You’ve Gotta Play…in Luray.

This past weekend 6 of us – me, Ryan, Pat, Mike, Ben, and Andy headed down to Luray, VA to race the Luray International Triathlon and then get in some good training on Sunday. I have mentioned before that this weekend in particular is one of my favorites. For one thing, it would be my third time at this event and it is one that I really enjoy. The course is tough, the competition is strong, and David Glover does a great job as RD. The other part of the weekend I love is Luray itself. Nestled on the side of the Shenandoah National Park, with Skyline Drive just a few miles away, there are mountains and trails and woods all over. I nominated myself to find us a cabin again this year, and, well, if you know me you would know that I really like being out in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Blue Ridge Getaway, in Rileyville and it was absolutely gorgeous. The only catch was that it was a steep drive up a Jeep road to get there – and seeing as I had the only car with 4WD that meant a lot of the party would make a few trips hiking up and down the road with bikes and other important items, like beer and watermelon. But once you were up there, it was definitely worth it.

Friday night Ryan cooked up a pasta dinner that we enjoyed out on the deck before calling it a night. Oh, but not before I managed to miss the bear walking through our backyard! As luck would have it, in the five minutes where I grabbed Ben and asked him to help me as I turned my car around on the steep road, we missed it. Oh well. We made the drive to the race site in the morning, where I was pleased to find out that the water had cooled down a little to 78.5. A much better result than the 89 degrees of NJ a few weeks back!! Right from the gun I felt good on the swim. My placement was right – I knew I was with the lead group and had even found some feet to swim on. That didn’t last past the first couple buoys, but by then we had caught the other waves and people were everywhere anyway. I came out of the water in 26:30 (2 minutes faster than last year) and headed into the long T1. Helping make this transition even longer was me just getting confused. Luckily, when I checked in that morning that had written my race number on my hand (as if I couldn’t read it on my shoulders), and I literally had to look down to remember what my number was. Oh yeah, I thought, and headed to that rack.

Jumped on the bike and got ready to roll. My goal here was to go hard for the first loop and then in the second loop keep up the intensity but try to keep my cadence up as much as possible to keep my legs spinning and ready to run. I had done my homework and knew my competition, and knew that as long as I had good running legs left I had a shot at the podium. This bike course has a lot of climbing, which suits me, so I just settled in and went for it. Because it was a two-loop course I felt like I was passing a lot of people but it was tough to tell who was in front of and behind me. There is one final climb before a descent into the transition area, so I took that time to get some more water, GU and salt in me before the run. As I entered the park I was told I was in second place, then I saw the lead female heading out on the run and knew I needed to keep her within at least 3 minutes if I wanted any sort of shot at running her down. Came off the bike in a whopping 1:14:56, about 10 minutes faster than last year! The thought of her ahead propelled me through T2 pretty quickly and out onto the run I went.

 

The run course would deviate from prior years; this year instead of 2 loops, it would be one out and back. What I didn’t know was that the extended 1.5 miles of the “out” portion was a gravel road. Luckily, my ultrarunning days of miles and miles of gravel roads prepared me for this and I think I fared well on the terrain. I could tell some others were not so fortunate. (Note: I also always race in flat-trainers….also known as Flainers. I essentially wear my trainers down until, in my head, I believe that they are now flats. I believe this because 1. I have never actually owned flats, so I am able to convince myself of this and 2. I can’t keep buying that many shoes so I have to figure out some way to recycle them! I realize this is absurd. And I realize most people will tell me I’m hurting my feet. And it is, but I haven’t, so I’ll probably continue doing this until I finally swallow my pride and buy a pair of flats. BUT my point is that the soles of these shoes were very well suited to the gravel, as opposed to Mike who had to stop and pick rocks out of the bottom of his fancy-pants flats!)

But, back to the run. The good part about having many friends racing is that there is a lot of motivation out on the course. One by one I saw them as they were on their way home and they all gave me some words of encouragement. And by words of encouragement, they mostly all raised their eyebrows and told me to get moving, because the girl in first was going hard. I hit the turnaround and was able to calculate that I had made up time, but I was still about 90 seconds back. Would it be enough? Unfortunately right after the turnaround is a big hill, which sucked some of the life out of me. So, I wasn’t able to make much more of a gain on the way in, but I did finish the run in 46:33 – another 2 minute improvement from last year!

My final time was 2:30:48, 2nd of 201 females. This is easily one of the best races I have had in the sport.  I felt in control of each discipline, and for the first time I hit the run and was ready to run someone down – not just look back and hope I didn’t get caught. It also felt good to be hanging with girls who consider this distance their specialty – and giving them a run for their money. I wasn’t the only one who picked up some wine-themed hardware though (pictures to come) and the group of us packed up and headed back to the cabin.

Saturday afternoon brought burgers, corn husking, and Justin Bieber. I took a nap but that still didn’t keep me from getting to sleep early Saturday as we had a big day on Sunday. I had one more long ride to get in (though it was allowed to be easy).  We had talked about getting out to Skyline Drive to ride for quite some time, and finally were able to make it happen. Keeping it easy was actually the toughest part of the day as a 4 mile climb up to Skyline was the start of the day! Since I was always a bit back from the boys, on one of the stops I attempted to enlighten them on another Alyssaism…if you ride slower, you’ll get faster. Needless to say, they didn’t buy it, haha.  From there you’ll still find a lot of climbing but the road conditions, and the small amount of traffic – not to mention the views – make it a great ride! It would be really cool to go back and just ride that as a workout.

After the ride we packed up and headed back to Baltimore, where we lucked out and missed the torrential rains that had been in the area. All in all, this was the perfect way to enter my taper mode. Now it’s time to relax and get everything set for next Thursday when Ryan and I roll out to Louisville!

Girl Power

I was going to do a QOTD for some inspiration prior to the weekend, but when I got to searching I decided to post on something that is way more than just a quote. On July 31, Jennifer Pharr Davis broke the record for the best time traveling the length of the Appalachian Trail. Jennifer’s time of 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes bests any other time set by a male or female, by over a day. She averaged just about 47 miles a day.

47 miles.

A day.

For 46 days.

I consider myself an endurance athlete. Part of that is that I thrive on consistency, on the tough days, on days when all I can do is shake my head and look at the (now faded) reminder I wrote to myself on my bathroom mirror to “Get Tough.” I need long days of hard efforts to break me down and build me back up. To get me ready for the races that will require more time than a day of “regular” work for me. But that consistency is something I still struggle with. It’s a funny thing. On one hand, I like hard day after hard day, because I get into a routine and I just….do. Not much thinking, just doing. On the other hand though, day after day builds up until eventually it overflows. The overflow may come in the form of a negative attitude. It may come out as being stressed about what I’m going to wear that day. It may come out in tears because I am stuck in traffic (crazy, right?!).

I can only relate to the most minor of the struggles that Jennifer had to endure to complete this, and I can honestly say I am in complete awe of her.  The Appalachian Trail is a beautiful and breaktaking place. My self-proclaimed favorite spot in the world can be found on that trail. But even then, 46 days of attacking the trail to get as far as you can within each hour, just seems unfathomable.

I hope to find within myself some of the strength that Jennifer has as I continue to pursue my own AT this year – the ironman 🙂

You can read about Jennifer’s record breaking run on her blog here. The entries were documented by her husband, Brew, and are really thorough and a fantastic look into the highs and lows of such a feat. I would recommend finding time to sit down and start at the beginning – you won’t regret it!

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

-John Muir

When the going gets tough….

The tough stop blogging 🙁 I do apologize for my lack of blogging as of late – but I hope you understand that my peak training weeks + the murphy’s law of work being busy these weeks + attempting to maintain some sort of sanity leaves me far far away from my computer in the evenings when I’d blog. In an effort to keep you up to date I have compiled a miscellaneous list of thoughts and awesomeness for your reading pleasure….

-I love unexpected sources of water. Two of these happen to fall on rides we frequent in the Baltimore area. The first, the Leone Family Spring is located about 50 miles away. The water is always super cold and super fresh. When we went by on Saturday, there was a poster advertising an escaped goat. He looked pretty much like what you’d expect a goat to look like, so if you’re in the Glen Rock area and see a wandering goat, you can get a reward for returning it!

My other fav unexpected water source is on Bellemore Road. At the top of a mile long steep climb, a family on the road keeps this fountain running. It’s not really cold, but water is water and it may be just what you need to get you the final 7.5 miles home to the city.

– I ride with dudes a lot, and its awesome. Despite the times I want to tell them to slow down. Despite the times it’s rainy and their tire juice sprays all over me for miles and miles. Despite the times I have to deal with them farting in my face as I sit on their wheel.  Having guys that allow me to tag along and draft (aka “audit”) their rides has made me the cyclist that I am becoming!

-I ordered some Picky Bars today, and I’m quite excited for them to arrive!

-One of my favorite races of the year is this weekend – the Luray International Triathlon. Ryan and I first did this race back in ’08…I placed in my age group and recieved a wine glass. Then last year I did the sprint and the olympic distance and received a wine glass for my place in both of those, and another for doing the double weekend! I hope to continue the tradition this year. We have a cabin for the weekend and will be doing our respective rides on Skyline Drive on Sunday, so if you have any tips or inside info on Skyline (food, water, which direction is best) please leave it in the comments! We will be entering from the Luray area. I am hoping for some great weather and great views as a cabin in the mountains is heaven for me!

-Amelia Bedelia loves to knock over cups. They are usually full. It is not funny.

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

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

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

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

5. Babies. Duh.

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

I didn’t come for the tomato pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I blogged, but…

It’s not here.

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

On having a coach and believing in Santa

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

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

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

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

Millions of Peaches and a Diamond in the Rough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QOTD, and More

“You think you can win on talent alone? Gentlemen, you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.” — Coach Herb Brooks, Miracle
 
So, I have a secret for you. I know that my blog posts are generally upbeat and hopefully somewhat humorous. But sometimes….I get really, really tired. Sometimes….I don’t really want to do my workout. 
 
Last Thursday night was one of those nights. I had a group ride scheduled. Crap. That means 37 miles of legs burning and praying I’m not the slowest this week. Of hoping that I can focus for 2 hours and 15 minutes so completly that I don’t disturb anyone else’s ride. The wheels of my (super smart and very astute brain) started working. Maybe….I can just convince myself that these clouds look ominous and it’s going to storm, and do a shorter workout on the trainer instead. Then I’ll have time to paint my toenails!
 
Or! Maybe I can try to get Ryan and Pat to ride the easier Gunpowder loop which will be much less stressful. And then I’ll have time to paint my toenails!
 
And then it hit me. I didn’t really have a good reason for not wanting to do my designated workout. I actually just wanted to paint my toenails.
 
Sometimes, there are good reasons to miss workouts – if my body truly needs rest/recovery/easy day, that is one thing. But if I’m just being moody and tired and don’t “feel like it” — that’s not really okay with me.
 
While I love the sport of triathlon, that certainly doesn’t mean that everytime I get on my bike I love it. It doesn’t mean that every run feels great and builds my confidence. And it certainly doesn’t mean I am cannon-balling into the pool 4 times a week ready to swim.
 
The majority of the time, I am excited to get out there and push myself. But sometimes, I’m not. So, why do I do it on the days that I don’t love it? Why don’t I just give in to the fact that I’d rather go to Happy Hour sometimes instead of a 2.5 hour swim-to-run workout? Because, like the above quote, I understand and have accepted the fact that I am not going to achieve my goals on talent alone. In fact, if I rely on talent alone, I’m going to fail miserably this year.
 
I learned this about myself a long time ago. When I was about 12 years old I played soccer. I was pretty darn good, too. I consistently made the elite travelling teams and generally was a starting player. At 12, I had reached the age where now it was time to look towards high school. High school brought soccer to a new level. You now had to be on top of every aspect of your game – skills, fitness, showing up to every practice mattered, etc. To prepare us for this our coach started having us do a timed mile every week at Wednesday practice. Initially I was in the middle of the pack. I could have easily gotten away with this; I was never close to being the last one so attention was never on me. But instead, twice a week outside of practice, I would run. My mom would sit on our front porch and count how many times I could run around the half mile loop next to my house. (Looking back, I’m not really sure why I needed help counting as I doubt I ever went more than like 4-5 times around, but still.) After I began doing that, my mile time started dropping. Quickly. Before long, I had the second fastest mile time on the team. I may not have recognized it then, but I didn’t get that because I was the most talented. I got to that point because I was willing to work harder than the other girls on the team.
 
The same principal applies here. Now, I know my breaking points pretty well after competing in endurance events for the past 6 years. I know the difference between tired and overtrained. I know the difference between cranky and burned out. Last thursday I was none of those things. So, I went into autopilot and showed up to the ride (with some much appreciated encouragement from Ryan). I got onto my bike and started pedaling. And you know what? I worked hard, and I had a great ride.
 
Some people are just talented and will be fast. But others can be just as fast with a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work. I know which group I fall in to, and I have to admit, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
Oh, and I finally did get time to paint my toenails on Friday 🙂

The Goose is Getting Fat

I haven’t had much of a chance to breathe lately – between work, training, and a trip up to NYC to see my sister things have been quite busy in the world of Alyssa. As I hunker down for my next training block and continue to grind through the days I am reminded of the important of the little things that keep me going….
 
These things are the bomb. I haven’t had one since my grandmother stopped sending them in my care packages when I was in college, but a quick google search leaves me to believe they do still exist and I may even find them at my local drug store.
 
2.  Not taking myself anything too seriously. This morning I cooled off after mile repeats using a grimey baltimore fountain (granted it is in the apartment complex where Tom Clancey resides on occasion). It was gross. But it was necessary, and it was funny.  I also like to hear nerdy jokes to keep me laughing….A photon checks into a hotel and the bellhop asks if he needs help with his luggage, to which the photon replies….No its ok im traveling light. In addition to nerd jokes I also enjoy what I call “dad” jokes…these are generally found on the back of laffy taffy wrappers.
 
3.  Friends. My friends are a huge chunk of the pie that keeps me motivated day after day. But instead of blowing up their spot all over the interwebs I will display my fake friends instead. 
Yes, that’s right, I said it. And I know you know what I’m talking about. Who has never been like “oh yeah, after work I’m just gonna hang out with Taylor for a bit and rock out in my car.” Or maybe, “I’m just gonna stay home tonight and watch a track meet. My <cough>fake<cough> friend Erin Donohue is running.” No? How about, “oh yeah Chelsea made me laugh so much last night that my wine came out my nose!”
 
Note:  Fake friends in order left-to-right in the above photo (crazy how all 8 of us were together on one magical day!): Jimmy Fallon, Erin Donohue, Taylor Swift, Guy Fieri (who wouldn’t want a friend that will think of fun games to play that only take a minute), Chelsea Handler, Ashton Kutcher (Enough said. And I like cameras.), Myself, Evelyn from the MTV Challenge show (she’d be a fun friend to play Guys’ challenges against!).
 
4. Sponsors. Yes, this is a shameless little plug for those companies who do their part in helping keep me going. Regardless, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t mean it. The Oiselle Iris Sport Top is one of my favorite peices this summer. It’s SO soft and comfortable, and doesn’t get insanely heavy and gross when you sweat like a man.  And after my run this morning I found out that the Marseille shorts are also great for high humidity runs. Despite looking like I got out of a pool (well, I was in a fountain), the shorts didn’t chafe or give me any issue once they were drenched. The inside lining is also really soft I swear it’s made of clouds…….and they’re on sale right now!
 
When I got home I replenished the buckets of fluid I lost with some NUUN Strawberry Lemonade. If you haven’t already tried this new flavor, you are missing out. It’s like a cotton-candy-lemonade-strawberry-shortcake-snowball-goodness drink. In fact, they e-mailed me and said that was what they were going to call it, but only Strawberry Lemonade fits on the tube.
 
And finally, a huge shoutout to Eric with SmartBikeParts.com who recently made my experience purchasing a Speedsuit (watch out world I’m gonna rock the L-Ville swim) super awesome.