah, sure.  But don't forget, you gotta run 13.1 miles when you get off that bike.  There's a whole lotta race left.

T2- Bike to Run- chip time 4:06/ Garmin time 3:55
Yeah, that was slow.  I dismounted in kind of a large group.  There had to be at least five other people at the dismount line with me.  I didn't even try to run at first, was just testing out my legs.  Once I got up the tiny ramp into the grass I ran to my spot.  There were two bikes kinda kissing in my space on the rack so I asked another athlete to move one while I moved the other.  Racked my bike, helmet off, shoe off, sock and shoe on, other shoe off, other sock and shoe on, grabbed belt and visor.  Go! Except I really needed to pee.  So I stopped at the portajohn in transition.  Helpful Hint #11- Don't. Just don't even try to use the portajohns in transition.  Trust me on that one.

THE RUN- chip time 2:13:04/ Garmin time 2:13:28 (10:09/pace)
Ran out of transition and stopped at the next portapotty and it was nearly as bad as the first.  So to expand on Helpful Hint #11, if it is a convenient portajohn, don't waste your time, keep moving along.  I knew almost immediately that I'd be walking every aid station.  Even though it wasn't that hot, I know I'm prone to letting the heat get to me.  So at every single aid station I was dumping ice and water on myself.  Helpful Hint #12- dump ice down your shorts and in your top.  If you've got a sports bra you've now got a portable cooler of ice.  My nutrition plan was to eat one Clif shot block every other mile.  So at mile 2 I popped one in my mouth and began to suck on it.  By mile 3 it was still in there.  I couldn't do it.  I just couldn't stomach any more manufactured sweetness.  So I spit that out and nibbled on something at every aid station, like a pretzel or an orange slice or a sip of Coke. Toward the end of the double lap out and back run my sips of water turned to gulps and the allowed walking distance (length of the aid station) grew longer and longer.  There was a young girl along the course, maybe ten years old, cheering everyone on.  Her "You can do it!" was so heartfelt and sincere. It was nice to see her each time I passed because she made me think of my One Thing.  I wish I would have told her that her being there made a difference to me.  
Mile Splits
1- 8:58
2- 10:32
3- 8:58
4- 9:28
5- 9:47
6- 10:13
7- 9:38
8- 10:28
9- 10:14
10- 11:17 (exactly where Coach predicted the slow down would come!)
11- 11:20
12- 10:53
13- 8:59 (time to really remember my One Thing)
I sprinted down the finish chute.  I actually sprinted at the end of a 70.3 mile race, half laughing and half crying I crossed the line.  The feeling is amazing.  I'm still geeking out about it a week later. Everyone should do something that makes them feel the way this experience has made me feel.

Thank you to my husband and kids who sacrificed a lot of time with mom and missed out on fun things because I needed to train.  I hope I made them proud.  And I hope my sweet little One Thing was watching closely.

Thank you to Coach Dennis who invested so much of himself to ensure I'd succeed.  I'm not sure how I would have done it without him.  I hope he feels he got a good return on investment.  Helpful Hint #13- Get yourself a Dennis.  But not mine.  He's taken!!!

And thank you to all my friends and family who have followed this journey and encouraged me the whole way.  I cannot wait to do it again!
What a feeling!
IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman- chip time 6:11:41/ Garmin time 6:11:53
1212 Overall
62 Division F35-39
And one of the best feelings in the world!