Vermont 50 and IRONMAN Lake Placid Registration

I really just moved to Florida to get away from the Winters. I knew it would just be a place we would hibernate, make some money, and leave when May came.

I had no idea what would come next. Would we spend the Summers in Coastal Maine? Would we take the camper and go out West and see the National Parks? Would we end up back in CT?

If you asked me last October, the last option was not my favorite. I knew financially it would be the best option, but I was ready to explore. Nothing about going back “home” for more than a few weeks made me excited.

Fast forward 2 months. As I came down from my “Marathon High” I quickly lost any desire to train. My body felt broken, and my head was in a bad place. I would hear about, and see pics of my bro training “Bill” who would soon be attempting MT. EVEREST. He would send me pics of them in the trails, doing hill repeats, etc. For the first time I started to want to be in CT.

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That’s when I started to realize the significance of being surrounded by people who make you want to be a better athlete and person. Something that seemed so normal at home was actually not so normal. I wrote a blog about it, expressing how what we have at MF could NEVER be replaced.

Three months later we were offered an amazing opportunity to come back to CT and stay at a beautiful Lake house. It was all of a sudden a No Brainer. I needed to go back and surround myself with my MF Family…”Yes, we’ll take it!!”

Within hours of stepping off the plane I was at a mission FITNESS bootcamp. I left that night on a high that I hadn’t felt in 6 months. “This was what I need.” I thought. “This is home.”

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Leading up to this point I had taken a month completely off from working out, trying to mend my broken body. I was unable to even stand without immense pain. I had done Yoga 30 days straight in an attempt to be able to begin running again when I got back to CT.

Well, 1 week after my return I had a date to meet Matt (my brother) for a trail run at one of our favorite spots. I was nervous, given my running was nearly non-existent for the past 5 months. I show up to the trailhead and Matt says, “Bill’s coming.” Shit. I’m running with my brother and a man who just came back from climbing Mt. Everest. Any other day I would have been psyched, but I was unconditioned like I’ve never been.

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The run started off manageable. Bill says, “this is a good pace” Matt responds, “yeah, none of us are trying to kill ourselves” Bill was still suffering numbness in his toes from Everest, Matt was battling back and knee pain, and my hip and back were still sub par. We continue to run, holding a casual conversation. Then came the 1.5 mile climb…

Matt all of a sudden took off. My lungs and legs immediately felt the absence of ANY elevation and as we neared the top, I was doing everything I could to not walk. Bill was behind me, and I told him to go ahead. (I wasn’t about to walk with him behind me. Not after what he just did on Everest.)

Unfortunately, he said he was fine and stayed behind me. So I pushed. I wanted to walk. Vomit. Stop! But I kept going. Because Bill was behind me and he just did freaking Everest!!! It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast, but I made it to the top.

After that it’s about 2 miles to the car, mostly downhill. The 3 of us, all hurting from injuries, took off. I want to say we probably averaged a 7 minute mile to the finish. Where the hell did that come from? Here’s what it was..it was 3 like minded people feeding off each other’s energy. Not one word was spoken in those last 4 miles, but no words were needed.

That run was a turning point for me. My soul had reawakened and I was ready to start training again. Not 3 weeks later I text Bill, “I’m thinking of doing Vermont 50. Should I do the 50K or 50 Mile? I don’t feel ready for 50 miler.” His immediate response, “50 miles.  Sign up today” Five minutes later I sent him a screenshot of my registration. I was back!!! Back home and back with people who make me better!

Since that day I have enjoyed my time in CT like I never thought I would. My training has been going great, and I’m loving being back in the trails.  I am also doing some road runs, biking, swimming and strength.  My heart is happy with such a great group of people to train with and I feel so lucky!

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Just last weekend I joined my brother and a bunch of other MFERS to cheer on our peeps who were competing in IRONMAN Lake Placid. I attended this event in 2011 for the first time and it was such a powerful experience for me. I remember standing at the finish line, eyes full of tears and saying, “I’m doing this event”

Years passed and although I continued each year to spectate and be incredibly inspired, I never took the plunge. I watched my brother run the Olympic Oval to the finish, full of pride & happiness, yet still feared making the commitment myself.

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Sometimes the timing just has to be right. Sometimes you just know when it’s your moment. I left this years IRONMAN on such a high. I felt drunk with happiness and inspiration watching our MFers finish, but still went home that Monday with no real thought of signing up.

Then the texts starting pouring in. Many asking if I was going to sign up, and a couple from 2 bad ass chicks (one a close High School friend) saying they had signed up!! With the thought of moving back to Florida in October looming, I suddenly realized that this may be the year. I could work on my swimming in Florida and hopefully stay motivated with the focus of being an IRONMAN while down South.

I reached out to 4 men that I admire deeply. I admire them for how they push limits and do things that many don’t even think is possible. Mt. Everest. A TRIPLE IRONMAN. 100 Mile Trail Races. Each one of them gave me their own bit of advice. Then I hovered over the “Registration” button for a good 30 minutes.

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Then something clicked. These amazing athletes that I have the pleasure of surrounding myself with have shown me that FEAR and our MINDS are what hold us back from so much. Once I get rid of that, I am unstoppable. And this was the first step. 140.6 miles scares the shit out of me. Especially that first 2.4. However, I wasn’t meant to be average or to live an average life. And I’m sure each one of these men will try to explain that the reason they do this “crazy” stuff is because it is the closest to LIVING that you will ever get.

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So, in the next year I will do another 50 Mile Trail Race and an IRONMAN. Then I will continue to keep doing Races, Adventures, and LIVING. Life is short….Time to start getting uncomfortable.

“You have to do what others won’t, to achieve what others don’t.”

As many of you know, I have been training for my first ultra marathon these past couple of months. I signed up for the Bimblers Bluff 50Kish (the “ish” is what is killing me. An extra 1.5 miles. Seems so short. Tell that to my legs when I hit 18.5 miles on Sunday. Ouch) which is October 20th. It takes place through the woods of Southern Connecticut, consisting of mostly single track and forest roads.

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My training has been going well. Much different from my Hartford Marathon training. There’s the obvious: I am training mostly in the woods as opposed to mostly on the road.  However, there are other changes I have made that I am very happy with. I was lucky enough to find a great training partner who has taught me a lot about how to train. Probably because he has ultra running experience, and his wife is a ROCKSTAR runner. the real deal.  (www.msfitrunner.com) So, when a chick that rocks out sub 3 hour marathons & sub 18 min 5Ks tells you to do AB and C to get stronger & faster, you do it. Even if C is running on the ROAD doing 1/4 mile repeats. Yuck.

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But, me & the rockstars hubs do them. Why?  As he says, “coach said so”. Well, turns out, as it has happened through most my sports career, coach may be right. While doing my last 2 training runs (18 & 20 miles at Case Mountain) I felt strong. I felt good (except that last 1.5 miles Sunday). So, I have found a new, strange, love for speed work and hill repeats. I am realizing that training plans and coaches have you do these (awful) workouts because they work.

So, instead of just going out and running different distances at whatever speed feels right for the day, then adding 2 miles to each long run, I am now mixing in some hill repeats, track workouts, core and bootcamp classes at mission FITNESS (www.missionfitnessllc.com), 30-50 mile bike rides, and lots of foam rolling!  I am hoping this will all make sense and come together on October 20th  for a strong race!

This Gift or This Curse?

imageI will start by admitting my guilty pleasure: I am a big WICKED (the musical) fan. I know every word of every song, and love to play it extremely loud as I sing my heart out.  There. It’s out there. I said it.  Popular. Dancing Through Life. For Good. And…The Wizard and I.

The songs also play in my head during workouts. Today, as I trudged up a never-ending hill on my bike in 95 degree heat…it was a line from The Wizard and I that I could not get out of my head, “this gift or this curse, that I have inside..maybe at last I’ll know why”

I think this line started brewing from a comment my brother made yesterday while we were running. We decided to set out for our longest trail run, despite the oppressive heat. While running along at mile 13ish of 15ish, my brother was saying that we should give ourselves credit. Running 15ish miles in 90+ degree weather and only walking one hill was something to be proud of. He followed this up with, “we have a gift” ….I mumbled, “or curse?”

What did he mean by that statement? We both have been able to excel in multiple areas without doing the excessive training that most do. We can run 15 miles on a very hot day without much training under our belt. We can train for a marathon for half the time as most and do just as well, if not better. For me, I can play golf once a year and still shoot in the mid to low 40’s. I can join a volleyball team after only having played a few times and be asked if I played in college. I am naturally just an athletic person. I was a 3 sport all-conference/all-state athlete in High-School & a collegiate basketball player. However, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”  And mental toughness, I believe, is 75% of the battle.

On top of having a lot of natural athletic ability, I also work VERY hard.  I may not train as often as some people, but when I am on the trails, the bike, etc I am giving it EVERYTHING I have. I am looking at each training moment as a way to become a better competitor. The harder I work when training, the easier race time will be.

When I first started racing I would regularly place in my age group, however, now, with some experience and better training, I am imagestarting to place Top 3 Overall.

A gift….or a curse?

I love the idea that I have the ability to be elite. My brother said to me on the trail yesterday, “you have to start thinking differently. You have to start realizing that you could be one of the best around.” Now, that’s a pretty amazing thing. It’s also a pretty scary thing.  Scary as hell.  To be the best, it takes A LOT of hard work. Training in ways I haven’t even touched upon. It becomes a lot of pressure. It becomes fun in a different sort of way. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a top finisher at a race?

BUT, it also becomes more stressful. To commit to TRYING to be one of the best already sets you up to possibly fail.   Isn’t it just so much easier to “kind of” train, then finishing at an average time is expected?  Wouldn’t it be nice to just start at the middle or back of the pack and just enjoy the race…the only expectation to finish? I may never know what that feels like. I’m an all out competitor. If I enter a race it is to RACE. Otherwise, it’s a training run.

A gift or a curse…?