Friday, March 21, 2014

Jackrabbit Indoor Tri Championship 2014


I should start this blog post by talking about Sunday's race, but you'd miss some important back story so just going to sum it up by saying that I missed my Saturday morning group run (and the rest of the day) because of a stomach bug. As the day went on without food or drink in my system, (despite my best efforts) the odds of my getting to the race on Sunday seemed slimmer and slimmer. It was disheartening and I was feeling pretty bummed about how things were shaping up, but I was in no position to do anything about it. I'd qualified for the Jackrabbit Indoor Tri Championship race by winning the Feb 2nd race at Asphalt Green and I'd been training for the finals for the last 5 weeks or so with my eye on 1st place. You can see why I was bummed about spending the day before the race with my head in the toilet.
Sunday started out with some more energy, I had been able to eat some toast and crackers Saturday night and had been rehydrating since about 4pm. My appetite wasn't great though and I knew I didn't have any fuel to run on. As the day went on, I went back and forth trying to decide if it was safe to do the tri. Once I figured that it was definitely safe (ie I wasn't going to pass out) because I felt strong enough to do laundry and go up/down our million stairs, I had to figure out if it was worth it to go. My original thought was "I'm not going if I can't do well", which probably sounds pompous, but I knew I had a shot at placing. I had no interest in going over to the east side just to "have fun". Fuck that. There was money on the line. Later in the afternoon it hit me "I will regret it if I don't go! I'll never know..." At that point my dear friend Sally offered me a ride down (20 min car ride vs 1+ hr train/bus rides) and I said okay and got my shit together.
After my warm up swim, feeling looser but nervous. 
-Photo by Doug Oldies of Jackrabbit

I got there feeling pretty confident about at least being able to be competitive, something that seemed out of the realm of possibilities 24 hrs before. I warmed up in the pool for about 10 mins nice and easy, I hadn't even swum on Friday because of work, so I needed to loosen up. I felt like it was going to take a lot of effort to swim my usual 26 lengths, and I was right. My goal had been 27+ lengths, but I just missed the 26 mark by a few yards (the race is a 10 min timed swim). I knew 25 wasn't going to win me the race, a small handful of women got over 24 in the end. Going into the bike my back had finally loosened up and I felt better than I had all weekend. I heard the officials discussing the previous bike scores with my fellow heat mates, saying that a woman had possibly ridden 25 miles (on a spin bike in the timed 30 min ride) for the farthest women's ride so far, and I instantly had a goal. You might say I'm competitive... I rode 25.01mi. Keep in mind, that's completely relative to the size of the wheel on the bike and zero resistance.
Getting my swim on.
I was starting to feel the lack of fuel from Saturday catch up with me and I knew I wasn't sweating as much as usual, but I felt fine otherwise. I continued to hydrate and started the run. My legs immediately started whining. Whew. I was tired and the headgames began. I'd loaded my "triathlon playlist" onto my ipod shuffle just before leaving home, but I neglected to make sure it was at the start of the list, so I started the bike in a weird place, which is no problem, but it became an issue when I started the run. I had songs on there specifically for the run, but couldn't find them. I was annoyed, but it kept my mind occupied for a bit and didn't affect my speed since I was on a treadmill. I knew I wasn't going to be able to run the 3.0 miles I ran in February because I didn't have the fuel, I could feel it right away, but I was focused on finishing as far as I could. I ended up running only 2.88 miles thanks to my conservative starting pace around 7:00/mi. I was able push the pace down around 6:45, where I'd like to have run the entire thing, but just for a few minutes at a time. At the end of 20 minutes I felt like I'd given it my all, I was 100% spent, though not entirely satisfied with my distances because they were under my goals, but I knew I gave it everything I had on that day.
In the end, I took 2nd place again this year. It was disappointing because I had my sights on 1st after also taking 2nd in 2013, but I was certainly happy to have gone and competed at all! This song came on during my run and it was kind of my song of the day:


When I finally got the results on Monday night, I was excited to have won 2nd and was going over the results to see who beat me, stalking her on Athlinks, demanding a rematch, etc. We had a good laugh about it, but then my husband asked me an important question - "could you have beat her distances/scores if you were healthy?" and the honest answer is I don't know. Her swim was 29 lengths, my goal had been 27-28, I never thought I'd hit 29. Her bike was about 2 miles more than mine, something I *may* have been able to accomplish healthy, and I had the highest score for the run already. It would have come down to the bike... I guess we'll never know! I like to think I could have taken the bike, but I'm not positive. All I do know for sure is that I'm READY for outdoor triathlon (training) season!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take care of my husband who now has the same stomach bug that I had on Saturday! Yuck.
posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Streak

Last time I posted I was in the early days of the Runner's World holiday run streak (#RWRunStreak for those following the tweets) and then I got so busy with running and holiday travel that I never had a chance to write again. Here's what went down:
I ran for 41 days straight, at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving morning until Jan 6th. On the 7th, a Wednesday last week, I hit the stopping point. It came naturally, I didn't plan it nor did I mourn when it happened. Wednesday was always going to be my toughest day, but I'd been on vacation for a few Wednesdays (Christmas and New Year's Day both fell on Wed) and last week I had returned to my usual long, busy Wed and without running on the treadmill before work, I was stuck. It was single digit wind chill outside and my cold-induced asthma lungs and I weren't risking it. So that was that. I had already hit 107 miles by Jan 1st,the original end point, so the rest was just gravy. I'm not even sure what the final tally was.
What I am sure of is how much I enjoyed the streak and what I learned from it. I always fancied myself to be a runner who needed plenty of recovery days, either swimming or on the bike or yoga, I wasn't running more than 4 days a week. I always assumed I'd self destruct if I tried running 6 or 7 days a week, but those fears were probably based on A. Nothing or B. My old, weaker self. Now that I've been strength training hard 2x a week (vs my old wimpy attempts 1x a week) I'm much stronger and able to handle the stress of more training. Yippee! This is excellent news for the upcoming triathlon season which will include not 1, but 2 half ironman races this year. As those guys on the TV show say, this myth has been busted, I can run way more than I gave myself credit for.
The second big thing I learned was that I have plenty of pockets of time in my week to get in an extra workout since this is the "off-season". I've always known that even a quick run gives me more energy and clears my head, we all know that, but it was really fun to get out and trot around the neighborhood on a random Monday evening and get in some crisp, cool air instead of sitting inside. I got to see the Hudson River sparkling on clear nights, crazy clouds on other nights, then fresh snow in a quiet park and so much more. I also really learned to appreciate the treadmill during the icy weather before Christmas and the single digit temps in early January. I normally never run inside, it's just too darn hot and I'm sweating all over everyone around me... It's not a good scene, but on days when the forecast called for icy drizzle or high of 12 degrees F in the evening, I got my ass up and ran at the gym before work, after work, in the evening, whenever. By the end of the streak I'd even done more than my minimal mile (usually a 15 min total between warm up, mile and "please god, let me stop sweating so much cool down), I even did a 6mi speed and hill run one evening when I knew group speed work was out of the question. The scary part is, I actually enjoyed it. No one was within sweat flying distance and I was able to hit my marks without worrying about tripping because it was dark or icy. I haven't been back on the treadmill since the streak ended, but the weather has been more cooperative, but I know it's there if I need it and it won't be too awful.
I'm looking forward to the Jackrabbit indoor tri series, I'm doing one on Feb 2nd and I'm excited to go back and try to repeat my performance from last year and get to the Championships again. I am also looking at a half marathon in late March, and with the streak under my belt I feel like I have a really solid base to start training. There's a big year ahead.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2014 excitement and The Sports Gene

Planning for 2014 just went from "oh, we'll see..." right to "It's ON" in a short period of time. I got accepted via lottery to the NYC Tri in August a few weeks ago and a few days ago IRONMAN announced a new 70.3 race in Princeton, NJ for next September. The buzz started slowly with a text from a friend in NJ that simply stated "Princeton half ironman in Sept". I thought "oh, maybe" but let it slip into the back of my mind. Then a conversation among tri friends on twitter sprung up with my name attached. I thought briefly about it again, but that was all for a few days. Then the email from Ryan's Quest came yesterday and I read it twice. Were they really offering a charity spot for this race with no minimum fundraising requirement?? I let it settle all day on Monday, it was a busy day and sometime during my hour with my personal trainer in the evening it occurred to me that this is a great opportunity. It's a half ironman within an hour of my mom's house in NJ and probably really flat. I mentioned it to my trainer and she gave me a "sure, you crazy person" look (she's a 200&400m sprinter so 70+ miles... Well, yeah). On the way home I composed a quick email to RQ, a charity dedicated to funding research for Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy, who I've raced and fundraised for in the past in conjunction with the NJ State Tri. They're an incredible group of people who came together to help a family with an adorable son who has DMD. I'll be psyched to have the opportunity to race with them if I can. I will probably know tonight if I responded quickly enough to get a spot, but in the meantime I'm all aflutter at the idea. I love racing, I love triathlons and thinking about next season has me so excited that I can hardly sleep. I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a big year for fast times for me.
Oh, and the good book I mentioned- The Sports Gene by David Epstein. I started this book a few months ago and have gone back to it between book club books, but this time I'm completely hooked. It's so nerdy and packed with stories of incredible athletes and their amazing genetic makeups, I can't stop reading. The idea that certain people are "gifted" is actually so, so, so complex and reading about it has me all pumped to figure out my own potential. If you're at all inclined towards the sciences and athletics, I recommend you give it a read. It's tough in spots, especially if you don't have an understanding of genetics, but I don't think those parts are completely essential to understanding the underlying concepts. It's a long book but there are parts that are so interesting that I'm almost willing to miss my subway stop to keep reading.

Here's a blurb from the Amazon review:

The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?The truth is far messier than a simple dichotomy between nature and nurture. In the decade since the sequencing of the human genome, researchers have slowly begun to uncover how the relationship between biological endowments and a competitor’s training environment affects athleticism. Sports scientists have gradually entered the era of modern genetic research.In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle. He investigates the so-called 10,000-hour rule to uncover whether rigorous and consistent practice from a young age is the only route to athletic excellence.Along the way, Epstein dispels many of our perceptions about why top athletes excel. He shows why some skills that we assume are innate, like the bullet-fast reactions of a baseball or cricket batter, are not, and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an athlete’s will to train, might in fact have important genetic components.This subject necessarily involves digging deep into sensitive topics like race and gender. Epstein explores controversial questions such as:
  • Are black athletes genetically predetermined to dominate both sprinting and distance running, and are their abilities influenced by Africa’s geography?
  • Are there genetic reasons to separate male and female athletes in competition?
  • Should we test the genes of young children to determine if they are destined for stardom?
  • Can genetic testing determine who is at risk of injury, brain damage, or even death on the field?
How can you resist?!
photo credit: npr.org



posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Run Streak and Hot Chocolate 10K

We're going streaking!!!
Okay, not that kind of streaking. I'm doing the 2013 Runner's World  Holiday Running Streak as a way to stay active, fit and sane during the busiest time of the year. I generally have no trouble staying active when I'm home, but we're going away for Christmas this year to Mexico and I tend to get very comfortable with frolicking on the beach and swimming and forget to run when on vacation. I thought this would also be a good way to bump up my mileage, something I've been wanting to do but was having a hard time scheduling. With the streak, I hope to find new chunks of time in each day to fit in a little run and hopefully I'll carry some of them over into the new year. I'm already enjoying getting outside in the evening when I'd otherwise be getting comfy on the couch with some tea because it is dark outside at 5pm here.
For anyone who has never heard of a "running streak" the rules are simple:
Run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day
Run at least 1 mile each day
Done

My streak started out innocent enough, I got up and braved the cold, windy morning in NJ for a progressive 5 miles through the neighborhood. I saw FIVE other runners out there, a record high for the area. I was so excited to see other people layered up out there, working up an appetite for Thanksgiving dinner! Day 1: 5.01 mi, 8:09 avg pace.

Day 2 brought company- my husband joined me for a walk around the neighborhood on a beautiful, sunny morning. He walked along while I ran ahead, clocking a quick 7:54 mile in the middle of our almost 3 mile walk. Dave has agreed to join me for the streak, but his goal isn't running 1 mile, it is walking at least 30 mins or hitting the gym. I'm excited for company and a buddy to help with motivation.

Day 3 brought my first little moment of "wahh, I don't feel like running" which I quickly pushed aside when I realized it was barely 5:00pm and I had no other plans for the evening and would be loafing around for the next 5 hrs. I threw on the same clothes from my Friday run/walk (they barely got sweaty) and threw on a headlamp and vest to fight the cold and wind. It turned out to be a beautiful, sparkly run around my neighborhood. My goal was really to loosen up enough to be able to stretch well when I got home, so I kept going until I hit 2 miles and really felt warmed up. 2.02 miles at 9:04 pace - welcome back home to the hills of Washington Heights. Dave went out for a walk at the same time and was enjoying himself so much that he stayed out for an hour!

Day 4- I didn't even have to think about the streak today because I had my last race of the season all planned. Today was the Hot Chocolate 10K in Riverside Park by NYCRuns. I couldn't pass up a race in Riverside park in Morningside Heights, so close to home that I got there on the 1 train in 15 mins. NYCRuns puts on a great race and I was excited to get in a 10K this year to see if I could top my 10K PR (45:52) which was set during the NYC Triathlon in 2010- ridiculous, right? Who has a run PR from a 100 degree triathlon? Clearly it was time to run a 10K again. It was chilly today, but about 15 degrees warmer than last weekend in VCP and there were no 40mph wind gusts to contend with- excellent. I wore shorts because the temp was around 40, but I think they were too short and my ass was frozen within minutes of my starting to warm up. Capris next time, got it. Anyway, it was a beautiful morning in Riverside park with leaves on the ground and sun streaming through the buildings up on Riverside Drive. I arrived in time to see the 5K runners rolling over the hills as they headed south. The 10 would be 2 loops of the 5K course, which I'm pretty familiar with from my days coaching Young Runners on 110th and Broadway, just up the hill, so I thought I knew what I was in for. Of course, I stopped coaching like 3 years ago and haven't run there too much since, so I had a rude reminder of how much the west side rolls. Anyway, I made some buddies during the race and we lamented not signing up for the 5K as we battled the hills between miles 2-3. There weren't many other women around (there were only 2 ahead of me) so I worked hard to stay with the boys who were no doubt vying for a age group awards. It was a really fun race, I knew I needed to stay around 7:15-7:20 in order to PR, but I also had the added pressure of being in the top 3 women through the entire race. No way was I letting that slip away and the out and back course is great for eyeing up the competition behind you. I enjoyed this aspect of the race, but I also really enjoyed the cheers from my friends at NYC Runs who were yelling and hollering as I entered my second loop and as I neared the finish- thanks Wallis and David! I also spotted a fellow Inwood Hill Runner, Jennifer, posted as a volunteer at the top of the nastiest hill and I was grateful for her cheering and motivation each time I passed. When I passed her for the last time, I was going into the downhill and flat last half mile or so and I picked up some speed. I was running hard to keep up with the guys around me and enjoyed the back and forth as we made our way toward the finish. I was stoked to cross the finish line in a new PR (45:09 according to the clock!) and in 3rd place for women. My goal had been to get sub 45:00, but I think I should save that for a flat course!
The numbers:
6.2miles, 45:09, 7:17 pace
3rd female overall, 12th overall out of 236 runners
1st in my age group, meaning I was beat by 2 women in their 20's. Bastards. ;)
Damn you, hilly mile 4. 
There was delicious hot chocolate (I used my new mug!), apples and bagels at the finish and people stuck around for the awards and mingled. It was a really nice day and once I got my long pants back on over my shorts, I was able to enjoy myself a bit more.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An evening with the US Women's Olympic ski jump team




I should start this by saying I recognize how incredibly lucky I've been to have the opportunity to not just meet, but work out alongside, Olympic athletes. You might remember my swim with Nathan Adrian a few years ago before the 2012 Olympics in London. I certainly remember it well. Now, thanks to the Got Chocolate Milk? campaign who sponsors many of the athletes who represent the US on the world's stage, I was able to meet 3 more. Last week I had the absolute honor of spending time with the very talented and hardworking Alissa Johnson, Abby Hughes and Nina Lussi of the ski jump team, all hoping for an opportunity to jump (or FLY) in Sochi in February 2014. This is an incredibly special year for the women of the ski jumping world, not only are they going for gold, but 2014 is the first time that women will be allowed to compete in the Olympics alongside the men who have been jumping since the time of skiing in wool sweaters in Norway.
The fight has been epic, to say the least. The women of the US ski jumping community have been battling the IOC (International Olympic Committee) since their quest began in earnest back in 2002. In Vancouver the team sued the IOC for discrimination against women, but the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in favor of the IOC, crushing their dreams yet again. There's a heartbreaking moment in the documentary "Ready to Fly" when Lindsay Van finds out they've lost the case and a reporter asks her what she has to say to the young female ski jumpers of the world and through tears she says "not to do it, there's no future." It's crushing to hear the #1 ski jumper in the world say that about her beloved sport. Luckily for those future jumpers, Lindsay and her teammates never gave up the fight and the women will jump in Sochi.
                                   

Lucky for me too because I got the chance to see some of these graceful, strong women in action on a recent visit to NYC. Alissa, Abby and Nina were gracious, fun and energetic last Wednesday evening despite having spent the day doing interviews all over the city. The ladies and their coach, Alan Alborn, were kind enough to humor me and 8 or 9 other bloggers and writers and let us join them for a strength workout lasting about an hour. We met in a sleek, clean, small, boutique studio called Uplift on 23rd St near 6th Ave and had time to meet the jumpers, mingle and change before diving into a warmup routine of running in place, high knees (their knees go much higher than mine!) butt kicks, and half squats all done for 1min each, 2x. We went right into a series of other activities like squat jumps, trunk twists, v-walkups, push-ups, resistance band rotator cuff/shoulder stability work and lots of other butt and hip work, as you might expect. I anticipated lots of glute and quad work, but I wasn't prepared for just how HIGH the women can jump from a simple squat. Wow. 

                                                                    


  video
Not only can these ladies jump, but they do so in with their toes pointed skyward, whereas most of us jump by pointing our toes. It was harder than I thought when I tried it myself! Abby pointed out to me that her favorite muscle is her tibialis anterior (the muscle in front of your shinbone) and it was then that I noticed they all had bulging anterior lower leg muscles. It turns out that you need strong shins if you're going to FLY, and that's exactly why they do these workouts. Every aspect of their sport requires strength- the position they hold while flying downhill at 60mph, the push off that propels them for what can be a football field or greater length and the landing from that flight. Can you imagine landing that? I can't! Alissa mentioned that sometimes they work out in a pool to lessen the impact on their joints while still getting in the strengthening necessary to be so explosive. It was so exciting to have a glimpse into this very elite world of what seems like a very extreme sport. 

After the workout ended and we were all stretching out, someone walked in with a rolling cooler overflowing with various types of chocolate milk which everyone happily grabbed and drank to jump start recovery and refuel after a long day and a hard workout. The Got Chocolate Milk? campain has started the Built with Chocolate Milk campaign which consists of the women's ski jump team and an Olympic men's hockey player. My evening came complete with a bag of goodies from the Built with Chocolate Milk sponsors including tons of scientific evidence toting chocolate (or regular) milk as a superior recovery beverage to other recovery drinks. Chocolate milk has calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus and the perfect balance of post-workout carbs and protein that I read about in every running, triathlon and fitness magazine or website out there. It makes sense to me- refuel with carbs and protein for repair of muscle fibers damaged during strenuous activity and what young woman doesn't need more calcium and vitamin D to strenthen her bones? For the record, no one is making me say these things- I really believe in the science behind chocolate milk as a perfect recovery and refueling drink. If you don't believe me, check out their website for yourself: Gotchocolatemilk.com 
     

Check out some of the goodies I got from the evening, including the Ready to Fly DVD I talked about earlier. 

How did they know I'm a triathlete and love 2XU? 

The official 2014 Sochi ski jumping Olympic pin!! Rad. 
The perfect mug for morning coffee or post-run hot chocolate! 
2XU headband just in time for frigid temps in NYC! 




posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recovering faster, getting stronger, staying healthy.

These are all things that I always strive for after a big race, though it seems to have come easier this time around. I took it easy last week for a few days after the 70.3, but by Wednesday I was itching to run again. I held off until Thursday to give myself time to recover not just from the race, but also to adapt to returning to work after nearly a month off. I think a month is long enough to forget exactly how physically demanding my job is. I might as well count it as working out for the whole day. I actually lost weight the first week back, despite not doing much more than walking until Thursday night. Once Thursday afternoon rolled around, I was beyond excited to run again and felt like I could run forever (if it hadn't been for that insane thunderstorm, I might have!). I attribute this to my solid recovery plan. I stepped up my fruit, veggie, vitamin and probiotic intake on Monday and got myself a full 8 or more hours of sleep almost every night since the race. One difficult thing about working with so many children is that my exposure to germs is very, very high. Many of my kids have difficulty swallowing and therefore have trouble controlling their saliva and, well, I tend to get drooled on. It happens, I just have to be hyper-vigilant about keeping myself clean in order to stay healthy (same for the kids!) especially after a big race where my immunity is already compromised. The research is there, we're more susceptible to getting sick right after a big endurance event. Pair that with the first weeks of school and you've got trouble!
Sleep, eat your veggies, wash your hands, repeat.
In addition to resting up and trying to stay healthy, I'm hoping to maintain my fitness and build on it for a strong fall/winter. Since my training load dipped way down I have more time to focus on the things that get tossed out the Window when I'm busy- mainly strength training. I went to the gym on Monday and did some strength work, puttering around the weight room trying to remember what I'm supposed to do, when I finally decided to ask for help. I'd been considering a personal trainer for a while, but was reluctant to pull the trigger. I thought I could just do it myself, I am a PT, after all... But no. I'm pathetic and need some new ideas and someone to give me feedback on what I'm doing. Sure, I could do it myself if I really hunkered down and brought some sheets of exercises to the gym, but the odds of following through with that are slim. So slim. Anyway, I met a trainer who is also a runner and got a mischievous look in her eye when I mentioned wanting some plyos, core work and targeted strengthening for running and swimming. I think I'm in for an ass kicking tomorrow, but I'm actually looking forward to it, which is more than I can say usually. She was excited that I could do squats, push ups, step ups, bridges on a ball because apparently most people can't do those things. Bring it on! I'll let you know if I can walk on Saturday morning.



posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Toughman Half, Part 2

                              

I left off in Part 1 after what felt like a spectacular 56mi bike ride, despite the return of the right knee pain devil and some other completely weird aches and pains. Luckily for me these pains tend to disappear once I'm off the bike, so I was really glad when that happened right on cue on Sunday. 
I'm going to be honest right from the start: I didn't pay enough attention to the elevation profile of the run portion of this race. I'm sure I looked at it long ago, saw the hills, shrugged them off and never looked again. It turns out there's a reason for the name "Toughman" and I suspect that has everything to do with the fact that you run around the base of the new Croton dam and then make your way several hundred feet up to the top. I'm getting ahead of myself though.
The run started out great! My friends Erin and Mookie (is that the right spelling? No idea) were cheering like crazy for me in the first half mile and Erin trotted with me for a bit, checking in. That was really nice, and then I was on my own for a bit. I trotted along, really feeling good for a mile or 3, running into my bike buddy, Carolyn, but losing her somewhere in the Van Cortlandt Manor as I trotted on ahead on the shaded, soft, mulch trail.  My legs loosened quickly and I was ready to crush it....until the nausea hit. I felt sluggish and sloshy and worst of all, I needed to burp but couldn't. I tried to make myself burp, but that was too close to making me nearly hurl. I went through a LOT of long, uphill miles on dirt and road with a horrendous mental battle against the nausea, a pain in my left upper ribs and the hills. The worst part was that my legs felt GREAT, they wanted to tear up those hills, but I was hurting and doubting from the waist up. The pain in my chest/ribs/stomach on the left side was alarming. Sometimes I hate knowing anatomy so well because I was going through a checklist of what could be wrong. Several miles went along like this in my head:
"You're probably having a heart attack, you have pain in your left shoulder. You might want to stop." 
"No, it's gas, just keep going." 
"I'm definitely dying."
"I should stop and find help."
"Okay, I'm just going to walk to that tree....oh, the pain is gone. Hmm, not dying." 
It went on and on like this for quite some time, with me dying to burp or hurl or some combination of the two until I hit an aid station and a very small child gave me a salt tab and flat Pepsi at the top of the dam. I was walking here and there, just absolutely miserable, but in good company because so was everyone else. I have never seen so many people walking and we were not slow runners. The hills were grueling and once my stomach settled, I reminded myself that this was MY race. I had a piece of duct tape on my bike that said just that, it was a reminder not to follow anyone else's lead in this race but my own. I refused to stop and walk just because others were walking up the most ridiculous hill around mile 9 because I knew I had the legs for it. I walked the section between two cones on that hill, about 8 ft, and never stopped running again. The last few miles were great because the course tucked back into the trails and was quiet, and suddenly I was all alone. The applesauce packet I'd been holding the ENTIRE TIME became the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted, though I still sipped gingerly, worried it might fight back (it didn't). I hadn't taken in a single calorie the entire run until that point. I'd passed a number of my old walking mates as I regained my mojo and was running through neighborhoods and Van Cortlandt Manor on my own. There were a ton of aid stations on the run and it was fun to pass them again and hear "wow, you're looking strong!!" Once I got back to the road section with a little over a mile to go, I could really feel the heat, despite dumping tons of water over my head and back along the way. Bless those lovely people with the sprinkler who held it up so I could wash some of the salt from my face as I ran by. The final 2 miles included a nasty uphill, a road crossing at a big intersection (thank you Croton Police Dept!) and the sunny and hot train overpass and park drive. I ran toward the murmurs I knew to be a finish line announcer, but I have to say it was difficult. I was going through an assortment of reactions to what I'd just done. There was the initial "well, I'm never doing that again" followed by a little disappointment in my time (I had no idea what I was getting into and hoped for sub 5:50) but luckily that was followed quickly by the realization of how challenging the course was. We'll call that the moment of acceptance. I had Erin and Mookie cheering again with about 0.2 to go and I was searching for Dave and his camera, but didn't see him. I was briefly worried that he'd miss my finish, but he was waiting on the other side of the finish line to get great pics. I bolted down the grassy finish chute, so, so happy to be finished and stop moving forward. 70.3 miles and 6+ hours is a long time to be moving your body forward. I have so much more respect for Ironmen and Ironwomen now that I have an appreciation for what it feels like to do HALF that distance. Whew.
So the run was hideous, I think I'd really enjoy running that course with a settled stomach and without stabbing pain in my shoulder because it was truly beautiful. For the record, I knew it wasn't a heart attack or anything serious (just gas! Ha!) or I really would have stopped and sought help, I'm not an idiot. 
As a sub 1:38 half marathoner, it pains me to share these stats, but here they are anyway: 
I still managed 7th in my age group on the run, which goes to show you what terrible runners triathletes are. Ha! 

2:04, ugh. 
Elevation gain was no joke at 1223 ft, also the same amount lost ( ouch, downhill makes me nauseous on a good day)

My first and last miles were exactly the same at 8:15! Things were real ugly around mile 6. 

While I've moved on and am pretty proud of my accomplishment, I'm still annoyed that my stomach nearly did me in. I have lots to work on in terms of fueling and over-hydrating. I am most happy with the fact that I definitely had the legs for this race, they weren't the least bit cranky the entire time. I'm curious now how much I can improve on a flatter course with a better fueling plan. 
I recovered so quickly that I was a completely normal person by Wednesday and have forgotten most of the terrible bits and am secretly hoping to find one more late season race in the area...