One of the things for which I wanted to use this blog was to give readers a chance to step into my life working at the store. I haven’t done that in awhile, so I thought I’d take a step back to a couple Saturdays ago, when we had a birthday party for the Nike Pegasus, which “turned 30” on July 1.
…Like, an actual birthday party.
This cake was made by Chez Alice in Princeton, apparently a really high-end cake shop. I wonder if they ever made a cake for a running shoe before…?
The day started with an early morning run, for which we ended up getting a fairly large crowd. I wasn’t scheduled to work that day but I did stop by for an hour or so to join in the festivities. Our Nike rep took a video to send to some pretty important people at Nike, in hopes of getting it on the web somewhere. I would post it here if I had been successful the past ten minutes I have spent trying to upload a .MOV file. So anyway, here are some more photos instead….
One more close-up of the cake:
I have never personally ran in the Nike Pegasus, but we sure have been selling a lot of pairs of the new model! I ended up landing free pairs of both the 29s and 30s as a result of this event. I suppose I will find a good use for them; they are running shoes after all!
If you are a Pegasus lover, let me know! Have you tried the 30s? What do you think? I wish I could get a cake at work for my birthday….
If Hood to Coast is the Mother, then River to Sea is the New Jersey cousin who doesn’t get all that much attention anywhere else, but is a big dealhere in Jersey. I can’t believe it’s in just TEN DAYS! Because it’s not a Ragnar, or American Odyssey, or Reach the Beach, I thought I would give a little rundown on the event for all of you who aren’t familiar with it…this is probably most of you.
The relay, known as R2C, is about 90 miles (give or take for detours, etc.) and starts on the Delaware River in the sleepy riverside town of Milford. It heads south on Route 29, the highway that hugs the Delaware closely, until it veers east in Lambertville up Route 518. Eventually it ends up passing through my territory, cutting through Skillman, Kingston, and Princeton Forrestal Village. Then the course hits up some Monmouth County towns and Allaire State Park, and ends at the beach in Manasquan. There are two vehicles per team, 145 teams, staggered start times, seven runners, and fourteen legs.
What makes the relay awesome is the tradition and the camaraderie. Often, you’ll get to meet members of other teams who you seem to see at every exchange point…and of course try to beat them. Each leg has a name, and frequent R2Cers will have tons of stories surrounding each one. The legs are…
1. 4.8 mi: easy, fast
2. 8.2 mi: clear, wide shoulders, the BEST
3. 6.1 mi: towpath
4. 8.6 mi: THE BEAST: hilly, tough
5. 6.0 mi: rolling & a bit tight
6. 8.0 mi: stop-and-go, challenging
7. 3.9 mi: short, quick turns
8. 5.5 mi: Oasis – over half way!
9. 9.1 mi: LONG AND HOT
10. & 11. WILD CARD: 13.9 miles total split up any way between 2 people
12. 6.5 mi: “piece of cake, but the cake is in the oven”
13. 7.9 mi: competitive, “do-or-die”
14. 2.5 mi: final sprint to the sea!
I’ve been a part of the relay for the past three years, and each year had its own stories….
2010: Team Oh Snap!
I was just the driver this year. We did the last…85 miles with a donut because of a flat tire at the first exchange zone. Was the team name a bad omen?
2011: Team NJXtreme
This was a pretty awesome day for me. I averaged 7:05 pace, and we had a ton of fun.
2012: Team Seven Hot Beaches
Last year I was asked by a friend to fill in for someone on her team last minute. I had a feeling I was getting a stress fracture in my hip & I had one run left in me…but I felt okay and wanted to try. So, I only ended up doing Leg 2 and then sitting out in pain the rest of the day. I had mixed thoughts about R2C17, obviously, as I was prepared for the day to play out as it did.
This year, 2013, will be my first time running on a coed team, and I’m excited! I think we have a really fun group…which is a must if you’re going to be spending an entire day in a car with them! This will be my first time doing R2C and having a blog/Twitter, so stay tuned on August 3rd to see what Brennan and I are up to as we run across the state of NJ (with some help)!
I ran the New Jersey State Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. This is proof that I did indeed survive in one piece: I’m going to begin this post by saying that my attitude going into this race was unlike any race I’ve done in the past. I started running again seventeen days before, after being in pain for seven weeks. Even when I was back to running, I was skeptical about if it was a fluke or if the pain-free state of my “test runs” would last. I was biking and swimming regularly, but I was hating biking, and not confident in my swimming because I was trying not to irritate my leg the entire time. The point is, as I stated to many people last week, I was doing this triathlon. Not racing it. Brennantalked to lectured me on Wednesday, telling me I was not to get competitive, think I needed to pass everyone, and go try to accomplish anything other than finishing the darn thing without pain. I told her not to worry, that was my only goal! She didn’t believe me at all, but I knew Saturday was going to be one of those days I planned as I went along according to how I felt. Because honestly, nothing was making any sense, so that was the only way this was going to play out. I”m not saying I had no goals or plans whatsoever. They were something like this: Swim: Be strong. Don’t back off. Don’t let anyone swim over you. Don’t let anyone kick you in the face so you’ll get knocked out and drown. Don’t choke on water. Don’t kick too hard and irritate the IT band. Hammer it in after the turn. T1 & T2: Don’t stress, make sure the ITB and everything else is in check and ready to go – stretch if that’s necessary in order to do so.Bike: See how fast these new tires can go. Average a faster speed than last year. Don’t irritate the ITB for the run.Run: Relax. Just do it. Don’t be in pain at any point. Think of River to Sea and Hood to Coast.
I got to the park pretty early. Apparently it was a good time to get there parking-wise, and many people had already arrived, but for my sanity, it was a bit too early. Oh well. I just wanted to start the darn thing. I usually see a lot of people I know, but I only saw a few before the start. I’m usually an extrovert pre-race – chatting with people calms my nerves and gets me pumped up for the race. I know lots of other runners who prefer to listen to music off in some corner alone…while I understand the concept, that is not me. I set up my spot in transition and then finally made my way to the swim start, where they were just starting to allow practice swims to the right side of the actual start. The water was ninety degrees.Ugh. It didn’t feel too bad during the practice swims I took, but I noticed my arms were pretty tired.
SWIM. My wave began at 7:47 AM. Last year, I was just with the F20-24 age group. This year, they merged two age groups so that F20-29 had the same start wave. This scared the crap out of me when I read it, and with good reason. That meant twice as many people were starting in the water at the same time. Twice as many chances to get kicked. And die (sorry, dramatic). As soon as I started swimming, I felt like something was off. There were too many people around me. I couldn’t breathe. I scolded myself, reminding myself of all the time I’d spent in the pool this summer, and the open water swim I did in June that felt totally fine. Even so, I kept looking up, more than I’d intended to, and seeing the buoys with the distance markers on them – 200, 300. I couldn’t believe I was going through such a crisis on the swim. I wanted air, that was all. I wanted to quit and be on my bike immediately. I felt like I was doing horribly. I rounded the big yellow buoy without any trouble, and then the crows in front of me thinned out. I was able to keep my head down more and actually swim normally, to an extent. Everyone seemed to slow down at this point, but it was my plan all along to speed up, so…I did. It was more of a “get-me-out-of-here” motive, however. I hit the ramp and ran out of that ninety-degree lake like it was on fire. T1. To put things frankly, I didn’t really give a crap. I felt like I almost died during the swim from a panic attack (later I would realize it was totally because I wasn’t used to 90 degree water and all those other people…). I had a stomach cramp and I was shaky. I put on my shoes and everything but also didn’t rush too much because I couldn’t catch my breath. Should I have? Well, yes, But again, I didn’t have expectations for this race. More on that later. BIKE. The first part of the ride was mad frustrating. I wanted to fly, because I felt like I completely blew the swim. There were so many people in my way though, and I wasn’t sure how to apply the passing rules when we were still in the park and so many people were riding slowly right in front of me. I was braking a lot, which was annoying and loud, since I just learned my brake pads are now nonexistent. I finally got into a groove when I left the park road, and was holding over 20 mph whenever I could. My max speed got up to 25.7, on a slight downhill. I was picking off people on road bikes with aerobars, and Camelbak vests, and tri shorts, and clips and bike shoes every minute, and it was awesome. I’m pretty sure with all that fancy equipment they should be biking faster, I would think. And then I’d pass them, to show them my broke self was fit, and they could get over it. Disclaimer: these were my actual thoughts during the race, and as bad as they sound, I’m just getting you, the reader, into my head. Cycling angry is an exhilarating feeling. Try it.
T2. It seemed to be all-systems-go on the IT band. I did a little stretching and jogged to the starting mat after racking my bike. I’d gotten my Garmin all set with a couple miles to go on the bike. Why I took the time to put on my Garmin in T1: to make sure I wasn’t running too fast. Coming back from an injury and being in a triathlon, I had a feeling my pacing would be way off at the start of the run. I wanted to make sure I kept it under control. RUN. I saw 6:36-6:40 on my watch the first half mile of the run. What? No, no, no, slowww down! How is this 6:36 pace, it feels like over 7?! I talked myself into relaxing and slowing down eventually. The run hardly felt like a brick, which was weird but way more…um, enjoyable, than last year’s run. I hovered in the 6:50-7:05 range for the rest of the run, thinking about how I felt the whole time so any pain or discomfort in my ITB wouldn’t be ignored. My splits were: 6:53, 7:05, 6:55, 57.47 for 0.16 (5:59 pace). I was surprised at how easy a sub-22 5k in a tri right after an injury felt, but I was pleased with it.
There was a QR code on our bibs that I scanned right after, and it displayed really incorrect results. It said my swim time was 14:55, which made me think that it must have been as awful as I thought. I decided to skip the finish festivities, mostly because last year all the sun and bad food and announcing and party music had just made me overwhelmed. This year especially, I didn’t think I was close to placing in my age group at all, so I might as well get my stuff, take some pictures, and leave knowing I had accomplished what I wanted: I wasn’t hurting! So, you can imagine my surprise when I was at a diner with my parents and checked the official results to find out I had placed fourth in my age group. I think my mom was really confused as to why this made me so angry at the time, but I’m sire some of you will understand. I’d wanted to place last year and was fifth. This year I was hardly trying – for the first time ever, it wasn’t on my radar! What if I had really took it seriously, ran faster and made my transitions faster? Ahhhhhh. I knew exactly why I didn’t do that this time around, but it was still frustrating in a weird way. Then, I found out I’d gotten a medal for being the second New Jersey resident age group finisher…but I wasn’t there to receive it. Oops. This race report is a mix of strange, conflicting emotions, I apologize for that…however, that appears to be most of my blog? Let me take a time-out by sharing some other pictures from the tri…
Overall, all silly frustrations aside, I learned a lot from this race. It was a huge confidence booster for me, not just going into the races I have planned the rest of the summer and the year, but for myself as a runner and athlete in general. It’s good to know I can come off an injury strong, hold myself back, and still do well. It’s good to know I can compete with the other cyclists in tris, now that I can average 19.5 mph on my new tires. It’s good to be back. 🙂
Funny that it’s almost two weeks later, and I’m literally sitting in the same place giving myself another public intervention on my blog. It’s about…okay, basically the same exact thing. I think that the way I view running can help me resolve the problem, however.
Running is an addictive sport. Way of life. Hobby. Lifestyle. Whatever you like to refer to it as in your own life. Sometimes, a lot of times, it is necessary to plan when exactly you will run, and what that run will be. You may not be able to do mile repeats on a specific day because that day is jam-packed, another day is too close to a race, and another day is going to be super hot. Why not plan to bang out the workout during a day that is not those days, if you still can? So you do, of course. As the weekend approaches, you should figure out which day you are doing your long run to see if you can snag some company before it’s too late. It’s not too late yet, so you do. This all just makes sense.
BUT. When you’re me, it doesn’t always make sense. It made sense for me to do this January through May, when I had goal races on my calendar. It never proved a problem, I liked planning my runs for the week, sometimes even the next and the next. There was a nice balance of structure but not too much – I wouldn’t necessarily write it down; neither would I know what I was doing the other days of the week. Whatever was most convenient on a particular day was what I did. Raining and taking off from running? Swimming and lifting is fine. Yoga is fine too. Not big deal. Really nice out but need to cross train? Going to bike and do an ab workout on the porch. Sounds good. Really busy day and just exhausted? Day off is okay, sure. I say “not me” because I get hurt so often, and I need to be so careful, that this is often the norm. Think of weeks in a row without running. Think about it – can you? Can you do it without making a cross training schedule and sticking to it, and freaking out about the race you signed up for and have no clue if you’ll be ready to run? Most people would have a lot of trouble. I once did, but now I’m used to it and I can handle it – the uncertainty, the lack of control.
Let me emphasize that:
People like to be in control.
When there is control over a situation, you can believe and trust that you are doing the right thing and that thing is getting you to your end goal. A training schedule is the perfect example of that. I don’t do training schedules anymore.After years of trying to stick to plans other people laid out for me, I let it all go, basically took each day and each week at a time, understood I didn’t know what was actually going to happen, and just enjoyed doing whatever it was I was doing at the time. I did this for the entire year, and it has (believe it or not) been my healthiest year yet, as well as most fun when it comes to running and racing.
This is what you get when you Google Image search “running training plans”:
This could drive someone mad! Do these people know you, and your body, and what it can and can’t handle? No. I’m not saying that for the super-beginner runner it is a good idea to wing it…but there is so much common sense in running that coming up with your own plan, and making it a very loose one that will still get you where you want to be, shouldn’t be the anomaly. Your shin is “killing you”? There’s a big difference between that and your quads being sore from hill repeats. Don’t run just because your training schedule tells you to.
Phew, that took an interesting turn. However, I won’t erase it all, perhaps someone else will find it useful. My intervention topic is this: I need to treat the rest of my life more like I treat my running schedule. I had to go through several injuries and difficult running-related moments to get to where I am now regarding my attitude toward training, but I think the time for me to start this new outlook is definitely now.
I don’t need to set my Saturday plans now, to have Saturday plans.
I don’t need to constantly have every second of my days off scheduled.
It’s okay to count on spontaneity.
It’s okay to let go of expectations and go with whatever is happening.
I’m allowed to stay inside when it’s sunny and hot, and I’m allowed to “waste” my time driving somewhere without panicking I’m missing out on something. This doesn’t mean I’m lazy or not living each day to the fullest.
What living each day to the fullest should really mean is not spending time in a state of high anxiety, when all you can think of is, I want things to be alright again, right now, because they were before. It’s not going to happen with a snap of the fingers, especially when you are so stressed you forget food exists and so does tomorrow.
So here’s to chilling out. This is new to me, but I realized that when I forget about the future and the past, I am happiest. The first intervention was not so effective. I’m determined to make Part II more so…by using the least amount of effort possible (to avoid a huge catch-22).
To all of the C- and D-cup ladies out there who think us smaller-chested runners don’t have trouble finding a supportive, comfortable sports bra: stop while you’re ahead. Everyone needs support and comfort, and a sports bra that gives both is not easy to find. For years, I wore high-support Champion bras. This involved buying them full-price, since we didn’t sell them at the store, and they didn’t last very long even in rotation with several others. When they got wet they seemed noticeably less supportive, and sometimes the bottom band would stretch out before the rest of the bra. I still tolerate them for runs when they are still relatively new, and they are definitely fine for bike rides and other cross training activities. However, I found myself turning to a different bra for every long run and workout this past year: the Moving Comfort Phoebe A/B bra. Not long after I was given one for working at the Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half expo with Moving Comfort, I found myself wearing it for every long run and speed workout, and purchasing a few more colors. At first I thought it wastight, but then I realized that’s what I liked about it. Any bra that feels the same at mile 17 of a long, sweaty run is a bra for me.
I am actually meeting (drinking?) with a Moving Comfort sales rep tonight at work…so I will have to confirm this for sure later, but I heard a rumor that MC is discontinuing the Phoebe! I’m definitely stocking up before this happens, but I also trust that MC will be replacing it with an even better high-support, A/B style.
Go ahead and challenge me on this, but it is likely that after reading this post, you will agree that I am actually the cheapest triathlete ever.
Let’s start at the beginning. I have only done one triathlon, the New Jersey State Sprint Triathlon last July. I didn’t change my training very much because swimming and biking are as much a part of my typical training week as running, by necessity of staying healthy. It has been this way since my senior year of high school. In college I did more swimming and biking than ever, unfortunately because I was injured more than ever. Anticipating biking more when I moved into an off-campus house before senior year of college, I decided to buy a better bike than the one I’d gotten at Dick’s a few years back. With the intention of getting a road bike, I ended up leaving the bike shop having purchased a hybrid, which I was somehow convinced was good enough for the use I would put into it (rides of 25 miles or less, commuting 11 miles to and from work occasionally). Only a year later, I realized I should have just gotten an entry-level road bike, because the truth was always there: I wanted to compete in triathlons. Not just finish them, but race them.
Tough luck. I was stuck with what I had given my very tight budget. I raced the triathlon with the thicker tires the bike originally came with, averaging 17.9 miles per hour on the flat, 11.5-mile course. I think I came in around 645th of 1100 for the bike…and 62nd in the run? Something crazy like that (the swim was in the 400s). It was really clear that despite my efforts, I was truly a runner, and also that my bike was not cutting it for my goals. I came in fifth in my age group, and the top three got to the podium. I ran faster than the second and third place women, I think, and had the fifth fastest run time for females overall. And let me tell you: I wasn’t saving a darn thing, I biked hard. For a lousy 17.9 mph.
That fact left me frustrated, and I decided to see what I could do to make my bike faster. A trip to a bike shop left me with slightly thinner tires and a bike computer. So, you know, I could beat myself up when I bike up hills slower than I would run….I have been going on longer rides this summer, however, and it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Biking has felt like a chore. Like the definition of the word chore. Like I’d rather wash my kitchen floor some days. So, I went to another bike shop at the end of last week. Going to a bike shop is an experience. As someone who works in a specialty running store, I get it. I get that you often need to spend money to get something that is going to provide you with the best experience and fit possible. I feel like a hypocrite every time I go to a bike shop for this reason. This time was no different – I felt like that customer who wants to extend the life of her shoes that already have 700 miles on them by adding a Spenco insert. It doesn’t work that way.
My conversation with the guy at the shop went something like this:
Me: “I want to make my bike easier to ride, and go faster, but I can’t afford a road bike right now. I’m riding 30+ miles on this and it just feels slow.”
BG (bike guy): “That’s about as much as you will get on this bike. You really need a road bike.”
Me: “I averaged 17.9 mph in the tri last year and would have placed if I had gone faster, I think.”
BG: “You rode 17.9 on that thing? Well, you’re clearly a good cyclist. You just need a road bike.”
Me: “On rides through the Sourlands I have averaged about 16, but it just feels like such hard work up the hills.”
BG: “You’re riding through the Sourlands?” (shakes head) “You just need a road bike.”
It was kind of awful. However, I got a new set of tires that are even thinner, and they do feel awesome compared to the old ones. As in, I’m almost excited to see what I can do Saturday! Specifically, how close I can get to 20 mph now that I have hit those speeds on regular, easy rides I’ve done since then.
I also bought bike shorts. I’ve worn them twice – whenever I wasn’t going to hop off and do a run right after. They are definitely a nice change but sometimes don’t provide quite as much relief as I was expecting. So this was a nice little rant about how I’m the cheapest triathlete ever. If this summer had begun differently coming off the marathon I would have considered saving money for a road bike more seriously, but now that my focus is on the two relays, I will be thinking about that more later. I arranged to bike the race course tomorrow morning with three other people, so I’m looking forward to that!
Running update: I ran 3 miles Sunday! However, I ran a little less than 2 today in preparation for running 3ish with a group (!!!) tomorrow and then waiting until go-time Saturday to give my leg a rest and it did not feel so great. There seems to be some sort of knot that has traveled higher up my quad and is giving me pain when I sit down and rest my leg fully. It didn’t bother me running until after I finished today…so I’m being super, super cautious now because I really expected to be all set to go Saturday after my successful run two days ago.
In work-related news, we received an unexpected visit from a Nathan rep on Thursday for our group run. He provided optional sample hydration belts and handhelds for the runners…and beer. I wanted to stick some bottles in a hydration belt for a fun photo op, but not everyone cooperated with my silliness that night. He also brought some posters and stickers, one of which said something like the following:
…except it said that dehydration is THE leading cause of running injuries. I am very curious as to if that is the case. Could you really be slightly dehydrated on a normal run and end up injuring yourself? I will have to do some research on it. In my somewhat-injured state I’m interested in figuring out exactly how that works.
Me? Sure. Sure, I can be ready. I will be ready. “It’s only a sprint tri” might sound like an awful thing to say, especially to someone who has never done a tri before, or someone who is scared to death of it but has been on a strict training schedule in preparation for it for months. However, it’s what I’m telling myself. I never really stop training for triathlons, all year. It is true I don’t necessarily train very hard like I do for running-only races on the road. I could definitely train harder – do bike workouts, swim workouts, ride more than 30 miles, swim at a certain pace, actually count my laps in the pool. It’s cool to think that I haven’t experimented with that yet, because it means there is so much more to accomplish and challenges to tackle.
Let me break it down for you. I have been swimming and biking regularly the entire time I’ve been injured, plus lifting, doing physical therapy exercises, stretching, and erging. I feel in shape. I’m up to 1.5 miles (at 7:32 pace, oops) as of this morning without much ITB discomfort. When I race, I race. If the triathlon on July 20 was a 5k or 10k instead, I wouldn’t do it; there would be no point if I couldn’t run it fast. However, I’ve been biking and swimming and I ought to just try. I promised to myself I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize being pain-free for all 16+ miles of Hood to Coast at the end of August, so I will do the tri if I can physically run 3.1 miles on July 20 without pain, and without any consequences to my ITB after. For the first time, I will hold back and not be discontent with running above seven minute pace. I signed up, if I can physically run and not get set back, I will show up and do what I can. My training, and my ITB’s response, is totally unknown for the next twelve (crap, crap, crap) days, but I’m just going to take one day at a time, enjoy what I can do and not think about what I would want to do if I was luckier/things weren’t as they are at this moment, and just not stress.
I find myself in these tricky situations very often, in all areas of my life. But in the end, if everything worked out perfectly all the time and things were exactly as I planned and expected all the time, what fun would that be in the end?
If things in life were easy it would leave far too few things and moments to be appreciated.