The Struggle is Real

Why hello. Hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend! Isn’t it wonderful to be riding and running outside?

Saturday morning, I had just about finished my 30-mile ride when I got flat tire. A teeny, tiny shard of metal pierced it, and within seconds, it was completely flat. Womp.

Sitting on the edge of the road, I started to think about all of the unexpected things that happen when training for a half Ironman. Although my fellow triathletes have been amazing resources in answering my questions, there are some things that you have to learn on your own. Unless, of course, you read my below list of tri training struggles (and some tips)…

*You will feel exhausted all the time. This is mostly true for me during the week. After a long workday, I accidentally fell asleep after my run and swim. Daniel had to wake me for dinner at 9pm!

*You will be hungry every second of the day. Just typing the word hungry made me hungry.

*Wipeouts happen more than you expect. No matter how many times I ride my bike, every so often I forget to unclip my shoes. In my most recent wipeout news, I made a wrong turn and was heading straight for a lake. Instead of calmly unclipping my shoes, I FREAKED THE F OUT and fell right on over. As an added bonus, a large group of canoers witnessed the whole fiasco!

*Assume that no one sees you when biking or running. Be particularly defensive when training around busy roads, but also be aware of others on a trail. You’ll be shocked at the amount of people that have no idea you are behind them until you scare the sh*t out of them by announcing yourself. 

*Ladies- You will have a love, hate relationship with your bike. Somedays, your saddle will seem like the devil himself. You will have bruises in places you don’t ever want bruises. What happened to the good ole’ beach cruiser seats?

*The foam roller will be your new BFF. Your body will be in a constant state of sore, so rolling around on foam is necessary.

*Buy these products- you will thank me later:

  • Swim- Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs and anti-fog solution for goggles
  • Bike- Anti Chafe Chamois Butt’r (Chafing is zero fun, chafing caused by your bike seat is hell.)
  • Run- Body Glide (I shower in this stuff! It is great for preventing wetsuit rash as well.)

Hope you’ve learned a thing or two at my expense. Consider yourself warned, my friend.

Have a great week! XO

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There’s no crying in tri training!

There's no crying in tri training

I’ve learned one thing in my short time as a Half Ironman hopeful:  Training can be exhausting. Running six miles and swimming 1,000 meters seems fine and dandy when I’m chipper at 6am. Throw in a 10+ hour work day filled with meetings and conference calls, and those same training plans seem a bit more daunting.

Last week, like a two year old who doesn’t want to take off his floaties, I almost threw a fit in the pool. I had just experienced a slow treadmill run and was hoping to redeem myself during my swim. One lap in, my goggles fogged up, and I choked on a sufficient amount of water. (I swear I’ve swam before…) I called it quits a few hundred meters early.

Five minutes after leaving the gym, I concluded that the world was ending and that I was the worst wannabe-triathlete that ever lived. (I’ve been know to be a bit dramatic.)

As endurance athletes, we tend to be really hard on ourselves. Heck, we beat ourselves up over missing a PR by a few seconds. Meeting and exceeding our goals is always a priority, and training days are no exception to the rule. I’m here to tell you that one bad training day does not define you as an athlete, and it’s certainly no indication of the outcome of your race (that’s likely still months away).

Here are 5 ways to survive a bad workout:

1. Stay positive:  Even if your stride is bit slower, don’t let it get you down. Beating yourself up over a tough workout doesn’t make it easier. Like my girl Kelly Clarkson once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. 

2. Shake it off:  Leave your workout at the gym. Tomorrow is a new day full of opportunities for a comeback run/ride/swim.

3. Don’t be afraid to end a little early:  There’s one thing I’ve learned from running and triathlon coaches- proper form is everything. It’s crucial during times of exhaustion and necessary in avoiding injury. Unfortunately, on a tough training day (when we’re too busy pouting to focus on form), proper technique goes out the window. It’s important to realize when this is happening, and either pull yourself together, or end the workout a bit early. One less mile will not ruin your training regimen.

4. Keep your Confidence:  Self doubt is such a biotch. Don’t let a bad workout make you question your decision to sign up for that goal race. Keep in mind all of the time and training you have put in, and rock your next workout.

5. Develop improvement strategies:  Take a few seconds to reflect on the reasons you had a rough workout. Could it have been caused by nutrition issues? A long day at work? Use your answers to improve your next workout.

With race season right around the corner, I hope these tips come in handy!

Thanks for reading! XO

On the Bandwagon: Shamrock Shuffle Recap

You’ve probably read 30,000 Shamrock Shuffle race recaps, but I couldn’t resist making it 30,001. I’ll start from the beginning, but I’ll attempt to keep it short and sweet.

There are two things that get me out of bed in the morning:  Black Friday shopping with my cousin and running. Our alarms went off at 6am, and I was out of bed and dressed, with brushed teeth and braided hair, by 6:10. This gave me plenty of time to give Daniel the “you better hurry up” glare, pace downstairs, and shout the ten minute warning (twice). I may be late for some of life’s activities, but I will never miss a race. We arrived in the city 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet my CARA friends. Whoops.

Now, onto my Shuffle thoughts…

The Good  

Shamrock Shuffle will forever be one of my favorite races. It means we’ve survived the frigid winter and have lived to see another race season. Plus, Bank of America knows how to put on a fabulous, organized race. No lines for porta potties or gear check is nothing short of a race miracle. There was also minimal waiting once in our corrals. These closed at 9am, and we were off shortly after the 9:15 wave start.

This is one of the only races Daniel and I run together, and his slow jog is faster than my sprint. I tried to keep up (while muttering a few choice words under my breath), and it paid off. I was shocked to discover that we finished with a PR. My comfortable pace is 10:20/mile, so it felt like we were flying!

Boom!

Boom!

The Bad

Daniel declared, “I’ve never liked city traffic!” during the first few minutes of the race, and I had to agree. The first mile was so crowded, so we bobbed and weaved the entire mile. We had to work extra hard to get that PR, which is a bit frustrating.

The Ugly

30 degrees and windy. SO WINDY. I think I jinxed all 35,000 of us by commenting on how lovely the weather usually is on race day. Sorry, guys.

The wind was manageable until we reached the corner of Franklin and Van Buren where wind gusts of 20+ mph took us by surprise. I actually blew into a man. I apologized, had a little laughing fit, then got my sh*t together before I became really out of breath. Here’s to hoping it’s warmer and far less windy next year!

After the race, we treated ourselves to a yummy lunch and adult beverages. The end.

 

Fun fact:  this is the fifth year in a row we’ve run this race. Clearly, we have a signature pose:

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Babies! Shamrock Shuffle circa 2011

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2012

 

2013

2013

 

2014

2014

2015! Showing off our medals.

2015! Showing off our medals.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

All Hail the Tax Refund

I like to think I have a few average/above average skills in life (running, dancing, swimming, eating chocolate). Unfortunately, saving money falls nowhere on this list. You can imagine my distress when my fiancé gave me the “we need to start saving money for a wedding” talk.

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Me. In cat form. After the savings talk.

In his defense, this is the large wedding of my ‘dreams’ and not the courthouse option he proposed. So just like that, I watched more dollar signs dance from my account and into the black hole of wedding savings.

I was feeling rather bummed about the limited number of races I could afford this summer when I received everyone’s favorite spring surprise:  the tax refund. Right after this puppy landed in my bank account, I began my race registration extravaganza. I may have had a few bookmarked. Work hard, play hard right?

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Here is my new, improved, bigger, badder 2015 race schedule:

  • Shamrock Shuffle, Sunday, 3/28:  Holy smokes! Less than 2 weeks away!
  • Rockdale Ramblin Run, Saturday, 4/11:  Their slogan is “Toughest 10K in the Midwest”. Last year, I was joking about this claim, but the first hill shut me up REAL QUICK. Small, well organized and challenging race.
  • Team Megan 5K Run, Saturday, 6/6:  A sweet teenage girl from my hometown was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Proceeds from this run will help support Megan and her family. If you’re interested in learning more about Megan’s journey towards a full recover, visit her dad’s blog. (Just make sure you have a tissue or two. The strength of this young lady is certain to leave you teary-eyed and speechless.)
  • ET Batavia Triathlon, Sunday 6/7:  Experience Triathlon always puts on a good race. This will be my first Batavia tri, and I’m looking forward to it.
  • Esprit de She, Sunday, 6/14:  Hey Ladiessss! First time I’ve ever signed up for an all women’s event. This is a sprint triathlon located in downtown Naperville. So close to home, I couldn’t pass it up!
  • Racine Ironman 70.3, Sunday, 7/19:  Sweet baby Ironman jesus, please let me survive this race.
  • Naperville Triathlon, Sunday, 8/2:  Loved this race last year, and I’m really excited for round 2.
  • Chicago Marathon:  Obviously I signed up for the lottery, folks. Now it’s the waiting game, and I’M WAY TOO IMPATIENT. I’m going to blame my nail-biting on my Chi Marathon anxiety. Please hurry, April 28, and put us all out of our misery.

I’m hoping to sneak a few other races in here and there (when I stumble upon some extra moolah that won’t be confiscated by my fiscally responsible fiancé to be used for practical purchases).

Please remind me of the following if I start to complain about my busy schedule and tired muscles:  photo 3

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday! Halfway to the weekend. XO

 

Happiness

This past week, I threw myself a real pity party. Ever have one of those weeks, where nothing major happens, but everything seems to be a big fat disaster?

Yesterday, as I embarked on my first run in the sunshine and slightly ABOVE FREEZING temperatures, my outlook changed. Two miles in, I deemed March 7 to be the best day ever. (Confession- This is my first outdoor run in a long time. I have such respect for all of you brave, winter marathon training souls!)

Obligatory first outdoor run selfie. I'm even squinting from the sun. Glorious.

Obligatory first outdoor run selfie. I’m even squinting from the sun. Glorious.

I started to think about how cool it is that such little things can bring so much joy in life. Then, I made a list of the random awesome things that make me happy:

1. Long runs with my CARA group: Waking up at 4:50 every Saturday morning from June-October doesn’t seem ideal, but my running friends make it worth the wake up call! We’ve had more laughs before 7am than most people have in a day.

Pre 20-miler 2 years ago

Pre 20-miler 2 years ago

2. Summertime:  No snow, less layers, more sun and way more fun. There’s a little beach club in my hometown that we frequent in the summer. Nothing makes me happier than floating around on a pontoon boat all darn day.

Isn't she cute?

Isn’t she cute?

3. Spending time with family/friends:  Life would be far less enjoyable without them. Fun fact- My mom and her sister married brothers, so I have 3 cousins at every family gathering. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is!

The ladies of the fam! (+ baby Finn)

The ladies of the fam! (+ baby Finn)

Gal pals!

Gal pals!

4. Adventures:  Last year, I surprised Daniel with skydiving for his birthday, and we had a blast. I love a good adrenaline rush!

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5. Shark Week:  Don’t even rain on my pity party parade and tell me it’s not real.

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Just holding a 6ft. shark. No big deal.

6. Sweets, all the sweets:  Frozen yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, I don’t discriminate.

7. Pup pics:  Daniel if you’re reading this, there is no underlying I want a puppy meaning.

8. THIS Video

9. Vacation:  Disconnecting from work and life for a few days is so refreshing.

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Punta Cana, you sexy beast

10. Cubs Games:  Win or lose, the beer is always cold.

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11. When you ‘like’ my blog posts (shameless. plug.)

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things” 

What makes you happy?

Monday Motivation on Wednesday?

Oy vey! Sometimes 8 hour workdays become 12 hour workdays and Monday motivations become Wednesday motivations. I’m still trying to squeeze in workouts before or after the fun long days. Busy days have left me even more excited for tomorrow’s run!

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Yes, yes it is.

Here’s this week’s workout schedule:

Monday:  Rest

Tuesday:  1 hour spin class

Wednesday:  Dream- 40 minutes cycling. Reality- Nada, nothing, 0 miles, big ole’ goose egg. Can’t win ’em all, right?

Thursday:  850m swim + 4 mile run

Friday:  1000m swim

Saturday:  1.5 hour CT class

Sunday:  6 mile run + strength

To end on a happy note, I’m so pumped that it’s supposed to be 40 degrees next week! If you live in the burbs, don’t be alarmed if you see a gal running in her swimsuit. Just kidding. Kinda.

XO

Look, Mom! A Food Post!

My mom’s response to my first-ever blog post:  “Great start for your blog Mere! Will there also be recipes? Bahaha, I crack myself up!”

What can I say? She knows me.

I have zero cooking skills. In all honesty, I’ve only master one skill surrounding the science. It’s what I like to call, “dodging the cooking bullet.” Example:  *Collect all ingredients to begin meal. *Cook noodles *Come up with something VERY important to do instead of cook the meat *Say things like “Ohhh, shoot! I completely forgot I need to take the laundry out of the dryer right now. Daniel, can you take care of the chicken?” If it was acceptable to eat salad and sweet potatoes every night, I would die happy.

There is one exception:  The power breakfast sandwich. So delicious and so easy. It has just the right amount of carbs and protein to keep me going through a long run but doesn’t weigh me down.

What you’ll need:  

  • 2 egg whites
  • Feta cheese
  • Hummus (I love Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus)
  • Sandwich Round or Bagel Thin
  • Spinach
  • Avocado

Got everything? Good!

1. Scramble the egg whites. When the eggs are almost done, toss in some feta cheese. I like to use a few spoonfuls. WHY IS FETA CHEESE SO GOOD?!

Hmm. This doesn't look very appealing, but I swear it's good. Next goal:  work on photography skills.

Hmm. This doesn’t look very appealing. I swear it’s good. Next goal: work on photography skills.

2. Toast the sandwich round. When done, spread some hummus onto each side.

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3. Throw the eggs, spinach and avocado on top of the hummus and bread, and you have yourself a yummy sandwich!

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Enjoy! Have a great Saturday! XO