Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rhode Warrior, the Run and Why I Hate the Number 23

So I headed out for my run, eating my banana. I ran through the flags and onto the street. I had to get to the other side of the road.  There was a cop at the cross walk directing traffic and the runners. This was a two loop course and the cross walk was also where you would turn around.

The cop put his hands up to stop a car that was coming, I took a couple steps and the car did not stop. I had a moment of panic, and the cop shouted at the driver. I was a little shaken and pissed. This stupid driver almost hit me and in front of my family to boot.  I shook it off and headed on my way.

First thing on my agenda was get to the first water stop and use the bathroom.  As soon as I started to really run though, I felt a rock or something in my left shoe. You know, the one that did not get the sand and gravel rinsed off.  Shoot!  I hoped it would just move and not bother me, so I hung in there until the first water stop.

I was moving slow but felt ok.  I had high hopes for the run. I thought it would be my strongest leg of the day. This is a flat course but no real shade and the sun was just beating down.  I grabbed some water and saw that someone was in the porta potty.  I waited. And waited some more. I finally knocked and a voice said, "I'll be right out!" Ok, so I sat down and took off my shoe and sock and fixed the gravel problem. Stood up and she was still not out. I gave up and just prayed that there was a PP at the next stop. I wasted a lot of time there and that second mile was my longest split of the day.

I got to the end of Atlantic Ave. and a left was coming up but I saw a PP on the other side of the road.  I didn't want to take any chances that I would not see another one in time, so I crossed over and then continued on my way.

The cool thing about running up the stretch of Atlantic Ave., was I go to see some of my friends who were also racing. It was great to cheer each other on.

I was pretty much alone, but I was able t see people ahead of me and I knew there were some behind me, but most of them were on their second loop.  I was behind a guy with a huge ironman tattoo on his leg and we chatted a couple minutes.  

When I turned onto Clifford St. he pulled away but Bethany had caught up to me.  Again, so very happy to see a friendly face and I was thrilled to have someone to run with for a couple miles.  She was on her second leg and was having a pretty good race. 

Once Bethany had about two miles to go, I wished her well and told her how jealous I was that she was about to finish and I still had to loop around.  I was tired.  She wished me well and picked it up for a finish that I wish I could of seen.  

Right after that, Mike pulled up next to me in his truck and cheered me on. I told him I still had to go around and he said that he would see me up ahead.

I was alone again, and Atlantic seemed to never end.  I know I said earlier that the turn around was right at the start, but for some reason, at this point, I though it was sooner.  I was running and getting upset thinking I would never finish.  And then, I saw my family. I started to cry, I was so happy.  The kids started to run with me and so did Mr. RWM.  Beth and Mike were there too cheering me on.   I think I said something like, "Where the hell is the turn around!?"  It is no fun knowing the finish line is right in front of you and you can't cross it.
Thanks for getting these pictures, Beth!

Gracie, George and Mr. RWM and me shuffling along.

Thank you Mike! This was one of the best moments of my run.

Finally, the cop and the turn around. Mr. RWM stayed with me as we crossed over and Mike started running with me too.  It was awesome to have them there.  My son was tailing behind and Mr. RWM had to go back with him but Mike stayed.  This was the best part of my run.  I was able to hold a conversation and I actually had fun running and chatting with him.  Mike stayed for almost two miles.  I was sad to see him go but this was the best I was running since I started and I felt good with just five miles to go.

When I approached the end of the road, the volunteer was cleaning up the cones. When he saw me, he said, "Oh, I am so sorry, they told me I could clean up."  Wow, well, I told him I think I am the last one. He asked if I was alright and I told him I was fine.  I continued on my run and hoping that other volunteers were still there as I was not sure I would remember which way to go.  I got to the next water stop and no one was there. The table was still set, plenty of water, oranges and pretzels, but no people.  This crushed me. I know it is a long day, and trust me, I appreciate all the help and time that each and every volunteer put in for the day, it just took me by surprise.

I knew a left was coming up.  The flagger was gone but the arrow sign was still there. Ok, I guess if the signs are there, I won't get lost. However, with each turn and water stop, I prayed that there would be another person.   There wasn't.  At a larger intersection, I even had to wait for the light to change before I could cross.  

At mile ten, I pulled out my phone and texted Mr. RWM, "At mile ten.  Walking."

Here's the thing, I trained to finish and finish only.  I knew with all the problems I ran into during training and the missed workouts, that I may very well come in last.  If you know me, last does not bother me. It really doesn't. I have never done anything like this before and I knew my training wasn't perfect. What got me though, is the fact that I was not prepared for the loneliness of the day.  Of course I have some runs that are alone and I have been in plenty of races without friends, but in those races, I have always been around other people. There was always a friendly face at a water stop.  Those tough last miles are when, I think, most people need the smiles and the way to go's the most.

I never once thought of giving up, I just kept moving forward. When I got to the intersection that would take me back onto Atlantic Ave and to the finish, the volunteer who had cleaned up the cones was still there!  When he saw me coming, he stopped all the cars, put his water down and applauded me as I approached him.  I started to cry. When I got close he held out his hand so that he could shake mine.  He told me I was doing so good and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  He was an angel to me and I will never forget that moment.  

I was really watching the time all day.  I wanted to finish in eight hours or less.  It wasn't going to happen.  All the time I saved on the swim and bike, was gone.  I couldn't believe the run had taken me this long.  A flat, fast course and I was still on it.  I felt a little defeated but again, the only thing I could think of was getting to that finish line.  

A man on a bike passed me and said good job.  A minute later he was riding next to me.  He asked if I was ok which, actually, I was. I was still moving and I was going to finish. I was just moving slow.  He said I was breathing fine and was happy I could hold a conversation with him.  Wow, I must really look like shit if a total stranger was concerned. We actually had a nice conversation and he told me about doing the NYC triathlon a couple weeks ago.  As he was talking, I saw Mr. RWM running towards me.

I was so happy to see him.  I thanked the man on the bike for sticking with me and he went on his way.  Mr. RWM said he was tracking me and I was really slowing down so he was worried and wanted to find me.  This is funny because mile twelve was my second fastest mile of the day.  I didn't care, I had company and I was less than a mile to the finish line.

You guys have to know, that Mr. RWM does not run, ever.  This was the second time he was running with me today.  I was so proud of him and so happy to have him by my side as I was about to complete one of my biggest challenges to date.  

It wasn't long before I saw my family. My parents, my kids. They were cheering and smiling and jumping up and down.  They were loud and I loved it!  I ran into the finish, got water and my medal and my kids came running over to hug me followed by my parents.  I couldn't stop crying.  I was so happy to stop moving.  Once I cleared my eyes and started walking to my bike, I noticed that it was not the only one on the rack.  I was in shock. There were still people on the course?!  I felt a mix of emotions here.  I wasn't last but that did not make me happy per se. I felt sad that I didn't look back, how far were they?  Could we have run together for a bit?  I wondered how they felt. Did they have the same lonely feelings as I did?  Were they staying positive?

I got over to my bike and started to pack up when Bethany came over. We hugged and congratulated each other. She was heading to the beach with her family.  I was heading home for a shower and food.  

I got my stuff and the kids and I went to the finish and cheered in the next two runners.  Two women, both amazing.  All together, there were four people who finished after me.

The run took my 3:13.  My finish time was 8:23:23. I was 70 overall.  The 22 women and 6th in my AG.  

My goal was under eight hours and not die.  Well, I went over and I was pretty sure I was dead.  I have been trying to wrap my head around what really went wrong on the run.  The course was flat, but it was very hot.  I was tired and wasted energy feeling bad for myself.  What I really needed to do was suck it up and run.  I had a faster pace in me, I know it.  I walked most of mile ten and that really hurt me.  However, I finished and if I really think about it, that was the main goal.  

In January, I didn't know how to swim.  I hurt my arm and ended up in PT for six weeks, no swimming.  I not only didn't own a road bike, I never even sat on one until my friends loaned me theirs.  I could run, that we know, but I may have been a little over confident in that department.  My first triathlon was in June, my second was July and they were both sprints.  Then come August, I take on a half iron distance tri.  Clueless and a bit crazy got me here.  I am so very proud that I finished but I probably should of taken on this distance next year with a little more experience under my belt.  I didn't though, and I will proudly display my 70.3 sticker on my truck. But you know, this race was actually, 72.1 miles.  No sticker for that distance!

After a fantastic shower, the family and I went out to dinner and boy did I eat!  When I got dressed, I couldn't think of a better shirt to wear.  My Another Mother Runner, I am stronger than I thought. And yes, I wore my medal to dinner.

So why do I hate the number 23 you ask?  It's silly really. I wanted to finish this race in eight hours and I finished in 8:23.  I wanted to finish my marathon in five hours and I finished in 5:23. What kind of crazy, weird coincidence is this?  I know I need to be happy that I finished and I am, but I think I need to get rid of the :23 for both of those distances.  It won't be next year, but it will happen. Stay tuned...

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Am a Rhode Warrior, The Bike

So I set off on my bike smiling.  I couldn't believe that I had just conquer that swim.  Again, the part I thought would be the toughest.  I was so happy setting off, but knew I still had a lot of hours ahead of me.  

I saw one bike ahead of me and thought I would just follow her for a bit.  There wasn't too much traffic at this hour in the morning and crossing over the biggest intersection, Rt. 1 was no problem.  Police were there to stop the couple cars that were waiting. 

I had started the day thinking about the last ride on the course and how bad it was but at this moment, I was feeling good and riding at a really good pace for me.  Still behind the bike I saw at the start.  

At one point we were close and we chatted a few minutes.  Her name was Colleen and she was part of a relay team, however, she was the swimmer and the cyclist.  I passed her at one point, which is not what I wanted to do, but kept right on riding.  The first ten miles flew by. 

Colleen rode up beside me and we chatted for a minute and then she was off.  However, right after that a car pulled up beside me and slowed down. It was Mr. RWM!

He told me he had left the beach, ran into Home Depot, and thought he had enough time to see me ride by at an earlier intersection.  He was tracking me with our iPhones and he was surprised that I had already passed that particular spot on the course.  I knew I felt good and was happy to be ahead of pace.  He rode next to me a minute more and we said our goodbyes.  He had to get home and rally the family.  I had forty some miles to go...

This course is full of some crazy hills.  We are talking a total of 2400 feet of elevation.  There were times I struggled and I cursed a lot on this ride.  Of course there were plenty of down hills too and that is always fun.  At the bottom of one hill, mile 18, my buddy Michael was there with signs made for all his Rhode Warrior friends.  It was so awesome to see him although I just smiled and waved. I felt pretty good here and didn't want to lose my momentum.  I so appreciated seeing him though as there were no bikes around me.  I was pretty sure I was last.
Coming down the hill. Hi, Mike!

Ok, best sign ever!!!  Thanks, Mike!

I had practiced my hydration and fuel with each ride.  I had two bottle holders on my bike but knew I would need a third.  At mile 35 there was going to be a bottle exchange with just water.  I made sure I drank my electrolyte drink first and planned to exchange that one.  

I also kept looking at my watch.  The cut off for the bike was 12:45 at about mile 50 on the course.  I needed to be past that before that time.  I was ahead of schedule but couldn't stop looking at my watch and doing the math in my head.  I knew I would make it but still couldn't help but worry about something going terribly wrong.  I rode a long time without seeing anyone. I couldn't wait to get to the bottle exchange just to see people.

I hit a road that was quite bumpy.  My empty bottle started to shake and it hit my right leg. I reached down and put it back in place and then it hit my left leg. Apparently, being empty did not keep it in place as well as when it was full. I am not gonna lie, it was the first time I used this bottle and I know,  I know, nothing new on race day! I honestly did not think a water bottle would be a problem.  And now we know.

One more bump and bam, my water bottle was rolling away.  Oh well, there is a stop at mile 35 and I was getting close.  Finally, I see the stop, people, water jugs and police at the intersection.  I hadn't so much as seen a car in about ten miles and I was so happy to see people up ahead.

I stopped at the table and they told me I could fill up. I said I lost a bottle and hoped they had one and guess what, no freaking bottles.  A girl at the table said they were not given enough bottles for as many riders that passed by.  Now, I know I should not rely on other people, but what are the chances that they would not have just one bottle.  I had just one bottle with water so I drank some, filled up and headed on my way.  Pissed off!

I was feeling tired and defeated just a bit.  I crossed through the intersection and then I started to see Rhode Warrior water bottles along the side of the road.  People drank that fast and just threw the bottles? I had 28 more miles to go and one bottle of water. I was pretty sure I would be fine but hated to not have the cushion.

At mile 40, I had a GU and some water.  Right after that, I hit a difficult spot on the course.  I don't know if it was just me being tired but I felt like for about 8 miles or so all I did was go up.  I was praying for the hills to stop. Negative thoughts took over. "Who did I think I was that I could do this?"  "What the hell were you thinking?"  "You have no right to be here!"  Yeah, that happened.  

But through all that, I kept moving forward.  I just kept peddling and I started to think about all the kind words and messages that people had sent me over the last couple days.  I didn't want to let anyone down. I just had to keep going forward and before I knew it, I hit mile 50 with more than an hour before the cutoff.  I was thrilled!

Now, one thing you all need to know is the course was not 56 miles. It was 58.2!  This was not a surprise, everyone knew this going into the race, I'm just pretty sure I didn't mention that to you.

I really wanted to stop peddling at this point. I decided that if I never see this bike again, I would be ok with that.  I have to add here a huge thank you to my friends Lori and Sean. It was their bike I have been riding the last six months.  Without them and the bike, I am not so sure I would of made it this far.  The bike is beautiful and after a couple changes to the stem and seat, it fit perfect.  However, at this point in the ride, I was practicing telling Mr. RWM to put the old seat and stem back on and please drive it back to their house so I never have to see it again!  The bike and I are over!  This would be our last date.

The cop stopped traffic on Rt. 1 and I shot across right into a bunch of beach traffic.  No shoulder. I actually unclipped here for fear of not being able to catch myself. I felt trapped with no where to go.  I saw the flagger ahead and it only took a minute to get there, but I felt panicked none the less. I was so happy to make the right onto 1A.  Not as much traffic as this road was parallel to the beach.  I knew I would be making a left to get to Atlantic Ave and finish for the bike, but it was never coming! I started to  panic as I didn't see a painted pink arrow on this road like I did the rest of the course.  Did I miss my turn?  Am I going to far?  I kept on going and finally saw the cop who held traffic so I could make the left and then one more left onto Atlantic Ave. 

Now, not only were there so many cars, there were people everywhere with their chairs and coolers making there way to and from the beach. No one cared that I was there, but how were they to know I was in a race. I was a lone biker on the road who was interrupting their fun.  I had not seen or talked to anyone since mile 35.  I was feeling very lonely.

Finally, I saw the TriMom flags and a really cute little girl hanging on the fence.  As I got closer, I couldn't believe it, it was Gracie! My family actually made it and I was coming in earlier than I had expected.  I got tears in my eyes and heard everyone cheering me on and then was like, no, no, don't crash now! Get the tears out of your eyes so you can see where you are going!
This is how Gracie entertained herself while waiting.  Thanks Beth for the picture!

Love this one also courtesy of Beth.  My mom, dad and Mr. RWM.

Smiling! I was just so happy the end was in site, my family was there and I was going to get off the bike!

I dismounted and I so very happy to have both feet on the ground.  I rode 58 miles in 4:18:28.  I waved to everyone and headed to my rack. Bike hung up, helmet off, sneakers and race belt on.  I grabbed my banana and for the life of me, I could not peel it! I was teary as my family was yelling over to me and I wanted to just run to them and hug everyone.  I finally got the banana peeled and decided to run and eat it. I gave everyone one last wave and started out for a little 13.1 mile run...
T2 2:51

Stay tuned for the run recap.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Am a Rhode Warrior, The Swim

As a Skirt Sports Ambassador, we were asked to write about our most real race experience.  Mine happened August 2014 when I finished the Rhode Warrior Half Iron Distance Triathlon.  I overcame my fear of the water, killed some major hills on the bike, and fought the worst demons, ever, on my run.  But thorough all that, I finished and would do it again. #REALwomenmove and this proves that you don't have to be perfect to get it done.  I would love to hear about your most real race experience either in the comments or my FB page.  

I'm not really sure how to start this recap. My head has been spinning since I finished Sunday. Such a long day and so much to remember.

I guess first, I should say that in January, I did not know how to swim. The thought of putting my face in the water terrified me.  When I won the free entry to the Rhode Warrior Half Iron Distance Tri, my first thought was, "Yeah, right, you got to be kidding."  But once I told Mr. RWM, his first response was, "You can do it."  Just like that, said it like it was nothing, but I knew he was sincere. He was sure that if I wanted to do this, then I would and he would support me 100%.  That right there was all I needed and I took on the challenge.

(For those of you who don't know, I won the entry by entering a contest that named the race.)

First thing on the agenda, was learn how to swim.  I have a friend, who is a fantastic swimmer and also taught swimming at the Y, give me some pointers to get me started.  I am pretty sure it took me a full ten minutes to put my face in the water and even when I did, I started to swim with my head up.  This did not feel good at all, but it was a start.

Then I signed up for swim lessons and right before they started, I strained a muscle in my arm.  I ended up in the ER and then PT for six weeks.  You got to be kidding me, no swimming for six weeks.  My first thought was, "My race is over."  It wasn't.  I worked hard to get back in the water, keeping up with running and biking.  When I got back in the water, there was no time to mess around. I needed to figure this breathing thing out and stay focused. I had my lessons and headed into my first tri and I loved it!

Something really clicked after that race. I got in the pool a few days later and had one of the best swims of my life. It just got better from there.

Training continued going well from there until the summer hit and the kids got out of school.  Right off the bat, I had sitter issues and then my son got sick.  We didn't know what was wrong with him and he kept getting worse. Turns out it was Lyme Disease and he is fine now, but for a few weeks it was scary.  Things didn't get much better after that, he got hurt a few times, ended up in the ER once and was rescued by a life guard at the beach.  The scariest moment to date!  My nerves were shot  and I didn't want to leave the house for fear of one of the kids getting hurt again. This race was quickly approaching and at this point, I am not even sure how many workouts I missed. I was feeling bad and even a little depressed. It was hard to pull out of but once I did, I got back on track pretty quickly.  Time was lost though and you just can't make that up.

I did the best I could. I signed up for a race clinic which was swim the Rhode Warrior course followed by a bike ride on the course.  The swim was excellent, the bike ride, not so much. It was tough for me to shake but it wasn't the first time I biked the course. For some reason, that bad ride stuck with me until race morning.

Ok, so the night before the race, there was a talk at the race site about what to expect race day. Mr. RWM came with me, and then we had dinner with Beth who was biking it as part of a relay team.  Her swimmer joined us and it was a really nice time.

I was relatively calm for most of the day.  I had been a lunatic for the two weeks leading up to this race and I guess I just realized, I did all I could do and nothing can change it. It was here and I was showing up no matter what. My parents also came into town to see me and I was thrilled they were here to support me.

My alarm went off at 4 am.  I ate my normal breakfast but really had to force it down.  Mr. RWM drove me and was staying for the swim.

I headed into the transition area, got my number written on me, and found my spot.  I set everything up and started to look for my friends.  Again, I was pretty calm.  I was happy to see everyone.

I am surrounded by awesomeness here.  In fact, the lovely lady with the 3 on her arm placed third overall!

I got my wetsuit on and then we all walked the mile down the beach to the swim start. So happy it wasn't the other way around!  The walk seemed to go on forever.  My nerves started to kick in and looking back to where the last buoy was, made my stomach do flips.  I swam the distance in training but it was intimidating looking out at the ocean and seeing how long it looked that morning.  It's all mental but still scary none the less.

We were swimming with the current but it didn't seem as strong as it was the last time I swam here.  When it was my time for my wave to line up, I got in the back.  I knew it would take me longer than most people so no need to get run over.

There was one girl next to me who was also lining up in the back. It was just the two of us and everyone else in front.

Once we hit the water, I started to think, "I can't believe I am here!"  "I can't believe I am doing this."
I decided to take the swim in pieces which basically was first buoy, second buoy and final buoy.  I did notice the girl who lined up with me was swimming right next to me.  Cool, I will stick with her as long as I can.

Got to the first buoy and turned right, Oh God, it is looks so far!  The current was not as strong but I knew I could do it. I just started to swim.

I started out a little rocky and kept looking around me.  The Coast Guard was out there, people in kayaks and paddle boards.  I knew I would be safe.  I stayed with the girl from the start but she started to pull ahead.  I kept her in my site and just followed.  I felt like I was in the water for a long time but didn't want to look at my watch. I promised myself it would be ok to look once I hit the second buoy.  Before I hit it, the kayaker that was near me said I was doing good.  She pretty much stayed with me until the end.  I was sure there weren't too many people behind me, if any.

I got to the second buoy and swam a little before looking at my watch, twenty minutes.  Soon after that, Beth's swimmer, Tanya caught up to me. She asked me if I wanted her to swim with me a bit but I said I was fine.  I was. I actually felt really good here. I was swimming without any problems.  I could see the last buoy and I just swam.  Before I knew it, I was there.  The kayaker who was with me told me, "good job", and I thanked her for sticking by me.  Once I turned, and headed to shore there was man on a paddle board next to me.  He said I was drifting to the left and to try and swim to the right bit.  I did that and he stayed with me until I was out of the water.  I didn't need help or anything like that, I was fine but do appreciate the people that were looking out for me.

It didn't take long to spot Mr. RWM who was smiling and taking pictures. I was pretty much in shock that the swim was over and I did it!  The swim was the scary part, the thing I thought I would never be able to do and here I was, coming out of the ocean after swimming 1.2 miles!

I thought I was last coming out of the water, but there were a couple bikes still on the racks so yay for that!  The swim took me 44:14.  Leading up to this race, I was sure it would take me an hour.  I think I am most proud of this leg of the race.  I basically went to can't swim and a fear of my face in the water in January, to 1.2 miles in August.  I got over my fear and an injury and swam my heart out.  I felt fantastic coming out of the water and I think my smile shows it.

In transition, I got my wet suit off. I sat down and rinsed off my right foot and then put a sock on my left. Yes, you read that right, I put the sock on the foot that was not rinsed.  I should of taken the time to fix that, but I didn't. I just put the second sock on the right foot and put on my bike shoes.  I grabbed my inhaler and fuel, put my helmet on and headed out.  T1, 3:09.

Mr. RWM was right there taking pics of me and wishing me a good ride.

You can read about the bike here and the swim here.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Crabman

I felt pretty good leading up to The Crabman.  I didn't sleep great, but I really never do if my alarm is set for wake up in the middle of the night.

I ate my usual breakfast of two waffles with peanut butter, checked my list and put some last minute things in my truck before heading out to pick up Elaine.

Parking was easy, we grabbed our stuff and biked to the transition area.  Elaine and I were just a couple bike racks away.  We set up our stuff and then a woman came over to write my number on me.

Elaine and I walked around a bit to check things out and look at the ocean.  We had done the OWS clinic the week before and the waves were crazy rough.  Today, it was no better.  I knew it would be tough, but we had been though it once before and I knew we would finish and be fine.

We headed back to get our wetsuits on and found Bethany.  The three of us went to the start together.

We watched the first wave go in and then the second.  A man was rescued by a life guard and brought to shore. Not really sure why.  Everyone else seemed to be doing ok.  Bethany's wave went in and then it was the beginner wave.  Elaine lined up at the front and I lined up in the middle. We wished each other a good race and the horn blew.

Waves were just pelting us as we headed out but I knew I would be ok once I was around and past the first buoy.  I found a nice rhythm and feel like I was swimming well.  About 150 meters in, people called for help and stopped right in front of me.  The kayaker was on his way and they were not in immediate danger, so I went around them and swam on.

As I approached the last buoy, a man started to freak out right in front of me.  He was wearing a wetsuit and the women next to him, who I think actually knew him, started to yell, "Just roll over and and float for a minute!"  Again, I had to go around people but was soon past the buoy and headed to shore.  The waves just pushed me in and I felt great coming out of the water.

Got to my bike, wet suit off, rinsed my feet and put on my socks and bike shoes.  I ripped out my contacts, put on sunglasses and my helmet and headed out.  Getting to the road and the bike mount seemed liked forever.  Once I was on my bike though, I felt great.  This was a two loop course and pretty flat.  One of the fun parts was Beth was the flagger heading onto Rt. 1.  I love that I got to see her twice!

The bike was pretty uneventful. I fell in line with a girl who was pretty much riding the same pace as me.  We passed each other a couple times but I ended up getting off the bike first. She would later pass me in the run.

Off the bike and we had to run back to transition in a roped off kind of lane.  It was skinny and the people in front of me were walking.  I wasn't sure what to do.  It didn't look like I would fit if I said excuse me.  We had to make a left and it seemed to open up a bit so, that is when I made my break and ran the rest of the way back to my spot.

Changing my shoes was easier this time, thanks to Beth. She hooked me up with lock laces.  I grabbed my inhaler, watch, Gu and took one step and realized I forgot my race belt and number. Grabbed that and headed out for my run.
Thanks, Beth!

As soon as I started to run, I swear, I heard my legs laughing at me.  My pace was slow but I was running.  Run and done, run and done.  Just keep moving forward.  So that is what I did.

Looking at my watch, I knew I was not hitting any records with my run, but I was still ahead of my pervious time at Goddard.  Even with a bad run, I was still going to have a PR.

The last mile,  I went back and forth with a girl who was also new to triathlon.  She was on her way to a new PR too.  She did not have a watch and she kept asking me what time it was.  I was happy to have someone to chat with, but knew when the crowd was getting larger we were close.  I picked up my speed and yelled to her to do the same.  I never looked back though.

I was so excited as I was getting close to the finish line, I got tears in my eyes, and then I couldn't breathe. I reached in my pocket for my inhaler even though I knew it wasn't there. I discover it missing when I got my GU out of my pocket on the run.

I crossed the finish line to the smiling faces of Beth, Elaine and Bethany, but I could not stop there, I pointed to transition and I think I was able to say, "inhaler."

Bethany walked with me to my bike and I found it on my towel. I was in tears at this point. I took a couple puffs, drank water and just sat a bit trying to figure out why it wasn't in my pocket.  I knew I had it when I grabbed my watch and GU?

Once I felt better, Bethany and I walked back to the girls and the food. I was so happy to eat pizza.  From there, we headed to the computers to find out my official time.

That is 6:19 minute PR.  Basically, I took a full minute off my swim, a minute off of T1, :30 off of T2 and the rest came from my bike. I actually added a minute to my run, but with post Blessing legs, I am ok with that.
Me, with Beth and Elaine

The happy finishers!

I really enjoyed this race and would do it again.  The bike for me was my favorite part as opposed to Goddard where I favored the run.

I am now officially tapering for Rhode Warrior and not really feeling as excited as I hoped I would be. I am guessing it is because I am tired. I am ready to not "have to" do anything. I want to just run to run and get back to our normal schedule.  I know deep down that I will enjoy the race once I am there but till then, I am a bit of a mess.

Any last minute triathlon advice? Is there something you think I will need that is not as necessary for a sprint tri?  How do you handle your nerves leading up to a big race?

Oh and after thinking about it and talking my transition out with Elaine, I had put my inhaler down when I had to go back for my race belt.  Why I didn't put it in my pocket when I first picked it up, I just don't know.  Lesson learned and that will not happen at RW.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Blessing, 2014

I originally was not going to run The Blessing this year. I was going to focus on The Crabman which was the same weekend. After some thinking about it, that did not make sense. If I am actually going to race in the Rhode Warrior Half Ironman Distance Triathlon, then running ten miles on Friday with a sprint tri on Sunday makes for a great training weekend.

I signed up.

The thing I love most about the Blessing is that one of my best running friends lives at the end of mile eight. Her house is a perfect place on the course.  We drop our kids and husbands off and we can walk to the start.  Our families bar b que and play games, while cheering on the runners.  They are what I look forward to the most on the course and they give me the push I need to finish strong.

I hit a lot of traffic this year heading to Mary's house.  We made it but with no time to spare.  We were on our way to the start in about five minutes after arriving.

Now, as most of you know, I am part of Ted Spiker's FB Sub 30 group.  I have met some very fun people and have enjoyed all the posts, information and motivation that the page has to offer.  Our little group made it into Runner's World last month and it exploded!  Someone posted a,"Where are you from post?" and a gal commentated, "Little Rhody".

Of course I struck up a conversation right away and I asked her if she was doing the Blessing.  She wasn't sure about it.  She had never run it before and she wasn't sure if her current mileage would get her to the finish.  I told her a little about the race and course and told her I would be happy to run with her if she decided she was up for it.

She was so thrilled to have someone to run with, she signed up. I met New Girl at the race and we lined up with my group.
New Girl, me and Agnes

The Blessing has incredible crowd support and the excitement is contagious.  It is also very crowded. The first couple miles, you are just surrounded by people trying to find your own space.  Ocean Road is very familiar to me and it is a nice stretch.  Lots of cheering.

New Girl started to get very thirsty and I was happy to see a water stop for her.  There were times when she wanted to walk.  I told her early on that she can set the pace and I would just help her get it done.

Knowlsway has a hill that I warned her about. She ran up that hill like a champ and I was very impressed.  This led us to rt. 108.  In my opinion, the hardest part of the course. Flat, but the sun is beating down on you, it's not pretty and for some reason it just feels like it goes on forever.  New girl seemed to really struggle here.  She drank water at every stop and started pouring it over her head.  Whatever gets it done, right?

It seemed like she had a lot of ups and downs but she kept moving and I had no doubt that she would finish.

My most favorite part of the course is the end of mile eight which is where my family and friends are.  You hit the last hill of the course before you turn onto Avice St. The hill looks worse then it is, at least to me, but we walked most of it.  Once I saw my kids, I was so stinking happy and that was fuel for the rest of the race for me.

We started off strong leaving mile eight but New Girl really hit a wall here.  A big one.  We walked and ran most of Narragansett Ave. I was slightly ahead and just really wanted to finish at this time.  We were so close!  We hit the last water stop, where friends of mine were working.  I grabbed water and said hi. Looked behind me and saw New Girl sitting on the curb.  Oh no, that is not good. I ran back to her and handed her my water. I may or may not of yelled, " You need to get up, you are so close. If you don't get up now, you will not finish!"  My friends were behind me with water for her. She drank and got up.

We started to walk. I told her to just dig deep. You have this last mile in you and you did not come this far to not finish.  This is a tough road because you know the finish is up ahead but you can't see it.  You eventually see a banner that is basically just an advertisement for the race, but it looks like the finish from a distance. The finish is after that and I hated telling her that what she was looking at was not the finish line.

On this stretch of road, I saw my neighbors cheering for me which is always a nice treat.  I picked up my pace and hoped she would follow along. She did.  New Girl actually shot past me and I was happy to stay behind her and watch her cross the line.  I am sure I was screaming her name and yelling, "Go!"

We crossed the line smiling, and gave each other a huge hug!  I was so happy to be finished running and so thrilled that New Girl ran and completed her first Blessing.  Her fiancĂ© was at the finish waiting for her.  I told them they were more than welcomed to walk back to the party where my family was, but they headed out. She needed to eat and get dry clothes.  Having talked to her a bit, she did not fuel well before the race. She had Shot Blocks with her, but I don't think she had enough.  Fuel did not come easy to me and I can tell you, I totally screwed that up for my first Blessing too.

I suggested an ice bath and a foam roller and we said so long.

Back at the house, we changed and grabbed a beer. Burgers were made for us and snacks and desserts were out.  The kids were having such a great time. The girls and I sat and talked about our races.  Elaine and Jenn ran fantastic races and got new PR's.  They amaze me. Agnes who ran her first Blessing last year, came back this year and ran mostly with New Girl and I.  She did finish ahead of us and again, I was so happy for her.

Our finish time was 2:03.  Not close to my PR but seeing someone accomplish something new, something they worked so hard to do, is what fuels me.  I was happy to encourage her and would do it again.  She will be at the Newport Half but that race is mine.  I have a goal in mind for it but not sure it is doable on post Rhode Warrior legs.  We will see...

(Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I only took the one! So unlike me.  The photographer took tons of pictures of me but I did not buy any.  I am smiling in most of them, which surprised me but still not really worth it to buy.)

I would like to say one more time, Congrats New Girl! (BTW, her name is Sam) I will run with you anytime.

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jamestown Half Marathon, Recap

So first, sorry about the delay with new blogs.  For those of you who don't follow me on FB, I was without a computer for three weeks.  Blogging on my phone would of made me crazy!

I ran three races in that time. The Jamestown Half Marathon, The Blessing 10 Miler and The Crabman Sprint Triathlon.  I am feeling like I forgot so much about Jamestown but hope it comes back as I start to write. So here we go.

The Jamestown Half is part of the United Healthcare Triple Crown.  It is the second race, the one I was dreading.  Hot and hilly is how it was described to me.

I slept fine, had a very early wake up and was in the car at 5am.  No traffic at all and I was parked by 5:15 and on a bus 5 minutes later.  I was told that the buses would stop running at 6 so the earlier the better.

Got to the race and had a long wait. Had my banana, some water, used the bathroom and found a couple friends that I had planned to run with.

We were in line on time for a 6:30 start, but were waiting and waiting and waiting. It was hard to hear the announcements but it was along the lines of waiting for the last couple buses to arrive.  The problem was I had to use the bathroom again.  I think waiting the extra 15 minutes or so got me nervous.  I hesitated getting out of line for fear of losing my friends and missing the gun.  It got bad though and just as I was about to run to a PP, the gun went off.
Start line

I knew I would have to stop at the first water stop at mile 2. I was really struggling and did not think I would make it.  Two miles seemed like ten.  I finally made it and there was a line.  Of course there was, with such a delayed start, I think that really messed with people.  I waited in line and my friends went on.  They were doing a run walk and I said I would catch up.

I am sure I wasted five minutes here.  I was not happy.  Once out and on my way again, I was determined to find the girls I was running with.  I was passed by a girl who is in my running club.  She is not a back of the packer and I thought it was really weird to see her where I was. She looked good and past me rather quickly.

My focus was finding the girls and/or my friend Jim.  For two miles I ran and ran, up hill, down hill, at a rather fast pace.  I did that for two miles before I realized that I am using too much energy so early in the race.  At mile 4, I grabbed some water and fell into my "normal" pace.  I felt happy again, but wished I had some music or a podcast.  I only run with my iPod on the treadmill but I was feeling bored and could of used a distraction.

Luckily, that ended at mile six when I found Allison and Jen again!  I decided to stay with them and try their run/walk method.  They were doing four minutes of running and one minute of walking.  It was ok for a while, but honestly, I just really wanted to run at the end.

I was so behind my normal time.  I am guessing it was a combination of the hills, heat and the walking.  I was on target for my second worst half marathon time and there was very little I could do at this point to change it.

Crossing the finish line was just so awesome. I was so relieved to be able to stop running.  This was not a good race for me.  I did not stay long at the finish. I grabbed some watermelon and a drink and headed to the bus.  The food selection was awful.  The line for the bus was about a quarter mile long.  Seriously!  This was not the first year for this race.  Something like having the right amount of buses should be a priority.

I found out later people made it to the lot in the morning on time, but it was the lack of buses that caused the delay. This is why I saw the girl from my running group so close to the end of the pack. Apparently, when they finally made it to the start, they were actually taking the timing mat away!  That is just terrible!

So good things.  The course, although difficult, was gorgeous.  The support was great. Water and PP every two miles.  And the medal is beautiful.  I did this race because it was part of the Triple Crown and I really wanted to be a part of that.  I will have to think long and hard before choosing to do this one again.

So the official time, 2:46:35.  It is, in fact, my second worst time for a half marathon. But since I don't  count the first one because I ran it for fun and stood in line to take pictures at various points, this will have to become my worst time for a half ever!

I know I am usually a, "time doesn't matter person", but for some reason, this one got to me.  I know I could of done better, and the choices I made worked for me at the time.  I am happy I finished and I am happy I was with friends.  What more do I really need?  There will be more races.

The Newport Half Marathon is the last in the series and that is coming up in October.  Just have to survive this little 70.3 that is just three weeks away!  Oh boy, it's coming up quick!

Have you had a bad race? How do you move on?

Oh, one more happy note. I got to meet two long time internet friends and fellow runners. I was so close to the bus after waiting for so long when I finally saw them.  I do regret not getting out of line so that I could chat with them a little longer, but we did get a great picture.  So nice to meet you Gigi and Danielle!
I am hurting in this picture, but it came out nice.  

Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole