Things I wish they had told me about triathlon training…

Well, it happened. I signed up for my first sprint triathlon this past December, with a race date of June 25th. I had been curious about the sport and thought it would be a great way to ring in my 41st birthday (the same weekend of the race).  Little did I know how much I was going to learn about the sport, and about myself, in the process.   Full disclosure:  the most swimming I’ve done in my life included a lake, some floating chairs and a cold adult beverage.  I mean, I could stay afloat or swim casually to the other side of the banks, but I was in no means trying to break any records.  I had never, ever, set foot in a lap lane before I started triathlon training.  As for biking, well I had owned a few bikes in my lifetime, but never anything that was going to carry me through a road race (think banana seats and mountain bikes up to this point).  I say these things because I never, ever though in a million years I would do a triathlon. Never say never.

Here are a few things I wish other people had warned me about before I started training. I am passing them on to you in case you are thinking about training for a triathlon (because if you have the yearning and will to do it, you will):

Swim with the big dogs. (And I don’t mean doggie paddle).

  • It is intimidating to go to the pool and start your training.  At first, I tried to find the times when the pool was the least crowded. I didn’t want to have to share a lane at all.  Guess what? You need to get over that.  Whether you are doing an open water swim or a pool swim for your race, you need to try to recreate the elements as best you can. This means crowded, choppy waters in a less than best case scenario.  So, go to the pool when it is crowded. Jump in the lane with the chick who has the Ironman swim cap on or when the swim team is practicing (or both!).  Find swim/tri groups in your community that have open water swim practice for added safety.  You need to be able to swim in water that mirrors race day conditions, so seek it out and go for it. It will build your confidence and make you best prepared for race day.19055350_10212933734956664_1888282938666851018_o

Don’t worry about how you look in  your race attire.

  • Great news – You don’t have to spend a fortune on race attire if you don’t want to, especially if you are starting out with a sprint or olympic tri. At this level of racing, you will see everything from swimsuits to skinsuits to sports bras & capris to tri kits.  Pick what works for your budget.  Practice in it often.
  • Even better news — NOONE cares what you are wearing or what you look like in it on race day.  Do you know why? Because you trained just like they did and you showed up to do an amazing race very few will ever attempt to do.  You have arrived.  And you are going to rock whatever you are wearing, regardless of your shape and size.  

Don’t underestimate the bike portion of your training. That old saying, “It is just like riding a bike” is misleading.  It is NOT just like riding a bike. Unless you are actually riding a tricycle or a bike with no gears and a basket on the front, it is MUCH HARDER than JUST riding a bike. It is riding a bike at what feels like breakneck speed, knowing when to gear up/down, sometimes in traffic, with Ironman contenders flying past you.  Don’t underestimate it. Find a group to ride with on your training rides; learn the rules of the road, even if that means finding a safety course, and respect the bike portion of the tri.

You may feel out of your league when you arrive on site for race day.  My friend and I showed up for our first triathlon and looked like wide-eyed children at Disneyland for the first time. Keep in mind, between the two of us, we had run our fair share of foot races up to marathon distance.  We had been training for many months.  The race atmosphere is magical, but also overwhelming. There were so many people there with expensive gear. There was transition set up at 2 separate sites at our race.  There were many classified as elite racers using this race as Ironman training.  My friend turned to me and said “All of the sudden I don’t feel like I belong here.” I turned to her and said, “Not yet. But you will soon.” Don’t let that feeling shake you on race day. Remind yourself you have put in the training time and you belong there like everyone else!

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Remember nothing is impossible!  A good friend of many in the local running community, herself an Ironman, reminded us in the days surrounding this first triathlon:

“Don’t surround yourself with limits, but be realistic about your weaknesses to improve them. If you want to do one {Ironman/triathlon} (or any other scary goal)- put in the training, learn from others, be optimistic….” ~Jeanette Dunlap

 

This is some of the best advice I’ve received from another athlete, and it really applies to any goal in life.  Happy Running my friends. Here is to the next goal!

Endnote: My triathlon on the 25th was changed to a duathlon due to high waters and flooding. You can read the full race review here.  At the time of publication, I am signing up for my second triathlon, with hopes to finally get that open water swim under my belt as part of the race.  

 

 

 

Team Clowns in the Woods – Ragnar Relay 2017

The Ragnar Trail Kentuckiana Relay 2017 was amazing! My team members were some of the most amazing women and men I could know. As their captain, I have to say I assembled quite a super team.  If you haven’t experienced a Ragnar Relay race, there are trails or road options and I highly encourage you to try it once.  We had a blast! I could write about it, or you could watch the short video below and see all you need to know.

Click here to see Team “Clowns in the Woods” experience!

 

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Color Me Happy – Running for Rettsyndrome Awareness

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I ran the Color Run this year to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome. This is not a 5k for serious runners-the race is not timed and there are no awards for age groups! What you will find are MANY happy volunteers and participants. In particular, myself and three other Moms Run This Town leadership team members decided to volunteer the day before the race, with proceeds going towards Rettsyndrome.org  and we had the BEST time! We worked registration check-in and packet pick-up on Friday. We were so touched to hear how excited people were to run this race. Many were running a 5K for the first time or were running with their children, which I think are such amazing milestones! I remember both of these “firsts” for myself and I can still feel the excitement and sense of pride in both!

This race is great for little kids, strollers, adults and those who want to run a fun, stress free 5K. There are water stations on the course for those that need it. The course is flat and you go through 4 color stations and a foam station before hitting the finish line party. The finish line party includes a HUGE color explosion every 15 minutes and great music. It is generally a fun, positive atmosphere.  I ran with my friend who had never ran this race and she was smiling the entire time! It was so fun to see everyone having fun, running for a great cause AND getting exercise.

The swag is great- a cool t-shirt, snacks, coupons, etc. And we even received a unicorn medal at the end *for those that love  that race bling, this will be a great addition to your collection**.  We all had a great time and can’t wait to do it again next year!  A special thanks to all of my motherrunner friends who came out to volunteer and help raise money for Retts.  Jessica and her family truly appreciate it as well.

To read more about RettSyndrome and how you can help raise money to help fund research, visit  https://www.rettracers.org/2017-pfp?tab=0&frsid=5621

 

 

My family of 4 means everything to me. Today, I spend time loving them.  While I am a lover of running, I am also an advocate for women’s health and the midwifery model of care.

If you are so inclined, you can see the love that was given to me during the labor and loving birth of my second son. Indeed,  a happy Mother’s Day to me.

 

 

 

Think you aren’t a BAMR? Think again!

For those of you who don’t know, BAMR stands for bad-ass mother runner

It is not a special term reserved for certain mother runners. It is a term for ALL mother runners. If you are a mom and a runner, consider yourself a BAMR. Not convinced? Let’s break it down.

Bad Ass.  When you hear the term, you might have a specific image in your head.  Maybe a woman who clean jerks 200 lbs…a runner who does 100 milers and breaks time records…an Ironman. Yeh, those might be all good examples of  badassery. But, what about the things moms have to do every day? On an average day, you juggle your own work while maintaining the health and well-being of tiny humans. This means preparing meals, avoiding stepping on legos, and kissing boo-boos all while carrying at least one child on your hip…and that is just the first hour of every day.

I say all of the time, there should be an Olympic event category – “Mothering“.  Mothering would be categorized as an endurance sport, by the way.  There are no sprints here.  Imagine it – athletes would have to complete regular daily mom activities in a 24 hour period all while being sleep deprived AND wearing their heart on the outside of their body.   The event would certainly have lot of hills and at least one toddler would be climbing up your back for a portion of the event.  Regular athletes would not stand a chance. Moms, though, we would gold-medal the sh#t out of that event.

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Mother.  Once we become a mom and we bring that first sweet child home, we officially become sleep-deprived for life. It is part of the job. We know it. We take it on without badges or a parade.  And, we learn how to function in this place where we might not ever feel well-rested again.  We adjust. We figure out ways to get it done.

Runner. Eventually, we decide we are ready to run (again).  And, we do it tired. We train tired. We go home and fall to bed exhausted. We race tired.  And we get up and do it all over again the next day.  Being a mom is hard. Being a mother runner is even harder. There are no true rest days when you are a mother runner.  And, admit it-you wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Bad Ass.

Mother Runner.  

Before I was a runner, I was a Mother.  Mom. Mah-mah. Mommy, Mama…I became a runner because I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be active. I wanted to set an example for my children.  Now that I am surrounded by other mother runners in my Moms Run This Town group, I realize we are all BAMRs.  You don’t have to run “fast”, or even run a race. You just have to be a mom that loves to run.

This Mother’s Day, do me a BAMR favor and take some time for yourself to get out and run.  It’s what BAMRs do.

For the love of running,

BluegrassBAMR

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Get your BAMR tank at https://www.lookhuman.com/design/50910-bad-ass-mother-runner/tank-top

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I have great news!  am excited to announce I am now a Bondi Band Brand Ambassador.  You can save 10% off your order with my exclusive code KYBAMR.  Check out all of the latest styles on these amazing head bands – perfect for your next run or work out!

Shop at my link here.

My Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon Adventure!

As many of you know, I am an ambassador for the 2017 #KDFMarathon.  This is my race recap-the good, the bad and the ugly! I say this because weather delays and the perfect storm of conditions led to a challenging race for most, including me.  When people ask me “How was it?”, consistently my first answer is “Interesting!”.   I say interesting because I cannot think of a better word. At any rate, this is my story as I remember it…

First, this race was very special to me because I was training with a good friend and this was her first marathon. We were both beyond excited about it; I may have been more excited about her first race than she was, honestly! I love seeing people set goals and meet them, so it was a great feeling to watch her train and prepare for the race. Also, my mentor, or “Fairy God Mother Runner”, as I affectionately named her, would be joining us for this adventure on a last minute whim.  She is a seasoned marathoner and was a wealth of knowledge for us as we trained for this race. I was happy and relieved she would be there to support us on race day.

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Our Marathon Trifecta

The three of us stayed in a hotel downtown the night before the race.  We had dinner and talked about the things we were looking forward to as well as worked through any last minute details.  Lights were out early as we hoped to get a good night’s rest, but sadly lightening crashing down outside the hotel room woke us at about 3:30 am.  At 5:00 we found that our race was delayed for 30 minutes due to weather.  Little did we know, this would be the start of two more delays and a start time of 9:20 am instead of 7:30 am!

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All smiles as we wait out the weather.

Once we were dressed and fueled, we walked down to the start line. Dozens of our running friends were gathered outside a stadium waiting for an announcement that the race would start.  There was discussion of race fuel, hydration, weather, weather…oh, and did I mention weather? Finally, it was time and we started lining up in corrals.  Our plan was to start out a little under our race pace and safely maneuver through traffic before settling into our comfort zone well before hitting Iroquois Park. Best pace scenario would put us at the finish line right around the 4:20 mark, which would be a PR (personal record).  My running partners agreed they would be ecstatic to get near that time as well, so we were excited! As soon as we took off, heavy rain started, but quickly backed off to a drizzle.  Then, things went gray and humid. Still, no sun was beating down on us and we were all smiles and in good humor. It was great to run on that course and see so many people that I have made friends with during training season.

Our 10K pace was right at an hour, which was pretty comfortable for us considering the crowd.  I was ready to pick up the pace, but it started to get hotter and my partner started to feel ill around mile 8. We were forced to slow down in order for her heart rate to get back in order. In mile 9, she told me to go ahead without her. I didn’t want to and so we went back and forth about this for awhile. Honestly, I was scared for her and didn’t want to leave her this way.  (AND, I had ran my first marathon alone and knew what that felt like!)  After a pep talk from another mother runner and after much insistence from my running partner, I went on ahead.  I looked at my watch and started doing the math and realized her argument was right, I could still PR this race!

Getting into mile 12 and starting the hilliest part of the race was invigorating for me. I have a bad habit of going faster than I should up hills, so I really had to watch my ascents, and descents, for that matter. I wanted to run hard and fast and get out of the park so that I could find my rhythm again on flat ground. My fueling was way off because of the delayed start, so I kept my mind occupied by doing “fuel math” as I ran to mile 15. On miles 15-20, I ran my fastest miles of the day, and I felt like I had wings on my feet! Towards the end of mile 19, I had a group of mother runners, affectionately known as our “Scream Team” waiting for me and the others with ice, body glide and jello shots.  I took the ice and rubbed it down my neck and poured water over my head. I shoved ice cubes in my mouth like a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter – I am sure I made a lovely picture at that point, looking like a drowned, crazy squirrel!  It was so humid- fire hydrants were turned wide open as the sun beat down on us. It was easily in the high 80’s with high humidity. I made sure to run through every drop of water I could find.  I started passing people in mile 22.  I could feel it; I was so close to that finish line!  My husband and my children text me a photo that said “We are waiting for you, mommy!” and I just started crying!  They were tears of joy, to be clear.

Suddenly, my pace slowed and I thought miles 23 and 24 were never going to end. I was sure that my watch was wrong-my pace was staying consistent but I felt like my legs were running in slow motion. As I rounded the curve at 26, I could hear my husband yelling and then I saw my two boys.  My ten year old was leading the pack with my eight year old right behind him! They were running alongside of me, cheering me on, blowing me kisses as they ran screaming, “Run, Mommy! Run!” like it was a game we play every day.   I held my head up and put my feet forward one at a time as I ran to catch them. They ran the entire last 0.2 of that marathon with me and it was 0.2 miles of pure joy the entire way.  Later, after I had my medals, some food and a celebratory beverage in my hand, my husband revealed I had PR’d the race. I had forgotten to look at my time at the finish line!

Now I look at my finisher’s photos and I am wearing a huge grin. My smile tells a story of which I am so proud. I am proud of my friend who finished her first marathon not long after I did. I am proud of my Fairy God Mother Runner for PR’ing what was her seventh marathon finish. I am proud of myself for finishing what was a race under not so ideal conditions.  I ended up with a 4:35 finish time for this race- 10 minutes faster than my first try at this course. And I think to myself, not too shabby for your second 26.2!

I now look forward to my next marathon and the experience it brings me. I welcome the training because it makes me stronger. I welcome the challenge because showing my children hard work can pay off is priceless. No matter how slow or fast I go, I know when I cross that finish line, I am a better runner and a better person than I was the day before.

*A special thank you to my husband and family members for putting up with me during my 14 week training season.  Also, I want to thank my IRun4 buddy, Jessica and her mother, Merlene, for being such great cheerleaders! You all are my a place I find strength and comfort on the hard days.

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