New Year, New Goals

me and AJ

Happy New Year!!!

After a string of some wonderful days of running, I woke up on New Year’s Eve with a headache, congestion and general body aching that always indicates the start of something more serious. Stupidly, I forced myself through my first brick workout in months – 45 min on the trainer followed by an easy 5 mile run. It felt good to bike again, but I felt like crap. UGH.

Later that afternoon, we all went to my sister’s where we rang in the New Year. Despite still feeling awful, I had a blast staying up late (2am for me) and playing Just Dance” (my first time) with my sisters and parents.

As much as I wanted to start the new year off running, my body was not having it – I did not run Wednesday or Thursday. I was/am disappointed but decided it was better to be smart and take a few days off rather than push my body more than I had already. My husband was off both days and we spent most of the last few days rearranging various rooms in our house <- This is what I do when I can’t run! First up was our basement. The workout area has been moved and reorganized:

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    Can a Dream Be Too Big?

    I’ve always tried to be pretty open with my goals. Goal for Half Marathon this weekend? A PR. Goal for Philly Marathon in 5 weeks? Somewhere around 3:12-3:15.

    I’ve talked about races I want to do one day. I’ve discussed my “Everest“.  I’ve shared my Ironman journey.

    But, I’ve been keeping a secret. I’ve been hesitant to share my biggest goal – the one that crosses my mind most days. I think it’s because I feel like some people will laugh and think I’m aiming for the stars and although outside opinions shouldn’t matter, they do. Nobody wants to hear others laugh at a goal or worse – tell them that it’s not feasible.

    I think that’s the beauty of keeping a dream to yourself. If nobody tells you it’s impossible, then it’s not, right? 

    When is a dream “acceptable” to being shared?
    When does it go from being a little kid dream to a concrete goal that you proudly tell family, friends or readers?
    Do you have to be within striking range? What is striking range? 10, 20 minutes of your BQ? What about going to Kona? How high up in your age group do you have to be in your previous IM?
    When does a dream go from being realistic and supported to impossible and laughed at? Who determines this?
    Can a dream be too big?

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      So You Want To Do An Ironman?

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      family5

      The best cheering crew ever! My parents, sons, niece and nephew!

      First, let me please preface this post by stating that I am by no means an expert at triathlons or Ironman competitions. Full disclosure: I’ve done ONE Ironman.{Hope to go for #2 next year!}

      But I’ve received a number of emails and comments asking various questions regarding choosing a race, training for one, time commitment and so on that I wanted to share my experience and “beginner” thoughts (not training tips) in hopes that it might help you if you are toying with the idea of one. AND, since the Ironman World Championship is next weekend (!!), I thought this was a great time for this post. I’ve watched Kona on TV for years – and each year, I would tell my husband that I wanted that to be me.

      {Note: most of these are not exclusive to Ironman competitions or even triathlons…many can be used in regards to your first running race as well!}

      You have to be all in. Training for an Ironman isn’t something you can fake or get by on with sporadic or little training. If you aren’t completely on board with wanting to do one, then you will slack on your training when things get tough.=&0=&.  Decide what is most important to you and then pick your race from that: location, time of year, swim start, and course profile are some of the main factors that might come into play when deciding your first. If you despise hills, don’t pick Lake Placid or CDA.  If you want your family and friends to support you along the course, pick a race that is close to home or one they could/would travel to.  If you hate training in the cold, don’t pick an early spring Ironman. Obviously there may be a few that fit for you and then you can further rank your priorities. For me, I really only had one choice. I wanted a race close by so that my family could be there. The only Ironman within 5-6 hours of me was/is Ironman Lake Placid. I wasn’t entirely thrilled about the hilly course, but I was willing to deal with the hills in order to have my family there. Timex has created the “Top 6 Ironman Races for Beginners where they rank: Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Louisville, Lake Placid, and Texas as the top 6 (from #1 to #6)

    • Be aware of the time commitment. Regardless of what training plan you follow, you will be training for 3 different sports – any way you slice it, that takes time. Some days you will be doing multiple sports. A couple of days a week will be longer to fit in your long ride, swim, and run. By the end of my training, I was biking/running from 5am-12pm on Saturdays and swimming/running from 6am-12pm on Sundays – it made it hard to do a ton on the weekends because most of the day was spent with me working out or recovering (shower, stretch, ice bath). The further you get into your training, the longer your days will become. My social life became almost nonexistent the last 4-5 weeks before the Ironman because I was either training or too exhausted to stay up late.
    • Ensure your spouse/significant other is aware and supportive of time commitment. This is, in my opinion, one of the toughest parts of Ironman training. It was a struggle at times to juggle time with my husband. As I talked about here, it was often a strain on my marriage because my husband and I were like two strangers passing in the night.  Thankfully, he was 100% (okay, maybe 98%) supportive of me doing it (and was actually the one that gave me that little nudge I needed to sign up for my first). I would recommend that you and your significant other sit down and look at the training plan before you sign up so that you are both aware of the time commitment.

    • Use a training plan that is consistent with the time you have (or are willing to dedicate): If I were single and childless, I would have opted for a  more intense training plan.  I intially started with a plan that called for 3 more workouts a week but after 2 very long, tiring weeks, I decided to drop down to an “easier” plan so that I could have a bit more time with my family in the mornings/evenings.
    • Know what’s ahead but don’t get pysched out. On the first day of school each year, I would always flip ahead to the end of my textbooks (mostly math and science) to see what I would be learning by the end of the year. Without fail, I would get freaked out when I saw how hard the material looked. I did the same thing when I saw my training plan – how the heck am I going to be able to ride for 6 hours and then run for 3 hours the next day? But that’s why it’s at the end of the training cycle. Focus on what you are doing this weekend. Don’t worry about what’s in 12, 16, 18 weeks.
    • Have a budget. Triathlons are not cheap. Bikes, watches, shoes, helmets, wetsuit, wheels, power meters, pool access…never ending list and they are all expensive. And that’s not even factoring in the cost of an Ironman competition (upwards of $600 for registration) + transportation (if you need to ship your bike that could easily be another few hundred) + lodging. Set aside a budget that you want to spend and then stick to it. Determine what’s “essential” for you to make it to the start line and finish line – everything else can be borrowed or purchased if you decide to do subsequent Ironmans.

    • Seek out Ironman veterans for advice. This was one of the smartest things I did. My husband’s classmate and former roommate is a sub-10 Ironman finisher. My friend, Lindsey’s husband, is a professional triathlete.  These are the people I emailed when I had questions about nutrition, pacing, training.  It’s good to have websites, but it’s better to have someone real to talk to – they can give you guidance pertaining to you, your body and your training.
    • Nutrition is a different ballgame. Since my background is running, I am used to fueling just for running – a few gels and water during a marathon and I am good to go. The first time I realized the importance of fueling was my first Sunday long swim/long run. I swam 1.5 miles, ate a few energy blasts and started my run. I typically never fuel on runs less than 16 miles. I was *only* running 14 miles so didn’t think I would need to bring fuel with me. By mile 4, I felt like I was ready to bonk and had to run home to refuel (and carry some with me).  Lesson learned.  I would recommend trying several types of nutrition (especially during the long rides) to find what works best for you and your body. I’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of nutrition – I am sure that Ironman #2’s nutrition plan will look completely different from what I did for Lake Placid.

    • Find a coach or training plan. As much as I wanted to use a coach, I felt that the money would be better spent on necessary gear than a coach. The goal for my first Ironman was {mostly} to finish and I felt that a training plan would do that just as well as a coach – and it did. I’m sure that if I used a coach I could have trained a bit smarter and finished faster, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. {Note: I am using a coach for Iroman #2 because I have much more ambitious, concrete time goals.}
    • Don’t train for more than one event at a time. I started training for Ironman Lake Placid in February when I was knee-deep in NJ Marathon training. Despite numerous friends telling me otherwise, I assumed I would be able to successfully juggle both training plans. But truth is, one event will always outweigh the other. I skipped a ton of swim and bike workouts to save my legs for important marathon workouts. I didn’t swim or bike for the two weeks leading up to the NJ marathon. When I was pressed for time, running took precedence since that was the first race on my horizon.  I didn’t dedicate 100% of my attention and focus on the other two disciplines until after the NJ Marathon (May 5) which only gave me 12 weeks until the Ironman. This time around, my plan is to focus 100% of my attention to triathlons beginning in December (this gives me 11 months).
    • Believe in Yourself: I would argue that this is one of the most important. When I decided to do Ironman Lake Placid, I had never done a single triathlon before. I had never swam more than a length of a pool (straight) and the furthest I had ever ridden my bike was 65 miles (4 years ago). On paper, I probably didn’t look like the ideal person to sign up for an Ironman. But I believed in myself. In my discipline and determination. And in my ability. That is what you need to force you out the door at 4am for a long ride or 5am to get into a chilly pool.  I’m not going to tell you that you have to do X, Y and Z before you sign up for your first. I hadn’t done a single triathlon before I signed up for Placid (I did an Olympic and half during training). I’m sure there are loads of theories and formulas of when you are “ready” but I truly believed I was capable despite my inexperience with the sport. Yes, I could have eased into it and probably finished faster if I would have spent time at shorter distances, but I wanted a challenge and this was it for me. 
    • Enjoy the Journey: Training for my first Ironman was the toughest, but most rewarding, athletic endeavor I have done in my life. It’s not going to be easy – but it will definitely be worth it on race day. And just remember: ”Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles- BRAG FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. ”   – John Collins, IRONMAN Founder
    • Have you done an Ironman? Any other tips for those on the fence?

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        Ironman Lake Placid

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        Few more feet until finish line!

        Good Morning!! I am working on a full recap from Sunday’s Ironman, but wanted to share the news (in case you aren’t on twitter or Instagram)…

        I am an Ironman!!! =)

        Sunday was a long day, but one that went amazingly smooth for almost the full 140.6 miles.  I finished in 13:04.  The swim was slower than I had wanted or anticipated, but man, it felt GOOD to be finished with it and to feel the ground on my feet.  The bike was awesome.  My laps were almost even split and BOTH were significantly faster than the one loop I did during my training weekend a few weeks ago.  The run started off amazingly – my legs were not dead and I was maintaining about 8:30 pace (I started walking through aid stations at mile 4 to ensure I was drinking at least 2 cups of water so my mile splits were around 9:00).  Unfortunately, pretty serious stomach cramping began just before mile 10 and I couldn’t eat anything for the final 16.2 miles.  Even worse was that at times it was so painful that I couldn’t run – I was bent over in pain.

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          Race Week: NYC Half

          2010 NYC Half

          The NYC Half is Sunday.

          I’m anxious, excited and nervous as all heck.  Anxious to put the last 10 weeks of hard training to the test.  Excited to be racing again.  Nervous because I have some pretty BIG goals for this race.  

          There’s a huge part of me that wants to keep my goals hidden.  It’ll be a lot easier on Sunday if I come up short if I didn’t share what my goals were here.  I won’t have to publicly admit defeat like I had to do in January when I missed the qualifying time for the Saucony Hurricane Team.  

          But, I share my training – the good and bad…so feel that sharing my goals is a continuation of that.  I try to openly share my goals – all of them – on here, twitter, facebook, IG.

          And what is the worst that could happen?  That I fail?  I have failed at SO many things I’ve set out to do in my life…so what’s one more?  Failing makes me stronger.  Failing no longer scares me.

          All I can do on Saturday is race with my heart and my head – my body will follow. 

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            #Lucky13 Fitness Goals

            Run this Year Challenge

            Happy New Year!!

            I love the start of the New Year.  There is something so exciting and invigorating about setting goals for the next 365 days and hearing about all the goals others have set.

            13 has always been a lucky number for me (it was my high school basketball number for a few years), I decided to create my #Lucky13 Fitness Goals.  Some of them are the same goals as I had for 2012…I found out I was pregnant only a few weeks into 2012 and so almost all of my fitness-related goals had to be postponed until post-baby.

            1. Complete 50 miler: JFK 50 miler (Nov 16)  This was one of my 2012 goals but pregnancy put it on hold.  The JFK 50 miler is the largest 50 miler in the world (over 1,000 finishers) and I have heard nothing but amazing things about the entire race experience. I ran my first ultra distance in 2010 and my first ultra race in 2011 and have been itching to do another one.  Current distance PR: 60k (37.2 miles) in 5:41 (Knickerbocker 60k, 2011)

            2. Sub-3:10 MarathonNJ Marathon (May 5)  I was able to defer this race last year when I found out I was pregnant.  Taking 11 minutes off my previous PR may seem a bit of a stretch – but I haven’t actually “raced” a marathon since 2009 – between training for my first ultra, two pregnancies/childbirths, and the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, racing a marathon never seemed to be in the cards for me.  Current PR: 3:21:32 (Boston, 2009)

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              When do you throw in the towel?

              Race for Recovery Update

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              As you are probably aware, I was set to race the Hot Chocolate 10k on Sunday.  I had really big goals for the race: running sub-42 which would allow me to apply for the Saucony Hurricane Team.

              I spent the last 5 weeks following a training plan – cutting back on my mileage and focusing on regaining the speed I had lost during pregnancy.

              reacquainted myself with the uncomfortableness of speed workouts and hard runs.

              I saw HUGE gains in just a few weeks.  My 5k time went from 21:36 to 20:50 in one week.

              I had successful tempo runs.  My last one included 4 miles at a 7:05 pace.  I finished feeling strong and anxious to run more.

              I was starting to believe in myself.

              Last Monday I planned to do a practice 10k.  My goal was sub-43 (~ 6:55 pace).  I jogged a mile warmup, stretched and began the 10k time trial.  I barely made it a mile. Something didn’t seem right.  I felt tired and achy – as though I had a really tough run the day before – which I hadn’t (it was a rest day).

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                Race For Recovery 5k/10k Virtual Run Update

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                Men's Health

                HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated, supported, and helped spread word about the Race for Recovery.  There are over 225 people who will be running – and even more importantly – we’ve raised almost $9,000.

                I’m so thankful and amazed with the amount of support that I have received in spreading the word about this race.  In the process, a few things were checked off my bucket list!! =)

                Men’s Health: highlighted the Race for Recovery as one of the TOP TEN winter races in America!!!

                Runner’s World: Posted the race info on their Facebook page (and caused my website to subsequently crash because of the unprecedented high traffic that ensued -> there are much worse things in life!)

                The Staten Island Advance: Article (print and online) about the Race for Recovery on Dec 5, 2012

                Women’s Running Magazine: Talked about the Race for Recovery on their blog on Nov 13, 2012.

                Fitness Magazine: Mentioned the race in their Holiday Fit Links:

                 FitFluential: Included information on their blog and monthly newsletter:

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                  Spring Racing Decisions

                  I am signed up for the NJ Marathon on May 5.  I was registered last year, but deferred (for free!) when I became pregnant.   This IS my target race for the spring.  It’s a flat, fast course and I have big dreams of running sub-3:10.  This is ultimately what all of my training will revolve around.  I want all the races I choose to run to add to, not take away from, this goal.

                  But I have a dilemma.  I am toying with the idea of running either a March marathon or half marathon as preparation for NJ in May.  Here are my options:

                  Option A: Run the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon (or the B & A Trail Marathon) on March 16

                  • I would use this race as a test run before the NJ Marathon.  Truth be told, I haven’t “raced” a marathon since Boston 2009 – that’s almost FOUR years!! I ran the NYC Marathon in Nov 2011, but had to run the first half with four other runners (it was at a pace much slower than I’m used to running) so I didn’t get the opportunity to push myself for the full 26.2 miles.  I feel like using it as a test run could be a great idea – work out any issues I may have – fueling, water, clothes while also getting in the mindset of pushing for 26.2 miles.
                  • The NJ Marathon is 7 weeks after these two races, so there is plenty of time to rest/recovery, get a few good long runs, and taper again.
                  • This would require me to begin training NOW since the marathon is 15 weeks away.  Am I ready to begin putting in the long runs necessary for this?  I am not sure.  I’m still having a hard time being away from my boys – even for short runs (unless they are asleep).  And I’m not 100% sure I’m in the mindset of having long runs every single weekend.

                  Option B: Run a half marathon (maybe NYC Half?) mid-March

                  • This race could easily fit into my marathon training plan
                  • I have HUGE goals when it comes to the half (I want to take 3+ min off my previous PR of 1:34) so would love a chance to PR during marathon training
                  • The rest/recovery for this race would be much less than marathon (two weeks total as opposed to four) so I could focus on more long runs
                  • I wouldn’t have to start training for another few weeks (just after the holidays)

                  Part of me REALLY wants to run a marathon as soon as I can and I know I can definitely be ready by March.  But I’m not sure if doing one that soon would actually hinder my goals for NJ Marathon as opposed to help them.

                  What are your thoughts?  

                  Have you run marathons ~7 weeks apart?  Did you feel rested and ready to race again? 

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                    Help Me BECOME ONE!

                    Become One Kona

                    So I’ve been keeping a little secret…

                    I have applied to Become ONE!

                    got chocolate milk? is having a contest which will give two lucky winners the Ironman experience of a lifetime.  This program includes:

                    • A customized seven-month training program in their hometown with elite IRONMAN coaches
                    • Seven months of lowfat chocolate milk to refuel and recover between workouts
                    • Entry into 3-5 IRONMAN training events, to be determined by their coach
                    • Any equipment or gear necessary to train and fully recover effectively
                    • Entry into, and 2 round-trip airline tickets and lodging for, the 2013 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii

                    For the past two years, I have signed up for Ironman competitions, had them on my racing calendar, begun training…only to find out I was pregnant.  Pregnancy and my two little boys are the best things in my life…but I’m definitely itching to fulfill what has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.

                    2013 is going to be the year I call myself an Ironman.

                    But I need your help!  

                    Part of the application process required creating a video to explain why we should be picked, why we want to be an Ironman, why we would inspire others…

                    I would LOVE any help spreading the word about my video and any likes/comments on the site (youtube) itself (if you think I should be picked!)

                    Thank you so much for your help!!

                    My application can be found here. 

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                      What’s Your Everest?

                      Source

                      I think we all have our own version of Everest – that one seemingly insurmountable race or adventure we want to do one day…

                      It’s likely that you don’t go around broadcasting this lifetime goal.  Maybe you feel that it would be as crazy as saying “I want to go to the moon”.   Maybe you don’t feel qualified.  Maybe you are like me and are constantly worried about telling everyone and then failing to accomplish it.  Maybe you don’t have a timeline of when it is going to happen.  Maybe vocalizing it would finally make seem “real”.

                      But as I’ve learned from previous experiences, vocalizing these dreams is the first step that is necessary to make it become more than just a thought and finally become a reality.

                      I decided to share with you MY Everest.  It is all I’ve been reading, thinking, and dreaming about for the last week – not too hard to do since the 35th anniversary of the race was earlier this week.

                      My dream is to race the Badwater Ultramarathon (BW), aka The Challenge of Champions…aka The World’s Toughest Foot Race one day. 

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