Monday Musings: Sun, Fun And Of Course Training

This Summer ROCKS!

Okay I am not sleeping as much as I would like or having as many lazy weekends or trips as my wife would like.

But we are definitely doing more than we did last summer.

Last summer on July 19, my wife had her ACL replaced, which led to a pretty uneventful summer.

Thankfully this year she is healed and we are taking advantage of it.

The weekends have been full of adventure and something I’m looking forward to recapping every Monday. :)

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Friday kicked off with a phenomenal weigh-in, where I finally shed the weight I had gained during my temp job and I am feeling AMAZING.

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After attending my Friday morning meeting, I subbed the Noon meeting for a coworker. I love meeting new groups and hearing about people’s journeys.

When I got home from work I had a present from Misfit Wearables!!

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I am wicked excited to try another activity monitor and report back all my thoughts. I am going to give it a couple of weeks before I write a post on it. It has the feature to track your swims so I already love that it is waterproof. :)

Once the work day was over, I had to turn my attention to the training plan. Which called for a 2 hour and 15 min bike ride. Now the weather was forecasted to be crappy and I was waiting for the wife to get home to enjoy dinner so I opted for a ride on the trainer.

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But how could I be in my living room for that long without going crazy?!?! A movie would do the trick.

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Yay Frozen to the rescue.

After a grueling training session – Hello Sweatfest – it was a low-key evening in our household: Zensah compression, pizza, wine and snuggling in bed. Success since I was getting up early Saturday morning.

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I must’ve gotten up early for a training ride or run on Saturday? Nope! The alarm went off at 6am so I could sub two Weight Watchers meetings for my friend Heather. I had attended the 8am meeting as a member in the past and I knew it was a fun group. I was looking forward to see the good times that most Saturday groups convey. :)

Now I made sure to adjust my training plan accordingly so I could work and keep my afternoon free to spend with the wife.

So I wore my bathing suit underneath my work clothes to keep me accountable. I walked straight from the Weight Watchers Center to the gym, which was easy since it is on my way home. :P

The swim workout was easily laid out: 300 WU, 2000 meters and 300 CD. To my knowledge that would be my longest consistent swim.

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2000 meters = 80 lengths of my pool = 1.242 miles

The Half Ironman swim distance is 1.2 miles and has a 1-hour cutoff.

The 2000 meters took me 40 minutes and 55 seconds. I was happy with the outcome. I felt strong and consistent the entire time. I knew I could’ve pushed it more, which made me happy. The plan wanted you to swim it at moderate pace and I think I kept it that way. Besides some bursts when I needed to change lane mid-swim and my lane mate wanted to chat briefly. Ha!

With work and the workout done, it was Date Afternoon time. For the wife’s birthday, I gave her a Date Afternoon consisting of Stand Up Paddle Boarding and dinner at the Boston Burger Company in Davis Square (Somerville).

Neither of us had done Stand Up Paddle Boarding before so it would definitely be an experience for both of us.

I have seen the Charles River Canoe & Kayak kiosk on countless runs.

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Finally time to step on up and try it!

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After taking a brief quiz – of course we got 100% and a smiley face on it – we signed away our lives and hid our stuff in the car to keep it safe and dry. I had no idea how many times we would potentially end up in the water. :P

The SUP boards were $15/hr and we were figuring one hour would be a good starting off point for us.

We were fitted for our life vests before having the oars properly lengthened for our heights.

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In order to shimmy on to the board, we headed down the dock where the dockhands were ready and waiting. Thankfully I trusted the 15 year old (if that) to hold the board steady, while I slid onto the board.

You start on your knees and work your way to standing up once 10 feet from the dock.

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I don’t have the best of balance so I was hoping for the best.

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Success!!

We started our trip upstream. It was a beautifully sunny day in Boston and perfect to be out on the River. We were boarding among canoers, kayakers and even some boaters.

Now the boaters can be tricky as they leave wake behind … which is why my love ended up in the water! ;) I wish I had pictures of it. :P

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She did a great job quickly getting back on to the board and reclaiming her balance. Go babe!

After that little blip the rest of the hour was smooth sailing. It is a good upper body workout as well as a lower body workout to keep balanced.

Once we hit a boat house along the water, we decided to make the turn and head back to the dock.

We started upstream- against the current – which proved to be more of a workout than downstream. I know a Duh sort of moment. But both were fun.

We returned to the docks and the dockhands helped us shimmy back on to land and check out.

The service was great and the payment process quick. They did take credit cards, which was nice.

Now I will say I didn’t bring the camera with me on the River. We actually went back to the dock so I could run to the car, retrieve my car and snap some action shots of us. :)

I kept the phone in a little pocket on the life vest in between pics.

It was nice to just enjoy time with my wife away from technology and the real world. I even said to her during the trek that I would’ve never imagined doing something like this when we first met. I am thankful for so much from this weight loss journey – including a more daring personality.

We actually finished up paddle boarding just before 4, but we ready for an early dinner so straight to Boston Burger Company we went.

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This restaurant features my wife’s favorite burger: The Killer Bee.

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Can you tell how happy she is?

I am not a burger person so I opted for a Garden Salad with chicken and french fries.

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We both cheered her birthday with our favorite Slumbrew beers on tap: Happy Sol for her (right) and Porter Square Porter for me (left).

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What a delicious meal!

It was one perfect Summer Day in Boston. I could’ve asked for a better time or person to spend it with.

I was getting sleepy so we called it an early night to watch some Netflix, snuggle some pups and turn in early.

Okay I fell asleep before anyone else … it happens!

***

Sunday I made sure to get up early to get my 5-mile training run in before the wife and I headed to New Hampshire for my friend’s daughter’s baptism.

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It was great to catch up with college friends. The original party would’ve been outside, but with inclement weather coming down on us the festivities were moved inside. After some baby snuggling, we all headed home.

We caught a little bit of weekend vacation traffic, but thankfully not too much.

I was home, changed and on the bike trainer by 4pm. I could’ve ridden outside, but I wanted to spend more time with my little family so I hopped on the trainer for the 90 minute ride.

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Luckily the trainer isn’t so loud that it drowns out the conversation. :)

But if you haven’t caught on with the pattern so far, the night was low-key and I tried to recover with my compression and bed.

***

Once again the weekend was superb (and I tracked every delicious bite of it), but ended on a tough note. I have signed up for something in 2015 (which I will reveal soon), but now I am nervous that it was a bad choice. I need to listen to my gut so instead of regretting the decision I am going to accept the challenges.

I spent a majority of Sunday also glued to my iPhone as I tracked seven people I knew attacking Iron Man Lake Placid. It was a phenomenally inspiring day. 6 of the 7 were able to Finish after battling tough weather conditions. But all 7 are winners in my book as they had the heart to sign up, train and show up on Race Day!

A DNF (Did Not Finish) is better than a DNS (Did Not Start)!

Now I must recollect myself and get back to my own training plan… six weeks until Pumpkinman Half Ironman. Eek!

***

PS. There is still time to sign up for my virtual fundraising 5k – F.A.S.T. (Fight Against Stroke Together) 5k/10k. You can click here to find more information about how you can help Fight Stroke AND get a sweet Finisher’s Medal.

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Will You #RaceToTheRow With Me? *Race Entry Giveaway*

Amazing Race is coming back to Somerville.

Wait wait! That sounds misleading.

THE Amazing Race the show is not coming back to Somerville, but AN Amazing Race is.

The Somerville Road Runners are putting on the 2nd Annual Race To The Row 5k on August 24th at 9:30am!

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YAY!! 

I had a BLAST at the inaugural race last year. If you didn’t just click on “last year” and read the race recap, let me tell you it is the race where I set my current 5k PR of 21:59. Umm yeah so this race means A LOT to me. Plus it is less than a 5 minute walk from my house.

Since Assembly Row was under construction last year, I know the course will be even BETTER this year since Assembly Row is open and thriving. Here is a sneak peek at it.

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The race is a run or walk and is open to runners and families of all ages and abilities.

Additionally, there will be a Children’s Fun Run (age 9 and under) before the race with all kids getting a medal! Can I pretend to be an 8-year old? ;) I love a medal.

I will say the Fun Run was adorable to watch pre-race last year.

But more about the 5k:

The Race to the Row will run through the Assembly Square District and along the Mystic River, ending with a fun-filled post-race party with food and drinks served from the newest local restaurants and live music supplied by the IT Band! All proceeds will benefit the East Somerville Main Streets program (funding East Somerville business visibility and bolstering the community at large) as well as Somerville TrackPAC (provides college scholarships for Somerville High School students).

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Following last year’s race I enjoyed free Harpoon beer and food courtesy of Burger Dive. I know they will be offering free food and drink to participants again this year, but details have yet to be released.

The Assembly Row and race area are easily accessible via public transportation and offer ample parking options for those choosing to drive.

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Now that I have you all drooling over the fun … it is time for the best part:

I have a FREE race entry to give away!

Lucky me!!

So here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run from Monday July 28 (11am ET) through Friday August 1 (11am ET)!

The winner will be selected and announced on Friday!

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2014 Road Races

Here is how the 2014 race schedule is shaping up so far:

January 1 – 1st Run 5k – 23:43 (7:39 min/mile pace) – RECAP

January 9 – Disney Family Fun Run 5k – 32:05 (10:21 min/mile pace) – RECAP

January 10 – Walt Disney World 10k – 1:05:40 (10:35 min/mile pace) – RECAP

January 11 – Walt Disney World Half Marathon – 2:22:31 (10:53 min/mile pace) – RECAP

January 12 – Walt Disney World Marathon – 4:45:57 (10:55 min/mile pace) – RECAP

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February 2 – Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon – 1:55:43 (8:50 min/mile pace) – RECAP

February 14 – Stop Stroke Shuffle 5k *Virtual* – 26:18 (8:29 min/mile pace)

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March 1 – Black Cat 20-Miler – 2:57:59 (8:54 min/mile pace) – RECAP

March 16 – Craicfest 5k – 24:17 (7:49 min/mile pace) – RECAP

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April 19 – BAA 5k – 25:08 (8:06 min/mile pace) – RECAP

April 21 – 118th Boston Marathon - 5:31:18 (12:39 min/mile pace) – RECAP

April 26 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon - 4:42:12 (10:46 min/mile pace) – RECAP

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May 11 – M.O.M.’s Run 5k - 24:14 (7:48 min/mile pace) – RECAP

May 13 – Strides Against Stroke 5k *Virtual* – 26:16 (8:28 min/mile pace)

May 18 – 18th Annual Mystic River Herring Run & Paddle 5k - 24:39 (7:57 min/mile pace) – RECAP

May 25 – Boston’s Run To Remember Half Marathon – 1:50:58 (8:28 min/mile pace) – RECAP

May 29 - Boston 5k Summer Series Race #1 - 23:29 (7:34 min/mile pace) – RECAP

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June 1 - Freedom Run 5k - 23:55 (7:43 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 7 – Runner’s World 5k - 28:28 (9:11 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 7 – Runner’s World 10k - 58:49 (9:29 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 8 – Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon - 2:08:52 (9:50 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 21 – Rock and Run Boston (Obstacle 5k) - 45:32 (14:38 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 22 - BAA 10k - 51:37 (8:19 min/mile pace) – RECAP

June 30 – Summer Sizzler *Virtual* 5k – 25:21 (8:10 min/mile pace)

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July 3 – Finish At The 50 (10k for me) - 53:01 (8:32 min/mile pace) – RECAP

July 13 – Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon – 1:57:44 (8:59 min/mile pace) - RECAP

July 17 - Boston 5k Summer Series Race #3 - 24:19 (7:50 min/mile pace) – RECAP

July 20 – Iron GirlWebster Sprint Triathlon – 1:26:54 – RECAP

July 27-August 3 – F.A.S.T. Virtual 5k/10k – Starts at TBD

***

August 10 – The Sharon Triathlon (Sprint) – Starts at 8:00 a.m. ET

August 14 - Boston 5k Summer Series Race #4 – Starts at 6:30 p.m. (Women’s Only 5k) & 7 p.m. (Co-ed 5k)

August 17 – Falmouth Road Race – Starts at 9:00 a.m. ET

August 24 – Race To The Row 5k – Starts at 9:30 a.m. ET

***

September 4 - Boston 5k Summer Series Race #5 – Starts at 6 p.m. (Women’s Only 5k) & 6:30 p.m. (Co-ed 5k)

September 7 – Pumpkinman Half Ironman – Starts at 7 a.m. ET

September 13 – Big Bad Wolf 5 Mile Trail Race – Starts at Noon ET

September 18 - Boston 5k Summer Series Race #6 – Starts at 6 p.m. (Women’s Only 5k) & 6:15 p.m. (Co-ed 5k)

September 27 – ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon (Cape Cod) – Starts at 7:30 a.m. ET

***

October 5 – Oktoberfest 5k – Starts at 9:30 a.m. ET

October 12 - BAA Half Marathon - Starts at 8:30 a.m. ET

October 18 – Runner’s World 5k – Starts at 8:00 a.m. ET

October 18- Runner’s World 10k – Starts at 9:30 a.m. ET

October 19 – Runner’s World Half Marathon – Starts at 8:00 a.m. ET

***

November 15 – Spartan Sprint Fenway Park – Starts TBD

***

December 14 – Yulefest 5k – Starts at 9:30 a.m. ET

 

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Friday Five: ASICS Triathlon Edition

#BetterYourBest

The new ASICS ad campaign speaks to me. It’s something that I’ve been working on for years: to end the comparison game and focus on bettering YOUR best.

Well it looks like ASICS agreed. They sent me a note stating how they thought I embodied the “Better Your Best” mantra and liked my passion for training that I’ve shared through my blog.

I was speechless. But it got better!

They would be sending me the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon Survival Kit designed by elite athlete Andy Potts. The Survival Kit was a collection of ASICS gear Potts felt would help triathletes perform at their best.

Ahhh I jumped at the opportunity and now I can share with YOU what that kit included.

(Note: I did receive the gear free of charge, but as always all thoughts are my own! Ain’t nobody got time for lyin’!)

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While I am new-ish to triathlons (three sprints under my belt so far), I still know what gear I like and what I don’t. So let’s get right to it.

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1) Sneakers: Gel-Hyper Speed 6 ($85 value) to be exact

I have been running in ASICS sneakers since I first started running in 2005. The GT-2000 series has gotten me through countless miles and races. So I was open to trying this racer flat.

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 It was DEFINITELY an adjustment from the more supportive GT-2000s that I wear, but I could see the benefit in the racing flats for the Sprint or Olympic distance triathlons. The lightweight seamless construction reduces irritation and friction while running, but the shoe also offers a Rearfoot Gel Cushioning System, which I appreciate for impact.

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Personally I wouldn’t be comfortable running farther than a 10k in them, but that is for my own personal preference. These have already become a staple for meduring speed workouts.

Plus, I adore the color combo. Priorities, right?

2) Backpack: Kayano Backpack ($75 value)

First and foremost I love that the Kayano Backpack offers a chest strap. I really dislike having to hold my straps up while walking to the gym or heading to a race. The Kayano has padded straps, as well as a padded laptop pocket that zips open flat for travel ease.

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There is also a stashable water-resistant bag cover, which is great for transition areas they may get a little wet on a rainy race day.

But I really appreciate the bag having two water bottle holders (one on each side), which comfortably fit a water bottle in each. I hate when the water bottle pocket isn’t deep enough and my water bottle goes flying while I am in transit. So thanks ASICS for making the pockets deep enough.

The backpack has ample space within the two main compartments to handle your gear for all three parts of the triathlon.

3) Accessories: Dawn-2-Dusk Cap ($20 value), Long Haul Handheld Water Bottle ($18 value), and Kayano Single Tab Socks ($14 value)

An athlete is only as good as their accessories. Ummm??

I’m not sure if that is a thing, but we will go with it.

The versatility of this cap takes you from dawn (with lightweight, quick-dry functionality) to dusk, effortlessly transitioning into a high visibility reflective cap.

The 20oz water bottle features an adjustable Airmesh handle, which keeps sweating to a minimum. The easy to open zip pocket keeps your valuables in reach. I did find the grip comfortable, but personally I am not into the hand held water devices … listening to the water sludge around just makes me have to pee. ;)

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Last but not lease would be the sock featuring PROfit™ Technology for a comfortable fit, while providing a dry and stay-put sock. The worst feeling is having your socks slide down mid-race so thanks ASICS for helping avoid that hassle. 

4) Long-sleeved training top: Thermopolis LT 1/2 Zip (on sale $39)

While I appreciate a long-sleeved zip, this wasn’t the time of year to be testing it out. Ha. It is hot hot hot out there so I do not need any extra warmth. I will look forward to breaking this out come September or so.

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The PR Thermal fabric allows for breathability and it has the ability to insulate your body and keep you at an ideal temperature. 

It will be joining my weekend comfy clothes rotation this Fall as well because I am in love with the neck. ;)

5) Top/Shorts: Performance Fun Starburst Tank (on sale $22) and Speed Short (on sale $35)

Now I think we all know I am NOT a shorts person, but as always I wanted to give them a try. And they were just not for me. A little too short. But for those that like shorts, you will love the lightweight, breathable fabric, the flatlock seams which help reduce chafing and the reflective elements on the sides of the shorts.

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Now I think I ordered the top a size too big. It was loose fitting in the chest area, which wouldn’t fly for a run. But I loved the style in the back!! It was lightweight and airy. Plus, it has such a fun pattern and it pairs well with the sneakers. ;)

***

Overall, I loved the first four parts of the Survival Kit, but wish there was a capri option for the bottoms (personal preference).

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***

But now that I’ve shared my thoughts with you, it’s time for me to suit up and get back to training.

Now off to find the training plan! :P

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Face It Friday: I Didn’t Throw In The Towel

Last weekend was FUUUNNNN! I do not regret a single food or drink choice I made.

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I celebrated the wife’s 34th birthday AND completing my third triathlon. I filled some cravings that I had had for months… and they were delicious.

Now my week starts on Friday as we know. So Friday itself was a 109 pt day. Yup you read that right. We went out to a big dinner and I ate delicious pizza and drank decadent beer. It was great.

Now Saturday and Sunday we were on the go with the race so I didn’t track.

I knew I was over, but didn’t have the energy to see how over.

But, Monday morning I looked at myself in the mirror and said the only person I am hurting is myself. So I sat down and estimated the best I could.

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Yup, three days into my Weight Watchers week and I was -114 pts in the hole.

That was a punch to the gut moment. But I patted myself on the back for owning up to it.

At that moment I decided instead of throwing in the towel and “restarting” on Friday when my WW week would be fresh, I decided to see how much I could earn back through Activity. It was lighting a fire under my training butt.

So I worked and I happily saw the number decrease.

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I knew I would never get back into the positive, but I felt okay.

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I really didn’t care what the scale said this week because I was living on my NSV (Non-Scale Victory) of sticking with my game plan and reaching out to friends for support.

Every day I hit my DPT, filled all of my Good Health Guidelines and was staying well hydrated with H2O. I was feeling GREAT.

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So I woke up this morning feeling light and lean, but reminding myself that even if the scale showed a gain I would NOT take away the accomplishments of the week.

I took out the scale, dusted it off, closed my eyes and stepped on.

Down 2.8 lbs!

Woo! Now I do not get into the habit of going into the negative with my points. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers for almost 5 years and know that weeks will vary because well life happens.

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Do I want to keep this pattern of being in the negative going – of course not. But I made it through two tough weeks and still came out on top.

So next time you have one bad meal or day and think you ruined the whole week remember this post, track it and move on.

***

Since June 13, I have successfully shed 16.2 of the 15.8 lbs gained during my temp assignment. Yes that means all the weight plus a little extra is GONE. Yahoo!! What a great feeling getting back to the balance I know that works for me.

Sometimes we need to go through a bumpy road to find the focus again and the reason we started this journey to begin with.

***

This week I will be participating in my own fundraising virtual 5k – F.A.S.T. (Fight Against Stroke Together) 5k/10k – and would love for you to join me. You can click here to find more information about how you can help Fight Stroke AND get a sweet Finisher’s Medal.

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And finally, if you all could take a moment and vote for me I would really appreciate it. There are some sweet prizes on the table and you all know I love my low-fat chocolate milk.

VOTE HERE!

I think you can vote once a day! Thanks!!

***

I hope everyone has an amazing week. I am race free this weekend, but have some social engagements to attend. I will once again track it and own it.

I will keep the following mantra in the back of my mind:

Eat To Live Don’t Live To Eat

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REVIEW: Apera Bags

What’s that smell?

Oh no … that would be me. Ick!

<<Runs to take quick shower>>

Hmmm … the smell is still there.

What could it be?

<<Looks to the floor>>

Ooohh it’s my gym bag.

<<Hides in embarrassment>>

Ew!

Anyone with me on this?

Well after complaining about it the best way I know how – on social media – a company came to my rescue.

Apera Bags

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Have you heard of them? Met them at a Race Expo or two?

If you haven’t, I’m here to share the love.

I received the Performance Duffel to review (value $124), but as always all thoughts and opinions are my own. Ain’t nobody got time for lying! Am I right?

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Do you like that I picked the bright fuschia? I used to shy away from color, but now I think the brighter the better.

Of the seven styles of bags Apera offers, I believe the duffel is the roomiest. I figured it would be PERFECT to lug my triathlon gear around. Three sports in one bag.

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Like every Apera bag, it includes antimicrobial product protection inside and outside. Ventilated compartments,
a water resistant base and wipeable linings keep your bag clean, dry and healthy.

I love having a separate compartment for my sneakers or bike shoes. Don’t you hate when dirt from your shoes gets all over the inside of your gym bag?

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There is a pocket on both ends of the bag and each can hold a pair of shoes up to men’s 11.5. So now I can keep my bike shoes on one side and my sneakers on the other when heading to a BRICK workout or triathlon.

The Duffel is loaded with pockets, which allows for quick and easy access to any of my little accessories that tend to get lost in the bottom of the bag.

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How many Sparkly Soul headbands have you found when finally cleaning out your bag? I think my max was 5 or 6. Ha!

I used the large pocket on the backside to keep my wet bathing suit away from my dry running gear. Such a simple joy.

I started using the pockets on the top to hide my Garmin. I get paranoid that it will turn on while in transit to a race or it will fall out of one of the front pockets while tossing the bag around.

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Or goggles and sunglasses.

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Plus the shoulder strap is wide and padded making travel less painful on the old shoulder.

You may be wondering if I could use this bag for anything other than the gym. Absolutely.

We took a quick weekend trip to Maine a few weeks back and it was perfect to separate my fun relaxing clothes with my running gear. I mean you know I had to bring sneakers with me. :P

But I think what really puts Apera ahead of their competition would be the antimicrobial product protection.

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The material Inside and outside of every Apera bag* is treated with antimicrobial product protection which works continuously, 24/7, to help prevent the growth of bacterial odors on the bag. And because the antimicrobial aspect is built-in during manufacturing, it will last for the useful lifetime of the bag.**

Finally my bag isn’t the smelly one in the house. That honor can be returned to my wife’s hockey bag. :P

So would I recommend Apera bags to a friend? Absolutely.

Apera is more than a great product they are a great company as well.

Apera’s cause is simple – to inspire all athletes. Apera has created a unique business model that reinforces the social and benevolent components of the Social-Athlete market.

Apera will donate one bag to a Special Olympics athlete for every three bags we sell.

How cool is that?

If you are ready to get your Apera bag act now. They are having a 20% off anniversary sale through July 31: Enter SUMMER2014 at checkout. Check out their website for additional sales.

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When do you use your Apera bag?

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F.A.S.T. Virtual 5k&10k: July 27-August 3

The F.A.S.T. (Fighting Against Stroke Together) Virtual 5k & 10k registration is HERE!!

Some of you may be asking what the heck the F.A.S.T. 5k & 10k is. Well it is a virtual race.

This will be the fifth virtual race I will be hosting … and first to offer a 10k option!! The first four have combined to raise over $4,200. AH-may-zing!

Here are the details:

A virtual run or walk means you do the 5k (3.1 mile) or 10k (6.2 mile) “race” at your leisure between July 27 and August 3. Map out your own route, get your friends together or jump on the old trusty treadmill. Your call.

This “race” is open to anyone – all over the world.

I will provide a race bib that you can print out and fix to your shirt (if you want).

EVERYONE that completes the “race” will receive a Finisher’s Medal in the mail from me. YAY! How cool is that? I know one of my favorite parts.

But you may be asking: “Dani! How much will this fun cost me?” or “What is my entry fee going to?”

Well, each participant will be making a $25 donation. The proceeds raised will be going towards Tedy’s Team and the American Stroke Association. In the past two years, I’ve raised over $15,500 to help fight Stroke and raise awareness.

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2014 Boston Marathon

For those that don’t know, I have now run the Boston Marathon twice and Nashville Marathon once with Tedy’s Team.

Tedy asked the American Stroke Association to work with him to create “Tedy’s Team,” a group of runners raising money for the American Stroke Association and training to complete the Boston Marathon® and the Falmouth Road Race.  Their participation supports Tedy Bruschi’s fight against stroke and honors both the survivors and the loved ones lost to America’s No. 4 leading cause of death.

In addition to the dollars being raised, an equally important issue for Tedy’s Team is the increase in awareness of stroke and recognition of its warning signs. Tedy’s Team is striving to reach as many people as possible in its message of recognizing the warning signs and acting appropriate when seeing them — calling 9-1-1 immediately.

I run in honor of my Stroke Heroes, my grandparents. Unfortunately in December 2012, my grampa passed away during the training for the 2013 Boston Marathon. But, I feel as if he was looking down on me on April 15, 2013 and he helped me cross that Finish line at the right time.

So if you are ready to help me Fight Stroke then check out the directions to sign up below!

***

If you would like to take part in the run or walk:

1) Please register. (Make sure you are providing an accurate mailing address because that is where I will send the medal.)

Cost $25 - Signup Using Paypal Below

2) You can complete the 3.1 mile or 6.2 mile run or walk whenever you like from July 27-August 3.

3) Once you complete the race please send me a photo of yourself and your time to dani@weightoffmyshoulders.com

4) HAVE FUN!!

***

Finisher’s Medal

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***

Download Your Race Bib Here!

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Click To download and print bibs (PDF File)

***

Thank you all for continuing to support me and help raise awareness for Stroke. Please be sure you know the warning signs of a Stroke (courtesy American Stroke Association):

THINK YOU ARE HAVING A STROKE? CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you’ll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:

F.A.S.T. Letter F Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
F.A.S.T. Letter A Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
F.A.S.T. Letter S Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
F.A.S.T. Letter T Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
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24
Jul 2014
AUTHOR Dani
COMMENTS No Comments

My Latest Boston Area Date Night Find: Legoland Discovery Center

Dinner dates are overdid.

Movies can happen any day of the week.

Next time you need to plan a more creative date for your significant other may I suggest…

Legoland Discovery Center Boston

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Now technically Legoland is located in Somerville at the new Assembly Row shopping area. This just happens to be across the street from my house. Why yes location is great when picking a date night. ;)

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Normally Legoland requires adults to be accompanied by a child to enter the Discovery Center, but this location is now offering an Adult Night once a month.

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July 16 marked the second at the Discovery Center Boston location and it worked out perfectly as the wife’s birthday is July 18. I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. :)

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I jumped at the invite to attend the Adult Night and you can guess it didn’t take much convincing of my lego-loving other half.

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We got there just after 7 to find quite a line of adults waiting to get in. We weren’t the only excited ones.

After snapping a quick picture in front of a green screen, which had a couple options for which Lego background you wanted, we headed up the stairs to the Discovery Center.

I had no idea what to expect, but I figured it would be awesome.

We hit the top of the stairs and were immediately in mini Boston (aka MINILAND) … made entirely out of Legos.

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I can’t imagine the level of patience this takes to get everything juuuust right.

The lights would rise and dim as the “day” would pass in mini Boston. When the lights went out, fireworks would go off on the walls above the Esplanade.

After taking in mini Boston, it was finally time to explore the rest of Legoland.

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The Discovery Center for the most part is a large open space with different pockets of games and rides.

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Check out the Master Builder’s Office – Tori wanted to break in!

We headed straight to the first ride – Merlin’s Apprentice.

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They had each adult take their own cart to even out the weight. In order to keep your cart afloat you needed to keep your feet peddling. It was fu to be soaring above the Center seeing all of the people playing and laughing.

We had been there maybe 20 minutes or so, but the wife was itching to play with the Legos so over to the Racers: Build & Test we went.

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She was so proud of her Lego car that survived the test track.

While she played with Legos, I took a lap  around to check out the snacks/alcohol situation. :P

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I really wanted this to turn real!

The Cafe was offering snacks, as well as beer and wine! Just remember to bring cash folks!

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I believe the cash only thing is for Adult Night Only.

With just 5 minutes before the next movie showing in the Lego 4D Cinema, we opted to wait for that before checking any other areas out.

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We watched Spellbreaker in the theatre and it was really cute. When snow happened in the movie, they released foam from the ceiling to replicate the snow effect. I love a good 4D movie – it really makes the film come alive. There were three different Lego movies on rotation throughout the night.

But with our two hours going quickly, we wanted to take in as much as we could. So we were off to Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.

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If the name doesn’t give it away, your goal is to hit as many of the targets with the laser. Normally you can fit four folks in a chariot, but being a date night each couple got their own chariot. Bring on the competition.

My wife is the video gamer so she was slightly miffed in Disney when I kicked her booty on this type of ride. BUT she got her revenge on Kingdom Quest. I just couldn’t get in a rhythm.

With time running out, we bypassed the Factory Tour and Model Builder Academy. Now we have something to check out the next time.

We did take a minute to watch folks compete in building the tallest structure while using one arm and not allowing their tower to tip over.

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The energy was intense. Folks were taking it VERY seriously.

And just like that it was 9pm and the Adult Night was over. We took our time walking back to the stairs, soaking in the atmosphere and the cool craftsmanship of MINILAND.

We will definitely be checking this adult night out again as we missed some of the fun.

Keep an eye out here for more info on the next Adult Night.

***

So if you have a Lego nut in your life, I highly recommend checking out Legoland Discovery Zone Boston. Hey you can even make a whole date night out of it: American Fresh or Papagayo for dinner, Adult Night then J.P. Lick’s for desssert. All in the same complex.

Come on over to Assembly Row and make some memories!

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24
Jul 2014
AUTHOR Dani
COMMENTS 4 Comments

I Swam, Biked & Ran At Iron Girl Webster

I swam then I biked then I ran.

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All in a row.

All by choice.

And you know what?

It was fuuunnnn!!

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The Iron Girl Webster Sprint Tri was a BLAST from Start to Finish.

Okay there was some slight cursing during the bike (I’ll get to that later), but for the most part I was alll smiles!

The triathlon ended up spanning over three days rather than just Race Day! On Friday, I shared my triathlon prep post and on Saturday I had the honor of participating in the Iron Girl Expo with Got Chocolate Milk. I never thought I would be asked to participate in a Q&A panel at a triathlon expo or co-host a shakeout run, but both were a blast!

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With a 4am wake-up call on race day, I tried to spend the night before relaxing in bed, enjoying my Zensah compression shorts and socks and just calming the pre-race jitters.

Can I stress how quickly 4am seems to come? :P

I leaped out of bed since I knew we were on a tight schedule to make sure we made it out West on time.

We were on the road by 4:49am and in the parking lot for the race at 5:52am. Booya! Yay for no traffic on the Mass Pike.

The weather was in the low 60s with clear skies. Perfect racing conditions.

The parking lot was just over a mile from the Start so the race provided port-o-potties at the parking lot (HUGE WIN!) and shuttles to the Start. They were moving regularly and had amole busses available (ANOTHER WIN).

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Finish shoot I would see a few hours later

I headed straight to the transition area to be numbered up and to set up my gear.

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This race was my third triathlon (all Sprint) so I looked at my transition set up from previous races as an example. I laid everything out then stood back and made sure the things I needed first would be in front – aka bike gear, snacks in the middle and run gear farthest back.

As I mentioned this would be my first tri using the bike shoes so it would be a learning experience either way. :)

Transition closed at 6:30 so I gave the layout one last glance over, grabbed my goggles/swim cap and headed out to meet the Got Chocolate Milk ladies.

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The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. The beach was full of ladies and their support crews. I took a quick dip in the water to see how the tri kit would feel while swimming. Remember I haven’t swum in the tri kit yet so again new experience for me. :P

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I love chatting with people before a race. It pushes the pre-race jitters out of my mind since I am busy focusing on the other person or people. So things like this amazing group photo get me motivated and ready to jump in the water.

Only thing was the picture was at 6:45am and my wave wasn’t starting until 7:30! :P

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But, I took my opportunity to get last-minute advice and inspiration from Chrisann, a Got Chocolate Milk Captain and Iron(wo)man! Biggest piece of advice: Have Fun! I can definitely do that.

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The wife and I moved closer to the Start Area on the beach so we could hear the National Anthem and start cheering on the earlier waves.

The Iron Girl Webster race manager, Sarah Frey, came over to chat with me while on the beach. I have to say it was a really nice gesture and a pleasure. I had nothing but positive things to say up to that point about the race. The IRONMAN group knows how to run an event properly. Volunteers were nice, helpful and everyone seemed happy!

It was also cool to hear more about her background in triathlons, etc. What can I say I love hearing people share their journeys!

Before I knew it was time for me to line up. I gave the wife a kiss for good luck and headed to the Start Line. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, but I tried my hardest to keep the positive thoughts going. I also had to remind myself that I chose to be there. ;)

***

Swim – 1/3 mile

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We started the swim in the water. I moved myself closer to the front of the group to hopefully avoid some of the extra kicking and punching that can happen when a group of people start swimming at the same time.

There were 5 minutes between each wave, but I swear it was really 30 minutes. It felt like a lifetime between getting in the water and the 10 second countdown.

But then we were off.

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 Can you see me? ;)

I could definitely tell a difference racing without a wetsuit compared to with a wetsuit since it gives you a little extra buoyancy. But I felt strong. I have been working on sighting – keeping a target in your sights while swimming – and it was paying off. I was definitely swimming in a straighter line than the two triathlons last year.

As we took the first of two left turns in the water, I swam straight into the wave before us. I stopped for a moment to get gauge the situation before swimming a tad to the left to get out of the mass of orange or red cap swimmers. Thankfully that gave me a nice lane to get back into a rhythm.

I was trying to swim using more of my arms than my legs. Sarah Reinertsen told me in her Ironman she exhausted her arms as much as possible since you don’t really need them the rest of the race. I tried to take that to heart.

With the second left turn done, it was straight to the Swim Finish on the beach. I kept my eyes on the Swim Finish Arch whenever I needed to re-sight.

I kept swimming until my fingers grazed the bottom of the Lake then I stood up to run out of the water.

Crossed the Swim mat and officially entered transition.

I was 1/3 of the way there! ;)

There were some small rocks and gravel during the run/jog from the water to my stuff.

Total Time: 10:55
Pace: 2:03/100 yds
Overall Place: 55/583
Division: 10/83

***

Transition 1

After hobbling/jogging over the rocks/dirt/asphalt to get to my bike. Step 1 was to put on my shirt with my number on it. I didn’t want to forget that. Second was putting on my helmet. I should’ve taken the time to readjust my ponytail a little more for comfort but I was caught up in the moment.

So folks take the time to get comfortable in your gear – it’s what transition is for. ;)

I wiped off my feet with my towel, put on my socks/bike shoes, adjust my Sparkle Athletic skirt,  grabbed my bike and I was out the gate. I took a quick swig of water, but should’ve eaten my mini Luna bar then. My mistake! I need to remember to fuel before the bike.

It was odd running to the “mount” spot in my bike shoes, but thankfully it wasn’t too far.

Time: 2:56
Overall Place: 100/583
Division: 10/83

***

Bike – 12 miles

Friends, I recommend looking at the course map before the race. :P I had NO idea there was such a HUGE hill and other rolling hills during the bike course.

We headed out of transition for the 12 mile loop. This was my first race in bike shoes so I was really hoping to see an improvement from my previous races where I wore sneakers.

I felt like the motion was more fluid. I am still not comfortable on the bike enough to take my hands off the handlebars so I didn’t bother putting water bottles on my bike (yes something I am working on), but I should’ve checked whether they allowed camelbacks or not and should’ve brought it either way. I originally thought it’s 12 miles I can make it, but I definitely needed it. Another learning experience.

Mile 1: 3:39
Mile 2: 3:57
Mile 3: 3:51
Mile 4: 3:48
Mile 5: 6:20
Mile 6: 3:07

Sooo do we have any idea which mile the largest of the hills was located? ;)

There were many women walking their bikes up the hill, but I made a deal with myself that no matter how long it took me to get up it – I would ride the entire way up. I grunted, I swore, I breathed heavily, but I did it!

And it felt AWESOME! Tiring, but awesome.

Mile 7: 3:36
Mile 8: 4:15
Mile 9: 3:16
Mile 10: 3:28
Mile 11: 3:21
Mile 12: 3:33

Rolling hills for most of the course gave me a LOT of practice on shifting gears, which I needed.

I also need to work on not being so scared when going fast on the downhills. I always imagine me flipping over my handlebars and crashing so I slam on the brakes. I need to get a little more confidence, which I assume and hope will come over time.

At least while ladies were passing me on the bike, they had my Sparkle Athletic skirt to compliment me on. ;)

I did come off the bike feeling excited. I really felt stronger and more knowledgable than I did a year ago. I need to keep reminding myself that I am newest to biking and every chance I am on the bike is a learning experience.

I was proud of my shifting and staying in my own race rather than getting upset when folks passed me … which happens a lot.

Total Time: 47:35
Pace: 15.1 MPH
Overall Place: 172/583 (can we tell it’s my weakest area)
Division: 24/83

***

Transition 2

Well you know a transition won’t go as well when you go into the wrong lane. Yup, took my bike down the wrong row before realizing it and hauling booty to the correct one. Oops!

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Gotta thank the wife for catching this action shot a I changed from bike shoes to sneakers. I was shaking so much that I was having trouble tying my shoes, which slowed me down. But I stopped took a deep breath and tried again – success! I chugged some water and headed out. Again this is where I should’ve had another mini luna bar, but I was sooo excited to get to the run part (my fav) I skipped it. Another life lesson.

Time: 2:12
Overall Place: 262/583
Division: 44/83

***

Run – 3 Miles

Hello old friend. As someone that hated running for most of my life I never thought I would get excited for the run portion of a triathlon. But it really is my happy place and comfort zone.

The run was an out and back (which we passed when coming in on the bike) so there were a TON of people to high five and cheer on. I was having a blast.

I LOVE cheering people on so this was 3 miles of it. The course had some inclines, but nothing terribly challenging.

My legs felt a little heavy right off the bike, but quickly got acclimated.

I can only simply say the run was like a party. It was such a great energy and excitement knowing we were 2/3 of the way done. You know I was secretly wishing the run portion was longer ;) but I didn’t let on to anyone else about that. Ha.

I wish I had my phone because the run portion was weird to be mid-run selfie-less. Priorities right?

There were volunteers clearly directing us where to go and offering up water/Nuun in a water stop that you saw on the way out and back on the run. So two stops for the price of one.

There was an incline during Mile 2, but it came with a down hill.

The run was through a little neighborhood so you could see the water in between the houses.

I just couldn’t stop smiling.

As we took the final right down the Stretch. You had the bikes coming in on your left, you had runners coming towards you on the right as they headed out on the run. It was awesomely motivating commotion!

Then there it was … the Finish Line shoot. As you came down the shoot you could hear the announcer say: Dani Holmes-Kirk … you are an Iron Girl!

It was freakin’ cool. I mean I will never hear you are an Ironman so this was the closest I will get and it was awesome.

Total Time: 23:16
Pace: 7:46 min/mile
Overall Place: 47/583
Division: 7/83

***

After receiving my medal from an adorable young lady, I immediately headed to refuel with some Chocolate Milk.

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Oh it was heaven in a little Nestle Nesquick bottle. I needed the carbs and the proteins so these tired muscles could recover!

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Since the Chocolate Milk booth was RIGHT at the Finish Line, I could refuel and continue to cheer on the Finishers.

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I had actually heard Chrisann’s name announced when I was heading out on the run. She did amazing.

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I want to thank Natalie from Got Chocolate Milk for all her help over the weekend. :)

Right next to the Chocolate Milk tent was the post-race spread for the athletes. Mmmm mini cinnamon rolls. I had two and enjoyed every bite!

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Photo Courtesy Iron Girl Webster

***

Overall, I am really happy with how the day turned out. I tried new things out: tri kit, bike shoes, wearing a Sparkle Athletic skirt for bike/run and focusing on staying in my own race.

I also learned things I need to work on: proper fueling/hydrating, the bike – just all of the bike, and transitions.

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Oh and the biggest thing, not getting caught up in rankings. Not one of my close friends or family asked where I placed. They just wanted to make sure I finished and I had fun doing it. Why I put this pressure on myself? I don’t know, but I am working on it.

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I also want to thank Chrisann and her Iron Maidens for welcoming me with open arms into their group for the weekend. Talk about one inspiring and motivating group of women!

I owe an extra WOO to Chrisann who went back on the course to run in with the final participant.

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I was cheering them on and caught this action shot after I started walking back to my car. Marge, pictured above finishing her first triathlon, battled bike malfunctions, but kept moving forward which meant dragging her bike 30-40 minutes until she found the on-road bike mechanics. How about THAT for heart?

***
Iron Girl did a GREAT job putting this race on. I will recommend it to any lady I meet looking for a good, welcoming, supportive and fun triathlon.

But with no adult beverages onsite, I did have to wait to cheers until I got home. ;)

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Did you participate in Iron Girl Webster? What did you think of that hill on the bike course?

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Racecancer’s Boston 5k Summer Series: Race #3

I love a race series especially one that takes place along the gorgeous and historic Charles River in Boston.

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How did I get so lucky to call this my running path?

Thursday July 17th marked the third installment of Racecancer‘s Boston Summer 5k Series.

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I competed in Race 1 on May 29, but missed Race 2 on June 12 due to injury.

When I woke up on July 17, I wasn’t feeling it. I was just having one of those days when I wasn’t in the mood to race. I think it happens to all of us at one time or another.

But, I knew I would feel better if I went, saw friends and just hit the pavement.

I arrived early for the race since I misread my calendar as to what time it started. Oops! I took the extra time to get some pre-run walking and stretching in.

I was deciding whether I would run both 5ks offered – the women’s only 5k was kicking off at 7 and the co-ed 5k would follow at 7:30. I was going to wait and decide after race #1.

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The women lined up just before 7 for pre-race announcements.

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Not sure why I look so tall compared to everyone else. Hmm… For the record I am 5-8.

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Also for the record, I was NOT posing in this photo. It just looks that way. ;)

Do you guys like my Race Ragz blog shirt? It was only the second time I wore it in a race.

As the pre-race jitters sunk in (like they do for every single race I participate in), I tried to block them out and turn it into fuel.

I had no expectations for the race time-wise and was just going to get out there and enjoy the atmosphere.

The course is basically the same for every race so I wouldn’t have any surprises during the 3.1 miles.

After a 10 second countdown, we were OFF!

Ladies zoomed past me and I was okay with that. I wasn’t going to PR and I needed to stay in my own game.

We crossed over the Eliot St bridge just before Mile 1 and I had to snap a pic.

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How beautiful is that?

Mile 1: 7:48

It was hot and humid. I don’t normally run in sleeves so I had to keep tucking my sleeves back under the strap of my sports bra. Having wardrobe malfunctions or annoyances while running is never fun.

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And of course a halfway point selfie for everyone’s enjoyment. ;) This was actually the second attempt at the selfie as the first was horrendous. Yes my mid-run selfies are not always perfect on the first try. :P

I want to thank the race for having two water stops during the 5k loop. They were both needed and appreciated.

Mile 2: 7:59

Since I was once again running without music, I needed something to occupy my mind for the final mile so I took in the people around me. I was trying to remember if any were around me during the first race in the series. I also had a blast watching this young girl – maybe around 10 or so – running with her mom. She kept looking over her shoulder to see if any of us were about to pass her.

I loved her fire and tenacity. Part of me wanted to step it up a notch to see what she would do, but I really wanted her to have that moment with her mom. So I hung back.

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I also want to thank the race for providing free race photos to participants. It is such a rare thing these days. This photo was about 1/2 a mile from the Finish.

I gave it all I could for the final 1/2 mile, but between heat and my overall tiredness it felt like I was moving in place or I was on a treadmill. Has anyone else felt that during a run? I looked down just to confirm I was in fact moving forward.

As I neared the Finish Line, I looked to my right and saw a couple having a picnic – on the ground – among the geese. Ummm not my idea of a romantic date – umm hi goose poop – but they looked like they were having a phenomenal time.

Mile 3: 7:56

#2

I crossed the Finish Line and went directly to the water jugs.

Let me tell you how much I did NOT feel like I was running sub 8′s. Prior to my watch buzzing at Mile 1, I really expected to see a 9:30-ish pace. I just felt heavy and hot the entire race.

So while I am excited to see the final time, I really felt off the entire run. I don’t think I could’ve done anything different. I was properly hydrated. I had plenty of fuel prior to the race. I was stretched. I think the heat/humidity was just there. Hi Summer! ;)

Once the first race was over, I was chatting with my friend George and seriously considering running the second 5k slowly. A cool down if you will. But as the time passed prior to the second race, the achiness in my left hammy was increasing. So I listened to my body and headed home.

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Start to Coed 5k

With my weekly weigh-in the next morning I opted out of the post-race party at Miller’s Boston Ale House sponsored by Long Trail Brewing. But man I could’ve used a beer after that race.

That night I looked at the race results for the women’s only race and I was nowhere to be found. Hmm… I know from my mid-run selfie that I was in fact in there. After a quick tweet to the race organizers, I was told some people were missing from the electronic results, but were still on the manual list. It didn’t take them long to fix the mistake. Thanks!

My 24:19 (7:50 min/mile pace) placed me 33rd overall out of 108 and 11th out of 35 in my division.

I am looking forward to hopefully being a little healthier for Race #4 of the series on Thursday, August 14 sponsored by Clown Shoes. Want to join me? You can still register here.

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***

Have you ever participated in a women’s only 5k?

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22
Jul 2014
AUTHOR Dani
COMMENTS 1 Comment