What’s Next?

28 08 2013

Triathlon Season 2013 is wrapping up for a lot of people, but for me, it’s really just getting started. Here’s what’s next on my schedule:

September 15, 2013: Atlantic City International Triathlon

I did this race in it’s inaugural year, and had an absolute blast.

IMG_2417AThis is the race’s third year, and though they’ve made a few changes to the course, I’m still super excited about this race. One of the reasons I’m really excited about going home that weekend for the tri is actually the other events that are happening that weekend!  My dad’s birthday is right around that time, so I know we’ll be celebrating that, then there’s the Seafood Festival, AND the Miss America Pageant has returned home to Atlantic City that weekend too!

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You may be thinking, “The Miss America Pageant? Really Steph?” If you’re from South Jersey, particularly the Atlantic City area, you grew up with the pageant- it was the big family-friendly event that happened every fall, and it included a whole week’s worth of activities: the girls’ entrance on the train, the parade, the preliminaries and then the big finale. One of my fondest childhood memories is going over to my friend Julie’s house every year for the Miss America sleepover. There’d be 10 of us, and we’d all bring a dollar to contribute to the prize pot. We each drew the name of one of the top ten girls, and whoever’s girl was crowned Miss America, took home a whopping $10! 🙂

Oh, and the parade! The Friday before the pageant, the’s a big parade along the world famous Atlantic City boardwalk. All of the girls ride on the back of convertibles, waving to the crowd as they yell “Show us your shoes!” Some girls wear cute heels that match their gorgeous evening gowns, but my favorites are always the creative ones- like when Miss Idaho wears slippers shaped  like potatoes. 🙂 Can you tell I’m looking forward to this? Call me cheesy, but I’m stoked.

But I digress…I’m supposed to be talking about races here!

September 21, 2013: Miles for Hope, Moving Towards a Cure

Last year, I participated in this ride in honor of my best friend Gina’s lovely cousin Lisa. It’s a charity ride for Brain Tumor Research over in Clearwater Beach. I signed up for the ride again months ago, as Lisa was still fighting the cancer and the pain that my best friend and her mom were feeling was palpable. I wanted to help, but I didn’t know what I could do. So, I registered for the 100K ride, for Lisa.

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Lisa lost her battle with brain cancer earlier this summer. Though my memories of Lisa are few (She lived in Washington State so visits to the east coast were tough), I know how much she meant to Gina and her mom, Patty, two people who mean so much to me. So this year, I ride in memory of Lisa, for Gina, Patty, and the rest of Lisa’s family.

If you feel so inclined, please donate, but clicking on the “Donate to Participant” Link in the upper left hand corner of this page.

September 29, 2013: IronGirl Clermont

This race is actually still up in the air for me-I may have a weekend away with Bill to see the comedian Gallagher, but that is still in the works!

October 19 2013: University Of Tampa Swimming Masters Classic

So, I know this isn’t a triathlon, but I’m really excited about this one! I registered for my first real swim meet since college! I signed up for the 200 free, 50 breast, 100 free, and 100 IM. HA! I’ve also made myself available for relays. I was actually just telling one of my swim buddies that I really wanted to see what I could do from the blocks. I’ll get my chance this fall!

November 10, 2013: Rev3 Florida 70.3

THIS is the race I’ve been training for. I’m just about 11 weeks out now, and I’ve been putting in lots of miles on my bike, some speed on the run, and many meters at the pool. I definitely need some more time to prepare, but I’m at the point where I know I will finish, and I will finish strong. Bring it Venice!

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Race Report: Courage To Tri

26 08 2013

My alarm buzzed at 4:30 am. I rolled over to turn it off, groaning. Is it really time to get up? I had not gotten a good night’s sleep- I woke up just about every hour from 9:30pm to 12:30am. I just couldn’t get my brain to shut down. That and my obnoxious kitties running all over my apartment made it difficult to fall asleep.

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IMG_8276(But they’re cute, so I forgave them).

I had prepped most of my gear the night before, I just needed to fill up my water bottles. Since the race was only a sprint, I figured I’d only need some electrolyte enhanced Skratch on the bike, and then I’d bring an extra water bottle just in case.  I filled one more water bottle for the drive, grabbed my overnight oats and hit the road.

I arrived at Sand Key Park around 5:30am, right when transition was opening. Parking was a breeze, but the meters we had been reminded to pay numerous times didn’t accept payments until 7:00am. Doh. I was an honest chickadee and paid my meter when I finished the race, but I’m sure I could have snuck out of the park without paying the $5 fee.

I had picked up my packet on Thursday, so I just needed to grab my timing chip and get body marked. Once in transition, I found my rack and started getting set up. My biggest complaint was that the parking lot where we were set up was gravelly. It HURT my bare feet, and definitely made it difficult to run. I probably sounded like a monkey as I hobbled in from the swim- ei ah ah oh!

I wasn’t early enough to grab the end spot on the rack, so I set up in the second space. I happened to be on the same rack as Maria, a fellow Tampa triathlete, and Beth was on the next rack over.

After I set up, I went for a short jog. One of my thoughts from the night before was to bring a mini flashlight or my head lamp because it would be dark. Did I remember that in the morning? No. So, I ran in the dark, careful not to trip on anything, or step in one of the puddles from the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve been getting.

I made it back just before transition closed, dropped my shoes, and then headed to the start.

I really wanted to get in a good swim warm up because I know I’m not really warm until I’ve done at least 400  yards or so, but it was still quite dark out, which freaked me out. So, I held off for as long as I could before saying screw in and diving in. I’d say I swam about 200 meters or so before getting out for the national anthem.

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I’m pretty sure this picture was taken after the first wave went off (at 6:50am!)- the sun is still rising!

As the wave in front of mine started, we spotted some dolphins out in the water. They were swimming right along side the mass of white caps! They were probably within several feet of some of the swimmers. We joked that someone might get really lucky and catch the draft of a lifetime. How cool/freaky would it have been to be swimming that close to dolphins?

The dolphins started heading back towards the first buoy right before the horn sounded for my wave. I’m not sure if they swam with my wave too, but I was kinda sad I didn’t turn my head for a breath and see a fin. Anyhow, I was one of the first few swimmers to the first buoy- I spotted two guys (relay swimmers) and then I couldn’t tell if anyone else was nearby. I hopped onto the draft of one of the guys, but not for very long. He quickly faded, and I passed him, eyeing the next guy, who was at least three body lengths ahead of me. I didn’t spot any other yellow caps nearby, so I just kept gunning for the male swimmer ahead of me. I felt really strong, and by the last turn buoy, I had nearly caught him. On the way in, the water got shallow, then deep again and then shallow again. I should have started dolphin diving the first time it got shallow, but my hand didn’t touch bottom so I kept swimming. When I finally did start to dolphin, I was right next to the male swimmer. A few feet from the beach I stood up for the last time and ran right passed him. He got chicked. 🙂

1/3 mile swim: 5:53

T1 was LOOONG. We had to run the length of the beach to the parking lot, and then follow the path of the parking lot to the Swim In part of transition. My feet HURT by the time I got to my bike. So. Much. Gravel.  My shoes were already on the bike and everything I need for the ride is in my helmet (nutrition, sunglasses, watch) which ideally makes my transition pretty speedy. Unfortunately my transition time was a little slower than I would have liked because I struggled to get my watch on. Oh well.

T1: 3:31 (still fast enough to be 2nd in my age group though!)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the bike- I knew I had run the course before, but running and biking a course are two different things. I turned out of the park and immediately was between a bus on my right and a car on my left. Uh what? I don’t really know why there was so much traffic right there, but it seemed like the cops were dealing with it, so I kept moving. I really hoped the rest of the course would be less traffic-y! I’m glad I didn’t get too disoriented because I needed to keep my pace up for bridge number 1, which was right in front of me. I was feeling pretty strong and kept my goal in mind:  hold off Maria as long as I could. I knew she was a super speedy cyclist, so it was going to be tough.

I got to the bottom of the bridge and took a sip of my Skratch. As soon as it hit my tongue I had to spit it out. I can not tell you how gross it was. When I prepared the Skratch, I decided to mix pineapple and raspberry. I also decided to try out this electrolyte powder I had purchased to help with my headaches.

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When preparing it, I read the instructions, which said to use 1-3 scoops per hour in a water bottle. Ok, but what size scoop? I shook the container and didn’t hear anything that sounded like a scoop, so I decided to just guess. I used a normal cereal spoon and put almost a full spoonful in my water bottle. When I looked at the nutritional information, I noticed that there were 150 servings in the container. Hm. I think I might have used too much. I didn’t bother to taste the Skratch until that moment on the bike. BAD IDEA. Lesson learned. I hoped I could choke down a few more sips along the ride, but worried I would run out of gas because I didn’t have proper hydration.

Anyhow, we wound around the touristy part of Clearwater beach and then headed out the long stretch to the big Causeway bridge. I got a little uneasy when I saw the flashing lights of a police car and three cyclists on the ground off to the side of the road. As I passed, it appeared that the man was unconscious and the other two were his concerned teammates. I said a little prayer for them and kept moving.

Bridge number 2 was a tough climb up, but very fun on the way down. I wanted to yell “WHEEE!” 🙂 We wound through Bellair Bluffs, and I kept passing people from the earlier waves. Before I knew it, we were on the last bridge of the day. There was a slight downhill right before the bridge, so I was able to get my speed up before switching to a lower gear. It was kind of fun to see one of those “Your Speed: XX” signs on the side of the road and to see what it was picking up. 30mph was the speed limit, and it flashed  30 as someone’s speed as a group flew by 🙂

Just as I began my descent, I was passed by Maria. Aw man, I was hoping I could have held her off for the entire bike ride! I tried to keep her in my line of sight for as long as I could, but I eventually lost her somewhere on those last few miles. The last few miles were a straightaway on Gulf Blvd and I could feel myself getting tired. I really wanted some Gatorade or water at this point! Gah!

I had a terrible ending to my bike leg- I usually try to get out of my shoes and ride barefoot on top of my shoes until I get to the dismount line, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was only out of my right shoe when I spotted the volunteers telling us to slow down for the dismount. EEK! I somehow quickly got out of my left shoe and immediately hopped off the bike and ran into transition.

13 mile bike: 38:18, 20.4mph

I spotted Maria in transition and realized I wasn’t too far behind her. Maybe an age group place was in my future! I racked my bike and put down my helmet on the handle bars, which then proceeded to fall on the ground. I felt obligated to pick it up so I jogged around to the other side of the rack to grab it. While on the ground, I grabbed my water bottled and gulped down some water. I was so thankful I had left a water bottle in transition (except I would have been happier if it had been on the bike with me!).

Out I went, 1:16 later.

I had been looking forward to the run all day. I knew I had gotten in some good track and tempo runs over the past few weeks, so I was hopeful I’d see the fruits of my labor today. The run course was mostly on the asphalt parking lot, but a portion of it, right at the beginning, was on the hard sand of the beach. The toughest part was right when you first got on the beach and right when you left the beach- that’s where the sand got soft and my legs wondered what I was doing to them. My goal had been to run sub 5:00 kilometers (I’ve been starting to make the transition to training in the metric system), but when I looked at my watch I noticed I was slightly over 5:00. And I wasn’t getting any faster. My legs were heavy and they were not listening to me when I told them to go faster! As I was coming off of the beach, I was passed by a girl in my age group. She was MOVING. There was no way I was catching her. There was still hope for an age group award, as long as no one else in my division passed me.

I just kept reminding myself that this was only a 5K. Put one foot in front of the other. I was really starting to feel the humidity, so I grabbed water at each water stop and threw it on myself. After what seemed like forever, I could see the finish line. I tried to turn it up and sprint to the end, but my legs just didn’t have it in them. I was just happy to be done.

3.1 mile run: 24:38

Final time: 1:13:46, 3rd place Age Group

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All in all, I was happy with my race. I had a great swim and bike, and my run really wasn’t all that bad. For an inaugural race, I was quite pleased with the logistics and organization. Outspokin put on a great race- I can’t wait to do it again next year!





Courage to Tri

23 08 2013

So, it’s kinda sorta been awhile since I’ve raced a triathlon. I did an early season sprint to kick off my season, but I’ve spent what most people would consider prime racing season training.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely wanted to hit the “register” button-but most of the time I just couldn’t bring myself to dish out $90+ for a sprint triathlon in the blazing summer heat of Florida. I’d rather train with my friends so I can go into my 70.3 as prepared as possible.

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Two weeks ago, I did an open water swim with Beth, Meghann, Meghan, and Dee at Sand Key Park in Clearwater. Beth mentioned that she would be doing the Courage to Tri sprint on this beach at the end of August. Curious, I asked how much it cost to register, and she told me they just had a registration “party” at the Outspokin stores and you could register for only $50! Now that’s definitely a price I’d pay for a sprint. So I went home and began to fill out the online registration.

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When I got to the payment page, the race fee was $95, not the $50 I was hoping for. Wah wah. So I scrapped my plan to register, and started considering Crystal River #3.

A few days later, I received an email from one of the many local running/triathlon email lists I’m on, advertising the $50 registration for Courage to Tri if you registered at one of the Outspokin stores. HECK YEA! I live two minutes from their south Tampa location, so after my long ride on Saturday, I popped in and signed up.

So, this weekend I’ll be racing the 1/3 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run in the Courage to Tri! I’m excited to race- it’s been too long!  Catch ya later with a race report!