Category Archives: Volunteering

Volunteering for the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the New York City Triathlon

I’m no stranger to volunteering. From Syracuse 70.3 to countless stints at Ironman Lake Placid, I’ve embraced the spirit of giving back to triathlon. After all, it’s given me so much, brought some phenomenal people into my life, and ultimately shaped who I am; the least I can do is peel off wetsuits and manage transition bags for a few hours. A few weeks ago, though, I had an unparalleled experience when I volunteered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) at the New York City Triathlon.

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Although several friends are involved with CAF and other likeminded non-profit organizations like Achilles, I had yet to volunteer for this type of group. The week of the race, my duties were routine:  I emailed my athlete, exchanged phone numbers, and answered a few questions he had about traveling from the airport to his hotel. Some of my responsibilities centered on these logistical uncertainties—how to get from the hotel to transition, how early to leave the hotel on race morning, etc.—and since I sort of did the race in 2013, I was able to answer course-specific questions.

This is where “standard” volunteer duties ended and paratriathlete handler responsibilities began.

On Saturday, the day before the race, we met at the mandatory briefing, which was held in Midtown Manhattan. There was a separate presentation for paratriathletes and their handlers, and I did my best to absorb as much information as possible: the classifications, the scoring system, etc. We also reviewed rules and identified appropriate instances and protocol for an athlete asking for help, and we continued this conversation as we brought our athlete’s bikes to transition to Riverside Park.

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Racing chair on the left (for the run) and handcycle on the right (for the bike)

There are several areas on the NYC Triathlon course that are not ideal for paratriathletes.  Luckily, since both my fellow handler and I had done this race, we were able to pinpoint a few problematic points, and in some cases, we were able to scope them out. When our athlete arrived at these spots during the race itself, he had to clearly ask for assistance (i.e. “May I please have some help here?”) so he would not get DQ’ed for receiving unsolicited help. Anyway, after getting his handcycle and chair situated in transition, we talked through our race-day plan once more and agreed to meet the following morning at 5:30 a.m.

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A unique aspect of the NYC Triathlon includes its transition setup: there are two (yellow and red) that run along the Hudson River, and your transition color dictates your swim wave. The yellow transition contained pro males and females, plus elite age groupers, all females, and a handful of dudes. After the final wave of the yellow transition was released into the Hudson, there was a 20-minute break, and then the paratriathletes were released at 7 a.m., which meant these folks had clear water. My fellow handler and I helped our athlete down the ramp to the swim start, and he simply exited his chair, and then we hightailed it 0.9 miles south to the swim exit and waited.

Now, I’ve worked swim exits many times. And yes, I am a total endurance sap who cries during every Ironman Lake Placid video. But I was on the verge of tears at the swim exit.

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Watching these strong, capable, absolutely relentless individuals swim 1K was incredibly humbling and inspiring. All too often, we get caught up in the data, paces, and accolades we chase while pursuing the perfect race. We worry about minutia: which goggles to wear, which ring to be in on a hill, when to take a gel. We analyze metrics. We obsess over those 15 seconds we lost in transition. And we take it for granted.

I’ve taken race experiences for granted. But seeing my athlete navigate this race in his chair—pushing him up the steel swim ramp exit, lifting him in his chair up four steps into transition, helping him back into his chair after he fell due to pockets of sand in transition—instilled a new sense of gratitude in me.  It also made me quite anxious. He entrusted me with parts of his race, and I wanted him to have the best day possible. This responsibility stressed me out—volunteering in this capacity allowed me to have a direct impact—but it gave me a greater emotional connection to his experience. And ultimately, this higher investment led to a greater “reward.”

If you have the opportunity to volunteer for one of these organizations, do not pass it up.

Game On!

Oh, Winter Storm Juno. As a native of Central New York, I really want to tell everyone to calm down; but I do understand the city cannot handle half a foot of snow.

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Eerily quiet and beautiful walk home by the High Line

And I’m all for an adult snow day.

Anyway, apologies for my lack-of-blogging phase. It’s been one of those months—seriously, how can January nearly be over?!—where I’ve been firing on all cylinders all the time. But since I’m hanging out and hunkering down today, there’s no time like the present. So fill up your water bottle, top off your coffee, and, well, hunker down for some updates.

As far as work goes, I’m nearing the end of a transition. I don’t talk about JackRabbit a lot, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been moving away from the outreach/event planning stuff to the digital editorial/social media side of things. Yes, this is a vague description, but these responsibilities are more along the lines of what I want to do long term. I’m working on several projects now (#vagueblogging), and in the words of one coworker, “you have a voice, and it matters a lot.”

Some of my BFFs/Girls’ Club colleagues have transitioned too, which is bittersweet. I’m pumped for them—after all, they’re doing big things!—but it stinks because a lot of “my people” won’t be around any more. It’s tough when your inner circle changes, and yes, I realize it’s incredibly rare to work with your friends.

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Rabbits at the Rescue Mission!

Thankfully, not everyone is leaving. This should go without saying, but the people I work with and the community we foster are why I love (working at) JRab. And on the bright side, I’m becoming friendlier with higher-ups, which is good. (Sidebar: One of my teammates recently wrote about transitions too.)

My triathlon training is undergoing a transition too. This came up in my off-season recap, but basically, my mindset, motivation, and outlook have totally changed. I’m enlisting different resources (Coach Pat, Tailwind Endurance, etc.), and I’m cutting out the toxic aspects of my training. “Toxic” may be a little harsh, but I can’t think of another word right now.

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Non-toxic decaf almond milk cappuccino

For better or for worse, certain people and atmospheres alter my internal dialogue, and although it’s OK during races and tough workouts, it is not a narrative I want to hear all the time. Last year, I needed this tough, in-my-face coaching, but I’ve matured as an endurance athlete. I’m getting better at using mantras, finding that “second wind” on my own, and basically tapping into what motivates me.

Who knew running fitness translates to semi-decent swimming? I mean, it makes sense. Both are full-body activities. And people will aqua jog if they’re injured and can’t run. But if you told me I’d not only survive, but swim somewhat respectably during my first 3,000 yarder since August, I would not have believed you. But that’s exactly what happened. And I threw down some semi-respectable times for the 100- and 400-yd. time trials.

My new obsession is escaping to a cabin and writing, writing, writing.

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Up, On, and Over

Ever since going to New Paltz, I’ve been craving more trails, more nature, more outdoors—basically, the polar opposite of New York City. Coincidence my quarter-life crisis is coming up?

Overall, though, 2015 is off to a solid start. I’m pumped to see what it brings, and in the mean time, I’m continuing to work hard and dial everything in. Game on!

New York Runners in Support of Staten Island

There are many types of running—running recreationally, running a marathon, running off the bike—and whether you’re a weekend warrior out for a quick jog or a devoted runnerd training for a new PR, it’s all about moving forward.  On Sunday, I joined a group of 1,300 fellow athletes to run through the streets of Staten Island and distribute supplies to those in need.  Through this literal act of putting one foot in front of the other, we helped the borough symbolically move forward post-Hurricane Sandy.

It was only after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the cancellation of the world-famous ING NYC Marathon on Friday evening that New York Runners in Support of Staten Island, a grassroots initiative, began to form.  Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, planned to run the 26.2-mile endurance event—as did 47,000 other runners—but used its termination as an opportunity to organize a runner-led opportunity to lend a hand.  He created a Facebook page that detailed the plan:  send runners—both those who trained to run the marathon and those who wanted to help—to the hardest-hit areas of Staten Island with non-perishable food, flashlights, blankets, batteries, and other items.  By Saturday afternoon, the webpage received more than 3,000 hits, and it now boasts more than 5,000 “likes.”

Word of the event also spread thanks to Twitter, which is how I discovered it on Saturday.  When the tweet appeared in my newsfeed, I knew joining this initiative would be the perfect way for me to help Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. (After my power was restored Friday evening, I started researching ways to lend a hand, but it seemed like a lot of the groups had enough people-power for their specific goals.) I’m grateful to have the passion, endurance, and physical capability to be able to run; running is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and if I can use my privilege to help others, then it’s a no-brainer–pay it forward.  After doing some research and filling out the survey—in which I signed up to run 8-10 miles and bring granola bars, toothbrushes, and tubes of toothpaste—I packed everything in a drawstring gym bag, laid out my running clothes, and set my clocks back an hour.

At 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, I arrived at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  According to the Facebook page, organizers wanted volunteers to arrive between 8 and 8:30 a.m.  Even at the early end of the meet-up timeframe, I couldn’t believe how many people poured into the terminal.

Around 8:30 a.m., Dr. Metzl discussed the general game-plan and identified some of the noteworthy donations:  600 garbage bags; 1,500 Home Dept gift cards; and 6,000 KIND Bars.

As he relayed this information, I met Christine who flew in from San Francisco to run the marathon.  Since we both signed up to run 8-10 miles, we decided to be buddies for the day and met Valerie, our of the team leaders. (When filling out the online survey, runners had the option of signing up for different mileage ranges:  6-8 miles; 8-10; 10-12; and 12-14 miles.)

Throughout the next hour, team leaders and lead organizers continued to pass along information and answer questions.

I also met Jessica, Robin, and Rachel; both Jessica and Robin are runners-turned-triathletes like me, and Rachel was training for this year’s marathon.  It was really nice getting to know all the ladies, and thanks to our running backgrounds, we had so much in common. (As the day progressed, I learned how much overlap there is between the NYC running and triathloning communities, which is awesome.) As we chatted away, the first wave of runners and walkers boarded the 8:30 a.m. ferry, and before long, it was 9:30 a.m. and time for us to head over.

[Jessica, Rachel, me, and Christine en route to Staten Island.]

Originally, our group planned to go to Susan E. Wagner High School, which was turned into a shelter, but there was a greater need for us farther inland at the Midland Beach Distribution Center.  After we disembarked the ferry, Valerie relayed this news and told us that running to this location would increase our total mileage from 10-ish to at least 12 miles roundtrip.  No one thought twice about it; we needed to go where we were needed the most.

Leaving the terminal and beginning to run led to an immediate sense of heaviness and desertedness.  There’s no doubt jogging with an extra 5-7 pounds caused this fatigue—which wasn’t that much compared to the 25-pound backpacks others lugged—but as our group headed farther and farther inland, this weight went from physical to emotional.  Trees were ripped from the ground, side streets were still flooded, and homes were completely destroyed.

At one point, we stopped to regroup, and I talked to a resident who asked why we were wearing orange and wondered what we were doing.  After I told him about our group and the initiative at large, he said where we were standing would’ve been the start line of the marathon.  Instead of sleek banners, there was a rack of discarded clothes with a sign:  “Take what you need.”

I don’t know how to articulate this juxtaposition and do it justice; I don’t know how someone could stand at that street and talk to these people and still hold the marathon and have zero guilt.

Eventually, we arrived at the Midland Beach Distribution Center, which spanned an empty parking lot.

At this point, Valerie told us to help in whatever way we could—distributing meals, sharing information, or simply talking to residents.

The girls and I went to the food area, grabbed cups of hot soup and bags of fresh bread, and started walking farther inland.

During the next three hours or so, I didn’t take any pictures.  I’m usually not shy about snapping photos, but yesterday, it felt like an invasion of privacy; these were homes and lives destroyed.  Seeing families faced with the daunting task of cleaning up their homes and rebuilding their lives served as a humbling experience.  These individuals will spend the next days, months, and years dealing with and recovering from Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.

At 1:30 p.m., our group reassembled and ran back to the ferry.

Even without the extra weight from our backpacks, it was still a heavy run back.  Although I was able to talk to Jessica, Valerie, and Robin about NYC triathloning, I also reflected on how extremely lucky I am:  to be part of the runner/triathlete community, to be unharmed by Hurricane Sandy, and to be able to help others.

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!

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?

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!

Paying It Forward

Hey, hey!  Happy Saturday!  I have some exciting news to share, so let’s zip through my workout and eats!

Workout

Man, I sure missed Ron yesterday, so I was extra pumped to go to spin class this morning.  After 45 minutes on the bike, I was in “the zone”—thank you, endorphins!—so I headed into the weight room and completed about 20 minutes of upper-body work.

Breakfast

Say hello to an old favorite—the best breakfast ever.

However, this isn’t your typical overnight oats in a jar.  Last night, I prepared overnight oats in a bowl (no almost-empty PB pars yet) using FAGE Total 2% yogurt (with strawberry jam in the mix), 1/3 cup Quaker Oats, and 1/3 cup almond milk.  Before digging in, I added about two spoonfuls of chia seeds and banana slices.

Lunch

We’re getting into food desert territory.  Around 1:30 p.m., I searched the fridge for signs of food.

An open-faced sandwich:  Two leftover pork medallions and hummus on a slice of Ezekiel bread.

Syracuse Ironman 70.3

So far, my transition from runner to triathlete has been incredible.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have several individuals and groups help me over the bumps and face the learning curve head-on; all the components of the triathlon community I’ve enlisted—Fleet Feet, Syracuse Bicycle, the CNY Triathlon Club—have been simply amazing.  Embarking on this fitness goal has been extremely nerve-wrecking—and, at times, it still is!—but everyone has been helpful, encouraging, and supportive.  I feel truly grateful to have both these individuals and mini-communities at my fingertips, ready and willing to offer help, advice, or guidance.

Since I’ve gained invaluable knowledge and constant support from this triathloning community, I’ve decided it’s time to give back:  Tomorrow morning, I will be body marking triathletes for the Syracuse Ironman 70.3.

Not only will this be my first time volunteering at a triathlon, but it will also be the first true triathlon I attend.  This is the ultimate win-win opportunity:  I give back to the community and learn from the best-of-the-best triathletes.  Volunteering will also give me a true “behind-the-scenes” look into what happens on raceday.  And let’s face it—right now, I might not be able to complete the Syracuse 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run), but simply being around these athletes will provide a burst of motivation and inspiration.

I have an extremely early wake up call tomorrow—volunteers must be on-site by 4 a.m., which means I need to get up at 3 a.m.—so my Saturday night will be spent sleeping.

Have you ever volunteered at the triathlon or other race?  What was your experience like?  Did you enjoy it?