Get It Girl

Fitness Friday: Swimming Solo

While I might look totally chic in a swim cap…

…I’m quite the (unconfident) spaz in the water.

Now don’t misunderstand. I grew up in the water: the river, springs, beaches, family pools. I have strong “froggie” stroke that does the trick all damn day.

It also results in a “record” swim time of 400m in 17 minutes. Aka redonulously slow. Oh and please don’t ask me to put my face in the water and exhale like the rest of you crazy mermaids.

This summer I have vowed to hit the pool and perfect (or make a little better) my swimming skillz. And considering I haven’t been to the pool once since my turtle time in the Orlando Women’s Tri back in October, I was pretty apprehensive to get back in.  Last week however, Christine and I dragged each other to the pool…and since she is my swim instructor in addition to my best friend, it was only fitting that by the end of our trek I was high fiving her, because I could still swim a length of the pool with out having a panic attack. Hooray. (I know I’m being sarcastic, but I was really REALLY proud of myself.)

Buoyed by my recent success I once again hit up the pool on Monday. And yes, I know that the gym holds a speed swim clinic on Monday and Wednesday, but seeings how it doesn’t start until 6:30pm and I was arriving around 5pm it would be perfect right? Right. Except the clinic ends at 6:30pm…because it starts at 4:30pm! And they have to already share the pool with a water aerobics class.

I was literally retreating back to the locker room when Ed, the instructor, came over and introduced himself. I explained my scheduling error (more like memory error) and that I was a beginner, blah, blah. Even though he ensured me I wouldn’t be in the way, as he guided me over to an lane I could share I really felt like I should be hearing “Welcome to Swim Club. The first rule of swim club is….” since I was not only the singular novice present, I was also the only female.

I did ok at first, having a lane to myself (our pool has “double lanes”…so two swimmers fit in each lane without interfering with each other) working on my stroke and longing for more endurance, so I don’t have to stop for a 10 second breather after each lap. But after a mere 125 yards Ed was asking me to move lanes, to circle with 2 older gentlemen, as more elite men had arrived.

After shyly asking the guidelines for circling (I understood the gist from listening to other swimmers, but had never had to myself) I set off once again. I started pushing myself pretty hard, trying to keep pace with my lane mates. Let’s just say that while it was a good idea, I became fatigued very quickly, resulting in a ragged stroke and my confidence lying at the bottom of the pool. I bailed after another 100 yards.

So, when I hit the pool next, I’ll double check the speed clinic schedule because while I’m ready to master the freestyle and get in and out of the water at my next tri in less than 17 minutes, I won’t be joining Swim Club anytime soon.

Love to all,
~the little guppy gal, Jess

Like what you just read? It’s a sample of my newest series Fitness Friday where I’ll blather on about my attempts at being fit. Yay.

Categories: Get It Girl | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Gal Talk: Motivation

Motivation. It’s a bit of a dirty word to a high school teacher. We are always trying to find a new way to motivate our students and let me tell you friends, in 2012 even this “young dog” is having a hard time finding any “new tricks” to motivate her students.

Motivation applies to many things. Motivation to be successful in a career. Motivation to be successful in a partnership. Motivation to raise a family, be a supportive parent, or understanding to an aging parent.

Finding the motivation to be healthy is one of the most common topics around the lunch table and blogging world, however. I don’t usually say much about motivation around these parts for many reasons, mostly because I think “motivation” is truly different for everyone and should be a personal thing.

I know that I personally am not motivated when people yell or scream “hard, faster, push-push-push” or anything of the sort. I just don’t really like yelling. Or being bossed around. Or anything that seems remotely similar to military boot camp. In fact at my triathlon one spectator (she was another competitor’s coach, I think) started yelling at me to “push harder” during the last mile of the run and I may have yelled back a few not so nice things. Don’t push me; it just makes me angry, not motivated.

Needless to say, most of the “motivational things” that are said in group classes, such as spinning, Body Pump and Body Combat don’t really get me going either.

PS. This isn’t my gym. They didn’t have any group class photos. Lame, GHF. 

This Saturday I had a revelation. Right in the middle of Body Combat. Carrie, our instructor kept saying that if we we want “to see change you have to go get it. It won’t just come to the doorstep” or something to that effect. Sometimes sweating my brains out makes my memory a touch fuzzy. I’m sure you understand.
Anyways, as usual I was tuning out the “motivation” spewing forth from the instructor’s mouth until the last track. Push-ups. Ugh. I hate push-ups. And after a bunch of punching drills that had already shredded my arms and shoulders I really, really hate push-ups. Honestly I was about to fake my way through the set when Carrie once again said “change won’t come to you, you have to go get it” and for some reason it finally clicked. If I want ripped arms, I have to fight through the push-ups. 
Now I know most of you are saying “duh, Jess. Did you really just climax with that?” Stay with me. Aside from realizing I need to embrace push-ups the important lesson I learned while teetering on shaking arms and abs was I am motivated by rational “cause and effect” statements. 
Guess that means that I’m finally motivated to be motivated. And you know what? It feels good.
Love to all,
~the “motivate me with logic and reason” gal, Jess
Categories: Get It Girl, Goal Goddess | 1 Comment

The Impulsive Half Marathoner-The Full, errr, Half Monty

Exactly one week ago I competed in my first half marathon. I’m honestly not sure when I started thinking about completing a half marathon (at least a year ago?) and now I’ve completed one. It’s a little mind boggling to be sure.

But one thing I can be sure about is on Sunday, February 12, 2012 I ran/jogged/walked 13.1 miles all over downtown St. Petersburg, FL in the Inaugural St. Petersburg Rock and Roll Half Marathon and eventually found myself crossing the long awaited finish line. 
As I stated before, registering for this race was very spontaneous. (impulsive, even?) I randomly signed up after seeing friends post the link to Facebook on 11/11/11 with a discount code bringing the cost of registration down to 60 bucks. After a quick peek at the course map, which covered some of my favorite parts of St. Pete I had an email confirmation in my inbox from RnR and a “what the hell did I just get myself into?” feeling in my gut.
A few weeks later that same group of friends whom unknowingly “got me into this mess” ran in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon, bringing some flaws of the Rock ‘n Roll series under the microscope in very sharp focus. I recall some people having real qualms about how packed the course was and that they couldn’t move, but the two issues that sent me into a panic were lack of aid stations/no water at the aid stations and a shortage of metals for the slower finishers.  
WHAT? “Come on people, I only do this for the metals!” I wailed.
Needless to say, this cute little turtle paced gal was legitimately freaking out!  But just like any of my freakouts, I got over it and got proactive. I purchased a water bottle with a running grip from Camelbak and reminded myself that they could always mail me the metal later, if they once again ran out at the St. Pete event.
It seems that the RnR group really learned their lesson in Vegas, because I could not have asked for a better first time half marathon experience on my own race day.

So, with all that preamble and no further adieu here is the story of my first half marathon:

The morning started off with a great big “ugh” regarding alarm clocks going off at 5:15am on a Sunday morning, especially when you have stayed up until past midnight with your bestie making positive running shirt signs, watching silly youtube videos, gossiping and chatting about fitness the previous evening. Oh and a double ugh for the 30 degree windy weather awaiting me outside. So yes, it was cold, but frankly I was more concerned about food than the cold snap. (well, when am I not concerned about food, honestly?)

I had discovered the previous week during my last long run-12 miles- that banana and peanut butter didn’t go too well as a pre-run meal for me and since I usually eat scrambled eggs/omlete every morning I had this crazy thought that I would just order that for room service at 5am. Um, well, it was a nice plan but no dice, because good ‘ol room service doesn’t start until 7:30am. (shows you my vast experience with room service-I thought it was 24 hours) The Starbucks in the lobby of the hotel was opening at 6am, so that was my only plan B.

Actually, it was quite a few people’s plan B, because the line was 15 deep even though I got there right at 6am. One coffee and a “perfect oatmeal” later I was headed over to the Trop for the start of the race. I did my best to woof down the oatmeal in my car, but it just tasted really sweet and I only managed to eat half of it. (Rookie mistake number 1)

I wanted to stay in my car, nice and warm, but I couldn’t hear the announcements on the loud speaker and that was making me nervous so I yanked my ugly yellow sweatshirt on over my long sleeved tech tee and headed out to join the queue for the porta-potties. Fun times, fun times. Fast forward the 25 plus minutes of shivering in corral 12 the race finally started. (rookie mistake number 2-totally could have stayed in the car all that time!) 

Another 24 minutes later thanks to the staggered start I was crossing the start line. The first 5 miles were very uneventful. Lovely, very chilly (chilly as in my nose was frozen but snotting at the same time-thanks random head cold that popped up on Friday morning) enjoyable miles, winding around the stadium and covering some western parts of Central Ave. I kept thinking about chunking the sweatshirt as it felt very cumbersome, but then another gust of wind would come swirling down the street at me. Burr.

Just past the 5 mile marker we turned back unto 4th Street South and into blessed full sun. I said goodbye to the uncomfortable yellow sweatshirt and kept on trucking. My plan to run 3x each song on my playlist was working grandly and I was also enjoying the live entertainment on the course. My only slight problem was my pants. Turns out they are a size too big for running (I bought them primarily for yoga) and therefore kept falling down, leaving me yanking them up every third or forth stride. Eventually I got used to them riding low (just on my hips, not my waist where I wanted them…nothing was exposed or anything) just let them be.

The turn around through a residential neighborhood at mile 7.5ish was particularly memorable because I stopped to chat with a friendly homeowner and play with his beautiful Great Dane. She wanted to run with me, which would have been amazing, but of course I had to say goodbye to them both. (It’s moments like that I wish I had run with my camera, but I just wanted to keep the race simple) I also said goodbye to the cool sign on my back around that time, or rather the wind said goodbye to it for me. Sniff.

Trotting along the marina and bay was great, even if a bit breezy, because that chilly breeze was laced with sweet, tangy salt. It made me feel alive and happy. And if feeling alive and happy isn’t the point of a race, then I don’t know what is. The next segment of the race was the down and back along the Pier. When I signed up for the race I was not happy about the idea of this stretch because I figured it would be in the full sun and hot as blazes. It was full sun, but the sun was welcome. Honestly as much as I keep mentioning the chill factor I’m glad it was cold. I would much prefer shivering at the start and having to plan extra layers to shed (and getting super windburned too) over sweating my brains out.

Peace to the Pier indeed. I actually love the “down and backs” of race courses, because you get to better see exactly who is ahead of and behind you. And let me tell you friends, even though I had now long lost the 3:00 hour pace keeper I was nowhere near the end either! And that golf cart that I feared would be on my heels? Not even in sight.
Exiting the Pier left only 3 miles left! Just a 5k, right? No sweat. Ugh. This was the only part of the race where I got a little frustrated and from mile 10.5 to 11.5 I didn’t run at all. Remember, rookie mistake number 1 of not enough breakfast? It came back to bite me hard. I knew I needed more calories, but had only had 2 cups of Gatorade (or whatever brand of electrolyte drink it was-they are all nasty to me) thus far, although I had water at all the aid stations. (which were at every mile-making my decision to leave my running bottle at the hotel actually a good one!)
But back to the calorie deficit, at mile 10 they offered Gu packets. Admittedly I’d never had one before, and I know you “shouldn’t do anything new on race day” but I also knew I needed something. So I took a vanilla one and sucked down about 3/4 of it with a cup of water chaser. (it actually tastes and “feels” just like vanilla pudding, so I’m a fan for future training/events)  
After the Gu pack station the race course turned down the cobblestone street of 5th NE right next to the Vinoy, aka sheer gorgeousness. I have always loved this part of St. Pete and was feeling SO good to be running along it. 
That good feeling abruptly disappeared as I rounded the corner off Bayfront onto Beach Drive and two things happened pretty much simultaneously: 1-my stomach started trying to reject the Gu. 2-I could see the finish line party but knew I still had nearly 3 miles to go. (and people who had already finished started wandering on the course-not cool, fyi) Needless to say I wasn’t feeling so alive and happy at that moment. I pushed on walking as fast as I could and focusing on keeping the Gu inside my stomach. 
Thankfully there was another aid station with water just after mile 11 and after stopping for two full cups of water and some deep breaths I felt much better. Finally all that was left was the out and back across the Snell Island Bridge. Ugh, again. We could still hear all the festivities at the Finish Line Party, and yet we were running (or walking as briskly as possible in my case) away from it.
As we turned and headed back across the bridge I finally got a last spurt of energy. Maybe it was because we were headed towards the finish. Maybe that Gu packet was finally in my bloodstream. Maybe it was gravity helping me down the Snell Island bridge. Whatever the reason I perked up and started trotting along Coffee Pot Blvd with my head held high, knowing I was less than a mile from becoming a half marathoner.
My good mood only improved when I noticed a familiar figure walking in the opposite direction on the sidewalk. With excited recognition I called out “Meghann!” and jumped up on the side walk to give her a quick hug and congrats on her run. (and engagement since I hadn’t seen her recently) Little did I know aat the time she had just successfully completed her goal of finishing a sub 1:45 half marathon. She encouraged me to keep moving, since the finish line was just around the bend. I shouted a good bye to her and kept slowly trotting to the finish line.  
[Just a quick side story here: I first met Meghann back in 2006 when she was dating one of my childhood friends and we were all home from college for the holidays. We stayed friends on Facebook even though that relationship didn’t last and it was thanks to her blog that I first discovered this world of blogging runners, inspiring me to take up competitive racing. So, even though we don’t talk on a regular basis, it is because of Meghann essentially that I am even able to write this post. Isn’t it fun how small the world is?]

They had photographers set up to catch the facial expressions of people as the finish line came into sight. This was all I could offer.
I call it “where’s the finish line?” because that was all I had been thinking for the last 3 miles! I began a slow jog towards the mats, getting really excited when I saw Christine along the fence of the shoot!
Those are my “excited hands.”
I was waving and flapping around when I saw her!
The next thing I knew I was crossing the finish line!

 Since I crossed solo the annoucers really hammed it up. I believe this is what was said:

And here comes Jess Mahoney. She is 25 and fabulous. And looking so pretty in purple today. Well, I’m sure she always look pretty, but she is sporting that purple today.
It made me laugh and really feel special, even though I’m in the “turtle group” and finished with a time of 3:26:06, a time that many other women can finish a full 26.2 miles in. And awaiting me past that finishing mat was my metal. 

My overall pace was quite a bit slower than I thought it would be (I was shooting for more of a 14:45) which also helps to explain why I was closer to 3:30 than 3:00, but I’m very pleased, considering how undertrained I was for this event. And hey, I totally wasn’t last!  I’m excited to announce after this amazing experience that while this was my first half marathon, it won’t be my last! I’m going to focus on triathlons for the rest of 2012 but I’m planning on fully training for another half for the spring of 2013 and will attempt to actually run the whole beast! Stay tuned for that fun!

Phew, writing this recap was nearly as exhausting as completing the 13.1 miles that made me a half marathoner! Thanks for reading, you deserve a metal just for finishing the post!

Love to all,
the “yup, I’m pretty proud to call myself a half marathoner now” gal, Jess

PS. My only other rookie mistake was my poor hands. I didn’t wear my gloves, which I did bring with me, but just didn’t realize how cold they would be. Also, they got very swollen around mile 6 which you can kind of see in my finisher picture if you look at my wrists. A lady I was chatting with during the “bad mile” told me it was from not keeping them at heart level when when I was taking walking breaks. Lesson learned indeed, because they were incredibly uncomfortable but went back down to normal with in an hour of finishing the race so no real harm done.

Categories: Get It Girl, Goal Goddess | 2 Comments

The Impulsive Half Marathoner-The Short of It





Details and such coming soon. The short story is: I loved my first half marathon. I might be slow, but I finished and for 2012 that is enough for this gal.

Love to all,
~the half marathoner gal herself, Jess

Categories: Get It Girl, Goal Goddess | Leave a comment

The Impulsive Half Marathoner-Here.We.Go!

I survived the Expo. (Unlike most racers, I’m not a fan of expos mostly because I suck at asking for free stuff.)

 Photo credit: Meals and Miles

I have my gear laid out. (Which is not the gear I had indented on using…considering one week ago I was sweating my brains out-and a significant volume of tequila-on my 12 miler)

And I have a sweet sign. (Care of my beloved Christine…who impulsively joined me in St. Pete for the weekend…see, we were impulsively destined to be besties!)

Love to all,
~the “hey, so I’m actually going to be covering 13.1 miles tomorrow, you know, in a race” gal, Jess

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The Impulsive Half Marathoner-the plan

Hi, my name is Jess and I’m a gal with an impulse problem.

My mouth gets me into trouble, cause I call ’em like I see ’em.

My credit card gets me into trouble because if I want something I buy it.

Similarly my taste buds also get me into trouble, because if I want to eat something, damn it I will. (sorry tight jeans)

And on November 11th, 2011 my impulses got me into trouble again.

See (what had happened was) I was killing just a few minutes at home on the Internet before heading out to a neighborhood BBQ to celebrate the super lucky Veteran’s Day when Meghann posted to fbook about the $60 deal for the St. Pete Half Marathon. (do you see where this is going?)

Did you say half marathon? (cause I’d kinda sort been thinking about doing one-usually when I’m drunk with running friends) Did you say St. Pete? (cause I used to live there and have crazy withdrawals) Did you say one day sale? (um, sale?)

 Um, yeah. So I signed up. And I was really excited. I mean, I was still high on my first triathlon finish, so why wouldn’t I be pumped for what would be my first half marathon, in one of my beloved Florida cities?

I mean, it’s only 13.1 miles. And the fact that I still couldn’t run a mile straight wouldn’t matter right?

Then after half-ass training for a 5k in November and having my revelation about running/racing during that said 5k the first weekend of December, I kinda sorta took the rest of December off. I mean, I knew that this half was in February, but that seemed so far away (it wasn’t) and I had “write half marathon training plan” on my to do list (for 5 weeks) so everything was going to my not-planned-out-impulsive-race-registration perfectly!

Well, now we are t-minus 6 days to the half. And I’ve done exactly 11 of my 13 planned training runs. Only one of those runs was double digits. And it was 12 miles. And I did it yesterday. (In three hours. Um, can you say walker in the back?)

While I might not be runner ready, I’m ThatJessGal ready, and that my friends is as ready as I can be.

Here is my plan for the day:

1- Enjoy myself (even the run on the Pier-full sun, ugh)

2- Keep my eye on the prize (because it’s all about the metal-I sure hope RnR ordered enough this time) 

3- Enjoy the post race beer (or two-cause the brew is just as important as the bling)

Now how I plan to accomplish those three goals is a touch loosey-goosey. Mostly I will NOT drink half a pitcher of margaritas the night before, like I did pre-12 miler (can you say tequila sweats? phew).  Also, I plan to order an omelet and toast at 5am from room service, so I can mimic my normal eats, because peanut butter on bread in my belly for 12 miles makes me want to ralph. (besides, if I’m paying to stay in a Hilton for two nights, you’d better believe I’m getting room service too!)

 Oh, and about the running bit? I still can’t run a mile straight, and I’m cool with that. I know I’ll be in the back of the pack, and once again I’m hoping the golf cart driver/sweeper is a cute guy cause he’ll be watching my booty the whole race!

Well, there is my plan. It’s pretty lame impulsive but regardless how under-trained I am I am just as determined that by the end of Sunday I will be a half marathoner.

Love to all,
~the impulsive little gal, Jess

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I’m a Racer, not a Runner

Now please don’t be misled by that title.

I’ve been struggling with how to write what should be a simple “race-recap” for over a month now; just as I’ve had a struggling relationship with putting sneaker to the pavement for nearly 4 years now. 

I’m not that gal standing up on the podium receiving the special awards post race. (I’m just happy to get a finisher metal.) I’m not that gal picking off my “rabbits.” (I’m happy to get passed by 10 year old Girls on the Run, decked out in purple.) I’m not the gal breaking any records, personal or otherwise. (I’m just happy to finish the race.)

But I am a gal that loves to race. (And if that means I have to run in the process, than so be it.)

However, I didn’t know all those confident statements (even if written in Italics) applied to me until recently. I knew that I needed goals to stay on top of my physical fitness game and signing up for races seemed like the right thing to do. (Beside, you do totally sound like a badass telling your friends about registering for your next [blank] kilometer race)

Speaking of friends. Here are mine.

Ashley and Jenna are my roommates from college and two of my closest friends in the entire world. They have been there for me during the ups, downs and in-betweens of life. And they also were willing to get up early on a chilly December morning to be my cheering section at the OUC 5k.

As I stood shivering with my two friends, watching the start of the OUC Half Marathon and awaiting the call to the starting line for my own race all I realized two things: One was that I was excited to be out and about on this brisk morning and and the second was that I was seriously under-trained.

When I signed up for this race I had this idea that I wanted to run a sub 45 minute 5k since I had completed the 5k run of my first triathlon in October in exactly 45 minutes, post a 400m swim and 12km bike ride. My “brother” Tim had put together a training plan for me that he predicted could even get me sub 40 minutes.

Turns out both he and I were very optimistic, but again it was 100% my “fault” I didn’t achieve either of our goals for me.  I started the training plan only 1 month (aka 4 weeks) out from the race and only completed 1 or two of the scheduled runs each week.  So yeah, really under-trained.

Regardless, when the last 1/2 marathoner had crossed the starting line and the call for us 5k-ers to line up came I hugged my girlies goodbye and jumped in towards the back of the pack.

As usual the start of the race was really exciting. (As evidenced by the little boy in white to my right.)

The pack thinned out pretty quickly and I was able to pick up a slow jog across the starting line and out onto the first leg and turn of the course.

We were running a lovely course through one of the older neighborhoods, chock-full of beautiful craftsman style houses and bungalows.  And also chock-full of cobblestone roads, slippery with morning dew. While I enjoyed the views of homes and lush landscape my legs and hips did not appreciate the cautious stride I was using on the cobblestones. Enter extreme hip cramps and lots of walking/hobbling to relieve the cramping.

I started to get frustrated with myself for not being strong enough physically, or mentally to just “power through.” Negative thoughts including “why the hell did you sign up for a 1/2 marathon if you can’t even run a 5k streamed through my mind. (And while that is still a valid question, it was not welcome mid race. I’m going to be racing in the Inaugural Rock n Roll St. Pete Half Marathon in February.)

Then suddenly my mood lifted. I honestly can’t tell you if it was a shift of sunlight in the trees, a particularly lovely house or an adorable pack of Girls on the Run passing me but I shook off that negative feeling for good.

I realized I was alive.

I realized that the blood pumping hard through my body felt amazing.

I realized that if I didn’t sign up for this race I would have been a lump sleeping in on an beautiful Saturday morning, missing out on the sunrise over Lake Eola. 

I realized that I was happy. 

I realized I was having fun.

I realized I was racing. 

I realized I am a racer, not a runner.  

So, for the rest of the race I ran when I could and walked when I couldn’t. Pure and simple. And with that I finished my first official* 5k with a respectful time of 48:47. While this time is reflective of my walk breaks, it says nothing about the racing/running balance I earned for my heart and soul by the time I crossed that finish line.

What I earned from this 5k cannot be measured with a new personal record, a trip to the winners podium or the size of my finisher’s metal. I learned to find peace with the fact that being an “A Corral” runner isn’t going to be a goal of mine. My body, nor lifestyle, could not support such a goal.
I was running this race on the anniversary of my heart surgery. I was never athletic as a child. I would much rather read a book than go for a run. And I’m ok with all those facts.

I’m a racer, not a runner.
I love the camaraderie of a race. I love seeing amazing athletes at races; I am humbled to be in the same “race” as those athletes. I love letting little kids smoke me on the course; I just love being out on the course.

Oh, and I also love the complementary beers after the race. You know me, always keeping it real.

Love to all,
~the “racer, not runner” gal, Jess

*this was my first actual 5k. My first race was a 5 mile leg of a 1/2 marathon relay and the second was the MyFirstTri sprint distance triathlon.

PS. Also, I here by swear off the “thumbs up” while racing. Between my ridiculous turned out ex ballet dancer stride and hickhicker thumbs I don’t need any additional photographic evidence looking like a total doof.

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Get It Girl | Leave a comment

Learning to Tri: MyFirstTri at The 6th Annual Orlando Women’s Triathlon

It was hard. It was encouraging. It made my legs scream. It made my lungs cry for air. It made me smile. It made me a triathlete.

Post Race, rocking my race tee, with Eleanor, my beloved bike.
Here is the story of My First Tri at the 6th Annual Orlando Women’s Triathlon. Enjoy the ride. (and swim, and run!)
The Swim: 17:17

The beautiful sunrise over Lake Mary Jane. 
Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

It was a beautiful, but chilly, morning on Saturday, October 22nd 2011 and as promised, I was shivering from both the 60 degree F air and a fair share of nerves. My Mom and her friend Anni, aka my cheering squad, had made a wrong turn on the highway, resulting in a 15 mile detour, so I was all alone on the beach of Lake Mary Jane, watching the sunrise and listening to last minute instructions from the race director.

As the pre-race meeting broke up Mom arrived, sweet sign in tow, and just in time to snap a few photos before my wave took off into the water.

Showing off my body markings.


At 7:20 am (ish-we were ahead of schedule) my wave of “My First Tri-ers” wadded ankle deep into the rather warm water of the lake.
“What buoy are you hitting?”
Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

After one last buoy check, the horn sounded and we were off into the water. As planned, I ensured that I was the last one into the water, to avoid any flying limbs from my fellow competitors. One girl ahead of me freaked out when we were only chest deep in the water. I called out to her “it’s ok, you’ve got this!” but she powered past me to the shore. 
Left Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

As soon as I was fully in the water, I found my breathing to be incredibly rapid, shallow and on the cusp of ragged-aka-out of control. I flipped on my back for a few strokes to calm down, but every time I would turn back on my stomach and start to “crawl” without putting my face in the water I would start to breathe too quickly again. This problem continued for the entire swim, and I spent most of it on my back, doing the “squid.”  (note to self: learn how to do a proper backstroke).
 I ended up staying at the back of the pack for the entire swim, since I couldn’t get into a strong rhythm. A really great lifeguard in a kayak hovered around, calling out encouragement and helping me sight, since I was on my back. I did contemplate asking for a noddle at one point, but since you legally can’t advance with one, and I can get my breath just as easily on my back I just kept doing what I was doing. 
At one point, after I had made the last turn and was really starting to slow, I was just staring up at the sky, noticing how lovely the day was becoming, I thought “hey, this is nice, I could say out here all day” but then I remembered “um, you have another 20km bike ride and a 5km run waiting for you, hurry up!” Frustratingly, when I flipped back on my stomach to try and power my way back to the shore, the shoreline was rotating around on me. Ack. Talk about instant sea-sick. Back to the safety of my back I went.

Eventually I got back to shore and staggered my way out of the lake. I literally was cross-stepping like a drunk! 

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

Run from water to transition zone: 2:41

I don’t know which sadistic member of the race committee thought a 1/2 mile run to the transition area would be perfect after an open water swim, but at the moment I sure could have punched them. I jogged the 1/4 mile along the beach, but once we turned on the asphalt of the park driveway I ended up hobbling/walking along to the transition itself. 

Transition 1: 3:10

Wow! Can’t breathe, my feet are wet and grassy, I forgot to untie my sneakers. Are we having fun yet?

The Bike: 57:11

As I predicted, the bike portion of the race was my strongest leg. I just settled into a groove as best I could, and lordy, with the headwind we were all fighting for a good 85% of the ride I needed that groove!

My pace was generally around 14mph, but at one point I slipped down to 10mph! Luckily, I made up for that slow time, when I kicked it up to 17mph for a while, when the wind was (finally!) at my back.

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography
Overall, I had a great ride, and passed a few other competitors, but by the end of the ride my feet felt like frozen blocks of ice, so I was very happy to turn back into the park and hit the bike finish line! 

Transition 2: 2:04

The Run: 45:00
The run, also as expected, was really tough. I was very under trained for this leg, since I haven’t been running much at all.  This is when I was thankful for the cool weather, because my cardio control was actually pretty good. But my legs, oh my legs. I’ve always said my legs have a mind of their own, as in I’ll decide to run to a particular place, but a good 10 paces before my “finish line” my legs will just stop!
I actually had a bit of the opposite on this run. I would suddenly start running again, and it felt great! The course was slippery in places, so that was interesting. I literally got confused at one point, when a volunteer seemed to be directing me into the woods, off the trail. I actually stopped moving and just said, “what?”  He assured me it was correct and with a shrug, off I went. 
Only to see the the finish chute looming in the distance! I picked up my pace and with a huge smile on my face (and fighting back tears, for some reason) I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon!

See me in the distance?

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

Total Time: 2:07:25

I ran straight into my Mom’s arms and started fighting back tears, all the while fighting to get my breath!

Aren’t these photos of Anni and Mom by Gray Quetti Photography fantastic?

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography

The entire race course, Moss Park and the surrounding neighborhood, was abundant with Sand Hill Cranes, aka Space Chickens, which were yet another reason my run went so well, so I had to take a picture with one!

One of the best things about this race experience was the support. Everyone on the course was so supportive and kind. The phrases “you got this” “hang in there girl” “you are about to become a triathlete” hung heavy in the air all over the race grounds. But one woman made a huge impact on me.

Meet Jessica:

Photo Credit: Gray Quetti Photography
In addition to having a really awesome name, this wonderful woman was the most inspiring/supportive person during the race. She was competing in the Olympic distance and passed me both on the bike and the run portions. Both times though, she said something encouraging and was so incredibly sincere. Oh and she won the entire Olympic division! I tried to find her after I finished to say thank you, but I couldn’t find her. So, thank you Jessica, you really made my race! 
Oh and in case you were wondering I finished 4th in my age division. And yes, I will for sure be doing another triathlon in the future; in fact I’ve already been looking up sprint distance tri’s in the spring. In the meantime I’ll be spending more time on the road, both on foot and two-wheeling, plus a lot more time both in the pool and open water! 
Love to all,
~the “hey, I’m a triathlete, look at me!” gal Jess 
Categories: Get It Girl | 1 Comment

Learning to Tri: What a (sucessful) Weekend!

Swim: 17:17

Bike: 57:11

Run: 45:00
Total (with transitions): 2:07:25
Details to come soon!
Love to all,
~the “so, I’m sort of a triathlete now” gal, Jess
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Learning to Tri: What Have I Gotten Myself Into?


Could The Semi Abnormal Gal be Any Less Prepared for the Sixth Annual Orlando Women’s Triathlon?

So, what crazy signs up for the first triathlon of her life the same week as Homecoming at the school of her employment, the end of the marking period at same said school, oh and volunteers to judge 2 Hi-Q matches that week and photograph the night time pep rally? A week that has left her exhausted, with a stuffy nose/sore throat and chugging Emergen-C like her life depends on it?

Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!

So, yeah….I’m shaking with nerves in my makeshift trisuit, to say the least (and considering the first real cold front of the fall season just hit Florida this week, I’m going to be shaking from cold as well, come Saturday morning!)
But regardless of the fact that I feel under-trained, sick and this cool snap arrived in Florida about 48 hours too soon for my taste I do have I plan, and here it is!
The Swim
The Distance: 400 meters
The Semi-Abnormal Game Plan:
               a- be the last one in the water, seriously. I do NOT want to get kicked. I’m still a little nervous about my swimming skills; I just finally mastered how to breathe over my left shoulder (I’m a righty) a week ago and it’s not always that pretty, so I don’t need a bonk on the head in addition to my awkward form. 
              b- Finish in ~ 10 minutes? I can swim one length of my gym pool (or 25m) in 35 seconds, so that is what I’m using for my time calculations. We’ll see!
The Bike
The Distance: 20km 
The Semi-Abnormal Game Plan:
              a- Cycle my heart out. I know I’m totally new to the “roadie” world, as I just got my bike Eleanor in August, but I adore riding on her. I know I will get passed, but I’m ok with that.
              b- Finish in ~60 minutes. I just finally got a working speedometer back last week, and I was pleased to discover that my “comfortable” speed is faster than I though, since I also had been under calculating the distance I was covering. I know what my “push it” speed is and how long I can maintain it, so I’m excited about my performance on wheels.
The Run
The Distance: 5km
The Semi-Abnormal Game Plan:
               a- Ugh. I really truly hate running. I can’t fool myself about this and therefore my only “training” run was last week. It was more of a hobble.
              b- Finish in ~45 minutes? I honestly plan on power walking most of it. I do want to “run the finish” line though, because I’ve never actually done that before. My last race (which was also my first race) was a relay and I was the first leg.
The Transitions
The Distance(s): Not sure
The Semi-Abnormal Game Plan:
              a- I don’t have a plan for this. I haven’t practiced transitions, but I’m ok with that.
              b- I am concerned about running from the lake to T1 and then running with my bike. See “The Run” above. (Doesn’t like to run, got it).
Well, there you have it. The not so planned out plan, which put me finishing somewhere around the 2 hour mark.  That seems like not long enough, so I’m not sure what I haven’t accounted for? Regardless, my bike is racked on my car, my gear is packed and the check list is checked! 
I’m off to Tri!
Love to all,
~the “I can’t believe this triathlon is finally here!” gal, Jess
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