Saturday, July 21, 2012

Riding, Running...and Swimming?!

Spectating at Musselman on Sunday got me super motivated to have an awesome week this week.  I still didn't completely follow my training schedule (shocking), but I kept it interesting and did pretty darn good regardless.

Monday was a bike day so I packed up Mr. Trek in my car and planned to hit the road right after work.   That meant that I had to do a quick wardrobe change in the bathroom at work:

corporate america mollz
cyclist mollz

Someone walked in as I was taking that second picture and gave me a funny look.  I'd probably do the same if I saw someone in bike shorts in my office bathroom taking pictures of themselves.  Good thing it wasn't someone important. 

After my outfit change I was ready to go.  I even prepped and mapped out my ride so I wouldn't get lost on the country roads:

Great idea in theory, until I ran into this right smack dab in the middle of my route:

I thought I had it under control when I detoured via the detour signs but my brain must have been in sleep mode because I ended up getting completely lost.  How do you get lost following detour signs?  I don't know.  

I pulled over to check my map on my phone to figure out where the heck I was and as I was doing that minding my own business, I got stung by a bee.  And then I toppled over on my bike as I was examining my sting.  That was fun.

don't worry, i didn't let that bee ruin my ride
After my eventful ride on Monday, it was time to run on Tuesday.  I was finally able to make it to a group workout for the running class I'm mentoring and it was good to be back!  I paced the 13 minute milers on a two mile run and even though it was ridiculously hot, it was a good run.  I loved talking with the girls in my group and they gave me a run for my money at the end when they kicked it up to a sprint the last tenth of a mile.

Steph and I had planned to go for a run after I was done mentoring and I was probably on my biking high when I agreed to that.  It was so flippin hot outside that I just wanted to go home and sit in my air conditioning after mentoring.  

i don't wanna run anymore.

One of the plusses about having running buddies is that you feel bad letting them down.  As much as I wanted to bail on my run with Steph, I sucked it up and went.  We ended up doing about 3.5 miles which brought my daily total to just over 5 miles.  And guess what?  It was actually a good run.  Look what happens when you suck it up and just do it.

Wednesday night is kickball night and I almost worked up a sweat prancing around the kickball field.

When I got home from work on Thursday, it was like Christmas when I saw that some of my recent online shopping had been delivered:

Nothing gets me more excited than some new gear.  After realizing on Sunday that I'm a wanna-be triathlete, I ordered this book that someone recommended to me:

It's about 400 pages and my new best friend.  I've been flipping around in it since I got it and someday I will look like that man on the cover.  But not manly.  Just really hardcore and legit.

Since I didn't do anything on Thursday, I should have ran yesterday but I'm just too obsessed with my bike right now so I went for a ride.  I had planned on doing 20 miles again, but Mother Nature had plans of her own and I ended up cutting my ride short and booking it back right before it started to pour.

What to do when I can't run or ride in the rain?  Test out my new swimming gear of course.  I headed to the gym after my ride to do laps in the pool for the first time in my entire life.  I realized real fast that I had no idea what I was getting myself into with swimming.  I thought it would be way easier in the pool than the lake, but it was HARD!  

It didn't help that the pool at the gym is less than stellar and looks like it's 50 years old and hasn't been cleaned since it opened.  And the group of older women doing water exercises across the pool in their flowery bathing caps didn't make for the best swimming buddies.

I swam for literally 12 minutes and felt like I had just swam a marathon.  That 12 minutes of swimming included breaks pretty much every other minute.  Can someone please teach me how to swim?  I don't think they allow the doggy paddle in triathlons.  Even though it was fun (ish), swimming will be taking a backseat for a little while.

thumbs up for a good try?
I had a bright and early wake up call this morning to go volunteer at a 5k/half marathon.  As much as I love volunteering/cheering/spectating at races, I get a little jealous when the gun goes off and I'm not out there running.

I was stationed right around mile 6 and was ready to direct and cheer.  Of course I came prepared to cheer extra hard with my cowbell:

I was there for a while before the first person came through.  This dude was BOOKING IT.  It still boggles my mind how some people can run so ridiculously fast like it's nothing but a thing.

first person flying by
I enjoyed being out there and cheering for everyone, and lots of the runners thanked us for being out there.  I think they all secretly really enjoyed my cowbell too.

I was there for a couple hours and was done with duty once the last runner had gone by.  Volunteering was the only activity I could fit in today because now I am off to the airport for a work trip.  It's our company's Annual Meeting at our home office, and there's a 5k tomorrow morning as part of the festivities.  Last year I "ran" it and it was the most miserable experience of my life (obviously this was before I picked up running).  I'm interested to see how much I can crush my time from last year!  See you next week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Musselman Triathlon Spectating

This week has been chock full of a little bit of everything.. from race spectating, to biking to running to swimming.  Yup, swimming.  More on that later.

On Sunday, I went to cheer on Becca and Rob, my two running/biking/life idols, in their first Half-Ironman triathlon.  A half Ironman is 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running - that's a lot of miles!    I've never been to a triathlon before so I was excited to see the event and cheerlead for my favorite people!

I wish I took more pictures of the actual events, but I was so amazed at everything going on that I just couldn't stop watching.  It was seriously one of the coolest things ever - seeing so many dedicated athletes pour their heart and soul into this was so inspiring.

Because I'm always five minutes late for everything in life, I missed both Becca and Rob in transition from bike to run.  So I parked it at the finish line and didn't move from my spot until they came through.    It was so cool to see the winners finish and to watch everyone's faces as the ran down the finish chute.  Probably the highlight of the finishes was watching kids run through the finish line with their parents.  Most adorable thing ever.  I can't wait to have my kids run through finish lines with me.  Someday.

I got really flustered when I realized that Rob and Becca were coming through the finish chute because I didn't have my phone prepared to snap pictures.  Nooo!  I did manage to get my act together by the time Matt (Becca's husband) came down the chute.  One outta three ain't bad.

go matt!

you did it! :)
team miller time! my idols.
let's go coach rob!

Race spectating is seriously one of the funnest things to do.  Give me a cowbell and I'm all in.  This was a crazy cool race to watch and now completing a triathlon is officially on my list of things to do.  Congrats Rob, Becca and Matt on your awesome achievement, you crazy half Ironmen!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm Back!

After a week of relaxing and galavanting around the Adirondack's, I'm back in the Roc and back to reality.  Lucky for you, I took plenty of pictures to capture my week in the mountains.

welcome to the adk's

I had grand plans of actually following my training schedule during the week, but ended up doing whatever the heck I felt like instead.  There's a shocker.

I managed to get in 4 runs and 3 bike rides and even got my very first swimming lesson in open water.  I also did a pseudo triathlon - swam, biked and ran all in one day!  Molly's Miles owned the Adirondack's.

Three of my four runs were all along a similar route; there's a 2ish mile loop around the cabin where I stayed and that became my go-to run.  It's so different running in the middle of the mountains - I think I listened to my music only once and just took in the naturey-ness of the run.  There's a trailhead on the loop that I decided to check out on one of my runs.  I mean how can you not thrown in a trail run while your in the Adirondacks?!

And look what I found at the end of the trail:

thumbs up to trail runs in the adk's

I switched it up on my final run day and ran up a crazy hill that is a straight 1.25 mile climb.  It took me about 13 minutes to run up it and I literally flew down in 8 minutes.  I can't remember the last time my Garmin saw a single digit pace.  I need to start running downhills more often.

I also biked up the same hill on one of the days.  Well, I biked up some of it and teetered up most of it and turned around before I got to the top.  Bristol Mountain has nothing on that hill - this is one ride that was actually decent for my training.  Highlander here I come.

For my hill ride and one other bike ride, I had the company of some pretty hardcore Lance Armstrong's.  Bob, John and Jeff have all been biking for longer than I've been alive so I had my work cut out for me just to not die while riding with them.  They didn't leave me too far behind in their dust so I think that's a win.  Although I did have my first ever biking mis-hap when my chain fell off right as I was about to go down a hill.  Good thing I wasn't by myself because I would have no idea how to fix it and I'm pretty sure that AAA doesn't work for bikes.  No worries because Jeff came to the rescue and threw my chain back on like a pro and I was good to go. 

reppin' fleet feet in the adk's!

To round out my triathlon of the day, I got my first ever swimming lesson in a lake.  Now, I've taken swimming lessons back in the day when I was like 12 so I figured my skillz would stick with me and translate to the lake.  Wrong.  Open water swimming is hard!  Andrew was a fabulous little swim coach, along with Tyler and Peter and Matthew (who taught me nothing) and a Colombian named JP (who also taught me nothing).  Hi guys!

Needless to say, I have got my work cut out for me if I ever have hope at surviving a triathlon.  Although my swimming endeavor was not my best work in the water, I tested out some other open water skills:

boat driving - captain mollz at your service
paparazzi'ing on the boat 
i'm so artistic.
time for some tubing!
thumbs up!

It was a fantastically relaxing and fun week and in between all my activities this week I played photographer and got some pretty awesome Adirondack pictures.  So I leave you with the beauty of the Adk's:

Total miles for the week: 11 on the pavement, 25 in the saddle.  Better than nothing for vacation!  Thank you to all my new Blue Mountain friends for helping me rack up some miles this week!  You all better be bookmarking my blog right now :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shhh....don't tell Molly I stole her blog!

Since Molly is on vacation in the ADK's, running and biking hard I assume, I have stolen her blog to do a "guest" post. In case you don't know me I am Stephanie.  

I have been a stalker of Molly's blog since we started HFM training together back in January. I begged Molly to do a guest post, mostly so I could just be featured on the blog more, but really to do a post race report of the 2012 Boilermaker 15k Road Race.

But before I talk about how amazing it was, let's back it up just a bit. I have been a reader of the Skinny Runner blog for quite some time. Basically, you can see I have no life and like to read a lot of running blogs. A few months ago she had "man up week", you can read about it here. Basically SR did 3 different marathons in 3 different states and an ultra relay (30-40 miles) in about 8 days. Over the past couple of months I have been signing up for races here and there that sounded fun, exciting, challenging or all of the above. I very quickly realized I got a little too excited and signed up for for 3 races and pace leading all in an 8 day span. I dubbed this week "mini man up week". My weekly mileage was set to hit about 34 miles which would be my highest ever. Unfortunately, we all know that my "mini man up week" did not start out too well, you can read about the rough start here, but you probably already did. The week continued to get better for me and ended on a high.

Growing up in Syracuse and being pretty close to Utica, I had heard of the Boilermaker Road Race and even had family friends run it. I also have a faint memory of driving around Utica as a kid, most likely visiting Florentine's Pastry Shop for a cannoli, and seeing the famous gate at the finish line. Now that I am a runner, the race took on a whole new meaning. Did I just call myself a runner?! I signed up after some light convincing from a yoga friend and am so glad I did because it sold out a week or so later. I also decided I would take the bus that the GRTC sponsored because with 17,000 runners and 6,000 volunteers I didn't want to have to worry about driving, parking and logistics at an out of town race.

The bus left the St. John Fisher park and ride at 4:30am so I was not a happy camper setting my alarm for 3:00am. I got there a bit early and met up with some fellow Fleet Feet team members. Little did I know that included in the fee for the bus, came a plethora of bagels, animal crackers, trail mix, cold and room temp water and Gatorade, sweet! I would recommend this service to everyone, what an amazing experience to meet new fellow team members and new runners in general. I sat with my yoga buddy who convinced me to do the race and we headed East. I had a feeling that I would probably not sleep so we talked and I enjoyed watching the sun rise on the horizon.

We got to Utica around 6:50am and headed directly to bib pick up. The crowds were crazy. It was awesome to see the variety of runners, everything from elite and wheelchair athletes, to veteran runners and newbies like me. Even though I tried not to drink too much on the bus, I inevitably had to go to the bathroom when we arrived. The lines for the porta potties were LONG but there were a lot of them and the lines seemed to be moving fast. Unfortunately, when I jumped into the line I lost the runners I was planning on starting with.
The photo doesn't really do the scene justice but I waited in line for about 20-25 minutes. I was nervous I would miss the start. I followed the crowds to the intersection and listened to the loud speaker telling me where to go based on bib color. I weaved in and out of the crowds to head towards the back of the pack and saw some brides/grooms, superheroes, television characters and lots of "will run for beer" shirts. Oddly enough the spot I chose was exactly where my original running mates had ended up.

That tiny American Flag in the background, to the left of the trees was the starting line! After the announcements, the national anthem was performed and the gun went off, along with the theme song to Rocky. And then we waited. It took almost 13 minutes for me to get to the start line. Needless to say I heard the theme song play three times and then stop. I don't have many photos during the race because I really wanted to take it all in but I'll do my best to describe the highlights.

There were so many spectators, I didn't even think Utica had that many residents!! The start of the race was up hill and I felt it, but the sky was cloudy and the temperature was comfortable. My biggest fear about this race was the heat. The best sign on the course was right in the beginning, it said "at .1 only 9.2 more to go". Funny, real funny! It took me about 2 miles to get comfortable, I think I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning and even got a little emotional about being there. There was constantly music, I don't know why so many runners ran with ear buds. If there wasn't a DJ blaring a sound system, there was a live band or spectators playing music from their cars or homes. There were people EVERYWHERE! At about 2.2 I heard people cheering my name, it was my mom and dad who drove out to watch me. They had planned on meeting me at about half way but had a hard time navigating in traffic. I paused, hugged and kissed them, and kept on going.

There were water stops every half mile, I felt like I was always at one! The water stops had to have about 30-40 volunteers at each passing out water and ice. Even though I carried Gatorade, I always stopped for ice and kept a piece in my hands which seemed to keep my core cool. I got to about three and a half miles and realized the "big hill" was up ahead. Oddly, enough there was my dad again, even though originally they were only going to be able to see me once they were able to keep moving around and I wound up seeing them four times. Time to tackle the hill! I just made sure I kept moving, I ran into an old high school friend and even passed a decent amount of people. By the time I got to the peak (at the polka band) I realized I had run up the whole hill and felt great, so I ran down it too!

At the bottom of the hill I noticed my yoga buddy off to the side. He is a much faster runner than me so I was surprised to see him. He was injured and was going to try to walk the rest of it, bummer! I felt so bad about leaving him. The miles ticked away and at every mile marker they had a clock and a person calling out the splits. There were lot of interesting sights along the way, belly dancers, zoo animals, Irish dancers, bagpipers, a man on stilts, and lots of people with noise makers and signs. This helped the race to fly by. I also enjoyed that a lot of the course seemed shady and even though there were lots of water misters and garden hoses, I stayed away because I didn't want to be soaked the whole time. One of my favorite parts were the "flavor icees" along the way. Spectators were handing out popsicles and orange slices and I enjoyed them, although running and eating posed some challenges.

I felt very strong for the majority of the run and even heard some spectators saying how good I still looked, hopefully this was a compliment. By the time the last mile came along I was ready to be done and did a little walking. When I could see the finishing gate in the distance I picked up my speed and ran across the finish line as my name was called by the announcer, what a great feeling. The clock said 2:04 but my time was actually about 1:51 since it took so long to get to the start line.

At the finish line I received my pin and was corralled to the post race party. Along the way I enjoyed more oranges and popsicles, bumped into running buddies and called my parents to let them know I finished.

I picked up my goody bag which contained the infamous pint glass and walked around the party taking it all in. It was wall to wall people and I was glad I was by myself because it would have been difficult to meet up and stay with people. They announced the winners, since I am not from Ethiopia or Kenya I was not up for any prize money, and sang the national anthem again. When it finished a fly over from the local air base happened over the brewery. Today the Boilermaker FB page posted an amazing photo that one of the pilots took of the party:

This is what it looked like from my angle:

The race included a free lunch but they had run out by the time I went to claim mine. Luckily in the post race party area was a Polish community center and they had opened up the center and were serving traditional fare as a fundraiser. I saw the word peirogi and I knew what my lunch was going to be. The center was air conditioned (slightly cheesy) and offered lots of seating. I was able to skip the crowds, find a comfy seat, stay out of the sun and have a yummy lunch. I think this will be a new tradition.

After I enjoyed my lunch I headed back out to the crowds to locate the buses. Once I found them I changed into some non smelly clothes and went back out to enjoy the party. I caught up with some fellow runners and enjoyed the shade and the nice breeze, maybe a snow cone or two also :)

If this race was next weekend I would do it again in a heartbeat and I would do it all the same, but maybe a little bit faster.

As for my "mini man up week" according to Daily Mile:

It was EPIC!!! 26.4 miles total, phew.