Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Second Half of January Training Update

Okay, so wanted to check back in with the training update of the second half of the month. I am wishing I could say that it went spectacularly and although the majority of it did, I'm currently feeling a bit sad. I'm sitting on the couch with ice on my hip, hoping and hoping that what I've been feeling over the past week is the worst of it. I've aggravated something in my hip that must just be a weak point as I think its the same thing I hurt in 2015 right before the Chicago Marathon.

My guess is the speed and track workouts I have been doing have escalated the injury that usually would only come about as mileage increased. I'm not used to all of the starting and stopping during the track workouts so think the damage may have to do with that. To say I am disappointed and frustrated is an understatement. But anyways, let's recap the second half of the month, shall we?

Tuesday 1/17 - ITL Track Tuesday

I arrived back on a Monday evening from Switzerland and was able to do a little grocery shopping, food prep and laundry before falling asleep. I woke up early the next morning to return to the ITL Track Tuesday morning workouts.

We did a series of 800s and 400s and I was really proud of myself at this workout for both the effort I put out after traveling and also the paces when I looked at my watch after. The coaches at the workout gave me kudos as well, knowing I was working out after traveling back the night before. I felt great!

Wednesday 1/18 - AM 3600M Swim + PM 1 hour trainer ride

Wednesday was a return to the pool after the time away which felt stiff and tough and like I needed to regain my momentum in the water. In the evening, I did a 1 hour ride on my trainer following an interval workout my coach gave me.  He originally gave me a workout based on as if I had a power meter on my bike (which I don't) and I was totally confused as to how I was supposed to pedal 140% or 160% and know the difference. Apparently it is a power thing and once I clarified with him felt ready to move forward!

Thursday 1/19 - 6 mile easy run

I opted to sleep in this Thursday morning and skip my morning run. However, because I had my bags packed, I have a rule that I have to go to the gym, so I did some upper body strength training which was fun and I need to find the time to do more of.

I ran in the evening after work along the Chattahoochee trail. Maybe it was the switch up in routine and doing an evening run when I usually do morning runs, but this felt not the best. I wrote to my coach that I just felt tired. I think it was the jet lag and immediate return to work and training and nonstop going, going, going... but I was ready for a break after this workout.

Friday 1/20 - AM Swim + PM 1.5 hour trainer ride

However, a break didn't happen! I returned back to the pool, trying to regain that momentum I had lost while traveling for a 2800 meter swim and in the evening I rode my bike for 1.5 hours on the trainer.  That is my longest weekday ride and I felt like a bit of a badass riding my trainer on a Friday evening. I did 1.5 hours as my long ride for the week since I had friends staying with me throughout the rest of the weekend and didn't want to have to make them sit around and watch me on the trainer!

Saturday 1/21 - 1 hour trainer ride

As I mentioned, I had friends visiting me this weekend. One of them is my triathlon inspiration, Miss Jenna, and she is currently training for her first full Ironman so she had her own workout to do. Unfortunately, the weather in Atlanta was not cooperating so she ran on the treadmill in my apartment building while I rode the bike on the trainer in my apartment. It was really fun to have a friend visiting who understands the need for a workout and had her own things she wanted to do as well. Fit friends are more fun!

Sunday 1/22 - Hot Chocolate 15K

Sunday morning was the Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15K which I recapped for you last week. It was a super fun race and I enjoyed running a course that included so many neighborhoods and streets I have become a lot more familiar with since moving!

Monday 1/23 - Rest day

It was much needed!!!

Tuesday 1/24 - ITL Track Tuesday

After my day off and a fun weekend with my friends, I returned Tuesday morning to regularly scheduled programming with ITL Track Tuesday.  This was a workout that intimidated me a little bit going into it. I was still a little sore from Sunday (apparently I had gone harder than I realized and held some soreness in my legs) and when I saw the prescribed workout it was nothing I had done before. It consisted of a number of 400s, 300s, 200s, and 100s. I have never in my life done intervals that short and was very new to this type of workout. I was unsure of how to pace myself but decided to just go for it and use it as a baseline for the future.

I have come to love the feeling of pushing myself in a workout to feeling out of breathe and pushed myself this workout, feeling really proud when I did eventually look at the splits of my different intervals. I had done a good job pacing myself, ran hard, and I felt was pretty consistent with what I was trying to do.

The bad part was that after this workout was over, I started to feel some pain in my right hip. It didn't hurt while I was running but once I started it felt a bit inflamed and sore. It felt similar to what I had felt a couple years ago and decided to try and make an appointment at the chiropractor as soon as possible. The chiro had been a part of my recipe for recovery in 2015 so I made an appointment for that same day and in the afternoon went in to be adjusted.

He told me that he didn't think it was bad and that I didn't need to necessarily stop working out, and gave me some exercises to consider doing.

Wednesday 1/25 - AM 2800M Swim + PM 45 minute boxing class

I got in a workout in the morning with swim practice, although I had to jump out of the pool a bit early. Usually I swim from 6-7:20 a.m. but I had a 7:00 a.m. call. I got in the water a few minutes early and bolted right at 7:00 a.m. to take my call then get ready for work.

In the evening, I went to a boxing class with Brick at the gym. We have been trying to coordinate going to this class for weeks and I was excited we were finally able to make it work! She came as a guest with me to my gym and we boxed away for 45 minutes.

Thursday 1/26 - 6 mile run

It's always a good morning when I run with friends and Thursday was no different, running with Janet and Kristin - who started off her birthday with a run! I did a couple miles on my own and then met up with the girls for 4 more. I was very careful to go easy as my hip was still tender and I didn't want to aggrevate it further. It didn't hurt too bad or anything while we ran so I was hopeful that whatever was going on was on the mend.

Friday 1/27 - AM 2200M swim + PM 1.5 hour trainer ride

This morning I did NOT want to be swimming!! I stayed out a bit too late the night before and may have had a drink too many so getting in the water was tough. I was actually a bit relieved that I had another 7:00 a.m. call for work this morning so I had to jump out of the pool early and not finish the workout. In addition to not feeling my finest, I also kept thinking about the fact that I still had 1.5 hours to ride on the trainer in the evening that I wasn't looking forward to.

I did my evening ride and then my friend Janet came over and we watched a movie and both fell asleep on the couch immediately. Being 30 is pretty cool.

Saturday 1/28 - 2.5 hour bike ride

Going outdoors for a bike ride on Saturday was debatable for me. The group I am getting my coaching with now, ITL, was doing a group ride at 9:30 a.m. but forecasts said the temperature was going to be in the high 30s/low 40s and I was very worried about what that temperature would feel like on the bike. Another group was doing an afternoon ride on a much more boring and gruesome route, and the other option was to ride indoors on the trainer.

I made the commitment to go outside and changed my trainer tire on my bike to my road tire and went out on Saturday morning to meet the group for a 2.5 hour ride which ended up being 37.4 miles for me.

Honestly, the ride was tough but it didn't end up being because of the cold. That was what was really making me nervous going into the ride, but once I got going and the sun was on me, it truly didn't bother me that much. However, I just felt slow and sluggish in general. I felt like I didn't have a lot of strength on the bike and that I was way behind where I was at the end of last year. It was cold and windy, but I still ended the ride feeling a bit frustrated with myself. Hopefully it only gets better from here!

Sunday 1/29 - 10.5 mile run with friends

Sunday was another cold day, but when I started the sun was shining and it actually didn't feel too bad. I ran to one of my friend's houses and met up with her and 4 others and we all set out on a route that she'd put together to help train for the Publix full marathon. Her and one other person were doing  an 18-mile route and the others and I modified it to be a bit shorter.

There was some starting and stopping and I was running a bit faster than their long run pace so ended up doubling back a few times. I had some pain in my hip in the beginning but it started to go away as I began running steady so decided to just keep going with that and not let myself stop. Towards the end it got a bit strenuous and I eventually ended at 10.5 miles. I felt a bit proud of myself for going half a mile extra until I realized that my coach had actually advised me to do 10-12 miles... woops.

On other days, I would have probably been stubborn and determined to go out and run the 1.5 miles more, but I gave in for the day and stayed inside. I had already drank a full coffee by the time I realized my mistake.

Monday 1/30 - 3400M Swim

Given that my hip was feeling sore from the Sunday run, I was happy that my schedule only had a Monday swim on it. I did 3400 meters of a bit of endurance swim and in the evening went over to my friend Nikki to get a sports massage to help with the hip. She really, really worked on it and dug into it and I came home to ice and take an epsom salt bath before going to bed.

Tuesday 1/31 - ITL Track Tuesday

When I woke up this morning, I felt fine. I was wondering if going to track would be a good idea but I am stubborn, so I decided to just give it a shot. Walking around, it felt okay - it wasn't sore or anything. So I hoped I was good. However, as soon as I started running my warmup mile at the track, I thought, oh heck, this is not good.

The pain started right away and it was cold outside, which tends to make things worse for me.

I did a mile warmup and it did subside a little once I got going. I decided to wait and see what the workout was and play it by ear if I did complete it. I didn't want to be a quitter and didn't want to feel embarassed leaving in the middle of a track workout either.

The plan for the day was a series of 1600s with 400s in between and 400s rest. I set out to do the first 1600 at the allotted pace and really just couldn't push hard. I had to just give it a bit of a push on the pace, but nothing really aggressive. I did my first 1600 fine and then 100 meters into my first 400 I realized I just couldn't run that hard. I figured it would be good enough to just do the 1600 portion of the workout and was able to maintain a somewhat fine pace for the first 2 but when I started my third one it really hurt and I felt like it was affecting my stride. I pulled back on the pace completely and at the end of the 1600 just threw in the towel for the day. I ended with about 4.5 miles of running but feeling completely defeated.

I drove to the gym and then when I walked inside was so stiff I felt like I was walking with a little bit of a limp. Great job Katelyn.

I know that the sports massages can make things a bit painful the day after so I probably shouldn't have tried to exercise. I reluctantly texted my coach telling him that it was probably best to take a week off from running and I made plans to return to the chiropractor. I am icing and soaking tonight and this week and hoping that it just needs a little bit of time.

I want nothing more than to be working out hard right now so this is definitely a setback and an agitation for me in multiple ways. Hopefully being smart and resting now helps me in the long run.

Hope you had a great January and are ready for whatever February brings!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap

This past weekend I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K race in Atlanta, which is my second time running this race, after a 1 year hiatus. Last year during the weekend that this race was in Atlanta, I was in Miami with friends running the Miami Half Marathon! I was excited to do this race again and eat the delicious chocolate at the end, and even more excited when it turned out that the race weekend also overlapped something else I was so excited for.  My friends Jenna and Dave were coming down to Atlanta for the weekend to visit, and Jenna, my super fast runner friend slash triathlete inspiration decided to run too.

Jenna and Dave are two of my best friends from Albany, who were individually each best friends of mine before they started dating over 4 years ago. I have so much fun with them and value each of their individual friendships so much. Jenna was there for me the day I ran my first 5K and her first 70.3 distance race I went to spectate was my first exposure into long distance triathlon. Dave has saved me from many a disasters and been a person I rely on for straight forward advice, lots of laughing, and any handywork I need done around the house or my car. I was very excited to have them in town!

The expo for the race is on Saturday and they have no race day packet pickup. It was downpouring rain all day on Saturday so we trudged through the disgusting weather to the Georgia World Congress Center, picked up packets and race sweatshirts, drank some hot chocolate samples, and checked out the expo - which turned out to be a little bit lame. But oh well, all is good when with friends!

Sunday morning, Jenna and I got up and took an Uber over from my apartment to the race. The race was set to start at 7:40 so we left my apartment around 7:00 and arrived about a half hour before the race. We tried to meet up with some of my friends but were unsuccessful and ended up ducking into Corral B about 15 minutes before the start of the race. I was placed in Corral A and Jenna was placed in Corral C for some reason. Knowing she is way faster than me, I figured, let's just call it even and we got into B.

Weather was perfect for running and when the gun started for our 2nd corral, we were off. Jenna was off way faster than me and was out of sight within a minute and I didn't see her until she was waiting for me at the finish. My plan for the race was not to "race" it but just to run strong and push the pace a bit beyond my normal long run pace, but not all out race it or have a plan beyond that.

The course was different that the last time that I did this race as it started and ended at Centennial Olympic Park. The last time it started and ended at Turner Field, so I wasn't entirely sure what the course was going to entail. I've obviously run the streets of Atlanta and races around this area plenty of times at this point but I don't know the roads well enough to fully know what to expect when looking at a map. I did know that the beginning of the race had a bit of downhill and I started out with some quick first couple of miles before the real hills of Atlanta started.

I actually really enjoyed this run from start to finish. Despite the fact that I was starting to feel really tired towards the end of the week... I'd come right back from Europe on Monday and gone immediately into workout mode, I felt good when running. It was one of those great days of running where your legs seem to be turning over smoothly, the pace feels comfortable, and although its tough, you feel strong and like you can just keep going.

The hills were harder, but I did my best to just find a pace that I liked and effort level that I liked and locked it in throughout the whole time. I broke the 15K into three 5Ks mentally and just worked through each one.

I also knew that at around the halfway point I would have Dave to look for, as the course ran right by my apartment and he planned to be outside there cheering. The course really did not have a lot of spectators on it whatsoever so it made me feel extra special to have one lone fan on the corner waiting and cheering just for me (and Jenna, who passed by earlier.)  When I saw Dave, I waved to him and smiled for his pictures, then he jogged along me for a bit - which surprised me - and then sprinted ahead (up a hill!) to stop and turn and take more pictures. Thank you Dave!!

This was the first race I have done downtown and through my neighborhood since I have lived in this part of town so it was really fun to see the streets of my new neighborhood in this atmosphere. I know the area so much better and am more familiar with the streets and turns, which made this really enjoyable.

Throughout the race there were clocks with the time every mile or so. Now, I don't run 15Ks all that often, but I knew that my 15K personal best time was about 1:35 - which is a time I knew I was quite easily capable of beating. I figured that a "15K Personal Best" was a pretty likely goal but kept eyeing the clock to see if I was somewhere around there. I used the method I did in Chicago Marathon, and just hoped that every time I saw the clock, the minute numbers were decreasing so I knew I was under 10-minute miles.

The hills at mile 7 started to wear on my legs a bit but at that point I knew it was close to the end - I was happy it was a 15K race and not a Half Marathon! Per usual, the last mile was a struggle, and like every other Atlanta race, the route did not let up on the hills until the very end.  The finish line was really uneventful and I actually wasn't even sure exactly where it was until I crossed the mat. I saw Jenna and Dave to the side taking pictures and waving, which was a great way to finish!

I finished the race in 1:25:08 which is an average pace of 9:08, which if I maintained that and it were a half marathon, would put me right at a 2 hour finish. This weekend last year I ran Miami in 1:57, so slightly faster than this race - and I was actually trying to race that and had rested/tapered for the race. Whereas for this race, I was definitely carrying fatigue from the week. This leaves me feeling pretty good about where I am for this time of year I think.  My 5K times also got progressively faster, which is nice to see in a race as well. My mile splits were all over the place, even though I felt like I was running a consistent pace!

My mile splits for the race were: 8:25, 8:48, 9:27, 9:35, 8:56, 9:11, 9:16, 8:49, 9:26, 9:13

Jenna and Dave met me at the finish and we proceeded to the muddy field area where the post race party was. It had been raining the night before and all throughout the day on Saturday. And not just a little rain, but torrential downpours. We were all really happy that the race held off on Sunday for the race! Having some muddy ground to walk around was nothing with the great running conditions we had.

We snagged our hot chocolate, medals, etc. and ate everything in about 10 minutes while waiting and finding my friends to meet up with.

We were able to connect with a bunch of my friends at the end of the race, which was really fun to have Jenna and Dave get to meet them. I was really proud to all my friends throughout the race... Brick did an amazing job and Jenna ended up 6th in our age group! They're both rockstars.

Eventually we all got cold and head back to shower and get out of our sweaty gear and get warm for brunch. It was a really fun race morning filled with strong legs, sweet chocolate, and awesome friends - both running and cheering! Hot Chocolate has amazing schwag with it, so I've got another great medal for the collection and sweatshirt to rock throughout Atlanta. Awesome day all around!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Training - back at it!

Hey guys! Happy New Year! It has been a busy and exciting start to 2017, with lots going on with training and also with my first trip of the year under my belt. I started the year training with a new coach, someone who is local and who I have been building a rapport with the past few months. I’ve been excited about the change and ready to push myself hard this year. Through my experience last year working with a coach who I had found online, I learned that I really liked the process of having a coach but wanted someone who I felt could push me a bit harder. And who would be a bit more personal with me. I believe I have found that with the group I’m working with and more to come on that as training continues, I’m sure!

I kicked off the year feeling extremely motivated, as many often due as the calendars flip forward another year. I had a solid week of training in Atlanta, and then an international trip, that I managed to get some sort of physical activity on for 6 out of the 6 days I was away. One of the things I know about this year is that I need to make every day count. I can’t take a week off every time something comes up in my schedule. And not that I did that when I traveled last year – I actually did a really incredible job of training while traveling in 2016 and its one of the things I’m most proud of. But I still need to give it “oomph” while I’m away and so far so good in this year.

Let me try and get into a schedule of sharing some of my workouts. Not sure if this is boring for you guys or not but, nobody is forcing you to read, now are they?

Saturday 12/31 – 5 mile run

Technically, last year, but wanted to include it because it was the day I arrived back in Atlanta after being home for the holidays. I'd had a 6:00 a.m. flight out of New Hampshire, which meant an early morning, but I managed to have a really productive last day of the year and a 5 mile run exploring my neighborhood.

Sunday 1/1 – 2 hour spin (Longest trainer ride to date!) 

Back home, meant back on my trainer! Last year the trainer was brand new after the holidays and honestly, I didn't get a ton of use out of it. I knew this year I was going to have to become much more familiar with my trainer than last season and decided to challenge myself to my longest trainer ride to date, of 2 hours spinning. I watched a movie and was proud of myself for the mental push.

Monday 1/2 – 60 minute run with strides on the Silver Comet Trail

My first run of the new year and I decided to go back to my old stomping ground and run on the Silver Comet. I am not sure why this appealed to me on this day, but I just wanted to be able to completely zone out and run. I did completely, even forgetting that I was supposed to finish the run with strides at the end. Which, I didn't want to skip out on something my coach had told me to do in just his 2nd prescribed workout, so I went back and did some strides and ended up running about 6.5 miles.

Tuesday 1/3 – ITL Track Tuesday (4x400 Hard/Easy; 4x400 Strides on Straight, 4x400 Hard/Easy)

This was sort of my first "official" Track Tuesday with ITL Coaching. They hold workouts on a local track every Tuesday (pretty self explanatory...) and I attended my first one at the end of last year, but it was sort of a holiday fun edition, so this was my first taste of the real thing. It was good to push myself and be surrounded by others all doing the same workout but their own paces, yet staying close. I am looking forward to more of these workouts in the future!

Wednesday 1/4 – AM swim (3200) and PM spin 

It had been too long since I had been in the water!! I hadn't swam since early December since the week before I went home, the pool was shut down at the club where I swim. I felt a bit like lead but good to be back in the water.  In the evening, I went back to the gym and took a spin class. Spin class isn't as good as being on the trainer I don't think, but it is a good mental break and way to get some cycling in. Especially when you are meeting and spinning with a friend!

Thursday 1/5 – 4 mile run with Janet around the new stadium

This run was really memorable for me. Janet and I ran in a new spot and did an "adventure run" as I called it. Not knowing a route or the area of where to go.  We just sort of explored a bit, stopping at red lights, seeing where the roads were well lit and where they weren't, tackling some hills, and chatting. Running and talking seems to allow you to let your guard down and open up and we had some really meaningful and emotional conversation on this day. I'm really thankful for Janet's friendship and the bonds that running has helped us form. This run will always be very memorable for me.

Friday 1/6 – AM swim (2900 meters)

My coach had suggested a day off but I said no - I wanted to spend more time in the pool since I knew I was going to have yet another break from the water. So morning swim practice it was :)

Saturday 1/7 – 2:00 hour spin 

Back on my trainer at home, I watched some movies and TV and powered through some intervals given to me by my coach. It really went by rather quickly, if I am being honest. And I was proud of myself for getting it done. We were also sort of snowed in without any snow, so I had nothing better to do and no excuses to get out of this workout!

Sunday 1/8 – 10 mile run

This was the coldest run yet in Atlanta! Temperatures were in the teens and I ran from my apartment down the beltine to Tenth Street to Peachtree Street and back. It was a route suggested by a friend who lives in my same location and I figured why not? Coming back felt much warmer than going out since I was facing the sun, but it was a struggle with the slight incline on the Beltline coming back up. I was very happy for this run to be over with!

Monday 1/9 – Travel Day

Last Monday I had the day off from training as it was most entirely a travel day for me. I left at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night and flew from Atlanta to Zurich, Switzerland with a connection in Paris. I didn't get to my hotel until about 6:00 p.m. Monday (local time) so I just freshened up and went to dinner with a friend. I wish that my "rest day" felt more like a rest day, but sleeping sitting up on a plane isn't super restful unfortunately.

Tuesday 1/10 – 1 hour interval run and 15 minute chords 

My first day of work travel started in the hotel gym on the treadmill. I had a one hour run scheduled, but my coach included all interval work for the 1 hour at specific paces and elevations on the treadmill. I had told him that I wanted to commit to working out 1 hour each day while I was gone and let him know the equipment I would have to work with (treadmill and stationary bike, basically.) The first workout he gave me was a challenge and I finished it thoroughly exhausted, but feeling energized like only a good workout can. It’s weird how a hard workout can do both of those things simultaneously, isn’t it?

I also did 15 minutes of exercising using a set of “chords” that my coach let me borrow for the trip. Since we knew that swimming wouldn’t be possible while I was away, using the chords allowed me to do some upper body work that simulated swimming. My form wasn’t awesome with these, but I did the workout as prescribed.

Wednesday 1/11 – 1 hour stationary bike ride 

I returned to the hotel gym to hop on one of the stationary bikes that they had. None of the bikes were ideal to simulate my bike or even a spin bike, but my coach told me that something would be better than nothing. For one hour I did a set of intervals that had my heart rate up and another sweaty and accomplished morning in the gym. I was even able to make a 7:30 a.m. train for work!

Thursday 1/12 – Gym was closed – 3 mile run outside 

This morning threw me off quite a bit, but I ended up not making a complete waste of the day.

First off, let me explain that I had planned meticulously to be sure that I would have a gym with cardio equipment available to me while on my trip to Switzerland. Unlike the U.S. and other parts of the world, European hotels do not usually have fitness centers. I always prefer to workout outside, but with snow forecast and few daylight hours to work with, I didn’t want to plan to run outdoors alone in the dark in a new-to-me city, especially when I knew it was likely covered in snow and ice. Plus, my suitcase wouldn't be big enough to fit in a week's worth of cold weather running gear.

I researched multiple hotel options to see what fitness equipment they had as well as private local gyms, I made phone calls to inquire about hours and cost before I traveled. Many fitness centers didn’t open until 6:30 a.m., which is too late to start working out with my work schedule when on the road. I even looked into the local triathlon clubs in that region but all of their workouts were in the evening hours, which also isn’t really manageable when I travel for work – I need to get it done in the morning or not at all. After all this research, I found and chose a hotel based solely on their 24 hour fitness center. I asked about it when I checked in, was assured it was 24 hours, texted my coach the equipment they had, used it for two days, and then arrived at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday and saw this.

Not wanting to be stopped by a sign, I checked my hotel key and it still opened, but the gym was totally unusable... all the equipment was gone! There were some new treadmills there, but they were not installed yet.

It totally caught me off guard and I felt really frustrated and went back to my room and started crying. I complained to the people at the front desk but knew there was nothing they could do. I went back to my room, changed my clothes quickly, and as a minimum of getting something in... I went outside and ran back and forth on a small stretch of sidewalk outside of my hotel that had decent lighting and was clear of snow and slush. I did a 5K run before heading back inside to shower and get ready for the day. It wasn't the workout from my coach, that I had honestly been really looking forward to, but at least it was something.

Friday 1/13 – Running interval and body weight workout

One of the reasons that I was so bummed the day before was because I had honestly been really looking forward to the workout my coach had put together for me. On Thursday, I ended up talking with the manager of the hotel and even though the gym wouldn't be fully finished at the hotel, they promised to have a single treadmill set up for me in the morning that I could go in and use. They were super accommodating and apologetic about what happened and I liked that they were willing to help me find a solution.

I had the fitness center to myself and despite not being able to turn the lights on, it worked out ideal for my workout as I was able to set my music up out loud. It was great because the workout entailed me hopping on and off the treadmill 4 times and doing burpees, pushups, wall sits, sit ups, etc. in between. I ended up running 5.2 miles and got a bunch of other stuff in too and was really happy with my coach for coming up with such a creative and fun workout for me. The time flew by.

Saturday 1/14 – 1 mile run to gym, 45 minute spin, 1.5 mile run back.

Another item that I negotiated with the hotel was the ability to use the gym on Saturday. I checked out on Friday, and moved from my hotel to my friend's apartment who lives in Zurich, who I was staying with through the weekend. Since I had switched around workouts during the week due to the fitness center not being open on Thursday, I was missing a bike workout, so this compromise turned out really well to be able to get into the hotel on Saturday. It was originally supposed to be a rest day but we swapped it out.

I ran a 1 mile warmup from my friend's to the hotel, did some intervals on the spin bike for 45 minutes, then hopped off for a little brick and ran back to my friend's, plus a little detour to stop by Lake Zurich. The lake hosts an Ironman race every year and even in the cold I can see that this would be a beautiful place to do a triathlon!

Sunday 1/15 – Skiing in the Swiss Alps!

So I did end up missing out on one of the scheduled workouts I had planned for the week, but it wasn't replaced with a lazy day by any means. Instead of my Sunday long run of 10 miles, I went skiing in the Swiss Alps! It was a truly incredible experience and worked some muscle groups I don't usually touch that much so a nice day of cross training.

Some of the runs had my legs aching, my heart beating, and I could tell I was sweating even though it was snowing out. It was worth missing a 10 mile run for and I am still proud of myself for being active every single day of my trip to Europe!

Monday 1/16 – Travel Day

Another "rest day" spent not very restfully as I was crammed into a small space with sore legs from the skiing the day before. It was a long day as well, since I got some hours back and that's part of the reason why you're even getting a blog today! I had to keep myself awake for a bit before heading to sleep :)


So there you have it. My first few weeks of workouts for the new year. My takeaway is that I'm really proud of myself for starting the year off strong. That I still have a lot of work to do though and that I just need to stay focused. I also learned that apparently I like making that one particular face a lot in my pictures, so that's interesting. I'll try and be more interesting in my post workout pics for the next two weeks and see what better we can do. Happy MLK Jr. Day everyone!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Top 9 Year in Review

Here we are at the end of the year again and it is hard to believe how fast 2016 went by. Wasn’t it just last week that I was planning goals for this coming year and thinking back on what an amazing year 2015 was?

I look back on 2016 year as a year of growth for me. It was a year of challenging myself, feeling uncomfortable, feeling intimidated and out of place. It was a year of pushing outside of my comfort zone in all areas of life not just what I talk about here, but also at work and in my personal life, as well as with running and triathlon. This year was full of firsts and new things and throughout that process I learned a lot about myself. When I look back at the year, what I am most proud of is overcoming a lot of the intimidation I felt in many areas of life and the feeling that I wasn’t good enough.

2016 was new territory for me in many ways. I took on a new distance of racing, the Half Ironman, and made the decision to train on my own, without a coach or a formal plan. I stepped away from the diet program that has always been a fall back for me. I decided to consciously do LESS races and focus only on the big ones in my schedule. But this year wasn’t just about training and racing – it was also a year of celebrating loved ones and welcoming new loved ones. Of travel, of moving, and of growing up in many ways.

On Instagram, the New Years-y thing to do is post your “Top 9” which includes your top “Liked” and commented on photos of the past year. I was looking forward to seeing what this was for me, and not surprisingly, my Top 9 was dominated by NYC Marathon, Half Ironman World Championships, and Half Ironman Chattanooga.

However, it got me to think about what my personal “Top 9” for the year would be, determined by myself and not by my social network and filter abilities.

1. Half Ironman Journey.

It feels like, what more can I say here, right? Well, if you know me well enough, there is always more that can be said. This journey is broken up into two periods for me, based on the training for the two races. From January to May, was full of a lot of anxiety and stress for me as I trained. Nearly every time I got on the bike, it was a new distance PR of some sort. The travel, the back-to-back biking and running weekend workouts, and overall newness/lack of comfort/anxiety in life was hard and wore on me.

The race itself in Chattanooga was incredible. I exceeded my expectations of a 7-hour finish by over 30 minutes. I sobbed when I returned home after the weekend. It meant so much to have a friend with me at that race, and one of the things that I will always remember looking back on that weekend was how meaningful it was to have Brick there with me, the weekend before her 30th birthday.

From May to September, as I trained for my next Half Ironman in Australia, I went about it completely differently. After the whirlwind of going from not wanting to do another HIM to committing to Half Ironman World Championships in Australia, I knew I needed to go about training completely differently and I did. I hired a triathlon coach. I hired a nutritionist. I joined the Atlanta Triathlon Club. I bought a heart rate monitor. I invested in aero bars and bought my first “official” biking gear. I joined group rides as a regular part of my training.

The work I was putting in showed. Weight dropped off, improvements started to be seen easily in my training, and I felt fantastic. Most importantly, I didn’t have the anxiety and stress I had in training for Chattanooga and I went into the race feeling wonderful about myself.

2. Turning 30.

This happened right alongside the end of training for Australia. I left two days after my birthday. However, before that, I truly had a wonderful time. I turned 30 feeling so confident and amazing about myself. Part of it had to two with how I looked, yes. As I mentioned, those changes I made in training and diet were really working for me. But I also felt strong. I felt confident and I felt happy, which was what I wanted.

I celebrated my birthday surrounded by love with fabulous women in Atlanta and with warm wishes from family and friends around the country. To top it off with adventure and a trip around the world… I couldn’t have asked for more.

3. Global travel.

I traveled out of the country four times this year. Twice professionally and twice personally. I visited two new countries/continents and truly had some of the most memorable times traveling I’ve ever had. The first trip in February brought me to Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates. Then Mexico in March into April. Singapore in May. And then of course Australia in August into September.

With three of those trips happening before my first Half Ironman, I also had the unique experience of training all around the world. The travel certainly made training a challenge but I was determined not make it work and not train, while on the road, which led to some of the coolest memories of sunrise swimming in Singapore (and Dubai!), spin classes in Dubai, and runs in Mexico. I am truly proud of my grit and determination despite the jet lag, work schedules, evenings out, and early morning meetings – I did all of this and went to Chattanooga well prepared for my race and didn’t miss out on any of these life experiences

They all involved exotic destinations, culture, adventure, beauty and great friends from different parts of life. It was an amazing year for international travel!

4. Becoming an aunt again.

In October, right after their 2nd birthday my twin niece and nephew, Jack and Bridget, became big siblings to Baby Thomas, born in the same month. I am beyond grateful that I was fortunate enough to be able to time a trip home to be there for Baby Thomas’s birth. I have never met a baby the day they were born so to be there for my nephew was truly a blessing and I felt like I was a part of a miracle happening. I couldn’t believe that the night before this little I was holding in my arms was inside of my sister while we watched television. It gave me such perspective on what a miracle bringing a child into this world is and I fell in love with Baby Thomas and the moments this year I was able to spend with him (and of course J and B too!)

5. Celebrating loved ones.

This year I attended 4 weddings of important people in my life. One of my friends from Upstate NY, my college roommate, and two of my childhood best friends Teenie and KO. I was able to be there for Teenie’s bachelorette as well and that was so special to me. In addition to these weddings, I had other friends get engaged, get pregnant, and accomplish major life moments. As little as it may seem in comparison to these bigger life events, my little twin half brothers also completed their second 5K and ran it on their own – which made me so proud and I celebrated from afar! There were new jobs, moves, and so much to celebrate in the lives of my loved ones this year that I felt so thrilled to be a part of and for them.

6. A refresh in Atlanta.

On the topic of moves, I made my own this year! In mid-November, I relocated within Atlanta, moving closer into the city and downsizing into a smaller apartment that fit my needs better. It is in an incredible location and I am in love with my easy access to friends, great restaurants, and beautiful places to run. It felt like my life in Atlanta got “refreshed” a bit this year between the move, meeting new people through triathlon, and focusing more on the people that matter.

7. Seeing new cities and travel within the U.S. 

The international travel often gets all the glory, but this year brought new domestic travel as well! I visited new iconic cities of New Orleans and Miami, and returned to Nashville. I had an amazingly fun trip to San Francisco, returned to Chicago, NYC a few times, Wilmington, NC and a few trips back home to New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts where I was able to see new parts of cities I’ve spent a lot of time in before, such as Providence.

8. Strengthening friendships.

In Atlanta and elsewhere, I had a lot of friendships blossom and grow that I am so proud of. The people in your life truly make it what it is and I am so beyond thankful for the amazing people I have in my life. I was able to travel with friends new and old, reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years, get closer with people within Atlanta and also friends I’ve had since childhood. As you grow older, friendships become harder to maintain and it makes me happy to see that I am strengthening some of these bonds in my life.

9. Pushing myself professionally.

Although I don’t talk about that much, as this is my “Top 9” I have to include this because it was an important year for me professionally. I felt very challenged in my role and doubted myself a lot. I am proud of myself for where I ended up this year and the impact I was able to bring to my team and company.

So there you have it. It's not everything, as NYC Marathon and running coach class and giving back through running isn't here, and so many other important life, family and friend events... but this was what came to mind as how to summarize my year. 2016 challenged me and it pushed me. It woke me up a bit to areas I still need to work on in life and places where I can improve. When I finished the Half Ironman in Australia, I was SO happy because in addition to getting a PR from my time in May, I also saw so many areas where I could improve. I think that is a good metaphor for my entire year – not just in triathlon. I am so excited about everything I accomplished in 2016 but also so excited because I know there is more I can do in 2017.

I have set up 2017 to be a year with big goals. Goal that’s that also make me nervous and feel beyond my reach right now. But I also feel like I am prepared with the toolkit of what I need to achieve them. Unlike last year at this time, I KNOW what to do, I just need to do it. I fell off the bandwagon in October through December quite a bit and have gained back the weight I'd lost and need to rebuild some of my base training, but I'm ready for the challenge. I know what needs to be done.

I will continue to work on my diet with the nutritionist (who doubles as a therapist sometimes.) And I’ve switched around coaching programs and will be working with a local coaching group in Atlanta, that I am very excited about. My circle of people supporting me is strong and I am strong. 2017 is a year of going after goals. I’m ready. Bring it on!