Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fleet Feet’s RUNapoolza Race Recap

Guess who won third place in her age group at Fleet Feet’s first annual RUNapoolza?

We’ll get to that shortly!

RUNapoolza

I arrived at the SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College around 8:30 a.m.

As I took in the surroundings, I couldn’t help but to reflect what happened here four years ago.  Anyway, since I picked up my tech t-shirt and race bib yesterday, I got to bypass the registration lines this morning.

Preceding the 5-K race, the kids’ fun run kicked off the day at 9 a.m.

One poor guy tossed his cookies literally 100m from the finish line.  I felt so bad!  After the kids completed their 1-mile run, it was time for RUNapoolza to begin!  Although not completely flat, this two-loop route was reasonable; the only tough spot was a 300m gradual hill.

I love loop/out-and-back runs.  During the first loop, you can warm-up, assess the terrain, and take note of any hills and inclines; the second time around, you can truly attack the course.  These types of routes are a strength for me—as opposed to a cross-country/off-road course—so I mentally prepared to run the first loop comfortably fast and lay down the hammer on lap two.  Ultimately, I though this would be a good time to go for a new PR.

As the nearly 1,200 runners toed the start line, the emcee encouraged everyone to have fun, follow their limits, and most importantly, not to try to PR because the temperature was climbing—shortly before 9:30 a.m., it was close to 80 degrees.  This suggestion took me aback.  Yes, the race marshals knew the course and took the weather conditions into consideration, but I felt loose and ready to push myself; I didn’t feel like a PR—or, at the very least, a sub-24-minute finish—was out of the question.  I weighed my options, and I knew I couldn’t ignore the fact that this wasn’t my only race this week—I’m running the Cazenovia 4th of July 10-miler, and I’m tackling the Boilermaker 15-K a mere four days later.  With this in mind, I settled on not going for a PR; I wanted to push myself and get in a quality 5-K run, but I didn’t want to run this “like a race.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures during the race, but the race organizers totally decked out the course.  In addition to the water stations, there were a handful of musicians sprinkled around the loop who provided a good soundtrack and words of encouragement.  Fleet Feet volunteers also manned the route, clapping and cheering for the runners.  My favorite part of the course décor included the inspirational phrases written on the pavement.  The colored chalk made exclamations like “you’re my hero!” and “to do today: drink, run, drink” pop.  There were also a handful of technique points like “heel strike” and “go into glide mode.”  These phrases were a nice touch and definitely helped me stay focused and mentally in the race.

For the first 1.5-mile loop, I maintained a steady pace (I’m guessing around 8:20) and assessed the terrain.  Taking a cue from my iPod mishap during the Nate Race, I ran “naked”—or sans music—and without these beats numbing my senses, I was better able to tune into my body:  My calves were a little tight, but nothing to be concerned about; I knew I could run through it.  After the first lap, I slowly picked up the pace (maybe close to 8:10) and cruised through the downhill.  At this point, I went into a “running coma” of sorts; I really don’t remember anything until I approached the final water station.  This is when my inner-competitor started talking:  Carrie, what are you doing?  Let’s pick up the speed!  Far from exhaustion—my effort level notched in at a seven out of 10—I decided to go for broke and pick up my speed for the final 400m.  At the very least, this was a good opportunity to practice my finishing kick.  However, I knew this surge came too late to hope for one of my better times.  During the final 200m, I picked off five or six people and crossed the finish line:  unofficial time was 24:34.

While chugging water and eating two bananas, I watched other runners finish, and it was great to see so many folks who completed Fleet Feet’s No Boundaries Beginner 5-K program.  For the past 10-weeks, these individuals have been learning how to run and training for their first-ever 5-K race, and RUNapoolza served as the spring session’s culmination.  Way to go, everyone!

Around 10:15 a.m., the race results were posted:  With an official time of 24:24, I took third place in my age group!  No medals, but I received something more practical—a RUNapoolza pint glass!

At the post-race party, Enter the Haggis—a Canadian Indie/Scottish/folk rock world-fusion band—took the stage and performed before the prize drawing.

I’ve never heard of them before, but there were a ton of devoted fans jumping and singing in the crowd.

Overall, RUNapoolza was a ton of fun!  It definitely wasn’t the best race (time-wise) I’ve run, but it was a gorgeous day, the volunteers were super friendly, and the vendors—think SOS, New Balance, and Muesli Fusion—distributed some great swag.  When can I sign up for next’s year race?

Working Runapoolza Packet Pickup

Happy Friday, friends!  What could be better than a warm and sunny Friday?  Any fun plans for the weekend?  Tomorrow is race-day for me—I’m running Fleet Feet’s first annual RUNapoolza 5-K.

MaryBeth asked if I could work packet pick up this afternoon, and since I’m not one to pass up a volunteer opportunity or a trip to Fleet Feet, I said absolutely.  Around 11:40 a.m., I arrived at the store to help distribute race bibs and tech t-shirts.

Tech t-shirts are where it’s at!  Compared to cotton, they are much more comfortable for running.  Plus, what runner who doesn’t like sweat wicking apparel?  I opted for a men’s cut, so the tee will fit looser around my bust and ribcage.  Don’t worry, I didn’t overlook my all-even number; a bib that lacks an odd number is unsettling, but one without a single odd digit?  I’m trying not to think about it.  Anyway, packet pick up spanned from 12-6 p.m., and I worked the 12-3 p.m. shift.  In addition to race gear pick up, there were also one-of-a-kind RUNapoolza pint glasses available for purchase.

I might treat myself to one if I PR.  Keyword being “if”—we’ll see!

During the early afternoon, I’d guess around 200 people came to get their race gear, and I’m hoping more showed up later. (The number of runners who preregistered is in the 900-1,200 ballpark.) From a volunteer’s perspective, the more runners who preregister and pick up packets ahead of time, the better; it makes for much smoother logistics on race-day.  This is the first time I’ve taken advantage of early packet pick up, and knowing how easy it is—for both the runner and the volunteers—I will try my best to do this for every future race.

Workout

Before going to Fleet Feet, I went on a short 2-mile run this morning; I want to keep my legs fresh for tomorrow’s race, so “shakeout” jog defined easy and leisurely.

Breakfast

Say hello to the best breakfast ever.

For this batch of overnight oats in a jar, I used strawberry Oikos organic Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup Quaker Oats, and 1/3 cup vanilla almond milk.  I also sprinkled some chia seeds on top.

Lunch

Today’s midday meal was a little strange.  Since I worked packet pick up from 12-3 p.m., I ate lunch beforehand—around 11 a.m., which is super early for me.  I was pressed for time, so I didn’t take a picture, but I had a piece of last night’s leftover salmon, half of a banana, and some mini-pretzels dipped in almond butter.

Dinner

Dinners on the grill are the best.  Tonight, we had Wegmans kabobs.

Yummy chicken kabob!  Have a great Friday night!

The Return of Two-A-Days

Back during my high school field-hockey days, preseason practices meant the return of two-a-days:  mornings promised conditioning exercises and sharpening skills through countless drills; evenings brought inter-squad scrimmages.  Playing was my favorite.  It’s not that I didn’t like conditioning—as a budding runnerd, I enjoyed blowing past my teammates during our timed-mile tests—but scrimmaging was much more fun.  However, both morning and evening practices were integral to our team’s success as a whole. (FYI—Both the conditioning and scrimmaging totally paid off.  During my senior year, we won the sectional title!)

Although these glory days have come to an end, I’ve taken the concept of two-a-day workouts to heart:  Today, as an aspiring triathlete, I’m bringing brick sweat sessions, and today’s training scheduled called for swimming and biking.

Workout #1 – Swimming

Coming off of last night’s successful CNY Triathlon training series, I was psyched to get in the pool and become a better swimmer.  At the YMCA this morning, I completed a total of 24 laps, which equates to 400m.  Like last night, I managed to do the freestyle for the first 200m, but then I switched to a breaststroke-front crawl combo. (My goggles kept fogging up, so I had to stop multiple times and wipe them off before I could continue—anyone else have this problem?) On a whim, for the final two laps, I used a kickboard to isolate my legs, work on kicking, and fight through fatigue.  I sure felt the burn!  Swimmers, what drills or sequences do you recommend for a novice like me?  By mid-August, I would like to be able to swim 1000m comfortably because the Cazenovia Triathlon’s OWS is 800m.

Workout #2 – Biking with Women and Wheels

After I rinsed off and slammed an energy gel, I headed over to Panera Bread to meet up with Syracuse Bicycle’s Women on Wheels riding group.  Like last week’s ride, our group lucked out with the weather—warm temperatures (around 80 degrees) and plenty of sunshine (and sunscreen!).  Trish led the six-women strong, 22.5-mile ride, and I had a blast!

This Facebook status update pretty much sums it up.

There was a ton of triathlon, running, and fitness talk, and I also had an in-depth conversation with one lady about women’s reproductive rights:  She told me all about the research she’s conducting for her doctoral degree, and thanks to my Women’s Studies minor, I kept an informed and critical (but still appropriate for a fun bike ride) conversation going.  Check out this list of money-words we mentioned:  agency, advocates, voting, Gloria Steinem, activism, feminist activism.  Cycling and feminism?  Sounds like a win-win to me!

Dinner

Today’s uneventful eats included a familiar breakfast, lunch with my mom and sisters at King David’s (poor lighting ruined all my photos!), plus some carrot sticks, yogurt, and mini-pretzels with PB.  Cedar plank salmon with brown sugar and cracked pepper blend and roasted veggies were on tonight’s menu.

I’m obsessed with salmon, and this dish is no exception.

I’m off to find some fruit.  Have a great night!

Aquabiking It

Wednesday night means CNY Triathlon Club training for this aspiring triathlete.  Although this was only my second time attending—and attempting to complete a swim-bike-run combination—I can already feel my abilities improving and confidence growing.  Let’s break it down!

I arrived at Jamesville Beach around 5:30 p.m.  First off, I checked in and got my number.

Next, I set up my transition area; I positioned my bike and laid out my helmet, towel, sneakers, and socks before wiggling into my new Zoot wetsuit.

Even though I left my Bodyglide at home (really, Carrie?), the suit went on without a hitch.  Just as when I tried it on at Fleet Feet, I worked it over my left calf and my leg first; once the suit sat on my hip, I switched over to the right side.  I slipped into the sleeves—left, then right—zipped it up, and that was that!  As I headed down to the waterfront, I saw Mike helping out with swimmer counting!  He completed the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 this past weekend, and it was great to see a familiar face.

Last night, I waited until it was time for the third and final wave of swimmers to wade into the lake; there’s no way I can hang with the speedsters in the first two waves!  Like last training session, the triangular course included stops at three buoys, and the total loop allotted to 400m.  Somehow—let’s call it beginner’s luck—I took the lead of my wave and swim to the first buoy, which was positioned about 200m away.  That’s right—I did the front crawl for 200m straight!  I know this isn’t a big accomplishment for most triathletes, but this was a personal improvement from last time.  After making a right turn around the orange buoy, I changed to the breaststroke—and continued to alternate between the freestyle and breaststroke for the rest of the course—but this was progress.  Don’t get me wrong—I was still winded after finishing the 400m-triangle, and I still have a long way to go. (For the Cazenovia Triathlon, I’ll have to do an 800m OWS.) However, the combination of knowing what to expect, my new wetsuit, and a little more swimming stamina than last time made the course easier.  It’s all about improving a little bit.

In transition one (T1, changing from swimming to biking), I didn’t take my sweet time, but I also didn’t speed through stripping off my wetsuit, drying off my feet, and putting on my socks and shoes.  As I was wiping off my feet—the path from the beach to the transition area goes through sand, stones, and grass—I heard someone say something very basic, but it really resonated with me:  “Don’t worry about drying off your legs and your body—they will dry on the bike in no time.”  This seems like a “well, duh!” piece of advice, but I moved through T1 much quicker by not wiping down my arms and legs.

Going into the training session, I planned to do just the swim and bike, a combination known as “aquabike.”  A lot of triathlons offer this duathlon option, and since I went running already, I decided working on my two not-so-strong events would be a wise choice; since I’m relatively new to road biking and a total OWS rookie, I know I will benefit more from working out alongside others.  Knowing I had to bike 10.8 miles and would be done for the evening, I wanted to open things up:  after going to Women on Wheels last week, I feel much more confident riding and shifting; and since I’ve been spinning regularly, I’ve built my lower-body muscles that determine cycling success.  Overall, I wanted to push myself during the bike portion, but not empty my gas tank completely.  My mentality for the training session—and my overall triathlon mantra—was to (hypothetically) set myself up for a good run.

I felt like a completely different cyclist tackling the course than during the first training session.  I knew the path, I had a good idea of its terrain, and I felt more comfortable biking, steering, and changing gears.  I actually passed lots of people, a few of whom I overtook on hills!  Other bikers still passed me, but fewer than during the previous training session.  One of the evening’s highlights was when an older gentleman rode alongside me after we climbed a hill.  “You sure looked good on that hill!” he exclaimed.  “I tried to pass you, but you tackled that hill and made it look so effortless!”  Later, before he set out on his run, he said more of the same:  “I can’t believe how easily you climbed that hill—you totally broke away from me!”  Again, let’s call it beginner’s luck.

Not only did I have a total blast at the training session, but I also know I’m improving:  The swim, although still challenging, was a little easier; my time in T1 was shorter and spent more effectively; the bike was actually a lot of fun; and running is my first love—I’m beginning to experience firsthand how so many people get hooked on triathloning.

There’s no training next week because of the 4th of July, but I will be more than ready to take on the course on July 11.

PS – In terms of the job search, I have an interview with a diet and fitness publication!

Are You a Runner or a Jogger?

Good morning!  And Happy Hump Day!  How’s your morning shaping up so far?  While I sipped coffee, checked emails, and read blogs, I found this gem on Pinterest:

Going by these definitions, I’m definitely a runner.  I try to avoid routes that contain a ton of stoplights all together because it messed with my rhythm, but if I do encounter a standstill spot, I will take a breather; I figure I’ve earned it!  Not that there’s anything wrong with moving at spotlights, crosswalks, and intersections, but I need to conserve my energy.  I also like to think of myself as being “in the zone”—I hope I don’t look peeved!  Tell me:  Are you a “runner” or a “jogger”?  When I played field-hockey and ran track in high school, my teammates and I made sure to keep moving at all times when we were near the school—we were afraid our coaches would see us not running and make us run more!

Breakfast

Another favorite made an appearance today.

I scrambled two eggs and added some spinach and red peppers.  S&P and Tabasco topped the scramble, plus a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread.  This combo never lets me down.

Have a good morning!

What a Bummer

Hey, everyone!  How’s your Tuesday night shaping up?  Originally, I planned to go to Women on Wheels at 6 p.m., but when I arrived at the meet-up location, there was no one to be found.  I kept my fingers crossed and waited about 15 minutes, but no dice.  Between my unsuccessful attempts swimming at the YMCA and now no biking with Women on Wheels, it’s been a tough couple of days for my triathlon workouts.  What do you do when your workout plans fall through?  Normally, I would’ve gone for a ride solo or went for a run, but my parents were going out to dinner, so I decided to join them.

Dinner

We hit up Circa, our local favorite, around 7 p.m.  I quenched my thirst with a glass of New Age white wine.  Served on the rocks with a slice of lime, this light vino was super refreshing.  Two thumbs up!

For my main meal, I selected a spicy shrimp and Asian vegetable medley.

And now it’s time to break out the frozen grapes.  Have a great night!

T-Shirt Quilt, Here I Come!

Hiya!  I hope you’re having a great Tuesday so far.  I write bearing great news for fellow t-shirt hoarders—I packed up my t-shirts and sent them away to be made into a quilt!

I arranged my quilt a few times before I was satisfied.  I’ll be the first to admit I have way too many shirts, but the number of white and grey ones I have is obscene.  I did my best to spread around colored tees to make the quit visually appealing.

These pictures are missing the final row of t-shirts because I’m doubling up and using both the fronts and backs of six. (The Post-It notes in the previous picture mark which t-shirts will have both fronts and backs used.) After assembling my design and picking shades for sashing and backing, I stuffed all 30 t-shirts into the bag.  The package probably weighs about four pounds.  Who knew tees could be so heavy?

Breakfast

I had an old favorite for today’s morning meal.

Two Kashi waffles with PB and slices bananas.  I spread one waffle with crunchy PB and the other with smooth because *drumroll* I have an almost-empty jar of PB for overnight oats!

Workout

After yesterday afternoon’s lap swimming fail, I went the YMCA around 10 a.m.  I figured the morning rush (5:30-8:30 a.m.) would be gone and the summer swimming lessons wouldn’t have started yet.  I was wrong.  A water aerobics class occupied three lanes, and the leftover ones were all taken.  Glahhh.  On the drive home, I decided it was time to put on my big-girl pants, hop into our pool, and do my best to swim laps in our oblong-spaced basin.  For 20 minutes, I alternated between the freestyle and breaststroke, and I tried to take minimal rest; at the beginning of the workout, I could swim only three lengths before taking a breather, but by the end, I worked up to five.  That’s progress, right?  As I was closing in on the 20-minute mark, I spotted a rat in the pool—gross!  I finished up my lap, used the pool skimmer to remove said animal, and called it a day.  Have you ever had an animal encounter in a pool, lake, or stream?  What did you do?

Lunch

I showered and threw together a salad for lunch.  I was craving baked tofu, so I followed Caitlin’s recipe.  I snacked on some red peppers and hummus while the tofu was in the oven.

Spinach, baked tofu, carrots, and red peppers.  Yummy!

I also had a peach for dessert.

For my second workout of the day, I’m going to Women on Wheels tonight.  Enjoy the rest of your afternoon!

Reflections and Afterthoughts from Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, Part II

Whew, I can’t believe the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse was only two days ago!

I had a blast volunteering, cheering, and watching the triathletes complete the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run.  Since there is now some distance between the event and my initial reaction, I want to articulate some additional reflections and afterthoughts.

Happiness, belonging, pride – After my first job as a body marker, I spent the rest of the day with volunteers from Fleet Feet. (Someone asked if I was a “Fleet Feet girl,” and it killed me to say no!) Since I’ve been to Fleet Feet more times than I can count, a few of the girls recognized me, and it was awesome hanging out with a group of people who love fitness, specifically triathlons, as much as I do.  And since MaryBeth works at Fleet Feet part-time, everyone got to know me as “Carrie, MB’s cousin.”

Everyone had nothing but great things to say about her—as both a person and triathlete—and I felt so proud watching her kick some Ironman butt.

Inspiration, motivation, drive – The pro athletes—and a lot of the age groupers, like MB—populate an elite level of physical fitness, and it was inspiring to watch them complete this journey.  As they crossed the finish line, a bunch of them looked good, as if they could’ve kept running. (Most do, for this was an half-Ironman/Ironman 70.3; a full Ironman entails a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.) However, there were a ton of “everyday” people competing, too.

Seeing them complete this race sparked some personal motivation; if they can do it, then I can do it.

Inadequacy, laziness – Watching each and every athlete embark on this journey was awe-inspiring, but with it came sense of inadequacy.  These individuals completed a half-Ironman; they swam, biked, and ran anywhere from 4:16 to 8-plus hours straight—the only thing I’ve done for 8 consecutive hours is sleep!  Moreover, it made me question my workout plan and fitness outlook.  The individuals train hard and diligently for the 70.3.  Comparatively, in the words of my high school basketball coach, I seem to be “farting around” with my workouts.  Sure, I run, bike, lift, etc., but not at the level that would adequately prepare me to finish a half-Ironman.  But I’m starting to accept that it’s OK—I have yet to complete an official sprint triathlon!  In terms of my triathlon training, I’m starting at the beginning, learning the ins and outs of the event, and building my swim-bike-run endurance; I’m guessing most of Sunday’s triathletes have completed multiple sprint and/or standard/Olympic-distance triathlons.  However, I know if I made completing a 70.3 Iron one of my fitness priorities, I would make it happen.  But since it’s not on this summer’s calendar, I can still attack my workouts with more intensity, vigor, and dedication than before.

Every shape and size … – It’s so surprise the pro male and female athletes—and a lot of the age groupers—have enviable physiques:  chiseled shoulders, defined arms, and strong legs.  These individuals definitely looked like triathletes, but there were athletes of every shape and size who tackled the course—extremely tall, pocket-friend short, (sadly) dangerously slim, football player-like hulkiness, you name it.

This proves that everyone—and literally every body—can train, compete, and complete an event like an Ironman 70.3.  Now that’s inspiring!

… and every age – From body marking and holding swim wave signs, I got a pretty good visual of who participates in triathlons.  When I body marked, I met only one 22-year-old guy who was competing; the youngest female athlete I marked was 26, and the majority of individuals were between the ages of 30-45.  During the swim starts, the 30-35-year old men were broken up into two separate waves (based on their last names) because there were so many of them.  Out of curiosity, I studied the race results, and only 13 women comprised what would be my age group (18-24), most of whom were 24.  Interestingly, the youngest men seemed to be 26, and the biggest groups seemed to be the 30-35 divisions for both genders.  I’m guessing age 26 is the first big group because these individuals have graduated college, have jobs, and have settled into a routine that includes triathlon training.  I think it’s difficult to find a tri-community in a college setting, and plus, most college students are busy … being college students if you know what I mean.  Moreover, training for a half-Ironman is a yearlong fitness endeavor.  Right now, I have no idea where I’m going to be in one year or what I’m going to be doing, while the 26-year-olds have established lifestyles.  With this in mind, I think training for and completing an Ironman 70.3 is definitely feasible down the road.

From volunteering, spectating, and/or competing in triathlons, have you noticed similar things?

Finding a Wetsuit, Take Two

Remember that time I tried to buy a wetsuit?  Remember how I walked away empty-handed and covered in sweat?  Well, not this afternoon—I am happy to report that Carrie not only got on the wetsuit without sweating up a storm (there was some sweating involved, though), but she also walked away with a winner!  Carrie: 2, Wetsuit: 1.  Yahtzee!

Fleet Feet

I walked into Fleet Feet, aka my second home (which isn’t a bag thing!) with a definitive plan:  I knew exactly which suit I needed to try on, and since I now consider myself a rookie-no-longer in wetsuit dressing, the process went fairly smoothly.  First, I applied Bodyglide on “exposed skin,” or skin the wetsuit would touch directly.

Triathletes apply this balm on their legs, arms, shoulders, and back like deodorant.  Essentially a skin lubricant, Bodyglide creates an invisible non-greasy barrier between the wetsuit and skin, thus protecting against rubbing, blisters, and chafing.  It also makes it a heck of a lot easier to strip off the suit after swimming.

Next, I put on Fleet Feet’s “wetsuit gloves” that would help me grab, pull, and smooth out the suit, and I slowly worked the suit up my left leg.  As soon as I had the suit over my calf, I knew it was the one.  Girls, you know how you get that feeling when you’re trying on your prom dress?  Runners, you know that feeling when you lace up soon-to-be-yours sneakers?  I could’ve taken the suit off and bought it immediately; I just knew it was my tri wetsuit.  Anyway, once the suit sat on my hip, I started working on the right leg.  So far, so good!

I slipped my left arm into the sleeve and used my gloved right hand to pull and smooth out the area.  Finally, I slid into the right sleeve, wiggled in, and admired my handiwork.

Women’s Z Force Zoot for the win!

Let’s shift gears and take a peak at today’s workout and eats.

Breakfast

After I drank two cups of coffee, I made a simple bowl of cereal around 8:30 a.m.

In the mix:

1/2 cup Fiber One Honey Clusters

1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean

two spoonfuls of chia seeds

almond milk

Workout

Around 12:30 p.m., I headed out for a 5.26-mile out-and-back run.  Overall, I did not run smart today:  I’m still sore from standing all day at the Syracuse Ironman 70.3, and I started way too fast. (Subconsciously, I think I was imagining I was one of the pro women triathletes!) My legs felt good for the first two and a half miles, but I couldn’t sustain the pace.  After, I did about 20 minutes of upper-body work and ab exercises.

On this week’s workout schedule, I also penciled in a swim for today, so I headed over to the YMCA after I bought my wetsuit.  Unfortunately, it was primetime for kids’ swimming lessons, and the youngins occupied all the lanes.  Rats.  I was experiencing such a wetsuit purchase-induced swimming high, too.

Lunch

Following my run, I had leftover salad plus red peppers from last night’s family dinner as an appetizer.

I also ate a bowl of rice and beans with spinach.

Mid-Afternoon Snacks

When I got home from the YMCA, I had a banana and Chobani yogurt.

Dinner

My parents and I enjoyed some clams as an appetizer.

For the main course, we had almond encrusted tilapia and roasted asparagus.

This is one of my go-to meals when I’m cooking for myself.

Enjoy your night, friends!

Volunteering for the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman, Part I

Hey, everyone!  I hope you had a restful weekend!  As you know, I spent Sunday volunteering for the Syracuse Ironman 70.3—what an amazing experience!  I’m still teasing out some reflections, afterthoughts, and takeaways, so look for that post later today.

Day as a Volunteer

2:50 a.m. – Woke up before my alarm went off—I was that excited!

3:00-3:20 a.m. – Got dressed, chugged two cups of coffee, and ate a banana—there was no way I could stomach a “real” breakfast at this hour.

3:30 a.m. – Left the house.  It was still dark.

3:57 a.m. – Arrived at Jamesville Beach Park.  I was one of the first volunteers who arrived, so I waited in my car for about 15 minutes.

4:15-4:20 a.m. – Congregated at the volunteer tent with fellow body markers and reviewed the proper procedure:  With our permanent markers, we would write each triathlete’s race number, or bib number, vertically on both arms and both thighs; on their left calf, we would write their race age. (For the professional athletes, we just had to mark a “P” on their calf.)

4:30 a.m. – Assembled outside the transition area and began marking the early-bird athletes.

5:15 a.m. – MaryBeth arrived!

She came right over, gave me a hug, and I marked her appropriately.  We chatted for a few minutes, and then she went to layout her transition gear, get into her wetsuit, and prepare for the race.

5:00-6:30 a.m. – About 20 people comprised our body marking team, and in total, we marked around 1,100 athletes.  I even got to mark one of the professional (and very cute!) men!  Although the conversations were relatively short, I really enjoyed welcoming each athlete to the competition, shooting the breeze, and talking about the triathlon. (The big question of the day was if wetsuits would be permitted, and I got to break the good news that the water temperature was 75.3 degrees, which meant it was wetsuit-legal.) There were more men competing than women, but I probably marked an equal number of each.  One interesting thing I noticed during this process:  nearly all of the female athletes sought out female body markers, but the men didn’t seem to gravitate toward same-sex markers; in fact, I marked several very fit and good looking 25-35-year olds.  It was a tough job, but someone had to do it!

6:45 a.m. – Headed down to the waterfront to help out with the wave organization.

In order to reduce congestion in the water and traffic on the bike/run course, triathlons began with wave starts for the swim. Divisions are broken up into “professional” groups (known as the “pros”) and age groups (individuals referred to as “age groupers”).  Since the pros finish the triathlon the quickest, they have the earliest starting time for the swim.  Down at the shore, I held up a sign for the women’s pro swim wave. (In this picture, the pro women waited outside the corral because the pro men occupied it.  After the men took off, the women filed into the area, and the next group moved up.)

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Thirteen women stood in front of me, and it was crazy knowing they were some of, if not the fittest women I’ve ever seen in-person.

7 a.m. – After the National Anthem, the male pros were off.

7:03 a.m. – The professional women started three minutes (I think) after the men.

7:10 a.m. – MB’s wave started, so I snapped a few pictures.  I lost her in the crowd, but I think she took a starting position on the left.

7:23 a.m. – The first pro men finished the swim.  This is insane—they swam 1.2 miles in 23 minutes!  The pro women had an astonishing showing as well—the first swimmer finished in 24 minutes, and the other pro women posted times around 25-28 minutes. (There’s a generally accepted notion that the person who places first in the swim rarely/never wins the overall triathlon, and this hypothesis held true at the Syracuse 70.3:  Two male pros completed the swim in 23:10, but they placed fourth and sixth overall.  The female won finished the swim took second place overall.)

7:30 a.m. – Watched the rest of the waves begin.  During the starts, I stood near the lifeguard tower, manning the chip/swim cap station with a few other volunteers (in case an athlete lost their swim cap, misplaced their chip, etc.), which was about eight feet from the starting line.  As each wave inched to the corral, the group engulfed the lifeguard tower and volunteers, and we would be standing next to the athletes, which was pretty cool.  Let’s just say I especially enjoyed being surrounded by the 25-29 and 30-35 men’s waves—just a perk of being a volunteer!

7:40 a.m. – Headed over the wetsuit stripping area to lend a hand.  As each athlete completes the swim, most will start unzipping and taking off their wetsuit as they jog to the transition area; this multitasking—covering ground and transitioning—eliminates wasting precious time.  As a wetsuit stripper, I help up my hand and yelled  “Wetsuit peeler!” and “Wetsuit stripper!” to the athletes as they exited the water. (Holding a hand shows the athlete you’re available.) As the athlete approached, they would most likely have their wetsuit taken off to their waist, and it was my responsibility to get them to sit down and literally tear off the suit.  Needless to say, I couldn’t take any pictures, but here’s what a wetsuit peeling station looks like:

Something interesting about this process:  The majority of female triathletes sought out female wetsuit peelers, and most male competitors went to male peelers.  I was stationed next to a guy peeler, and nearly all the male athletes bypassed me and went to him.  Also, not all athletes took advantage of the peeler volunteers. (I can’t say if the pros used peelers because I was still watching the wave starts.) Those who did were extremely grateful—nearly everyone said thank you.

I saw MB come out of the water, and she was in the zone.  I was hanging out with the Fleet Feet group of volunteers, where MB works part-time, so nearly all of the volunteers knew her or knew of her, so as soon as she exited the water, our group’s coordinator took over:  “Here comes MB!  You two, peel her!  MB, we’ve got two peelers for you right here!”

8:40 a.m. – Got some rest, ate breakfast—I brought a Kashi granola bar from home and grabbed an apple and banana from the food vendor—and hung out by the volunteer tent.

9:30 a.m. – The first male pros finished biking, returned to the transition area, and set off on the 13.1-mile run.  Again, I still cannot believe the athleticism these guys possess—they biked 56 miles in basically two hours!  The first biker took 2:09 to cover the course, and he had a solid, three-minute lead on the second place athlete.  The top pro women took around 2:21-2:28, which is super impressive.  As to be expected, there was a gap between the pros and age groupers, and MB was with the first overall “wave” of women to finish the ride.  Our group cheered for her as she ran by and set off on the 13.1-mile run.  There were several CNY Triathlon members competing, and it was easy to pick them out (and cheer extra loudly!) because of their CNY Tri tops.

10:50 a.m. – Continued to camp out by the transition area and watched Joe Gambles, the first pro male, cross the finish line—in 3:53:51!

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Seeing his half-marathon splits is astounding; after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles, he ran 5:40 miles!  Canada’s Angela Naeth took first for the women, posting an overall time of 4:16:27.

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I still cannot wrap my head around her splits—6:21 miles!

12:00 p.m. – Headed over to the finish line to watch MB cross.  She wanted to break 5:20 (conservative for her), so I assumed my post at what would be 4:55 for her. (She started her swim at 7:10 a.m., so I adjusted the overall time accordingly.) I’m glad I headed there early—she came charging in at 5:03!

I found her in the athlete tent afterwards, and we talked and recapped the race for a bit—she thinks I can do the Syracuse 70.3 next year!  I’ve added a half-Ironman (Ironman 70.3)/the Syracuse 70.3 to my fitness bucket list!