The Tale of Two Races: Hyannis and Salem

I confess I have a slight race obsession. I just can’t help the love I have for the high I feel when I cross that start line with other people that love running just as much as I do (some probably even more!). There’s a certain exhilaration that you get when running through the streets that are usually filled with cars, not having to dodge pedestrians on the side walk and people that aren’t running staring at you like you’re completing some amazing feat. I mean you are accomplishing something big whether you win or come in last, whether it’s your first race or 100th. You’re doing something others can’t. Plus, I love the feel of the medal around my neck after I cross that finish line and search for the nearest bottle of water.

But not all races are created equal. Yes, there’s 5ks and marathons, ironmans and road races. But even the body that you have prepared for that day may not be the same as it was the day before the weekend before. Boy did I learn that the hard way. 

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On February 28th I participated in the Hyannis Half Marathon down on the Cape. As you know, the weekend before I ran an awesome half marathon, I may not have gotten a PR or anything but it was fun and I felt great after running 13.1 miles. This weekend, not so much. The night before I was up late because I had a fundraiser event for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t eat my usual pre-race meal and I had a few (see: 3 ciders) drinks. This messed me up. Three miles into the race, I looked at my friend who caught up to me after I had slowed down significantly and said, “I don’t think I can run another 10 miles.”

Let me tell you, this is the only race that I have EVER seriously considered quitting. I was nauseated, IMG_2366dehydrated and I hurt all over. I was able to stay with her for the first seven miles after she generously gave me one of her shot bloks. But after that I just couldn’t keep up. Every step was more labored, my breathing heavy and my stomach volatile. I had my honey stinger gel which usually gives me a burst of energy, but even that failed me this day. I walked a lot, I promised Jesus (I’m not very religious but some times I can ask him for help) that I wouldn’t drink again until after Boston. Haha, silly but true. I did finally cross the finish line…the slowest I’ve ever done (even slower than the weekend before and stopping to take pictures!), but I finished. Then I threw up, three times.IMG_2363

Fast forward to two weeks later and I’m at the Salem Black Cat 20 miler. The longest run I’ve taken on to date (I will be breaking that this weekend as I take on the first 21 miles of the Boston marathon route…home field advantage has its perks!). I followed my pre race rituals to protocol. I had chicken parm for dinner, I hydrated properly all day and I went to black cat1bed early. I felt great and ready to go the next day. Aside from a minor slip up (okay, major), where my nutrition for the race (one honey stringer gel and one pack of clif shot bloks) fell out of my pocket at the start line, the run went really well. Since I had a lack of sugar in body, I did hit a wall at 16 miles and I had to turn to a run/walk. I ran as hard as I could for 2 minutes and walked a minute for the remaining 4 miles. I missed my goal by only 4 minutes which I don’t think is too bad considering.

Just goes to show, even though I did 6.9 miles more that weekend than I had 2 weekends before, preparation makes a huge difference. As I approach these final weeks of marathon training I’m sticking to my plan. I’m not drinking until post marathon (oh I can’t wait for that post race cider!!!) and before every long run I’m making sure I don’t disrupt my flow. Even though the road to Boston has not been easy for me between bad races, fundraising stress and injuries, I’m determined to get to that finish line feeling good about how far I’ve come!!! IMG_2410
And there is me cheesing as I cross that finish line!
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Triathlon Gear: the beginners guide

This week has been leading up to my last triathlon of the season, and as I was creating my packing list for race day I have learned to appreciate how little you need to run. Tri’s require A LOT of gear. Yes, some people take the minimalist approach, but let’s be real I’m a gear addict so I just dove right in. This is pretty much where all my money has gone this year. I thought I’d share my list and what I think you absolutely need not only for training but also for race day if you’re thinking about trying out a triathlon of any distance.
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Swim:
Wet suit: this one you don’t absolutely need one, but if you’re new to open water swims I highly recommend it for several reasons.
1. It helps with confidence in the open water, basically you’re wearing a full body flotation device
2. If you’re in the northeast or anywhere with cold water like I am, it helps keep you warm
3. It makes you faster being covered in one slick piece of material
Gog   FullSizeRendergles: kind of obvious, get good ones though, the cheap ones start to leak after a couple months.
Bathing suit: I got one on sale at City Sports….these can be expensive!!!
Swim cap: I got one for long hair to keep this mane in place, those of you with short hair are lucky! They are required at a race though, they have you one of a specific color for your swim wave.
Tri suit: I don’t have a full body suit but I do have a tri top and shorts. It’s not like regular work out gear, you wear it under your wet suit and it doesn’t absorb as much water and dries faster. Next year I want a full one because my top always rides up!
Bike:
Bike: well duh, Christine. I already had a bike, a Trek hybrid. But if you look back in my posts, I ended up getting a new road bike. The hybrid was so heavy and made riding not as much fun! On the road bike I’m faster, it’s easier to transport because it’s lighter and I’m sitting in a more comfortable position (in my opinion). Definitely get a bike that you’re fitted for your bike, believe me it’s so important to have the right size in order to prevent injury!FullSizeRender (1)
Clip in shoes/pedals: I just recently got my pedals and I LOVE being clipped in, I can engage my hamstrings more (saves those quads for the run!) and every time I hit a bump my foot doesn’t fly off the pedal. Yes it makes riding a bit trickier if you have to stop and go, but practice in a parking lot so that you get used to it first!
Helmet: mine is a cheap one from Target
Pump: you always want to keep your tires at the right inflation!
Trainer: I live in Boston so it’s hard to find a good place to ride without fear of being hit by a car so I got a bike trainer. It basically makes your bike into a stationary bike. I like this better than using a spin or regular stationary bike because I can get used to changing gears and the feel of my own bike.
Run:
Phew the leg of a tri with the least amount of gear!!
FullSizeRender (3)Shoes: obviously. Once again, get fitted. It’s so important to wear the right kind of shoe for your foot/body. It will save you from injury in the long run.
Lock laces: doesn’t necessarily have to be this brand, but basically it’s elastic laces so you can just slip your shoes on and not worry about having to lace up during the transition!
Race belt: save some time by not having to pin on your number! Just throw on this belt right before your run and you’re number ready (don’t forget it like I did at my first race!).
There’s still so much other gear that I want just because. But I’ve made it through this year with just this. Some things on my wish list (if you want to contribute! 😉 ) are:
Garmin 920, it does it all. Track swim, bike and run.
Bike gloves add some padding to my palms for long rides
Bike pouch always want to have the right tools!
Flip belt to carry my stuff on long runs
Goggles…I’ll admit it. I got cheap ones and now they leak 😦
Happy swimming, biking and running!

Fuel up!

This weekend I learned a valuable less the hard way: you need to fuel your work outs properly or it could end in a disaster. I’m no professional athlete. I don’t run as fast as most and I’m not as strict with my diet as some. I like to treat myself to a yummy meal or a sweet treat. I work out hard, so why not, right?

Well Sunday morning, I learn exactly why not. Saturday night we decided to stay in, pop in a movie and order some take out. Indian was decided on, and I figured sure, it’s a good carby meal to fuel my long run for the next day. I woke up the next morning ready to take on the world, only to find out that my boyfriend had NOTHING to eat in his house except for a Kind bar and some gummy vitamins. I munched on those, strapped on my Garmin and hit the road with my running buddy Kate. Not three miles into our 9.5 mile run, I started to feel ill and was dry heaving. The carby Indian meal was not settling well and it was ruining my morning. I managed to make it through the 9.5 miles (slowly, with a few stops along the way to ahem, clear the stomach) but it wasn’t fun and I realized I need to stick with oldies but goodies.

I really should have known better about the Indian food, I usually stick with some pasta and a salad the night before a race…why should the night before a long run be any different? It doesn’t matter though if you’re getting ready for a race or just plan on getting up early for a yoga class or a early morning gym session, what you put into your body the night before is going to determine how you perform the next day. If you don’t eat enough, if you eat too much or like me, you eat the wrong thing.

As for the morning, from now on I’ll pack what I plan on eating, don’t depend on anyone else! Not everyone wakes up early to work out, and not everyone fuels with the same things. Our bodies are all different and we function on different sources. My boyfriend doesn’t really have a lot of breakfast food because he usually works out later in the day and has already had a few meals in him. I NEED the morning fuel.

Don’t know what works for you? Try out some different things. Here’s what I have found works best for me.

When it comes to running I keep it simple with some gluten free waffles and a little bit of teddies peanut butter spread on top.

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If I’m lifting in the morning I like to have something a little bit more substantial, and imgreseither have some oatmeal with banana and peanut butter or some yogurt with fruit, chia seeds and some GoLean crunch cereal (an amazing combination by the way).

images1Hydration is something that I’ve been struggling with this summer and I’ve found that I need something MORE than water is needed for how much I sweat on my runs. I’m really loving Skratch labs hydration. All the flavors I’ve tried are really good, my favorite though so far has been pineapple.

My suggestion to you is to try different things out, it’s taken me awhile  (and some nasty work outs) to figure out what works best. Find the combo that works and stick with it so that you feel good about your fitness and not want to die like I did on Sunday!!!

Weekly Recap: August 24th-30th

I decided to start with some weekly recaps on my training since the weeks are dwindling down on my race season. I’m 3 weeks away from my second sprint triathlon and 5 weeks away from my 3rd half marathon. I’d say I’ve had a successful race season this year and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring! IMG_0525

My goals for the spring tri   are mainly to just not freak out on the swim and not to forget my bib number for the run! For the half marathon, I’d REALLY like to break 2 hours, but at the pace I have been running, I’m not so sure it will happen. But we’ll see.

Monday: Is always a rest day, I have my groceries delivered the night before (part laziness, part I don’t have a car in the city) so Monday mornings I wake up early and do my meal prepping. It keeps me feeling productive even if I’m not kicking butt.

IMG_0988Tuesday: Run field test day! This field test was to see how far I can run in 20 minutes. The first time I did the test I did 2.24 miles. This time I ran 2.42! Getting a little faster every day!

Wednesday: AM Swim field test, this test was how fast I could do 500m with a 10s break in between each one. I KILLED this test and cut a whole minute off my time!

PM Spin class at the gym. I’m super picky about the spin classes I take. I want the class to mimic what it’s like to actually be riding a bike and most aren’t, kinda like this one. But on the plus side, she had really good motivating energy!

Thursday:  Running drills to help with my form and a quick full body lift.

Friday: I did an hour of my own private spin class and then ran 1 mile as fast as I could right off the bike. I wanted to break 8 minutes, but I got 8 minutes even. Next time though!

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Saturday: Drove down to the beach where the next triathlon is and practiced the bike
route and did a little swim in the ocean. The waves kind of got the best of me, but it was fun! Yes, I was that person in a wet suit on the beach while everyone else was in bikinis.

Sunday : Way too hot for my long run and Boston was littered with people moving and I didn’t want to deal with that. So I decided it would be my rest day instead of Monday.

Goals for next week: I want to get better about getting my lifts in. I’m only scheduled for two a week, but that second one tends to slip through the cracks and I know it’s so important to strength the muscles that I use repetitively. I also want to get back on track with nutrition, I’ve kind off been off track, just trying to enjoy summer and picnics and weddings. But starting this week I’m giving up booze and sweets for (most) of September. I’m allowing one cheat date when I go to King Richard’s Faire (yes I’m a nerd).

#LoveBulu: Bulu Box Review

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I get a chance to review fun products. This post is sponsored by Bulu Box and I received a box free of charge to facilitate my honest review. The post may also contain affiliate links.

I’ve done a few subscription boxes in the past, one for clothes and one for make up. I always enjoyed getting the little package during the month with surprises inside. For the most part I’ve liked what I received, a few things ended up being gifted or returned but other than that I’ve discovered some new styles I like and beauty products that have changed my routine. So when the opportunity to receive a Bulu Box came up, I was thrilled. image1

My box arrived last night finally and I right away tore it open, excited to see what goodies were inside and this is what I found:

First there’s the itch cream, which right now I am thankful for since it’s summer and I’m spending a lot of time outside and I get eaten alive. Seriously, it’s like the bugs are just attracted to me, hopefully it helps with my misery!
After that is the Mediterra Bar, which was sundried tomato basil flavored. I LOVE anything basil…well most things. This one, just not my cup of tea, I’ll stick to the sweet granola bars instead!

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Then we get to something interesting….protein powder made of Crickets! Apparently, this form of protein is more sustainable, and by the looks of the ingredients, more natural. Normally I would be weirded out by this but my boyfriend is currently really into cricket granola bars lately, so we’re going to try this product out together. Yay bugs!

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Next is Island Boost, which is to help with muscle cramps and hydration during really tough work outs. I’m saving this one for one of my long runs!download

Hiding in the back is a strange looking T shaped tooth brush. I guess I’ll save that for traveling? Lastly, dietary fiber powder. Um…maybe someone out there knows I have trouble going sometimes???

If you want to try out Bulu Box for yourself, FitApproach and Bulu Box have teamed up and are offering 50% off your first 3-month subscription. Just head over to Bulu Box and add the SWEATPINK code during check out! ck to the sweet granola bars instead! and Bulu Box have teamed up and are offering 50% off your first 3-month subscription. Just head over to Bulu Box and add the SWEATPINK code during check out!

Ditching the scale!

IMG_0907For the most part of my life I have been a slave to the scale, it doesn’t help that I grew a dancer and a cheerleader where being tiny was praised and any extra ounce was frowned upon. Before I actually knew anything about fitness, I mostly controlled what I ate so that I wouldn’t gain any weight. Some times I would do some crunches and leg lifts in my room (seriously, I knew nothing about fitness in high school) or run around the block a couple times. I didn’t even really eat healthy, mostly just tried to keep my calories low, low, low to the point where I would black out during practice and would skip any family meals in order to avoid over eating. I definitely had a bad relationship with food, my body and the mirror.

unnamed (1)This past couple of months, I have decided to ditch the scale and my fitness pal and
focus on athletic abilities instead. Yes, I still want to feel good and look good and I still eat fairly healthy (with treats in moderation) but finding a sport I enjoy has made a huge difference. I feel better about my body and how I look because I know how hard I can push myself, how much I’ve improved over these months. Those numbers have become more important to me than the arbitrary number on the scale.
Keeping myself busy has also helped me not concentrate on the scale. I’ve filled my days with training, work and living life that doesn’t revolve around fitness like enjoying the city I live and and traveling without guilt. It’s really helped on the handling of my sanity. I can take a break from the plan do things like go to the zoo (I love all the animals!!!) or sleep in late my boyfriend.
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 I no longer weigh myself 50 times a day or worry about ever morsel I put into my mouth. I don’t have a goal weight that I’m aiming towards, I know that my body will eventually reflect that effort that I’m putting in. I’m also taking care of myself more, no more low calorie diets, I’m fueling my body for my work outs so that I can make it through them and do the best that I’m capable of.
So please join me in trashing the scale and loving your body for what it can do not what you see in the mirror!

Swimming, biking and running, oh my!: Marshfield Duxbury Triathlon

Let’s face it, I’m addicted to races. I love the community that it brings together, the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of accomplishment (as well as the finisher medals). I have some 5ks, a few 10ks and a couple half marathons under my belt from the past 5 years or so. I love challenging myself and while a full marathon is still daunting to me, I’ve been itching for something new. So last year after watching Rob participate in the Boston Triathlon, I decided that this was something I could do given enough time.
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So the past year I have worked my butt off to get into shape for a tri. I JUST learned how to swim (well, swim properly and not doggie paddle) in 2014, so I have focused on becoming a better swimmer and a faster a runner. The bike kind of came along on it’s own (and it helps that I got a pretty new Cannondale that’s much lighter than my old bike!) While my swimming is SO much better, the idea of open water swimming still is daunting. I know I know, I have a wet suit on and it’s like wearing a flotation device, but it’s very different than swimming in a nice chlorinated pool that eventually comes to an end. A couple weeks before the race I went out with my coach and practiced, in the beginning I had some anxiety and was slow and didn’t do the course we had planned. But I eventually did a full mile which was the goal for distance that day. I felt good afterwards and felt like I could conquer the open water in the race.
I was wrong. Terribly wrong. I started out the day already nervous, I didn’t know what to expect how conditions would be, the swim pattern, the bike mount zone and not to mention a beach run. But then as we’re running out to the first bouy where we would start the swim anxiety hit me. I could barely do three strokes without having to stop to breathe. I started doing a weird head above water breast stroke, side stroke combo. Once I got to the turn around though I felt much better and was finally able to swim normally and zoomed past everyone to the shore!
23415140_race_0.25631262029953683.displayThe bike portion was easy peasy. I was flying on my new bike, the back roads we were on were pretty, quiet and very little traffic. Not too many hills and fairly flat and fast. I loved it. Then the run. The run is my favorite part and it started off badly.
First, I read the athlete’s guide before the race cover to cover. One of the rules was, if you forget your bib number for the run, you will be disqualified. What do I realize as soon as I left the transition area? I forgot my bib number. SO for 3 miles I’m running along a soft sandy beach, glutes on FIRE, worried that my time won’t count and all this work was for nothing. Then I’m upset because I’m going so slow and I’m not doing as well as I know I’m capable of doing and I’m just mentally beating myself up.
All in all, I did not cross that finish line in smiles like I hoped. It took all I could to not cry as I packed up all my gear. But hind sight is 20/20 and I actually was a lot faster then I thought I was. I’m looking at this tri as a practice one for the Nantasket Tri next month in September. I have exactly 6 weeks from Sunday to kill it and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.
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Blue Apron

I’m constantly bombarded with ads on facebook for these companies that delivers pre-measured fresh chef-created recipe ingredients to your door. I’m sure you’ve seen them since there’s about a million of them out there right now, so A few weeks ago I set up my Blue Apron account, set my preferences (no vegetarian options, please I need my protein!), and waited for my first delivery to arrive via FedEx on a Friday evening.  You can choose for them to send servings for 2, 4 or 6 people per meal and they send three meals a week.  Shipping is always free and they charge $9.99 per person per meal. The food came in refrigerated boxes so even if you aren’t home when it is all delivered it will stay fresh until you get home (mine sat outside in the heat for 6 hours and was still cold when I opened it!)  I love the fact that I didn’t have to go to the grocery store for anything.

Blue Apron assumes you have salt and pepper and oil, but otherwise, they include everything you need to prepare a complete meal, from the butter in our mashed potatoes to the lime we needed for huevos rancheros, all with instructions that were written out step by step. I was pleased to see they are making a conscious effort to support sustainable practices with local farms when got the farm fresh eggs for those huevos rancheros.

I’ve enjoyed the experience so far with Blue Apron because it gets me to try new recipes that I wouldn’t otherwise make because why in the world would I ever think to buy Sambal Oelek and make Hoisoin-Glazed Chicken meatballs? (They were delicious by the way.) I tend to be a creature of habit and buy the same type of ingredients over and over again, and make some slightly different version of each dish. My only complaint is that, even though I’m not vegetarian some weeks they force you to have a vegetarian meal and while the meals aren’t that expensive I would like to have SOME protein with my meal for a balanced diet. You can see the what they have available a head of time though and skip a week if you want. I tend to get a box maybe once a month, especially since we’ve been so busy this summer and I don’t tend to get around to cooking all the time.

So far my favorites have been:

Huevos Rancheros (If you didn’t notice I mentioned them twice already 🙂 )

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Pan seared steak with smashed potatoes, snap peas and radish

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Turkey Steam buns with quick kimchi (picture from their site because mine didn’t look as pretty)

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Overall, I say give it a try! I haven’t had a meal that didn’t like at all. I have liked some more than others, but I haven’t really been disappointed!!!

Queue Queen: I want to ride my bicycle I want to ride my bike

Let’s be real, I never really understood the value of a good bike. Growing up I was thrilled when I got a brand new purple bike for Christmas. It was shiny and new and had streamers and probably a bell. It was also probably from Walmart, but I didn’t care because I just wanted to show it off around the neighborhood.

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Flash forward 15 years later, I’m 22 living in Columbus, OH and I decide I want a bike so that I can ride for exercise. I was all set to hop in my car to Target and buy another pretty purple bike (no streamers and bell this time…okay maybe a bell). My boyfriend at the time put a stop to that real fast and insisted I graduate from those bikes and get a real one. At the time I didn’t know what that meant, I had no idea that not all bikes were created equal and each type was made for a different type of riding. So I was convinced to go into our nearby Trek store and you can only imagine my sticker shock.
After my heart stopped racing a little bit, I decided on a nice blue hybrid bike. I was a bit too nervous to get a real road bike because the tires are so thin and there was no way I would be tromping through the woods on a mountain bike. I’ve had my bike for six years now (lets be honest, until last year it spent most of the time in a garage), and it’s been perfect for just riding around for fun.
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But in light of National Bike to Work Week, I officially became a bike commuter to work! It was a little scary at first because Boston is notorious for it’s horrible drivers and disrespect for road rules. Here’s some things that helped for me to relieve some city riding anxiety.
1. You DON’T need fancy gear. Skip the clip in shoes because unless you’re a pro, unclipping and reclipping every time you hit a light will become a pain. Stick with the basics, padded shorts (day two and my buns are sore!) and some flashy lights for at night.
2. Map out your route. Know where there’s bike lanes and where there isn’t. It also helps to know where you will have to change lanes so you’re not second guessing yourself while there’s a big garbage truck riding you back wheel.
3. This might seem pretty obvious but I see it ALL the time…DON’T wear headphones. It just is another distraction and it’s important to be aware at all times what’s going on around you. Seriously, I zoned out for two seconds this morning and almost got doored by someone getting out of their car.
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I’m super excited to start biking more, my first sprint triathlon is in August (more about that later!) and this biking thing isn’t as easy as a trip around the block!