Category Archives: Triathlon

I’m Alive!! And Stupid

Hey there kids! I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I updated this vibrant and widely-read blog. Actually, I can believe it- I pretty much decided to abandon it after taking on a very travel-intensive job last year. Well, I left that job and after leaving a pretty crummy year behind, I’m actually optimistic for the year ahead. When I’m happy, I feel like writing about it.

I guess last year wasn’t that crummy. I did after all marry the love of my life. However, as previously mentioned, I had to plan our wedding through many business trips that took me away from home, friends, and running. I spent most of my year as a resident of Hilton hotels all over Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Texas. I also lost my grandma, that was pretty shitty! Oh and a reality television star was elected president. As John Oliver said, f*ck 2016.

Let’s not dwell on the negative and turn to the positive instead. I recently took on a new job where I will be in ONE PLACE ALL THE TIME. I love my new team and the work I will be accomplishing with them. Soon Shawn and I will be closing on a new home in New Hudson, MI! We will be living within running distance of so many parks (Kensington and Island Lake!) and trails (Huron Valley Trail!), as well as living within running distance of a few breweries. I tell ya, life doesn’t get much better than that.

Thank goodness I will soon be living in a quiet and runner-friendly neighborhood, because I certainly have some running to do. At the end of last year I registered for the Ann Arbor Marathon to keep myself motivated throughout the winter. I decided to tag alone with some friends who were training for a 50 miler on their long runs in order to train. Well of course I soon got talked into REGISTERING for the 50 miler, The Indiana Trail run in Albion, IN. Oh and I’ll be doing the Kal Haven Trail run (around 34 miles) on April 8th to train for it. Oh haha and did I mention I had already signed up for another 50 miler, North Country, at the end of August?!

So yeah, I’m stupid, but I’m also excited. After trying unsuccessfully to train for speed for two years now I decided if I can’t run fast, I’ll run long. I’m looking forward to posting more about my Ultra adventures as well as all of the awesome places to run in my new city. Also, I need to break out my old bathing suits since I’ll be really close to Island Lake and really have no excuse not to do a T Rex Triathlon this summer (because I’ll have so much time, right?!).

In addition to my upcoming running adventures, I’m also looking forward to embracing a healthier lifestyle. Actually I’m not eating healthier at all, but I’m looking to drastically cut back on drinking. After a booze-soaked cruise last week, I’m determined to drink as little as possible in the coming month. This may not sound like a daunting task to most people, but I am the Rum Runner after all. Getting used to sparkling water instead of red wine with dinner and giving up shower beers after a long run will be tough. However, I know my life and running goals will be easier to achieve without them.

Thanks for reading! Happy 2017 and happy running!

 

 

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2014 Year in Review: Numbers and Math and a Preview of 2015

My father is a numbers guy and that has always bugged me. Whenever I mention a social gathering/race/whatever I’ve just attended, his first question is always “How many people were there?” When I point out that sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be counting, he starts throwing out estimates. “Were there about 20? More than 30?” It gets on my nerves for the simple fact that my brain isn’t wired that way. Numbers are my enemy. I’m a known generous tipper because of my inability to do simple math in my head. I would suck on the Price is Right because fuck if I know what a broom is supposed to cost. The only time I obsess about numbers, however, is in relation to my training. Here is what my 2014 looked like in numbers. My dad would be proud.

In 2014 I completed 2,198 miles:

I ran 1,794 miles

I biked 375 mile

I swam 28 miles

I ran 2 marathons with a PR of 4:29:10 (which included at least 5 potty breaks)

I ran these marathons in 2 new states (scratch Utah and Indiana off the long list!)

I ran 6 half marathons with a PR of 1:50:10

I ran 3 of those halfs as a pace group leader

I ran 1 half marathon through 2 countries (I heart you Detroit International Half Marathon)

I finished 1 half marathon holding the hand of the man I love

I ran 6 5Ks with a PR of 23:47

I entered 3 sprint triathlons and successfully completed 1 (damned open water anxiety)

I missed out on 3 races I registered for due to being hit by 1 car

I peed in the woods 2 times

I pooped my pants 1 time

And on that final (brown) note, I will end the data. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in 2014, even though it ended on a frustrating note with inexplicably slower speeds, including a 10K I ran in 1:01. Ouch. I’ve been going out for shorter runs lately and trying to really push myself and I’m happy to say there is still some speed hidden inside of me, I just have to work for it.

Though I’m already registered for two marathons in 2015, including the Skyline Chili 4-Way at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (that’s a 5K, 10K, and full marathon all in one weekend), my main goal is to run less in the coming year. I feel like a lot of my training runs lately have been for the wrong reasons, whether to prove that I’m tough or to be like the cool kids who run 50+ miles a week. Running less will also give me time to swim more, which will help me achieve my main goal of 2015: swim an open water 5K. Right now the idea sounds ridiculous and I’ve been afraid of telling people for fear of being laughed out of the room. Really? The same girl who couldn’t finish 750 meters in a sprint triathlon is going to finish 5,000?! What can I say, I love an impossible challenge (unless it involves math). I love how strong swimming makes me feel and though I have a long way to go, I’m willing to put in the effort. I see many more group swims with the FAST Masters Swimmers in the coming months.

The past year was thrilling and difficult and exciting and terrifying and shitty and wonderful and I can’t wait for the adventures and life experiences the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

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MY HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW POST, BRACE YOURSELVES!!!!!!!

Oh, hey there! My it’s been a long time since I’ve updated this thing. I’ve been BOMBARDED with requests to update my thousands upon thousands of readers with an update of my activities, and I’ve never been one to disappoint. So get yourself a snack and a beer and get settled while you read back on some of the exciting things I accomplished this past summer/fall:

1) I got hit by a car! Okay, this isn’t necessarily an accomplishment, but anytime you collide with heavy machinery it definitely makes the memory bank. One August morning I was out for a training run and crossed an intersection at the “walk” signal. Glancing over my left shoulder, I didn’t see any drivers turning right into the intersection. Unfortunately, a black SUV was turning from the far right turn lane and hit me with their front passenger mirror and front end. They also drove off, bastard! Anyway, I was lucky to walk away relatively unharmed. I sustained a bruised calf muscle and tendonitis in my left foot that took me out of the running game for nearly a month.

While I’m totally healed by now, my speed and endurance have not returned. At all. In fact, I’m practically back to the speeds I was hitting my first year running. It’s been humbling for sure, and a bit disconcerting. Running feels extra difficult lately. I’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment to rule out any vitamin deficiencies, or cancer or AIDS or whatever.

2) I ran my fifth marathon in my fourth state! MEDALS AND RUNNING ALL THE STATES!!! I knocked Indiana off my list by running the Indianapolis Monumental on November 1st. I had no great expectations for this run. My lack of long runs due to my accident and slowing speeds made me adopt a “fuck it!” attitude. I knew I could finish, and that’s all I expected.

What I didn’t expect was how much fun I’d have. Indianapolis is a fun town- clean, safe, and full of bars and good eats. The architecture was also stunning. I made this trip with my friend and running-buddy extraordinaire, Mary Beth. After our respective races we ate and drank away the soreness.
Oh, and for the record, I finished in 5:02:06. Blaaaah. Whatever, I got my medal bitches!

3) I finished a triathlon without freaking out in the water! By far my proudest accomplishment this summer. On September 14th I completed the Holly Recreation Area sprint triathlon, held by Tri To Finish. It was one of the first chilly mornings of the fall and temps were in the low 40s. The scenery was pretty and serene and helped calm my out of control swimming nerves. I finished the swim, slowly but surely, and proceeded to one of the hilliest bike courses I’ve ever experienced. In fact, I saw many an athlete walk their expensive tri bikes up the relentless hills.

I, however, stayed on my 1,000-ton road bike and never walked. I ran the 5K with no feeling in my quads and crossed that finish line with immense pride. I did it! Finally a successful sprint triathlon in 2014! I fell in love with Tri To Finish events so much after this race that I entered their contest to be a sponsored team member in 2015. What does that mean? I have no idea! But they claim they pick “heart over speed”, so thank God for that. I submitted my pitch yesterday. Fingers and toes crossed!

4) I paced more races! Along with my Your Pace or Mine buddies, I’ve been fortunate to pace two half marathons this fall- The Brooksie Way and the Clarkston Backroads. What’s better than running a fall half marathon? Running for free and inspiring other runners, of course! I absolutely love pacing and can’t wait for more opportunities. There’s even been talks of YPOM being asked to pace the Charlevoix Half Marathon, which all my millions of readers will recognize as my favorite half marathon EVER.

So what’s next? I’m currently training for the Rock N’ Roll New Orleans Marathon on January 25th. My super-awesome-boyfriend Shawn will be running with me, although much faster and further ahead of me I’m sure. Jerk. Mary Beth and some wild YPOMers will be joining the fun as well. I would love a PR, no matter how small. In the meantime I’m cleaning up my diet (haha not really), doing more speedwork, and waiting to hear what the doctor tells me in regards to my recent sluggishness. I’ve also been hitting up the pool more often in hopes of an epic and wildly stupid goal I have for next summer…you’ll have to stay tuned.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your tips for getting over a running slump below!*

*Besides rest, because that would just be silly.

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Fighting the Fat Kid

One of the more embarrassing moments of my childhood was from my fourth grade gym class. It was the mile run day for the President’s Challenge, that horrible week during the year when your fitness was measured and I of course came up short in everything. As I recall I was already 110 pounds at age 10 and my idea of fitness was running to the cupboard to sneak a few Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies before dinner. The one area of the President’s Challenge where I excelled was the sit-and-reach, which measured flexibility. I was always number one in my class, the only advantage of being blessed with short legs and a long torso. Enough of what I was good at, now on to the cringe-inducing mile run…

The mile run was eight laps around a spray-painted loop in a field behind our school. Granted, it’s not like we had Nike technical apparel to change in to. I was most likely running in some uncomfortable skirt and sweater that my mother picked out for me. Anyway, fat kids in skirts don’t run fast. In fact, I came in dead last out of my entire class. I was so slow that everyone was done while I was finishing my final lap. Imagine being a fat kid with a perm (thanks, mom!) and having all your classmates stare at you as you huff-and-puff. To add insult to injury, my shoe fell off as I rounded the final corner. To this day I can still see the 25+ faces of annoyed school children watching me hop on one foot to my tear-filled finish.

Fast forward 21 years to last Saturday. I was attempting my second sprint triathlon in Lexington, Michigan. I hadn’t done any real training and the last time I swam was at my last sprint tri in September of last year. For some reason the waters of Lake Huron terrified me and I immediatley panicked when the gun went off. I couldn’t control my breathing, ended up swallowing a bunch of water, and threw up on myself. Lovely. Luckily the rescue kayaks had swimming noodles for idiots like myself. I took one after a few feet of flopping around erraticaly. While I wasn’t dead last to get out of the water, I was surely the only person under the age of 50 with a security blanket noodle. My ego was decimated. As I ran back to the transition area, I couldn’t help but recall my earlier embarrassing moment in athletic acheivement.

Every day of my life is a struggle against Fat Kid Laura. In my late teens to mid twenties I fought back in unhealthy ways by starving myself and smoking and eventually developing bulimia. At the age of 27 I started training for my first half marathon and finally found out that I was a decent runner after all. I fought against Fat Kid Laura by training and enjoying races, and every once in a while winning my age group. Running has given me more self-esteem than any other aspect of my life. However, there are moments like the Lexington disaster when Fat Kid Laura comes back in full force to destroy my confidence.

It’s easy for me to not feel good enough. I see girls with nice boobs and I feel inadequate. I see girls with good careers and feel I have nothing to offer. I struggle with the math while studying for my Series 7 and I feel stupid. These feelings can utterly consume me if I don’t fight back. So I failed my swim portion miserably in Lexington. I’m not throwing in the towel and letting Fat Kid Laura win this round. I am determined to let Kick Ass Adult Laura reign victorious. On Monday I participated in a tri training group and I even signed up for private swim lessons to improve my technique and efficiency. A bit extreme maybe, but Fat Kid Laura is a tough bitch to beat.

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Laura Tried!

GUESS WHAT KIDS!!

I did it. I finished my first sprint triathlon. Peanuts, I know, but we all have to start somewhere. Despite having a Bud Light budget, I was able to finish with a smile on my face and a strong desire to do more triathlons in the future. As much as I hate writing race recaps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about popping my Tri Cherry.
The Location

Beautiful Sandusky, Ohio! actually, the city of Sandusky isn’t beautiful but it does contain Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (trademark blah blah). I’ve been coming to Cedar Point since I was a small child, but this was one of first times I came by car, not boat.

I brought my friend Andrea along to be my sherpa/map-reader/life-coach/brain since Randy wasn’t able to make the trip with me. I also had three friends that would be doing the Half Iron Man Sunday morning: Staci, Shawn, and Paul.

Race Day Morning!

I woke up feeling refreshed and excited, despite an evening spent sampling Sandusky’s “night life”. I put on my tri suit and 100 temporary tattoos with my race number and Andrea and I made our way to the transition area. Shawn, Paul, and Staci were awesome enough to wake up bright and early with me. Shawn also attempted to help me set up my transition area, but alas, only the Sprint Tri athletes were allowed. Boo! I was counting on his help but no big deal, I copied off the people around me. As I looked at all the high-end tri bikes I couldn’t help feeling like a fool with my $400 road bike with a helmet I purchased at Meijer’s.

The Swim!

It was a beautiful morning for a swim in Lake Erie, and as I waded out into the water I noticed the temps were good and I was confident in my decision to forego my wet suit. Besides, I hadn’t trained once in a wet suit so why would I mess with it now? Come to think of it, I had only done one short open-water swim before this and wasn’t really prepared and oh my God I’m gonna drown…

AHH!

Before I could completely panic it was time to swim. Adrenaline overtook me and I only focused on the swimmers around me and staying on course. In fact, I was a little obsessed with staying on course and was constantly looking up to make sure the buoys were in sight. There was one girl who kept bumping into the side of me. Every time I’d move over she’d get closer. I gave her a good kick and she backed off. Like sharks, you must show other swimmers you are a threat and they will quit attacking you.

As I finally approached knee-deep water I wasn’t sure whether to run my way in or swim. Every article I read said swim until you no longer can to conserve your leg energy. Well, I swam in two feet of water and felt stupid. As soon as I stood up my tri-bottom sucked onto me like a second skin. I passed Andrea and my other buddies cheering me on as I made my way to transition. “Do I have a camel toe?” I shouted to Andrea, who shouted back, “Who cares? GO!”

In all, my half mile swim took half and hour to complete. Pitiful. I definitely have some work to do before my next triathlon.

The Bike!

Ah, the dreaded bike portion.

Transition from swim to bike took me nearly six minutes. I was obsessed with getting my feet as dry as possible to prevent blisters. Also, I had no fucking clue what I was doing. Prior to my race I had gone on one 8-mile bike ride, so I had zero expectations for this leg. I finally made it onto my bike and was directed onto a beautiful, yet deserted, road along the coast of Lake Erie. The view was pretty, but there were no other bikers in sight and I was worried I had made a wrong turn. Finally I spotted a photographer. “Am I going the right way?” I shouted at him. “Of course!” he replied, looking at me like the idiot that I am. At least I didn’t ask him if I had a camel toe.

The final half of the bike portion was along a main ride that was NOT closed to traffic. I’ve never rode a bike on a road before, let alone with cars whizzing by, so I was pretty cautious. I drank no water because I thought if I bent down to grab my water, I’d fall off my bike and get flattened by a car. I was so thirsty. All in all, it wasn’t a bad ride. Dare I say it was relaxing? Obviously I didn’t “race” this portion, I just enjoyed it. The 12 mile ride took me 50 minutes to complete. Not as bad as my swim, but not great either. Oh well, on to my run…

The Run!

Well, I certainly learned what I’m good at. As I wheeled my bike into the transition area, I definitely got a sense of the dreaded rubber legs everyone talks about. I had no idea how I was going to run on those things. However, seeing all my buddies cheering me on gave me the strength to turn my hobble into a running-like motion.

The run portion was a stupid double out-and-back loop through the parking lots of Cedar Point, not exactly the “run through the park” the website advertised. Oh well. I had no watch on me so I was blind to my pace. The rubbery leg sensation went away surprisingly quickly and I started feeling stronger. On the run I enjoyed doing what I normally do during a road race: people watching. I saw many fit people and many people who did not look like your average triathlete. It always makes me happy to see all shapes and sizes participate in athletic events.

I’m not sure if dehydration was making me delirious, or if I was feeling a “tri high”, but as I made my way around my second loop I felt ecstatic. “I’m gonna hug and kiss everyone I see! I don’t care if they’re a stranger! I love everyone!” I kept thinking to myself. I heard my name called as I crossed the finish line and saw all of my awesome friends cheering. Luckily for them I spared the kisses but grabbed each one them despite being a sweaty mess. I was so happy to be done.

My 5K time was 25:00, only about 30 seconds slower than my PR. I’m still not sure how the hell I pulled that off.

Closing Thoughts!

I HAD A FUCKING BLAST!! Seriously. I’ve never had that much fun doing any other athletic event in my life. There are definitely more triathlons in my future, and I’m even toying with the idea of doing a Half Iron Man next year. I’ll probably have to sell a kidney for the proper equipment, but hey. You only need one, right? Believe everyone when they tell you triathlons are addicting.

The next day I was able to play cheerleader for all of my Iron Friends. If you ever have a chance, go watch an Iron Man race. It was an inspiration. Seeing all different ages, body types, and abilities convinced me a longer distance triathlon was in my reach.

Phew. Well I hope this wasn’t as boring to read as it was to write. My description did not even come close to capturing the fun, excitement, dread, fear, and empowerment I felt completing my first triathlon.

Next stop: The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY

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Things are Going Swimmingly

When I was in the sixth grade I joined a swim team, the Troy Area Gators (or TAG). It wasn’t a school team and was very informal; we practiced several nights a week but competing at meets was optional. I, of course, having had a deadly fear of losing and making a fool of myself (still do), never attended a meet. However, joining this fun crew of swimmers further cemented my love of being in the water. My biggest accomplishment that year was completing a Swim-a-Thon, or 100 laps. My dad still talks about that day with pride as though I swam the English Channel.

Now, 18 years later (fuck!), my 30-year-old self has registered for my first sprint distance triathlon, despite my small bank account and the outrageous costs of doing so. I say “outrageous” costs only because I previously had no bike, tri suit, wet suit, or anything tri-related but a pair of running shoes. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to 12-year-old Laura for growing up to be so poor. I’m sorry your plans to grow up and marry Noel Gallagher never came to fruition.

After I signed up for my triathlon, I decided to brush up on my swimming skills. I found (cheap) private lessons offered by a swim teacher at a local high school. At my first class, my teacher asked me to do one lap freestyle to see what she was working with. I didn’t even go two feet without flipping over on my back, gasping for air. It didn’t help my ego that children were effortlessly butterfly stroking in the lanes next to me. Clearly I needed a lot of work.

It’s now been three weeks, and though I’m no freestylin’ fool in the pool yet, I’m getting there. Every class is a mix of lap swimming and strength/endurance building drills. I’ve been introduced to fun new toys, like the pull buoy, hand paddles, and flippers. It’s a tough workout, and more importantly, fun as hell.

Did I really need to take swimming classes in order to swim 500 meters in a sprint tri? Not at all. I guess adult Laura has been looking for an excuse for a long time to get her butt back into the pool. Sadly, the Looney Tunes lap suit she used to wear is long gone, but her love of the water still remains.

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