Sunday, April 23, 2017

My first masters swim meet recap

Today was a cool day. Today I swam in my first Masters swim meet, competing in 4 individual events and 2 events as part of a relay team. The meet was hosted by the Rainbow Trout swim club in Atlanta and took place at the pool at Georgia Tech, about 10 minutes from where I live. It was a really fun day, more challenging than I expected if I'm being honest, and I was really happy with how I did.


I had been talking recently with the coach that leads the masters workout where I swim about the idea of swimming in a masters meet. Unlike running or other sports that has a clear age definition of what is "masters" - for swimming, I believe it generally just means swimming for adults. The idea of competing in a meet was exciting and nerve-wracking to me for a few reasons.

It was exciting because I grew up a swimmer. I spent my childhood at swim meets, swimming year round outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter. It was the one sport I competed in and it was a big part of my life. However, looking back now, at least at my high school swimming days, I know that I never lived up to any potential I may have had because I just didn't work hard enough at it. I gave up when it got tough and didn't know to keep pushing past the discomfort instead of jumping out of the pool to hide in the bathroom or rest at the slightest sign of a cramp. I was excited to go back to that swim meet environment, which in a way is so comfortable to me after years spent on the pool deck.

However, I was also nervous. I didn't know exactly what to expect in terms of the competition at this event. I wasn't sure what to expect of myself at the event. I vaguely remember my personal best times from high school and I wasn't sure how I would compare today. In many ways, I am in drastically better shape than I was in high school. However, in high school I was also training for this type of competition and swimming 5 days a week during the swim season. Although in better shape, I spend my time training for races that are 5-6 hours in marathon and triathlon world. Even a 5K is around 25 minutes for me, so competing in a race that is 30 seconds to a minute long is scary. That's a whole different kind of hurt!

Not to mention the attention and focus on those competing is completely different in a swim meet. Triathlon and road race starts I am not "toeing the line" or sprinting out the gates with attention on me. I am running across the start line in a mass and although it is a competition with thousands of people in many cases, it is a pretty intimate thing with nobody really focused on me besides myself. In a swim meet you, when you are racing in your heat - that is the attention of the crowd. Just those 8 people. Your start off the block (something I haven't done in 13 years) has the attention of anyone watching the race and is so important to how you do when the race is only 30 seconds long!

Anyways, the day turned out to be really awesome. It was really meaningful for me in a number of ways. I swam 4 individual events, starting with the 1650, or a mile swim. It is 66 lengths of the pool and I finished in 26:08:50, a time that I am really unsure of how to compare to besides my swim portions of triathlons, but that is still skewed as it is a totally different environment. I felt good about it as it is the first time I have ever swum this event and had no idea how to pace it and looking at my splits, I was pretty consistent!


It was also great to have my friends Diane and Shelby supporting by counting my laps for me! It was nice to just completely zone out and not think about how many laps I had swum. I wish I had that at morning practices sometimes! I definitely could improve if I do this in the future... for example, my goggles fell off and I stopped to fix them. 66 lengths is too far to go without goggles!

My next event was the 200 IM Relay, which I swam with my swim coach, another guy from the gym, and another woman from the gym. I was tasked with swimming the freestyle portion of it, which was the last 50 of the race and my split was about a 30.7 and it was a lot of fun to swim as part of a relay team!





The relay was immediately after the 1650 and I was pretty tired for it, but then immediately after that was the 200 freestyle. I considered not even doing it because I was still catching my breathe from the previous two events. When I signed up for the event, I signed up for all of the freestyle events and I imagined in my mind that I would have tons of time between all of them. I pictured the swim meeting being long and boring and drug out throughout the whole day because that is how I remembered meets from as a kid! I would sit and eat fun dip and play cards with my friends in tents, with coolers packed full of food, and it would be hours between events. At this event they were just ticking them off event after event. They did mixed heats, which helped speed things up, so you were swimming against men and women of all ages in your heat that had been assigned based off the times you submitted when you registered. Then, after the event, they would post the results based off of gender and age group.

I debated not doing the 200 but then figured why not and went over and hopped into my heat. It wasn't my best event and I struggled a bit but was glad I did it and glad I had a long break before my next events! The 200 is a tough event as it is a bit of just a long sprint. I finished in 2:48.30, which when the results came out, had me in first place for my age group! I had finished in 2nd place in the 1650, out of 2 people... so also could be called last place. But in this even there were 4 people in my age group and I came in first so that was pretty cool and unexpected!






The next event I swam was the 50 freestyle. This is one where you just go all out. I was surprised that I still felt tired from earlier, but finished in a time that was extremely similar to my 50 freestyle from the relay earlier on with a 30.73. It is such a different feeling to finish a race having gone all out like that, gasping for air and chest heaving. I was almost too tired to even climb out of the pool! I won my heat, which I expected when I saw how I had done in my split from the relay. I had seeded myself as 40 seconds for the 50, so knowing I could swim faster, I expected to and did win my heat. But as an added bonus when the times were posted - I had another first place finish in my age group! It looked like the same 4 people were swimming these events, so the names were all familiar on the roster but I didn't know who any of them were in real life nor did I see them swim.


Not long after the 50 free, I swam in the 100 free, another all out sprint event but a bit longer. I was getting tired at this point and I had a harder time with that, my legs were absolutely screaming at me the last 10 yards into the wall. I finished in 1:09:48, another win for my heat and for my age group!




That should have been my last even of the day, but last minute we decided to put together an all female relay for the 200M Freestyle Relay. I swam with 3 other women from the club where I swim, and I swam the anchor leg. This time my split was 30.9 and our team was able to get 2nd place in the female relay! I am pretty sure there maybe were only 2 relays teams, but I will take the ribbon nonetheless! I felt honored to be able to swim with a woman who is my new hero in life, Angela, who at the age of 76 swam in her first masters swim meet!! You are never too old to start something new.


Angela cracked me up earlier in the meet when she was telling me that she thought it was odd that the heats were all mixed heats of ages and genders as she didn't know who she was competing against. I said something positive along the lines of, "Well, it's not really about who we are competing against though, right? I always just try and go out to beat my own times and race against myself." and her response, at the age of 76 in her first meet was, "NO! I am competitive and I want to know who I am racing against so I can beat them!" I thought it was hysterical.  We had a great group of support and swimmers from the Windy Hill pool at the meet today.



I finished the day with lots of ribbons! I loved it and was so happy! But unfortunately they ran out of first place ribbons, so I had to take "participant" ribbons which doesn't have the same effect. At least the backside of the ribbons say "First!"


This meet was also meaningful to me because it took place at the Georgia Tech pool, which is the pool where the 1996 Summer Olympic swimming events took place! Most people that know me, or have been reading this blog a while, know that I love the Olympics! The 1996 Olympics is one of the ones that solidified that for me. At the age of 10, I loved watching the women's gymnastics team that year and the competitions throughout track and field, swimming, etc. totally enamored me. My birthday is at the end of the summer and I asked for (and received) the VHS tape with the "Best Of" highlight reel of those Summer Olympics, narrated by Bob Costas. I watched that over and over and over! To be able to swim in an Olympic pool is likely as close to the Olympics as I will ever get, so it was pretty neat to just be there.


The final thing that I will say about the swim meet was that I felt like my old coach, Bruce Calvert, was there with me. I am starting to cry now even as I write this, but it is still weird to think about the fact that a man with SUCH personality is no longer around. Last January, my high school swim coach, Bruce Calvert passed away from a heart attack. He had been retired as a swimming coach for a few years but was the cornerstone of our town's swim program and the high school pool. Up until a year ago, he was really the main coach I have ever had in my life. Bruce was a tough coach, a ridiculously random and funny guy, and gave his whole heart and life to our town's swim program. I wish that he could see where I am now as an athlete and I think he would be so proud of me. I thought of Bruce a lot today and hope that I honored him well in my return to competition in the pool.


[As a side note, you can read my tribute to my old Coach, Bruce here.]

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recommendations from a proud friend

I have some pretty amazing friends in my life. Since childhood, I've been surrounded by a strong group of friends who have in addition to making making life a whole lot of fun, impress me all the time. Over and over again I find myself proud to know the people I know and all the things they accomplish. I keep being tempted to share/recommend these different things on Facebook or social media, and in lieu of that I wanted to do a blog to round up the fun and cool things that I have been enjoying recently. They are made especially awesome by the fact that they are products of super awesome people in my life!

First off, are you guys as big fans of Tasty videos as I am? I love those things. I constantly find myself getting sucked into watching the videos when they scroll through my feed and love that Tasty started a massive trend with these things. I particularly love that they also have Tasty Jr. with recipes that are particularly suited for young chefs. Recently, they've put out cookbooks that you can order with the recipes - which is amazing on its own - but even more amazing as it was illustrated by one of my best friends, Kate. Order your cookbook today!


Another friend of the same name, is doing super awesome things in her own field. You remember KO from the incredible work she has been a part of and the book she wrote Everyday Ambassador, and what I may not have mentioned is that she is in medical school. Recently, KO had a peer reviewed paper published and is working on her second book. I love that she is looking into lesser talked about sides of the medical world such as how emotions, empathy, etc. play into your physical health. Her article "Does Loneliness Contribute to Morbidity and Mortality" is just the beginning for her and I cannot wait to see what other conversations she begins in this arena. You are a rockstar, KO, and am always learning from you. Read her article here.




I've mentioned recently that I have been training with a group called ITL Coaching. One of the coaches that is a part of the group, who runs the Tuesday morning track workouts, George, also puts together a podcast. It is sponsored by the group but really is the work of George. I love it and I have not only been listening to all of the current podcasts that come out, but I have been going back to the beginning and listening to all of the originals. I have listened to a lot of running and triathlon podcasts over the past couple of years and this one is definitely one of my favorites. George is really knowledgeable, includes great guests, incorporates news from the parts of running or sports worlds I otherwise wouldn't know about, and I always learn something new. I highly recommend you all check out The Most Pleasant Exhaustion podcast and let George know what you think on Twitter!


Okay, so this one I have written about before but it deserves additional shoutouts and recommendations. One of my good friends in Atlanta, Nikki, I met through running with Movers and Pacers and first got to know her during Runcation. In addition to being amazingly fun and supportive - she is also an incredible, incredible masseuse. I have been getting massages from Nikki for the past couple of years, going regularly since September 2015, when Nikki helped me to get ready for Chicago Marathon. Which... if you remember, I did with no pain after a weeks of injury and broke 4 hours! She also gave me a massage right before running Publix this year and has been a big help in overcoming my injury this time around. There is nobody that I would trust more than Nikki with my sports massage. For anyone in Atlanta that is looking for an incredible sports massage or just any sort of stress relief massage, you have to go see her KnottiKneads at her location by Perimeter Mall in Atlanta.


Okay and this final one, I have no connection to whatsoever but I NEEDED the chance to recommend this stuff to you guys. I am OBSESSED with this "Everything but the Bagel" seasoning from Trader Joe's. OBSESSED. I have never been a crazy TJ's fan but do think they have some great products. It wasn't until this stuff came out that I ever felt like I needed to go directly to Trader Joe's to buy anything. I saw it and I had to have it and it did not disappoint. I put this on everything... eggs, avocado toast, roasted sweet potatoes, and I even love it mixed into store bought hummus. I can't stop eating it and you should all go buy it immediately.



I am sure there is more, as I am continually impressed and amazed by my friends on a daily basis but these were a few things I have been wanting to recommend lately. I know I am missing out on so much and even all my friends that I didn't specifically call out here, you all impress and amaze me every day. Let me know what you think if you try/listen/use any of these things as I want to hear! Love, love, love everything above!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

We found love (and fun)

Earlier today I was riding my bike on the Silver Comet Trail, blasting my "Trainer Ride" playlist out loud from my phone through the speaker so I (and everyone else...) could listen as I rode. I don't think it is super kosher to be listening to music that way on the Silver Comet but today I didn't really care and decided to be "that girl" as I rode my bike. I was doing an easy one hour ride, by myself, and was enjoying a nice relaxed pace ride, on tired legs after a heavy weekend of swimming, biking and running. I was reflecting back on the weekend, and the past week, and feeling really happy and proud and my music played a nice backdrop for me.

When playing music from my phone in settings when others can hear, I always hold my breathe a little when a new song starts, wondering if it is going to be something weird or embarrassing or include profanity or something totally inappropriate. I randomly recently added the song "Bad Touch" by the Bloodhound Gang to this particular playlist, if that's any indication of the quality and tastefulness of some of my song choices.

As one song switched to the next, I held my breath waiting to hear what it would be but then felt my body not only relax, but a smile come across my face as the familiar intro beats to "We Found Love (In a Hopeless Place)" by Rihanna and Calvin Harris started to play.

"Yellow diamonds in the sky
and we're standing siiiide by side..."

I've listened to this song so many times over the years, in various settings and with various people. Yet every time I hear it, it immediately takes me back to one particular place. The GE Global Research fitness center, 2011, spin class led by Stacie with my friend ICT.  Every Tuesday and Thursday during lunch, ICT and I would walk down the hill to the fitness center and take Stacie's spin class. I remember it vividly because it marks an important time in my life for me. As I recall, it was the first time that working out and exercising was an important part of my life and something that was FUN for me. It was the first time I truly LOOKED FORWARD to going to the gym. The first time that I genuinely feeling DISAPPOINTED when I had a conflict and couldn't make it to class. It was the first time that I learned to love the burn that comes with a tough workout and therefore the mark of the beginning of a big journey for me.

That one song, "We Found Love" was one that Stacie would play in almost every class and I loved it for many reasons and every time it came on, it would hype me up and would burn the heck out of my lungs and legs pushing as hard as I could on the bike. I can still hear Stacie yelling, "CRANK IT CRANK IT CRANK ITTTTT!" as the song gained momentum and got louder and louder, eventually peaking and we would all be pushing into a hard climb on the bike.

I remember it so clearly and this song still gets me so hyped up every time I hear it.

Fast forward back to today, six years later, to a time when I actually own a bike that I ride outdoors for hours on end. Many miles of half marathons, triathlons, four marathons, and two half Ironmans later when I am riding on the Silver Comet and this song starts to play. I am immediately feeling nostalgic and thinking of how far I have come, how much I have accomplished, and how much fun I have had since I was back in that little windowless room in the GE fitness center riding a spin bike without bike shorts or clip in shoes or anything. It reminds me of why I even started this journey in the first place and really got me hooked into it - because it made me feel good, because it was something I shared with friends, and because it was FUN.

Last weekend, as I wrote my blog entry about the Tony Serrano ride and reflected back on the week before, I realized that my mind had been clouded in the week before and for a tiny bit I had lost sight of those things Just for a moment, I got wrapped up in chasing goals and wanting to be stronger and stressing if I was doing enough to reach my goals that I forgot about the goal of just having fun. I'd forgotten that regardless of all else, I do this all for fun, and that's what is what is important.

So this past week and in the coming weeks, I am setting out to have fun. To enjoy EVERY workout and go into each out with a smile. To not take things too seriously and laugh and meet new people. To not think so much about the numbers and metrics and times and just do the workouts to have fun.

Now don't get me wrong - it wasn't as if I wasn't having fun before and it isn't as if I am not going to be pushing myself or paying attention to my pace or speed. But I just need to trust the process is doing it's thing and make my thing be to enjoy it.

And let's be real here - this stuff is fun, so it's not like it's hard! And it isn't that I wasn't having fun or wasn't happy before - I just wasn't focusing on it. I work out and spend my time with some awesome, interesting, funny, fun people. And I genuinely enjoy everything I am doing. I just am focusing on removing some of the pressure from myself and keep fun at the forefront. Even in the past week, with making that slight change in mindset, I felt lighter going into my training and that felt good.

For the next month of training, I want to continue to relax, have fun and put my trust in my coach, in his plan, and in this process. My job is to execute and to have fun while doing it. There are 5 more weeks of training before my goal race for the spring and I'm excited because in addition to the long bike rides and runs, I've got some exciting and different things coming up that I will be taking part in! Plus, the weather is absolutely perfect right now so just being outside brings me joy!

On Saturday I did my first outdoor swim and found myself just relaxing in the water, cooling off after a long bike ride and run, surrounded by the beauty of nature, sunshine, and friends and just feeling so happy. That same feeling came back today as I rode my bike along the Silver Comet listening to Rihanna sing away.

"We found love in a hopeless place..."

I do this sport because it's fun. I do this sport because I found the love in being physically active, running, swimming, and riding my bike. I found the love in getting sweaty and feeling exhausted after pushing myself hard. It might sound crazy to some but I found the love in waking up at 5:00 a.m. vs. staying out late and seeing and laughing with my friends before I even go to work in the morning. I found the love in getting to know people over long conversations taking place while feet pound the pavement or push pedals. I found the love in all of this and found love FOR myself throughout the process. And that's why I do this.

Happy Easter everyone - hope you had a great weekend and can't wait for MARATHON MONDAY tomorrow!!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Following my own journey: Tony Serrano ride recap

Okay, so mark this one in the column of "posts that sort of scare me to post" on account of feeling a bit vulnerable within it. But hey, it's wrapped up in recap of a long bike ride, so it's all good, right?

Yesterday was the Tony Serrano bike ride in Monroe, Georgia. It is one of the many organized group bike rides throughout the year nearby to Atlanta that many people I know in the cycling and triathlon world take part it. I have done two other organized rides in my training over the past year - one last year at the Georgia 400 Hospitality ride and one earlier this year at Tour de Pike (when it rained all day before the Publix Half Marathon!)

These group rides are fun and a nice mix up of the normal training ride but also a little bit of a challenge because unlike the normal group bike rides I have been doing, you don't necessarily stay together as a group. Although there are a ton more people out there in general and lots of support, people are all doing different distances and don't all stay together. The route is marked on the road and with cue sheets, but you can also usually just follow whoever is in front of you (unless it is raining like at Tour de Pike and nobody comes out!)  and there are rest stops every 15-20 miles where they generally provide snacks, water, and Gatorade. They are interesting from a training perspective because you don't usually stop so much for cookies during a triathlon (if there is a race out there where you do, please someone let me know!) but it makes it less intimidating to tackle a new or long And they're just fun!

The Tony Serrano ride had options of 10, 39, 60, or 100 mile routes and I had heard so many wonderful things about this bike ride from my friends before Saturday. It was said to have really scenic and beautiful routes, paved smooth roads, not a lot of car traffic, and most importantly - the most amazing snacks and food at the rest stops! I have been hearing about the cookies, brownies, peanut butter balls, and sandwiches for weeks and was really looking forward to the ride to experience all the hype for myself.  I heard people saying on Saturday that Tony Serrano ride is the one bike ride where you will finish having gained weight due to all the good food along the course! After some debate (which I'll get to in a minute), I planned to do the 60 mile route and if I was feeling good, add some miles on to the end of it.

I decided to meet with a few other people from ITL to caravan together to the ride. I knew that I didn't necessarily need to do that and could opt to go right there - but I made the decision the night before to make the ride as positive as possible and to fit in as much time with the group. So joining the caravan was an extra way to add more time to see friends, even if it was at 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot of a gas station!

I was glad I chose to caravan because it meant that I was parked close to the group as we all arrived at the same time, were able to check in and get bikes ready together. At 8:00 a.m. a small group of riders who were planning to do the century ride went out, and not long after at 8:30 a.m. the rest of us took off. I had heard rumors that the start of the race could get really crowded and I was a little nervous for that, and I was also uneasy because I hadn't been able to connect with a number of people that I was planning to see that day at the race. There were a lot of people there and it's hard to tell who everyone is while we're covered up in bike gear and with helmets on. It was a chilly at the start and most of us were bundled up pretty well.


While I wasn't able to locate the person I thought I would be riding with for the day, while we were waiting to start, I made plans to stick with one of the other ITL athletes, Kevin. I was a little nervous because I think he is a bit faster than me (although he is kind and said the same about me) but I know that he is super supportive and encouraging so I was all for it. Any time I have a friend to do a workout with makes for a better day!

The beginning of the ride was a bit chilly and we spent a little time just getting into a groove and with the pack of people riding thinning out a bit. It turned out to be an awesomely beautiful day once the sun warmed things up a bit, fingers began to thaw and jackets came off. The sun was shining all day and a perfect day to ride.

In addition to the gorgeous weather and route, there were so many other ITL athletes, Atlanta Triathlon Club friends, and cyclists/triathletes that I know out on the course that every rest stop felt like a party. And oh man, nobody was exaggerating at all when they talked about how good the snacks were! At the first rest area at Mile 20 I ate cookies, a brownie, and a whole bunch of their "peanut butter balls" and wanted to go back for more of the yogurt, granola, bananas, banana breads, cakes, candy, etc. that they had. It really was a spread like no other! Throughout the day we made our way around the course, stopping at the various rest stops along the way - sometimes sticking around to socialize a bit and sometimes just using the bathroom and then moving on.


I felt strong throughout the whole day and was really happy to have a good day riding where I felt comfortable, strong and in control on the bike. I worked on trying to use my gears more while going up the hills and using my little ring of gears on my bike. I had just been told that I needed to do this more by my friend Brad at the Atlanta Cycling group ride and I had also been told that by my coach that I need to use my gears more previously. When we started riding, Kevin told me that his goal for the day was to work on improved cadence, so I figured I would hop on the bandwagon and use the extra focus of trying to use my gears more. I think it helped and I felt strong until the finish, but then again one of the ITL coaches had said before the race that the first 50 miles of the route are a net down hill - so perhaps that helped me to feel good as well!

It seems silly but I kept reminding myself also just to have fun. Ever since I got into triathlon, I have sometimes had a hard time being the silly/goofy/light hearted person that I am when I am out on my bike. I think it is the intimidation that I still feel at times since I don't feel comfortable that I know what I am doing, or the fact that it is just hard for me, but I get nervous and anxious and don't end up being myself. I consider when I am "being myself" to be light hearted, laughing, smiling, happy, and not taking myself too seriously. So throughout the day I just kept reminding myself to be myself. Tell stories! Ask questions! Make jokes! Laugh! Smile! Don't take everything so seriously! I have never been one to have social anxiety AT ALL but put me around cyclists and it's a totally different story for me so I really tried to work on that yesterday at the Tony Serrano ride.


I went into the ride on Saturday a little more on edge than usual as lately I have been feeling a lot of frustration around not feeling like I am where I want to be in training. I have had a hard time identifying any progress being made on the bike. I haven't been able to run as much because my hip is hurting me. I haven't hit any new milestones lately in terms of distance or pace on the bike, etc. After my really big high of a weekend in March, I've felt a little bit let down getting back into the routine-ness of training. Nerves have started to pick up because my race is coming closer into the picture now that it is April and we are a month away.

A couple weeks before this past weekend's ride, I'd had the idea planted in my head that maybe I would try to do the century option for the ride. I knew that a number of people would be doing it and it kept coming up in conversation with people asking me if I was planning on it or asking me why I wasn't doing it. Which was a little hard for me.

I am naturally a "Yes!" person. I like to say yes to things. My friends know this and often love this about me because they can count on me for things... whether it's a partner in crime to do something silly, a vacation buddy, someone to run an extra mile with, or just tag along doing errands they don't feel like doing alone. I am usually always game! Saying "Yes" has led to some amazing things in my life.

Me saying yes even when I have been unsure if I was ready to take on the challenge has led me to so many life-changing things. It is how I agreed to run my first marathon. How I agreed to go to Half Ironman World Championships in Australia. How I agreed to attempt a sub-4 marathon. And so many more examples - both athletically and personally - that have come from me saying yes. So when people started talking about the century ride... I very much wanted to say yes! I like taking on hard things. I like challenges. I like trying new stuff. And because I had been lacking a milestone on the bike lately, I thought it would be good to tackle a new distance.

When I brought this up to my coach, he suggested I hold off on a century until later in training. For perfectly smart and logical reasons. Reasons that come from being an experienced, trained athlete and coach, who is looking out for MY best interests and MY goals I lay out when we first started working together. We talked about the ride and my feelings around it and although I knew that I would ultimately listen to what he was recommending - I still felt uneasy saying "No" to something. Plus, I can be stubborn and independent and have been used to making my own decisions for many years. Sometimes someone telling me not to do something makes me want to do it more, and yeah, even when I ask for advice, sometimes I get frustrated when the answer isn't what I want to hear (even when I know it is the right answer.)

"Saying no" is something that I actually wrote about on this blog at about this time last year. This isn't the first time I have dealt with it. It's something I have talked about with my friends before and how I need to be better at it. About how sometimes it is more courageous to say no than to say yes. And Brickney has told me when I say no to things, to focus on the things I am saying "Yes" to when I do turn something down. Unfortunately for me, I totally forgot about all of this stuff until today when I sat down to write this. And now I am wondering why I didn't just reread my own words about a week ago? **Insert shaking head and/or palm face emoji**

This blog is often sobering for me because I have rosy-colored hindsight. I forget that I have gone through things in the past. Some people may have partners, friends, training buddies, coaches, etc. who act as mirrors for them and reflect back their former pains, thoughts, or words. And for me, my blog has always very much been that and it's a reason that I still keep it alive even though I don't write in it as often or as thoughtfully as I have at times in the past. But it is always great for me to reread how I was nervous before a big race and what I did to calm myself down, what went well in training, when I had similar pains or injuries, and how I prepared for events. I write for others who may be going through the same thing, but also for myself so I can reflect back when my memory doesn't.

Ultimately, I know (and always knew) I made the right choice in following the guidance of my coach. I know that I wasn't being rationale and didn't react well to saying "no." I knew all of this in the moment too, but had a hard time stopping myself from reacting, which goes to show that I need to continue to work on mindfulness and meditation.

Another friend helped pinpoint it for me as well, reminding me that sometimes, I'm so focused on the destination of where I want to be, I forget to enjoy the journey. I think that has been very true in some of my training lately. I have never been very good at being patient, nor have I been very good at being/feeling left out of things and right now in my training, I am surrounded by people who I strive to be like - but I am just not there yet. Even just writing that is hard for me. I don't like admitting "I am not there yet" because sport and triathlon is my way of feeling strong. But I am getting so caught up in wanting to be somewhere I am not, I am forgetting to enjoy all of the steps along my own path and all the fun things that are a part of the journey to get stronger.

I feel that same way sometimes as many of my friends are going through bigger life changes like getting married and having kids and I'm not there yet. While that situation is a little tougher to solution (i.e. I am not going to be going and getting knocked up any time soon just to keep up with my friends) I think I felt I could make that quick jump in triathlon thinking, "Let me just jump into where I want to be! Let's do the harder stuff!"

So on Saturday, I did the 60 miles route with Kevin the whole time and I had so much fun. I added another loop of 10 miles with another ITL athlete Kimberly and finished it off with 5 solo miles on my own to end the day at 75 - a number I felt really, really good about. I focused the day on having fun and on being myself. I focused on enjoying the sunshine, the scenery, the overall ride and my goal that I had on hand. The day was so gorgeous and there were so many friends out riding that we'd run into, that it was hard not to have fun. I made sure to take everything in including the perfectly blue sky and bright green trees, the what seemed like perfectly smooth roads, the good conversation, and the fact that I had an awesome riding buddy in Kevin who I think we were very simpatico in riding together, pushing each other the right amount at different points. It doesn't happen so often that I have a person to run or ride with that we set out to do a workout together and stick together, so I really enjoyed that companionship and support.


I finished my 75 miles feeling strong and ended the day with a 2 mile run off the bike with Kimberly. It was a fantastic day all around that I felt so happy all around - with the sole exception of the fact that my hip started hurting at the very end of my 2 mile run, after a full day of not feeling any pain.


I stuck around for a while afterwards - partly because I was tired and didn't feel like getting in my car and driving home. And partly to see others finish and celebrate them as them came in. And partly because I was just having fun and enjoying being outside and with friends.


The weekend was a little bit of a wakeup call for me to remember to stay focused on my myself and to take things less seriously and remember to have fun. Moving forward, my goal is to focus on enjoying every. single. step. of MY process and MY journey. On Saturday I biked my longest distance I ever have at 75 miles. That is SUPER far and a LOT of miles! I felt good and I felt strong throughout all of it and I am happy that I was able to celebrate this distance milestone for me. Whenever I do get to 100 - well that's another day and another new distance to celebrate. Why rush to do that now? More things to celebrate = better.

I mentioned before, that sometimes I feel like I have not fully been myself around the cycling and triathlon community. I want to keep working on getting there. On being sillier. Being less serious. I want the Katelyn that was dancing in the streets with India and Ayanna cheering on the Publix Marathoners to be the Katelyn that shows up to triathlon events. I love being supportive of other people and I have called myself a "professional fan" for my friends as I will cheer for them in whatever it may be that they are doing. I love to be able to celebrate and see others accomplish new things and love being there to cheer them on. The more comfortable I am, the more that side of me comes out and it makes me happy. I want to keep my focus on my own path but also continue to support and celebrate everyone as they take steps forward in THEIR journeys, whatever they may be. I loved this weekend for all the big milestones people reached... both all the people at the Tony Serrano ride taking on centuries, and my other friends who are at earlier stages and looking to take on more intimidating next steps in cycling (clip in shoes!!)

It was an awesome weekend for biking and the Tony Serrano ride lived up to the hype. I'm really proud of myself and thankful for my coach, friends to train with, and friends who remind me to not take life so seriously (... and sometimes this can all be the same person!)

Side note: The Tony Serrano century ride is put together by the friends and family of Tony Serrano, a cyclist who was hit from behind and killed by a car in 2014 while training for an Ironman. The mission of the ride is to promote safety and awareness for cyclists.  All of the amazing food is made by the family and the proceeds from the race go towards different causes related to bicycle safety. This year, money from the race went towards new "Share the Road" road signs to go out throughout the community promoting the GA law that cars need to leave 3-feet between cyclists. It is an amazing community effort to put on this ride and continue to drive safety for cyclists, in memory of a father, husband, son, friend, and brother who tragically lost his life too soon.  You can learn more about the Tony Serrano ride and the mission here: http://www.tonyserranoride.com/


Monday, April 3, 2017

Second half of March - Training Recap

I had a really awesome March and much of it was centered around that Publix weekend for this year. I continued to have strong workouts the end of March and keep pushing myself in new ways, but also working to remain healthy as the month ended with my hip pain flaring up again. Time to focus more on the little things and set goals for myself throughout April to stay focused and healthy in my last full month before my race!

Monday, March 20 - 3300 M Swim at Windy Hill

The weekend after my exciting and fun time doing a 65 mile ride followed by a half marathon PR, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to return to the pool to swim and keep on my training. I was tired and it was tough to pull myself out of bed, but man did I feel badass.


Tuesday, March 21 - ITL Track Tuesday (6.5 miles)

Thank goodness there was a recovery workout because I needed it. I love that even though it is a large group that shows up for the track workouts, the coaches make sure to know and understand the different goal races that everyone is working towards - or has accomplished - and builds a number of different workouts for the various target races out there. By coaching with this group, ITL, I have my own coach who is there for me personally and builds my plans - but I have access to the wider group of coaches who also really strive to make personal connections and relationships with the athletes, which is awesome.

Wednesday, March 22 - AM 2750 M Swim + PM 1:25 trainer ride

The workouts on this Wednesday were tough for me. I think maybe I was coming down from my high from the weekend and just starting to feel a bit tired and drained and back to the grind. Looking back a week and a half later, I can see that it definitely was a lot to go right from a big weekend into this, but at the time I just was thinking "Why do I feel so off??" I had such a high from a training weekend, that I started to expect every workout to feel like some sort of breakthrough or super exciting thing. But in reality, sometimes a workout is just a workout and you just have to get it done.



Thursday, March 23 - 6 mile morning run with ITL

I enjoyed this run, doing the majority of it with one of the girls I've been getting to know through training. I love running and chatting with friends. It is one of my favorite things and I don't get to do it all that often anymore. So whenever I have a workout that has a good pace partner to talk to, it always makes me happy.

Friday, March 24 - 1 hour spin + 30 minute run

My schedule for the weekend was looking a little different than my other weekends since I had a friend that would be in town.  So instead of a long weekend bike, I did a trainer ride on Friday morning and then went outside for a 30 minute run following the trainer. I had to start this earlier than I would have liked since I had a chiropractor appointment in the morning early, but it was awesome to have it be 7:30 a.m. and already done a brick workout.


I felt good running after being on the bike and felt strong and accomplished after this workout. I had been wondering when I would start getting some post-bike runs in and this was the first of them! I started off strong.

Saturday, March 25 - 1 mile warm up + 5K race (Atlanta Women's 5K)

My coach had originally given me Saturday off from training but then my friend Kristen who was in town said she would like to do a 5K race. Since there was a pretty big one going on, we both decided to do the 5K and my coach added a 2 mile warm up. My day off was suddenly a 5 mile run but I was a little excited for it because I have been running fast and thought it would be fun to try for a new 5K PR.

Well, I then got a lecture from my chiropractor about trying to run a 5K hard the weekend after a half marathon PR with a recovering hip injury, and I also realized that the course was FULL OF HILLS. Then, come the morning of the race, I had drank a little too much the night before and didn't feel great, we were late to the race and I only had time for a 1 mile warm up, and then the start of the 5K was so crowded with people I could barely move around them. So I quickly into the start of the race tossed aside the idea of a PR and instead hoped for a strong run.

I did the 5K in 26:26 and had negative splits throughout the miles, so I was happy with that! Plus, I wore the top I had worn from Publix and realized that it is size small. And it fits me. This is a non-scale/non-training victory that I will take.




Sunday, March 26 - 8 mile run at Kennesaw Mountain

Sunday morning while my friend was sleeping, I snuck out of bed to head to Kennesaw Mountain for the trail run with ITL. I was really nervous because it was downpouring rain the night before and I had these visions in my head of the mountain being a complete mud pit circa Tough Mudder 2014 in Vermont. Fortunately, it wasn't bad and I finished with just some muddy legs but running wasn't a challenge (any more than it already is to run there!)


My pace continues to slip every time I run at Kennesaw, which isn't exactly what I want. However, it was the first time that I ran there and ran continuously so I was happy about that. I'm hoping all these little tougher, not my normal things that I am doing will help me in the end. I did strides at the end of my long run and then returned home to meet up with Kristen.

Monday, March 27 - PM 3200 M swim

I did something I rarely do and didn't get up in the morning for my workout. I was tired and I knew that I had the evening free so I skipped getting out of bed to get to the gym for the group swim and instead, did it in the evening by myself.

Once I got there and saw the workout I was happy that I didn't go in the morning. It was a long slow workout, which was good, but it wasn't one that necessarily had any benefit by doing with a group. I happily got my swim in and then head home for the evening.  Oh yeah, and because I swam in the evening as opposed to the morning, I totally forgot I had makeup on...


Tuesday, March 28 - Track Tuesday with ITL (5.45 miles)

This Tuesday morning's workout was tough! I was really hoping for another recovery week but there was a specific workout for people training for Chattanooga 70.3 so I had no excuse but to do that workout.  It consisted of a 1600, 1200, 1000, 800, and 400. You stared with the mile being at 5K pace and got faster for each one, with an easy 200 recovery in between.  I started out way too fast for my first mile and had a hard time trying to get any faster during them - but I was proud that I stayed semi-consistent throughout and then pushed out a harder 400.

My pace times were:

1600: 7:18 pace
1200: 7:21 pace
1000: 7:13 pace
800: 7:23 pace
400: 6:37 pace


Wednesday, March 29 - AM 3350 Swim + PM 1 hour trainer ride

Wednesday after track started a 5 day stretch of really hard workouts. Well, really, it started on Tuesday with the tough track workout. But Wednesday started the doubles.  I did swim practice on Wednesday morning with the group and did 3350 M and in the evening I had a 1 hour trainer ride that really was a tough one.

Thursday, March 30 - AM 6 mile run + PM Atlanta Cycling 21 mile ride

I had a 7:00 a.m. presentation to give so Thursday's set of doubles started with a morning 6 mile run through my neighborhood solo.  I was disappointed I couldn't go to the group run with ITL and that I had to start too early for my friends, because I always prefer a friend run to a solo run (for the most part.) But I got it done and was on the call just in time. It was warm enough for a short sleeved morning run, which was the first of the year for me!


In the evening, I made my way to Atlanta Cycling in Vinings for the group ride I did a lot last year. I have been waiting for the time change so that they would be back as an option for me and last week was my first one. It was just as fun as I remembered and I enjoyed being back out there trying to chase the fast people! I felt strong and fast during this ride and I finished with an average pace of 16.4 mph. This is just almost my fastest ride that I have done ever for this route, which was at the end of the year last year. I think it would be cool to have a ride average in 17 mph on this route. It might be a goal of mine for the summer!


Side note, not training related:

When we finished this bike ride, a number of people were talking incredulously and I pulled out my phone to a number of text messages... all alerting of a collapse on the 85 highway. On Thursday, March 30, a fire started underneath a highway overpass which melted the concrete and a portion of the highway collapsed. Cars were stuck for hours and hours and the highway is going to be out of commission for months. It's totally crazy and going to impact things in Atlanta for quite a bit but at the time - everyone was just passing around information that they knew, which wasn't too much. Weird times in Atlanta!!

Friday, March 31 - AM 2750 M swim practice + PM strength workout

Friday was my last day of double workouts before going into a heavy weekend. I was nervous about going to swim in the morning with the traffic situation from the highway being out but it turned out to not be bad and I was really happy I went! Despite feeling a bit sluggish in the water, I was glad to get in 3 swims this week and finish out on the workout as planned.


In the evening, I went to the gym in my apartment complex to complete a super sweaty and tough body weight strength exercise from my coach. It was tough and I was so tired, but I just imagined myself getting stronger and stronger to push through.


Saturday, April 1 - 3:30 bike ride + 2 mile run

I am including the weekend workout in my March recap because the Saturday and Sunday workouts finished off a week long build so it makes sense to me to keep them all together in my recaps.

I woke up on Saturday morning super tired and feeling nervous about the workout. I knew it was going to be a long day and for whatever reason felt anxious about it. I had a tough time on the ride, felt weak and slow and lacking energy.  It had been a tough 3 days prior and I felt like my legs had nothing more to give even though I mentally was trying to get them to. I've been distracted lately on the bike wishing that I was in a place where others are. And I mean that in the terms of the shape that I want to be in. I want to be faster. I want to be a stronger rider. I want to work hard to get there and I am ready to put in the time and the effort to do that... but sometimes my body just doesn't allow me to. And my legs just didn't have much in them on this day and my hip was bothering me for a good portion of the ride as well.

I told myself that my coach, Jerome, would be telling me that the ride is really just about the time in the saddle, not about the speed, so I focused on that and completed my 3:30 ride. Unfortunately, I think I was a little cranky along the way and probably not the best teammate to my other riders, but hopefully will try to make up for that in the future.

My first real brick workout went well and I felt good running. I was happy to have finished my workouts on this day and I enjoyed the sunshine throughout the rest of my Saturday.


Sunday, April 2 - 10 mile run at Kennesaw Mountain

By the end of Saturday, my hip was feeling better. I actually thought to myself, "Huh? Biking today seemed to help it!" so I wasn't too worried about the run being painful on my hip, but was more just concerned about the motivation to do it because I was tired.  I wanted to sleep in, but sleeping in turns out to be at a 7:00 a.m. wakeup, so I ended up rushing out the door to make the trail run with ITL in Kennesaw.

I started out feeling good, and then slowed my pace a bit to be able to run with some friends. But a few miles in, I was starting to hurt. At around 4 miles, I wondered if I should turn back and call it quits on the 10 miles but I thought I could just go easier and take some walk breaks and I would be okay. However, when I got 5 miles out, I wasn't sure if the aggravation in my hip was ok anymore or not.

Coming back, I took it very easy and had a walk/run mixture where the running was a lot of very tender running to the point of almost tiptoeing, not wanting to stress it. Whenever it hurt, I backed off and walked a bit, knowing that this run was not worth it to do any longer term damage. However, I also just wanted to be done with this run for the day and make it back to my car.

It was a tough day and I spent the rest of my Sunday feeling a bit down about the pain returning. It is not how I wanted to start off the month! However, I had a really strong March and feel like I am still in a good place - so mainly want to just let this recover as best as possible. I feel like I've been on and off the months this year. January was strong, February was a little weaker, March was strong, maybe April will be a weaker month for then a strong May? We'll see.

That's my training recap for you for this month!  Happy April everyone!

P.S. This post features ALL THE SELFIES and I basically look the same in all of them. The end.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Atlanta Georgia Publix Half Marathon 2017 Race Recap

On Sunday morning I ran the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon for the third time and I am happy to say that it was a redemption year from last year's race and a truly awesome day. It is the only big race I have done multiple times and every year it continues to be really memorable. I was really looking forward to the Publix race weekend as it is a our big hometown race and really brings out all of the different running and triathlon groups to race or spectate. I ran into friends from every different group and every different club both on the course and off, which really made it so enjoyable. In addition, now that I live in the city, I know the neighborhood and route much better (we run by where I live!)

As much as I was looking forward to it, I was also a bit nervous as the past two years of running this race had been two very different experiences for me, with the most recent, being a not so good one. In 2015, Publix was a target race for me - I trained with a group with the goal of breaking 2 hours and I succeeded, finishing in 1:57:52.  This time has remained just about my half marathon PR, having only broken 2 hours one other time, which was a year later at the Miami Half Marathon where I ran 4 seconds faster in 1:57:48.

In 2016, the not so good experience, was in the middle of training for my first Half Ironman, I ran this race and felt terrible. I finished in about 2:13, felt in so much pain, had to walk some of the hills, and was really demoralized and upset at the end of the race. It scared me a lot as I realized how much I felt like I still needed to do in order to prepare for Chattanooga and really gave me a lot of anxiety leading up to that race.

Leading up to Publix this year, I have been working hard and know that I am in good shape - but I did not know what to expect as far as a time goes for the race. Outside of the track workouts I do each week, I haven't been running fast. My easy runs are around 10:00 minute miles and the only recent long runs I have done have been on the trails, where my pace is more around 10:40. On top of that I've been dealing with hip pain at times, and due to that have only really gotten my long runs up to 9 miles or so. I knew that it would be a confidence boost if I could redeem myself from last year and run a strong race at Publix, but I honestly didn't know if I had it in me. And I also didn't want to cut back on any of my training in order to taper for Publix.

As I was trying to decide what to do last week, the main coaches from the group I am training with called and asked what my goal was for the race. He said that he thought I had been running really strong at the track workouts and suggested we run together and he would pace me for whatever I was trying to accomplish. At the time I still wasn't sure entirely what I wanted to do as I was debating whether or not to participate in a big group bike ride that was taking place the day BEFORE Publix. However, after talking it through with my personal coach, I decided on my plan for the weekend -which was to bike 65 miles on Saturday at an organized group ride called the Tour de Pike and THEN do my best to run a strong race on Sunday, aiming for around 2 hours. I decided to take Adam up on his offer to pace me.

The ride on Saturday ended up being a really tough day - it was my longest bike ride this season by 20 miles, and it also downpoured rain. It was cold and rainy for the first few hours and then when the rain dropped down, the wind picked up. We had head winds and cross winds and it was really difficult to ride in aero position and sometimes I felt like I was getting blown off the road in a way that I hadn't experienced on the bike before. I ended up finishing in a little over 4 hours, with an average speed of 15.5 which is a decent speed for such a long ride for me and my fastest speed at that distance ever. I have only done 65 mile rides a few times and never ridden in the rain so it was a big accomplishment!


But I still had the half marathon on Sunday ahead of me and on Saturday evening I was feeling pretty nervous. My legs felt okay, but my whole body was tired. So I knew that I needed to do the best to take care of myself and focus on my mental strength for the race. I reread my blogs from the past two years of Publix, I lay out my clothing and prepped my nutrition the night before, and went to bed early. Getting up in the morning and Ubering to the race (note to self for next year: it was surge pricing in the morning, so maybe plan for something else!)

I met up with the ITL group at their tent. I was given a blue tank to wear over my shirt, which would make it my first time running in ITL gear. I felt a little nervous about that if I am being honest... all the ITL athletes I know are really fast and impressive. Just putting on the team gear for the first time and representing them in this big race, I have to say intimidated me a little bit. It felt like there was something to uphold by running in the ITL brand. It felt good knowing that for this first time doing it, I would have the head of the organization running with me. Despite feeling so welcomed by everyone, I still often have to get over intimidation that creeps up in my own mind and the fact that Adam was running this race with me really made me feel like I belonged.

Last year before Publix started I hung out by myself in Starbucks. The year before I sat in my car. Both times I met up with a few people or said hello to either Movers + Pacers or Running Nerds, but this year felt like a totally different thing. I was a part of a team.

I went over to the start line with Adam, my coach Jerome, my friend Kristin, and a few other individuals from our group. I jumped up and down a bit to warm up, got my watch ready, and before we knew it we were off. The first miles were really crowded. There was a lot of dodging around people and I was just doing my best to not trip over others and keep Adam’s blue shirt in my sights. From the very start we were seeing people that we knew in the crowd of runners. We passed a number of other ITL runners and I saw my friends Ayanna and Diana cheering, as well as others from various running groups I know throughout Atlanta early on.

Once we cleared the herd a bit, we got into a rhythm and Adam was in charge of keeping pace and my job was to just stick with him. We started talking and continued to say hello to people that we knew, as I saw my friend Shawn and my nutritionist Ilana on the course. Adam told me stories about the early days of ITL and how he got to know the other coaches in the group. I told about my running friends and the various groups I had been a part of.

I never looked at my watch once and never questioned what pace we were running. I was just very much enjoying the run and was feeling good.  He could tell I was feeling good and commented on that, every now and then reminding me, “Easy… easy…” in order to not go out too fast. Aside from commenting that our first mile was around 10:30 and that we hit one of the hills at 8:30, I didn't ask or question what our pace was and Adam didn't share much. I honestly wasn't even tempted to look at my own watch. I was just enjoying the sun shining, running and chatting with friends, and the atmosphere and crowd all over. The picture below is how I feel like I was for the majority of the race! Just waving hello to people and doing my thing.


When we went through some of the aid stations, I took some of my Gu Chomps, with Adam actually volunteering to navigate the water stations and grabbing what I needed for me. My legs started to feel a little heavy as we entered into Little Five Points but I didn't acknowledge it out loud. Adam has run this race more times than me and had told me we could pick up some time on some of the downhill coming out of L5P and I think the change of pace recharged my legs. As did running into more people that we knew, including 3 ITL athlete and friends who were pushing a wheelchair athlete - smiling and laughing the whole time.

We made it through Freedom Park Trail and into Virginia Highlands and then into Piedmont Park. This race really does give you an amazing tour of what Atlanta has to offer. More memories came back from the years running prior, more running into people along the course we knew, and still I felt good. My legs definitely were starting to fatigue a bit, which I may have said out loud at this point, but we were still talking and running as we had been the whole time.

As we rounded out towards the exit to Piedmont Park, I asked Adam how he was doing. I felt selfish not asking earlier and having this race be so much about me. I knew it was a meaningful weekend and race for him as well and wanted to be sure he was doing good. He's been recovering from injury and we had discussed that he'd take me as far as he could. At around mile 9 before exiting the park, Adam tasked one of other ITL athletes, Zach, who had been running with us as well how he was feeling. Zach said he was feeling good, so Adam told him to take me to the finish and said he was going to drop back. He told Zach, "She is on pace to PR. Well on track to PR. Just keep going."

It happened really quick that Adam dropped back and we were on our own and I shouted thank you to Adam and ran on for a second as what he said then registered with me, "Huh? Did he say I was WELL on track to PR? How fast were we running??"

I literally hadn't thought to look at my watch once and still did not want to look down and actually see where we were as far as pace goes. I just wanted to stay steady. I was getting super nervous that I would somehow mentally psych myself out or mess up now that I had this awareness of how I was doing. Plus, there are a lot of hills packed into the last 4 miles of this route!

Zach started chatting with me right away and although it was getting harder to breathe up the hills, I talked back. We passed more friends of mine cheering and I just did my best to keep at the pace we were running. As we headed through Midtown, over the highway and into the Georgia Tech campus,I knew my least favorite hill was coming and warned Zach of it. He was a super champ and continued supporting me throughout, doing what Adam had done for me as well, and grabbing water at the stops so I could keep going.


As we finished the race, I could hear the finish before I saw it and was willing it to be as close as possible. I hadn't seen mile markers in a while but knew the route well enough to know we were nearly there. Throughout the whole race I hadn't felt any pain in my hip, but a slight twinge in that last mile. I kept running steady and didn't try to sprint much, not wanting to aggravate it as we rounded the last corner and to the finish line, I hit my watch and glanced down at it for the first time since I turned it on. 1:56 was what I saw. I didn't know my official time, but like Adam said, I was well under a PR!



I didn't really react right away, just kept walking with Zach, who said his watch was 1:55-something, caught my breathe and grabbed the post-race items that they were handing out. I felt good and not in pain or like I was going to collapse/die/pass-out as I have at the end of some races with really tough efforts. And I also didn't have that immediate feeling of accomplishment and excitement of getting a PR. It almost felt like I was in a bit of disbelief. And I also don't think it hit me right away of how to react because it wasn't something that I had been trying for in this race - it just sort of happened without me expecting it!

We watched some ITL people come through the finish and then returned over to the tent where some of the athletes who had already finished were hanging out. I heard someone say "Oh! Here comes Katelyn!" as we walked up. Adam was there already and they were waiting to hear how it went. It was a great feeling to tell the group that I had PR-ed by about two minutes and everyone cheered for me. Adam gave me a hug and congratulated me and it was an awesome feeling. It hit me for the first time at that moment how well I did and every minute and hour from that point on in the day, I got more and more excited and happy about how the race went. My mile splits for the race were: 9:47 / 8:55 / 9:03 / 8:55 / 8:42 / 7:39 / 8:28 / 8:38 / 8:09 / 8:34 / 8:36 / 8:44 / 8:37 / 7:28.




Now, a few days post race, I am still so happy. I had such a fun day on Saturday. And this entire weekend. Honestly, the fact that I got a personal best time in the half marathon was just a cherry on top of a really positive weekend for me. Looking back at it, the support I received throughout the whole weekend - start to finish - from the coaches and other athletes within the group, as well as my friends and people I know from other groups, made me feel so good. And I loved the progress I was able to see in myself. To run a best time by 2 minutes the day after a tough 65 mile bike? And to do it feeling as good as I did? Really shows me that I have been making improvements and getting stronger.

It was so incredible to feel the support of this community. Throughout the weekend, my coach Jerome listened to me as I stressed about what to do, told me that he was confident in me, checked in with me, gave me advice and recommendations, and supported me throughout everything. I was so excited to see him after the race and tell him how I did. I felt really grateful that Adam reached out, offered to run with me, and chose to spend what is a special race weekend for him, helping me achieve something. Something that I didn't even think to reach for on my own but that he had seen in me! Whether it was inviting me to join that Saturday group bike ride itself, carpooling, sharing of clothing, or keeping me going for the last 4 miles of the race (!!!), all of the other athletes in ITL, who have only known me a few months, all made this weekend so special and fun to me because I really felt like a part of the team. The support, generosity and welcoming attitudes are something that I have found in some of my friendships in Atlanta but has been mostly lacking for me within the triathlon community.



There were so many inspiring elements to the race this year also. The organization I ran with for the Thanksgiving Half Marathon, Walking with K-Peasey, had around 40 athletes being pushed in wheelchairs for the half marathon. My little buddy, Grant, who I had pushed, was there with his mom, who I ran into after the race. And my continual inspiration, Cougar, I got to say hello to before and cheer for him on the course. I loved seeing everyone out there and that organization and the people involved are truly inspiring. And in addition, people from all over the world came to Atlanta for "Team Take Down Publix" in an attempt to have the largest number of black marathoners in one race. I heard afterwards that a normal marathon is usually about 2% black runners, but this one was 25% due to the work of Heather King to promote and recruit runners to take on the challenge.

There were also so many fun portions about the weekend. It started on Friday during the day when I met up for a work date with Ayanna and Brick. Friday night I spent St. Patrick's Day having a couple drinks with India and Nikki and enjoying the nice weather. We had ridiculous conversation and laughed a lot and I'm so thankful to have them in my life. There was an ITL pasta party in between the bike ride and the run. And on Sunday after my own race, I went out to the last mile of the marathon with Ayanna, India and Nikki to cheer on many of my friends who took on the full 26.2  of Atlanta hills. At that point in time my happiness from the race had fully washed over me and my cheering and jumping up and down was mixed in with dancing and being completely silly in the middle of the  street. Thinking back I am still laughing at one comment from Ayanna that even the police officer patrolling traffic around the race couldn't hold back and burst out laughing at. Then Sunday in the evening, I went for a celebratory burger and beer with Shelby, who dropped her own meal prep when I reached out and asked if she was interested.




It was a really fun race and a really fun weekend overall. The Publix half marathon continues to be a memorable one for me and today I registered online for the race to run it again in 2018. Looking forward already to year 4 of this race and thankful to everyone who made this year's run so much fun and a great experience for me. 1:55:55 is the time to beat!