Ironman Countdown

Monday, October 6, 2014

38.1 Miles in 30 Hours...

20 mile run + 15 mile bike + 3.1 mile run = TIRED MAMMA!

Fall is here my friends.  While I do love the summer (the beach, our swim club life, long sunny days), there is something to be said about leaves changing and cooler temperatures.  For me, especially as a runner, the fall means NO HUMIDITY so I don't feel like I am going to die after even very short distances.  Fall weather is a runner's best friend!

This weekend marked my last "long run" before the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) on October 26th.  I had one 20 mile run left.

Ironically, my sister and "niece" Kelly offered to take my lovely adorable always-well-behaved children to the beach this weekend.  Without me or James.  I actually didn't believe her. Our text conversation was something like:

  M:  "How does this weekend look?  I'd like to take the kids to   
       the beach."
  me:  "Just the kids?  You mean MY kids?
  M:  "Yes your kids.  Thought it would be fun."
  me:  "You do know they are nuts, right?"

But sure enough, the plan was made for her and Kelly to pick them up Saturday morning and spend the day/night in Rehobeth.   They had a blast!
Happy beach babies with my beautiful Kelly

I got up Saturday at o'dark thirty to head up to the Northern Central Railrod (NCR) trail in northern Baltimore County to get in my 20 miles  If you have never been to this particular trail, it stretches from Ashland/Hunt Valley all the way north across the Pennsylvania (Mason-Dixon) line.  It is pristine in its beauty and clean-ness.   It is flat, shaded, and goes right along the Gunpowder River.  For a long distance runner, it is a perfect setting.  There's even a few port-a-potties along the way, and a really nice clean bathroom with water fountains at mile 7.

When I started, it was still pretty dark outside.  But it got lighter pretty quickly.  It was a cloudy breezy morning, which is actually ideal for me as my Irish skin does not breathe well in warm humid conditions!

I discovered audiobooks for these long runs, just something different from music and my playlists.  I have already listened to "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand this year, which was amazing.  And I am currently halfway through "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes.  I love it, and it really helps me to zone out and pass the time.

The Gunpowder River and the road less traveled

So many people I know say "How can you run 20 miles?" or "I could never do that."  Believe me, I never thought I could either.  But marathon training builds pretty slowly, and next thing you know, you are doing it!  I have found, at least for me, that I can wrap my head around doing 5 miles.  So I run it like 4 x 5 mile runs.  After each 5, I stop for a minute or two, and eat something (like those runner gels) and drink some water.  The halfway point is huge to me, mentally, because I know I will always have less miles left than what I have already done:
half way!

 I also like having something to look forward to.  At mile 15 for example, I treated myself to this:

I also get this crazy feeling of accomplishment  when I look at my watch and see what I've done.  I mean, I can EAT anything I want! (See calories burned at the bottom)  If you haven't caught on yet, food is a major motivator for me!

I stopped for a bagel sammie and a ginormous Diet Coke before heading home.  I had almost forgotten the kids wouldn't be there, and James was actually out running a Zombie 5K with his best friend.  So I got home to an empty quiet house.  I took my ice bath (I am a HUGE believer in this... even though I hate it with the fire of 1000 suns) and showered.  And then, I simply laid down on the couch.  I got to watch Food Network and play on the iPad... without interruption... for about three hours.  It was glorious!

I also found that my amazing sister had left me a present.  She got me my very own Triathlon Backpack!  Take a moment to add this up:  she took my children for a getaway AND leaves me a present.  I should be buying her gifts after a weekend like this!  I love her!

Its so cool, and has room for bike shoes, running shoes, goggles, swim gear, clean clothes, towels, water bottles...  I love it!  I had been borrowing my friend Tricia's for awhile, so it is wonderful to have my own

James and I got to go out for dinner and a movie.   I had a magnificent burger and fries at Red Robin, and it was not lost on either of us that we had no children and yet went to a child-centric restaurant!  Then we saw "Gone Girl."  I highly recommend it, though read the book first.

On Sunday, I had registered for a sprint triathlon in Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore.  I had sort of forgotten about it, and had certainly forgotten it would be on the same weekend as my last 20 mile run.  Rock Hall is such a pretty venue, and sprint tri's are so fun, so I just decided to suck it up and go.  Plus, one of my Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team (SBMAT) mates, Holly, was going to be there as a volunteer.  Holly, ironically, lives in the same neighborhood where I grew up!  Small world.

So, once again at o'dark thirty, I crawled out of bed and started to get ready.  Um, it was COLD outside.  Like COLD for real.  The race was not due to start until 9 a.m., so I was hopeful the sun would warm things up a bit.  Off I went, headed to the Shore.  It was beautiful outside... the sun was rising just as I was crossing the Bay Bridge:

I knew the water temperature in the Rock Hall Harbor was about 74, which is fine for me.  But the air temperature was very chilly.  I was a little nervous about that.... because I hate being cold and wet at the same time.  Once I got out of the water, I knew I'd have to brave the Shore headwinds in wet clothes.... brrrrrrrr.

Jumping into the water was the hardest part of the day for me... I can't stress enough how much I loathe the combo of wet/cold.  I was in the last swim wave with the Athena category (aka women who are over 160 lb.... we get our own category since we have more to carry around.  The male equivalent are called Clydesdales, for over 200 lb.).  I couldn't stop shivering once I jumped in, while treading water, waiting for the start.  I had a stream of expletives running through my head about the cold.  But then the horn sounded and off we went.  It was a 750 meter swim (about a half mile) which went from one side of the harbor to the other.  On the side that runs parallel to the Chesapeake, it was very choppy and rocking!!!  But I finished well, and ran to the transition area.  I pulled on a long sleeved shirt, my lucky beaded bracelet from Jack, helmet and shoes, and off I went.

15 miles of biking on pancake flat Eastern Shore roads.  Sounds easy and uneventful, until the headwinds start.  That was tricky, but I felt smooth and consistent.  I am not a strong biker by any means, but I was pretty happy with this leg.

After the bike was the final three miles of the run leg.  I was tiring at this point.  I ran the last mile pacing another Baltimore girl, Karen.  We had been staying pretty even with each other, then decided to just join forces and finish it out together.  My last mile would have bombed but for her.  Thanks Karen, whoever you are.

I got to meet SBMAT Holly before the swim started.  I saw her after the swim and before the run, cheering "Swim Bike Mom!" each time.  Since I was by myself, it was so great to hear her!  After I crossed the finish, we chatted a few minutes, and then I lost sight of her when I went to get clothes in the transition area.  By that point, my whole body started shaking from cold, so I trudged back to the car so I could get out of my wet clothes and into dry sweats.  (They frown on public nudity at these races for the record). I think I missed Holly altogether at that point, so I didn't get to talk to her as long as I would have liked.  But Maryland is not so big, so I know there will be other opportunities!

a little history

proud to finish my Team Nate races for the year!

 I was super happy with my finish and my time, especially given how tired my legs were.  And I even got a special "Swim Bike Run" medal that is a bottle opener... so useful!  Set Up Events puts on great races!

All in all, a fantastic weekend of training and racing.  Oh, and the ORIOLES SWEPT THE TIGERS, in case you missed that cherry on top!


  1. Awesome report!!!! Love ya! And yes! We are too close not to get together for some chatting, training or any other SBM shenanigans we can think of :) You rocked yesterday!!!