6 Things not to leave in your car during a heat wave

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

1. Goggles: This is a picture of my goggles after a day in the oppressive heat we had last week. The plastic/rubbery eye socket seal thing literally melted and turned into a crusty yellow-brown color. Fail.2. Deodorant.  I like the normal, white deodorant style. If your car gets too hot, it will melt, and when you try to open it, it’ll fly out and you will end up with deodorant on the floor.

3. Water bottles….they become boiling water bottles. Here’s a picture of a sweet bottle with Ultrarunner Darcy Africa on it!

4. Cats. Isn’t she cute? I’d never leave her in my car. Even on a normal temperature day.

5. Babies. Duh.

6. GU. It melts and then takes on the consistency of Powerbar gels…which are more like liquid and are pretty gross.

I didn’t come for the tomato pie

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

This past weekend was the NJ State Triathlon. I should have known that this weekend was bound for complications back in May when we found out that the American Zofingen Triathlon was cancelled due to lack of interest. In an effort to try to get in another race, I decided that this one would do, and Ryan and Mike decided to come with. Flat and fast, quick and dirty, we could get it in and still get in some good training hours otherwise. In theory, sounds like a great plan.

The weekend started out interestingly as Ryan and I left Panera on Saturday after getting breakfast. With my bike on the rack behind my car,  I had backed out of my spot when I spotted the car behind me starting to back out of theirs. Another car had pulled up in front of me, so I couldn’t just floor it and move forward. And my horn on the Tracker decided it wasn’t going to work. So I did what anyone would do – I just started screaming bloody murder. Something along the lines of “NOOO” and “MY BIKEEEEE” were the words, but who really knows.  Crunch!

I felt like I had just watched a dog get hit by a car. I ran out of the car and promptly yelled at the girl who backed into it. Despite profusely apologizing, I just had no sympathy seeing as we just sat in Panera and overhead them talking about being hungover and all their antics of the night before. I inspected the damage done and as Ryan rode my bike around to check it out, I discovered that my trusty Thule bike rack had put a nice hole into her bumper, and by the magic of the triathlon gods my bike had been strategically placed that, while it got bumped, no apparent damage was done. Disaster averted. (Note: After riding the bike on Sunday evening – more on that later – Ryan did notice my chain drooping in the small ring; tuns out she bumped the rear derailleur and while no major damage was done, I did need a new chain).

So anyway, we packed up and caravan up to NJ. The best part about going up north is always the Wawa stops! We eventually got to the race site and picked up our packets where, not really to our surprise, we found out that NJ was just as hot as Maryland. So hot, most of the vendors hadn’t even bothered to come out for the expo-type event at packet pickup. Onward to the hotel and into Princeton for dinner. I had tweeted Jordan Rapp asking for suggestions on where to eat. But, right after I sent the tweet we left and I didn’t bring my phone, so we ended up at the Triumph Brewery. Jordan’s suggestions were: Hoagie Haven, Masala Grill, Mediterra and Messaluna in case anyone is interested! The brewery was great though and then we took a stroll through Princeton’s campus right across the street. Definitely a cute little town.

On to bed, and up for the race. I think this was the latest I ever got to wake up before a race – 5:15 the alarm went off. Gathered up our things and headed to the race site where we were informed that the water temp was 90 degrees. Nice. Our little elite wave gathered and I noticed a couple other women as I got into the water, but I really didn’t look around too much to scope anyone out. I was excited for this elite wave – while I knew it wouldn’t be as competitive as Columbia, it’s always nice to be able to gather the fastest from the age groups and race together.

During the swim, I never got quite comfortable. Maybe it was the hot temps, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, or maybe it was just fatigue. I came out of the water with Ryan, saw a 26 on my watch, and someone told me I was second woman. Wait….what? Immediately my interest was piqued, but obviously it was no time to stop to chat. I knew, however, that there was really no way I would be second out of the water, in any race, with a 26 minute swim. Something was up. Either way, the worst was over, so I headed onto my bike. I couldn’t get my computer to work before the race so I was riding on feel…..and from the getgo I felt pretty terrible. In general, I like having a climb or two at the start of a ride to shake my legs out and wake them up. This had nothing of the sorts, it was flat and fast, requiring constant pedaling. At that point though, there was nothing to do but grit my teeth and go. I was with the girl who came out of the water right behind me through the first loop, but couldn’t quite hang on for the second loop. Turns out I rode a 1:09 and with the bike being a little long at 25.5 miles, that makes me pretty happy!

I knew at this point there were 2 women ahead, but I was interested to see during the run how close others were behind me. A run with a bunch of out and backs like this makes a perfect setup to see the competition. So I was looking…..and looking….and looking. It wasn’t until I was turning into the finish chute that I finally saw another girl behind me on the course. And then it all made sense….there were only 3 women in the Elite wave. I came through the finish in 2:26, a time that’s really consistent with my other Olympic Distance races this season. I was mostly happy to see that even on a day where my legs felt terrible, I was still able to get in under 2:30 fairly easily – something I hadn’t done much of ever before! Keeping in mind that this also followed a week with my highest volume of training to date, I couldn’t be not happy about it.

Now, I want to go back to the Elite wave issue for a minute. I was actually pretty disappointed to find out that there were only 3 of us. Now, I know that some of the girls are doing some of their first races and don’t know how good they are. But I also know that a quick athlinks search on some others reveals plenty of other races where they went under 2:30. And not only that – but, let’s be honest for a second and admit that if you’re tuning up your $5,000 whip with Zipp wheels…you’re trying to compete. And if you’re trying to be fast, you know what’s better than Zipp wheels and a nice bike? Actually racing hard against fast girls.

This isn’t the first time I have seen this phenomenon. In fact, it happens at most group rides I go to in Baltimore where I am one of (if I’m lucky) 2-3 other girls. Now, I know I have worked hard and have become pretty strong on the bike. But, I also know that I’m not one of the only girls in this area who can ride well. Rather, you hear all sorts of reasons why not to go – I’m going to get dropped, it’s too hard, I don’t think I can do it, blah blah blah. This is my official call to arms for the ladies out there – GET OUT THERE AND DO SOME WORK! It is FUN to compete against each other. Especially in a sport where we are constantly having to be at the mercy of wave starts, having an elite group gives us a rare chance to break out of that and go against the best.

And maybe some of the responsibility here falls on the shoulders of the race directors. Incentives can be put out – i.e. don’t allow AG athletes to place overall if you’re going to have an elite wave. Or, if you see a small elite field, wipe it out all together. The purpose of it is meaningful, but if you’re not going to follow through, don’t try and get away with it half-way.

Ultimately, I don’t necessarily think that my time would have been faster if I had girls closer to me to push me. But, I was disappointed that I didn’t have the chance to find out. I didn’t come to NJ to eat tomato pie (which I actually find repulsive) – I came to race, and I just wish more girls shared the same view.

Ryan’s race appeared to be fairly similar to mine (we also both came in 8th overall),  and Mike managed to crush it and get 2nd which earned him a super sweet trophy cup thing. Pretty baller! We headed home, but not before stopping at Varsity Pizza. If you’re ever up in the area, go there, it’s quite delish.

After a quick nap at home, Ryan and I got back on our bikes for what was supposed to be an easy 2 hours. 36 minutes in, 10 miles out in Shadytown, USA, I got a flat and between the two of us we didn’t have enough stuff to fix it. So Ryan had to ride back  home and get the car, while I sat and waited on the side of Rt. 40. In this hour, I received approximately 3 honks, one cop that waved hello at me when I tried to wave them down, and only one family was nice enough to stop and see if I needed help. Welcome to Baltimore.

I blogged, but…

July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s not here.

I was so excited when the ladies over at Oiselle asked me to guest blog this week! So I wrote a little something up and you can find it here. When you’re on the Oiselle site, be sure to check out a few of my faves – the Iris Sport Top, Roga Shorts, and any of their super cute running tees. After all, there is no better way to spend a day with a “feels like” temperature of 115 than an afternoon of online shopping!

On having a coach and believing in Santa

July 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

As I was driving back from the race last weekend with Carly, I forget why it came up but I mentioned that when I was little I believed in Santa Clause for an unbelievably long amount of time. Like, middle school age. One of the reasons I didn’t want to cave in and become a nonbeliever was that I was somewhat afraid of never getting presents again. But the other reason is that I simply liked believing in something. I have thought more about this in the past few days, and have decided that believing in Santa Clause so wholeheartedly as a kid actually set me up to be a very coachable athlete as an adult.

Santa knew when you were sleeping, he knew when you were awake. He knew when you were lying to your parents and being mean to your sister. He knew everything. There’s not too much that is different with a coach. Well, I don’t think that there should be. When I decided I was ready for a coach it was because I wanted this type of open communication with them. I didn’t want workouts being sent blindly to me, I wanted them to know my every move. With the glory of the internet these days it’s easier than ever. Hillary and I live in separate time zones, but I can tell you that between my workout log, emails to her, twitter updates, blog posts, and other texts or communications I have with her, she has a pretty good idea of what I’m doing every single second of the day. She would be able to piece it together if I’m not sleeping and taking time to recover. If I’m not doing full workouts. I’d have to be a really good liar to get away with fudging things, and we all know if I tried to make up swim times I would blow my cover pretty quickly. I’d be saying I do 100’s in 1:20 and 500’s in 10 minutes.  Hillary gets so much information from me on a daily basis, that one thing is for sure: she’d know.

Another great thing I learned from believing in Santa was not to question things. I never really cared how he fit down the chimney. I never thought we should find hoof prints outside. The question of how he carried millions of presents on a sleigh that fit on my rooftop didn’t faze me either. He just did it. And I just believed. I take a similar approach with being coached. I get my workouts, and I do them. I don’t go into every workout 100% certain I’ll hit the interval or be able to do the reps she asks. But, I try. And no matter what happens, I give her the feedback.  Tie this torture device around my ankles and swim with it? Sure, whatever you say. Set the treadmill to go how fast? Alright…  Giving feedback as an athlete is completely different than questioning the work you’re being given, and it’s a fine line I never want to cross. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have friends and training partners who look at me and say “what??! she’s having you do that?? why??” I just shrug my shoulders. And then go get the work done.

The final thing that my lasting and unwavering believe in Santa Clause taught me was to look beyond what you’re given. Santa didn’t always bring the right color jacket, or the right size jeans I was hoping for. And similarly, just because I have a coach now I don’t expect to suddenly be catapulted to the podium at every race. But I’ve learned to look beyond results and find the positives that aren’t written in the numbers. And sometimes, even when it seems there are no positives to be had, the positive comes from the fact that Hillary is there for me, even when I can’t find the good. And she gets it.  She helps me see the bigger picture – and more importantly, to believe in the process and in what I am achieving as I make strides toward my final goal.

Millions of Peaches and a Diamond in the Rough

July 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last Friday Night I did not go streaking in the park or skinny dipping in the park as Katy Perry may have been.  Instead you could have found me in a Minivan mid-road tripping to Atlanta for the 4th of July weekend! Six of us from Team That’s What She Said entered the lottery for the Peachtree 10K this past spring. When we were accepted, and we realized that the Orioles would be in Atlanta that weekend, we knew we had to make the trip. So Friday we piled into the minivan and made it….not that far due to traffic, haha. We did get to Blacksburg, VA for a night of sleep and some of the crew went for a run the next morning. Then on Saturday we strapped ourselves back in for the remaining 7 hours to Atlanta. After a quick turnaround we ended up at Turner Field and watched our O’s play a game before going out for a little bit. Overall I liked the area of Atlanta we were staying in a lot – Buckhead was really cool, laid back, and had a nice mix of upscale places as well as dive bars and casual options.

On Sunday we made a quick stop at the expo before going to the COKE FACTORY! Anyone who knows Ryan knows he’s a huge fan of Coke, so it was really cool to get to do this with him. The tour was super fun and involved tasting a lot of soda. My favorite was the Banana one from Mexico! I know that sounds gross, but if you like Banana Now-And-Laters you would love it too. But nothing still quite compares to an American Coca-Cola.

Sunday also meant a hotel pool swim – 3800 in a 20 yard pool makes one…..dizzy. And hot! I was lucky enough to dupe Ryan into doing it with me, and neither of us were super pumped.  But, we got it done and between that, a shakeout run, and a few miles of walking for sight-seeing, I had been on my feet more than long enough before a race.

Monday morning was 4th of July which meant race day. I was in corral A and the others in the group were in the seeded corrals in front of me, but we all started at 7:30. The pre-race national anthem and flyover was pretty cool.  The race is flat/downhill for the first 3 miles or so. I was keeping a 6:40 pace and didn’t feel great, but didn’t feel bad. Then I hit the Hills. Ouch. The hills and the humidty were in full force for the second half of the race. But the bright side is that even though I felt like I was going slow, I had really only dropped to 7:30s….which for me, is a pretty great “survival” pace.

I crossed the line in 44:18, a new PR (my last 10K was when I was like 16!) and found my friends. I ate a bite of a peach for the first time in my life. I did not like it. I pounded some coke and an ice cream sandwich, then it was time to hit the road….and run back to the start. Luckily, Ryan’s internal GPS found us a slightly shorter route, but it still felt like it took forever. Shower, lunch at the Varsity (pretty gross), and then it was back in the minivan for the trek home. We made it to Raleigh aka Ghosttown Central for the 4th of July, and finished up the drive on Tuesday. Overall it was a good trip and the race was a great way to get my speed work in for the week. I still think I have a ton of work that can be done in terms of my potential with running, but I’m really happy with how it’s progressing given that I also have 2 other sports to focus on these days.

The rest of the week was business as usual and then suddenly I was waking up on Saturday getting ready to go to another race. This time I was doing Diamond in the Rough Triathlon in Perryville, MD. It’s a smaller race but generally gets a handful of fast people to keep the competition interesting in the front.  Super fan Carly was coming along to spectate and was going to get her run in while I raced.

My wave started as the third and final one with all of the women chasing the dudes in the first 2 waves. That meant a decent size of about 85 women in the water. I had my new speedsuit ready to rock so my plan was to swim hard for the entire mile. It worked! We swam in a diamond shape, and on the final turn looking into the sun I actually had no clue where I was swimming so I was following bodies and just hoping for the best. But as I was pulled onto the steps out of the waters a race official signaled to me that I was the 10th woman out of the water. Sweet! Considering I usually hope for a top 20 swim I was excited. Carly was ready to give a cheer as I headed out on the bike and out I went into the hils of Northern Maryland. I had read/been told that this course was technical, but I didn’t really believe it until I was out there. A lot of hills, a lot of turns, a lot of fast descents into turns, and a road that was open to traffic and definitely not swept before we went out there. A technical, hard course actually suits me well so I was happy as I plugged along.

There was one scary section on the bike. I had just passed a dude and about a quarter mile later I saw, washed out on the road but there nonetheless, words reading “no pass zone, slow down.” So…I did. The dude however was more concerned with passing me back than slowing down, and I watched as he slid on the gravel ahead as he tried to make the sharp left, eventually skidding right off the side of the road and rolled over into a ditch. He wasn’t the only one either – 2 other men were cut up and off their bikes in the brush as well. I managed to stay upright, check that they were all ok, and get down the descent. At the bottom was another sharp turn and a race official, so I slowed here to tell him that there were 3 dudes off their bikes and didn’t look to be getting back onto them.  I finished the ride up strong and was told I was the 3rd woman coming in off the bike! Did my best to get a quick T2 and head out to the run. Fast and generally flat, half shaded, the run can make for some fast times.  I felt good and just focused on keeping cool when I could and maintaining my pace. I was able to see the 2 girls ahead of me since it was an out-and-back and that left little room for me to hope to catch them. But that meant I also saw the women behind me, about 2 minutes back at the turnaround and looking like she was on a mission. She also had a little pack of dudes running strong with her, whereas my little pack of dudes was walking and complaining, haha. They were all super positive for me and pushing me to get it done, but someone to run with would have been cool! Luckily I didn’t need it anyway, and I crossed the line in 3rd at 2:22:46.

Definitely a great race for the summer and a fun way to get in some hard miles. And if you’re wondering, the Oiselle Birds Tee and Roga Shorts made for the cutest outfit on the podium 🙂

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