Tag Archives: Ironman Lake Placid

Ironman Lake Placid 2015: Flying Unattached

A few weeks ago, I once again fled New York City and retreated north to Lake Placid for the iconic Ironman weekend. If you’ve been reading a while, then you may remember I’ve been on-site for this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run in both 2013 and 2014. Even though it’s become a staple trip, this adventure ended up being much different.

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Let’s recap quickly: in 2013, a friend and I went to train, volunteer, and cheer for one of our fellow teammates. After the race, my friend registered for the 2014 event, and I jumped at the chance to venture back and be her Sherpa. In 2014, my primary focus centered on fulfilling Sherpa/emotional guardian duties, so not a lot of training got logged.

This year, I knew the most people doing Ironman Lake Placid—there were 12 people loaded into my tracker app—but I was not “responsible” for anyone. Of course, I told everyone I’d be available, but typical Sherpa duties like going to packet pickup and organizing gear backs did not apply. I could do whatever I wanted—swim! Bike! Run! Sleep!—whenever I wanted. Case in point: upon arrival on Thursday, I took my time unpacking before heading to Mirror Lake. The lake was there. I was going to swim whenever I was going to swim—but I 100 percent would, of course.

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It was absolutely ridiculous how happy I was swimming here. #ThisIsOurLab

There was no schedule, and although I did a little work, the only real structure I had centered on my workouts. Friday ended up being a monster training day that resulted in an unintentional 66.2. Doesn’t have the same ring as a 70.3, but it was still a solid day: fifty-six miles on the bike course, nine miles on the run course, and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Saturday saw another loop both the bike and swim courses. Hands down, this was the most productive training block I had in Placid (aside from WorkLiveTri Camp in June), and there’s no way it would’ve happened if Sherpa-ing had been my number one priority. Plus, it was perfectly timed because Nationals (a.k.a. #Hammerfest2015) was two weeks out.

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As seen on my long run.  Definitely not in NYC anymore.

Placid always helps me get some quality headspace: chilling out, reflecting on life, and getting my creative juices flowing. Since I was doing my own thing (and not acting as a pre-race logistics coordinator), I was truly able to enjoy the physical and mental distance from the city. Even though I worked everyday, it still felt like a vacation. Case in point: my boss told me to go ride for a few hours and start thinking about an upcoming project. Brainstorming … in the saddle … in Lake Placid. Yep, I’m definitely working for the right people.

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Total bliss

From a pre-race standpoint, this trip clearly panned out differently. Not better, not worse. It was just incredibly different.

Onto race day.

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As a volunteer, I had an absolute blast. Not surprising, of course, but it was the most fun I’ve had as a wetsuit stripper.

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Race French braids for race day … even though it was not my race … yet.

I recognized folks from previous years, and I also peeled off a ton of neoprene—and have the battle scars to prove it! One of the highlights of the day was being tipped a wet and sandy dollar bill for my efforts as a wetsuit “stripper.” I also spotted all of my friends exiting the swim so it was a great morning.

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As a spectator, I experienced the normal Ironman race-day emotions—inspired, worried, humbled, anxious—and enjoyed the day as friend and fellow athlete and not as an emotional guardian. Don’t get me wrong; there were tough moments. But for the most part, everything was less intense than last year, which makes total sense. After all, in 2014 I trained with them everyday so I was more emotionally invested in their race. That simply wasn’t the case this year. Even though I tracked my now Ironpeople obsessively, that all-consuming connection didn’t exist. I obviously cared, but it was nice to watch a race without that amount of heightened emotions.

Finally, you don’t go into Ironman weekend with any expectations, but my people this year were the most outwardly grateful. (I say “outwardly” because it isn’t in everyone’s nature to say “thank you” multiple times.) One of the most memorable moments was when my friend entered the Olympic Oval, made his way to the finish line, but stopped, gave me a hug, and thanked me for being there.  That selfless act was easily a highpoint of the weekend.

Every though taking on the Ironman there tempts me every year, I did not sign up—and I will not for another 10 years. This will absolutely be my race, but it’s not time for it yet. So rest assured, folks; I’m stick with short-course events for the foreseeable future.

Change has defined this season, but Placid always reminds me why I do what I do: I feel alive when I swim, bike, and run, and I feel like the best version of myself.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 20 (Week 29)

This sign can only mean one thing.

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Another trip to Placid Paradise for the iconic Ironman Lake Placid weekend!

General training notes: With a certain “A” race inching closer and closer (*cough* #Hammerfest2015 *cough*), this week served as my final high-intensity training span, which was perfectly timed with a trip to Lake Placid. I really got after it up there on all fronts and was happy with how the weekend played out—in terms of workouts and Ironman happening. No, I did not sign up. I’m not touching that distance for another 10 years.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

So Coach Pat’s 3×2-mile repeats did not go as planned. I cranked out the first set and struggled to hold the prescribed pace, and although I started the second set, I could not finish it. My legs felt dead and totally zapped of any energy.

Wednesday – a.m. run

No humidity means no problem! Easy five miles that felt much better than yesterday’s outing.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim IN MIRROR LAKE

VO2 max build pyramid: one-minute, two-minute intervals, etc. all the way to five minutes (with equal rest) and then back down again. After an uneventful drive to Lake Placid, I hopped in Mirror Lake for one loop of the swim course.

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!  But this training day helped demystify the distance a bit …

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!

Saturday – a.m. bike; p.m. swim

Logged another loop of the course with a friend in the morning at a leisurely pace and hit up Mirror Lake again that afternoon for 1.2 miles.

Sunday – off

But I did have a full day on my feet volunteering and cheering at Ironman Lake Placid. Full recap coming soon!

What did you do this weekend?

Getting Perspective in Lake Placid

About a month ago (yikes, I should’ve published this sooner), I packed as many synthetic socks, PowerBar gels, and Smashfestqueen cycling kits as possible into my backpack, vacated the Big Apple, and retreated north to Lake Placid for a triathlon training camp with the awesome Work Live Tri folks.

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Wheels up.  Lake Placid, here we come!

As a kid, I attended basketball, softball, and field-hockey camps during the summer, but I had yet to go off the grid and escape to this type of atmosphere as an adult. And I was so excited! Spending quality time swimming, biking, and running in paradise helped me regroup post-bike crash, refocus my tri training, and ultimately rediscover my motivation—in terms of triathlon and life.

Lake Placid will always be my happy place.

Long before I heard of triathlon, my high school basketball team traveled to this area of the Adirondacks for a holiday tournament. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but we made memories that we still talk about today—like that time we broke the hotel bed. My family has also made the trek up for a few daytrips, so my first impressions of Placid centered on quality time with friends and loved ones.

Fast-forward a few years to when I discovered the swim-bike-run world—and Ironman.

In 2013, I experienced this epic race weekend for the first time. They say if you watch an Ironman in-person, you’ll have one of two reactions: it’s either “yes, I am so doing this one day!” or “I will absolutely never do this, ever.” Training, volunteering, and spectating lit my 140.6 flame; even though I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my head around the 2.4-mi. swim, 112-mi. bike, and 26.2-mi. run, I knew then and there Lake Placid would be my Ironman. The atmosphere during race week was unlike anything I had witnessed, which says a lot coming from me as a former collegiate athlete. And training amongst trees, rivers, and mountains was also unlike anything I had experienced. Paradise had officially been found.

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View from my room:  home is where the lake is.

In 2014, I became even more familiar with Ironman training and Lake Placid itself when I functioned as a full-fledged Sherpa/emotional guardian. Everything that happened last year—watching the training, seeing the sacrifices, and becoming invested in the journey—highlighted just how inspiring it is to do an Ironman. And actually being there on race day—volunteering as a wetsuit peeler, getting swept up in the emotions, and celebrating the accomplishment—further solidified my desire to tackle Lake Placid one day.

Thanks to these memories, I could not wait for training camp.

The environment motivates me.

My bike crash resulted in some serious training funk, and I hoped retreating to my happy place would restore my spirits. And did it ever.

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Almost too beautiful to be real

Training camp centered on long-course athletes doing Lake Placid and Ironman Mont Tremblant, so I knew most, if not all, of my workouts would be logged solo. Aside from the first ride, I basically did my own thing and embraced the headspace.

Swimming in Mirror Lake and cycling through blink-and-you-miss-them towns was absolute bliss. Lately, I’ve been feeling uninspired by the NYC training grind, so I appreciated the sunshine, the clear skies, the mountains, and the breathtaking rivers even more. Finding inspiration in your surroundings is powerful: this is how training should be. This is why I love it.

The journey motivates me—and the feeling motivates me.

Each time I wiggled into my wetsuit and jumped into Mirror Lake, I found my groove quickly. Residual bike crash/rib flare-ups simply did not make themselves known. For the first time since wiping out, I felt natural in the water. I can’t believe it feels this easy—and this blissful. When I swim for distance, my mind wanders and eventually finds a zen space; and as I made my way to the other side of the lake, I felt grateful: to have the body and health that allow me to swim; to have supportive and genuine people in my life; and to physically be in such a gorgeous and peaceful place. Then I remembered where I was—physically, mentally, and emotionally—this time last year, and I was humbled by how much I’ve grown.

Each time I pumped up my tires and buckled my helmet, I felt excited and inspired to ride; these feelings have been missing since my crash. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect mentally during these solo rides, but Placid lifted whatever post-crash barrier was holding me back. I just rode and reacted to the course. I felt “at one” with the bike. My mojo returned!

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Signs of a successful smashfest.  Picture this setup on ten different bikes.

I didn’t think about the crash, but I spent a lot of time reflecting on last year’s training. For whatever reason, I was lucky enough where everything fell into place pretty perfectly. Although I knew it during the season, I didn’t truly realize how rare it is. It never happens like that. While out there on the course, I discovered an even greater sense of appreciation for last year, especially since transition has defined my training this year.

Basically, each time I thought about where I was at this point last year—in terms of training, work, and life—I felt incredibly humbled, grateful, and motivated. Even though I try to focus on the feeling during training, I definitely fell victim to the numbers game: chasing swim splits, becoming obsessed with power wattages, wanting faster run paces. If you’re looking to compete, this is part of the sport, but the trip to Placid reminded me I simply love the lifestyle: swimming, biking, and running. And really, that’s what it’s all about.

Teams and training groups have different vibes.

For the past two years, I logged essentially all of my triathlon training with a team, but I broke off and am currently doing my own thing. Because I have diversified my “triathlon arsenal”—it now includes folks from a masters swim team and my CompuTrainer studio—I’ve gotten to know, learn from, and train with new people, which has been beneficial for both my triathlon and “real” lives. And going to Lake Placid with a new-to-me group was an eye-opening experience. Prior to the long weekend, I knew only the coach and one other woman, but everyone welcomed me into the tribe with open arms. I’ve trained and become friendly with a lot of people in the triathlon community here over the years, and the Work Live Tri folks were absolutely top-notch individuals. (On a related note, this trip made me realize my old team dynamics/dysfunction is not normal, but that’s neither here nor there.)

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Also not normal:  having Podium Legs at your disposal.  I used them so frequently there was an inside joke about going through withdrawal.  I sort of did.

“There is comfort in that grind. I get solace and a sense of self out of that, but that’s not my life right now. And I’m OK with that. I’ve been nudged to do this kind of stuff, and I’m happy to do it, and I love it.” –Rich Roll

Overall, Placid reminded me that triathlon is about the journey, the progress, and the relentlessness to be better. “Unplugging” from power and swimming by feel highlighted how much I love this sport at its core. Although racing provides an opportunity to tangibly track progress, I don’t need to compete.

Aware of this front-of-mind perspective, I thought about Rich Roll’s recent podcast with Josh LaJaunie, specifically the abovementioned quotation. A lot of Rich’s ideas resonate with me, and when I listened to this statement, I felt like he had a birds eye view of everything that’s going on in my life. (Sidebar: Rich, will you be my life coach?) Even if I don’t have a race coming up, I’ll always find a strong sense of self when I swim, bike, and run, and it will always be an aspect of my lifestyle.

I say this because there’s an opportunity at work (#vagueblogging), and I want to immerse myself in it 150 percent. What’s on the horizon is reinvigorating my work life and giving me a strong sense of self and purpose. And honestly, I haven’t felt this excited and focused since … the only instance that comes close is Honors Week during college.

That’s not to say racing doesn’t matter any more, obviously. I definitely associate triathlon with who I am. But now, my #workflow also comprises my best, most authentic self (#fangirl).

“Congratulations, you’re a human being. It’s not going to be perfect.” –Rich Roll

In mid-June, Rich came to one of our stores for a social run and book signing, and he also hosted an informal Q-and-A session. As a self-professed fangirl, I took notes, and this quotation hit home.

Life brought a lot of changes this year—tri life, work life, and actual life—and coming off a nearly perfect 2014 training cycle, these transitions seemed even bumpier. My swimming, biking, and running essentially took a one-eighty, and although there were some who did not support this change, I know my current regiment is exactly what I need to be doing.

We’re still in the midst of a lot of work changes too. It’s cliché, but the focus and dedication that leads to solid swimming, biking, and running also sets up success at the office. All I can do is keep showing up, giving it my all, and trusting the process. Of course it will feel challenging and uncomfortable and maybe even impossible at points, but just like training, it’s about focusing on the task at hand and knowing the struggle is where the personal growth happens.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 8 (Week 23)

Lake Placid is paradise.

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And I’m missing it already.

General training notes: It’s no news I’ve been in a triathlon funk since my bike crash, and spending some quality time in Placid helped me refocus and reignite my training. I’m working on a Placid-specific post, but unsurprisingly, the swimming, biking, and running there was perfect. And I was there with a great group of people too, which made the weekend even more memorable.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy five miles with race-paced pick-ups, plus corework and upper body strength training. After work, I rode for an hour at Tailwind on the Ironman Mont Tremblant course because I like hills and pain.

Wednesday – a.m. run

Uneventful and steady 55-minute run outside

Thursday – a.m. long run; p.m. open-water swim IN LAKE PLACID

Eight-mile long run and 1.6-mile open water swim in MIRROR LAKE

Friday – a.m. brick (one loop of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course and one loop around Mirror Lake); p.m. open-water swim

The Placid bike course is incredibly gorgeous and humbling. I was perfectly content to spin out and chat with folks as I re-familiarized myself with the route. We ended up cutting out part of the entire 56-mile loop (local readers, we turned left in Wilmington instead of continuing straight), but still ended the outing with a solid 43.3 miles. I did a short two-mile run after. My legs weren’t too happy, but I was running around Mirror Lake, which made the discomfort totally worth it. Later that afternoon, I hit the water for 1.6 miles.

Saturday – a.m. bike; p.m. open-water swim

As the underachieving short-course triathlete at #WorkLiveTriCAMP, I did another 43.3 miles on the Ironman course while the crazy long-course folks did a full two loops. (However, I did pull my weight by going into town and getting pizza.) And I hit the water again that afternoon for 1.6 miles.

Sunday – a.m. bike

One final solo and blissful ride on the course. Even though I wasn’t biking with target speeds in mind, it was interesting to see how much time I shaved off during the weekend. Friday was more of a social ride, and during this outing I averaged 19 mph—and I was just cruising. Definitely makes me wonder what I could do if I were training for a 70.3 or full …

How do you reenergize your workouts when you’re in a funk?

My 2014 Running and Triathloning Recap

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends! Can you believe it’s that time again? Wowza, 2014 flew by. But before saying goodbye to this bittersweet year, I want to reflect on some awesome, pivotal, and memorable swimming, biking, and running moments.

Best race experience

Given the number of triathlons I did in 2014, this surprised me: The Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

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Pre-race cold temperatures and throwaway clothes. Good times with good friends.

Not only was it the actual race-day experience—feeling invincible for 12.5 miles, seeing a bunch of funny signs and cute spectators, hanging out with friends and family during the weekend—but it was also the pre-race preparation. I’ve talked about my running progression, but Coach Pat really dialed in the plan; I crushed key workouts, felt prepared, and simply exuded calm confidence. Above all, everything lined up on race day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. And now I want to go 1:45 (let’s be real, 1:40), which speaks volumes: I want to run more and faster miles!

Best swim

Total no-brainer: swimming in Mirror Lake during Ironman Lake Placid weekend.

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The course, the atmosphere, everything that comprises Placid is magical. Being there always ends up being a highpoint of the triathlon season and overall year, and I’m already looking forward to going back for another Sherpa stint in 2015.

Best bike

Rather than wax and wane about nearly perfect training rides, I’ll simply say my bike split at Nationals best exemplifies progress: In 2013, I logged a 1:17; in 2014, I rode a 1:10. That’s seven minutes shaved off.

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I have no pictures of me doing work on the Slice. Womp, womp.

And yes, some of that time can be attributed to equipment upgrades (tri bike, race wheels, aero helmet), but most is sheer improvement. To me, that’s what this sport is all about.

Best run

Aside from the abovementioned 12.5 miles of bliss, one that sticks out is the 10-K I ran off the bike in Stamford.

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Hot outta T-2!

That’s my standalone and off-the-bike 10-K PR, and more importantly, I felt comfortably uncomfortable the entire time—and felt in control. I’ve also had some great training runs—both steady where I’ve pushed the pace a bit and long where I’ve chilled out—but that 6.2 miles off the bike is what I’ll be chasing in 2015: the split (I want to go faster!) and the feeling.

Best piece of new gear

Since I actually raced on it this year—my Slice! Yes, it’s all about the engine in endurance sports, but the tri bike set-up has been a game changer. I’ve been able to ride stronger and faster, plus run better off the bike. Now about that power meter …

Best piece of running/triathloning advice you received

Nothing newsworthy: trust your training, trust the process, listen to your body. But these messages resonated with me this year thanks to knowledgeable coaches (looking at you, Coach Pat!) and trustworthy teammates.

Most inspirational runner

I’m totally pulling the sap card: I train and work with some phenomenal people who also happen to run, and they inspire me to keep pushing, keep improving, and keep striving for that perfect race.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Memorable, nearly perfect.

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In terms of training and racing, I really couldn’t have asked for a better year. Sure, I powered through some not-so-great showings, but for the most part, I’m happy with how the cards fell. On the non-triathlon front, it was a challenging, yet rewarding year (#vagueblogging #sorryimnotsorry), and bottom line, I’m amped for 2015.

What is your best, most memorable moment from 2014?

Ironman Lake Placid 2014: Tales of a Sherpa and Emotional Guardian

Where should I begin with this post? Let’s go alllll the way back.

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This trip north for Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) has been one year in the making. As you may remember, I went last year to train, volunteer, and spectate, and after the 2013 race, one of my teammates signed up to take on this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run. And with her registration, I committed to returning in 2014 as a full-fledged Sherpa—and I was pumped! Placid epitomizes paradise, and I wanted to go back in any capacity.

It’s tough not to compare this year’s experience to what happened last year, but overall, they varied—a lot.

Let’s start with the Sherpa-ing.

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I absolutely love training and racing, but sometimes it’s refreshing to be in a race environment and not actually race. Crazy concept, right? As a type-A person who does triathlon, I’ve discovered being a Sherpa utilizes my skill set. Not only do I have the logistics under control—planning our day to be the most efficient, knowing where to drop off special needs bags, etc.—but I can also talk the talk. And knowledgeably too. During race weekend, one of my goals included memorizing course maps and the athlete guide so I could answer every question my teammates asked me.

In addition to knowing everything about IMLP, I also took on the role of emotional guardian. I needed to be positive, reassuring, and flexible at all times. Moods swing easily in the days leading up to the race, especially when certain factors come into play: someone’s doing their first Ironman, someone’s shooting for a specific finish time, etc. Needless to say, everything became more intense, and when the crankiness and anxiousness kicked in, I wanted to be there to listen, calm them down, and provide support.

One main difference between 2013 and this year centered on training. I did some final tune-up sessions with teammates—a few race-pace efforts on the bike and some open-water swimming—but logging workouts was not my number one priority. Case in point: My Slice saw only 15 miles, tops. But I knew this would be the case, and I’m totally OK with it. My main goal was to be there for my teammates in every way possible.

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Being there wasn’t exclusive to race day. This was the first time I watched people go through Ironman training. Each of my five teammates approached the distance differently—not to mention they came from various backgrounds, had different goals, etc.—and I learned a lot in terms of how I will navigate long-course training. (We’re talking at least 10 years from now, by the way. And that’s another post entirely.)

More importantly, this was the first time I trained with people who were tackling this distance. During the week, we’d do similar swim and bike workouts, and when Saturday and Sunday rolled around, they’d go long. Very long. Sometimes, I’d tag along and bike 40-50 miles while they did twice the distance. Or if they had a cutback week, then we’d ride together.

Bottom line, when you train together–for six months, at least five days a week, and for nearly three hours everyday–you become invested in their race. And when they have an Ironman on the horizon, it’s impossible to remain unaffected. When dull aches surfaced during long runs, I sympathized. When brick workouts got crushed, I felt invincible. When tune-up races approached, I experienced sympathy taper crazies. Basically, Placid became a pseudo race for me.

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During the race itself, I wanted to be there during all three disciplines, so I volunteered as a wetsuit stripper. At Syracuse 70.3 in 2012, I worked in the same capacity and had a blast. So not only would it be fun, but this position would also grant me access to athlete-only areas—which meant I could be with my teammates right up until they charged into Mirror Lake. Plus, I’d have a front row seat: I’d be able to pinpoint each person when they finished their each loop, and if I played my cards right, then I’d be able to help everyone take off their wetsuits. Four of my five teammates logged both loops of the swim, and I was able to see everyone during the wetsuit stripping process. (Due to thunder and lightning, the swim was cut to one loop or 1.2 miles. Some athletes swam both loops, but others were pulled from the water.)

After the swim, I camped out in front of our hotel—which was conveniently located on both the bike and run courses—rang my industrial-sized cowbell, and cheered until my voice grew hoarse. (And obsessively checked IronTrac, obviously.)

As the day progressed, my mental involvement intensified, which I didn’t think was possible. Waiting for the team colors seemed like an eternity: ‘They should be off the bike now. Why aren’t they here yet? Did something happen? What’s going on?’ Soon enough, the red and black kits appeared: ‘Yes! They look so strong and dialed in!’ And when not-so-great stuff happened, all I could do was run with them briefly, remind them they’re strong, and tell them they’ve overcome this before. But I couldn’t really do anything. I felt helpless. And it was the worst feeling. I had to trust their training and have faith they would work through the tough spells.

Sure enough, they pulled through.

And when they entered the oval, running strong and passing people and accomplishing their goal … being able to see the culmination of their dedication and their training and their hard work was incredible.

Clearly, it was an emotionally charged weekend. And I’m so grateful I was able to be a part of it.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 21 (Week 28)

I have returned from the paradise and magical place that is Lake Placid.

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My weekend centered on volunteering, cheering, and being the Sherpa of the year for my five teammates who took on this historical Ironman. I’ll probably write a post once I catch up on life, but it was a memorable, emotional roller coaster kind of weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, and my teammates made me so proud.

General training notes: Not too much to say this week. I frontloaded my workouts because I knew serious training probably wouldn’t happen during the weekend. Everything got logged even with a severe case of sympathy taper crazies.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Even though I logged a killer 78-mile ride the day before, I wanted to carry the momentum through the week. This combo proved to be tough—3,250 yards in the pool and seven miles outside—but I got it done.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Originally, I planned to brick, but my legs still felt trashed from the weekend. Instead, I spun out for 24 miles.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Hello, aero helmet!

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#InstaFame

One of the perks of being on a team includes getting hand-me-down gear. And I was totally “that triathlete” riding in Central Park and wearing an aero helmet. Hey, I have to test it before Nationals. And I’ll be “that triathlete” again this week because I have to try my borrowed race wheels too!

Thursday – a.m. run

Since I skipped Tuesday’s speedwork to bike, I settled into the paincave on the dreadmill and logged a threshold run. The intervals themselves weren’t incredibly fast; it was the “recovery” at 7:47 min./mi. that got me. I somehow survived the six miles.

Friday – p.m. swim

YES, MIRROR LAKE!

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It defines paradise—and you can’t beat swimming 1.2 miles in paradise.

Saturday – p.m. run

Seriously, is this real life?

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Six steady miles on the Ironman Lake Placid run course.

Sunday – spent the day volunteering, spectating, and being a sherpa for Ironman Lake Placid

And no, I did not sign up for next year’s race.  Ask me again in 10 years–ha!

Happy

I’m crossing my fingers and toes this post doesn’t act as a jinx and cause not-so-great things to happen. My check-ins have been few and far between, but that’s because I’ve been out living life—and being happy. It’s taken a while to figure it out—or at least partially figure it out—but I’ve found my groove. And that makes me happy.

Work

My schedule shifted to Monday-Friday two (or three?) weeks ago, and my productivity has skyrocketed.

7:11-slurpee

Sugar-free watermelon slurpee for National Slurpee Day

Even though I enjoyed having Thursdays off (and taking noon power hour CompuTrainer classes at Tailwind Endurance), I really thrive off these normal hours. Work does keep me on my toes, though. A lot of time, I don’t know what I’ll be doing until I get to the store; my role isn’t totally clear-cut, and there’s a lot of ebbing and flowing. But that’s OK. I can handle the combination of structured hours and dynamic responsibilities.

These new hours have led to some new and great friendships. When I worked the floor regularly, I became close with my fellow floor staff. (One guy calls me “Carebear,” which is a nickname reserved for family and close friends, and he knows it’s a big deal.) But now, I see our “downstairs” folks—think corporate like buyers, marketing, etc.—more often. They’re the ones who know about my training, my racing, and my general life happenings. For whatever reason, I’m better friends with the guys who work the floor, but my best friends downstairs are girls. (Shout out to Girls Club!) It’s taken more than a year, but I’ve finally found my work BFFs. And that makes me happy.

Triathlon

Where to even begin? First, I signed up for a sprint tri this weekend (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run). It ends in a vineyard. Total no-brainer.

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In all seriousness, though, I wanted one more tune-up race before Nationals in August. This will give me a chance to work on top-end speed (or see if I have any) and test new equipment.  I’m also planning to test an aero helmet.  It even matches my bike, and we know it’s all about looking good in the race photos!

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Not multi-tasking at the swim exit: ain’t nobody got time for that!

Training continues to go well: The swim is at a good spot, the bike is still a work-in-progress, and the run really depends on the day. Overall, though, the improvements I’ve made this season makes me happy—and I’m excited to see how everything (hopefully) comes together in August.

Speaking of Nationals, there are goals this time around. And these goals sound lofty and scare me. My coach has outlined race scenarios and expects me to dial in, arrive in top form, and piece together my best race of the year. His confidence in me makes me happy. Whether I have that confidence changes every minute (seriously), but knowing that he believes in me makes me happy.

Lake Placid

Before heading to Milwaukee, I’ll make the trip to Lake Placid to cheer, volunteer, and sherpa (yes, it’s a verb) for my five teammates taking on the Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run).

Last year, I logged some quality training, volunteered at gear bags, and soaked in the experience of watching my first in-person Ironman event. This time around, though, my priorities will be different. My teammates will dictate my every move; whatever they need, I’m their girl.

Another change this year includes how emotionally invested I am in this race. When swim splits don’t get hit, I feel frustrated and unsettled. When brick workouts get nailed, I feel ecstatic and unstoppable. Obviously I haven’t done the training in terms of hours and volume, but I feel like I’ve become part of their journey.  And being there for them makes me happy.

This involvement hasn’t affected my training. Aside from the pre-Timberman sympathy taper crazies, I’ve maintained focus and logged the workouts I need to log. However, as Placid inches closer, my mind has started to wander during sessions: ‘I’m doing a five miler right now. So-and-so is running 20. I hope they’re feeling OK. They were worried about their calf …’ I usually let myself think about it for a few seconds and then refocus.

Being this emotionally involved in a race I’m not even doing scares me, but it also makes me happy.

So that’s the gist of happenings here lately. Keeping busy and keeping happy. What’s going on with you?

Building My 2014 Triathlon Race Calendar

Happy last day of 2013, friends!  Have fun (and be safe!) celebrating tonight.

Speaking of 2014, t-minus one week until structured training begins—yikes and woohoo!  Before Thanksgiving, my team held a meeting to identify potential races (both short- and long-course ones) and get a rough idea of which distances folks want to race.  So far, I’ve registered for only two (South Beach Triathlon in April and USAT Age Group Nationals in August), and the list below includes some contenders.

South Beach Triathlon

Date:  Sunday, April 6

Distance:  Classic (0.5-mile ocean swim, 19-mile bike, 4-mile run)

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Well, duh, of course I’ll do the race again!  This was my first swim-bike-run event with Full Throttle Endurance, and I had a blast!  Also, since training begins in January, it will be nice (read: motivating) to have an early-season race on the calendar.  Like last year, I signed up for the classic distance, and I can’t wait to use my Slice on the bike course.  I’ll also be going after that run with a vengeance.

Rev3 Quassy

Date:  Sunday, June 1

Distance:  Olympic

This one’s on my radar.  Everyone seems to rave about Rev3 events, and plus, I’ve heard this is one of the toughest Olympic-distance courses in the country (as is its 70.3 race).  So why wait to pull the trigger? …

Mighty Montauk

Date:  Saturday, June 7

Distance:  Olympic (one-mile swim, 22-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

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… because Montauk was so much fun last year!  The course itself left a lot to be desired, but that’s mostly due to Hurricane Andrea rolling in and causing some damage.  Like SoBe, I want to take on this race with another year of training and see how much I can improve—especially on the bike.  Even though I’m young enough to get away with racing back-to-back weekends, I know my performance at both will be affected negatively; it’s about quality, not quantity.

Pat Griskus Triathlon Series

Date:  Saturday, June 14

Distance:  Olympic (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

Here’s another new one.  I haven’t heard too much about this race, but since it takes place in Connecticut, the course probably contains a ton of hills.

Stamford KIC It Triathlon

Date:  Sunday, June 22

Distance:  Olympic

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Another great race from 2013!  Even though the bike course KICked my butt, I loved the atmosphere; as a charity race, this event had more of a fun, laidback vibe, and plus, the volunteers were awesome.  Not to mention this tri constitutes a day-trip (as opposed to a weekend away) for NYCers, which is a huge plus.  Honestly, I’d do this race again simply because I can sleep in my own bed (#realtalk).

Sherman Triathlon

Date: mid-July

Distance:  Sprint

So this is an interesting one.  It’s a Full Throttle Endurance-sponsored race in Connecticut, but it didn’t occur last year.  My coach argues this is one of the hardest sprints in the country (“The run course is brutal!”), so if the race takes place, then I’m in.  Plus, I could not find another short-course event in July.

Musselman Triathlon

Date:  Sunday, July 13

No, I’m not making the jump up to the 70.3 distance yet, but a few of my coworkers are looking for a July half-Ironman.  If this works for everyone, then I’ll head back to my old college stomping grounds and play Sherpa for the weekend.

Ironman Lake Placid

Date:  Sunday, July 27

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No plans to touch the 140.6 distance for another 10 years, but I will go back to Placid and Sherpa for my teammate; she’s tackling her first Ironman!

New York City Triathlon

Date:  Sunday, August 3

Even though I obtained an automatic entry after what happened, I did not register; “The Big Dance” is the following week, and my coach basically forbade me from doing both.  However, I will be there in full force to Sherpa, volunteer, and cheer for coworkers and teammates—should be a great time!

USAT Age Group Nationals – Milwaukee

Date:  Saturday, August 9

Distance:  Olympic

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Hands down, this will be my “A” race for 2014.  Last year, I approached this event with a laidback attitude; I wanted to soak everything in, savor the experience, and let race-day happenings fall where they may.  The game plan will be different in 2014.  I know what to expect, I know the competition will be stiff, and I know I’ll feel like I belong.  And I cannot wait to attack the course with another year of training.  Bring it on!

Timberman 70.3

Date:  Sunday, August 17

Another half-Ironman, another opportunity to be a Sherpa.  I will eventually make the jump, promise!

ITPMAN Darien Triathlon

Date: TBA (September 14, 2013)

Distance: Sprint (0.5-mile swim, 15-mile bike, 5-mile run)

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One last hoorah before calling it a season?  Sign me up!

Have you finalized your 2014 race calendar yet?  How many times do you plan to race?

Ironman Lake Placid 2013 – The Experience

… And more than one week after going to Lake Placid to train and volunteer for the Ironman, I finally have the final recap to share.  Hey, life happens.

lake-placid-adirondacks

First, you can’t talk about the Adirondacks without mentioning how breathtaking it is—greenery everywhere, blue skies (and Mirror Lake), plus its atmosphere seems calm, relaxed, and peaceful.  Basically, it’s the polar opposite of New York City.  Not to mention Placid is a triathlete’s Mecca thanks to plenty of places to swim, bike, and run.  By the second day there, I felt like I was home.  Is it too early to start thinking about retirement?  Ha!

lake-placid-mirror-lake-sunset

Two, even though my teammates and I were there to train and race, we had so much fun hanging out together.  Sure, we see each other nearly every day at practice, but sweating for a few hours is much different than chilling for five days.  Plus, this weekend allowed me to experience the fun part of triathlon again.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely love training, and my season has gone well, but there have been pressure and expectations, which I know comes with the territory.  Aside from the New York City Triathlon, I’ve been able to rise to the occasion and perform, but in Placid, the vibe was totally different.  Being around the (non-competitive) community reignited my passion for the sport and reminded me there’s more to racing than getting on the podium.

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My now-Ironman teammate had a lot to do with this calm, confident approach.  In the days leading up to the biggest endurance event of his life, he appeared to be relaxed, excited, and dialed-in (which is the exact opposite of what I’m like).  He trusted his training, and during the race, he truly savored the experience.

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As you can see, he was all smiles.  Anyway, I’ve done my best to emulate his approach this week, and I can honestly say this is the calmest I’ve been before a tri.

Three, watching triathletes of all shapes, sizes, and abilities swim, bike, and run their races was so inspirational.  Both the bike and run courses are spectator-friendly, and it was so cool to see the age groupers zip by on their bikes and chip away at the marathon.  I’m at the point in my triathlon career where I can’t fathom biking 112 miles and then running 26.2, let alone doing an open marathon.  These athletes have my utmost respect.

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And watching my teammate and countless others cross the finish line to those priceless words—‘You are an Ironman!’—was absolutely awe-inspiring.

Finally, it should come as no surprise that even though I did not register for Ironman Lake Placid 2014, I have decided the race will be my first Ironman.