Thursday, August 25, 2016


Yesterday was my 30th birthday. A day I have been anticipating  for years - and no, not for the obvious reasons - but because of this blog! Hungry Twenties, a little venture I started out when I was just barely 23 years old and the thought of turning 30 was a million years from my mind. That I might even still have the blog when I would turn thirty and have to reconsider the name... was even further from my mind. And any notion of what the blog would become - and who I would become - were not even a tiny bit of a speckle in my mind.

Yet, thirty. Here I am!

I created this little place on the internet for myself in 2009. I can't even believe it has been that long. This blog has been a constant in my life more than most things throughout those years. I was just barely 23 years old and it feels like forever ago at this point in time. And not just because it was, in fact, a really long time ago.  But because I am a different person.

I did not exercise. I was overweight, more than 60 pounds heavier than I weigh today. I was living in a 4-bedroom apartment in Albany, New York. It was a fun, crazy, exciting time of my life with endless happy hours, late nights with big groups of friends, a revolving door of roommates coming in and out from Craigslist, a dating life that happened the old fashioned way that didn't involve swiping, laughter sessions with roommates until I cried, questions and confusion figuring out how to become an adult and figuring out who I was. Then one day I decided to start this space.

Without knowing where they were going, things started to change. Looking back now you can see the progression in my writing and in my mindset. Before my own very eyes and before the eyes of many readers, I started training for and ran my first 5K. I lost weight. I gained confidence. I began to love fitness and exercise. I started to see myself as strong and exercise as a challenge. I began to love to challenge myself, set goals, and push further than I had gone the last time.

I signed up and trained for my first sprint triathlon. My first half marathon. My first marathon. My second, and third marathons. My first Half Ironman. And now my second Half Ironman. Seriously guys, how did that even happen?

This year I have devoted more time to exercise than I ever have in my entire life. I have taken some of that "relative confidence" I built up over the years through running and applied it to new athletic endeavors. I am truly entering into this new decade in the BEST SHAPE of my life and with a better grasp on my physical health than I have ever in my life before. I'm learning my body better and better. I'm becoming stronger, and surprising myself with what my body can do. I am learning about nutrition and diet that will properly fuel my body. And I think of the word "diet" in the sense of what it is that I eat, not a restrictive calorie-cutting soul-crushing thing that I have to follow in order to meet some weight and appearance ideal. This fitness stuff has become my lifestyle.

On October 7, 2009 I sat down and wrote my first post for this blog about how I was eating my way through life - an idea I feel so far removed from today. Don't get me wrong, I still love food. I will always love food. But it no longer defines me in that same way. Throughout the past couple weeks I went back and reread my posts from 2009, 2010, etc. all the way through my first half marathon in April 2013. It was like reliving my twenties right before my eyes and gave me many, many moments to stop and reflect.

In my very first post ever, I posed the question "what's a girl to do?" And like that initial question, I've been finding myself facing that question yet again as I turned thirty.  As a thirty year old with a blog titled "Hungry Twenties" -- what's a girl to do? What do I do with a blog called "Hungry Twenties" when I am no longer in my twenties and no longer that same girl defined by her ability to eat multiple pints of ice cream in one sitting or an entire pizza?

I've been asking myself this question for months now as 30 has been looming. It's the number one question I've been asked as I mention I am turning thirty.  "What are you going to do with your blog???" And honestly, I haven't known. Yesterday I switched my Instagram account to "Hungry Thirties."

It was an easier switch to make than over here on the blog. The thought of changing the name of this blog seems wrong. Of changing the title and URL and rebranding this page... it just doesn't feel right to me. This blog has meant so much to me over the years. It's helped me discover so much about myself, record some of the most amazing years of my life, and served as both an outlet and a resource to voice and share my own fears and anxieties, as well as a place to celebrate and rejoice and do it with all of you! It has been a constant in my life and a part of ME.

I have made so many connections through this blog. Met some wonderful people in person, and some friends who have just remained friends over the internet (someday!) It has helped me stay in touch with some of my closest friends even better (hi Kimmy!) and I know some of my most loyal readers are my family members who I don't get to see nearly as often as I would like. It's helped me reconnect with people, inspired others, and been a place that I continually come back to even after months and months away. I even achieved the goal I had when I started the blog initially, and earned some free food and free things from the blog!  It's been as integral to my twenties as anything else in my life and changing the title at the top of the page doesn't feel right to me.

Yet starting something new doesn't feel the same either. Do I really want to create a whole new blog? Try and deal with migrating readers? Have to reference back to old posts and old blogs here? Abandon this little corner of the internet for something new and shiny and branded differently?  I don't really want to do that either!  Truly, I've been stuck.

I have been writing regularly in this space with over 100 posts a year since 2013. I've recorded travels and adventures around the world, training and eating and exploring new parts the country and of myself. I have written about weddings, and babies being born, and moves across the country, and my continual ups and downs with confidence and body image and health.

This blog means so much to me. YOU, the people out there reading these words right now mean to me. However, with all this being said, I've sort of come to the conclusion that I have decided to take a break from blogging my day-to-day.  That I think the time has come for me to step back a little. I need to determine what to do with my little corner of the internet moving forward. I am not goingto take a break completely and I still will be writing here for the time being, but I have some changesI want to make. And I will likely be posting a lot less frequently. But I won't be gone forever.

I don't think I am ready to say goodbye to the blog. I mean, I am basically never ready to say goodbye to anything. It is an active thought process for me to not become a hoarder and fill my home with every memento from everything in my life. It's one of the reasons that I love blogging so much. And video. And photos. And social media. It gives me a way to hold onto all the memories and the moments and the feelings and the things I am experiencing. It gives me something to look back on and transport me to a place and time and moment that I may have otherwise forgotten about.

So I won't be gone forever. Just on to the next evolution of Hungry Twenties I think. Whatever that may be.

I had a wonderful day yesterday on my birthday. To be honest, I was a little nervous going into it. On Tuesday night I didn't want to go to sleep, knowing that when I woke up I would no longer be in my twenties. But I also knew that, as is the nature of life, even if I didn't go to bed, I would eventually turn 30 either way.

Then, I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling happy. I began my day slowly and by taking some moments to myself, writing a list of 30 things I love about myself.

I went to work, earlier than usual, as I had a work obligation that required me to be in the office by 7:00 a.m. I stopped to pick up my favorite coffee on the way and didn't feel cranky at all about the early meeting that caused me to skip my morning workout - instead, I felt filled with gratitude that I have a job. And a role on a team that puts me in the position to have the opportunity to present to senior leadership.

There was a bounce in my step as I was wearing a pair of pants that have had the tags on them since I bought them in January 2014. These were my "goal pants" that I actually wrote about on here quite a bit. Well, those goal pants never fit throughout 2014. And they remained a goal throughout most of 2015 too. However on my birthday yesterday, two and a half year after buying them, I rocked those bad boys for the first time. I felt so good about myself, despite them still being a bit snugger than I like my dress pants. I decided I no longer want to be constrained by waiting until things are perfect. Otherwise, I may never get to wear the pants (which could be a metaphor for anything.)

I had a wonderful morning at work and genuinely had fun during the time I was there and with my team as we celebrated my birthday at lunchtime. Afterwards, I got in the workout that I missed from the morning, doing a 45 minute run with some short speed intervals along the Chattahoochee with a light rain falling. The air was cooler and the wind was blowing and it the workout felt tough, which made me feel powerful to finish it.

I got a massage, relaxed at home, caught up with friends, was delivered a beautiful bouquet of flowers and then went to a wonderful celebratory dinner with some of my friends. Who happened to all be strong, smart, fearless, compassionate, fun, beautiful women who I met through fitness, running and triathlon in Atlanta, and who all welcomed me into the dirty thirty club with open arms.

Yesterday, the bouquet of flowers I got had a card with it that said "Happy 30. Stay Hungry." which really resonated with me. I had been thinking about wanting to break from the word "Hungry" as I don't identify with that 23 year old overweight and lazy girl eating her way through life. Yet, there's a whole other definition and meaning for the word hungry. Most recently popular with Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech ending with "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Well, I hope to maintain hunger and passion and drive in all that I do, throughout my thirties and beyond. It was the perfect thing to read on my 30th birthday.

Tomorrow I head off to Australia for the Half Ironman World Championships. I am going to share that adventure with you in some capacity. I will write about the trip and the race. You guys have been all along with me for this journey and I thank you for that.

So much love,
Hungry Twenties Thirties

Monday, August 15, 2016

Be a rookie

Last night when I was procrastinating going to sleep (why do I do that??) and scrolling Facebook from my phone in bed, I stumbled upon this video that was shared by a coworker, a TED Talk called "The importance of being a rookie." I watched it all the way through and them immediately wanted to watch it again (but I didn't) and also immediately wanted to get out of bed and start to write down all my thoughts I had about it (but I didn't.)

Instead, I jotted a few notes on my phone and went to bed, got up in the morning, went to swim practice, went to work, went to yoga, came home, ate dinner, and am now sitting down to write to you about the importance of being a rookie.

I've always been a fan of TED talks and have found inspiration in quite a few of them over the years. Both professionally and personally, people always seem to have amazing stories to share and lessons they've learned and I love the simplistic style of someone speaking on a stage to share it.

Throughout this talk, the speaker, Andi Stevensen, talks about the importance of being a "rookie" in your life and the things that you can learn by being a rookie. She starts by talking about skills and experience and about how that is something we strive for. Our careers and most areas of our lives reward skill, experience, and aptitude. However, we need to be sure to put ourselves in a position to be a rookie, for her, using the example of taking ballroom dance classes.

She talks about her fears of not belonging, people judging her, not knowing what to wear, or saying stupid things. She talks about the literal fact that she was the worst person in the room and had to learn something new in front of all new people. How scary that is, yet how alive it made her feel. The compassion she learned from it, and so much more.

It reminded me the entire time I was watching it of how I have been feeling throughout this past year with triathlon and learning to bike. And although I have gotten more comfortable in many areas I still have those fears and anxieties now and then. I've pushed through and gotten better at joining group rides. I have gotten more comfortable wearing the bike jerseys and shorts (the padding is needed in the shorts and those pockets really do come in handy on the jerseys!) but I struggled for months with the "I'm not really supposed to be here..." and "I don't belong in this group" and "Everyone is judging me just for coming out" feelings. The "imposter syndrome" as some have referred to it as. I still don't know the lingo around cycling or have all the gadgets or the fastest times, but I am letting that intimidate me less and less.

She comments in the TED Talk about how crazy it is that we all say to ourselves, "I'm not good at this so I shouldn't do it." Why? What if everyone who was not an immediate expert at (or even good at) something said that? It's such a real thought that we have, yet it is something that we need to all get over. Nobody is good at everything when they start it, you have to work at things. Not being good isn't a reason to not do something. Even if you never get to expert level, you have EVERY RIGHT to do anything at all that you want to.

It reminded me of the Olympics that I've been watching, specifically how Michael Phelps was just beaten by Joseph Schooling of Singapore. Schooling is someone who saw Michael Phelps as an idol and the photo has been circulating of him with Phelps as a young kid - a young fan. LOOK AT THIS PICTURE!

Imagine if Schooling looked at the people better than him, like Phelps, and thought, "Well I'll never be that good so I shouldn't try." Who would have ever thought that years after that photo was taken, he would exceed his idol and win gold at the Olympics?

Even if he didn't ever get to that point, who is one to tell him that he shouldn't be there and try? (Which also refers back to my earlier mention of the Ethiopian swimmer finishing 17 seconds behind the winner in the 100 m freestyle and how much I admire him.)

As I watched this TED Talk, the entire time I thought about my struggle with biking and about being a rookie at it and at endurance triathlon in general. Of going to these World Championships in a couple weeks with only one 70.3 triathlon under my belt that I finished very averagely. I identified with all her fears and later all the lessons that she learns from taking these fears head on. It was amazing how much her words could have been my words.

Then it wasn't until the very end that she makes the point that allowing yourself to be a rookie at something opens up so many doors. It reminds us that we have more to learn, that we are malleable creatures and works in progress.  Being a rookie gives you "absolute and relative confidence" or both the confidence to say, "I now have the skills to do that!" (absolute confidence) as well as "Well if I did that, I can probably do this." (relative confidence.)

It wasn't until I heard the speaker say this that it even clicked in my head that cycling and triathlon wasn't the first time I had ever been a rookie. In fact, I've been a "rookie" many times and an advocate for living outside of your comfort zone for quite some time now.

And for me, a lot of that journey began with running. Running was the first time I really felt like a rookie out there. And one of the most important things that I learned from my experiences going from a Coach to 5K program to running marathons (fairly well too!) is that RELATIVE confidence. It is that confidence that keeps me going at cycling and learning, trying, falling down (literally and figuratively) and moving forward. The confidence I gained from running has served me in so many other areas of my life.

It's given me confidence to do things that scare me. Things that require a 10 minute pep talk sitting in my car before I walk inside the front doors. My mom says to me every now and then, "I just don't know how you do the things you do! I couldn't do that!" but it's not true - anyone can do anything, even if it scares them. What if I had said to myself, "Well I'm not good at running so I can't run a 5K" way back when?

There are many times that I have to sit in my car and give myself a pep talk before I walk through the front door, which is something that the speaker talks about in this TED Talk. But I usually get myself inside. Or outside, in the case of group bike rides, which was something that scared me so much earlier this year and required many car pep talks. Just a couple weeks ago I had to give myself a car pep talk before walking into a group dinner at CHIPOTLE, because I was nervous about walking up to a group of people where I didn't know anyone to join an Atlanta Triathlon Club group event. Things scare me all the time, but I have developed a good amount of relative confidence over the years by taking them on one at a time.

And not everything you're a rookie at you need to see all the way through. Another car pep talk happened before trying a twerking class in Atlanta a few months back. I was so scared to go inside and was completely out of my element. But I wanted to try it and I didn't want to NOT try it because I was intimidated. So I did it. It wasn't my thing, but I have more compassion for seeing the other "rookies" out there for it.

Another car pep talk I gave myself that I can think back on so clearly happened a year and a half or so ago when I literally circled around a street block multiple times and sat in my car for a long time before walking into a random art show in Atlanta. I had reached out to and met up with the head of a local running group, one of the few people who had ever been warm and welcoming to me in Atlanta, but was still so scared to walk into this event that was completely out of my element. However, doing so helped me meet and get to know better a group of people who became my family and community in Atlanta. And I'm pretty sure the compassion that was bestowed upon me was due to these other individuals time "being a rookie" in their own lives.

What I think some people don't realize is that people aren't always built with natural abilities to do things, but they start small and allow themselves to be a "rookie." Joseph Schooling wasn't always a world champion swimmer and I wasn't always a runner or triathlete, but we both didn't allow ourselves to say, "I'm not good at that so I am not going to do it." Instead we said, "I am not good at that YET but I am going to keep working at it."

Now maybe Joseph Schooling was like a child prodigee at swimming and was always good at it, I don't know. That might not be the best example, but it made sense in my mind. Hopefully in yours too. But just in case, why don't you all just go watch this TED Talk and let me know, what are you going to allow yourself to be a rookie at?  As a former rookie in many areas and current room in much more... I promise you'll learn and grow from it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Balancing life again

Well, guys, I finally feel like my life is getting normalized a little bit and my routine is getting back in place... just in time for it to get all messed up again, but that's okay.

For the past couple months, my younger cousin had been staying with me in my extra bedroom in Atlanta, which was really nice to be able to help him out like that and to have company. I was immediately excited when I learned I would have a family member in Atlanta, and we had a fun time with him staying here until he was able to move into the apartment he found. However, it did throw off my routine a bit.  My TomTom GPS watch had broken and I had been running without it since early July. My iPhone broke last week and I spent half a week phoneless. And I just sort of have felt a little discombobulated since coming back from my time up north. Even though I wrote about my success with the nutritionist, the past two weeks I felt a little off with eating healthy but am trying to recalibrate this week since I know what to do now.

So what have I been up to? Well, chasing that ever-a-struggle goal of having a balance between work, personal time, training, and a social life. And I've been doing a good job!

A snapshot of my past week:

Monday 8/8: AM Swim & PM Yoga. I hadn't been to yoga in quite a while, so it was really, really nice to be back. I was terrified it was going to be really hard since I hadn't been in a regular practice, but I was presently surprised that although I am tight and not super flexible - I am certainly strong right now.

Tuesday 8/9: Morning run with Janet (which proved logistically challenging to coordinate without a phone!) and in the evening I had an awesome time going to happy hour with a coworker.

Wednesday 8/10: In the morning, I started the day with a 45 minute ride on the bike trainer inside. I was supposed to bike on Tuesday night but since I had plans, I moved it to the morning. It wasn't quite as strong a workout as it would have been the night before, but I am glad that I made the shift in the workout.  And oh, that downstairs neighbor of mine that complains about the bike trainer? Well, I completely don't care about her complaining anymore after one of her friends stopped me in the parking lot the other day questioning me about the noise I make walking around in my apartment and asking who the man was living with me.  Apparently my downstairs neighbor has been gossiping about me to all her friends in the complex and trying to figure out who it was who had moved in with me - they thought it was my boyfriend! She complained that apparently my "boyfriend" is a stomper and walks too heavy. After this encounter, I am totally over trying to be concerned about my downstairs neighbor's comfort when I need to ride the trainer because I don't think that there is anything that I could do to make her happy besides silently float around my apartment!

In the evening, was one of my favorite events of the year - the Big Ol Group Run. I haven't run with Movers + Pacers in quite a while, but I still showed up to represent the crew in this event that brings together all of the different running crews in Atlanta for a "big ol' group run" throughout the West Midtown neighborhood, finishing at a local brewery.

I pushed my pace to keep up with the faster group during the 6 mile route and finished with a pounding heart rate and feeling close to throwing up, but unfortunately no real data due to a lack of phone, GPS watch, or HR monitor to track it (if a run happens without any data, is it even really a run!?)

Following the run, had so much fun getting to spend time with other local runners and catching up with friends. I even gave in to peer pressure and stayed out way past my bedtime and joined some of the Run Smyrna group for trivia and wings at the group run after party.  It was a great night.

Thursday 8/11: I started the day earlier than I wanted to, but got myself out of bed to get to the gym for strength training with the small group I work out with. It was a tough upper body workout but I was really glad I got it in and felt good with a couple of the ladies commenting that I looked strong and the trainer complimenting me a couple times.  In the evening, I went out with Atlanta Cycling for a 22 mile group bike ride. Usually I use this ride as a tempo workout and I have to kick my own butt to try and keep up with the faster group of riders.  However, that evening I just didn't have it in me.

I still did the group ride, and my 2 mile brick run immediately after the ride, but I hung back with the 2nd group of riders. I still tried to push myself up the hills, but there were a lot more breaks and stops in the ride for me and my speed was significantly slower than other weeks doing the ride. However, I got it in on a body that is getting significantly more and more tired lately. One of the things I am looking forward to sometime in the next couple of weeks is just waking up without an alarm... I miss that (oh, and I had to go out and buy an alarm clock during the week that my phone was out of commission!)

Earlier in the day on Thursday I had been reading about the three recent murders of women that have taken place when they have gone out for runs. Some of which happened in the middle of the day. I can't explain how much this saddens and scares me and sticks in my mind when I go out for runs. How is it that something that is so healthy and wonderful has to have such fear attached to it? Right by where I bike there is a really pretty trail that goes along the Chattahoochee. However, it is more remote, so I close instead to run along the sidewalk by a highway. Blech. It was less than ideal scenery (except when I crossed over the river, seen above!) but made me feel safer to be visible. My thoughts go out to the individuals and their families.

Friday 8/12: Friday morning was my normal swim practice, where we did some 50 sprints throughout. I was thinking of all the Olympic swimmers and how crazy fast they are. For some reason, I still didn't feel like I could get all the power out of my stroke that I wanted to. I just felt tired. It was a busy week and I'm getting into the heaviest bits of training and I haven't had a day off in weeks, so it makes sense, but I am getting to the "When is taper time?!" mode in training for this race.

In the evening, I joined my cousin and met some of his friends at the Sweetwater Brewery for happy hour and had an awesome time meeting some of his coworkers and friends, and enjoying a couple Sweetwater Blue beers before meeting another friend for dinner. Unfortunately, dinner was a bit of a bust and I ate my weight in rosemary garlic fries before my meal even came out, which wasn't that appealing anyways. I still have the entire meal in my fridge as leftovers that who knows if I will ever eat.

Saturday 8/13: I was worried about this workout all week. Two weeks ago I did a 45 mile bike ride followed by a 5 mile run, which felt like a lot. Five miles was the most I had ever run after a bike ride during training, and is only the 3rd time I had ever run that distance following a bike ride (with the first being my Olympic triathlon and the second being Chattanooga 70.3)  This Saturday I had scheduled a 65 mile bike ride and a 5 mile run!

Rather than go to the Atlanta Triathlon Club group rides as I have been doing lately, I decided to just go out on my own. I didn't want to feel any pressure from pace (especially since I had been feeling tired), I didn't have good experiences riding where they were going on Saturday, wanted to start earlier than the group ride, and don't know the distances/routes of that location well. On my own suited me and I started by ride around 7:20 a.m. Throughout the ride, I did pause a few times throughout the ride to have something to eat or stretch OR go to the bathroom... Yup, that's right, for the first time in my long distance running and biking experiences, I had to stop in the middle and pop a squat to pee. Well, unless you count the beginning of the Paris Marathon, but let's not get back into that.

Knowing the porta potties were 15 miles-ish away, I stopped in a remote place and trekked into the woods behind a tree to go to the bathroom at about 45 miles into my ride.

When I started running, it was dead noon and the temperature read 92 degrees without factoring in humidity. The run route has zero shade and it was HOT. I was really worried about overheating, so I paid close attention to my heart rate, trying to keep it at 150, which I successfully did by running a 10:00 min/mile pace. I was shocked at how good I felt at the end of the workout. Tired? Yes. Hot? Absolutely yes. But, I just rode my bike for 4:20 hours and then ran for 50 minutes... a 5:10 hour workout, the longest I have ever done in my LIFE, and I felt good.

It was a little scary as I was leaving, there was actually a woman who had collapsed due to overheating and the ambulances arrived just as I was about to head out to get some ice. The others that were there helping, myself included, only had warm water that had been sitting in our cars. Hopefully she ended up okay! I came home, showered, ate, stretched, did some errands, took a nap, and then met a friend out for dinner and Olympics before heading to bed.

P.S. Yes, I mentioned that I went out biking by myself, after saying how it makes me nervous. That being said, where I bike is out in farm country and always there are lots of bikers around. There are always homes around where we bike (except where I peed) and rarely ever any traffic. Yes there is always some risk, but what am I supposed to do? I try and be as safe as possible always.

Sunday 8/14: On the schedule for this morning was an 8 mile run. I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club for this workout, through Midtown Atlanta.  I ended up running the whole thing with just one other woman as we were in between two of the pace groups and lost where we were supposed to go. It was nice to have company on the run and I felt really good running, despite the huge workout the day before. It is crazy to see myself improving and recover quicker than when I first started biking. I know I need to be better about stretching and foam rolling these next few weeks, but I am happy with how I have been feeling (aside from just being all around tired.)

I won't say I wasn't a little bit disappointed however when I looked at my pace after the run. We ran about a 9:30 pace, which is fine, I just felt like we had been running a little faster. Last week when I ran 10 miles on Sunday, I did it at a 9:15 pace. I wasn't paying attention to my pace during the run today, and just looked at it afterwards and had been hoping it was more at 9:15 than 9:30. One of the things I have been worried about over the past few weeks running without my TomTom watch is that the paces and distances on my RunKeeper app would be inaccurate. At the beginning of July, I did an 8 mile run in New York City and had both my RunKeeper app and my watch calculating it. My app told me that I ran a FULL MILE more than the watch.

My paces have been good over the past few weeks, which I wasn't sure if it was me getting stronger? Or the small weight loss? Or an inaccurate GPS signal just telling me I am going faster. Seeing my pace today made me feel like maybe I haven't actually been improving as I thought. Oh well, nothing I can do now.


I'm trying really hard to focus on the one week I have left of tough workouts before training starts. I am trying to balance my social life and my training life. I am trying to have some really good days of eating healthy that I am proud of.  Today was one of those days until about 10 minutes ago when I was really hungry and felt like I could still eat a little more and ate the leftovers from Friday night that I mentioned I wasn't even sure I was going to eat. It was pretty oily, which probably wasn't needed, and now I feel sick. I am fine with eating it, but don't like how I feel in general right now from having eaten it. The past week or so I have been feeling nauseous after I eat certain things and I'm trying to track down what it is to figure out what I am doing to make me feel this way. Hopefully I can talk about it with my nutritionist when I see her next.

Hope you had a great weekend and start to the week!


P.P.S. I am also super obsessed with the South African runner who won the 400 m and his 74 year old coach and his mom who wasn't able to compete internationally when she was younger but wants her son to be a champion.  LOVE!!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Olympics Rio 2016 So Far

So many things to post, so little time.

My workout schedule has been exhausting (but fun!) and I have been trying to have a balance with my social calendar, which has kept me busy (but happy!) so it just seems lately there is less time to blog.

Oh and then there is this little thing going on called the Olympics and as you know if you've been around here a while. I have a little thing for the Olympics. I love the Olympics. The athletes. The guts. The determination. The beauty of the sports. The skills. The athleticism. I love seeing people from around the world compete on the biggest stage and the incredible stories that some out of that.

Last night I stayed up late to watch the swimming finals. And then some of the gymnastics. I cried last night watching Simone Manuel win and again today when I watched the medal ceremony. I marveled at Michael Phelps incredible display proving that he is the greatest of all time. And sat stunned at the perfection that is Simone Biles.

I haven't been super compelled to post a lot about the Olympics, but Simone Manuel inspired me to. So let me post a little...

- To start, Simone Manuel, who is the first black American woman to win an individual medal (gold!!) in a swimming event. Seeing her reaction to winning gave me chills and tears to my eyes. She came out of nowhere and pulled out a W, in a miraculous but not unheard of, tie for first place. It means so much to me to see her on top of that podium and hopefully inspire more young black girls to take up the sport. She's incredible in not just the sport but in how articulate and poised she was in her post race interview. Watching her hug her coach and teammates and mouthing along to the national anthem brought tears to my eyes. Her win means so much to me and so many others!

- Michael Phelps. I mean. Come on. Greatest of all time. If you've been around here a while, you know I have gone back and forth. I was Team Lochte for a bit in 2012 but then moved back over to Phelps. And now, I cannot even fathom how he is still SO GOOD and how much he just dominates this sport. He really is incredible to watch and whether or not you like him as a person, his complete dominance is undeniable. I have loved watching the showdown last night between him and Lochte in the IM. Or him and Le Clos in the butterfly. And taking back the 4x100m relay. My gosh.  The man was born to swim.

And speaking of being born, why is Boomer always in his mom's baby-carrying thing? There was no babysitter? Or even just in a car seat?  My guess is that it is for the TV cameras, but maybe I'm just cynical and they want to be able to say that he was there for his Dad's wins in the future. I'm just sick of seeing the baby in the crowd. Cool, you had a kid. Good job. Let's see the swimmers!!

- I just can't get enough of the swimming in general. I was literally yelling at my TV for Lilly King to beat the Russian doping girl. All that finger wagging and sass was just incredible and I am so glad that King fought it out. I've also been reading a ton about the "Iron Lady" in Hungary's Katinka Hosszu. First off, her name is amazing. She is really dominating and I know that she's also been having some controversy over her relationship with her coach/husband. Maybe I am not being a good woman supporter here, but I don't mind that her "coach" yells at her. I just finished reading Chrissie Wellington (English 4x World Champion triathlete) autobiography and her first coach whipped her into shape as well. Some people do better with that type of pressure. Now, I don't know her, her relationship, or what it is really like beyond what I have read, so I am not really in a place to judge. But I'm not as super outraged as others seem to be. She is a beast in that pool though and I'm impressed.

- Isn't Simone Biles just perfect? I couldn't stay up last night to watch them on TV but watched every one of her all around finals today and they were for the most part absolutely perfect. The girl is incredible and I love her personality and family.

- I have been reading a lot about the sexist commentary during these Olympics games. People have always been sexist with female in sports. It sucks and the stories continuing to come out over and over these games are disappointing. But then again, reporters can do and say dumb things regardless of what they are talking about, like the Canadian reporter who thought that Lochte was Phelps and announced him as winning the IM. Woops!

- These games I was also inspired by Ibtihaj Muhammad, who was the first American to compete in an Olympic sport wearing a Hijab. And Robel Kiros Habte, the Ethiopian swimmer who finished 17 seconds behind the first place winner and did it with THE BEST attitude.

- Did anybody else catch that 41 year old gymnast from Uzbekistan, Oksana Chusovitina??  I cannot believe she is still competing at that level as a gymnast at that age. That is incredible to me. This is a sport where countries have gotten in trouble for sneaking in TOO YOUNG athletes in order to get an advantage, and this woman has children the age of her competitors.

- I spotted this article about the weirdest sports in the summer Olympics. I want to catch some of them on TV at some point but I doubt I will since I only have main NBC and have already worn out the free streaming services. Speaking of which, why do they not let you pay for JUST an Olympics viewing package like they do with Tour de France?  That is something I would 100% pay for.  I don't want cable for the one time every 4 years I want to watch TV nonstop. But anyways... trampoline jumping?? Handball?? I have been reading about steeplechase and find that so interesting. As well dressage, which this article calls "horse dancing" and made me laugh out loud.

- Finally, I totally love this page on Google Trends during the Olympics. Did you know that people that have searched for cycling also searched for rice cakes? Also the searches for "easiest Olympic sports" has skyrocketed 1450%!  These fun little facts are all over the Google site and I love it.

This weekend I will be consuming as much Olympics as possible. What have you been watching on the Olympics?  What stories are capturing your attention? I love the stories in this sport. There just keeps being more and more interesting stories out there. I saw the two sister swimmers competing against each other in the swim and during the marathon there will be a set of TRIPLETS who are all racing against each other. How does that happen?

Monday, August 1, 2016

My experience seeing a nutritionist

Alright guys, long post alert. BUT, I have been wanting to share this over the past few weeks. Plus, I know my mom has been asking to hear more about this (hi, Mom!) About a month ago, I started seeing a nutritionist and have been really happy with the results. It was a big decision for me, so let me back up a little and start at the beginning.

At the end of June, after Chattanooga, I made a couple of decisions to "get more serious" about training as I moved towards my next 70.3 in Australia. I got a coach, I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club, started to train in groups more, and another one was to learn more about what sports nutrition - outside of the actual race.

Last year as I trained for Chicago Marathon, due to the help of my friend Earon, I learned a lot about race nutrition like how much I should be eating and why I needed a combination of Gatorade, water, Gu's, and salt tabs. And honestly, it worked! Previously, I had been trying to eat as little as possible while running with the mindset, if I am taking in calories WHILE I burn them, doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Well, this mentality was squashed for me when I saw how well I did at Chicago Marathon, breaking 4 hours in a marathon (what!) and I have since been championing mid-race fueling to all my running friends.

I've taken these lessons over to longer distance triathlon training, as its an integral part to being successful in this sport, even as an "I do this just-for-fun!" person such as myself. Crashing mid-race and your body breaking down on you is a very real thing to happen during endurance sports where you are exercising for hours on end, in heat and sun, etc. Proper nutrition to get you through the swim, the bike, and the run are things you need to test and learn during training and hope like heck go well during race day.

While training for Chattanooga, I did a really good job with this, and also felt my nutrition went really well during the race. I didn't crash at all, and I felt my nutrition plan worked great, despite some of the human error on my part, and my inability to stomach any more Gu Chews towards the end of the race.

However, one area that I have really struggled to tackle is nutrition outside of the actual racing part of triathlon. I struggled mentally during training for Chattanooga with food. I ditched Weight Watchers, which has been my weight management plan for years, opting instead to focus on real foods and foods to fuel my body. I tried tracking calories and then drove myself crazy trying to estimate portion sizes and analyzing what I was eating. I was surrounded by other people that didn't seem to have this same obsession with food and it was driving me a bit mad and really disheartening me. I felt obsessed. I wasn't happy with my body going into Chattanooga, despite the amazing things I was doing. And THAT disappointed me. I thought the training would have a different effect on my body.

I knew that with the amount of exercising I was doing I had to be doing something wrong to be gaining weight.

So, following the Chattanooga race, after I decided to do another one, I decided to take the plunge and see a nutritionist. I honestly thought that maybe instead of a nutritionist, I should see a psychiatrist to help with some of the issues, but decided to first opt with a nutritionist.

The one I saw came recommended from a friend, and who is a sports nutritionist and works with Atlanta Triathlon Club athletes, providing discounts to members. I set up an appointment with her following my weekend in NYC and right after the 4th of July holiday, on Tuesday, July 5th, I met with her for the first time.

The first appointment was about 2 hours long and consisted of me saying "But!" a lot as she explained some of her concepts to me and some of the things that she wanted me to try. She told me that I didn't need to replenish calories after long workouts (But what's the fun in doing them then!) She told me that I needed to combine protein sources with my carbs (But that's more calories!) And she told me that I needed to eat in the mornings before I worked out (But I feel fine on an empty stomach! And that's more calories!)

Some of the lessons I have had ingrained in me or picked up along the way I had to toss out the window. She said I should start eating my bananas with peanut butter. That I should start eating my carrot sticks with hummus.  That I should eat white potatoes as a great source of fast burning carbs. That I can buy bread again and eat it toasted and with avocado smashed on top.

Wait, what? You want me to do what?

My mind was spinning after that first 2 hour meeting. But I left there with my body fat and weight measured and vowed to do my best over the next few weeks. Especially while traveling! And going on vacation! I was nervous because it seemed like the plan had be ADDING calories to my diet and although I was really excited about the idea of peanut butter and banana, and turkey sandwiches, I was nervous I would mess it up and return having gained weight. How could adding calories help me LOSE weight?

The first two days after I saw her that first time I e-mailed her about 4 times saying, "I just ate XYZ... is that okay? Am I doing it right?" and she wrote back saying "Yes." "Yes you are." and then "Please stop e-mailing me."

So I stopped, and was on my own.

My goals with her were simple. I wanted to lose weight. I didn't want to have to have to track everything that I ate. I didn't want to measure and calorie count. I wanted to feel like I had a normal relationship with food. I wanted to fuel my workouts. And I wanted to fit it all into a normal and healthy life. I didn't want to feel obsessed with food.

I was hesitant to write about the experience and the ways I was eating before having my first check in, because what if it didn't work? What if I did gain weight? I wanted to try it out first and see howit went and then share with you the results and my thoughts.  Well, on Monday, I revisited the nutritionist for my first check in. The results are outstanding (I think.)

I lost 5.5 lbs and 4% body fat.  According to her calculations, I probably lost about 7 lbs of fat, since I gained muscle. I also did this while spending 2 weeks traveling. While not completely avoiding eating pizza and drinking beer and having ice cream and some candy. Honestly, it was some of the easiest weight I have ever had come off. That doesn't mean I didn't work hard to focus on my eating habits, but it means that many of the changes were simple.

I wasn't obsessing (too much) and I was able to enjoy many of the normal things like eating at my favorite restaurants, having friends and family make my favorite meals, having some sweets, and some beers. I followed her guidelines and I make smart choices, avoiding the things I didn't care about and also managing portions. I am so proud of the workouts that I got in while I was traveling, as well as how I managed food and eating.

I shared with you my workouts while I traveled, and although I haven't been posting my workouts every single week, I also exercised for more than 45 hours in the month of July. This equates to almost 1.5 hours a day. I had only three days in the whole month that I didn't do any form of exercise. It was a tough month and I burned A LOT of calories. As I share with you the principles I followed and later some of what I have been eating, I can't stress enough that this is SPORTS nutrition. The changes I made were recommended to me by a sports nutritionist who works with endurance athletes. I am not sure that this would work if I weren't exercising the way that I am.

That being said, here are a few of the changes I made and some of the rationale behind it (as I understand it.) I followed these as best I could over the past month, as described to me by the nutritionist:

- Eat straight carbs before I work out in the mornings. Normally I do not eat before I work out, and I do most of my morning workouts on an empty stomach. However, she recommended I eat right away some straight carbs before I exercise in order to get my metabolism going. Even if it is only a few bites, carbs, will get my metabolism cranking and she said carbs before a workout, helps train my body to burn FAT (yes, please!) Some of the best things she recommended were white potato, 1/2 a banana, or even some Gatorade. My choice has been potatoes and I boiled a bunch of small red potatoes and have been grabbing one before I head out the door in the morning to nosh on while I drive to workout. Sometimes it is honestly hard to stomach something and I have to force myself to have just a few bites but I have been pretty good about this and only forgot 1-2 times to eat before working out.

- Eat breakfast right away after a morning workout, even before I am hungry. Generally what I would do is wait until I got to my desk and eat breakfast only when I got hungry. My mentality was that if I could put off breakfast, I would get hungry for lunch later and it would make my whole day go better. However, she said this is starving my body and I should eat my first meal right after working out.

- Do not stretch out eating my meals. Another normal thing I would do since I eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks all at my desk during most days is try and stretch it out. I would have a few bites, send an e-mail or two, have a few bites more, etc. and try not to eat fast. She recommended, not that I shovel my food into my face, but not to stretch out my eating over the course of 30-60 minutes, which I would sometimes do. The example she gave was cows... who graze all day long on really healthy/low-calorie foods (grass) but they are still fat. Grazing = not good.

- Aim to eat mini meals every 2.5 hours. To avoid grazing or starving, she recommends the optimal spacing between mini meals to be 2.5 hours. Obviously this isn't an exact set in stone rule but this is what I should aim for. I would say that my normal pattern shifted a little bit and would eat around 8:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., etc. It sometimes would get hard but I tried my best with the timing of my meals, while also listening to my body. Some days I would feel like I was eating a lot and some days I felt like I was hungry before the 2.5 time periods were up! Or I had meetings/events, etc. that stopped me from being able to eat with that timing. However, this is just a goal.

- Always combine a carb with a protein. This was an eye opener for me! When we first talked through these theories, it was hard for me to grasp because everything she was telling me seemed to be ADDING calories to my diet. How was I going to lose weight when adding calories? A normal mid-morning snack for me would have been a banana but she recommended combing the banana (a carb) with peanut butter (a protein.) And my afternoon snack was usually carrot sticks, but she recommended carrot sticks (carb) and hummus (protein.) I was very hesitant to try all this and add calories, but also if a licensed nutritionist is telling me to eat peanut butter... who am I to object??  I never tended to think of apples, bananas, or carrots as a carb, I think of them as a vegetable or a fruit, and therefore a healthy snack. However, the pattern I was putting myself in of having all these carbs alone was giving me spikes and drops in my hormone levels and the idea of combining them with proteins and eating at regular intervals is to keep me at more even levelized hormones.

- Unless it is immediately before I work out... then eat straight carbs. So the times that I should be eating carbs alone is if I am eating 30-60 minutes before any workout. Again, this is to teach my body to burn fat. Just as I train my body to build endurance and strength, I also needed to train it to burn the right things (I guess.)  Often I have been working out 2x a day, so it has been tricky to map out eating and my mini meals when I have my evening workouts, but again, I just did my best throughout it to stick to these principals.

- No longer justify my workouts with food. This was just a shift in mindset I needed to change, that I have known all along that I needed to change since starting training for longer-distance triathlons. The mindset of "Well, I worked out today, so I can have..." always leads you to eat more calories than you need.

- Do not replenish calories with a huge meal post long workout. This is along those same lines. One of the things I looked forward to during long bike rides or workouts is "What am I going to eat after??" and rewarded long workouts with big meals. There are SOME calories that need replenishing, right?!  Wrong. What she said was that if I am fueling appropriately during the bike and the workout, I shouldn't need to have a massive meal afterwards and replenish calories. My body didn't need that, it was just my mind telling me I could. So I have been trying to go back into eating as if it were a normal day after workouts (this was a really hard one for me to grasp and had me saying, "But! But!" a lot while she was explaining it to me.)

- Limit processed carbs to 1x a day if I have them. Makes sense. I've known for a long time that we don't need as much white bread, pasta, and pizza crust as we tend to have in our diets. I have avoided those things for a quite a while as much as possible. However, what opened up new worlds for me was her explaining "Ezekial bread" to me, which is non-process sprouted wheat bread that you buy in the freezer section. I have been eating turkey sandwiches for the past month for the first time in years and absolutely love it! This bread (and english muffins, etc.) do not count as processed and they're delicious.

- Limit fats to 3-4x a day. Fats are okay! Another thing I have known but I have never know to what extent. Avocado is good. Olive oil is good. Nuts are good. I just need to limit them to 3-4 a day. And I can still eat my Quest bars that I love, they just count as a fat.

- Do not feel guilty. If you make mistakes. Don't stress and beat yourself up. This is life. You're not on a diet.

So these are some of the things I have been doing. I am by no means an expert at this but I feel good right now. The first week was tough and I felt tired and like crap a bit, but I have been feeling energetic and ready to tackle my workouts.

This post is already extremely massive, so more to come, but I feel good. I am excited about this revelation in my life. Right now, I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. It has only been a month so it is a long road to go. But it makes me feel so happy to have a better grasp on this aspect that I have been struggling with for the past year. I am a nutritionist convert, people!!!

Training while traveling, July 2016 edition

I can't reiterate enough how wonderful the past couple of months have been. Between the two weeks I just spent seeing family and friends in Albany/Capital Region, my college roommate's wedding that brought me to Long Island and NYC, and my childhood best friend's wedding that brought all my home friends together... I have basically gotten to see everyone important to me in my life in such a short period of time.

And in the months before that I had Ari's visit, my San Francisco visit, and vacation in Mexico with Jess and Dani... well it's just been an incredible few months and I feel every day how fortunate I am to have had these opportunities to see everyone. Living further away, I don't get to see everyone all that often so it is extremely important for me to make that time quality. Weddings and family vacations have been such great instigators to get people together and it's been amazing to be able to capitalize off of that.

One of the things I struggled with a little bit during my most recent trip home was juggling exercise and training with time with my family. As silly as it seems, but it was hard for me to even break myself away from my niece and nephew for two hours to get a bike ride in. Or I felt torn deciding if I should run in the evening or spend the night on the couch with my mom just chatting.

Managing through the past couple of weeks of travel and getting into my bigger weeks of training has been a challenge but I am super proud of myself for getting through it. I am now back in Atlanta for the home stretch of training and eating healthy... in preparation for both the next Half Ironman and for my 30th birthday, which stands as a milestone in my mind.

I want to recap my training schedule while I just did my trip up north to share a bit of how I fit it in and what some of the workouts I have been doing have entailed. I'm still working with the coach, which has been really nice, and have been following the workouts he gives me pretty closely. It's great to able to bounce ideas off of him, have him work with my schedule, and make adjustments where needed. Before leaving, I actually panicked quite a bit because I felt like my whole training was going to be thrown off.

I had neglected to replace my sneakers when they needed it, which was causing me pain in my knees, and I have to custom order my sneakers. They arrived defective. And my TomTom watch broke. And I started to panic that maybe my bike shoes wouldn't fit in the cleats on the bikes I was borrowing and I should try and learn how to take my pedals off to bring them with me... it was a little stressful, but everything worked out. Adjustments were made where needed.

Thursday, July 14
PLAN: Fly to Albany
ACTUAL: This was completed!

I was the happiest person on that flight to Albany.

Friday, July 15
PLAN: Swim workout 2B; Optional 3 mile run (easy effort)
ACTUAL: 4 mile run in 37:59 @ 9:22 min/mile

I totally ditched the swim workout because it didn't work for me to be able to get to a pool. I love running from my friends house that I was staying with, so despite the humidity, I woke up for a 6:00 a.m. run before work. I rarely do the "optional" workouts that my coach sometimes suggests for me, so I did that and threw in an extra mile to help make up for the lack of swimming.

Saturday, July 16
PLAN: 30 minute ride (easy effort)
ACTUAL: 30 minute strength training + 30 minute easy swim + 2.5 minutes riding

I stayed at a different friends house on Friday night, so I made sure to get myself to bed at a reasonable hour despite being out and up hanging out. I snuck out of the house early to head to the Guilderland YMCA, which I had read online had a pool with open laps in.

When I arrived, I was feeling motivated in a different way and decided to take advantage of their weights and gym space for 30 minutes then hopped into the pool for an easy 30 minutes of swimming laps to make up for the day before.

I knew that making the 30 minute ride would be really difficult to happen with my schedule for the day, but I also know the main goal of it was to keep me loose and moving before my sprint race on Sunday. That's why I figured moving the swim would be fine. I did get in 2.5 minutes of riding on a bike when I tested out my friend Jeremy's bike that he let me borrow by riding up and down the street!

Sunday, July 17
PLAN: Sprint Triathlon
ACTUAL: Sprint Triathlon (1st place in my AG!!!)

You know the story. But I don't mind reposting it. I was 1st in the 20-29 age group at the Pine Bush Sprint Triathlon. I slept at a DIFFERENT friend's house on Saturday night (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights all in different places...) and again, snuck out super early in the morning for the race. Luckily, they lived about 5 minutes from the start of the race!

325 yards swimming in 5:06 (1:43/100m)
11.5 miles biking in 40:49 (16.9 mph)
3.25 miles running in 27:35 (8:29 min/mile)

Monday, July 18
PLAN: Optional 3 mile run, easy effort
ACTUAL: 3.11 mile run in 28.40 @ 9:14 min/mile

I rarely do the optional workouts, but I felt bad for missing out on some of the workouts the week before and wasn't quite sure if I would be able to get everything in later in the week, so I went for it and had a great run in my dad's neighborhood in the morning before working from home on my dad's front porch.

Tuesday, July 19
PLAN: 40 mile bike ride (easy to moderate effort) + 2 mile brick run
ACTUAL: 40.16 mile bike ride in 2:41:26 @ 14.92 mph + 2.03 mile run in 17:36 @ 8:42 min/mile

This was a huge one to try and fit in for me. I wasn't sure how to make it happen, but once I drove out to the bike trail my mom had looked up for me, I felt committed. The trail was about 13 miles so I went out and back and then had to get creative and took some side roads when the trail crossed the main street. I actually really hated riding on the trail because the road was so bumpy and filled with cracks.

That's New England roads for you, I guess. They get ice under them in the winter and freeze and expand and buckle upwards, leaving nice bumps for riders. I found it really distracting and uncomfortable, especially when riding a borrowed bike. However, I was happy that I was able to fit my mom's bike into the back of my rental car with the front wheel off. Getting this ride in was a feat in logistics on its own, so once I was moving, I did my best to get the full 40 in! I was so ready to stop when it was over. The rides on the actual road weren't bad and much more enjoyable with the rolling hills. I vowed to ride on the roads for my ride later in the week.

The run felt good afterwards, it was short and I was able to finish it pretty quick and get home to hang out with my mom!

Wednesday, July 20
PLAN: Swim workout 1B or 1.5 mile OWS; 4 mile run (easy to moderate effort)
ACTUAL: Swim workout 1B (3100 m); 4.06 mile run in 39:08 @ 9:38 min/mile

Wednesday morning started pretty early for me as well. I had a hard time motivating myself to get up and swim, since I am used to having a fully coached workout to attend.  This time I knew I had to get it done since I had slacked on my swimming the week before. I had Googled where I could go swim and went to another local YMCA in my mom's town of Merrimack. When I first arrived, the woman at the front desk did not want to let me in. She said that they only allow single day guests when they are accompanied by a paying member. Since I was just showing up by myself wanting to attend as a guest, that was not technically allowed.

I asked if there was a manager in that I could speak to, explaining the situation and that I was in town visiting my mom. She said no but would give me someone to contact... I was feeling a little defeated as the woman wrote down the contact information explaining to me, "I'm really sorry, but we just don't allow guests not with a member. The only way that we let people attend without members is if they are potentially going to get a membership and are doing a trial."

My face lit up at that and I said, "Oh... okay... well then... I would potentially like to get a membership.  Can I please have a trial?"

Lady at YMCA: "But I know you don't live here and you're not."

Me: "Well... I mean... you don't actually know that. My mom lives here. Maybe she is potentially getting a membership. She lives here, so I will be coming back here often. Maybe it is worth it to me to just get a membership so that I can come when I am in town?"

Lady at YMCA: ::: Stares at me ::::::

Me: :::: Stares back ::::::

Lady at YMCA: "Ugh. Fine."

And she proceeded to write me out a pass not just for that day, but for a one week free trial! Victory!

After that I knew I needed to do my full workout. I got in the pool a bit later than anticipated, but I followed the workout from my coach's website exactly finishing it all and feeling really good about the paces I was swimming. Especially at the end when I did an all out 100 at a really fast pace for me of about 1:22.

In the evening, I let my mom take over duties of helping my sister with the twins for dinner and head out for a quick 4 mile run, through my sisters neighborhood that I have fun many many times before!

Thursday, July 21
PLAN: 30 mile ride (easy to moderate effort)
ACTUAL: 27.61 mile ride in 1:53:03 @ 14.65 mph

Instead of going back to the bike trail where I had ridden on Tuesday, I decided to just ride the roads near my mom and my sisters house. They live about 6 miles from each other on a straight shot road. I had been driving back and forth on that road all week so I knew it well and thought it would be a good place to bike. Since I have run a lot from my sisters, including times that I have done a 12 mile run, I know the roads and routes by her house and there is a lot of farms and remote roads that I thought would bring some challenging hills.  I decided to ride to my sisters and then along the roads past her house, knowing I could always stop by her in case of an emergency or water or bathroom break.

The ride went really well but as I was on one of the back roads from my sister's house, I came upon a mountainous hill. It doesn't even look this big in the pictures, but there were portions of it with a 14-19% grade, which is very steep. I was unsure if I should bike down it, knowing I would have to climb it, but I went for it. I was inspired thinking about a blog I had just read by Swim, Bike, Mom about hill repeats and actually didn't go up it just once but twice.

I was exhausted biking home and didn't stick it out to get the last 2.5 miles in on the bike. In my mind, they wouldn't have been quality miles as I would have been riding lazy and it is pretty busy with cars by my mom, so I just called it a day.  Plus, my mom had my favorite meal waiting for me inside and I am not gonna lie and say that baked fall off the bone slow cooked chicken wings and roasted vegetables weren't on my mind...

Friday, July 22
PLAN: 1 hour run (10:00 easy warmup, 4 x 10:00 tempo/2:00 easy)
ACTUAL: 6.46 mile run in 58:05 @ average 8:59 min/mile

Man, oh man, was it hard to motivate myself to get this one done. I hate, hate, hate the tempo runs that are on my schedule every week. They are my most dreaded workout to do and the hardest to get myself to finish mentally. I was doing this in the early, early morning at my mom's new house and I had never run from her house before. I was unsure of where the sidewalks were, what the lighting was like at that time, if there were hills, etc. These all sound like perfect reasons to not run, right??

I was telling myself that I could maybe swap with Saturday and do an easy 3 mile run and do the tempo run on Saturday when I was at the lake?  However, I knew that deep down I just wanted any excuse to not do it and instead, got myself out of bed and running before the clocks even hit 6:00 a.m. I was on the pavement. I felt like my tempo intervals were at a turtle's pace, but I actually clocked pretty decent times!

Warm up: 9:46 min/mile
Interval 1: 8:24 min/mile
Interval 2: 9:01 min/mile (with elevation gain)
Interval 3: 8:50 min/mile
Interval 4: 8:45 min/mile

It was hilly and challenging and when I was looking at my times afterwards I realized that my rest periods weren't even that much slower! After the 3rd interval my recovery was at a 9:05 pace and after the 4th it was 9:14... I definitely didn't back off enough on those!

As always, it felt awesome to get it done. Inaugural run in my mom's new neighborhood!

Saturday, July 23
PLAN: Optional 3 mile run (easy effort)
ACTUAL: Nothing!

I usually don't do the "optional" things.  I usually have intent to, but I don't. This was one of those days. I slept in for the first time in a while after a late night, then peeled myself out of bed with the only motivation to be to get up to the lake as soon as possible.  Beers broke out in the early afternoon and all intent of a run was gone.

Sunday, July 24
PLAN: 1 mile OWS; 30 mile ride (easy to moderate effort)
ACTUAL: 46 minute OWS; 30.05 mile bike in 2:00:57 @ 14.91 mph

I got up right out of bed to get the swim done. Unfortunately, it was really choppy on the water, which usually would deter me from swimming. I have been doing Open Water Swims (OWS) in this lake since I have been in elementary school and summer vacations would interrupt my swim season at the summer league. I used to go back and forth from the dock to the beach, but now that I am older I like to swim straight out. Sometimes I get nervous about boats, so I had my mom accompany me on a kayak to stay right with me.

The swim went well, and the extra chop in the water was good practice for when I do my first ocean swim in Australia, which will most certainly have some movement to the water.  I practiced sighting and swam out for 23ish minutes before turning back, for a total of 46 minutes continuous swimming (I have no idea the distance.)

Later in the day, I went out for a bike ride that was super hilly. I rode on the route around the lake and up through another lake. It was a bit of a major road so not a lot of shoulder, and the hills were a challenge. I found one that was so steep it was I am sure impossible to get up. I turned around at that. However, I did have about 2800 feet in climbing in my 30 mile ride including 200 ft in the last .75 mile.

Monday, July 25
PLAN: 14 mile run (easy to moderate effort)
ACTUAL: 14.06 mile run in 2:13:24 @ 9:30 min/mile

Oh man, I wasn't sure how this was going to go either.  I took Monday and Tuesday of last week as vacation days, I did have more time and was able to start my run at about 8:00 a.m. I started it without a clear intention of whether or not I would finish all 14 miles. I hadn't run more than a half marathon since last October during the Chicago Marathon. And I hadn't run a half marathon outside of Chattanooga 70.3 since March. I took it easy and my mom rode her bike alongside of me, which really helped to keep me company.

For a number of miles we rode around side streets and through a cemetery with my mom beside me chatting, it helped the miles fly by. We also found some roads with beautiful views of the lake, and my mom on her bike served as my portal nutrition carrier, which a bottle of water, salt tabs, and some crackers on the bike. I hadn't planned ahead well enough and didn't expect such a long run on my schedule so I was not prepared!

The last 2 miles I finished on my own and was so happy to be done. I actually said to my mom that I was disappointed because I remember that last summer while at the lake I did a 12 mile run in a 9:30 pace and I thought I was going much slower.  When I finished and saw my run was exactly 9:30 min/miles, I was so happy!!!  My half marathon time was about 2:04:30, which is great for me and made me feel really good.

Tuesday, July 26
PLAN: 1 mile OWS
ACTUAL: 31 minute OWS

I have no idea how far I actually went and I don't really have an excuse for why it was 15 minutes shorter than my swim other day. I don't actually know how long it takes me to swim a mile, but in Chattanooga I swam 1.2 miles in 30 minutes? It was a downriver swim, so that helped, so I figure that maybe 30 minutes is about a mile. Or probably a little under.

It was also WAY choppier than the other day, when I initially thought it was choppy! I was swallowing water and getting hit in the face with waves while I was swimming out. Additionally, I wasn't as diligent about swimming in the early morning, so I went out to swim right after lunch. Like literally immediately after eating. With my cousin's fiance escorting me on the kayak, which also couldn't have been much fun with all the chop in the water... I just wanted to get out of there and get it done.

Wednesday, July 27
PLAN: Fly back to Albany; Easy 4-mile run (easy to moderate effort)
ACTUAL: Nothing.

Zero run happened. My flight was at 5:40 a.m. and I was about an hour from the airport so I was up at 3:30 a.m. When I flew back I had to work a full day and then had an event with one of my vendors in the evening. I was EXHAUSTED.

As you can see, I made it through some pretty packed agendas!  I adjusted where I needed and skipped a couple, but I also got in a number of big workouts and felt really good about my training while I was traveling. Since I got back, I have jumped back into a routine of Mondays and Fridays swimming in the mornings, Tuesday and Wednesday running in the mornings, Tuesday and Thursday biking in the evenings, strength training where I can, and bigger workouts on the weekends.

This past weekend was a big weekend of training for me and I was really happy with how it went. I had a 45 mile bike ride scheduled on Saturday morning, with the last 20 miles at "race pace" followed by a 5 mile brick run. And then on Sunday, I had another 30 mile bike ride scheduled.

I was excited to take on the challenge but it definitely scared me.

First off, I didn't know what my "race pace" is because I've really only done one race at this distance, so I wanted to just go hard for the last 20 miles. Second, 5 miles is a lot of miles for me to run after a bike. Third, I don't usually bike two days in a row.

For those that aren't familiar with the terminology, a "brick" session is really just a workout where you do two of the sports back-to-back. So a swim then a bike. Or, most commonly, a bike followed immediately by a run. Sometimes on my schedule, I will have two sports to do in the same day... a swim in the morning and a bike in the evening... or something along those lines. However, those aren't a "brick" when they aren't done back to back. My schedule for Saturday had me biking 45 miles, some of which, hard, followed immediately by a 5 mile run.

I broke the bike into two portions, I did 15 miles on my own at 7:00 a.m. with an average speed of 15.86 mph.  I then met up with the Atlanta Triathlon Club for 30 miles, which I did at an average pace of 17.2 mph!! I went off with the 15-17 mph group and I think because I was warmed up already, felt really good going into it. Halfway through, we met up with the 17-19 mph group at a rest stop and all took off at the same time. I decided to challenge myself, since I was already going hard, to see how much I could keep up with them. It wasn't for too long, but I ended the bike ride with the last 13 miles being at 17.8 mph! Which is crazy fast for me!

My run was a challenge, because it was hot at 85 degrees and 80% humidity at this point, but I finished the 5 miles with an average pace of 9:30!

On Sunday, I biked with my friend Kristin, who is also going to Australia (and is responsible for peer pressuring me into going!) and it was an easy ride with my main goal to get the miles in and get comfortable on the new aero bars I had attached to my bike! On Saturday after the ride, I stopped by my favorite cycling store and had aero bars attached to my road bike. This allows me to ride in a more aerodynamic (i.e. faster) position. They feel a bit awkward and throw off my balance so it is definitely going to take some practice, but I am looking forward to it!

It was a successful weekend and I am feeling really great about training and fitness right now. We're now in August and the countdown is officially on until my 30th birthday, trip to Australia, and my second Half Ironman!!!!