Friday, March 25, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 020 - Commit Me!

When did this happen to you last??
...'cause I know it did!

We are endurance athletes!

What does that mean?; one of two things.  We either have a lot of time we spend with a select few training buddies (whom we get REAL close with on many different topics) or we spend a lot of time in our own self-conscious.  Either way...

We have a lot of time to think!

Sometimes those thoughts are totally normal; mental notes of things on the To Do List.

Sometimes they are funny; remembering a joke someone said awhile back and it feels new all over again.

And sometimes I think I'd be forced to meet with a psychiatrist if the things going through my head were projected outward. 

Here are a few of my favorite more recent lines of thought during various workouts.


I was doing a swim workout that had multiple 500 and 1000s in it.  I am bad at counting laps!  As a competitive swimmer, I used to have a friend be an unofficial counter for me during the 200 Breastroke.  Yes, I would lose count going from 1 to 4.  Anyways, I've found a variety of interesting ways to keep count - or more like keeping my interest in counting without my mind wandering off.

On this day, I decided that I could count each lap of my 500/1000s only using the word "Fifty."  Here's what I came up with for 20 laps of the pool.

1 - Fifty (it's a 50, easy)
2 - Fifty Fifty (two 50s = 50 beyond 50 = 100)
3 - Fifty ("one 50" = 150)
4 - Fifty Fifty (50 beyond "one 50" = 200)
5 - Fifty Fifty ("two 50s" = 250)
6 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (50 beyond "two 50s" = 300)
7 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (50 short of "one 50" before half way = 350)
8 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s short of half way = 400)
9 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 short of half way = 450)
10 - Fifty (half way = 500)
11 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 beyond half way = 550)
12 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s beyond half way = 600)
13 - Fifty Fifty (one 50 [150] beyond half way = 650)
14 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (two 50s [250] and a 50 to go = 700)
15 - Fifty Fifty (half way beyond half way = 750)
16 - Fifty Fifty Fifty (one 50 [150] and a fifty to go = 800)
17 - Fifty (one 50 [150] left)
18 - Fifty Fifty (two 50s left)
19 - Fifty (one 50 to go)
20 - Fifty Fifty (There's about a 50% chance I counted that correctly!)


On a long, easy run, my mind tends to wander more than any structured run.  On this particular day, I was half way through my run when I imagined myself running past my dad's house; the house I grew up in and my grand & great-grandfather built.  In my mind, the house looked just as it had before, but my dad had sold the house;  I must have been back to visit friends.

As I run down the street, I stopped on the side of the road to take in the memories of my childhood.  As I stood there, a couple came out of the house.  They saw me and asked if they could help at all.  I told them that I had grown up in the house.  "You must have been here when they built it" they told me.  No, that was a generation before me. 

The conversation immediately went into details about the house.
  • The house was built in the mid to late 1960s.
  • The porch was an addition, originally intended as a garage.
  • The trees were planted when the house was built, but half of them torn down later.

Turns out, this couple was not those that my dad sold the house to.  That couple had turned around and sold the house quickly to the current residents with very misleading information.  They were told the house was built in the late 1980s and they paid a significant amount more than it may have sold for otherwise. 

Before I left, I gave them my dad's number so that they could get more accurate information.  They were incredibly thankful and I headed back out to finish my run.

As I made it back home (to my real apartment), I was amazed at the amount of info I recalled about the house. 


Have you ever wanted to redesign your room, apartment, house, or office?  One of my favorite stations (when I'm somewhere that has cable), is HGTV.

While on my bike, all of my thoughts came to mind.
  • My bed takes up a lot of space in my room. A futon would make more sense.
  • I could use that extra space for workout gear and storing my bikes.
  • When I moved in to my apartment, I loved the idea of using part of my long closet as a reading nook.  I should try that out.
  • If I find the closet comfortable for reading, I bet I could sleep in there - save a LOT of room!
  • If I sleep in the closet, I could get an oversized chair to read in.
  • My desk has always felt insufficient for studying and projects.  I'd like to have a corner desk.
  • I've always wanted to have a large white board - or better yet a large glass panel just like college study sessions on windows.
I spent a good portion of that ride rethinking how I would rearrange my room.  After I got off the bike, I followed up with a few items.
  • I measured the closet width.  27.2" wide.
  • I found a company that makes 26.5" wide beds.  Surprisingly cheap too.
  • I checked craigslist for futons and an oversized chair (I'm a craigslist addict!)
  • I started designing a corner standing desk.  I might be able to get my dad to help me build one to my specifications.

This is what goes through my head!  And that's just scratching the surface.  Go ahead - commit me!!

Freakin' Hilarious!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

RACE REPORT: 2016 Colchester Half Marathon

The 24th Annual
"Tough as Nails"
Colchester Half Marathon

When you find a good quality race, it is hard to say "no."

That is so incredibly true of this race!  Welcome to year #4 of my attendance of this race.  Why do I race here so consistently?
  • It's hard to find a half marathon in February!  It's cold here in the northeast!  
  • 40 minutes from home.
  • $14 for a half marathon??  Yes and Thank You!
  • This is up there for the best post-race food!  I would pay more than $14 for the meal alone.
  • The race director is AMAZING towards each and every racer.

If you're interested, here are my previous race reports.

Ok!  Here we go.  What happened at the Colchester Half Marathon in 2016?!

The race starts at 10am.  Gotta' love early season races that are restricted by sunlight!  So I was up at 5:30a as usual, waited to have breakfast until 7a (2 eggs, banana, applesauce, toast), and headed to the race about 8:15a.

The race is centered at Bacon Academy High School in Colchester, CT and the parking lot looks like this as soon as you get there.  It is packed!!  And I typically arrive early for races, but I tend to get one of the last parking spots at this one.

Bacon Academy High! 

Inside, it is a swarming mass of runners chatting, getting ready, and all around shaking the nerves out.  Upstairs, downstairs - all runners!

Registration and bib pick up are completely volunteer.  This race would not go on without the incredible help of volunteers year in and year out.  Thank you!!!  If I didn't love this race so much, I would volunteer in a heartbeat!

The HEAT crew pre-race

I chatted with some friends, hit the long bathroom line a couple times, changed into thermal shorts because of the temperature drop, and then headed out to warm up; about 10 minutes.  It's nice to run down and back up the final hill just to get it in your head that "Hey, you just ran this earlier today.  You got this.  RUN!"

I immediately knew that my double layer mittens would be too much.  But with 4 minutes to race start (and this race is ON TIME!), I quickly asked a volunteer if she could hold them for me.  Instead, we stuffed them under a finish line cone.  Great idea!!  But trust me, I had multiple thoughts of "I wonder if they'll be there when I get back."  They were.

Kristen & I pre-race.  ...about to CRUSH IT!
Okay!  I'm ready.  Ready as I'll ever be.  I said good luck to all my friends, found my way to the front, and prepped myself.  I had a new friend running this year too - Pete.  Pete is 14 years old and has done a 1:18.  My hope was simply not to let him crush me too bad.  Man has he flourished!!  Great kid too, but MAN can he fly!

Up to the start line.  Rick, the race director, thanked the runners, the volunteers, and the weather gods.  And without much ceremony, sent us on our way!

Picture thanks to JS Photography
I'm in the blue with the party hat (it's a tradition with my birthday) and Pete is in the green.  Gotta' keep him in sights!!

Race Nerves

I will admit that on my way to the race, I had some butterfly's in my stomach.  It's the first race of the year, I've done very little high speed running, my longest "tempo" may have been 20 minutes, and I have no idea what to expect for time or performance.  Here's how I deal with that.
  • I don't run with any usable metric.  I run with total ascent so that I am forced to go by feel.
  • I set process goals.  For this race, it was negative split and feel strong in the back half.
  • I remember that I paid $14 for this race.  My financial side can't get bent out of shape about that!
  • I wear a birthday hat.  Yes, Tuesday was my birthday, but it's just FUN.  I love cracking jokes mid-race.  That's my way of lightening the mood.

So in those first 5 miles, I was worried.  I was!

Can I hold this effort?
Am I going to burn out?
Should I pull back?
How am I going to feel at mile 10 when I need to REALLY push??

That whole time, I cracked jokes - some out loud and others in my head.  And eventually my body and mind came around.

Around mile 5-6, something clicked.  I had control of the effort level, I felt the gauge on my gas tank, and my body screamed at me "We got this!"  From that point on, I was in control; not a single internal question from there to the finish.

And I don't know why, but I love this course.  It would be gorgeous with some foliage, but it's still great in the dead of winter.

The course is mostly paved roads, but there are some dirt roads we use.  At times they can be frozen over, slushy, etc.  This year, they were PERFECT!  And the farms are great to look at!  Again, in the summer, this would be even better.

A part of me just wants to come back and run this course in June for the scenery!

Rick and Andy at mile 4/5

Did I mention Rick, the race director?!  AMAZING!!  Rick makes this race so much fun for every racer!

Rick on the final hill

Without fail, he is out at mile 4-5 cheering us on and giving high-fives.  And then he stands on that last hill welcoming every single runner to the finish line.  He got there just after I finished (after he was done at mile 4/5) and was on that hill still when I left to drive home.

Thank you Rick!!
Such an amazing race and atmosphere!

And last, but certainly not least, we have the post-race food!!

We're at a high school, so they get to use the cafeteria and every year, they do not disappoint.
  • Lasagna
  • Soup
  • Veggies
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Brownies the size of your fist
  • Ice cream
  • Drinks
  • Pizza

Eat your fill!!

I will be back in 2017 for yet another running of the hills!


1.  What race do you do every year?  And why?
The Colchester Half Marathon is one because it's cheap, has great food, is the first of the year in the northeast, and never disappoints.  Rev3 Quassy is another, but this year I am actually skipping it.  *gasp*

2.  What is your first race of the year?  What is kicking off your season?


Friday, March 11, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 019 - SOLD OUT!

Has this ever happened to you??

You've spent a lot of time (maybe hours, weeks, months, or even years!) putting together your race calendar for the upcoming season.

You crossed checked reviews on the race, hotel prices, your vacation days with HR, coordinated the race timings, and maybe even joined a group to train together.

Then when it comes time to sign up for the race, you see these dreaded words...

It is in this moment that you begin to review the 7 stages of grief.

Step 1: Shock

You immediately (internally or out loud) shout "WHAT?!"  Somehow the meaning didn't sink in as you read it twice, three, times.

Step 2:  Denial

You quickly refresh the page, close down and reopen the browser, restart your computer, or even call a friend to have them check it for you on their computer.

Step 3: Anger

At this point it's someone else's fault.  This completely ruined your season and the whole reasoning behind your other race choices, which of course you can't get out of now.  Everything is wrong!  Why didn't the race company inform you?  You get emails from them all the time!  Someone should have alerted you!  You would have signed up if you had only known!!

Step 4: Bargaining

Okay...  So maybe there's someone I can contact; wiggle a way in.  I'll just email EVERYONE.

Step 5: Guilt

You've proven to yourself that it's true.  Now it's time to beat yourself up over waiting that extra day, week, or month to fork over the entry fee. 

Step 6: Depression

Forget today's workout.  I'm just going to eat ice cream and watch a movie! Or five.

Step 7:  Acceptance

Beaten, battered, and bruised, you found your way back to your desk, pull up the race calendar spreadsheet (because you're obviously a type A), gave into reality and decided to head back to the drawing board in order to reconfigure the year.  With this recent catastrophe fresh in your mind, you quickly sign up for anything and everything left on your list!!


This happened to me recently with the new IM 70.3 North Carolina.  I didn't expect it to fill up as quick as it did.  I raced it as Beach 2 Battleship in 2012 and expected registration to be about the same.  I was wrong!  Sad day.  But onward we move!

Freakin' A!!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Freakin' A Friday!! 018 - STOP!

Has this happened to you?!

Technology is great!  As triathletes, we use so many forms of new designs, electronics, and gadgets.  Heck, we could be called the 'Sport of Gadgets.'  But every so often it's the gadget that ruins the workout.  Just when we thought we had it all going for us, BAM!  Nothing you can do.

Here's one of my pet peeves - Treadmills.

If you've followed me for awhile, you know that I dislike treadmills altogether.  I've run in just about any weather there is in the north east in order to avoid treadmills.  Well, surprise!  I've been using the treadmill more than the outdoors so far this winter.  I know!  Crazy!!  And we're having an incredibly mild winter.  It's all for the sake of heat and mental training.  But anyways...  One thing I really dislike on cardio equipment is the time limitation.  As endurance athletes, we are the unfortunate exception when it comes to most gym workouts.

Who says my workout can only be 60 minutes?!

When I first joined a gym back in 2010, the treadmills used to stop on me after 20 minutes.  Dead Stop!  I ran straight into the display of so many treadmills at that gym!  I no longer go there.  I "put them down" if you know what I mean.

Fast forward to today...  Now that I WORK at a gym, I have made sure that all cardio equipment is set for an unlimited length of time for workouts.  They will not stop on you until you tell it to or your self-selected program does.  

However, the gym that I frequent for my own workouts doesn't feel the same. 

Running on a treadmill at most gyms
is like Treadmill Russian Roulette.
You never know which one is going to be loaded.

I have learned of two at this gym that are programmed not to stop at 60 minutes.  If my run has me going longer, I preferentially chose one of those two; even if it means I'm getting onto a treadmill right next to someone else and there are a long string of open ones down the aisle.  Sorry buddy - it's your lucky day!

I had to learn this the hard way though.  And what do you do??  Some will restart quickly and you can keep going.  Some have shut down for multiple minutes forcing me to jump onto the treadmill next to it.  Some stop suddently!  Thankfully these ones go into a Cool Down mode so it's a slower process.  Either way, it's annoying!

When I have a 75 minute, 90 minutes, or 2 hour run, I don't want to have to stop part way in just because of the technology being limiting!  I've already kept myself from taking a bathroom break! 

Just let me RUN!

Freakin' A!!!