Saturday night was an annual event that we look forward to every year. It is the MJG Santa Pub Crawl to raise money for brain cancer research. Back in July, I posted about the MJG Brain Cancer Research Fund and why it is a cause that I believe in. This annual event is one of the big fund raisers of the year…plus it is a blast!
We had some friends over to our house for food and drink before we headed to downtown Raleigh for the festivities. We got in some great photo opportunities as well!
The night consisted of visiting three different bars and hanging out with lots of great people!
The Polar Bear and Santa Bert receive so many requests for photos from people that are at the various bars (not there for the event per se) that they also ask for a small donation when they agree to the picture. All those donations added up to over $100 that will go to the cause!
The evening was another night of great fun and I am certain it raised a lot more money for brain cancer research!
With the holiday wish list season upon us, I decided to compile some of “my favorite things”. If you are an athlete looking to try out some new gear, here are some of my suggestions. If you have an athlete on your gift list and need ideas, try one of the product suggestions below! There are SO MANY choices on the market today, I think personal suggestions are great resources when choosing to spend our money on something different.
I have tried many different brands of goggles through the years, and these are the ones I always come back to. I always keep a pair of clear (pool) and tinted (open water) and these seem to last the longest for me.
This is the best!! If you spend any amount of time in the pool, I HIGHLY recommend the Waterproof Ipod Shuffle. I have had mine for almost two years and I can’t imagine not having it. Every once in a while when I accidentally forget to pack it for my swim workout, I get really bummed that I don’t have music during my laps! It is really life changing!!!
I have had this wetsuit for a couple/few years so Orca has replaced it with the newer version S5. This is the first wetsuit that I actually like and am comfortable swimming in. I found it to be reasonably priced and have been pleased with it the last several seasons.
I have ridden in these shoes for quite a while and it seems that this particular generation has been discontinued as they are not included on the Shimano website. However, I was able to search and find them at other various online locations. Overall, I would buy this one again or the newer generation.
I have so many different Polar bike bottles and they are great! I love the insulated bottle because it will keep the fluid colder longer on those hot days. I also like the drinking spout on the lid is removable for extra cleaning.
Another insulated bike bottle option that I routinely use. However, I only put water (no sports drink) in this bottle since the cleaning options are not as versatile. However, I do like the twist open/close feature of this bottle.
Unfortunately, the trainer that I have and would highly recommend is no longer available. Tony purchased it for me several years ago as a gift and he found a good product at Nashbar. It was sold at a VERY reasonable price point and it included a great feature which is a power meter. Due to the expense, I do not have a power meter on my bike for outdoor rides, but my trainer has one and I have found it to be a solid training tool. I was bummed when we could not locate the trainer online to include it here on my favorites list. However, if you are looking for a trainer and find one with power that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend it.
Instead of showing different images for my favorite run gear, I found one race picture that included most of my favorites.
I have been running in UA compression shorts for many years. They last a tremendously long time. I have not purchased the current version that UA is selling, because the ones I have are still in good shape. Most of my running capris and tights are also UA.
Everyone has a favorite shoe and the Mizuno Wave Inspire 10 is mine! I have two pairs of these shoes (different colors) and Mizuno has been my go to shoe for a few years. I also recommend that everyone get a personalized fitting for the particular shoe that is great for them, but if the Mizuno Wave Inspire ends up being an option for you, I highly recommend it!
I love my Nathan belt. The flasks slide in and out so easily and with only one hand. I like that for the really long runs I can use all 4 bottles or only pack a couple for shorter, hot runs!
Anytime I run outside I wear a visor or hat. I always race in a visor and you can not go wrong with Headsweats! I own multiple!
Great sunglasses at a price that won’t break the bank! They include a lifetime warranty, which I have taken advantage of when there was a small crack in the frame. It is fairly hassle free to get a replacement!
One of my go to running socks. They don’t slide or bunch up. I highly recommend!
Ditto as above.
This is a great pack for those SUPER long runs! Lots of pockets for added storage…phone, nutrition, etc.
I love the BIC Bands because they stay in place! While I typically wear a visor/hat when I run outside, that is not the case when I run on the treadmill. I wear the BIC band when I run on the treadmill and when I do any other type workout (weight training, yoga, etc). I have never had one fall out and I am actually planning to purchase a couple more in the new future!
My Garmin 910XT has made several appearances on the blog over the year. I love it! It captures everything and more you would want to know about your swimming, biking and running workouts. In my opinion, it has been worth every penny! I know there is a new Garmin for triathletes on the market, but I will say, the 910XT has been terrific for me!
I have two Road IDs. The sport version on the right, I have had a few years. The slim ID on the left, I recently purchased. My comments on this product are easy…if you don’t have one, GET ONE! No questions asked. Period. That’s all.
The Honey Stinger Waffle has got to be one of the best tasting sports nutrition products on the market. There are six different waffle flavors, but the honey is my favorite!
The Clif Shot Bloks are one one of my go to picks! I have tried other chews and while some taste great, the shot bloks are both tasty and easy to dispense. The tube shape is handy and you don’t have to use your fingers to pick one out of the package. Great design!
One of the best picks for long rides. These also come in a ton of different flavors and there are some I like alot! The PB&J is a familiar flavor and usually not difficult to find if you need to pick one up last minute in a retail location.
I started using this product early this year and used it all during training for my sports hydration needs. It is not overly sweet and I found it easy to drink.
Today I am playing along with a questionnaire that is going around on several different blogs. I was tagged by Sweat Courage’s Kristin and am happy to participate!
Four names that people call me, other than my real name:
1. Lee-Lee: This has been used over the years by lots of different people.
2. Darlin': Tony’s nickname for me.
3. Auntie Lee: This is always sweet to hear because it is said by special people!
4. That’s all
Four jobs I have had:
1. Sales Associate in a department store (first job as a teenager)
2. Waitress (College)
3. Office Assistant (College)
4. Finance Professional
Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
1. Top Gun
2. A Few Good Men
3. Forrest Gump
4. Dirty Dancing
Four things I’m always saying:
1. I’m cold! (And it is only November)
2. I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay…
3. I’m gonna get my workout in…
4. I want a taste of something sweet…
Four books I’d recommend:
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks
3. A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Four places I have lived:
1. Apex, NC (where I grew up)
2. Wilmington, NC (college)
3. Raleigh, NC (where I live now)
4. Only lived three places
Four places I have been:
1. Hawaii (twice)
3. Various Caribbean Islands
4. Mexico (twice)
Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Somewhere tropical enjoying warm weather
2. In front of a roaring fire (first real cold night of the season and I am really feeling it!)
3. Wilmington, NC – One of my very favorite places and I never tire of visiting
4. Australia – This is a bucket list item and dream vacation
Four things I don’t eat:
1. Red onions
Four of my favorite foods:
1. Fried Chicken (rarely indulge, but the southern girl in me loves it!)
2. Breakfast (I know this is a food category, but I love breakfast foods)
3. Homemade Lasagna
Four TV shows that I watch:
2. Modern Family
3. The Biggest Loser
4. Carolina Hurricanes hockey
Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. A tropical vacation that is being planned for January.
2. Working toward new goals in racing with the hopes of setting some new PRs.
3. Fun times with friends and family.
4. Continuing to live life by trying new things and going new places.
Four People I Tag:
Feel free to play along and answer any of the questions you pick in the comments below!
This has been a big year for me. Goal accomplishment is always something to be proud of, but pushing yourself past your (thought to be) limits then accomplishing your goal, can really be life changing. I put in all the hours needed to accomplish my goal of becoming an Ironman. I never once slept through an alarm clock for an early morning training session. I jumped in the pool, laced up my running shoes or climbed on my bike, more times than I could count, when all I wanted to do was chill out on the couch. I had the discipline required to push myself to knock out countless training hours. I am proud of myself for this. I did the work!!!
Besides myself, the biggest contributor to my success is my husband. I have mentioned Tony so many different times on the blog in reference to something he has done to support me while I worked to fulfill my dream. Well, today, we are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary and I could not think of a better time or a better way, to truly explain what a big part he has played in making this year and this accomplishment so special.
I think it is only appropriate to start (kind of) from the beginning. He has always had faith in me to do things way before I ever believed I could. He would not always vocalize it, and never pressured me, but when I told him I was ready to train for my first triathlon in 2009, it was no surprise to him. He knew I would get to that point even before I did. I remember one Fall when I told him that I wanted to do an Olympic distance tri the following race season and he said “you can totally do that now”. As I increased distances and challenges by signing up for 70.3’s and ultimately Ironman, he always had faith that I would be able to reach my goals.
Even before my first triathlon, when I started riding my bike on the road, he always rode with me and encouraged me. He (usually) remained patient with me…any of the times he didn’t, I was the one being hard headed! When I started riding with groups, I was often intimidated because I felt I was the slow one, but he continued to encourage me and always stayed with me if I fell behind! He never gave up on me…even the times when tears were involved! He taught me so many lessons and gave me tools I needed to build my confidence (as I was stepping WAY out of my comfort zone) and become a stronger athlete!
I cannot tell ALL that he did this year during my Ironman training. To touch on some of the things that made such a big difference…
He logged many miles with me on the bike. He never let me ride alone and “closed the gap” on most of my rides. For instance, when I could find people to ride with me for 60 miles, but the total I needed was 90, he would ride that final 30 with me and pull me when I needed to be pulled and would talk me through the tough miles. He would run with me on my long runs or accompany me on his bike, when the runs got really long, so that I would not be out on the Greenway by myself when it started to get dark. He kayaked along side of me on lots of long swims since very few people actually want to open water swim for 75 or 90 minutes. He made sure dinner was done so that I could have something good to eat when I was training after work and dinner was not until 8:30/8:45. He tried to reassure me when I would have bad training sessions and all I could focus on was frustration and negativity. He never complained when our together time was cut short in the evening to 15 or 20 minutes because I could not hold my eyes open to watch tv and chill together after late sessions and dinner. He ALWAYS made sure my bike was tweaked and in good shape for all my rides and most importantly, the BIG DAY!!!
I will say that I completely supported him during his two Ironmans. I was so proud when he crossed the finish line because I knew the hours of time he put into his training. However, I could not relate to what he was experiencing or help him train. That was long before I had gotten really active and while my support was genuine, it was very different than what he was able to do for me.
As I ran down the Ironman chute, I saw him standing on the side just at the finish line with a big smile on his face cheering me to the very end. He could not have been at a better place as I ended that journey. He would have been proud of me regardless of how that day played out…whether I met my time goals or had a horrible day. He is my biggest supporter and I could not ask for a better partner to have by my side, whether it is the ups and downs of a “normal” day or as I confront new challenges and chase my dreams.
Last weekend we spectated at Beach 2 Battleship (B2B) in Wilmington, NC as a friend of ours participated in her first iron distance triathlon. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race and being in Wilmington (one of my favorite cities) is always a treat! Tony and I went to college in Wilmington (where we met), I raced my first half iron at B2B in 2012, plus Wilmington was just voted as America’s Best Riverfront in the 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest sponsored by USA TODAY. I have known what a special place Wilmington is for a long time, but now it has been published for the rest of the country to see! It was a great weekend and we had a blast cheering on our friend and the other triathletes. We were thrilled to watch her cross the finish line as we knew how much work she put into her training.
When two friends and training partners completed their Ironman goal (Louisville and Chattanooga) since I raced at IMLP, I was able to re-live my epic day in my mind and many of the emotions were revisited as I tracked them on race day. However being at B2B, to cheer on our friend as she went for her goal, really allowed me to reflect on my day and what I was able to accomplish after so much training and hard work. You can’t help be reminded of all the hours of preparation that is required to reach that IM goal.
As I train, I become a bit of a data junkie. My Garmin 910XT works in full force when I swim, bike and run. After workouts, I enjoy analyzing the training data and assessing gains I am making or face the reality of a less than stellar workout. As I posted weekly training updates on the blog, I was able to track training volumes over the course of time. One thing I had not done, until just recently, was review the totals for my Lake Placid training plan. I thought it would be fun to total all my weekly volumes to remind myself of the hours and miles I spent preparing for my first Ironman. This data could also be helpful to someone that is considering signing up for their first Ironman. It is easy to get caught up in thinking about race day and crossing the finish line to hear Mike Reilly call your name, but one must fully consider all the miles and hours that are required leading up to race day!
Obviously, all training plans are different and are geared toward one’s individual goals and total miles and hours will vary. However, this will give an idea of my experience.
Since this weekend is Ironman Florida, I can’t resist to include this picture of my hubbie since Florida was his very first Ironman in 2008. I was so very proud of him on that day and had NO IDEA the spark that would ignite for me several years later.
My highlight lately was a milestone, but there was so much associated with it that made it so very special! The milestone is that I turned 40 on October 1! I had so much fun celebrating this birthday, that I can truly say that I brought in 40 with bells on!
Honestly, I need to go back to July 27, when I completed Ironman. I did not register for an Ironman specifically because I was turning 40 in 2014, but after I realized it, I thought the timing was pretty neat. So, going back more than two moths before my birthday, I was basking in my glory after completing the race, being the fittest I have ever been in my life, while being 39 going on 40!
Then jump to September 27, the weekend before my birthday, when Tony and I were (supposedly) going to a friend’s’ house for dinner. Little did I know that there were lots of other friends also there waiting for my arrival to yell “SURPRISE”. They got me! I had a great night and felt so lucky that so many of my close friends were all together in one place to celebrate.
Tony was the original mastermind but had lots of help to pull off the surprise! They had planned some of my favorite foods, cocktails and dessert!
There was a photo slide show with tons of pictures through my 40 years. We even had a photo booth to act silly and have something to take as a memoir of the night. All the little details were covered! I am a lucky girl!!
The original plan (the one that I actually knew about) to celebrate my 40th was for us to travel to Boston for a fun weekend. We planned to travel the day after my birthday, so I took Wednesday off (my actual birthday), because who really wants to work on their birthday?!?! (I have never taken a day off work because it was my birthday, but I decided this was the year to do it!) I enjoyed my day to do whatever I wanted to do:)
We had a great time in Boston. Neither one of us had ever been to Boston and we thought it would be a fun city to check out and explore. We were right. We did lots of eating, poking around town and we ran every day!
I always enjoy running when I am traveling because it lets you check out the city in a different way. Even though we pretty much walked everywhere, running the city, is still different to me. Plus, since we frequently saw people running around town, it gave me the extra motivation to do the same. One of our runs took us by the Boston Marathon finish line. Obviously, we had to stop and take a look. I think it is very cool how the finish is painted on the road. There may even be some motivation, by my partner in crime, to train for a race to try to qualify. We will see what he decides down the road!
I had originally scheduled something on my birthday that I have never done before, but it had to be rescheduled. So, this happened the week after my birthday…I got my M-dot tattoo! I am really pleased with how it came out. I had sent pictures to the artist that inspired the design in my mind and she really captured it perfectly. I now have a permanent reminder of a goal that I worked tremendously hard to accomplish and if I ever doubt my strength and determination, I will take a look at my tattoo and forever be reminded!
Amongst all this activity, I am still enjoying and focusing on the flexibility I have in my training routine. I have been successful at incorporating yoga on a more regular basis and as a result, I feel I am getting stronger in my yoga. I also have been doing a bit more strength training and core work. Running and biking (trainer) are still are in the regular rotation but there have been no recent trips to the pool. There needs to be…soon…
With the Ironman World Championships starting in just a couple of hours, I decided earlier in the week to share my experience spectating at the 2013 event in Kona. Since I did not have the blog then, I thought it would be fun to share my memories with everyone now! It has been fun this week going through the hundreds of photos and remembering a truly magical event!
To start off, I will share a little about the race, which is the mack-daddy of ALL Ironmans!! Most of the readers probably know the basics about this race, but I don’t want to assume everyone does. A large majority of age-group participants at the IM World Championship in Kona are there because they qualified to be there. The rules can get a bit confusing, especially for the pro athletes and so I won’t even go there, but generally speaking for age groupers, to qualify, they will have done REALLY well at another race, and probably placed in the very top of their age group. Each race is different, but for example sake, my age group, female 40-44, may have two or three slots available, at a particular IM race. Therefore, to qualify for Kona, one would have to come in as the top two or three finishers in their age group. There are also roll down slots and other logistics, but for arguments sake, I wanted to illustrate a basic example. To elaborate a little bit more, my age group at Lake Placid had 172 women, which shows how tough it is for someone to qualify for Kona. To get to the level of even trying to qualify, one must have lots of time to train. I would say ALOT more time is required and also very special athletic ability.
World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the owners of Ironman, have made it possible for others to live the dream to race at Kona by implementing other programs. One of these programs is the lottery. To join the lottery, one must register and pay a fee in hopes to be one of the 100 selected age groupers. I have heard, that thousands register for the lottery, so odds are not great to be selected. However, our friend Tim, was selected through the lottery, to participate in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona.
When Tim called us with the news in early spring 2013, Tony and I pretty much decided immediately that we would be making the trip to support and spectate. We had traveled to Maui and Kauai in 2006, and really fell in love with Hawaii. We had discussed going back one back to the Big Island to witness the IM World Championships. This was the perfect opportunity!
After months of planning and watching Tim prepare for the big event, October was here and it was time! Tony and I left for the Big Island on October 8. We arrived that evening in Hilo. Our plan was to fly in to the far side of the island (from Kona) and spend the following day (Wednesday) exploring the opposite side of the island as we made out way to Kona. All in all, I think this plan was a good one as we would not have had the time to see and explore this other area.
After a day of exploring, we made it to Kona (just outside of town) and Tony and I located the rental house where we would be staying. Nicole (Tim’s wife) found a house that was large enough for all Tim’s supporters to stay. Tony and I arrived first, followed by Tim’s parents and finally Tim and Nicole. The last couple would be arriving the following day.
Thursday 10/10/13 – That morning, we made it downtown and immediately felt the buzz and excitement of all the is the World Championship Ironman! The general plan was for Tim to get checked-in and pick up his bike from TriBike Transport. We also wanted to check out the expo a bit and just look around.
We had not been in the expo area very long when we hear an announcement that Chrissie Wellington (4-time Ironman World Champion and undefeated at all Iron distance races) would be available in a bit for a meet and greet. WHAT! I was thrilled! I was hoping that I would get the opportunity to have her sign my book, but I did not think the opportunity would come this quickly! HOW PERFECT! I brought my copy of her book, “A Life Without Limits”, all the way from NC in hopes I would have this opportunity. PLUS, I threw it in my bag that morning, so I had it with me there at the expo!
After all my excitement of meeting Chrissie, we all meet up and the last of the support crew, Jeff and Liz, had arrived in town. We spent the afternoon grocery shopping before having a early dinner in anticipation of the outing planned for the evening…night swimming with MantaRays! (I originally planned to limit this post to just Ironman related activities or else the post would take hours to write and read…however, this experience was too cool to exclude!)
Night swimming with the Manta Rays was a fantastic outing and I highly recommend this to anyone that ever has the opportunity.
Friday was filled with more Kona exclusive activities! That morning, Tim, Tony, Jeff and myself took part in a swim in Kailua Bay from Kaiokekua Beach (where the swim takes place). There were a couple of really cool things about this swim…(1). The absolute beauty of swimming there with all the beautiful sea life. It was like swimming in an aquarium! (2). We swam out to the floating coffee bar that is anchored a few hundred meters off shore for a free taste of coffee. This is a race week activity that we had a blast participating in!
Later that morning, Tony, Nicole, Jeff and I went out to the infamous Energy Lab for a run. Ever since we decided that we would be traveling to Kona, Nicole and I talked about wanting to do a run there.
This facility is the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority which is a marine science and technology facility that provides economic opportunities for Hawaii in various areas.
This may also be considered to some, as the toughest part of the run course. The road through the Energy Lab is surrounded by lava fields as is very barren. Unlike the name may seem, they say that the area zaps your energy versus providing it! Check out the short video from Triathlete Magazine’s web site that was published a few days ago about the Energy Lab.
It was definitely a hot run and we were there much earlier in the day than the triathletes on race day. It was neat to be able to experience a tiny piece of the course.
Mostly along the area of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (or the Queen K for short) where the bike course follows, you see signs about that are in support of the athletes that are out training. This is just s reminder how much this race pretty much takes over the town and not just on race day! Riding along the Queen K in the car, made me yurn for my bike. With huge shoulders along the highway, I just felt like going for a ride. It seems like a great place for locals to ride since you can go for hours basically without making a turn!
Into the afternoon, we headed back into town for bike check in. It was awesome to see the variety of bikes out and about and how “sweet” most of them were!
There were lots of neat and fun details around the transitions and the host hotel.
The late afternoon and evening was low key with a pre-race dinner prepared by Nicole, with assistance from the group. It was a great meal to enjoy before all the excitement of the next day.
Saturday 10/12/13 – Race morning was finally here! We were all up and out early. Tim and crew (sans me and Tony) followed him for the final send off and good lucks on the race.
Tony and I decided to stake out a spot on “the wall” to start the swim. You definitely had to arrive early to secure a location there.
It was definitely the place to be and securing spots for us and Nicole allowed us to have prime spectating and picture taking opportunities.
The spectating plan for the day was the split up in pairs so we could cover as much of the race course as possible and maximize our Tim spotting opportunities. We all communicated by phone/text to let each other know when and where Tim had been spotted.
It was neat seeing the pros on their bikes and trying to recognize a few as they raced by.
It is always exciting to see the athlete you are supporting on the race course. Tony and I take our responsibilities very seriously and try to get photos, cheer, lend encouragement, etc. all within a few seconds! This was out first sight of Tim since before he started the swim. He looked great on the bike and we knew he was so prepared to tackle this course!
After Tim passed, we jumped in the car and headed to the next planned point. We had one failure and it was with our decision in parking that morning, so unfortunately it took us a bit longer to get in route, but we overcame and made it to another great spot for spectating.
We found another good point on the course for spectating. There was a bit of a hill which meant the athletes were not zooming by as fast as if they were on a flat section. Also, they were not in aero position which can make it a little easier to recognize people. Once again, we were able to spot several pros on course.
Once again, after Tim passed, we were on a mission to make it to the next stop. We jumped in the car and headed back into town with plans to spot him early on the run course.
We enjoyed this spot on the run because of the ocean view and it was crowded with lots of spectators and support. However, we were still on a mission to spot Tim again on the course, so we stuck to our plan!
At our new spot, we were able to see more of the pro athletes.
After seeing Tim a second time on the course run, shortly before he entered the Energy Lab portion, we made our way back into downtown to stake out at the finish line.
After Tim’s finish, we all gathered together for well deserved congratulations. It took a while for us to all find one another but that worked out the best because Tim needed a bit of down time before gathering all the gear to head back to the house to eat and clean up.
Once that was taken care of, we all headed back down to Ali’i drive to support the finishers in the last two hours. This was something we all really wanted to take part in. It had been a very long day, especially for Tim, but we knew that the finish line nearing midnight in Kona, was a special place to be.
We saw some amazing things at that finish line. Harriet Anderson at age 78, finished the event after having a bike crash (she flipped over the guard rail on the Queen K) during the race. Just a year earlier, she had become the oldest female finisher in Kona. Harriet was the last official finisher with three minutes before the midnight cut-off. She is incredible!
A bit after Harriet finished, Mike Reilly really got the crowd pumped up as he spotted a athlete named Karen approaching with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Everyone on Ali’i Drive was cheering her on and chanting her name with every bit we had.
Karen was racing with a prosthetic leg after losing her foot in a biking accident years before. She had qualified to make the trip to Kona earlier in the year and NOT in the challenged athlete division. She had issues with her prosthetic leg during the race and lost vaulable time as a result.
Karen crossed the finish line just after the 17 hour cut-off. However, she brought so much inspiration to Ali’i Drive. It was an unforgettable moment.
We had one last show to close out race day. This obviously had a special Hawaiian flair and was a neat way to end the amazing day!
After race day, Tony and I spent one more day on the Big Island and then flew over to Maui for some more fun and relaxation on our favorite island.
I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing these memories. Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful place and if you have never been, I strongly encourage you to make the trip. In addition, if you love triathlon and have not experienced Kona during race week, DO IT! It was a blast and confirmed what I thought I knew about Kona and the World Championship…it is magical!
As I have mentioned, some of what I have enjoyed recently is having the flexibility to choose workouts based on moods or whims. In addition, not having a training plan to follow has allowed me to focus on other things that I have really needed to focus on. For example, stretching and yoga. This is something that I know IS good for me and I should incorporate it into my regular fitness routine. However, while training for Ironman, I was lucky WHEN I included some level of stretching into my plan. I definitely did not do enough, but it was so hard when days consisted of long training sessions and many two-a-days. When I finally had time after work, training and meals, all I wanted to do was relax or sleep. I would force myself to stretch or foam roll SOME. Over the last few weeks, though, I have been trying to do yoga twice a week. I have been successful in some twice a weeks, but it has been more once a week frequency. Yoga is something I have done now and again over the past few years. There have been some times where I was able to do it on a more regular schedule, but more often not. THIS…I am working on.
I recently stumbled onto an article that mentioned it was National Yoga Month. Well, sure enough…after more googling, September is National Yoga Month! According to the Yoga Health Foundation, September is the official National Yoga Month (a national observance designated by the Department of Health & Human Services) designed to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. So, in support of National Yoga Month, I thought I would share some thoughts from my experience about the benefits of yoga.
1. Greater flexibility – This first one might be the most obvious. Being more flexible helps with recovery and injury prevention. This is very important for triathletes since we ask a lot of our bodies. According to Active.com,“Triathletes are unique because they compete at peak levels in three physically demanding sports. Over time, this extreme training can cause imbalances in the body, which can result in injury if not addressed. Yoga can help by going beyond simple stretching to work the muscles and joints through all ranges of motion. By working the body through all planes of motion, yoga creates balance, stability, core strength and flexibility.”
Half pigeon pose has become one of my favorite and “go-to” poses over the last several weeks. I have been dealing with an achy glute and tight hips, so this position really targets some of these areas.
2. Builds strength and muscle tone – Who doesn’t like this? There are many yoga moves that require us to hold/balance our own body weight. There have been numerous times that I have done yoga and the next day I was sore. Holding the downward dog position will definitely give your upper body a good workout! There are also lots of great yoga poses that focus on core strength. I don’t know many triathletes that spend enough time working on their core. Building a strong core can benefit in all three disciplines (swimming, biking and running)!
3. Reduce stress – I know that many reading this may say that they will go for a run to reduce stress or to sweat out a bad day. Well, I agree! However, I know that I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and upper back and while a good run will immediately make me feel better to work out the frustrations of the day, yoga can help with the tightness that builds up in the areas where people tend to “carry stress”.
While I am not a certified fitness instructor or extensively experienced in my yoga practice, the benefits listed above are my opinion and the benefits I have personally realized from doing yoga. I think it is a good idea to experience difference areas of fitness to learn what other activities we might benefit from or just enjoy. I chose to post these in the spirit of sharing. I do not attend a yoga studio, but have numerous videos which I use at home. There are also lots of good options to check out on You Tube as well.
Do you practice regular yoga? What is your favorite yoga pose?
Life after Ironman has been great. August was a really fun month!! Don’t get me wrong…life before Ironman was great too…just super busy! The first several days after we got home from Lake Placid were easy. I was only back home and at work for two days before I headed off to the Outer Banks of NC for a get-away with two college sorority sisters.
The timing was really perfect. No training to think about. Just enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation. It rained almost the entire weekend (yes, I thought I already had my fair share of rain), but we had a good time none the less.
Upon returning home, I had a surprise awaiting me. Tony had gone on a bit of a mission while I was out of town. This is what he had done with my race bib and medal. I love it!!!
So, after the beach trip, it was back to work. Only a four day work week, but I believe in easing back into things :). It is so very nice to have my morning start at 6:10-6:15am. There were no 4:45am – 5:00am alarms to think about!! I also continued to enjoy my evenings off from training. I did not have a set number of days in mind for recovery…I just wanted to take it easy for while and ease back into activity. Well, so I thought!!
That next weekend we had plans each day of the weekend! The Friday night outing was a cookout with a group of friends…it was a bit of a pre-party for the next evening’s 40th birthday celebration for a good friend of ours.
Sunday was a dinner out with a couple friend. She wanted to hear all about the race, so we had a nice afternoon catching up and chatting!
Rewind a bit to Friday…As we were leaving the cookout, I was talking with two girls that are currently training for their first half-iron distance and iron distance races about the training they were doing the following morning. They had a long run planned and I agreed to tag along. So, my first REAL activity after IM was a 10-mile run…IN THE RAIN!! And yes, AGAIN, I had experienced my fair share of the wet weather, but I wanted to go. I did not necessarily think my first run back would be 10 miles, but I knocked it out, with some achiness.
The following week was another short work week because I took a bit more time off work. That Tuesday afternoon we headed out after lunch for Charlotte. We attended the Linkin Park concert that evening.
Well, the concert was an absolute blast!!! They are my favorite band and I had an awesome night at their concert. My favorite concert to date!
The following day, we spent time at the White Water Training Center. (The Center’s 500+ acres offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages and skill levels. Guests can enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking on our 25+ mile trail system. (Description from their web site.)) We had heard a lot of positive things about the White Water Training Center and it was fun! Our favorite part was the whitewater rafting. Our guide really showed us a great time!!
The next weekend included more fun dinners. Friday evening included a “thank you” dinner. Tony had the idea to show our appreciation to the people that had helped me with my training by having them over for a dinner party. It was a great night with lots of triathlon talk! The following night was a dinner get together with a friend that we had not seen in over a year. It was great to re-connect and catch up on the latest happenings! The Sunday was a dinner with my family. My brother planned the dinner as a congratulations on my Ironman! It is always nice to spend time with family and to snap some fun pics with my niece and nephews!
The next two weekends included attending a surprise party for (another) friend’s 40th birthday, dinner out to celebrate our friends’ (Tim & Nicole…part of the crew from Lake Placid) recent marathon finish, attending the football season opener for NC State and a dinner out to a local “special occasion” steak house to celebrate our good friends’ anniversary.
Amongst all our activities, we have enjoyed some down time, watching some new movies and I actually started reading my first book of the year! I finally treated myself to my first pedicure of the summer. I waited until after the race because I was spending so much time in running shoes. Four days after my pedicure, I lost a toe nail!! Unbelievable!! So much for waiting!!
As far as training, I have enjoyed flexibility and doing whatever activity I want to do! There is a group bike ride that leaves from a local Tri store on Tuesdays and Thursdays and due to my IM training, I had been unable to check it out, until recently. We have enjoyed this ride multiple times over the past several weeks in addition to some Saturday rides from our house. I have also tried to start more regular yoga and stretching. I have run a few times here and there. I also took my mountain bike out on a local path for a different kind of ride. All in all, I have been staying busy and enjoying different levels of activity from the endurance training I have focused on for the past months. [I guess it is good that I have maintained some regular level of activity…as I write this recap, I am really noticing that our August included lots of eating!!!]
I think it is only natural to think about what’s next? I do not have any races planned for the remainder of the year. I plan to keep active, like I have been the past several weeks since IM recovery, but eventually add some strength training into the regiment. I will get back into the pool soon and try to get in swims, with (SOME) frequency. I have a few races in mind for next year, but am still pondering. I will say that the longest race on the agenda will be a half IM. I plan to have a completely different focus for next year and set some new goals. In the mean time, I will continue to enjoy the flexibility and keep having fun with the activities I choose!
After all our hugs and celebrations at the finish line, the original plan was to shower, eat and head back down to watch the finishers during the last hour. We had done this in Kona and it was a really amazing experience (well, everything is amazing in Hawaii!!).
Tim and Nicole volunteered to get my bike and bags from transition using the friends’ pass that all athletes are given. I was so thankful they were willing to do this, so Tony and I could start our (slow) walk back to the place. As we were walking back, while I was still full of excitement and chatter, I realized that my stomach was obviously not too happy with all that I had done that day. Once we got back to the apartment, I took a very nice hot bath to relax a bit and I felt a lot better…all except my stomach. While the crew was rightfully hungry, after a long day for them as well, the thought of food did not appeal to me. I knew I had to eat, but nothing sounded the least bit appetizing.
I rested, laying down on the couch with my feet up, while Tim SMARTLY encouraged me to take in fluids. He concluded I was dehydrated. The group decided to grab a dinner order from a good restaurant across the street and I opted for soup.
I sipped on some broth and just felt better when I was lying down. So, unfortunately, it was decided that we would not be headed back to the finish line for spectating. It was more important to take care of myself. We all had a long, emotional day, so hitting the sack was not a bad plan.
On Monday morning, Tony and I got up early in order to head down to the merchandise tent for finisher gear. For those that may be unfamiliar, you can purchase all kinds of Ironman merchandise prior to the race (even though I am superstitious and did not). However, the “finisher” gear becomes available on the morning after race day at 7:00am. There is always a line, so we were there around 6:15. There were plenty ahead of us, but we had a decent spot. After about 10 minutes in line though……it started to rain. UGH!! Thank goodness there was an umbrella in the 4Runner!!
After over an hour in line, we finally gained entry in the tent (they only allow a few people in at a time). We headed straight to the finisher jackets. That was the one thing I knew I wanted. Before we checked out, I also grabbed a visor and hitch cover. I was happy with my selections.
Next up…BREAKFAST! I was ready to eat at this point. Nicole located a restaurant online that we decided to try after my pre-race announcement of desiring “pancakes as big as my head” on the morning after the race!! She read about the Lake Placid Inn that serves some of America’s best pancakes (according to Travel + Leisure). Breakfast was served outside (it was a chilly, rainy morning) on the terrace next to a cozy, stone fireplace. They also provided us comfy blankets.
Nicole and I both had the WORLD FAMOUS BUTTERMILK GRIDDLE CAKES. They were fluffy and delicious!
Tony and Tim had the HOUSE BAKED BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST. All and all, the group gave breakfast “two thumbs up”!!
We headed back to the room and decided it would be a lazy day. The rain was set in and it was very chilly. No one really wanted to be out in the elements. I spent the rest of the morning and into the afternoon reading and responding to notes on Facebook/text from friends and family. I was quite overwhelmed with the words of encouragement and celebration I received. It was truly fantastic and heart-warming!!
Lunch time rolled around. After breakfast, I did not think lunch would be required. Tony mentioned pizza and that sounded tasty! One slice of pizza really hit the spot!
While we all continued to laze around and chit-chat, the rain outside continued. All I could continue to think about is that thank goodness the rain did not last all day on race day!!
For a long time, the one thing that I like to treat myself with after a race is a milkshake. It has become a tradition. So late afternoon, Tim, Nicole and I decided to continue the tradition (Tony was napping). Even though the weather was not “milkshake – drinking weather”, we all enjoyed our choices!
Early in the day, I had decided that dinner for me would consist of a BURGER! We wanted something close by, so we would not have to walk too far in the nasty weather, and we decided to check out Smoke Signals. There was a short wait, but it was not unexpected with all the athletes still lingering around town. I ordered the Flatliner burger…it was crazy with all the toppings!
I was only able to polish off half my burger. With all the eating I had done that day, I did a fantastic job (plus SOME) of replacing the calories I had burned on race day!
Despite the icky weather, it was a fun day of hanging out and relaxing with Tony, Tim and Nicole. The day consisted of LOTS OF EATING and re-living race day details. It was a fine way to spend our last day in Lake Placid.
Tuesday morning, we all woke early in order to head out of town. Tony and I were hitting the road with a very long drive to Raleigh while Tim and Nicole were continuing their travels by flying to Niagara Falls.
The town of Lake Placid will always hold fond memories for me. It is a charming place, that I would like to visit again, but it was also the site of a truly special day for me. I highly recommend this destination for anyone considering an Ironman or a nice place to visit/vacation.