Archive | June 2015

The Road to the Tri: Week 2

I’m done with Week 2 in my training and I’m actually feeling pretty good about it.  It’s been very interesting trying new types of activities….I never really thought much about biking or swimming for exercise, and I’m really liking them both (especially since I got my bike fixed!).  Here’s what this week looked like:

Tue:  Rest Day (got my bike fixed)
Wed:  4.8 mi run (12:50 pace)Thu:  30 min of swim (.57 mile) and 45 min HIIT class
Fri:  2.5 mi walk, 30 min TRX and 1 hour kickboxing class
Sat:  60 min yoga
Sun:  Rest Day (rain)
Mon:  8.4 mile bike (8.25 mph) and 2.7 mi run (12:22 pace)

Today was my first “brick” workout day.  Although really last Thursday when I swam and then did HIIT probably would qualify as well.  I also did a lot last Friday, three different workouts so over two hours of exercise in varying degrees.

But today was officially the first brick, first a bike ride and then a run.  I had about an hour and a half in between though, getting the kids up and fed and ready for camp.  So it wasn’t one right after the other, but it was close.

Today’s bike ride felt easier than the others I’ve done so far.  Today was my fourth and since my bike was fixed, a lot easier.  Everything works like it is supposed to so I could just concentrate on the ride.  I went with my girlfriend to the same spot I did my first ride two weeks ago.  What a difference!  We added on another mile and a half and could have gone for more if we both hadn’t had to get home and get our kids up and moving.

I felt so good after that I decided to try a run.  My legs were definitely feeling the ride, but I told myself I’d just try for 2.5 miles and if I had to walk some I could.  It was a little rough at first but I finally got in the groove and really hardly walked at all.  I felt very accomplished afterwards!  Like I might actually really do this thing.  We’ll see after I add the swim into the mix, but I have two full months left to train, so I think I can get there.

I’m excited!


What I Ate Wednesday

I have absolutely no great recipes or new awesome foods to share from the last seven days.  I was more conscious of what I ate and when with my training but there were no fabulous new things that I feel merit a blog post.  That being said, it is my absolute favorite time of year for food.  The early plantings are just starting to yield fresh, local produce.  Our local Farmers’ Market, which I help run, is finally open and we will now have feasts every Friday night after my shift is over that include things like locally harvested clams, freshly made gazpacho and pesto, zucchini and lettuce and sugar snap peas and freshly laid (lain?) eggs.

Each year I plant a few things in my own little flower bed and see what takes.  This year my garden looks like this:

One of my two tomato plants, not doing much yet.

One of my two tomato plants, not doing much yet.

photo 4

My zucchini plant, full of flowers. Behind it is a butternut squash plant. No flowers blooming on that one yet, but they are close.

photo 3

Fresh rosemary thriving in its pot.

photo 2

My sugar snap peas that I grew from seed. See the pea pods? I already have harvested several.


photo 1

Basil, mint and parsley in containers. They are huge and beautiful! I snip some to add to most meals.

I would love to have a big garden some day but our yard isn’t suited to it. Our backyard is surrounded by trees and just doesn’t get enough sun. I plant all of these either in containers by my front porch or in my flowerbeds in the few empty spots there are. Each year I plant something different. Last year it was cucumbers, but the plants were so prolific I couldn’t eat them all, and by the end of the summer I was totally sick of cucumbers. I never seem to tire of fresh tomatoes, as my plants never give me more than I can keep up with. I am hopeful with the butternut squash plant…I planted one last year but probably too late for it to really do much. I harvested one tiny one, smaller than my hand, in September. Hopefully this year will see a bounty from these few small plants.

I know that when fresh food is available and of good quality, I always tend to choose it over the garbage. So here’s to summer, and fresh, local foods that will help keep me on track!

Road to the Tri: Week One

So I have officially finished my first week of triathlon training, and I have to say, it is definitely harder than I expected.  It’s going to be hard to fit all of the workouts in, and I still have no idea how I will put all of these pieces together.

Here’s what the week looked like:

Tues:  6.86 mile bike ride (7.69 mph)
Wed:  45 minute strength/cardio workout at gym
Thur:  4 mile run, easy pace
Fri:  30 min TRX, 60 min kickboxing class
Sat:  60 min yoga
Sun:  REST (planned on biking this day but it rained)
Mon:  10.5 mile bike ride (planned on swimming but will rain tomorrow so will do then, 8.98 mph)

So the biking.  The first ride last Tuesday was a total baseline.  My bike was not in great shape; the handlebars were not straight, the seat kept moving up and down and I couldn’t find a comfortable pace.  My girlfriend took me out to a local trail and the hills killed my quads.  Plus my brakes are definitely in need of repair; there was one downhill where if I had needed to stop, I couldn’t have done so.  It was so much harder than I thought it would be.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I thought of biking as a leisurely thing to do.  I was sore for days.  But today’s ride was easier, and I hope they will continue to get easier (as with any activity).  I still had trouble with hills today, and actually changed my planned route because they were so hard.  But my seat (mostly) stayed in place and less hills meant less need for the brakes (I do have an appointment tomorrow to get them fixed).  I could have gone longer than the 10.5 today if I had wanted to, but it was hot and I was ready to be done.  I definitely want to try and hammer out my bike rides early before it gets too hot and too many cars get on the roads.

I plan on going swimming again tomorrow.  The kids are out of school now so my goal is to get over there early enough that I can be home before they are up.  I’ve heard that this pool is busy then but I just want to see if that’s an option for me.

I am hoping to find the balance of doing my yoga one day, two days at the gym and then the tri workouts the other days.  i know this isn’t exactly the plan I was given to follow, but I know the strength I get from yoga and the gym classes will only help improve my stamina for this race.

At this point while I am nervous about putting all of this together, I am also excited.  It feels nice to be doing some other activities other than running (my feet certainly are grateful).  We’ll see how I continue to feel as we go forward!

What I Ate Wednesday

I’ve done exactly one What I Ate Wednesday (which was what I morphed my Weigh In Wednesday into) in the last month.  Of course I have been crazy busy, but that’s not the only reason.  The real reason is I don’t want to talk about What I Ate during weeks when I have been eating a lot of crap.

Which is pretty much what the last few weeks have been like since my last post on the topic (the one where I confessed to getting back on the sugar wagon).   I continued to allow sugar and bread and dairy to creep back into my diet (but not artificial sweeteners, which means I haven’t had soda either) and now they feel like staples again.  I had cookies, I had bread (lots of it) and cheese….oh, the cheese I ate on Friday evening at a dinner party.  Divine.  And let’s not even talk about the wine.  There’s been plenty of that too.

So it wasn’t a surprise to me at all when I stepped on the scale this morning and found that I’m not only up two pounds from two weeks ago, but I’m at my highest weight since March.  😦  March, when I was really rocking my cleaner eating habits.  I’m actually up about five pounds off my low point during this spring.

Which is especially frustrating because I’ve been workout out hard and well and actually seeing improvements in stamina and strength.  I feel healthy and strong, but as long as I am not careful with my food, the scale is going to stay higher than I want it to.  So I have got to get back to eating cleaner, healthy, enjoyable foods that keep me away from the crap.

This is one of the things I discovered this week.  Baby Bok Choy.

I had bought a package of them at Trader Joe’s and they’ve been sitting in the fridge waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.  I had no real salad stuff in the house that day, so I took the bok choys, along with some other veggies, and roasted them.


This is not my photo, but this is pretty much what they looked like when I roasted them.

They were delicious and couldn’t have been simpler!  Here’s what I did:

Slice the bok choys in half, and rinse.

Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper

Roast on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, turning once. 

That’s it!  Easy peasy and they were delicious.  I paired them with a fish filet that I cooked at the same time, and it made for a super easy, healthy, satisfying lunch.

This is the kind of experimentation I need to keep doing.  The more I find healthy foods that are delicious and satisfying, the less junk I want.  Plus I always feel better after eating something good for me.  Especially with the triathlon training I’m into now, I have to keep reminding myself that food is fuel.  I’m not going to perform at my best if I fill my tank with the wrong kind of fuel.


Road to the Tri: Week 0

So this is it:  I have officially started training for a triathlon as of yesterday.

The backstory on this is that I have been involved with fundraising through my own 5K for one of the Sandy Hook family foundations, the Chase Kowalski Foundation (CMAK now, actually).  The parents both grew up in our town and ran my race, the Sprint for Monroe, as a family and with Chase up until the That Awful Thing happened (I honestly still can’t put it into words…).  The family soon after founded a foundation to support kids in athletic activities that Chase enjoyed.  That summer of 2012 he ran both our 5K and participated in a kids’ triathlon (he actually won his age division in the tri).

That summer afterwards, our kids’ race turned into a fundraiser for their foundation, and I got to know Becky and Steve, Chase’s parents.  They seemed pleased with the partnership, and asked if I’d be interested in serving on the committee that was putting together their Kids Triathlon series.  Last year they put on two: one here in my town (it was the first one they put on) and then another elsewhere in CT.

That's me next to the guy in blue.  Chase's parents are giving the pre race speech.  It was very emotional.

That’s me next to the guy in blue. Chase’s parents are giving the pre race speech. It was very emotional.

That day was indescribable.  Watching these kids slog through the swimming, the biking, the running. I was so proud to be a part of watching their dream come to fruition….seeing Chase’s spirit alive in these kids as they took on these tasks.  Even tiny kids pushing themselves to swim, bike and run.  I was inspired.  It was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of.

kidstri4 kidstri2 kidstri1

A group of us who worked with Becky that day all agreed that we would train together for a triathlon the following summer.  And sure enough, a few months ago, we all got together for Becky’s birthday and made a pact (cemented by T shirts) that we would all do this thing as a group.  We picked out our race, a “Sprint Triathlon”, for women only, set for August 30.

Most of our tri group.

Most of our tri group. The back of the shirts say “We’re gonna Tri for Chase”

So it’s time to start the training. I’m actually two weeks behind when our group plan, put together by one of us who actually has done these sorts of things before.  But I have been running and working out consistently so I am hopeful that ten weeks is enough time to get ready for this thing.

Our tri distances are:

1/2 mile swim
12 mile bike
3.1 mile run

I swim only occasionally for recreation and have biked exactly once in the last five years, so it is time.  I went out this weekend and got my bike set up.  I bought my swim cap, goggles and a bike helmet.  I asked around to find the local pool with hours where I can swim.  And today, another friend (one of the tri group) will be showing me a bike trail locally to practice on.

I’m not so much worried about each piece.  Yesterday I went swimming for the first time and actually swam 3/4 of a mile.  So I know I can do the distance.  It’s not each piece.  It’s putting the pieces together.  So I think the first few weeks of the training will be about getting comfortable with biking and swimming (obviously I am fine with running) and then it will be about “bricking” the workouts and putting them together.  I have no idea what to expect, but swimming yesterday took me 45 minutes; a slow 5K would be 40 or so minutes; if biking 12 miles takes me an hour (I’ll find out today how fast to expect that to be) I would imagine this will be 2:30-3:00 in duration.  That’s what my half marathons were like, which means this is no joke.

So last week was really not truly Tri training other than the Monday, but I have to start somewhere.  So here is what we had:

Tues:  2 miles of hill repeats on the treadmill (15:00 pace, ugh) plus 60 minutes of yoga
Wed:  Rest Day
Thu:  2.7 miles @ 12:38 plus 45 minutes of HIIT class
Fri:  30 min TRX plus 60 minutes kickboxing class
Sat:  60 min yoga
Sun:  Run for the Rock 5K @ 12:04 pace
Mon:  45 min swim (52 laps in 25 yard length pool = .74 mile)

Curious to see what this morning’s biking is like.  I actually did like the swimming yesterday; I wasn’t sure about it.  Once I got warmed up and in the groove I actually found it very calming and peaceful.  I’ve never been great on a bike, though, and coordination is not my strong suit.  Hoping I don’t embarrass myself too much in front of the friend that is showing me the ropes.

Run for the Rock 5k Race Recap

I was up early for another race yesterday.  This one was another free entry from my friend who is a local race director.  It is awfully hard to turn down a freebie! Plus this race looked like a winner:  starting and ending at a local yacht club on an inlet of Long Island Sound, a flat(ish) course and a taco food truck at the end.  What’s not to love?

This was, though, the first race I’ve done in a while where I had no friends to meet up with.  I used to always race solo, but in the last year or so I’ve found several partners in crime; it’s always nice to have a buddy.  I felt strange as I parked and went to registration alone with over an hour to kill and no one to spend it with.

Fortunately I did find one person I knew in short order.  A woman from my town who helps me out with our kids’ race (and goes to my church) was there.  She’s at a lot of the races I do; she’s in her sixties and has been active in the running community for probably thirty or more years.  She often does the kids’ races for the race director of this race, so I wasn’t too surprised to see her.  We had a nice chat before she had to get busy with rounding up the rugrats.

IMG_9999 IMG_0003 IMG_0002 IMG_0001I spent the time looking at the race map, soaking in the pretty waterfront scenery, getting professional advice from a local physical therapist about pre run stretching (I was hoping for a massage but that didn’t work out) and doing about a half mile of run/walk warmup.

We finally got in line to get the race started when the pre race instructions were issued.  They had to explain about the tear off bibs.  Most races I’m doing these days have a chip in them that records your time as you cross the finish; larger races have the ability to track both your start time and your finish time to give you a “net time” (better for people like me that are at the back of the pack and might taken thirty or more seconds to cross the start line).  But this race was old school; you tear off the bottom of the bib at the finish and they scan you in.  This leads to a less accurate (read:  longer) time.  I wasn’t too bothered by it.  I already knew the heat was going to be a factor as it was already over 70 and there were rumors of a sizeable hill after mile 2.

Off we went, through the local waterfront neighborhoods known as Black Rock.  It was a congested start, as there were actually cars parked on one side of the street, so there was little room to navigate around the people in front of you.  No worries for me as a back of the packer, although I could imagine if it might have bothered some people.  As promised, the whole first mile was flat and I was loving life.

During the second mile you cut through the neighborhood and end up on this beautiful path along the shoreline.  This area is known as St. Mary’s by the Sea, and it is a little peninsula that juts out into this inlet of Long Island Sound.  It is picturesque and beautiful.

It is also unshaded.

So while I loved the scenery and the route, the heat was starting to take a toll.  I was wearing a hat to keep the sun off of my face, but I could tell I was sweating profusely.  More than usual.  My face had to have been bright red.  I slowed to a walk just to avoid going off the rails.  Not for long, but I knew there was a hill up ahead, and I am not willing to pass out on a race course for pushing myself in the heat.

Smart move.

I forced myself to get back running and told myself I would keep going until the base of the hill.  We’d been told there was a water stop mid hill (how big was this thing anyway?) so I figured I would run/walk the hill as necessary.

The hill loomed up sure enough right after the mile 2 marker.  Holy hell, it was a lot bigger than I’d anticipated.  I jogged up a little and then walked for about thirty seconds.  Then I spotted the water station and made myself run to it, telling myself I could walk with the water.  I did, drank half of it, and poured the rest down my back.

Aaaaah.  Sweet relief, and good thing, because no one had warned us that the worst of the hill was actually AFTER the water stop.  It was much steeper here, and I slowed again to a walk.  I was so worn out I was actually making sad, pathetic noises as I breathed, just to let everyone know that I was, in fact, absolutely miserable.

As soon as I crested the hill I started running again.  Slowly I was able to regulate my breathing and feel like I was back in the game.  There was a good downhill portion here, maybe a third of a mile, and it was much needed.   The heat was just sapping the energy out, and what the heat didn’t take, that hill did.  I walked a bit more until I saw the corner where the mile 3 marker was.  Alright then, I knew I could make it that last bit.

I pushed towards the finish, finishing stronger than I thought I could.  I saw 37:45 on the clock as I crossed, but because there was a lineup in the chute, it took a few seconds to make it to the person collecting the tags.  Official time:  37:54.  Not my worst 5K, but definitely not the great times I’ve run in the last two races I’ve done.

But no matter to me.  As I got my water and dove into the shady spot near the finish, I saw an ambulance coming to treat a man who was on the ground with what I overheard to be heat stroke.  I saw another kid, maybe 10 or so, nearly passed out nearby with similar issues.  I was glad I’d played it smart.  It was a hot race and while it wasn’t my best time, I enjoyed the race and really felt strong the whole time.

I spent another half an hour drinking water and walking to cool down since I hadn’t realized that my car was completely blocked in being on a side street just near the finish line.  I waited until what seemed to be the last finisher to cross and then made my way out of Black Rock.

I might do one more 5K this month but then it’s time to focus on my next challenge:  The Women’s Sprint Triathlon on August 30.  Yikes!

Sprint for Monroe Race Recap

The race was 12 days ago.  I know, I know.  It’s been so hard to sit down and piece this one together.  Because I not only organized this race and also ran it, I have been putting off putting something down in the blog because there is So Much To Say.  But if I don’t get something down I probably never will, so I figured this morning with a half an hour of free time I could get something on the blog.

So much goes into organizing a race that participants never see.  Calling up local businesses to get donations.  Designing a logo.  A brochure.  Getting it printed.  Arranging for items to go into race bags.  Getting sponsor logos for shirts.  Press releases.  Marketing.  Social media.  Ordering and picking up trophies. Budgeting.  Picking up the mail from a PO Box.  I do all of these things, with a some help from a committee.  I start in January and the work isn’t done until weeks after the race.

The whole week before the race is always a blur of activity.  It finally rounds out to the last twenty four hours before the race, where this year I began panicking over the weather forecast.  We had a record number of preregistered runners and volunteers lined up, only to see showers and thunderstorms in the forecast.  Still, we had to plan for the race, so my group and I went to the local park (which fortunately is half a mile from where I live) and loaded in over a thousand bottles of water, nearly a thousand filled race bags, fruit, muffins, cookies and boxes upon boxes of race shirts.  It took us two hours and I won’t mention how many beers.

My garage 24 hours before race day.

My garage 24 hours before race day.

Surprisingly I slept well enough the night before, probably because I hadn’t slept at all the previous few nights.  I woke around 5, as we needed to be at the park by 6am to set up registration.  I couldn’t believe my luck to see this:

The forecast had adjusted slightly pushing the stormy weather back until later in the day.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  All I needed was to get to 11am with a minimal amount of rain.

I made it to the park by 6 to find one of my committee already there.  In a matter of forty minutes we transformed the picnic area into a race bonanza:  registration, food, water, tents for yoga, massage and other business providers.  This is always a major blur to me as I try to delegate everything and supervise.  I mostly point people in the directions they need to go and make sure no one looks lost or upset.  By 8am everyone was in place and everything was running smoothly. I went to watch the kids’ race get started and then my palms started to get sweaty about running my own race.

I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of what amounts to essentially, my entire town.  I’m a slow runner on a good day, and our course is not an easy one.  I’d been practicing the course but the day had dawned warm and humid in advance of the coming rain.  My best time still is slower than most everyone I know.  Which any other day doesn’t bother me but on this day?  I got nervous.  I went back into our race committee area and changed into my running clothes alone, trying to talk myself out of quitting.

Once I’d changed out of my race director shirt and into regular running clothes, I told myself to treat it like any other race.  I’d practiced the course enough to know where I could push and where I’d have to back off.  I walked up to the starting line, filled with 860 other people, and worked my way quietly to the back, high fiving people I knew all along the way.

We pride ourselves on a punctual start time, and this race was no different.  I heard the gun go off, I tapped my RunKeeper Start Activity button and meandered my way to the start mat.

There’s something amazing about our race that I don’t really see at a lot of races I do.  The start line was filled with townspeople cheering us on.  I mean normally you have some but there had to be fifty or sixty people lining the course up until the first turn just going nuts.  I waved and smiled, taking it all in.

Our course starts off mostly downhill so I went with the flow to find my pace.  Surprisingly I passed people like football players and forty something guys who play a lot of soccer.  That’s because a lot of people do this race who don’t run regularly.  I found my groove and easily went through the first mile, which is my normal running route.  It was warm but I was holding my own.

During the second mile you hit a few uphills, nothing huge, but on a warm day, they are noticeable.  I slowed a bit and worked on my pacing.  I picked off a few more people I knew, which felt good. Before long we were making the turn to our water stop, which sits at mile 2.  I was starting to feel the heat, but told myself I’d stop and walk through the stop and so I kept on going.

Right after the water stop is the hilliest section of the course.  It is a slow up hill that rounds out on one hill, flattens and then curves towards an even bigger hill.  If you don’t know the course, you think you’re done after the first hill, but then the second one hits you and you are toast if you blew it all out on the first hill.  I’ve been practicing these hills for weeks.  But the heat and humidity changed the game and I did have to walk some of it.  I passed another friend on the way and spotted a few more up ahead as I got to the top.

Right after the hill it flattens out and is pretty flat for the last half mile.  But it’s also in full sun, so it isn’t an easy slog.  Still, I surprised myself with enough stamina to keep going at a reasonable pace.  Before long I could hear the crowd at the finish, before I could even see it.

The last .1 mile of our race is all downhill.  You crest this little hill and then you can just see it all laying out there before you.  At this point I broke into the biggest, goofiest smile.  It was just amazing.  I knew I’d run a good race, I’d experienced the entire course as every participant did, and I knew all the hard work I’d put into it had paid off.  There were easily another 50 or so people cheering at the finish, including our town mayor.  He high fived me as I passed and I sailed through the finish, out of breath but completely thrilled.


Me, smiling at the end of my race. I didn’t assign myself the number, either…my race committee went behind my back and did it. I would have never, ever worn it otherwise.

Once I finished, I ran for a bottle of water and immediately tried to cool down.  I had an idea of time, but had no idea how far back I’d been at the race start, so I couldn’t tell what it would be.  Had I checked my email (a thought that I never had at the time) I would have found that within minutes of finishing, I had an email with my time in it:  36:12.  For my course, in that weather,  this was an amazing time.  For comparison’s sake, when I did this race 3 years ago, I finished it at 38:24.

But there was no time to think about any of that.  I had to get ready for awards, which I wanted to start shortly after ten, and it was already nearly 9:40.  I had to get my body to stop sweating, change back into my clothes without soaking them, and put back on my race director face.

Fortunately, one of my volunteers brought me a snow cone that the local football team was passing out.  That helped.  A full bottle of water also helped.  Eventually I peeled off my clothes, got a makeup wipe and kept dabbing, and put on dry clothes.  I didn’t bother with my hair; I put back on a hat and hoped for the best.

It took a bit to get everything for the awards settled with our timer, but eventually we did and we started awards at 10:15.  I made a thank you speech, forgetting one of my committee members and a few others (next year I will make a list).  Then I handed it off to my partner and settled in to hand out trophies.


Me, handing out trophies. Next year I will definitely wear different shorts.

Once awards were over, the crowd thinned out amazingly fast.  It was time to get everything cleaned up and get the park back to its usual setup for picnics and summer fun.  A small group of us cleaned up what was left behind, packed up what needed to be stored for next year, and took care of all of the money.  Fortunately, the kids that work at the park helped out a lot, and we were mostly done by 12 or so.  Good thing, as the raindrops just started as we were getting ready to leave.


Taken just before the rain started after everything was packed in our cars.

And suddenly, all of the hours and hours of work that no one ever sees were done.  Of course there was more to do; I had to unload at home, turn in the money to the bank, and I still have some follow up on a few things.  But in that moment, the hard work was done, the rain had stayed away, and most everything had gone exactly as it should.

It was a long, exhausting day, but I have to say, there is nothing like running your own race, literally.  I’m proud of the group we have and the race we put on.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to run it again next year, but I am hoping I can.  It was just an amazing feeling.

Plus I’d really like to beat my time.  🙂