Race Review 2018 Ironman 70.3 Muncie

Muncie, Indiana is about 4.5 hours away from Cleveland. The hubs and I left on Thursday night after work because the race was Saturday and mandatory athlete check-in was on Friday. (PS I am a big fan of Saturday races.)

The drive was pretty uneventful and we ended up checking into our hotel around midnight. The Courtyard Marriott was the main hotel for the race (about 15 minutes from the race venue) and it was buzzing with athletes even that late at night when we arrived. I felt like I was among friends seeing so many Ironman shirts and apparel!

The area around the hotel was really cute with older charming buildings, but we were a little surprised to see how round down the area was once you got outside this little part.

We slept in on Friday morning and then got up and walked around as we tried to find a coffee place. It was going to be brutally hot all weekend and by 9AM it was already nearing 80 degrees. I had gathered most of my stuff the night before so we headed to athlete check-in and optional bike check-in — which I opted for because why wouldn’t you? One less thing to remember on race day! Muncie was my third Half Ironman distance, but the only race so far to have one transition, which made things A LOT easier and quicker in terms of packing and check-in.

We attended the athlete briefing and they said that wet suits were probably going to be banned during the race because of high water temps. Sounds good to me, I thought. I was SO calm and chill about everything. We were in and out within an hour of entering athlete village and bike drop off. (Flash back to my first Half Ironman distance where I practically lost my damn mind because wet suits were going to be illegal and I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep and probably packed and repacked like 87 times.) Big difference once you get used to a distance!

We left athlete village around noon and had the entire day to spare. My husband’s college fraternity’s national headquarters were located about an hour away in Indianapolis, so we drove there for a mini day trip. It was SUPER hot and we were sweating walking around the city, but we had such a fun time exploring together. We both had never been to Indianapolis before!

Discovered a cute little park in downtown Indianapolis.

We got back to the hotel around 6PM that night and things starting setting in for me. I wasn’t really nervous so to say…maybe a little anxious I guess. The distance just started to get real as the starting line got closer. I laid everything out for the morning and we went down to the restaurant at our hotel for dinner. I had a big old salad with water, while the hubs enjoyed wings and beer. That night I fell asleep easily around 10PM and woke up a little before my alarm at 3:30AM. It was race day!!

The hotel was buzzing as we walked out to our car that morning. We were not staying that night so it was a little difficult to pack up the hotel room and be out the door by 4:30AM! We had heard that traffic could get pretty backed up heading into the race venue (there is one main road leading in), but we had no issue and parked pretty close. It was now 5:15AM and we had a lot of time to spare until the 7AM start time.

I set up my transition and there was excitement in the air. I made small talk with a few of the girls around me and I felt happy and grateful to be there in that moment. Slowly the hubs and I made our way down to the beach (sans wet suit, although a few people opted to be in the “party wave” at the back and wear one.)

The real MVP of the entire weekend and race. My husband is a great sherpa! Here he waits for me to use the bathroom for like the 5th time before the swim LOLLL

I warmed up a little in the water and the announcers started calling for people to line up for the swim start. I guess this was the first year that Muncie opted for a rolling start — meaning swimmers seed themselves with their estimated finish times. It was really packed when I started to get in line and I pushed through the crowds to try to get to the 40-45 minute coral, but I wasn’t really successful. Somehow I was back at the 60 minute time and I seriously could not make my way any further in without looking like a real A-hole and pushing people.

A beautiful morning for a Half Ironman!

So Lake Placid 2017 was also a self seeded start (I feel like most larger races are starting to go this route), and there were probably 3,000 racers there and I was in the water 7 or 8 minutes after the gun went off. No BS and no messing around. I loved it. However with Muncie…the gun went off at 7AM and I didn’t hit the water until 7:38. I was pretty annoyed by the time I got up to the start. They had gated the start off to only allow 5 swimmers to enter the water every 10 seconds. It took FOREVER and all the swimmers were sandwiched into this this tiny fenced in area. Everyone was practically naked, wet and hot…it was not good you guys.

FINALLY I started my race. The past couple bigger races I’ve done I’ve LOVED the swim and Muncie was the same! This is just a strange concept for me because I hate swimming LOL, but when I hit the open water, everything is great. I always feel so lucky and blessed to be out there. I feel like I always spend the majority of my swim talking to God because it’s just me and my thoughts and it’s vaguely quiet.

[Swim Time: 47:22]
I was thinking I’d finish around 43-44 minutes and felt like I was really pushing for a faster time, but I guess not! Overall I was fine with this time.

[Transition 1: 6:21]
Believe it or not this was one of my faster T1’s haha!

I was still slightly concerned over getting a flat tire when I started the bike, but that’s because I had a bad experience the week before during my last training ride. The bike was exciting for the first 10 miles or so, but when I settled in on the two loop main course I started to get a little bored. I have one word to describe the bike course — corn fields. It was HOT and there was no shade (which was expected, but still). I saw quite a few people with mechanical issues, but saw 5 or 6 different SAGs and felt rest assured. I also saw a few wheel chair athletes and at one point a tandem with a blind athlete, which was really awesome and I cheered.

I thought I was pushing it pretty good with my pace, but was disappointed with my bike time. I was glad it was over though. It’s funny how I loved the bike at Lake Placid, but couldn’t wait to be done with the bike at Muncie.

[Bike Time: 3:09]
I was REALLY hoping to be around 3 hours or even below, but that just wasn’t happening with the heat.

[Transition 2: 4:23]

I saw the husband when I got off the bike and when I started the run. I felt bad knowing he was walking around by himself for 6+ hours in 95 degrees (and he HATES the heat). He is incredible and I know how lucky I am to have him.

Happy to be off the bike.

The first few miles of the run started off good. The elites were just finishing up as I was starting and I cheered them in. The first two miles of any brick are always my fastest and at mile 3 I stopped to get water and fuel. I slightly had to pee, but my strategy was to make up good time on the run and finish around 2 hours… WRONG lol. It ended up being my worst Half Ironman run. It.was.so.damn.hot!!

The run had no shade, was basically in the middle of corn fields, had very little crowd support and was all on black concrete where I could see the heat waves rising up before me. People were pouring water on their heads and running with cold towels and sponges tucked into their shirts. I knew it was crucial to get liquids at every aid station if I wanted to finish strong. I didn’t even end up peeing during the run which tells me just how dehydrated I already was going in. I took my typical walk/run strategy. I picked out a landmark and told myself to run to it and then sometimes I’d pick another point to walk until or I’d count down from 5 to start running again. I was really missing music during this portion of the race because I was bored and honestly kept asking myself “Why am I doing this again??” But Ironman has a funny way of making you forget all about the pain when you reach that last mile…

The last part of the run before you hit the finish line area is a big ‘ole hill. It was lined with screaming people when I approached it and I knew that I was going to run it, but I also knew it was going to hurt. The crowd was going wild, which took my mind off my burning quads and tired body. People were on both sides yelling and high-fiving the runners. Different groups blasted music as the runners danced by. I could hear the finish line announcer and I felt that old familiar flame of PURE JOY set in.

The finish line of any long course race is always bitter sweet. You body is aching…your heart is exploding as for just a minute you are a rock star…you are scanning the crowd for your loved ones and your heart is swelling by the sheer fact that you are lucky enough to be there in this moment…you are blessed and able when some can’t and you feel so grateful to experience this…and then you hear your name and a medal is placed around your neck and you are whisked away and suddenly it’s all over. A searing moment burned into your memory more potent than the pain that you felt all day…

And THAT’S how Ironman hooks ya to keep coming back for more…

[Run Time: 2:22]
[Total Finishing Time: 6:30]

After the finish line I found my trooper husband and we got some post-race food (read: I got the food, but he ate it because I had ZERO appetite.) Then we decided to take a dip in the lake since we had both been sweating and in the sun all day. After our swim we showered and changed in the beach bathrooms and slowly made our way out of athlete village. We packed up and by 3PM we were on our way back to Cleveland. I thought I was going to nap a little in the car, but I never did. We arrived home around 8PM and stopped to get food because I was STARVING. But I could only manage a few bites and half a beer. Basically I needed to sleep ASAP. We got home and I fell into bed and slept for 12 hours 🙂 What a fun little weekend!

POST RACE THOUGHTS

Overall I had a blast traveling to a new race in a different state. The swim was a blast. The bike was decent but pretty boring. And the run was not tough in terms of the course, but tough in terms of the heat and how boring it was. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for, but every day is different and I was happy to have pushed through for a finish.I probably wouldn’t recommend this race because multiple times I thought the race kind of felt like a local tri instead of an Ironman 70.3 experience. I am happy to have experienced it, but also kind of happy it’s over!

CHEERS!

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A Trip to Italy & Other Whirlwind Activities

Phew! What a crazy few weeks it has been!

Within the past three weeks I competed in my first Ironman 70.3 triathlon, traveled to Italy for 10 days, celebrated our first wedding anniversary and started a side business with a close friend. Things have been happening so fast lately that I’m not sure I’ve really processed everything!

ctc-ironman-70-3-ohioI think the day after I got back from Italy and was drinking coffee out of my new 70.3 Ohio mug was the first time that it really hit me that the race was over and that I had competed and not only survived, but thrived. It feels surreal and I can’t believe I spent so much time training for the race. I must admit that although I am still training for the Akron Marathon on Sept. 24 — there is almost a feeling of lacking importance now when training. I know I’m in great shape to complete the marathon, but it’s weird to not be tracking my workouts or obsessed with my total weekly mileage. Like…it’s SUPER weird.

I did an 18-mile run last weekend and an 8-miler today, which were both fine. I felt decent during both. I don’t have super high expectations for my 4th marathon in six days, but I’m also not really interested in PR’s with 26.2 anymore (at least for now). To me running a marathon is all about the experience and your total time is just kind of a secondary thing. Anyone else with me on this?! I know I’m never going to qualify for Boston, so I relax and enjoy getting caught up in just being there.

I still cannot believe we were in Italy. We traveled almost 5,000 miles from home and now we are back like nothing happened. It’s crazy! Being overseas for the first time was exciting and I still can’t believe we actually made it happen!

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary out at a wine tasting tour in beautiful Tuscany, where we could see miles and miles of grapes vines. We saw the Colosseum, which was another “wow” moment” for me. We toured the Vatican, which was breathtakingly beautiful. (We even saw The Pope!!) We swam in the Mediterranean sea and dove off cliffs into the blue water. We hiked up a mountain. We strolled the stone streets of Florence imagining what life was like 500 years ago. We watched the sunset and the sunrise. We met Italian locals and laughed about Donald Trump. We drank lots of wine and ate lots of pasta. We stopped at tiny cafes and had pastries and cappuccinos every morning. We saw artwork that took your breath away and architecture that was so old you couldn’t even comprehend it.

Everything was simply amazing and incredible. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Here are a few pictures!

Monterosso al Mare - The Mediterranean Sea, cliff diving and hiking views.

Monterosso al Mare – The Mediterranean Sea, cliff diving and hiking views.

Monterosso al Mare - celebrating our one year anniversary dinner at an adorable mountain top hotel that my husband and I found.

Monterosso al Mare – celebrating our one year anniversary dinner at an adorable mountain top hotel that my husband and I found.

Some of the amazing food we tried!

Some of the amazing food we had!

Vatican City, Rome - We were able to see The Pope come out to the crowds after the mass to canonize Mother Teresa.

Vatican City, Rome – We were able to see The Pope come out to the crowds after the mass to canonize Mother Teresa. The Pantheon – (bottom left) was so massive and SO old!

Pisa, Italy

Day trip to Pisa, Italy.

View from climbing 414 steps in the tiniest, most claustrophobic stone stairway!

View of Florence after climbing 414 steps in the tiniest, most claustrophobic stone stairway! Worth it!

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

 

Ironman 70.3 Ohio — The Race Report

My face hurts from smiling. I haven’t even been able to stop grinning for about 36 hours now. I am completely on cloud 9 from this past weekend and I can’t stop raving about it. Next to our wedding day, racing Ironman 70.3 Ohio was my second favorite day ever!

athlete-villageTo be a part of something so incredible, amazing, uplifting and positive was more than I could have ever expected. I am so proud of not only myself, but of the 3,000+ other athletes that I toed the starting line with. Ironman is the most supportive and positive experience I think I’ve ever been a part of. All of these incredible athletes gathered in one place to push themselves and each other to be better and to not be average — it’s simply incredible. I am in awe.

ironman-signWe left our house on Saturday at about 11AM and got to athlete village around 1PM. We checked in with little wait time and I was nervous and excited as the nicest volunteers wished me luck. I picked up a few items from the Ironman store (aka my husband limited my spending) and then we went to an athlete briefing at 2PM. Next stop was the mandatory bike check-in at the beach start, so we headed over there. It was the biggest transition I had ever seen, but I kept my composure as I nervously racked my bike and made small talk with other athletes around me. It looked like it was going to rain, so after a quick walk around we headed back to the car. About five minutes later it was pouring and although I was concerned about my bike, I was super glad we didn’t get caught in it. My husband had recommended me tying plastic bags around my seat and aero bars, which I was glad I did.

bike-check-inAfter that we went to get something to eat since we were starving and then we checked into our hotel. Once in our room I began to reorganize my items all over again. (Seriously how many times do you need to organize stuff for an Ironman?! It’s insane how much you have to pack!!) Since the race was a point to point course and I had never done a race like that before, it took me a while to organize everything into my separate gear bags. (It also took quite a bit of checking and double checking to make sure I wasn’t panicking that I had forgotten something!)

gear-bags-ironmanMy husband stayed up to watch the UFC fights that were on and I turned off social media and tried to lay down to go to bed. I thought I was going to have a hard time falling asleep, but I slept decently and only woke up a few times throughout the night. My alarm went off at 3:45AM and I was wide awake. I wanted to be out the door by 4:30AM, but we left more towards 4:45AM. Thankfully we ended up being way ahead of schedule! We had to drive to T2 to drop off my run gear bag and then head over to the beach for the swim and to finish setting up my bike and T1 items. Because my husband was driving I just hopped in and out of the car and was super efficient at set up. We had so much time we even stopped at McDonalds for the hubs to grab an extra large coffee.

ironman-tritats-numbersWe were down by the beach at 7AM to watch the elite and first few waves go off. I knew this was going to be one of the hardest parts of the race — to sit there and wait and watch for my wave. I knew my head was going to be my enemy and I’ll admit I teared up just a little as the elites went off. It was a combination of nerves, excitement, worry, happiness and pride. I couldn’t believe that I was there and about to do this… I looked down at my hand and saw my two power words for the race — fearless and joy. I wanted to remind myself to be fearless even when I was doubting and questioning and to also soak up as much joy from the experience as possible. I do this because I enjoy it and I never want to forget that.

ironman-power-wordsFinally my wave was nearing so I dove in the water for a quick little warm up so that I felt more comfortable. This worked out well and the water temp was around 79 degrees and felt fine. After the fuss I had over the “no wet suit” fiasco — I hardly even noticed I wasn’t wearing one!! I felt completely comfortable in the water! pre-race-warm-up

swim-start-ironmanohio

This picture cracks me up because I look like a nervous, excited little kid!

I patiently waited in line with my age group and we slowly made our way to the front. Music was blaring and I felt excited. Finally it was our turn to get in the water and the announcer kept giving us updates like “just under 2 minutes ladies” and “about 30 seconds more”…then the horn went off and my Ironman 70.3 started!

swim-start-wave-ironmanI began swimming, but like any normal triathlon swim — the first few moments are straight chaos. I couldn’t find a spot and I kept hitting people and people kept hitting me. At one point someone’s arm (or maybe their foot I’m not quite sure) knocked me in the face and shoved my googles up over my forehead. I had to stop and tread water to fix them. I heard myself say “Ok, ok, easy. It’s fine. It’s completely fine.” I readjusted myself and kept going.

The first part of the swim felt a little longer than I had hoped for, but I kept reminding myself that the swim is long for almost everyone. I did manage to swallow water not once, but twice! I’ve never done that before and both times I had to stop and tread water to cough. Both times lifeguards in kayaks sprinted over to check on me. It made me feel super safe in the water and I waved them off with “I’m fine! Thank you!” 

swimFinally we were swimming the straight away back to land and I felt joy when my hands brushed the gravel. I had made it and it wasn’t nearly as bad or as hard as I imagined it to be…in fact I almost (just a tiny bit) enjoyed the swim!!

{Swim time: 46:09 minutes}

I sprinted back to T1 and then had the longest transition time known to man! LOL! I know that there is an art form to fast transition times, but all that goes out the window for me. Honestly my biggest thing was that I wanted to be comfortable for the 56-mile bike ride so I wanted to take my time to dry off my feet and eat my gels. I felt relief when I pressed on my tires and felt that they were fine. (I have a crazy irrational fear of a flat tire because it takes me over an hour to change one!) Before I knew it I was headed out of transition and starting the bike!

{T1 time: 9:47}
(BUT in my defense I put on compression socks, regular socks, my tri top, changed tri shorts from the swim, took an energy gel, drank water and took my inhaler — all after being disoriented from the 1.2 mile swim!)

Once I got on the bike I realized how much fun I was having. I had survived (and actually enjoyed) the swim and now there I was cruising down back country roads with the sun shining. I had a smile on my face almost the entire ride and my checks hurt by the time I was done.

bike-5I did have one little hiccup on the bike — because I was cruising (about 17 mph) and I had a nice rhythm going, I didn’t want to stop at the aid stations. I knew I should have stopped to eat because I’m bad at eating on the bike, but I just didn’t want to and I kept riding. The aid stations were at miles 14, 32 and 46. Around mile 40 I started to hit a wall. I was super tired and I started getting mad because I was so hungry. I just kept telling myself to get to mile 46 and that I would stop and eat once I was there. Finally I got there and I got off the bike. A nice volunteer held my bike for me as I put my hands on my knees. I was shaking at that point and knew I shouldn’t have waited so long to eat. I had a PB&J in my back jersey pocket and I took it out and ate it. I also took another gel and drank some Gatorade. Then I was off and I felt myself returning back to normal!

bike-22I will say that I was pretty paranoid of getting a yellow penalty card on the bike. The drafting rules for the race were six bikes ahead of you — six! Do you realize how large that is? Especially when it was really clogged up at times and you couldn’t really do a lot about it except to keep riding and hope there was no race official watching. Thankfully I made it through just fine, but when I passed the first penalty tent I was shocked at how many people were in it.

bike-33Finally I heard the noise of the stadium and knew we were close to the end of the bike and to T2. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the run, but I was glad to be off the bike.

bike-to-run11bike-to-run1{Bike time: 3:12}

My transition in T2 was better than T1, but I still wanted to make sure I was comfortable and took my time.

{T2 time: 5:35}

So there I was off on the run. I had made it through the swim and the bike and I was on the final leg of the race. I couldn’t believe it. I felt ok…for the first 5 minutes. And then the pain started. I later joked with my family that I had a few moments of deep despair on the run, but there’s no other way to describe it. At mile 3 I thought about seeing my husband and thought about crying. I carried on. Luckily there were a lot of amazing spectators on the course and hearing a random “keep going Cassandra!” helped to keep my spirits up. At mile 5 I started feeling decent. I was tired of course, but I felt like I had climbed over the wall that hit me pretty early on in the run. I kept playing games with myself like “run until you reach that light pole” and then I would walk for 30 seconds and then pick another target to run towards. This helped to pass some of the time, but I was really wishing we could have listened to music.

run-1At mile 9 I started running next to another fellow Cleveland Triathlon Club member, Melanie. We chatted a little bit, but mostly we encouraged each other when the other one would give a defeated sigh or groan. We ended up running the last 4 miles together and picked up the pace quite a bit. It was awesome running down the finishers shoot with another club member. Our entire tri club was going crazy when we passed them and I had a huge smile on my face.

CTC-MembersThe finish line was on the track of Selby Stadium at Ohio Wesleyan University. It’s awesome because the spectators and fans are looking down at you and cheering. I could hear the stadium from the street and I couldn’t believe I was in the final moments of the race. I love this moment. The very end when everything you’ve endured and pushed through is right there in front of you. It’s always an emotional few minutes as you near the finish line.

I tried to soak it all in. The cheers, the sun beating down on me, the tiredness and soreness in my legs, the smile plastered to my face…

Music blasted and I made the turn to the finish. I passed another group of Cleveland Triathlon Club members who were cheering loudly for me. The screaming and cheers were so loud and I felt myself start to tear up. I was grinning and blinking back tears. I heard my husband cheering and then I heard my mom! I was sprinting now and I heard the announcer yell “Cassandra Holloway bringing it home!” I was laughing and cheering too as I crossed the finish line. I had done it!

{Run time: 2:21}

finishline1finish-line2I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be, but I was even happier than I could have imagined. I kept saying “I just can’t believe it! I can’t believe that happened!”

{Total time: 6:35}

I didn’t have much of an appetite right after the race. They had a nice spread of post-race food for the athletes, but nothing looked good. I think I was too excited, tired, sore and thrilled to even think about food.

finisherUnfortunately Selby Stadium didn’t have a locker room/showers for the athletes (which I was really hoping they would considering I had to drive over 2 hours home). We ended up driving back to the beach start and I went in with a bar of soap to clean up — LOL! Hey, gotta do what you gotta do I guess! This was sufficient enough so that I could change and we went out to eat. Delaware is a really cute little town and I enjoyed sitting out on a patio with my family. We drank beer in the sun and I kept flipping out about the race. I just couldn’t believe it! It was a nice moment that I won’t forget.

Even almost four days later I am still thrilled. Honestly the training was harder than the actual race. The race was pure enjoyment and excitement. I can’t believe I was a part of something so incredible and I found that I was almost at a loss for words when I told my coworkers about it at work this week. Everything I tried to explain didn’t do it justice. You just have to be a part of it to fully understand and to “get it”.

By now I am fully recovered. I enjoyed some pasta and ice cream and two days of full rest. Yesterday I did some light weights and cardio and this morning I went out for an early 8-miler since I am still technically marathon training. My husband helped me make this little shadow box with my bib and medal and I’m obsessed with it! We found the box for $9 at the store.

boxTomorrow we leave for Italy and I can’t even believe it! What a whirlwind these past few days have been!! I’m also super excited to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary on Monday too. We will be taking a bus tour out to Tuscany to celebrate.

Thanks to everyone who followed my 24-week journey. I can honestly say it was worth every sacrifice and I learned a lot about myself and the sport. If you are questioning or thinking about doing a 70.3 my advice is to do it!! You will not regret it. Ironman 70.3 Ohio gets an A+ in my book. What a great inaugural race!

ironman-ohio-certificate

RACE WEEK — Ironman 70.3 Final Countdown

It’s here! It’s here! Race week to my first Ironman 70.3 Triathlon is finally here and I can’t even believe it!

I signed up last October while on a rainy trip in Denver, Colorado. I signed up with shaking hands and a thought that perhaps August 21, 2016 would never even arrive. I signed up wondering if I had the courage to try and the will power to even get to the starting line. I signed up despite pushing back feelings of fear, self-doubt and “what ifs” from my mind.

I dived into my training on March 8. Six months worth of training. Twenty-four weeks worth of early mornings, late evenings and everything in between. Twenty-four weeks worth of bike rides in the rain, swims in cold water and running even when I plain ole’ didn’t feel like it. The sacrifices have been endless and the real pain has not even begun yet, but the reward has been great even so far. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to feel like crossing that finish line.

I could sit here and type out how I’m feeling, but if you are reading this and have any inkling to the triathlon world then you probably already know exactly what I’m feeling. I am super nervous. I am insanely excited. I am pushing out the negative and breathing in the positive. And I am ready.

A fellow triathlete blogger shared this poem/tribute in a comment last week and I have reread it multiple times already.

Here is my favorite part:

“Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, Your mind, cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you. It won’t be pretty. It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren’t ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn’t know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth: You are ready. Your brain won’t believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish – that there is too much that can go wrong…

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It’s the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, “How will I ever be ready?” to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go…knowing that you’d found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you’re at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it…You are ready.”

See you on the other side!  🙂

feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyways

Training Week 22 & The Mental Hurdle

This week was a weird week.

I was stressed at work with looming deadlines and meetings on top of meetings. Of course I was still training and trying to get in my last big mileage week before I begin to taper. This weekend was jam packed too and we just had a ton of stuff going on. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel a few times. I wasn’t really feeling like myself all week. Even my husband pointed out that I wasn’t being the positive, optimistic person I normally am. Something was off. My attitude was different, I was super irritable and I was stuck in my own head. Suddenly I felt hesitant in my abilities. I was questioning everything I had done these past 23 weeks…

I can trace it all back to one minor, tiny (and stupid) thing that happened. [And I will preface everything by saying that I am NOT the type of person to get butt hurt over social media comments. I’ve seen fights go on in comments before and I’ve thought to myself that those people need to get a life.] With that being said I was really taken back by the comments I received after posting a question to my local triathlon club Facebook page this past week.

The image below was my question:

facebook-questionTo my complete shock and surprise the majority of comments I received back from this question were rude. (And they were from my own “teammates“.) The comments crept into my head and made me question everything. I asked an innocent question and was shot down with judgemental questions and comments from people who were supposed to be there for me (since we belong in the same triathlon club). I had never even met many of them before. I would cringe when I got a notification because I didn’t want it to be another rude person commenting on it and talking down to me. Has anyone ever felt like this before? It’s a terrible feeling. Half of me wanted to delete my question, but half of me kept thinking “What is wrong with these people? What is so wrong with my question?!”

I will admit I couldn’t even fall asleep one night last week because my mind was buzzing with the negative comments and thoughts I received. I know I’m probably being overly sensitive here, but I’m a 26-year-old girl who has been working my butt off over the past 23 weeks to get to the starting line of a big race. I am a young triathlete who hasn’t been in the sport that long and I reached out seeking advice and insight from veteran athletes who know more than me — exactly what I was supposed to do. In return I was talked down to, called weak, sent pictures of water snakes, was called a newbie and told I needed to swim more and asked if I was going to drop out several times. Finally after a few days went by and I was feeling smaller and smaller, I went through and deleted the really negative comments. I’m not afraid of a little tough love when it’s needed, but this got out of control and it turned into a bashing fest. There were two nice and helpful comments though. These people told me what typically happens and gave me a few things to be concerned about – i.e. overheating, my body temperature skyrocketing, etc. Stuff that was actually helpful and it was the advice I was looking for. But for every nice and supportive comment came another idiot asking me if I was going to drop out and hinting that I must not be prepared enough. It was really disheartening.how-you-act

I couldn’t believe that a sport and a group that is supposed to be positive and is supposed to be about conquering your fears and pushing yourself was doing just the opposite…shooting me down, instilling me with doubt and trying to scare me. (I still can’t even believe people were posting pictures of water snakes in the comments. Honestly — what on earth is wrong with those people?!)

I’ve been racing for three years now. I’ve done over a handful of sprint and Olympic distance races, but I have never completed a 70.3 race before. This is my longest distance to date. I’ve also never been to a race where a wet suit has been “illegal” either. I know nothing about how it works. I even mentioned it in my post last week that I was debating and thinking about what I’d do. I reached out seeking advice and guidance and just the opposite happened.

I’ve been looking back at my training log these past few months and have been telling myself that I am well-trained. And before last week and all those rude comments I really felt like it. I have worked really, really hard and have gotten out of my comfort zone. I’ve gone to group training, clinics and workshops. I’ve done everything right. I can’t and I won’t let rude people’s comments make me question my hard work. I’m mad at myself for spending 4 straight days questioning myself and my abilities. Even my husband got a little heated with me for being so down on myself “Why are you listening to internet trolls!? Why are you letting them win!?” He asked me one morning before I set out for a run and I was telling him how down on myself I had been feeling. “They say stuff like that because they want to look like bad ass’s, but really they are just insecure and feel better about themselves by putting people down. You know better than to listen to them.”

rudenessAnd I do. I do know better than to listen to them. I am just starting to feel better today about everything, although I received another notification last night for another comment basically saying that I should have swam more and hinting at the fact that I wasn’t ready if I’m concerned about not using a wet suit. Last time I checked most people liked using their wet suit and last time I checked it wasn’t public ridicule to ask what happens when something happens in a race. It’s called mentally preparing myself and expecting the unexpected. Shame on those people. This is such a stupid issue to even be concerned about and I wish I didn’t let it get to me. Life is bigger than asking a question about a stupid wet suit and being called weak. Again shame on those people and a little shame on me for letting it get to me.

To all those people hiding behind a keyboard and judging me and making me feel so small — I will prove you wrong and I will make sure I never make anyone else feel like that in this sport. Triathlon is a sport that teaches us to push ourselves, conquer our fears and get out of our comfort zone. I have done all of these things over the last 3 years and especially over the last 23 weeks. I’ll be damned if I let rude comments make me question my journey and get in my head. I know I let this get to my more than I should have, but I also know those people were out of line too. I never want to make someone else feel how I felt reading those comments. I’m not a triathlon rookie and I’ll probably never consider myself a triathlon veteran either, but I will never make someone feel so stupid and small when talking about the sport. I will raise everyone up and encourage the journey. I will be supportive when people don’t know what to expect and are reaching out for help. I will not let this stop me. It may have slowed me down this past week, but I refuse to let the negativity win. Negativity is like a poison. It effected how I felt about everything last week and I’m putting an end to it this week. I will get out there at my race and crush it — with or without a wet suit.

prove-them-wrongI have two more weeks of training and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m not going to dwell on negativity and question myself any longer. Despite the hurdle last week I manager 88 miles. It was a great week and included a 15-mile run and I felt strong during and afterwards. I am completely ready and I cannot wait for the big race.

T-minus 13 days!

week-22tough-cookie

Training Week 21 Recap — August Has Arrived!!

It’s August 1st. Wow!

I’m generally not one of those people who say “I can’t believe it’s already [insert month or holiday here]!” Because I always want to say to those people “Really? You can’t believe it? Where have you been then?” I feel like those types of people have a hard time living in the moment, which is something I feel I do a decent job at doing (most of the time that is).

august1I’m pretty self aware and often will find myself looking around and trying to “take in the moment” whether it’s driving to work and seeing the sunrise or looking around at a best friend’s wedding and really trying to be fully present. With that said I am stoked it’s August!! I’m not “surprised” like it snuck up on me, but generally SO excited that it’s here! August is by far my favorite month of the year. There’s something so bitter sweet about it. It’s an exciting time with summer starting to wrap up, kid’s going back to school and everyone starting a new season in life.

august2Last summer was all about getting married on August 29. This year we are most definitely looking forward to August 29 (again) for our one year anniversary, but also the past six months of my life have been preparing for Ironman 70.3 Ohio on August 21. Not only is that going to be an amazing date in August history — but we leave on August 26 for a 10-day vacation in Italy!! Talk about setting the bar high for future Augusts  🙂

I’m so excited for everything! Soon all my hard work will pay off. I’m feeling cool and confident going into the last 3 weeks of training. I did my longest brick EVER on Saturday (almost 6 hours) spent on a 40-mile bike ride and a 10-mile run. I just barely escaped the thunderstorm and rain! I even ran into my best friend up on the trail! She is training for her first half marathon and seriously kicking butt!

I managed to get in a very decent week mileage wise, totally 91 miles in just under 10 hours.

Week-21I realized a few weeks ago that it’s go-time on Akron Marathon training. I’m in great shape now, so basically all I have to do is throw in a few long runs between now and the end of September. This weekend I have 15 miles on the schedule and am psychotically looking forward to it. I have to keep in mind though that I will lose two training weekends in Italy between now and the race.

This week’s training looks promising, with great weather and lots of sunshine. I’m riding my bike to work tomorrow and it’s supposed to be gorgeous out. Yesterday (Sunday) I was thinking of going for an active recovery 5K, but decided I didn’t really want to pound the pavement. Instead the hubs and I went for a beautiful hike — until we suddenly got poured on about half way through! (This seems to be a common theme in my life!)

hiking-togetherThe only issue I am facing going into week 22 is trying to prepare for the race being wet suit legal vs. illegal. I haven’t not swam in a wet suit in probably two years. It’s comforting to know that I cannot sink while wearing a wet suit, so I’m really debating what to do. I think I will probably be OK without one, but I don’t want to take any chances. I’m sure the majority of people won’t wear one. I’m even debating getting a Zoot swim skin, but I don’t really want to drop the cash on it when I have a perfectly good wet suit. I’m still debating and more to come!

Other than that life is so, so good. I can’t even believe it! I love this time of year, I love training and I love the fact that we’ve been married almost a year and get to celebrate our anniversary in Italy!

Here’s to kicking butt the next three weeks! I do have some BIG news for a later date and time — no we aren’t having a baby  🙂 but I want to focus on one big thing at a time and will save discussing for another post!

Happy week 22! AH!!

AJ-hikinghiking-trailbrave-enough

70.3 Training Week 20 {Recap}

Ironman 70.3Training week 20-recapWeek 20 was a good training week. Good vibes, great weather (well sorta) and enjoyable workouts. Week 20 ended up tallying 113 miles — my all time record miles so far on this 24-week journey!

I’m proud of my training this week and I feel like I am in a really good mental state. I also feel like I’ve hit a new level with biking, which is really exciting to see and feel. I’ve cleaned up my diet too and I have laser focus these last few weeks. We are really in the home stretch now!

This week’s mileage was a combination of biking to work, a half marathon distance run and an epic 50-mile ride. (Of course I threw in a couple gym sessions and shorter runs too!)

ironman-training-week-20-recapThis past weekend I road the annual Sweet Corn Challenge with a few new friends. We did the 50-mile distance and it was a great route. This ride is known for its hills and it definitely didn’t disappoint! I felt strong on the hills and also throughout the ride. I felt like I could have kept going and it was an enjoyable morning. We made it to the finish within 10 minutes of a torrential downpour and lightening storm. We still got drenched of course, but I was happy to not have been out riding in the rain. I passed a lot of the 100-mile riders on my drive back home and my heart went out to them.

sweet-corn-challenge-1sweet-corn-challenge-groupOn Saturday I set out to run 13.1 miles. I meant to head out earlier, but I gave myself an extra hour of sleeping in (it was much needed). By the time I got out to the trail it was nearing 85 degrees. Needless to say it was a slooooow trot to 13.1 miles. I felt decent afterwards, but was sore the rest of the day.

On Tuesday during the week I rode to and from work — a nice little 30 miles. I had a giant breakthrough on that ride though and FINALLY made it up the massive hill on Gates Mills Blvd! I have been trying to climb this hill for almost THREE years now!! I’ve only made it up half way and then had to walk, but this past week I finally did it. I was “woo-hooing” to myself as I got to the top…it was 7AM, FYI. Like I’ve said before I am the queen of talking to myself during training and races. I probably look like a lunatic to the average eye, but hey whatever gets me across that finish line  🙂

I am feeling so good about training and have been reading about mentally preparing for the race and ways to calm nerves. Ironman has released start times and my age group is the second to last group — which I don’t really understand and it stinks a little bit, but I can’t really do anything about it I guess. It’s getting so close!!

participant-list-70.3ironman70.3-wave-timesI am getting SO excited. It feels great to be excited and believe in yourself vs. doubting yourself after a few tough workouts and rough patches. Training has been a roller coaster of emotions. High highs and low lows and everything in between. I’m excited to see this through until the end!

Here’s to week 21 of training! T-minus 27 days ’til race day!

goals