Friday, May 30, 2014

24th Annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge

Last night was our third year participating in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. I have only raced in it once, but Mike has "raced" all three years (last year he walked because it was two days after the Cleveland Marathon).


This year was the 24th annual Corporate Challenge here in Rochester. The race takes place on Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) campus.  Over 10,900 people participated representing 460 different companies from around the Rochester area.

Every year the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge picks a beneficiary. This year, the beneficiary was the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, which helps students who are at risk of dropping out of school by providing academic resources, life skill development and job training so struggling students can stay in school and achieve academic success.

When we arrived right before 6pm, there were already a ton of people getting their finisher t-shirts, warming up, stretching or just hanging out with their companies. One fun aspect of the Corporate Challenge is that most companies get a tent and grill food for after the race. Between that, company t-shirts and the fact that everyone is laughing and having a good time, camaraderie runs high at this event. 

 Prior to the start

The race is broken up into three different waves, first the red wave for racers and fast runners, the yellow wave for runners and the white waves for non-competitive runners/walkers. This allows for a smoother start and race for everyone because of the high number of participants. 

 The first participant is off!

 Right before the red wave's start

 And they're off!

After the National Anthem, a wheelchair participant started the race and then it was time for the red wave to start. Mike was in the red wave this year, and he was aiming for a PR. 

 Luckily, I got Mike in the background!

The 3.5 mile race course is run entirely on RIT's campus, around the "loop" and it is 99% flat. There is only one small hill on the campus, but you get that over with before the first half mile and you get to reap the benefits of the downhill immediately after. 

Mike Heymann, first place male

 Morgan Burrows, first place female

After watching the start, I walked over to an area right before the finish. I didn't have to wait very long before the first runner, Mike Heymann from Fleet Feet Sports, ran by. After that there were a few more runners, including first place female Morgan Burrows from Corning, and then the masses started to come through. 

I had no idea what he was doing

 This entire progression made me laugh

Mike ran a great race and finished in 24:07, which was a little less than a two minute PR! We cheered on a few more friends of ours before heading back to Mike's company's tent for post-race festivities. 

 Lots of runners

If you live in the Rochester area (or work for a company there), you should consider participating in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge. If you don't think your company participates, all you need to do is form a team (one complete team consists of either four men, four women or two men and two women for a mixed team) and then you are able to participate in this fun, annual event!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday: Bike

Time for another Ironwoman Wednesday post! Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better! (This week's Tri Talk topic is bike maintenance, so you should go check out those posts too!)

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!


This week's topic is bike, the longest leg of a triathlon. Mike and I were swimmers growing up and picked up running relatively easily with the help of Couch-to-5K, but I hadn't ridden a bike in about 10 years when we started training for our first triathlon.

It is, like they say, just like riding a bike. Our first bikes were very basic road bikes, but they did get us through our first five multi-sport events (two duathlons, two sprint tris and one Olympic tri). Really all you need to finish a triathlon (or duathlon) is a bike, helmet and running shoes.

When it came time to train for our first 70.3, we knew that we were going to need to upgrade our bikes. We had already upgraded to clipless pedals, which took some getting used to and I fell A LOT the first time we practiced clipping in and out. We eventually decided that we were going to make the switch to tri bikes.

 Old bike, new bike

They have helped immensely and I have really grown to love cycling because of my bike. My speed has increased from around 14mph on my old road bike to 16-17mph on a shorter ride on my tri bike. I am still not that fast and I am working on increasing my speed. One of my main goals for our Ironman is to be able to do the bike in 7 hours or less, which means that I will have to average around 16mph.

The bike leg during a triathlon is different than cycling that you may see on TV. There is no peloton during a triathlon and in fact you can be penalized for drafting. During a USAT-sanctioned event all cyclists must keep three bike-lengths between them. If you start to overtake a cyclist and enter the "draft zone" you have 15 seconds to pass the other cyclist (and you may not back off if you initiated passing). The person who was passed must back off and exit the draft zone, and then if they need to they may attempt to pass again.

 

Some other important rules to follow during a triathlon are that you must wear your helmet at all times while on your bike (before, during and after the race) and the chin strap must be buckled at all times. In order to prevent forgetting to do this, I just put my helmet on before I unrack my bike and take it off after I have re-racked my bike.

Making a weird face while leaving transition at the Rochester Tri

In order to get better on the bike, you need to bike a lot, in different conditions, on the trainer, on hills, etc. In order to bike faster, you need to bike faster. Sometimes I struggle with allowing myself to push harder in the beginning of a ride because I am afraid that I won't be able to maintain that speed for the duration. Luckily, Mike is a faster cyclist than me and I spend the majority of our rides chasing him!

Next week's topic is: run. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Swim/Bike/Run/Cheer

This weekend was extremely busy, so busy that I almost went crazy thinking that it wasn't all going to work out. We woke up before 6am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (with 4:20am being the worst wake-up call) in order to get in all of our workouts and support friends during their training and races.

Normally, I would say that the fourth leg of a triathlon is the transition or eating, but this weekend the fourth leg was cheering/spectating.

Swim

In the freezing water during a friend's self-supported 70.3

We got in our first OWS (open water swim) of the year on Friday at a friend's self-supported 70.3. The water temperature was below 50 degrees (or so I was told), and I would say that my face felt like it was going to fall off because it was so cold. We ended up only doing .9 miles but for how cold it was that was long enough!

Bike

 Cruising down a hill on Friday, Mike took this WHILE riding (not recommended)

 About 50 miles in during Sunday's ride

We got in about 107.3 miles of biking this weekend! Friday we did about 31.5 miles during the same friend's self-supported 70.3 (we only did part of the route) and on Sunday we did our first ever 75+ mile ride. 

Run

Saturday morning was a great 13.1 mile run with our friends Rob and Blake (yea we suck and never take photos when we run with them). It was pretty hilly and we were still able to run a sub-2 half marathon time (alright, really I slow all three of them down but I let them pretend it's alright). This is only the second time I've done that, so I'll take a 1:57 half marathon time during a training run! Now, I just need to find a race to crush that 1:54 PR. 

Cheer



 No big deal, just finishing up a 70.3 on a Friday morning

After swimming and biking on Friday, we spent the rest of the time cheering Beth on during her 70.3. She rocked it, I am seriously in awe of her. She is a beast and I only wish to be half the triathlete that she is.

Some of the runners braving Sehgahunda trail marathon

On Saturday, Mike, Rob and I went to cheer on some of our friends running the Sehgahunda trail marathon. We were able to see them at checkpoint 3 and checkpoint 6. It was amazing to see them all out there, most of them were running their first marathon and on really difficult trails no less.

It may not look like a lot on paper, but I was exhausted by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around. It was worth it, though, to be there for people who worked really hard to accomplish some amazing feats!

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday: Open Water Swim

It's Wednesday again and time for another Ironwoman Wednesday post! If you missed the first post last week, Ironwoman Wednesday is a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi at Lean Green Island Girl, Michelle at Ironwoman Strong and I are all training for Ironman Louisville. It is really exciting (and encouraging) to be sharing this journey with these two amazing women!


Last week's topic was focused on swimming in general, but this week I am going to be talking about my experiences, and tips, with open water swimming or OWS.

 This feels like it was forever ago, first sprint tri

Our first sprint triathlon was not my first experience with OWS. I mentioned that our swim team would take a yearly trip to Florida and a few years we participated in an OWS race. I can't even remember the distances now but I do remember my first experience with OWS.

I wear contacts and when I was younger I wore glasses. I did not always have prescription goggles (I later got some and now just swim with my contacts in), and during my first OWS experience I had a really hard time sighting. I remember being last because I veered so far off course (because I couldn't see the buoys in the distance) and a volunteer in a kayak trying to help get me back on track.

My next OWS experience was better, and as a triathlete my strong swimming background and prior experiences with OWS have helped me immensely. One of my goals this year is to race in an OWS event, hopefully I can find the time to do so!

Most new triathletes panic in the water because they do not have a swimming background.  That is completely understandable but there are a few ways that you can try to help calm your nerves before your first race.

 OWS in Maine

Practice, practice, practice! This is so important. You really don't want race day to be the first time that you get in open water. You may have successfully completed all of your training in a pool, but that doesn't prepare you for the chaos that is the mass swim start. Unfortunately, living in Western New York, Mike and I have sometimes been unable to get into open water before our first triathlon of the year (however, we do not panic in the water and it has worked out alright). If you are feeling nervous, try to go practice in open water before race day.

Never swim alone. I know that there are people who do, but you should never swim in open water alone. Even if you are a strong swimmer (Mike makes fun of me because I have freaked out in rough waters a few times), you never know what can happen. Swim with a friend, wear a BRIGHT swim cap or at least have a spotter on shore watching out for you.

Practice sighting. Swimming in a pool is luxurious because you are spoiled by knowing how far you have to go before doing a flip turn, and you have the lines at the bottom of the pool to keep you on track. Often during OWS, you can't even see your hands right in front of you. Every race course is different but you will always have buoys to guide you through the open water. Keep those buoys on your left (or right if you are going in the other direction) and try to stay as close to them as possible. You will need to lift your head out of the water every so often to make sure that you are staying on track (hence my story at the beginning of this post). If you are swimming into the sun, try to follow the bubbles in front of you or the splashes from other swimmers' kicks. It is important to try to stay in as straight a line as possible so that you don't lose too much time.

 The start of HITS 70.3 tri relay, I was the swimmer

Race day tips. Get in the water beforehand to test the temperature. Unless you are doing a running start, you will usually have the opportunity to do this right before the race and/or your wave starts (most triathlons are broken up into waves based on gender/age group). Sometimes the water is freezing and other times it feels like bath water, but you want to give your body enough time to get acclimated before you start swimming. Pick a position based on your comfort level and your abilities as a swimmer. I am always in the front of the pack because I am a strong swimmer. If you are nervous you can stay closer to the back of the pack, this will also help you avoid any unwanted kicks/collisions with other swimmers, and you can follow other swimmers this way (but make sure you are still sighting so you don't get off course). Some triathlons let you start behind your age group, to avoid the mass start, but your time will start when your age group's wave starts. Also, unlike on the bike, you are allowed to "draft" during the swim. Find someone and get in his/her wake!

 Exiting the water at HITS

A final tip for race day, keep swimming for as long as possible. If your start is shallow, run for a little bit but as soon as you are able start swimming. When you are close to shore, don't automatically jump up and start running. I will swim until my hand touches the bottom twice and then I jump up and begin my run to transition. You will get through the water faster by swimming. 

Breathing. Of course you need to breathe during the race, but there is a strategy to it as well. I tend to breathe to the right, but I also know how to bilaterally breathe (breathe to both sides). Bilateral breathing comes in handy with sighting and keeping those buoys to the appropriate side of your body. Most triathlons I have done have you keep the buoys to your left, which means that breathing to the right doesn't really help me. You can practice bilateral breathing in the pool to make sure that you feel comfortable with this on race day.

 I did wear my wetsuit at Musselman 70.3

And a word about wetsuits. We did our first three triathlons without wetsuits and were fine. The water temperature for two of those triathlons (one sprint and one Olympic distance) was around 62 degrees. It was cold! Wetsuits do come in handy for swimmers who are not as confident in their abilities because they increase buoyancy in the water (as well as keep you warmer than going sans-wetsuit).

USAT rules state that any participant may wear a wetsuit when the water temperature is 78 degrees F or less without penalty. Age group triathletes may wear wetsuits when the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees and less than 84 degrees, however, anyone who chooses to do so would not be eligible for prizes and/or awards. When the water temperature is 84 degrees and above, no one is allowed to wear wetsuits.

 So excited for some OWS, Mike is not

Hopefully, you find OWS just as exciting and fun as I do. If you are nervous, just take it slow at first and trust in your abilities. Remember swimming accounts for a small percentage of your race, so if you have to take a little bit longer to feel comfortable in the water, do it!

Next week's topic is: bike.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 9-10

The next time I do a training post we will be halfway done with Ironman training! It is going really fast, and it will go even faster the next few weeks since I won't be working after Thursday until almost the end of June. Maybe I will finally have time to do all of that other stuff I have neglected these past 10 weeks.

Week 9 

Totals - Swim: 5.43 miles, Bike: 113.51 miles, Run: 17.01 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 6 mile run, 3,150 yard swim
Wednesday - 25.88 mile bike
Thursday - 5.01 mile trail run
Friday - 12.16 mile bike, 4,400 yard swim
Saturday - 15.02 mile bike, 6 mile run (brick), 2,000 yard swim
Sunday - 60.45 mile bike

This week was full of mostly ups and some downs. The first few days of workouts went really well. We ran really fast (8:20 pace for the first 6 mile run) and also ran some trails with our friend, Rob. We got in all of our swim workouts, which hadn't been happening for a few weeks.

Then Friday rolled around, and with it some thunder and lightning. We should have switched our workout for that day, but we decided to try to attempt our bike/run/swim brick anyway. The ride started out decent enough, but about 8 miles into it I could see the dark clouds getting closer and closer. At 10 miles, Mike and I turned around to try to "beat the storm" (that we were already in). As soon as the wind, rain and lightning started, I knew that I needed to stop. We flagged down a stranger and she drove me back to our car.

We did get a little bit of revenge on the weather and swam 4,400 yards straight at the pool that same night. I swam it in 1:07 and Mike swam it in 1:04. That was a huge confidence booster since 4,400 yards converts to 2.5 miles (.1 mile more than we'll have to swim during our Ironman).

The rest of the weekend went well, we made up the rest of our bike miles (and did a little extra) for our brick and then ran 6 miles immediately after. That is the most we have ever done for a brick, not including during a race, so I was really happy with how it went. It was hot, though! We didn't have a scheduled long run for this week for some reason (must have been a run cutback week when I made our plan).

 About 50 miles into our ride

Our weekend ride was probably the best workout of the week. We rode from Mendon Ponds park, down and around Honeoye Lake (we had already ridden around this lake before) and back through Honeoye Falls. The ride was 60.45 miles long with 1,522 feet of elevation gain and I was able to average 15.5mph. Not a bad way to end the week!

 Our bikes at Honeoye Falls

Week 10

Totals - Swim: 1.7 miles, Bike: 84.23 miles, Run: 26.12 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 6.12 mile trail run
Wednesday - 6 mile run
Thursday - 14.2 mile bike, 3,000 yard swim
Friday - Off (unplanned)
Saturday - 14 mile run
Sunday - 70.03 mile bike

This week went pretty well, we did cut out a few workouts but some of that was intentional (or we knew likely to happen). We went to a few group runs this week, one trail and one road, and added on about 2 miles both times.

We only swam once this week, at least it was a long workout, because when we went to the pool on Saturday it was closed (even though it was supposed to be open). I hate seeing swim workouts go, but at least that is the "easiest" part for us. We also cut about 40 miles of biking this week because we had our bikes tuned-up (worth it). We went to the gym once and used the stationary bikes, but it isn't the same. Our unplanned off day on Friday happened because my bike was ready to be picked up, but when we got there Mike's wasn't ready so we just decided to take our dog, Bernie, for a walk instead of going to the gym again.

Who can resist this face?

Our weekend workouts went really, really well. We ran with our friends Blake and Rob (we really need to get better at taking photos) along the canal path for 14 miles. We kept the pace really consistent and average around 9:11 pace.

We ended the weekend with a new bike PDR (personal distance record) of 70 miles! We headed out to Batavia, New York to start our ride (we ate lunch with our friends out there after). About 5 miles in, Mike was stopped and asked if I had seen the paper with the route on it fly out of his pocket. I hadn't. We were left with two choices: try to do our original route using his phone or improvise. We decided that it would have been too much of a hassle to constantly stop and check the route on his phone (can't easily do that while riding) so we just turned onto US 20 and did an out and back. The wind was a bit challenging on the way out (it was cold and slowing the pace) but on the way back the ride was much better.

Took this while I was enjoying my post-ride iced coffee

Our original route had more elevation gain, but we still did about 1,500 feet of elevation gain and a lot more climbing. I felt like we were always going up or down a hill. I was happy that I was able to average around 15.4mph for the entire ride, this gives me hope that I can average around that during our Ironman.

All in all, even with the lost workouts this was a great week. I'm looking forward to what the next week brings!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ironwoman Wednesday: Swim

Today I am starting something new on the blog! Gabi from Lean Green Island Girl reached out to me about starting an "Ironwoman Wednesday" linkup on our blogs. It will be a weekly linkup on a variety of triathlon-related topics (that will be announced the week before). It is similar to Tri Talk Tuesday that a few other bloggers started, but the more people talking about triathlon the better!

Gabi and her husband are also training for Ironman Louisville, so it will be really exciting sharing this journey with her! We'll have to make sure we meet up before we jump into the Ohio River!


This week's topic is: Swim.

I've mentioned on the blog before that I am not new to swimming. I started swimming competitively when I was 8 years old. Was I good? Not really in the beginning. In fact, when my brother and I (along with a handful of other swimmers) made the switch from one swim team to another after their pool's roof collapsed and they started practicing at our YMCA, our first coach laughed and said that we would never become anything as swimmers.

 Oh, look at me.

Luckily, I didn't listen.

I worked extremely hard to become a better swimmer. In fourth grade my mom told me that I could start going to morning swim practices if I wanted to, and I did. I remember the first time that I swam the 50 yard freestyle under 30 seconds, I was on top of the world. My coach even gave me a dollar, and signed it, I think I still have that somewhere.

 In Florida at YMCA Nationals

I continued to get better and to swim more and more. Our swim team would take a yearly trip to Florida, and later the Virgin Islands, and in order to go you had to swim 8 practices a week. There were no exceptions. That meant I had to swim five nights a week, two morning weekday practices and a Saturday practice (or meet).

Leading a cheer

After the 100 backstroke at States

When I was in high school, I continued to swim for my YMCA team but I also swam on my high school swim team.  As all the other sports I did started to fall by the wayside (cross country only one year, softball two years), swimming was always there. My proudest moment as a swimmer was when I became State Champion in the 100 backstroke my senior year of high school.

 Before a relay in college

I continued to swim in college, that's how Mike and I met my second year, but I had lost some of my passion for the sport. I only swam on my college's swim team for two years and then I focused on my academics. Unfortunately, I still ate like I was a swimmer and gained some weight.

Mike and I tried to get back into shape by joining a local Masters swim team, and it was fun for awhile. Even though I love swimming, something was missing and we didn't continue swimming on the Masters swim team.

 At a Masters swim meet in Middlebury, Vermont

Every once in awhile we would still swim laps at the pool, but again it wasn't the same.

Luckily, in April 2011 I convinced Mike to try Couch-to-5K and our lives changed forever. I got the idea in my head that I was going to do an Ironman and here we are three years later training for Ironman Louisville.

I am so thankful for my background as a swimmer, but swimming in a triathlon is completely different than swimming competitively on a swim team.

Maine Love

Which leads me to next week's topic: Open Water Swimming!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

It's Already Happening

We are in the middle of Week 9 of Ironman training, with 14.5 weeks left to go and it happened already.

I had my first Ironman nightmare.

I don't remember if I had any nightmares leading up to a marathon or Musselman 70.3, but I have had nightmares about swimming. I had the typical, I missed the meet dream, which causes you to wake up in a panic and almost burst out of bed but then you realize that you haven't missed it and that it is a few hours away. I have had the, dive in the water and can't move after that dream, which I think is the worst. You are just frozen there in the water and even though you know you are supposed to be racing, you can't move.

 Exiting the water at Musselman 70.3

My first Ironman nightmare started out with the swim portion of the race. Even though I KNOW that there will be no sharks during the race, there were sharks in my dream. That actually didn't bother me much because in my dream I knew that they weren't going to attack me.

What did bother me is that the swim took me an hour and twenty minutes, which in the grand scheme of things is a spectacular time for a 2.4 mile swim. However, I have made it pretty well known that I want my swim portion of the Ironman to be as close to an hour as possible.

The worst part of the dream was Transition 1. I couldn't get out of it. It was similar to the frozen in the water swimming dream. My dad kept coming over to me to try to get me out of there faster (which I know can't happen during the Ironman, but he will be there cheering me on), which made me go slower.

 Leaving Transition 1 at the Rochester Triathlon

It felt like I was in there for an hour. I kept forgetting my shoes, my gloves (which I doubt I will be using during the race), my nutrition, everything. As soon as I would go to leave, I would remember something else that I needed out there for the 112 mile ride.

I know that during the actual race that my transition is not going to be a "quick" one. I will try to get out there as fast as possible, but since this is my first Ironman I am going to make sure I have everything I need with me.

The final part of the dream included, finally, running out of Transition 1. Before I could get on my bike, I had to run over a grassy field and I didn't have my bike touching the timing mat when I crossed it. This caused the volunteers to scream at me to come back.

That was it.

I know that there will be more nightmares, more panicking that I am not prepared enough, but I hope that on race day I can give it my all and make everyone proud. Most of all, make myself proud.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 7-8

Two months down, a little less than four months to go!

WEEK 7 

Totals - Swim: 2.61 miles, Bike: 61.77 miles , Run: 23.11 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 15.29 mile bike, 2,200 yard swim
Wednesday - 5 mile run
Thursday - 2.41 mile run, 15.71 mile bike, 1.51 mile run (RBR brick)
Friday - 30.77 mile bike, 2,400 yard swim
Saturday - 2 mile run
Sunday - 12.19 mile run during Seneca7 Relay

Even though I have the "alright" emoticon for this week of training on DailyMile, this week went really well! We got all of our workouts in and even got an extra 2 mile shakeout run done before our relay on Sunday.

 This is what happens when you forget to change to bike mode, no I don't run that fast!

We did combine our two shorter swims (and added 50 yards, ha) so that we would have time to go to packet pickup for Seneca7 on Saturday.

Other than Seneca7 (which you can read about, here, here and here), the most notable workouts for this week were our RBR brick with our triathlon group, the RATs, and our 30ish mile ride on Friday.

 Before the RBR workout

The RBR brick went really well, and we even did one more loop of the bike route than most of the other people that were there. I was the only girl, so at first I was running sub-8 minute miles with the guys and I knew that I had to slow down a bit. Overall, I was really happy with how this workout went and it is always a good time training with the RATs!

Our 30.77 mile ride on Friday was super fast, for me, and we had a great time riding with our friend, Gregory again. We pushed the pace and I clocked 17.14 mph average for the entire ride.

The only complaint about this week was the 5 mile run on Wednesday. We ran on a hojack trail (an old abandoned rail line) and it hurt. It did not feel great and it was really windy. Luckily, that was the only sub-par workout for me the entire week.

WEEK 8 

Totals - Swim: 2.27 miles, Bike: 108.06 miles, Run: 22.87 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile run, 4,000 yard swim
Wednesday - 33.62 mile bike
Thursday - 17.84 mile bike
Friday - 5 mile run
Saturday - 12.87 mile run
Sunday - 56.6 mile bike

For the most part, I would like to forget about Week 8 of Ironman training. Even though we logged a bunch of miles, I am less than pleased about how this week went.

When I checked ahead for this week, I panicked. I had FOUR rides scheduled, a brick after a long ride on Sunday and we were traveling for Crystal and Janell's marathon.

I knew that it all couldn't be done. I tried to rearranged things as best as I could, and for a moment it looked like we might be successful. Then, the weather and bad luck had other ideas.

We had to cut one ride short, because Mike got a flat and while he changed the tube successfully, he messed up when he used the CO2 cartridge. We cut another ride completely because of the weather and traveling. We didn't get two swim workouts in and we dropped our 3 mile brick run after yesterday's ride. The times that we did ride, we had to deal with rain, wind and even more wind.

 With our friend, Greg, at about halfway during our ride yesterday

There were some good parts to the week, we got in a 4,000 yard swim, for the most part our runs were solid (and we got to run with Crystal during her third marathon), we rode around Canandaigua Lake, our third of the Finger Lakes, and we got to see Crystal and Joe one last time before they leave for Alaska.

With Crystal, after her marathon

But if I'm being completely honest, the thought of saying "see you later" to our friends made me an emotional wreck all week. Add the stress of training, weather getting in the way and feeling guilty for dropping workouts, I am glad to see this week go.

Hopefully, the next few weeks are better!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's See You Later

I joined Twitter on January 31, 2012, and Crystal and I exchanged our first tweets on February 7, 2012.

I'm not sure that either of us could have guessed how those 140 characters or less conversations would have changed our lives, but they did.

 Our first of many jump photos together

Our friendship with Crystal and Joe was lifelong from the moment that we met in person at the Cape Cod Half Marathon that same year. The three of us, me, Crystal and Mike, ran the half. We spent the rest of our time there getting to know our new friends better and after we left, I knew we had to make more plans to see them again soon.

 The four of us

Crystal started to debate whether or not she should run a marathon (I, of course, told her that she should and could). When I learned that the marathon she was considering had a relay option, I knew what we had to do: be her sherpas.

 Doing our sherpa thing

We were with her every step of the way during her first 26.2 mile victory lap. It didn't matter that I was freezing, that it was raining, snowing, hailing and windy. All that mattered was getting her across that finish line, and we did.

Our adventures continued. We have raced together numerous times and have raced in Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Maine together. Joe has even joined in on the racing fun a few times!

 The 100 on 100 relay in Vermont

Thanksgiving day race in Rhode Island this year

Mike and I knew we were going to run the MDI Marathon since it is my hometown marathon, and we convinced Crystal to run her second marathon there with us. I was lucky enough to have her with me for 20 miles and Mike got to see her cross the finish line.

 Shakeout run before the race

Post-marathon photo

When we found out that Crystal and Joe were being stationed in Alaska (Joe is in the Coast Guard), I knew that we had to find some way to see them before they left. Crystal was registered to run her third marathon with Janell at the River Towns Marathon, and Joe was registered to run his first half marathon there as well!

Mike and I decided to make the trip there this weekend so that we could be a part of Crystal's third marathon, it is tradition after all. Since we are training for our Ironman, we had a 12 mile run on the schedule for Saturday.

We ended up joining Crystal and Janell at the halfway point on the out and back course. I'm not going to go into too much detail about what happened out on the course, because those are their stories to tell, but I will say how I was feeling.

 After the race

I didn't want it to end. Even though I was hurting, less than they were, and it was getting hot, I didn't want my time with my friend to end. I wanted to slow down time and somehow be able to keep running with her.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have such amazing friends in my life. Crystal and Joe are more than friends, they are my family.

There were tears shed when we had to say goodbye, because unfortunately we won't be able to see them again during the next few weeks that they are still on the same side of the country as us.

 Friends for life

I know that it isn't goodbye, it's see you later, but it's still hard. Who would have thought that a Twitter conversation would have started something this great? I sure didn't.