Jersey Girl Triathlon 2016 Recap

Since it’s been almost two damn months I figured I might as well get you a recap of the Jersey Girl Triathlon! When I did this event last year as my first ever triathlon, it was a great experience. The training and group meetings ahead of time were extremely helpful, the folks who manage the whole thing were great, and it was a perfect first time event. This time around, things were slightly different but in a variety of ways. Let’s jump right in.

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I signed up for this race with my running buddy and coworker Alex, who had just started dipping her toes into the triathlon world earlier in the summer and loved it. So we woke up bright and early and met as the sun was coming up over the Atlantic on a sticky, humid morning.

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When we got to transition we had a good laugh: I warned her as I set up my area that I’d brought my good luck towel, a Star Wars printed number featuring my Space Boyfriend, Kylo Ren. “I swear, I’m not a 9 year old boy,” I said as I laid it out. She simply smiled as she unfurled her towel and said, “That’s nothing.”

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So apparently we are BOTH children at heart, and that’s why we get along so well.

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Also I had a small BB8 towel to wash my feet off after the swim. #sorrynotsorry

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After milling around and getting marked up, we headed down to the beach with Mike and got into our wave start area. I learned from last year not to assign myself in the LAST wave, as that would set me up for a lot of disappointment later on in the race. Being last in meant being last out and as a solid back of the packer when it comes to triathlons, I need all the help I can get. So we signed up for Buddy Heat 1 and both got into 11 (out of 14 or 15 I think).

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We watched as the earlier age group waves started and got out of the water and noticed that the water was QUITE choppy. I hadn’t done an open water swim since last summer (bad triathlete) and while I wasn’t nervous per se, those waves definitely gave me pause. After about a half hour we got ready to hit the water, and the same woman from last year was at the start, giving us all a pep talk and boosting our confidence. “You guys are going to rock this so hard! You’ve already done all the hard work, this is just the icing on the cake, and then you earn your ice cream or your beer or your pizza, or ALL THREE!” She was the best – I remember her calming my nerves last year!

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Finally the gun went off and into the water we went – and it was much warmer than I thought it’d be! But it was also MUCH CHOPPIER than I expected too, which made for very tough swimming right from the start. It also made my motion sickness act up pretty much 2 minutes into the swim, which lingered with me for the rest of the swim and most of the bike. Every time I ducked down to swim and glanced ahead underwater, the rocking of the water combined with the totally blank view ahead of me didn’t mesh and my stomach would lurch. At about the halfway point in the swim I gave myself a short break and floated for a bit, then accidentally swallowed some water too. A big gulp of saltwater + an upset tummy = no bueno, let me tell you. Finally I turned the last corner and headed back to shore, where Mike snapped me getting out of the water before I ran up the beach to T1.

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As I made my way to my bike I decided I wasn’t going for time, I just wanted to not throw up or fall off the bike from being so dizzy. I drank some Cocogo and a full bottle of water to rinse out the salty grossness in my mouth while I washed my feet off and got into my sneakers, then hopped onto the bike and out I went.

Miles 1-3 clicked by super easy – it was my first time racing on my new bike and I couldn’t believe how much faster I was going! Every mile that beeped by on my watch made me laugh out loud with joy. After a gel at mile 4, my stomach started to settle so I cranked up my pace a bit and pushed through the turnaround, so excited to finally be saying “On your left!” and passing folks! Compared to last year’s bike portion where I had to literally STOP on the course to ask a volunteer if I had to turn, I was surrounded by other bikers and knew where to go the whole time.

Before I knew it we were at the bike finish and I was running my trusty steed back into transition, dropping off my helmet and tossing on a headband/sweatband (that I later discovered made me look like Axl Rose, which was fantastic), spinning my race belt around for my number to face forward, and taking off on the run.

Or should I say, the walk. It was HOT. Too hot. 90+ and full sun hot. Within a few feet my legs felt heavy and my hips just didn’t want to move; I must have pushed a little harder than I thought on the bike. Combined with the weather, I knew I was going to be in for a long 3 miles. So I just shlepped along and told myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Quite literally, that’s how I managed to finish: by moving forward and not stopping. I walked a lot, drank even more, and finally took off in the last mile, but I did it.

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Note the Axl Rose headband. Welcome to the jungle, baby.

I was even more psyched to realize as I neared the finish: they changed the race course this year so we didn’t have to pass the finish and loop back around! It’s the ultimate cruelty when you’re dying of heat stroke and have to run another 1/2 mile past the finish, turn, then go back. They must have gotten the memo, because once my watch said 2.8 and I could see the finish I knew I didn’t have much farther to go and I gunned it through the finish line for a sweet finish.

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Oh that stupid headband.

I met up with Mike and Alex, who had finished ahead of me, and we walked over to the nearby snack shop and had the most delicious smoothies I think I’ve ever had (or maybe that was the exhaustion and starvation talking), then we headed back to check our times – where we discovered that all chips above 700 DID NOT REGISTER. Meaning MY CHIP. I didn’t have a time. Any times.

I was livid, but I lucked out and ran into the race director, who told me about the old chips that he had used were apparently deactivated or somesuch. He reassured me that they’d come up with a way to track our times and that they had backups that would take a few days, but still. It turns out that their “backup” was us looking at the timestamps on our race pics and entering them for the race officials in a Google Doc the following week for them to calculate how long we spent in each portion (transitions not included) then come up with our official time. It wasn’t a perfect solution – my leg times also include my transition times so I don’t accurately know how much better I did in each portion of the race compared to last year – but at least I had an official FINAL time of 1:47:39 (and that time was better than last year by more than a full minute).

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Overall it was another great race and a fun way to challenge myself and keep my training interesting over the summer. I’d definitely recommend this event to anyone who’s looking for a first time triathlon with no pressure – heck, you might even see me out on the course next year again!

From Zero to… Two

So last year I had two extremely different experiences at two sprint triathlons.

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look at the happy!!

The Jersey Girl Triathlon was everything I could have hoped for in my first tri: fun, low-key, perfect weather, an overall A+ experience.

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look at the very real tears!

The One More Tri, on the other hand, threw everything it had at me and nearly broke me. I was almost last out of the water after they mis-measured the swim (nearly doubling it), I was last to finish on the bike thanks to my lead legs, busted bike gears and high winds, and the run was a footrace with a woman I affectionately dubbed “Bike Basket” because she beat me in the bike at the last minute on a beach cruiser with a basket.

But, because I’m not one to turn down a challenge (and part of me NEEDS to conquer that Asbury Park course, dammit), I’ve signed up for not just one, but BOTH of these races again this summer! I’m taking my training slow for the Jersey Girl – haven’t even done an official brick workout yet, with like 2 weeks til race day! – and actually chose to do the Short Sprint in Asbury because it falls smack dab in the middle of peak training time for my fall goal race, so I guess you could call these… Triathlon Lite?

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Call it whatever I want, all I know is I don’t have a spare $600 to upgrade my janky mountain bike and I’m doing these just to have some fun, not break records. Also, the One More Tri has the added bonus of benefiting the Special Olympics, so I’m honored to be raising money for them again. If you’re so inclined, feel free to donate here – every little bit helps, even $5 would be much appreciated!

So there’s my big summer plans in a nutshell – doing two races I said I’d never do again as long as I lived because I don’t know how to say no and have a silly competitive streak with myself! Have you ever done a “never again” race again? Which one? How did it go? I bet you didn’t regret it!

What’s Up?

I don’t know about you, but lately the weeks are just flying by here! I feel like once we hit May, every weekend has been filled with traveling, working out like crazy, weddings, parties, BBQs, and general craziness with no clear end in sight. Last weekend we had legitimately nothing on the calendar and freaked out: I swore I had to be forgetting something! But it was nice to relax for about 2.4 hours before swinging right back into things.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the past month or two and get caught up, shall we?

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered last week’s Mermaid Club Giveaway – I love being able to give you guys cool stuff 🙂 And now, drumroll please…. our winner is Michelle B!

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Check your email, girl, I’ve sent you the deets on how to get your goods 🙂

I’m Tri-ing (Again)

After two polar opposite experiences at the Jersey Girl and One More Tri sprint triathlons last year, I wasn’t itching to burst back onto the triathlon scene anytime soon. But I’m highly suggestible, and when my coworker said she wanted to do her first sprint tri and I mentioned the Jersey Girl as the best one for beginners, before I knew what was happening I was registered for it again.

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I don’t know how it happened, I swear!

I’m honestly really excited – all the tri training I did last summer had a HUGE impact on my endurance and speed as a runner once I got back into a single sport come the fall, so I’m pretty stoked to have all that cross training to look forward to.

I unofficially started training a few weeks ago by incorporating biking and swimming into my weekly workouts, and as of next week I’ll start doing brick workouts to get back into the swing of biking then running. I also continue to bump up my strength training to get stronger overall, which I hope will pay off in the long run.

My friend got married (and we had a vacation too)!

On June 10th, my friend (and sometimes running/racing buddy) Tina married her sweetheart Justin in LBI and we had the honor of celebrating with them and a bunch of our wild and crazy friends!

This crew is the best – they’re the most loyal, drama-free people I know, and they REALLY know how to party, so it’s always a good time. And to keep the good times rolling after the wedding, we stuck around in LBI for the weekend and fully embraced the island life. We go down there every year and have adopted it as our second home, so it’s always a nice relaxing getaway.

I won a Kylo Ren doll at a carnival stand on the first spin (!!) and Mike got to test out his Captain chops, then the morning we left we headed over to Barnegat to climb the lighthouse like we do every year – my knees were aching after but it was worth it!

I’m still running happy

While I haven’t been the best at keeping you all up to date on my running adventures here, if you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can attest to the fact that I’m still running, and almost all of those miles are indeed happy!

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I even discovered a new trail – right in my hometown! It’s not so much of a trail as it as a nature preserve, and I was the only runner on it the day I went (aside from a family of fishermen and women on the opposite side of the lake), but it was so cool. I spent an afternoon on my own, exploring the ins and outs of this new area, snapping pics as I went.

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I even got to nail my first solo jumping picture!

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In addition to solo exploration, I connected with Mere again for some bright, beautiful miles down at the canal near my office too!

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Running happy together 🙂

There’s been a few other exciting events – namely, an awesome 5K I helped my company take part in, which I’ll recap later this week – but other than that it’s quiet and I like it that way!

How about you: now that summer is here, how’s your training going? Do anything good the past few months? Share!

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!

TGIF!

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks for all of the post-triathlon love – you guys are the best 🙂 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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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 🙂

  

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! 🙂

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! 

  

Fireworks, Ice Cream and Running

I’m not going to lie – I’ve got nothing left in the tank today. It’s the first day back to the grind after a 3 day weekend filled with gardening, walking, running, biking & swimming, and I am feeling it.

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Wednesday I woke up in a terrible mood – I don’t know if it’s the super sticky weather, the summertime blues, or what. So I hit the pavement after work around my office for a 2 mile run (avg. pace 10:56!) to stick with the schedule and felt OK. The air was thick with humidity and I had to deal with the honks of my coworkers as they passed me by on their way home. Maybe my ridiculous ombre-filled outfit had something to do with that?

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That night when I got home, though, things started to look up. Because I walked in the door and found myself face to face with this big ol’ box of happiness:

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The folks at Arctic Zero sent me a delicious care package filled with 5 of their new Chunky Pints for me to try, and I am 100% hooked. I tried their regular flavors last summer and found them to be pretty good – a nice substitute for when you need that ice cream fix but don’t want to undo all of the great work you’ve done by eating healthy and working out all week. And while I’m not usually an ice cream fiend, all that changed when I tried these babies.

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Where their standard flavors are 35 calories per serving (or 150 for the whole pint), these chunky flavors have add-ins that make them a little more decadent at 75 calories per serving (or 300 per pint), which is still peanuts compared to regular ice creams. But I’ll be the first to tell you: those extra calories are SO worth it. I immediately dove into the cookie dough chip and mint flavors, while Mike tried the butter pecan and key lime pie. Soon we were spoon-fighting over who got the last scoop in our bowls, and every night since then I’ve created little masterpieces mixing flavors and adding in things like melted organic peanut butter, reduced sugar chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Just typing it is making my mouth water… is it dessert time yet?

Aaaaanyway! Thursday I woke up without all the guilt of a post-ice-cream-binge (because of the whole guilt-free, good-for-you thing they’ve got going on at Arctic Zero!) and headed to work for a half day. Before leaving I managed to get my biking in (5 miles in 16 minutes) and then we walked about 3 miles to and from our town’s fireworks show that night.

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Thankfully, Friday was nice and sunny and hot, so we took on our lawn all morning. it turns out that “weeding” is really short for “a bunch of squatting and bending over at odd angles to yank out stubborn roots while sweating in full sun for 2 hours”. As a reward, my friend invited me into his pool that afternoon where I went for a dip and did a lap or two, along with a lot of water treading while we chatted for a few hours. I know it wasn’t the standard pool workout, but I counted it – my poor body was tired!

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Saturday I woke up early for a pedicure and took a 100% rest day (and loved every minute of it, naptime included)! Because Sunday I hit the grind again pretty hard: in search of a triathlon tank and shorts, my cousin and I walked about 14 miles (slight exaggeration) around 6 different stores, all with no luck. I started to get discouraged (and Wednesday’s ucky anxious feeling started to return), so I dealt with it the best way I know how: with a run.

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I went out SUPER hard in the first half mile to burn off the restlessness and kind of set myself back for another 2.5 miles of pain in doing so, but it was OK. I lapped around the park and along the water for the full 3.1, eating bugs (ew) and dodging bats (double ew), but I finished sweaty and exhausted and feeling more like me. My pace was still pretty good considering how much I wanted to die after that first half mile, and given the fact that it was 88 degrees and 80% humidity at 8:30PM!

And that was my 4th of July weekend in a nutshell – how was yours? How are you handling this Monday?

Disclosure: Arctic Zero provided me free samples in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Triathlon Training Week 1 (and Hello, Negative Splits!)

Even though I officially registered for and started training for the Jersey Girl Triathlon last week, I’ve been unofficially “training” for it for a few weeks. In the last month or so, I focused a little harder on biking in addition to running to see a) if I could keep up with two sports and b) if I noticed any improvements in my fitness. And after checking off both boxes with a big fat YES, I went for it feet (fins?) first and am thrilled with how things have gone in this first official week of training.

Since I started in the middle of the week, I had to modify my schedule a bit and kicked off Week 1 with a swim last Wednesday – where I pleasantly surprised myself!

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The schedule called for 4x50m in the pool, but I mistakenly thought that the “25” in the distance of our local YMCA pool was meters when it’s really yards. Not a huge difference, but this is just one of a dozen other misadventures I’ve had while swimming that illustrate just how painfully cluelss I am when it comes to this sport.

The last time I swam, I needed to stop after each length to catch my breath and bring my heart rate down to safely make it to the other side of the pool. This time I promised to push as hard as needed for the full 50 each time, and I did! Sure, I needed a few moments in each turnaround to regulate my breathing, and by the 3rd lap I was hanging off the side of the pool gasping for air, but dammit I did those 50’s. And instead of the prescribed 4, I did 6 because I had to know that I could do the 300M distance I’ll have to cover on race day! And I didn’t have to be bottle-fed a Gatorade to get moving again after I finished, so yeah. #WINNING!

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The next day I took to the DeskCycle for the prescribed “15 minutes easy” ride the schedule called for, and found myself wanting to push a little harder. I can’t help it when the schedule I’m following recommends that I “try to run” the whole 2.5K recommended for the run workouts. I know what I need to do to maintain my fitness levels, and it sure as hell isn’t walking a mile and a half twice a week. So I did about 20 minutes and covered a little more than 5 miles Thursday, then took the recommended rest day Friday.

Saturday was rainy and cool and breezy (and I had a little too much wine at Happy Hour on Friday), but I still got out there for the 5K bike ride the schedule called for.

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I like to think the wind and the mist added to my training – it sure as hell made me work harder fighting through the wind gusts – but really all it did was make me wish I hadn’t ordered that second bottle of wine the night before.

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Either way, I got it done (while Mike walked/jogged a few laps around the park) and called it a day! And on a semi-related topic, Friday was officially the last time I’m going to really indulge in the vino until after this race, thankyouverymuch.

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It sure was nice having him around in case I toppled off my bike to nap in a roadside bush though.

After a LOT of water and sleep on Saturday, I was ready to run on Sunday. But then Mother Nature laughed in my face and spewed fire and 90% humidity at me. So I fueled up, double-fisted my coffee and water, and headed to the Y for my first treadmill run in months.

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multi-tasking at its finest

I’ve talked a bit in the past about how I don’t hate treadmill running as much as some of my running colleagues do. I actually kind of dig the mill. It’s temperature controlled, there’s a bathroom a few feet away whenever I need it, and I can push my pace in a safe, controlled way (and hide the speed decrease button to challenge myself even more) – what’s not to love?

As such, I’m pretty sure my positive attitude – coupled with the bottle of Nuun that I sipped on every 10 mins or so – turned this into one of my most successful treadmill runs ever!

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I rocked out to T-Swift and ran negative splits for the first time in my life, and the 10:xx pace was surprisingly easy to maintain, even for the final mile. Time was the only reason I had to cut my run short, and I felt like I could have gone much further. The treadmill and I were both drenched in sweat when I was done, too, which is remarkably satisfying!

While I haven’t been running as long as I was while training for the half, the consistently faster miles I AM running are proof positive that all this cross and strength training really is paying off, finally! After running 12:30-13:00 miles pretty solidly no matter the distance for the past year or so, I’m so relieved and energized to see some results, no matter how small!

So that was week 1 in a nutshell – how has your week gone?

What Have I Done?!

Ohhh boy… what did I just do? After all the thinking and hemming and hawing, and “maybe I shouldn’t”, “maybe I should” flip flopping, I’ve finally gone and done it: I registered for my first sprint triathlon!

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That’s right, just 2 days after my birthday this summer (in about 6 weeks!), I’m swimming 300 yards, biking 11 miles, and running 3 miles to officially earn the title of “triathlete” in the Jersey Girl Triathlon!

They say you should do one thing every day that scares you, and this is like, a year’s worth of scary for me. I mean, I know I’m capable of doing this – even if I have to crawl across that finish line I’m still going to finish – but it’s still completely and entirely new to me. But if I never try, I’ll never know exactly what I’m capable of, right?

So now it’s your turn – have any of you ever done this event before? Or a sprint tri of your own? I’m looking for all the advice I can get here, share the love!