Race Recap: 2016 Air France 8k: PR + Age Group Win!

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This recap is a bit delayed…my blogging always goes hand in hand with how busy I am at work and with life! It’s been a great, but busy couple of weeks, and so finding the time to write about this race was at the bottom of the priority list!

Last Sunday was the Air France Run in Central Park organized by NYRR. In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and race shorter distances more often, I signed up for the 8k several weeks ago – knowing full well that the 5 mile course included all the lovely hills of Central Park. And by “lovely”, I mean “why do I do this to myself?”. By mile 3, I was cursing my decision and swearing off short races in Central Park once again. It’s hard enough to race hard for 5 miles. When you throw in the Harlem hills, it becomes a major sufferfest.

When I lived in the city, I ran in Central Park almost every day. Shorts runs, long runs, speed workouts. Those hills were part of my routine. As much as I try to run hills these days, I’m limited. The route that is safest for me to run is rolling – but nothing like the hills in the park. The hills I would love to run daily are part of a stretch of road that is more desolate – no homes and the woods on both sides. So I won’t venture there until it’s getting light out – which means no time to run them in the AM. Now that I’m so removed from the park, I am reminded each time I race there that it’s no joke.

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    Race Recap: 2016 Willow 4 miler + Winning my First Race!

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    Years and years ago when I lived in Texas, I won a couple of trail races. My husband and I did a 10 mile in Waco and half marathon trail race around Dallas and I was the overall female winner of both. But since moving back east, I haven’t really won any races – even some of the small, local ones, despite my being fitter and faster than I was back then.

    I’ve also never flat out won a race before (overall male and female). Until this past 4th of July.

    But let me be completely honest here. It was a small race. Super duper small. Like <50 runners, small. I knew I had a good chance of being the overall female winner but winning the race, outright, was a nice surprise.

    We learned about this race from my sister-in-law. She mentioned the kids 1k race and I then saw that there was also a 4 mile race.

    Initially, I planned on doing a long run on Friday or Saturday and then racing/running as hard as I could on tired legs on Monday. But, running in the days leading up to the race was a bust – Friday was a very late afternoon run so I didn’t start Saturday’s run until later in the day. I felt like garbage from the moment I woke up and then long run only lasted 1.5 miles (I called my husband to come get me b/c I didn’t even feel like I wanted to run back to the house). I decided to make Sunday a forced rest day. I felt a bit under the weather and didn’t see the need or have the desire to push myself. A. I’m on vacation. B. I’m not training for anything at the moment. So sleep, family time and wine won out over a long run.

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      2016 Memorial Day 4 Miler

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      Snuggles with my adorable 4.5 month old nephew!

      Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend.

      As my husband and I were getting ready for bed last night, we kind of looked around the house and realized we didn’t really get anything we had planned to get done this weekend. I worked from home on Friday and then we had the long weekend – we had intentions to do massive cleaning – both inside and outside the home, go through toys in the playroom, get caught up with laundry (and folding). And very little of that got done.

      Instead, the weekend was filled with lots and lots of family time. We spent 8+ hours over my sister’s home in NJ on Saturday, 3 hours mid-day with my sister and her family on Sunday, several hours with them again Sunday evening, and then 5 hours with my entire family on Monday over my other sister’s home.

      Below are just a few snapshots of the time together:

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      After a decent speed session last week (and my first since Boston), I decided to run in Monday’s Memorial Day 4 miler. I knew it wasn’t going to be the time I had initially hoped for, but wanted to run hard and at least get an idea of where I am right now. However, coach and I agreed to not taper at all for this race – so I ran Wednesday – Sunday, including speed on Thursday and 10 miles (currently my “long” run) on Saturday. I knew my legs would be a bit fatigued but it wasn’t a goal race and my focus for the time being is just getting back into a good routine of weekly mileage.

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        First Speedwork in 7 Weeks + Some Exciting News!

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        Happy Friday!! I am pumped to be working from home today. We had a big release yesterday evening and unfortunately, I had to do some testing from 11pm-2am. But I was able to sleep in a bit and not worry about commuting into the city!

        I have a few exciting updates to share:

        First, I am taking over Women’s Running Instagram account on Monday. Memorial Day means a lot to my husband and I – we’ve lost a lot of friends due to the war on terror and so Monday is always a tough day for us. I’m racing a 4 miler with “racing” being a loose term since I’m just getting my legs back after weeks of little to no running and zero speed. BUT, I’m going to give it my best shot – and at the very least, it will give me a starting point for the rest of the summer.

        Anyway, make sure you follow Women’s Running (and me while you are at it!) on Instagram so you can follow along on Memorial Day.

        PS. I mentioned this last year, but wanted to share again: If you are planning on running this weekend, consider participating in the Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

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          BOSTON Marathon Tracking!

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          4-15-13 #BostonStrong

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          EEEEH! Race weekend is so close to being here! I will consider it “race weekend” when I log out of work and am walking out. Work has been INSANE this week so I haven’t had much time to think (aka obsess) over this weekend or Monday. It’s definitely a blessing in disguise!

          My mom and I will be heading up to Boston early tomorrow morning and will be stopping at the expo before we check in or do anything else. So we hope to be up there around 1:30/2pm! If anyone will be at the expo during that time, please let me know!

          I’m looking forward to a relaxing couple of days up in Boston – visiting with friends, keeping my legs up, hydrating and enjoying the company of my mom (and husband who arrives Sunday afternoon).

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          Tracking Details

          I am bib 8743!

          If you want to track me on Sunday, you can do so in several ways:

          • Text alerts: Simply text RUNNER to 234567 using you cell phone. You will then receive a text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number (mine is 8743). I think you receive start, 10k, 15k, half, 25k, 30k, 35k, finish (or something like that!)
          • Download app (details here)

          Hope you all have a great weekend. Good luck to anyone racing on Monday! Let’s keep praying that the temps decide to go down a bit

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            Learning to Trust the Process

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            If you receive Women’s Running (and you should!), check out page 8 of the magazine! I’m beyond excited to share the ads that I got to be a part of in February! There will be another ad or two in the coming months and the two 3-minute videos from the photo shoot should be released soon!

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            #Trusttheprocess has been one of my favorite hashtags to use on Instagram and twitter the last few months.

            I honestly don’t remember where I first heard or saw this phrase, but it struck a chord and has become one of the mantras I repeat to myself when things are tough or I’m questioning why I’m going to do a workout.

            Trusting the process.

            But what is the process?

            The process is the training. The recovery. The racing. The (seemingly) little things. The doing.

            It’s a process to get where you want to go. It won’t happen overnight so sometimes the best thing you can do is just chip away a little bit at a time. Sub-3:10 has been a big goal of mine for years. I stopped trying to do it all at once (because it wasn’t working) and started focusing on just training hard and letting paces, times and everything else fall into place when they are ready. I’ve chipped away the last two marathons and am hopeful that I’ve set myself up to achieve this goal in two weeks.

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              Learning to Race Well + Post-Boston Racing Plans + RnR Coupon Code!

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              I don’t post here every day, but you can find my daily running, thoughts and tips on Instagram!

              It’s no secret that the more you do something, the better at it you become. Want to swim better? Get in the pool and start swimming. Want to perfect a dish? Keep cooking it and making small improvements.

              And so, in order to race well, the best thing to do is to jump in and race.

              The reality is, no matter how hard and well you train, if you are a poor racer, you may never see the results of your work. Things like fueling improperly, going out too fast, overdressing, not being comfortable with the taper and letting the negative thoughts come into your mind can all be honed by racing.

              I don’t know if I would call myself a great racer, but I’ve made a lot of progress the last couple of years and can confidently say that I am a light years ahead of where I was two or three years ago.

              The more you race, the more you can take away from each experience. Find what works well. What things you need to improve upon. A bad race, while unfortunate in the short-term, will provide you a lot of insight into things you probably don’t want to do again. And can be a great tool to use in the long-term. Use it as a learning experience – write those nuggets of wisdom you learned down – and then move on.

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                2016 Forest Avenue Mile -> 14 Sec PR!

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                Last year was my first time racing (or even running) the Forest Avenue Mile. It’s a local one-mile race that takes place immediately before the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade – a hugely popular parade the runs along Forest Avenue in Staten Island and attracts 50,000 spectators each year.

                I ran a 5:42 last year in less-than-ideal racing weather. Headwind and almost-blizzard like conditions – but it was an automatic PR since it was the first time I had ever truly raced a mile.

                Initially, we had planned on doing a long run this week – likely Thursday – and then a quick recovery in time for Sunday. But, after a successful cycle so far, coach and I decided to skip the long run and use this as a cut-back week in mileage. I had a 3×3 killer workout on the schedule anyway, so we upped the warmup and cooldown a bit to make it a touch longer in lieu of a long run.

                I can’t predict the future, but I feel like this was the best decision we could have made. I didn’t need a cutback week (yet) BUT it’s a good way to stay ahead of peaking too soon or overtraining. I still have 6 weeks until Boston, so plenty of time to make some more gains in fitness before race day.

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                  Tips for Destination Races

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                  Last year, my sister and I traveld to Hawaii to run the Honolulu Marathon with the other members of the Saucony 26 Strong team. It was an amazing experience filled with good friends, relaxation, SUN and warmth! Even though it wasn’t a goal race for me, I was anxious and nervous about traveling 11+ hours only a day and a half prior to the start of the race. We flew out on a Friday morning, arrived that afternoon (Hawaii time) and ran the 26.2 miles early Sunday morning.

                  Between Hawaii, flying out to Los Angeles (~6 hours) for the LA Marathon two years ago and driving (~5 hours) to the Wineglass Marathon last month, I’ve had some experience with destination racing.

                  Destination races always sound so appealing when you are planning them, but if you are like me, reality sets in as the race approaches about how tough it can be on our bodies. Below are some of the things I did in the days leading up to and during the travel to Hawaii to ensure that I was as fresh and stretched out as possible. Many still apply if you will be traveling by car or other form of transportation.

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                    More Recovery + Serendipitous Boston Weekend

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                    I think the tendency is to not talk much about recovery because let’s face it, it’s not too exciting. But a good recovery can set you up for a strong and successful training cycle. And a shortened or ignored recovery period can derail your next training cycle – or even worse – cause injuries.

                    Boston was 15 days ago. My longest run since Boston has been 8 miles. I’ve run a whooping 40 miles in 14 days. 9 miles the first week. 31 miles last week. And probably 40-45 miles this week. Almost all garmin-free. All easy effort. And all honoring the purpose of the recovery.

                    I’m darn proud of these miles (or lack there of). After hating me for the better part of the week post-Boston, my body is happy again. I feel rested, recovered (almost) and excited to jump back into training (but not quite yet – still have another week of easy running). If all goes well, my long run this weekend will be double digits – maybe 10-12 miles. Speedwork is tomorrow – it’s 10 x 1 min just to get my legs moving again. But nothing too hard or taxing because my body is still in the recovery stage.

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                      Going from 3:21->3:15

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                      As most runners do, I like to go back and take note of things that worked during the previous training cycle as well as highlight some things I plan to improve upon or change. For this post, I am focusing on things I changed which seemed to work – and which ultimately helped me run my strongest and most-consistent marathon to date.

                      (Note: Even though my PR went from 3:21 to 3:15, the PR was from a few years of training so some of these changes were over a period of time.)

                      Garmin-free as much as possible. This may not work for a lot of runners – but for me, it worked wonders. My problem has always been that I push TOO HARD when I should be taking it easy. Almost every single easy or recovery run this cycle were done sans GPS (unless I was on treadmill). This allowed me to honor the true purpose of “easy” days. Easy-paced days should be just that – easy. Pace is secondary to effort. And so in order to focus on effort and not get distracted by pace, I left the watch at home and either ran routes where I was familiar wih mileage or ran for a set amount of time and ballparked the distance. These runs quickly changed from my least favorite runs of the week to my favorite. It was a time for me to zone out, enjoy the sunrises and let my body actively recover from the stress days. Slowing down the long run. I look back at previous training cycles and can’t help but raise my eyebrows at my long runs. Similar to going garmin-free, I believe I was pushing too hard on a weekly basis and exhausting myself too often. This cycle, I focused on going easier on long runs and saving the faster paces for those long runs that required it (long run tempos). Winter running made this much easier – I kept my garmin under my jacket and would only feel the vibration of the miles – but I ran in blissful ignorance regarding the pace. Most runs were between 7:50-8:10 – which was well within the range my coach had given me (and almost all were progression runs). More strength and core work. I touched on this a few times this training cycle. One of my goals for 2015 was to do more strength work and I think I have succeeded so far. Most weeks I got in 2x 30-35 min strength workouts and 2-3x 20+ min core workouts. Some weeks maybe a bit more, other weeks a bit less. And I whole-heartedly believe that they paid off heavily last Monday.  Long Runs outside. Again, I covered this at the start of the year. My 2nd goal was to run outside as much as possible regardless of weather. I race on the roads, so I wanted to train on the roads. With the exception of one long run (plan called for a long tempo – it was 10 degrees out and I wanted to focus on hitting specific paces), every single long run was outside. Incline on treadmill – 1%. My husband did a lot of traveling this cycle and so a good amount of my running was on the treadmill. I talked about increasing the incline from .5% to 1% in this post – and I really believe this helped – if for nothing else, than because it more accurately gave me and my coach an idea of my fitness. And for easy/recovery runs, I played around with incline – from 1%-3.5% – simulating rolling hills as often as I could. Less=more (esp during taper and race week). I think in previous training cycles, I felt SO tied to a training plan that I missed cues my body were giving me. I HAD to run those 5 miles. Or hit the higher end if my coach gave me a range. I couldn’t take a day off. I haven’t talked much about the weeks leading up to the race, but I ended up taking a few extra days off, especially during the last 10 days of taper. Some days I physically was not feeling it, other days, I was mentally not up to it. Missing a few miles during race week will not affect race performance (especially when you are still moving around throughout the day). In my opinion, it’s far better to be rested than pushing yourself just to run those extra few miles.

                    • Increase meat/eggs, decrease processed foods. I talked about some of the changes we made with our diets here. My husband and I made a conscious effort to minimize the amount of processed food we consume as a household and instead eat more fresh veggies, fruit and meat (mostly beef and chicken). While basic, dinners most nights were bbq or baked chicken, sweet potatoes and a salad packed with veggies.
                    • Mental Training. I think you’ve me babble on enough about this already. But something clicked during Boston when things started to get tough. The negative thoughts didn’t affect my running. I acknowledged the doubts in my mind and the pain in my body and then moved on.
                    • Coaching. One of the best decisions I made last year was working with Coach Hadley. I began following his plan after the NJ Marathon last spring. I have three new PRs under him (mile, 5k, marathon) and believe in my heart that I would have set PRs in 10k and/or half marathon if I had raced them this spring as well. Coach Hadley’s race strategy for Boston got me this PR. After working together for 6-8 months, he understood my racing and pacing strengths and weaknesses and tailored a plan for ME (he gave me a pretty wide range of paces from start to finish – much wider than he normally gives).
                    • Smarter Pacing for Races: I had about 2:45 (first half 1:36:33, second half 1:38:42) positive split for Boston – and considering the hills and wind, I could not have hoped for a more consistent race. Regardless of what shape you are in, if you don’t have a smart pacing strategy, especially for Boston, you are setting yourself up for failure. I went out slower than I have in any of my recent marathons and was able to maintain that pace through the finish.
                    • Have you made any changes in training that helped you run a PR?

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                        2014 NYC Marathon Race Recap

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                        On Sunday, I completed my 8th marathon. It wasn’t a PR or goal race but it was one of the most amazing, exciting and humbling experiences of my running “career”. The importance of the day had nothing to do with me or my running goals, but rather, who I was there for – my friend, John. Helping a friend run the race he trained for, made the race, the day and the overall experience a million times more meaningful and special than a PR could ever do.

                        The days leading up to the 2014 NYC Marathon were stressful. I hadn’t planned on much of a taper since my coach and I were treating the race like an extra-long training run. But, my body had other plans. I made Thursday and Saturday complete rest days (unplanned) – I felt feverish, my body ached and had a pounding headache most of Wednesday and Saturday. I began panicking Saturday afternoon (after spending a good portion of the day in bed) about how I was going to run a marathon the next day. Thankfully, I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better!

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                          2014 Staten Island Half Marathon Race Recap

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                          Happy Monday! I keep forgetting that today is a holiday. My oldest is off from school but my husband has work – so it doesn’t feel like an actual holiday!

                          Yesterday was the Staten Island Half Marathon. It was the 4th time I ran this race. Other than the first year, I can’t say that I’ve had a good experience with the race. Here’s a quick run-down:

                          – 2010: 2:00:15 – 6 months pregnant. Ran it with my husband and good friend from college. Had a blast!


                          – 2011: 1:38:57 – Ran it as a tuneup 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon. Was shooting for sub-1:35 but started way too fast and had a rough 2nd half.


                          – 2013: DNF – Ran it as a tuneup before the Philly Marathon 5 weeks later. Started fast and started feeling hamstring pain around mile 8 so stopped at mile 9.

                          I really was focused on a strong race and effort, regardless of the finish time – but I also was looking to get a big course PR and try to get an overall PR.

                          For some reason this course is considered a fast course – but I really don’t know many runners who will agree with that statement. So who is spreading these rumors about it being fast? In my opinion, there’s three things that make it a tougher course than it appears:

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                            Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

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                            So first some GREAT news! I was selected as one of the 20 Inspirational Runners in the US by Dailyburn! The people on this list are amazing runners and people and I’m incredibly honored to be put in the same category as them.

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                            These things are much easier and fun to write when it’s about a great day.  Part of me doesn’t want to write it at all because it would be much easier to just try to forget last Sunday, but I know I learn a lot from reflecting on a race and I’m hoping it adds some sort of closure that I haven’t found yet…so here goes.

                            Last Sunday was not the race I had imagined it would be. Some things went well. Other things not so well. I can sit here and try to find what exactly caused my having to walk and finish >10 min slower than I had set out to run. But, the truth is, I can’t blame anyone or anything except myself. Regardless of whether it was my diet, my pacing, my salty sweating or my ambitious goal time…it was MY doing. I own up to everything that happened that day and in the days leading up to the race.

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                              Training for Finish Line not Finish Line Clock: Philadelphia Marathon Goals

                              My target race, the Philadelphia Marathon, is just four days away. I’ve talked about the things I’m doing differently this training cycle. It has been the most enjoyable, exciting training cycle to date – and I think the primary reason is that I have eliminated the stress of going after a certain time.

                              I often go into a training cycle with a number in my head…a number I want to see on the finish line clock. My whole entire training cycle revolves around that number. I spend months obsessing over it. While I think it’s great to have a time goal, it doesn’t seem to work for me. I get so tied to that number that it becomes a do or die for me. Even if I’m off by just a minute or two on race day, I feel as if I came up short and failed.

                              I went into this training cycle with my head up, my heart open and my eyes focusing on the finish line (not the finish line clock). For the first time in recent years, instead of picking a concrete number and then training for that, I have trained with no specific time goal in mind other than wanting to get stronger and faster.

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                                Highs and Lows

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                                Some of my closest girlfriends!

                                This weekend was {this} close to being an absolutely perfect one.  Friday afternoon, I said goodbye to the boys (who were being watched by my sweet sister!) and picked up three of my college girlfriends from the airport/their apartment in NJ enroute to our 10 year college reunion at West Point. Friday night was an organized dinner where we got to catch up with all of our classmates who had come for the reunion. We had decided to go sans significant others/kids so that we could have some girl time – we haven’t all been together in years.

                                We didn’t make it to bed until 2am – WAY past my normal bedtime but totally worth the exhaustion we all felt at 6am the next morning when it was time to get up and get ready for the day. Saturday consisted of watching the pre-game parade (first parade I have seen since I graduated):

                                 Having lunch in the mess hall (cafeteria):

                                Hanging out in North Area (location where we had formation 2x/day):

                                Touring the gym:

                                and lastly, attending the football game:

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                                  Upcoming Races + Goals

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                                  I’ve been asked quite a bit recently about my upcoming races and plans. After much thought and discussion with my husband, we’ve come up with a tentative plan for the foreseeable future.

                                  Short Term (< 3 months)

                                  Big goal this fall:  sub-3:10 (may decide to relook this time goal as my training continues – still not sure if that goal is entirely feasible) at the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov 17.  My fitness is better than it was in the spring (partially due to Ironman training, partially due to being further along postpartum).  But, I have done virtually ZERO speedwork since April.  My focus the last 3 months was on long runs and brick runs to get me ready for IM Lake Placid.  So while I feel stronger, I feel slower.  I’m not sure how this is going to affect the 3:10 goal and I’m okay with readjusting my goal if necessary.

                                  The coolest part of doing the Philadelphia Marathon is that I will be participating as a member of the Saucony 26 strong project.

                                  Saucony, Competitor Group and Women’s Running have teamed up to create 26 teams of runners.

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                                    Ironman Lake Placid Race Recap

                                    Get comfortable, friends.  This recap will probably take you as long to read as the Ironman took me to finish.

                                    When the alarm went off at 3:25am, I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed. I was exhausted. I got up, pulled my youngest out of the pack ‘n’ play and into bed with me to nurse.  (I had to nurse him since my pump was already packed in my transition bag and I wouldn’t pump until after the swim.)  I was thankful that he went right back to bed!

                                    I drank a small cup of coffee, got changed, and my husband and I were in the car on our way to Lake Placid by 4:10am.  I tried to eat a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, but race day nerves was making it hard to keep anything down.  We made awesome time and found a super close parking spot by 5am. I think I did things a bit backwards because I first dropped off my special needs bags which were right by the swim start (I think it would have been a lot easier / less walking to go to transition first then head to special needs then the start). Once the bags were dropped we made our way to transition to get body marked.

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                                      4th of July Racing + Sparkly Soul Giveaway WINNER!

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                                      Hi friends!

                                      There is a 5 mile race tomorrow morning and I’m on the fence if I should sign up!  It’s a local race in Staten Island and one that I’ve said for YEARS that I wanted to do.  My long bike ride is Friday, so Thursday is a semi-free day (supposed to do a short brick)…but my in-laws are in town and it’s a holiday…and I always feel a bit guilty about being gone for a few hours.  And although my legs feel really good after the half ironman this weekend, I know they aren’t as fresh as I would want them to be.  Decisions, decisions. What are your thoughts? Would you do the race?

                                      Are you racing tomorrow?!  

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                                      The winner for the Sparkly Soul Giveaway is: DEANA!  Please email me at nycrunningmama@gmail.com so we can get you your headbands ASAP.

                                      (Note: If winner does not contact me within one week, a follow-up winner will be selected)

                                      Hope you all have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!  

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                                        Mighty Moss Half Ironman Race Recap

                                        After the Rev 3 Quassy Olympic 4 weeks ago, I knew it was in my best interest to have another tune-up race before Lake Placid.  There was so much that I learned in that first triathlon and I wanted to make some adjustments as well as test out my nutrition plan at the longer distance.  My training plan had a half ironman on the schedule for this past weekend and I couldn’t believe  my luck when I found the Mighty Moss Half – it was within driving distance, was the right weekend, and was a small race.  Sign me up!

                                        The website touted it as a great tune-up for Ironman Lake Placid and although I looked at the elevation for the run and bike, I didn’t realize how hilly it was.  It had 3,700+ ft of gain for the 56 mile bike and 800 ft for the 13.1 mile run.  The great news is that this course is actually hillier than Lake Placid!  Lake Placid has 2,400 ft of gain per loop for the bike (4,800 total) and about 500 for the first half of the run (1,000 total) – so over the same distance, the course this weekend was 50% hillier.  The idea of having to go double the distance I went Sunday is a bit overwhelming, but it helps knowing that I don’t have much more elevation gain to add.

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