>Anything Ben can do, I can do better*

>*except for running.

Holler peeps it’s time for a rhyme,
Grab a seat if you’ve got the time.

Some white stuff is coming down out of the sky,
Bread, milk and TP is what the people buy.

The mexis gather round the chimney with care,
In hopes that whatever they pray to would soon be there.

Denise sets up camp at Du Burns Arena,
This wet ass snow will not make her cleaner.

The bars open up to serve drinks and din,
To stay in tonight would be a mortal sin.

Get your lawn chairs ready to mark that spot,
This snow’s comin’ in, ready or not!

>Stolen from Slowtwitch

>So I haven’t blogged for awhile now and it’s mostly because I haven’t known what to write about. My training is still in the early phases, so nothing too earth shattering (too soon?) there. I will wrap up phase/month1 with the half marathon in Miami. My goal time is 1:37. I haven’t trained properly for a half marathon by any means and am probably drastically underprepared, but I am excited to try and go for it, so I will. I did back to back long runs Sunday/Monday and judging from how my legs felt yesterday that was a bad choice, but those runs are going really well and I’m excited for that. Oh, and the Nordell duo signed up for 3 Days (again) so I’ll get to compete against the 2x (3x?) returning champ. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Anyway, due to my lack of creativity for a post, I headed to Slowtwitch and stole the questions from their recent interview with Joanna Zieger and I interviewed myself. The only answer I overlap with her on is the first…..
What is the most overrated virtue? Underrated?

The most overrated virtue is patience. If I was patient, I wouldn’t be running ultras or Ironmans in the first place. The time is never “right” ….the moment is never perfect. It’s up to you to decide to do something and go after it. People often encourage me to take it easy – don’t try to do all these sweet things when I’m so young. What will be left for me to accomplish in 5-10 years? That’s the great thing about ultras. There’s always one more mountain to run up. There’s always one more way to challenge myself. And this way, if it all ever ends, for one reason or another, at least I can be satisfied with what I got to do.

The most underrated virtue is creativity. Things get crazy, especially when you’re an age grouper trying to balance life, love and the pursuit of happiness. But all you hear is about people saying that to be successful at it you need to be disciplined and focused. And while those are important things too, it’s important to get creative! Find ways of training to make yourself better AND have fun, meet people, etc. Keep it new, keep it interesting. Find ways to get in workouts that still leave you time to go to happy hour or brunch. Sometimes you need to think outside the box, but it’s gotta be possible to have it all. Because if you can’t maintain that balance, if you’re not winning, you’ll burn out and forget about why you’re competing in the first place…
What are some things that every elegant woman should have?

A catchphrase. Think about it – Coco Chanel, Marilyn Monroe, Paris Hilton….all have their little sayings. What’s mine? If you can’t be good, be good at it….If you can’t be good at it, just be pretty.

Oh, that and an always have an avalanche shovel.

Do you ever think about money when in a race?

Of course. You can’t be in that much pain and help but at point to curse the fact that you probably spent thousands of dollars to put yourself through it. Or the fact that I could be lying on a beach in some exotic land and have hired a small child to bring me drinks with those dollars. Sigh.

I believe in….. God? A metaphysical whatever? The human spirit? Love? The devil? Yahweh? Mohammed? Nothing? Random chance? Fate? Luck? The Great Pumpkin?

I believe that humans are smart, rational beings that have the ability to do the right thing and make themselves happy. Just takes some of us longer to find the initiative to be in control of that.

Why are so many excellent triathletes so smart? Mari Rabe is a Rhodes scholar, Scott Tinley got his PHD, Ray Browning has a PhD, Sri Lindley and Karen Smyers are Ivy Leaguers, you have a doctorate … Can a dumb triathlete be very good?

Smart people are more likely to make more money. Smart people are also more likely to be bored with mundane things. Therefore smart people are probably the most willing to spend so much on racing equipment. The nature of the beast sifts out the poor man. And if “dumb” means no Ivy League degree or PHD, then yes, a dumb triathlete can be very good. Same principal as in life applies here…book-smart doesn’t equal tri-smart.

If an asteroid hit the earth while you were leading Ironman Hawaii — given that the asteroid didn’t hit immediately nearby but was large enough that disastrous consequences were looming — would you finish or would you stop and hug your husband Mark and your mom and dad?

ummm, hello? I would finish the race. Family would understand.

If tri is swim bike and run plus transitions, is in-race urination the fifth discipline? What woman is best at this special skill?

Sure. I am definitely a contender for the best at this one. Although I can’t pee off the bike, I have mastered the “hold it until the aide station is in view, let it go slowly and grab water to wash it off of you” trick. I also am good at finding the perfect angle to squat behind a tree so no one can see my muffin….even if it’s a skinny birch tree.

Is it even possible to use makeup during a race? If so, what do you use?

I never really wear much makeup, but I also never leave the house without mascara on. Race morning included….waterproof, obvi. You never know who you’ll meet and take pics with! And if you’re not going to win the race, you should at least try to be the prettiest while competing.

What scares you the most?

Getting pushed into the harbor on a run in the winter. Falling off a mountain. The thought I may never going through with any of my sweet ideas and inventions I have. Never getting to the point of “my absolute best” before I can’t compete anymore.

Do you ever watch your races on TV? Why or why not?

I always watch them. The footage is never of me, but I watch them.

>Ask Jeeves

>Where are you now?

>Goals Schmoals

>I am a big believer in goals. I think that quantifying what you want, visualizing it, and mostly just having that goal stare you in the face everyday will help you get there. Not that I’m discounting the hard work, but seeing it every day really is a big motivator. When I was trying to qualify for Boston with my first marathon, I had the time “3:40” taped up just about anywhere imaginable (well, considering I was at the Naval Academy that was like 2 places otherwise I got in trouble) so I would see it several times a day. By the time the marathon rolled around, the number didn’t scare me; I was prepared, and I believed that I would do it…..and I did.

TWSS also values goals, and at our awards night each December we write them on little notecards that Ryan saves for us to look back on at the end of the year. Interestingly enough, I was pretty far from most of my goals for last year. But, that is okay. I aimed high, and I missed – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do some sweet things.

For 2010 I set myself some pretty lofty goals again. They are:
-Overall Female Winner at 3 Days of Syllamo (March)
-Overall Winner at Old Dominion 100 Mile
-Sub 10:45 at Ironman Wisconsin
-Sub 3:30 Marathon
-Sub 8 at JFK

Looking at these, I may very well be setting myself up for failure to meet them once again this year. But I’ll do my best to get there. There are a couple major changes I’ll be making training-wise to reach these goals. One, I am going to work closely again with Francesca Conte to coach me through OD 100. She coached me through GEER and I know that it significantly improved my performace. After that, I still was using her as a coach and mentor, just not as seriously (my focus was the IM). I know that she can get me into the shape I need to be in to be able to beat the whole field at that 100. Even without a win, I would like to see how well I can do at OD, get my confidence up a bit for 100’s, and then in 2011 go for a bigger race.

Because I will be following her training plan seriously, I want to hold myself more accountable for my training. My training logs have also taken the backseat since GEER. I will hopefully use this blog and another online tracker to keep track of my mileage and training. To get ready for both the 100 and the IM, every mile and every minute will count, and I don’t want to cheat myself.

The Ironman is probably my loftiest goal out there. To get there, it’s pretty simple: I need to swim, bike and run like the baller I know I am.  1:15/5:50/3:40. Boom.

For the marathon, going sub-3:30 has been a long time coming for me. I know I can do it. Heck, I know I could run a 3:20. It’s just a matter of making myself run faster when I train. Running faster is something I can do. I don’t neccessarily like it – but to get to my other goals I will have to do it. The plan for that is to run a half in March to get a time that automatically enters me in the NYC Marathon. If that happens, I will run NYC, skip JFK, and then run Hellgate 100K in December. If it doesn’t happen, I will decide between JFK and Mt. Masochist as a 50 miler for November.

Only 4 more days till the training cycles begin!

>Thanks for the memories

>Just kidding. My memory is horrible, I remember next to nothing. But I think I had a good time in 2009, so I’ll take a brief look back and look at the highs and lows (low low low).

High Point: PR at Holiday Lake 50K in February. Dr. Horton’s (hears a who?) races are always pretty competitive and attract a lot of wild card younger marathoners, so getting in the top 3 there and breaking 5 hours was sweet.

Low Point: DNF at North Face in May. No one wants to be a quitter.

High Point: THE JAMS!  2009 has been a sick year for music, especially with the ladies T. Swift and Lady Gags releasing sweet stuff nonstop.

Low Point: Mile 35 of Western States. Puking, hot and tired. Enough Said.

High Point: Finishing Western States. Rivals winning GEER for my favorite ultrarunning moment.

Low Point: Ryan getting hit by a car. Even though it didn’t hurt me physically, it hasn’t been fun to see a friend have to go through that. He was setting himself up for a baller year, and not being able to see him finish it is sad.

High Point: Qualifying for Clearwater. I never thought I would get there, and I probably never will again, so it was nice to have my 15 minutes of fame.

Low Point: Getting out of the water at Louisville to discover my jacked up rear wheel was flat….before it left the rack.

High Point: Ironman Lousiville. Alyssa, you are an IRONMAN! Not only that, but having 2 amazing friends surprise me and come out for the race was awes.

Low Point: Work was a drag. I was unable to be positive in a lot of other areas of my life because work was getting to be very frustrating and stressful. Buttt…..

High Point: I got a new job! I will be kicking off 2010 as a Data Analyst & Technical Writer for a defense contractor in Hunt Valley, so that should be a good change of pace and hopefully something that I enjoy.

Low Point: DNF at JFK. Again, it’s never fun to quit. Especially when you’re going for a 5th finish and final race of the year. OHhhhhhh well.

High Point: Some baller performances by my bffs on TWSS. A few standouts: Chrissie at NY, Bren at National, Ben at JFK, Ryan finishing Eagleman standing (haha), Zero’s IM……the list goes on.

Low Point: Getting tired. I had more struggles with my mental racing game than I usually do this year, espcially post-IM.

High Point: Getting more comfortable in the pool and on the bike. I’m beginning to actually enjoy these workouts now and am looking forward to the spring and summer when I can get out there more. Hopefully will be able to save for a new bike in 2010 as well!

Low Point: Missing the Majumdar wedding due to my little race. Still feel bad about that one!

High Point: I’m 24 years old and did I mention I’m an Ironman and a Western States finisher? Damnnnnn son. I’m a sexy biatch.

>To Rash Field, Fort McHenry, and Natty Boh

>As I write this, I am sitting in a sweet loft in downtown Toledo. Toledo? Why Toledo? Well, it just so happens that my good friend Dani’s sister lives out here. I consider the Garcia girls to be my own sisters, and Alicia has lived out here for a year and a half now and I haven’t come out to visit. When I realized a couple months ago that I was long overdue for a real vacation – with no racing, no activities, no nothing planned – this seemed like a good option. Of course, it’s no Barbados or Costa Rica, but it will be sweet because everything I do ends up awesome.
Anyway, after eight hours in this city I wanted to write this post to give Baltimore some props. In the short day I’ve been here, the only thing I have noticed as a common thread between the people I’ve talked to is that they apologize for their city. No one can believe we came out here for a vacation. They say things like “I don’t really know what you’ll find for fun” or “I’m sure where you’re from is much more exciting.”

Now, if they hadn’t said anything, it’s not like I would have thought Toledo was my next life destination, but I certainly wouldn’t have thought that there was “nothing to do.” Which brings me to my realization that Baltimore is awesome. Sure, the traffic blows downtown and operation orange cone is quite possibly the worst idea ever. But, we’re damn proud of our horrible traffic patterns and our homeless people. We’re indescribably loyal to a beer that isn’t even brewed in our city anymore. We know that the dolphin show really is sweet enough to warrant the $50 per ticket it costs to see it. In fact, we believe it so much we write that Baltimore is the greatest city in America on benches all over the town.

So to everyone in Baltimore, keep believing in your city. Because, after all, it could be worse….you could live in Toledo.

>Oh Holy Night

>My favorite part of running at night is getting to look in people’s windows and seeing them going about their lives, watching TV and knitting, having dinner, etc. Creepy?

>For every 99 times

>Well, my race season didn’t quite end as expected. No one really wants to go out on a low, especially not a DNF. But in an effort to not be like anyone else, I went ahead and did that for 2009. Last Saturday I went out to JFK attempting…no, expecting….my fifth finish on that course. Everything went as planned. In fact, the race was going better than planned. I was slightly ahead of pace at mile 9.4 and felt great through the end of the trail section. In fact, I’ve never felt so good on that course before, ever. I was able to run with Frannie and Gill (Charlottesville Running Company/Bad to the Bone) for a bit on the trail which was a good time. I stuck to my nutrition plan, felt great, and hit the towpath in 10th place female.

Within 2 miles on the towpath, I knew it wasn’t my day. My legs were simply tired. Although I managed to stay on pace through mile 27, it was taking twice as much effort as it should have been. Slowly, the wheels started to come off the wagon. Not only my legs were tired, but I was sleepy tired, my stomach started acting up, etc…..I had been beat mentally. I took a little time at mile 27. What was I doing? I had just raced an awesome race last weekend. I had come to this race for no other reason than I paid the money to do it and I wanted a 5th year finish so entering would be easier in the future. Long story short, I weighed my options, and decided that the strain on my body just wasn’t going to be worth it. Besides, I had a pretty exciting race with the leaders I wanted to catch up to to see. Not to mention Ben was running his first 50 mile – and was going pretty darn quick. So, I hopped in the car with my parents and headed to the finish line. I got to see some pretty good looking and quick dudes finish, plus BEN did an amazing job finishing 8th overall!!!! Claire also finished her first 50 mile that day with a solid time under 10.5 hours!

Looking back, of course I have the lingering thoughts of “maybe I should have stuck it out.” When I get these, I force myself to look at the positives from the year: Winning Seneca Greenway 50K, a 50K PR at Holiday Lake, WESTERN STATES! age group win, IM Louisville finish, and of course my trip to Clearwater. It’s no wonder I was just plain tired.

Looking ahead, my spring season will be pretty light racing wise, but I will be training pretty heavily for my big 3 next year: 3 Days of Syllamo, Old Dominion 100, and IM Wisconsin. As per Coach Frannie’s request, I will be taking the rest of the year off of serious training, so I am ready to go for next year.

>Bank Closed

>I know what you’re thinking – She’s alive?!?! She’s posting again?!? All my prayers have been answered!!!!

Well, get ready because this has potential to be the longest post ever!

It’s true folks, I’m back after a brief sabbatical. Alot has happened since September 24th. I went down to Charlottesville and manned the Bald Mountain aid station for GEER this year. It was nice to not have to run, especially since it was another rainy and cold year 🙂 And, it’s always good to be able to give back to this sport which has given me so much.

But enough of the sappy stuff. Where the heck else have I been? I admit, I have been pretty unmotivated lately. From February until IM Louisville, I was racing frequently and was having a pretty baller year. After the Ironman, I had some weddings and nonsense to partake in, and I knew that my next race wasn’t until the middle of November. I didn’t really want to keep training hard for another 10 weeks, so I took about 3 weeks off for a break.

Then after the 3 weeks, I found it really difficult to get back out there and train. Fall had come, the temps were lower, and it was getting darker earlier. I was wishy-washy for a couple weeks, maintaining my fitness but not really putting in any super hard efforts anywhere. I felt out of shape, even though I knew that wasn’t the case.

So I did the only thing I knew to do – I signed up for a race. I did the Mountain Madness 50K up in NJ. My thought process going into the race was this: it’s a good long run before JFK, it’s in NJ – will probably be flat and fast, it’s a loop course, maybe I can get a PR. As I am driving up to NJ the morning of the race, the sun is rising, and I slowly start to realize where I am going – to the sister mountain range of where the North Face Endurance 50 Mile was held this May, in Bear Mountain, NY. Shoot. Apparently RD’s mean “mountains” when they use that word in the name of their race!

My other misconception was that it was a loop course – turns out it’s not. I have no idea where I got that idea. So there I was, prepared for a completly different race than it was going to be. I had even made drop bags accordingly! I found myself without a nutrition plan or a race plan anymore, but it was perfect weather for an ultra, and I was itching to be out on the trails. I looked around and decided there were some dece runners but that I could compete, cut my losses and agreed to myself to make it a good training run if nothing else.

We went off, and sure enough, the trails were just as bad as at NF. Technical is an understatment. But I decided early that I wouldn’t let these trails hand me another DNF. I think the first 8 miles took me something absurd like 1:30, to give you an idea of the difficulty. I took one wrong turn early, but only lost about 5 minutes on that. I also took a hard fall early, ripping my sweat CXW tights that I love! I got to mile 14 and felt pretty miserable – my legs were tired and my stomach was iffy. I ran into Brad, who had decided to drop there about 45 minutes prior. Shoot. I need to finish now! So I left there and about 30 minutes later….I was back. WTF? I must have missed a turn, but I wasn’t the only one because some guy I was a couple minutes behind did the same thing. We hooked up with a group headed by a “local” who showed us the turn we missed, and I just kept running. I ws able to get my stomach back under control, and my legs started to feel good too. My feet were still hurting on all the rocks, but that’s no surprise. I think the last 3 miles of that course were the longest I’ve ever run, and I hit the finish line in just over SEVEN hours – definitely not a PR!

But anyway, it was a good race because I was able to get back into racing mode, pick myself up and be ready to get into it for one more month and two more BIG races. And then I realized that one of these races is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. woops. I had not swum, nor had I biked outside once since Louisville. My bike wasn’t even in once peice. Operation “uh oh” began. I got back on my bike (once!) and started getting up in the mornings to get to the pool. Then, wouldn’t you know, I get a call one day from the PR company for Ironman. Would I be willing to interview with the Baltimore Sun? Photo shoot? Heck yes! I had no idea what that would mean or where that would lead, but I was all in. Long story short, I ended up with a sweet story on the front of the sports section in the Baltimore Sun, as well as the COVER and article inside the “B” newspaper. Oh, and they would film me throughout the race for the possibility of a TV spot! It was pretty darn cool. Now I had my family and friends, as well as the entire city of Baltimore behind me for this race!

Now I will fast forward to the race. Arrive in Clearwater Thursday evening and am greeted by strong winds and a rough looking ocean. Yikes. Friday morning brings a little more calm, but the swim is still moved to teh harbor side instead of the ocean! This is awesome news for me, as I will no longer have to deal with rough waters or a wave beach start – a huge help for a weaker swimmer! I put together my bike, relax at the pool, do some shopping at the expo, and get a nice Italian dinner. Oh, and HULK HOGAN and his daughter Brooke was at dinner a table away from me! If that doesn’t say “you’re going to have a sweet race, I don’t know what does.”

Saturday morning: the alarm goes off at 4:45. Do the usual of eating oatmeal and braiding my hair. Start getting anxious. Go check on my bike one last time (the tires are still full, so no more problems like at Louisville, woopwoop!). I head down to the start with my dad, only to find out they are about 25 minutes ahead of the projected wave start times due to the TT start. I say goodbye, yank on the wetsuit and jump into my wave. Standing in line waiting for my start, I had my “Miley moment”…

‘Cause all I see are (cervelos)….
I guess I never got the memo
My tummy’s turnin’
And I’m feelin kinda homesick
Too much pressure and I’m nervous

Holy cow, what was I doing. I wanted to come here? Look at these girls – they are German! They must be quick! But then …

And the DJ dropped my favorite tune
…Calll on meeeeeeeee, call on meeee, calll on meeeeeeeee……
MY JAM! At this point, there was only one thing to do….
So I put my hands up
They’re playing my song,
And the butterflys fly away
Noddin’ my head like yeah
Moving my hips like yeah
And boom, I was in the water! Not gracefully of course as it was mad rocky and shallow so we all had to do a buttslide off the dock. But there I was, basking in the sunrise in Clearwater, FL, swimming 1.2 miles. It was over pretty quick…I swam the usual 36 minutes and change. The ramp up out of the water was super steep and super slippery it was weird. Ran into transition, they had professional wetsuit strippers, went into the changing tent, through on my helmet and bike shoes and went off on my bike. This bike course is notoriously fast, and it proved itself true with my race. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into a group of any sort (yes, drafting is illegal, but if you can’t beat ’em…join ’em). But either way I knew I was still moving pretty quick, and had the wind my way for the second half. I started calculating my splits and didn’t really think I was doing the math right until the end, when sure enough, 2:38 was my split! Wow…10 minutes faster than Eagleman! I knew a PR was well within reach, but it was getting hot and I still had a pretty tough run ahead of me. This run boasts 4 large hills….one bridge you cross over twice (back and fourth) that has something like a 5.6% incline or whatever. Who knows. It was a long hill, and there was no shade. The volunteers were awesome and kept the ice, sponges and cold coke coming. I struggled a bit miles 4-6, and I think that was mostly because I wasn’t covering my hydration or salts for the heat that was there, but I caught it early and was able to bounce back, finishing the 13.1 miles in 1:51. Not to shabby – a 5:11:41 finishing time, 8 minute PR!

Again, the race was a spectacular experience. There’s no other sport where I would have the opportunity to race against the best in the world…and they really were out there last weekend – winning time was somewhere around 3:34 which is CRAZY! I was able to enjoy another couple days on the beach and see Bryan and Emily who recently moved down there! All in all, a great experience, and one I probably won’t be fortunate enough to qualify for again until I’m like 65.

Now it’s on to JFK in two days, until 2009 races are over. The field out there is pretty competitive and its going to be great weather for the race, so some fast times should be dropped!