My First Creeper

After a great day on Saturday celebrating our anniversary in NYC with dinner and The Book of Mormon (holy crap was it funny!), I set out Sunday morning for my 8 mile run. Because I was drained from Saturday’s adventures, I missed my running club’s group run at 7am and instead decided to log the miles in my hilly hometown. After dragging ass down to the boat docks I used to work at in college, I greeted the sunrise and took off.

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This training cycle, I’m aiming to keep my long runs at around 1:00-1:30 slower than my race goal pace to save my legs for speedwork during the week, so I plodded along for the first few miles at 12:15/mile. The breeze was gorgeous, the roads were empty, the town was so peaceful! By mile 3.5 I had looped back to the waterfront where I used the blissfully clean bathrooms and set off in another direction.

IMG_0506The only thing better than a clean bathroom? A PINK bathroom.

For the last 4 miles, I took a more hilly route through my best friend’s old development. After years of exploring the area with her, I know those twisty roads like the back of my hand & I love the peaceful, Edward-Scissorhands-y vibe the rows of houses give me – plus, the folks there REALLY love their lawns, so the abundance of sprinklers makes summer running a joy.

IMG_0509Exhibit A: a joyful runner

But those hills were hard, and I fought through miles 4 and 5. By 5.7, the tightness in my hips was too much. All I could think of was sitting on the curb for a hot minute to stretch and gather my strength for the final 3. And once I sat, it was glorious.

Until HE pulled up: my first creeper.

He spotted me as he turned onto the street in front of me and started yelling out his window at me. “I just have to say, I know you’re busy, but you’re a beautiful woman!” I thought that’d be it so I just smiled and nodded in thanks and looked down at my watch as I continued to stretch. But he wasn’t moving. “You’re doing your thing, you look so peaceful and zen-like! You look so content and happy, you remind me of that movie, you know the one where the men are making their way to the end of the tunnel and they see the woman at the end and all they’re thinking of is one of three things: dying, sleeping, or having sex.” At this point I started laughing uncomfortably – he was more than your average encouraging passerby. I fiddled with my watch some more and ignored him but he kept going. I only caught snippets as other cars tried to get around him, honking at him. For a good 2-3 minutes he continued. “You’re like the warrior woman, dressed like that with her gun holster, at the end of the movie – she’s in pain, she wants it to be over, she knows the Illuminati are trying to kill her…” [editor’s note: “Illuminati”?!?!]

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At that point I nodded and did the “OK, yeah, thanks…” bit and stood up so he’d leave, but he kept going! “What does your husband think of you doing this? Does he support you?” I should have ignored him but instead I engaged him (I know, stupid Jess) and just said, “Yes, he does. He loves it.”

I don’t think he expected that – maybe he was waiting for me to say I didn’t have a husband? – because he paused, then said, “Well you tell him – you tenacious, beautiful, woman – that he should take you out for a wonderful dinner tonight, to Red Lobster, and that you drink all the wine you want, and then he needs to take you home and perform to your satisfaction, or someone else will.”

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WHAT?! Because I didn’t know what else to do, I just kind of laughed incredulously and turned my back and walked away. That’s when he got the hint and wished me a good day and drove away.

I won’t lie – it shook me up. I’ve been running for 5 years now, and this is the first time I’ve been legitimately disturbed by a creeper. I know I wasn’t in physical danger – he was in a car 20+ feet away from me – but it really rattled me. It was one of those situations where you don’t realize how creepy it is until you’re already IN it and can’t get out.

Once I watched him turn the corner in the opposite direction I was headed (and made a mental note of his car’s make/model/license plate/bumper stickers so I could spot him again if needed), I immediately took off at a full sprint out of that development and didn’t look back. Those final 2 miles were faster than planned, but all I wanted to do was go home and not go outside again.

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I’ve never sweat from my knees before those last 2 miles.

My final tally was 8.1 miles with an average page of 12:59 (thanks to the fact that I forgot to stop my watch during the harassment). My knees felt great, my lungs were burning from the final push to get back to the car, and my quads were fried from the hills. Overall, it was a good run, but once it was over, I started feeling all of the things.

I seriously doubt if I want to go back into that development even though it’s one of my favorite places to run! I’m even feeling guilty – did he go from zero to pervert in one sentence because I smiled and didn’t ignore him and walk away? And if he didn’t leave me alone even when cars were stopped behind him and honking at him to move, what’s to say he wouldn’t have followed me if I ignored him? I’m always smiling and love the friendly waves and “Keep up the good work!”‘s from random strangers I pass while I run. Do I just shut it down and avoid everyone now?

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I know I’m probably over-reacting. It wasn’t a guy chasing me or trying to attack me physically. I’m fine, and will live to run (albeit guardedly) another day. But this situation opened my eyes to the other, less apparent threats that I could face. As female runners we’re taught the obvious when it comes to protecting ourselves: go for the eyes if you’re attacked, never leave your phone at home, carry mace, etc. That’s all good for physical attacks, and I pray that none of us will ever have to put that knowledge to practice. But what about the random creepers that just don’t know when to quit?

What do you think – have you ever faced a creepy situation on a run? What did you do?

Come Walk (and Run!) for Wishes with Me!

Last year, I ran the Make A Wish Foundation’s 5K Walk for Wishes and had a great time (despite a little head cold). This year I’m all set to return to Liberty State Park on Saturday, September 26th where I’ll run the race again in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation!

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The race really is a dream for runners of all abilities: the completely flat, super fast course runs entirely along the path at Liberty State Park, with views of the NYC skyline and the Status of Liberty pretty much the entire way. It’s a joint event with the Walk for Wishes kicking off after the race, which is super-inspiring, because once you’re done sweating it out, you get to see all the amazing wish kids and their families supporting each other as they set off on their walk along the waterfront.

So if you’re not doing anything on the 26th, why not come out and race with me? I’m always looking for someone to chat with at the back of the pack – and I may even tack on my long run after the race is over, so I could use some company πŸ˜‰

Don’t miss out: Register here!

Preparing For Marathon Mania (When You’re Not a Marathon Runner)

I don’t know about you, but every fall, I find myself getting swept up in marathon madness. It seems like everyone and their mothers are training for and running marathons, while me and my bum knees are sitting over here like “I’m running 13 miles, wheeee!”

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I know, a half marathon is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a huge accomplishment, and I take it 100% seriously. Hell, it’s the longest distance I can [barely] manage, of course it’s awesome! But when you see those troopers out there clocking runs of 15, 18, 20+ miles, sometimes it’s hard not to feel all the (running-related) things.

Take me for example: having tried and failed training for a full marathon a few years back, I have a love/hate relationship with the marathon. As I scroll through my feeds and chat with full-running-friends, I flip flop almost hourly between runner envy (damn I wish my knees and my brain could let me run that far!) and runner schadenfreude (pfft, you won’t catch me running 20+ miles, that’s more than 5 hours!). But I know better than to say “never”, because I said that after my first 5K 4 years ago even though everyone told me I’d get hooked, and look at me now, with a blog about running and everything!

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Anywho, suffice it to say that the fall racing season is always filled with lots of conflicting emotions for me. So this year, I’m doing a few things to curb the marathon mania before it hits me.

First, I’m loading up my calendar with lots of other races to get my fix while not putting my poor joints on overload. As of today, I’ve got shorter distance races on 9/6, 9/13, 9/19, 9/26, and 10/31, a triathlon on 9/20, and a half marathon 10/18, with more in the works in October. So believe me when I say it: I’ll be running plenty.

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(you have NO IDEA how long I’ve been waiting to use this guy in a post. FINALLY!)

Secondly, I’m fully embracing the triathlon for the first time during marathon season. I’m competing in another triathlon on September 20th, which is taking up a lot of my training time but also gives me a new “mania” outlet. It’s a new (to me) sport and I’m fully in love with it! I’m not kidding. I still really love running and it’ll always be my favorite, but getting to switch it up with biking and swimming AND competing in those three things at the same time? It’s awesome.

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Lastly, I’ve set an unofficial goal for the last few months of 2015 to run 14 miles in one go. My motivation is simple: I need to prove to myself that I won’t turn into a pumpkin – or my knees won’t turn into jelly – once I break the magical 13.1 spell. So once I finish my goal race on 10/18 in Atlantic City, I aim to keep up with running long every other weekend just to see what I’m capable of. Who knows, with all the extra cross training thanks to my newfound love of the triathlon, I may surprise myself!

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How do you cope with marathon mania? Do you have envy like me or are you 100% sure you’re only half crazy? And those of you who ARE running those fall marathons: how is your training going? Sound off in the comments!

Thank You, Running

If you know me, you know I love me some Brooks Running gear. Shoes, tanks, shorts, hats, I rock it all, because they just know how to make stuff that works for me! And with a slogan like “Run Happy”, you know they’ve got my support.

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Well right now, Brooks is holding a sweepstakes as the culmination of theirΒ  #thankyourunning campaign, where they’ve invited their followers to share stories about their running journey and why they’re so passionate about it. To celebrate the running community in the US and Canada, Brooks is offering a grand prize trip for two to Amsterdam to attend the 2016 European Athletics Championships, as well as ten runner-up prizes including head-to-toe Brooks gear! Want to enter? It’s simple:

  1. Share Your Story – post a photo or video of your #thankyourunning story on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag, or upload a photo at http://thankyourunning.com
    • The β€œstory” should represent your running journey and why you’re thankful to have it in your life
  1. Claim Your Entry – fill out the entry form atΒ http://thankyourunning.com immediately if you do a direct upload, or if you shared via Twitter or Instagram you’ll receive a notification within 24 hours.

And that’s it! You’re entered to win. Looking for some inspiration as you set out to share your story? Just search Twitter or Instagram for the hashtag #thankyourunning and get ready for some serious runner envy. There are some truly awesome stories out there, so why not add yours into the mix – you might just win a trip to Amsterdam!

Catching Up – and a Giveaway Winner!

Hello and Happy Wednesday guys – how’s everyone doing?? It’s been a hot minute since I last posted, so how about we take a little trip down memory lane and recap the past few weeks!

After the Jersey Girl Tri, I was riding high on the post-race endorphins and immediately wanted to put my training to use with another tri, soon.Β After flip flopping between a few other events like Iron Girl in Sandy Hook, I stumbled across One More Tri in Asbury Park this September.

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This event is pretty much the perfect combination: it’s in Asbury Park, one of my favorite places on earth, it’s a fundraising event for the Special Olympics, which is very near and dear to my heart, and it’s a unified triathlon event, where Special Olympics athletes and members of the community compete side-by-side! That just brings it to a whole other level. I get goosebumps just thinking about it – I used to love volunteering at events like this back in high school and college, but getting to actually participate in these sports with these inspirational folks? What an honor! I can’t wait. Click here to learn more – or make a donation towards my fundraising efforts, if you’re so inclined!

Once I signed up for that, I realized I had to come up with a new training plan that will prepare me both for the tri and the Atlantic City Half Marathon in October! I took to the interwebs and found my favorite 6-week triathlon training plan once again, then layered my usual half marathon training plan on top of it. BOY was that a mess. After some tinkering (and taking into consideration the other shorter races I’ve got planned in September and October), I finally came up with a plan that works. I was SO excited to take it on! I hit the first week hard, nailing every single workout, and I was feeling good in time for my first long run of training.

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It was a little harder than I expected because of the heat and hills I took on, but I was so pumped to keep it up and tackle week 2! Aaaaand then I got sick.

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::sad trombone music::

Last week I was knocked out by a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis that prevented me from breathing or hearing or basically using my head properly for a good 5 days. I finally started feeling human again on Sunday in time for a quick weekend getaway with my friend and her daughters, and now I’m easing back in to training once again with renewed excitement. Kind of. I mean, my lungs are still filled with gunk and it’s like 100 degrees out, but dammit I’ve got races to crush this fall, and I’m not going to let anything get in my way!

Which brings us to today, and another exciting announcement – the winner of my Freekeh Foods Giveaway! Drumroll please…. Congratulations to Jamie Harrings, you’re a winner!

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Check your email for details on how to claim your prize – and thank you to all who entered, too! Have a great day everyone πŸ™‚

Freekeh Foods Giveaway!

Hello all and happy Tuesday! I’m feeling slightly head-cold-y and miserable today, but rather than wallow in the ickiness I figured why not make others happy by hosting a little giveaway?

I was so stoked to score a few free packages of Freekeh Foods a few weeks ago – it’s a roasted grain that’s similar to quinoa, but lower in calories and higher in protein than brown rice, and it can be used in a variety of different dishes, too. Since I’m already fully on the quinoa bandwagon, I couldn’t wait to try it out in some different ways!IMG_9324

I started with the Rosemary Sage flavored freekeh and from the moment it started boiling, my mouth was watering. The scent was so delicious, it took over the whole kitchen. At one point I was a little worried – we had planned to serve it with marinated lemon pepper chicken, and I didn’t want the flavors to compete. But once it was ready (it took just about as long to cook as quinoa), I was relieved that the mild flavor was the perfect compliment. While it smelled heavenly, the spices and seasonings were really just a fragrant addition so the grain itself had just a hint of flavor. We added a pinch of sea salt and blew through two servings that night and two the next day during lunch (with the leftover chicken).

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Confession time: we ate the first batch I cooked so quickly that I forgot to take any pictures. Occasionally my husband and I turn into hungry, hungry hippos, what can I say? This pic above is from our second batch – I added some freekeh to my spring mix salad yesterday, but what you can’t see are the black beans and other yummy goodies underneath that mountain of deliciousness! It was just the right addition to give my salad a little protein boost. I’ve got another batch on deck for lunch today and can’t wait to see what’s on the menu in our office cafeteria. The great thing about this stuff is the mild flavor – it goes with almost anything.

Tomorrow I’ve got some big plans to cook up the last of my regular flavored freekeh to try out the absolutely delicious-sounding Warm Breakfast Freekeh. I’ve turned quinoa into a breakfast dish before by adding vanilla almond milk and cinnamon and raisins, and I can’t wait to do the same with this stuff!

And as if that’s not enough, they want me to spread the Freekeh Love by giving away a package for free to one of you beautiful people! Enter the giveaway here – it runs through 12AM on 8/19 – and get ready to fall in love!

TGIF!

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks for all of the post-triathlon love – you guys are the best πŸ™‚ Things are going nice and smooth here – I’m now training for both another triathlon (yes, another one!) and a half marathon, so my calendar is quickly filling up with double workouts and smaller fall races too. There’s so much to look forward to in the coming months and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

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Jersey Girl Triathlon Race Recap

It’s been 2 days but I’m still riding high on the post-race victory wave! Now that things have settled down (and I’ve caught up on my sleep, hello 9PM bedtime two nights in a row!), I can finally give you guys a good race recap. So here we go!

Before a big race, I always say I’m going to get a good night’s sleep and end up hitting the pillow close to 3 hours late after rushing around packing my race bag, figuring out my outfit, and obsessively checking/re-checking everything. This time, I was determined to NOT let that happen, so I spent all day Saturday taming my nerves by creating order around the house (while also packing my things and taking my bike out for a test spin around the neighborhood). I did laundry, dusted, cleaned the kitchen, and it felt awesome.Β As a former OCD sufferer, I find happiness in order, so I dealt with my pre-race jitters in a constructive way, and as a result, woke up at 3:30 Sunday morning with a smile and a sense of calm!

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The gorgeous sunrise didn’t hurt either.

We arrived at Pier Village at about 5:30AM and found a parking spot easy peasy lemon squeezy. This also made my anxiety-prone mind happy! After a simple walk along the boards, I was marked with my bib number, entered the transition area, and staked out my little spot.

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Transition slowly started to fill with people, and after only about 5 minutes of putzing around and setting up my space, my cousin arrived and parked next to me – hooray for someone to race with!

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There was some more milling around as we used the bathroom one last time, hung out with my husband on the boardwalk, then shed our flip flops before transition closed at 6:30. The first wave of swimmers was due to go out at 6:50, so we hung around and watched them, and made our way down the beach once they set off.

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After hanging out for a while and running into our new friend Amanda before she set out in her wave, Mike came down on the sand with us and kept us company while we nervously waited for our wave – the LAST wave – to go out at 7:29.

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Once we were herded into our pen, an amazing volunteer stood at the front and gave us probably the sweetest pep talk I’ve ever heard. “Here we go, Wave 14! You guys are last but that just means you trained the hardest!” Accompanied by our coach (who was wearing his trademarked tiny gold speedo, as you’ll see in the photo below), we were assured repeatedly that the swim would be awesome.

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I didn’t doubt it! The swells were nowhere near as large as they’d been in the past 2 swims I did with the group, and the course seemed MUCH shorter. They even spotted some dolphins out there! Finally, the countdown was up and we were released into the water.

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The water was so warm!! I was thrilled and couldn’t help running right into the waves, laughing. I could hear Heather right next to me chatting with our coach, and I knew she was going to do great. I put my head down and paddled through the breakers, and within a minute or two I was already at the first buoy! The energetic volunteers in kayaks and on surfboards kept yelling out encouragement (“The hard part is over, guys!”) and once I rounded the first corner I settled into a rhythm. Stroke, stroke, stroke, look up, breathe, repeat.

After a few minutes I took a moment to soak everything in – it was really happening! I was competing in my first triathlon. The sun sparkled over the horizon in a cloudless sky, the women around me were all cheering each other on, the water danced calmly all around us. It was a moment I’ll never forget – it’s amazing where your life takes you sometimes, isn’t it?

Once I made it to the second buoy to turn back to the water, I kicked and paddled for a bit and let the ocean do some of the work to get me back to shore. I touched my toes to the sand and saw about a dozen people in the shallows helping swimmers out of the water. Just as I was about waist deep, I made eye contact with one of these volunteers – just in time to see his eyes go wide and hear him say, “Duck.” Without a second thought, I ducked straight down and felt a big wave crash right over my head. I was safe! When I popped back up I saw him making his way behind me for another swimmer and yelled out to him, “Thank you!!”

Well, I spoke too soon. I made it 2 steps before the water surged backwards around my shins and glued me in place for the next wave to smash right into my back, knocking me chest-first into the sand. I put my arms out so I didn’t tumble around, but I felt the sand rush into my top and bra, and down my shorts. Thankfully, two volunteers rushed for me as I got to my feet a second time, each one taking an arm and asking me if I was OK – these volunteers were ON POINT! I said I was fine and shook some sand out of my top when I spotted Mike on the water line. I called his name and smiled: how fun to see him right there!

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I honestly don’t remember what I said to him, but he kept me company as I got my feet under me, and then I was off, running up the beach to T1.

Swim Time: 9:04 (.17 miles)

The volunteers at the stairs, standing with hoses, and offering water before transition were all so kind. I can’t overstate this part: the volunteers throughout the entire event were AMAZING. I’ve done a lot of races, but the people that worked this one were the best I’ve ever seen. Every one had a smile and a kind word, and not one of them was being paid. Seriously fantastic!

Once I got into transition I sat down at my towel and washed my feet off, got my socks & sneakers on, and realized that Heather was nowhere to be found. I got my helmet on, drank some Nuun, and putzed around for another minute or two when she came running in and we were able to go out on the bike together – and Mike was even able to get a pic of me as I was running out!

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T1 Time: 7:47

We hopped on our bikes and made our way onto the course, and despite the sand wedged into my bra, top, and shorts, I powered through and fell right into a groove. The first flat mile clicked by under 5 minutes, and I was happy. Heather and I chatted a bit for miles 2-4, and once I took a nice long drink from my bike bottle I took off ahead and went for it. The course was almost entirely empty at this point – damn Wave 14 being the last – and I made a mental note to register for an earlier wave in my next tri.

Even though it was empty at the back of the pack, I just kept pedaling and smiling and singing along to myself – I’m sure I looked quite mad, but I was having a freakin’ blast! The course was nearly completely flat, all through Long Branch, Deal, and into Asbury. I laughed to myself when I biked over the same streets I ran just a few months ago during the Asbury Park Half Marathon, and turned around at mile 6-ish to head back the way we came. There were a few other people now along the course – some were just recreational bikers and others were a part of the race – so I got the satisfaction of picking a few off as I passed. I was certainly not breaking any speed records, but I wanted to avoid that strange cramping I experienced on my last brick workout.

Once I got to mile 9-ish though, I panicked briefly & slowed: the signs and road cones were all gone. Did I make a wrong turn? If all else fails, I thought, I can just bike to where we came out of. Finally, at mile 10.75, I approached a corner and saw a few people standing between cones that continued past the street. I slowed and asked them “Do I go straight or turn?” Evidently I was dealing with the only two volunteers who kind of stunk at their job. They didn’t hear me at first, so I had to full-on stop and ask again, “Do I go straight?!” Finally, one of them says, “Sure, if you want?” Incredulous, I spat out “I’M IN THE RACE!” to which he replied, “OH, then go right!” I laughed and shook my head as I turned and started up again, a little annoyed at having to stop like that.

But once I came around the corner and into the finish area, the other volunteers were on point again. As I dismounted, one genuinely asked me how I was feeling, and walked with me until I answered, “Great!” and ran my bike back into transition for T2 and the run.

Bike Time: 55:18 (11 miles)

This transition was even simpler – I just had to drop my bike & helmet off and put my hat on, but I stayed a moment to slug back another 1/3 of my bottle of Nuun. Then I was off – Mike even got me there too!!

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T2 Time: 2:08

Within a few strides out of the gate, I could tell this was going to be difficult. In the first quarter mile, I passed two women who were walking and really struggling, so I slowed to walk and offered encouragement to each of them: “We’ve got this, one foot in front of the other!” Honestly, it was half for them and half for me at this point. I had been feeling good, but the full sun right on the boardwalk was harsh. But I told myself it was only 3 miles and the quicker I moved the sooner it’d be over. So I ran.

I looked at my watch at .60 and let out a few curses that I kind of regret now, seeing as how there were children in the area. But it was getting really raw out there. At the turnaround near mile 1, I had somehow convinced myself that the race was only 2 miles. The finish line was right near transition, and all we had to do was run back to there, right? I know, I was delusional, but it got me through that middle stretch, OK?

I turned to cheers and high fives from the volunteers there and plowed through without even looking at my watch. At around 1.3, Heather passed me going in the opposite direction – all she could manage was “Where’s the turnaround?” I pointed behind me and said, “Not far!” But once I got near the finish line at mile 2 and saw that the finishers were coming in from the other direction, I realized I still had another mile to go. And that’s when I felt like crying.

It might have been the emotions of the day catching up with me, but I just wanted it to be over. Especially after seeing the finish line area filled with people already wearing their medals and celebrating, knowing that I had nearly another mile to go was a real gut punch. Instead of letting it get to me though, I put my head down and told myself – out loud – to suck it up and just finish the f*cking race. Once I made it to the final turnaround at mile 2.6, I made a mental promise to start running once I hit the boards and not stop until I had that medal around my neck.

That’s where I passed Heather again, and we gave each other some last minute encouragement. When my feet hit the boards I just kept trudging. I didn’t necessarily hurt, I just wanted it to be done with. I glanced at my watch and saw an average time of 11:45 and thought: Hell no, I’m not going out like that! So I pulled a little extra out of the tank and picked up the pace for the last quarter mile. Once I was in sight of the clock and saw 2:27, I wanted to beat 2:30 (never mind the fact that the time wasn’t adjusted for wave starts).

So I pushed and smiled and heard the shouts of everyone at the finish line cheering me on as I crossed the mat with the announcer’s voice booming out my name: I was a triathlete!!

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Run Time: 34:45 (3 miles, 11:35/mile pace!!)

At the finish line I thought I’d cry or collapse or something – but I was honestly so amazed that all I could do was laugh and smile and shout out “YEAH!” as the volunteer handed me my medal. Mike was right there to give me a big hug and lots of congrats as another volunteer removed my ankle timing chip – and that was that!

TOTAL TIME: 1:49:00

Mike went to feed the meter while I waited to cheer Heather in – she finished not long after – and we had done it!

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Even though I felt like crying there during the run, I knew from the moment I crossed that mat that I was going to do this again.Β  The people in charge of this event deserve their own medals for organizing such a seamless experience, from the outstanding volunteer support to well-thought-out transition areas – it was all perfect. The experience was so overwhelmingly positive and rewarding that I’m already planning my next triathlon in September!

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I’m a Triathlete!!

I promise I’ll post a full recap later, but I just had to shout it from the rooftops:

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I’m a TRIATHLETE!!

The whole experience was so much more challenging, rewarding, and exhilarating than I could have possibly imagined. Everything went smoothly and fell into perfect alignment: fueling, prep, execution, all of it.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement and support along the way. There were plenty of times that I was anxious to the point of tears, but knowing that you all had my back really helped. I’m now 100% hooked on the triathlon, and I’m already looking for another one!

Can’t wait to share all the details soon πŸ™‚

Long Time No Blog!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lapse in posting – I’ve been on vacation for the last week and made a point to spend a little less time “plugged in”. It was hard to break the constant habit of checking my phone, but the less I did the easier it got. I had my first open water swim (eeeek!), Hubby and I went to the movies, we went hiking in the park and we did some shopping at the fancy mall (don’t we all know one?). 

  

Wednesday night I made a dream come true and saw the Smashing Pumpkins at the PNC Arts Center. I don’t mention it very much here, but next to running, music (most notably 90’s alternative music) is my life, and the Pumpkins are everything to me. Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin were a few of my first celebrity crushes, my father took me to my first concert at MSG to see them, I used their lyrics in our wedding vows… You get the point. So I met up with a bunch of my best girls (one even came all the way down from Cape Cod!) and we had an amazing night filled with nostalgia, laughs, and fun πŸ™‚

  

As if my week could get any better, on Friday we schlepped into NYC to celebrate my birthday with some adventures at the Museum of Natural History!

  
 
After about 7 straight hours of walking and climbing stairs, my legs were fried. So this morning’s final open water swim before tomorrow’s triathlon was just what the non-existent doctor ordered!

  
I also got to try out my new birthday gift from hubby: a GoPro! πŸ™‚

When I first dove into the water on Monday night, I didn’t know what to expect. I joined the Jersey Girl Triathlon crew for a group swim to conquer all the unknowns I faced: what would swimming in the ocean for the first time be like? What kind of crowd would be at the race? Was I going to regret this? You know – the stress inducing questions that keep you up at night. Well it turns out the answers were: awesome, the best, and hell no!

  
I’m listening to my towel from now on.

Today’s swim was no different from my first, either. Waking up at 5:30 to drive down to the starting line, making a new friend (What’s up, Amanda of King Yogart?), swimming, getting my ass handed to me by a few waves, and sitting through a Q&A with the race coach was the best thing I could have done the morning after my birthday.

  
Amanda, Heather (my tri-pro cousin), and I were all smiles after our swim!

And now I know: if I can swim 300 meters, get knocked face-first into the sand and spun around like a plastic bag in a tornado, get sand rash all over my elbow, and still feel ready to bike & run, I can do anything!

So now that I’ve got 7 weeks of training, a handful of solid brick workouts (in pretty atrocious weather, to boot), and 2 open water swims under my Fuelbelt, I’m ready to take on the Jersey Girl Triathlon tomorrow morning!