5 Questions With Meredith Kessler!

I am a very lucky girl to be able to write this post and I’m so excited to share it with you. Remember this moment?

After meeting Meredith Kessler at Eagleman, it confirmed what I already knew – that she not only had great fashion sense, but she has a heart of gold! Along with Hillary, Meredith is definitely one of the girls in this sport that I look up to. Seeing that we are both racing IM CDA I thought it was a great opportunity to get to know her better. So I came up with five questions that I figured everyone would be dying to know. Or, five questions that I was at least dying to know 🙂 So, here it is folks. From boy bands, to pets, to beverages, here are my five questions with MBK!

1. Cats or Dogs?
Dogs–I dream of a day where I can have a BOXER named Turley–which is the name of our favorite wine! We just want to be out of ‘city’ life first where they aren’t cooped up all day in an apartment and can run and play freely!
2. Read the Slowtwitch forums? Or stay far far away?
Slowtwitch is an obviously a great platform for our sport and we are lucky to have them writing and reporting in on many things triathlon. While I do read the articles they write about races, I tend to steer clear of any forums particularly ones where people are bantering back and forth about issues within the triathlon community. Less is more for me in that capacity.
3. Vacation at the beach or in the mountains?
Could we do wine country in the mountains with a LAKE? This is precisely why we like Penticton, BC where Ironman Canada is because it is like Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley all wrapped into one! This situation is like a HAVEN for us since with love both of those places so much –which is why we love living in the Bay Area since we have easy access to both. I do love the beach of course but I also love my husband far more and he is a mountain man!
4. Favorite summer post workout beverage?
Non-Alcoholic: Chocolate Milk+ Ice blended with some coffee flavored recovery powder, I also sometimes add the likes of bcaa optimum nutrition if I’ve really pushed myself in a workout but I try to keep the mixture as simple as possible.
Alcoholic (and way more fun + festive):
To start: Champagne topped with Elderflower Liqueur—the best!
Then: Splitting a bottle of Turley Hayne Zinfandel with my husband + pairing it with a delicious meal.
5. 98 Degrees or New Kids on the Block?
NKOTB = no doubt about it. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m fairly certain my gal pals + I in middle school all had black leather NKOTB jackets. Indeed, it was a sight for sore eyes! We pranced around in those suckers like we were their real entourage–we were not afraid! Glory days 🙂
I think I speak for all of her fans when I say if there are pictures of MBK in a NKOTB leather jacket, she needs to get that into a blog post for us asap!
THANK YOU, Mere!!!!!
More from CDA to come, stay tuned!!

CDA Picturefest!

I can assure any of you that if you ever want an adventure while traveling for a race, just invite me along. Somehow I have a way of planning things well on paper, then when it’s time to execute them there are always a few speed bumps! Things started off interestingly for my friend David who was the first to arrive from our crew. He showed up to the address for the house I told him I had rented, only to find another family already there. After a few minutes of “hey, I’m here to rent the house” vs. “no, we’re here to rent the house” they finally discovered that I had been given the wrong address! Meanwhile, I was no help because I was somewhere in the sky over Colorado. David was given address #2, which also proved to be a dead end seeing as that one didn’t even exist! After that snafu, the rental woman basically just described the house to David and told him to go look for it….”no one really uses addresses around here anyway” according to her! Little does she know, where we come from if you walk into the wrong house you might get shot!

Alls well that ends well though, David found the house and got me the address which made my 12:30 am arrival fairly pain free. Renting a house here is definitely the way to go if you can – a kitchen to cook in and away from all the chaos, I couldn’t ask for too much more. The family renting out the home also left several kind notes around the house for us:

It was evident the family has a teenage girl in the house too, so her loft became my room for the weekend and I love it! I have named it the “princess loft:”

Yesterday was a day off of the legs but I did scoot down into town to check in the lake while I picked up my packet. Yes, it’s cold! Hopefully that will just make me swim faster 🙂 It is truly gorgeous out here though, and I’m loving the scenery. Plans for Monday are already including a jet ski tour of the lake!

I am definitely missing my Rev3 family here but hoping to meet up with a few of them who are out here racing as well. In the meantime, I have been running into some other friends. MBK and I caught up yet again (don’t ask why my head looks so big compared to hers in this picture…one of life’s mysteries….):

And then I ran into another HB athlete, Laura, who is here for her first IM and ready to rock it no doubt!!

As you can see I’ve been sporting my Oiselle “Dream Big” tee and loving it! Definitely one of my fav designs and you can find it here. And now one last picture before I go. I found this in the fridge at the rental house and thought it had to have been planted by Hillary who is I’m sure subliminally sending me messages to make sure I keep eating properly before the race! Seriously, what is this stuff?!

Good luck to all those racing this weekend! Here we go again…. 🙂

But here’s my number…..

So track me, maybe!


That will be my bib number for IM CDA this Sunday!

As I was pulling through a relaxing swim set this evening (well, as relaxing as swimming in bath water can be when there is a heat wave!) I got to thinking about what my mantra for the race would be. I find it very helpful to have a catch phrase of sorts for long training blocks, and then on race day I draw on that. This training block was a little different. Leading up to this weekend there were no time goals written on my bathroom mirror. No quote about how much you can learn when you’ve broken yourself down. I think one of the biggest reasons for that was, unlike the past 2 IM races I’ve completed within a year, I was prepping for this one alone. And no – by no means was I an island of one for all my workouts – but, I didn’t have Ryan or any of my other triathlon friends in Baltimore with this race on their calendar. That changes things. I am lucky that I still had company fairly often. But, I was left to do a lot of the long hours on my own.

To get through a lot of those hours I had to take my eyes off of the long term goal of the race itself. I didn’t worry about what my time goals were. I didn’t worry about the fact that for a month straight I would be falling asleep before 9, constantly hungry, and unable to comprehend anything other than tasks at work or those that had “swim,” “bike,” or “run” and some kind of pace suggestion.  Instead, I just focused on each day, one at a time. Sometimes one workout at a time. Sometimes one stroke at a time.

I’m certainly not the first person to discover this secret, but this is the first time where week after week I was focused on the short term rather than the long term. And in doing so, I found that I was really able to be within each workout. I enjoyed the process of training more because I wasn’t constantly stressed out about what was around the corner.

When I thought about this, it brought me back to one moment from last fall. This is a moment I still get goosebumps when I think about, and when I close my eyes I can see still Hillary jumping up and yelling over the metal barrier. She had just learned that I had a flat on the second loop of the bike, and was yelling at me to keep my head in the race.

The words helped take me away from a world of thoughts of the time that I had lost, girls who had gone by, and the hours still to come. It put me right back in the moment that I was in. That is my goal for this weekend – to stay in the moment and keep focused on what I am doing, right then. Moment by moment I will build my race.

And I can’t wait!

(98) Days of Summer

Before you read any further, please stop and make sure that you read the (real) 98 Days of Summer post by my blog-twin Cathleen. I would say I stole the idea, but she *did* say at the end of her post she encouraged readers to make a list of their own. She may not have specifically said “you can also steal the clever title”….but I figure it all evens out in the end 🙂 
Here are a few things I am looking forward to this summer: 
1. Bike commute. My original goal was to bike commute for 100 of the days remaining of the year. 365 – 169 (today) = 196. Then I realized that I didn’t take weekends into account….that leaves me with 114 more work days of the year. Plus, with my CDA and Hawaii trips alone, I am down to 104. Suddenly 100 days seemed much less doable. BUT, my intent was to be biking about half of the days left. So, I am shooting for 52 days now. Not as cool a number, but that’s okay. I am counting on some picture perfect summer days to knock out as much as I can!
2. Grow a pepper. Back in May, I was gifted a pepper plant. I eat peppers, so it seemed like a great thing at first. Then I realized that growing peppers from said pepper plant actually required some sort of caring for the plant. I thought I could do it – I re-potted it, added some soil, and set it out on the back patio….where I forgot about it for about 3 weeks. I was lucky to have remembered before it completely bit the dust and I am slowly nursing it back to health. So it would be cool if I could get even just one measly pepper from this thing this summer. 
3. Thru hike the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. While a thru hike of the AT would be the ultimate dream, that seems a bit lofty and not really feasible at this stage in my life. So I have settled on the LHHT. Seventy miles long and only a few hours away by car, this is a great intro to thru hiking. I am hoping to complete this one in July!
4. Travel without my bike. I can’t remember a weekend away where I haven’t had to pack up the bike and take it along. We have a wedding to attend this July and am planning on heading down to the Outer Banks with Ryan bike-less. Whatever will we do with ourselves?!?!
5. See the Hunger Games. Seriously. How have I STILL not seen this?!
While this list is by no means all inclusive, I do think it was a great idea to sit down and get some short term goals down on paper the internet. And Cathleen’s words that “in the end, perhaps your expectations won’t align with reality, but it’s fun to plan and fun to dream” are so true as well (and also another 500 days reference!). In a sport where patience is one of the most necessary virtues, enjoying the process is a necessity. We all have our big dreams and our lofty goals and our “one day’s”….but until those are a little closer, don’t be afraid to sit down and accomplish some other stuff in the next 98 days of summer 🙂 The big goals will still be there in the fall!

Birthday Fun!

I  can’t quite decide if I would say it was lucky that my birthday fell at the start of taper time for IM CDA. As much as I need the rest, I couldn’t help but wonder what the smashfest would look like if we didn’t have a big race on the horizon 🙂 But Hillary knows how to get a lot of bang for her buck – especially with swim sets – and I tackled my very tough 100×50 birthday swim set bright and early Wednesday morning!

Later in the day it was on to the ballpark for Ryan and I where the stars aligned for the most perfect night of baseball weather ever!

I have to say, life is good in Baltimore when the Orioles are winning! Let’s go O’s!

Now only 9 more days until I get to race my first race as an actual 27 year old. Here’s to making it count!

No Rest For the Weary

I had one more weekend to make it through before taper time, but there was a twist to this one. While I would be competing at Eagleman, I would be doing so as a relay team! The Quassy-Eagleman double was going to be too much to pile on before CDA, so I opted to do the bike at Eagleman – my friend Courtney was going to be the swimmer, and roommate Carly was going to be our ringer runner.  With the Baltimore celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 (yes, we like to find any reason to party) around the same time as the race, we were feeling a little patriotic as we went with the team name “Oh Say Can You See Those Fast and Pretty Girls.” When Courtney had a last minute work trip pop up, I opted to take on the aqua-velo portion of the relay as I figured another open water swim practice couldn’t hurt!

As usual the week prior to the race, every day seemed to be the ideal race day conditions. That only meant one thing: race day would be an inferno like always. Relays start in the very last wave, so I had plenty of time to catch up with my parents who made the trip down for the race. When Ed and Carly arrived it was just about time to suit up and get ready to rock!

I lined up at the front of the pack yet again, and tried to go out with the fast group. Since we also had the aquavelo in the wave, it meant that I was dropped pretty quickly by a few of the faster swimming. I held on with some others though, and was swimming at a good effort. Eagleman is one of the more challenging swims I’ve ever done, with a 36:37 in 2009 (wetsuit), and a 36:40 in 2011 (non-wetsuit). I am happy to report though that I came out of the water this year in 30:38! I was the second relay out of the water (which bodes well considering most relays would pick a ‘real swimmer’ for that leg!) and with that as my third solid swim in 2 months I can officially say I feel like I’ve shedded my past of 35(+) minute swim times.

I came into T1 where it appeared that not many (if any) other relay teams would be doubling up legs, so I took my time to put on a jersey and get settled before heading onto the bike. After biking a 2:33 last year, I was hoping to inch closer to that 2:30 mark this year. Spoiler alert: I didn’t come close!

A combination of unfavorable winds and general training fatigue in the legs was clear, and with that I’m content to report that I biked a hair under 2:40 in the end. While I always set my goals for a race, it is important to keep myself in check and part of that is remembering that I was in no way tapered and focusing on this event. A 56 mile TT on tired legs is a great way to gear up for a goal race, so I’m can most certainly accept that. I also was still able to hold my own in the relay division, only getting passed by one dude.

As I got off the bike and handed the chip to Carly (who now had the awful task at hand of running a half marathon in 90+ degree heat!) I realized that I could count my blessings on not doing the entire race myself this year. After only the swim and bike, the heat had definitely hit me and I was ready to raid my parent’s cooler, which consisted of Bugles (they still exist!) and iced tea. After refueling I headed back onto the course for my spectating duties.

I also have to mention a couple of amazing performances from the day: Katie had a great day and took home the Kona spot for the 25-29 age group (the East coast will be representing in October!!!) and my Rev3 teammate Maggie had a killer performance, shattering the 5-hour barrier with a breakthrough race!

Another highlight of the day was getting to meet the women’s champion, Meredith Kessler. She has been so much fun to watch race in the past couple years and getting to meet her confirmed that she’s a true sweetheart! And you know she’s a true champion when she’s back to looking super cute within a couple hours of winning the race:)

I am happy to report that after this weekend I have make it through the “gauntlet” of IM training for this race, and now can focus on relaxing and keeping my feet up! I feel ready, and am excited to head to Idaho next week 🙂

Dad’s Got Jokes

More to come later, but in case you’ve ever wondered where I get my photo shop skills, or my witty humor, the mystery is solved. I found this from my dad in my inbox this morning, with the title of “Alyssa forgets order of a tri”:

Rev3 Quassy Race Report

The short/picture version (you know it’s a good race report coming when there’s smiles like this at the finish!):


As Friday night came and I spent 2 hours sitting in traffic waiting to get through the Holland Tunnel, I began second guessing my decision to throw in a few more races this training cycle. Having made it through the IM build (relatively) unemotional, a nervous breakdown was bound to happen sooner or later. Luckily, my foul mood passed through quickly after the traffic began to move and I made my way to Ryan’s parents house in NJ where I would meet up with the rest of the Baltimore crew – Ryan, Mike and Courtney. A good night of sleep under our belts, we decided to do our pre-race spin in NJ which ended up being one of the better decisions of the weekend as we would soon find out that June is the rainy season in the northeast.

Similarly to just about every race in the last year, it was raining hard through much of the rest of our pre-race rituals. Luckily we seem to be getting more efficient about doing this on the road, and we were done by mid day and were able to relax a little. Before we knew it though it was time for bed and the alarms were set for an early wake up.

My morning went as flawlessly as it could – this venue is great as it offers close parking and close proximity to the transition area as well as the swim start. Not having seen even a mile of the race course there were definitely some butterflies as I wondered what to expect. Luckily I had plenty of support around in my Rev3 family and it was so nice to have familiar faces in transition, and just before the start. This was a beach start and I was pretty excited for that. I figured it would be good practice for IM Cd’A so I got myself right on the front of the group. We were also the 2nd wave to start – usually my age group ends up close to last (if not last!). Ryan and Mike were starting 15 minutes behind me for once, so we had a mini bet going on: who can get to 5K on the run first. The loser would buy Dairy Queen on the way home!

I would love to see a video of exactly what happened during that start. I heard go and started sprinting, a couple dolphin dives, and swam maybe 25 meters and quickly became pretty confused: where was everyone else?! If I wasn’t in front, I was darn close to it, and I literally had no front pack in front of me to chase. Talk about a different experience! It was no time to sit back and wonder though, so I kept on swimming. As I made the first turn into the blinding sun I adjusted my expectations for a slower swim due to the fact I was stopping to check where in the world I was a few times. Luckily that is a short leg of the U pattern, so I made the final turn and headed into the beach. I could tell there weren’t many green caps ahead of me, and sure enough results show that my 31:28 swim was good enough for 5th in my wave of 100 people, and 9th overall female. I’ll take it!

Onto the bike. No more than a couple minutes passed and I could tell my riding legs weren’t quite there. That’s not too surprising though after I put in a huge training block ending only 5 days prior, with only 3 days of a taper! My legs were aching just looking at the climbs ahead. And, I can assure you, that this course is full of climbing. I would love to come back fresh and see what I could do out there, but instead I was forced to ride smart and stay within myself, very conscious of the fact that any push too hard could set me way back in this ride. Once again my bike computer crapped out less than 10 miles in, so I really was left to just do what I could do. At the out-and-back portion just prior to the 40 mile mark, I saw I only had a small gap left on Mike and Ryan. Shoot! That got me pedaling a little harder towards the end. Unfortunately the winds had started to pick up and while they were far from terrible, it was enough to keep me from really maxing out the time potential on the long descents on the way home. Just about 53 miles in, I heard YEAAAA BOOOOIIIII and knew it could only be one thing: I was caught! Sure enough, not only Ryan but also Mike was there.  I did my best to keep them sight for as long as possible, and came into T2 at 2:55. Certainly not a time for a bike leg I’d like to make a habit of, but given how I felt and the difficulty of the course I wasn’t going to sweat it.

As I headed out for the run I actually threw on my Garmin for the first time in a tri. On one hand, I have been dying to break 1:45 off the bike. On the other hand, everything I had been hearing was telling me that Quassy wouldn’t be the course to expect a fast run! So I was going to try to at least run smart, and let the pieces fall into place. As I approached the first mile I saw a low 7 on the watch. Wait, what?! After struggling with what to do for a few steps, I decided to just ignore the Garmin after all and run on feel. This was like night and day compared to the bike…my legs felt light and my steps effortless! Within the first couple miles I had passed two girls and was told I was third. However, I knew that really could mean anything as there were several waves of women who had started behind me. So the best I could do was race my race. On the first out and back I was able to see Mike and Ryan. Ryan checked his watch and looked at me: “You’re flying! You’re crushing it!” he said. I kind of shrugged and said I know, I just feel good! I honestly don’t think 13 miles have ever passed more quickly. I do remember a lot of hills though (and my garmin file here confirms that), but before I knew it I was heading up the long hill in the final mile. I knew breaking 1:40 was within reach so I pushed all the way into the finishing chute and came through in 1:39:01….a 7 minute run PR in the 70.3 distance! Thanks to my teammate Elaine for snapping this pic coming out of T2!

Overall my 5:08 was just a couple minutes slower than Rev3 Knoxville. I would say it’s a no brainer though that this was a much stronger performance, and I am really happy to have put this one in the training bank. It was the hardest course I have raced yet in triathlon (yes, harder than Vegas in my opinion), and anyone who races here has much more street cred to their name!

After the race our plans for riding some Amusement park rides were thwarted by the timing of more rain, but it was a great venue to hang out at, with tons of activities going on.

After refueling on some burgers and pasta, we packed up and made the driving back to Baltimore. It’s surprisingly quick, and being that accessible I think I may just have to make the trip back next year! And while we didn’t make a DQ stop, I did buy the crew Frosty’s at Wendy’s since I lost the bet!

Special thanks to all the Rev3 sponsors for making this another successful day: TRISLIDE, NormaTec, Pearl Izumi (my first time racing in flats was a great success and my feet are happy to be back in PI’s!), Swiftwick, Blue Seventy, and Powerbar!

Rev-in’ it Up…Again!

I always know when my training volume is up because there will be 3 things that happen:

-I have nothing to blog about. There are only so many ways you can spin “so I rode my bike for a really long time” or “my swimming times are somehow 10 seconds slower than usual” to make it interesting to read. Or, make it interesting enough to even write about. So I try to avoid it.

-Canker sores. Directly proportional to the training hours. Terrible.

-I have no sense of the world around me. Facebook went public? Kim and Kanye? What? Okay maybe it’s not that bad, but it may as well be. This was compounded by the fact that this week I have been in NYC for work. So I am doubly disconnected.

But, I am about to make my way back to earth as I do a mini taper for a race this weekend! I am heading to Rev3 Quassy with some others from the tri crew of Baltimore, and I’m excited to get some more racing this season under my belt. And even more excited to get to see the Rev3 family again!

I don’t want you to leave this post without anything informative (though I’m sure you all have been wondering for months my training to canker sore relation), so I’ll give you a couple hints for training in NYC. Usually in NY I would be staying near Central Park, and that was my go-to training ground. That’s not the case this time, though if I had a long run on tap I’m sure I would have still headed to the park. My hotel doesn’t have a gym – but it does offer complimentary passes to NY Racquet & Health clubs. These gyms are all over the city and I went during what I thought would be prime hours yesterday, but it wasn’t bad! I opted to do a hill workout on a treadmill for the first time, and found that I really liked it! Like some of my speed sessions, I find it nice to be able to really control the efforts and all the variables. They also have spin bikes if you needed an easy ride substitute, and there are pools in some locations, though they looked pretty small in some of the pictures. That is why I headed over to the Chinatown YMCA for my swim. It’s an 8 lane, 25 yard pool. Make sure to check the schedule ahead of time for how many lanes will be open for lap swimming. It seems like people respect the lane speed rules which is really nice (i.e. many of the older folks are there doing elementary backstroke, but they didn’t touch the “fast” lanes). All bets are off though if the crowd is confined to 1-2 lanes, and the rules of the road do not seem to apply so I wouldn’t suggest trying to swim during those times! The pool is clean though and the facility is nice. You can go for free for your first visit; after that it’s a $20 day pass.

I am also heading to Babycakes tonight to check it out, which I am sure would be popular among any gluten-free/vegan readers! I will be sure to report back how I liked it!

Daytime Hashtags

1. I learned today that apparently people who run the 800 have big calves. I learned this from the woman giving me a chair massage, as the position of the chair allows for prime calf viewing. Sadly, I had to tell her I was not an 800 runner, my large calves are actually just extensions of my perpetual cankles…..#trigirlprobs.

2. A NON-#trigirlprobs tidbit is here as well: GEL NAIL POLISH. Like most tri-girls, I usually reserve getting my nails done to occasions where I have to (weddings) or pre-race rituals. Either way, the polish is sure to chip off almost immediately due to a pool sesh or bike maintenance. Or just sticking your hand in your purse. Having to explain to your friend that your nails look ridiculous on her wedding day because you chipped it when you had to put the trainer tire back on your bike does *not* go over well. Last week I went to get my nails done for Kelly’s wedding and the man tricked me into this “gel nail polish” idea. I say tricked, because I initially was just like “yeah whatever, I’ll try anything but I don’t believe that this will be any better that the usual stuff.” It is slightly more expensive, but I have to say: totally worth it! This article gives a good run down on the pros and cons of the gel polish, but basically I am a believer.  In the past week since getting my nails done, I have swam 5 times, run a lot, did a really long ride, completed some basic bike maintenance, showered a bajillion times, typed at work…..and yes, my nails are still perfectly in tact. It’s nothing short of amazing.

3. Anyone out there bike commute? I’m looking for pros and cons  of the basket vs. a bag-type pannier….front or rear? Do things bounce out? How do you secure it? What’s the heaviest you’ve ever carried (measurements can come in the form of common items like “gallon of milk” or “small child”….) #BikeCommute