Last night, I had a nightmare that only an athlete would have. In it, I was going to the Newport Half Marathon (which I’m running next weekend) and I showed up only to realize it was changed to a triathlon. I didn’t have a wetsuit, and the water was freezing, so I had to borrow my husband’s wetsuit. It was too tight and the legs were a foot too long, but I thought I could make it work. Right before the race was going to start, I had to pee, but there was a long line for the porta potties. I waited and by the time I got back, my swim wave had already gone and I didn’t get to race.
I woke up sweating and anxious.
Seriously, only a dream an athlete would have.
It did inspire me though to do this blog post on proper preparation and showing up for your race calm and ready. This will get you to the finish line with a big smile on your face (see last year's Jingle Bell run example below!) Read on for my tips...
The week before:
1. Double check the race distance you signed up for. No joke, I had a friend that thought she had signed up for a 5K and arrived the morning of realizing it was a 10K. This might not be a big deal depending on your training, but for some athletes that could be quite a shock!
2. Yes, you should taper. If this is a longer distance A race for you, and not just a race that fit into your training schedule, you’ll want to taper for it. This helps ensures your muscles are well-saturated with glycogen and that they are well-rested and ready for the race.
3. Enjoy meals rich in carbohydrates the 2-3 days before your race. This (along with tapering) helps load up those muscles with glycogen – stored carbohydrate that your body will use during the race. You don’t need to overload on any one food in particular, but just ensure you have some healthy carbohydrates at each meal. Cereals, pastas, rice, breads, fruits, starchy vegetables – all of these can be good choices.
4. Get enough sleep (wait for it) 2 nights before your race. If it’s a big race or a new race distance for you, you’ll likely toss and turn the night before. It’s better to focus on getting a good night’s sleep two nights before the race. In essence, taking the pressure off the night before also helps to relax you, and will likely ensure that you sleep better that night too.
5. Make a list of all the things you need for your race, and pack your bag the night before. This is much more applicable for a triathlon compared to a road race, but even for a road race there are probably a few things you want with you (maybe a race belt, fuel, or water, for example). Packing the night before ensures that you don’t forget anything in your last minute nervousness the morning of.
The day of:
6. Eat a healthy breakfast. It helps to calm your nerves and ensures you have stable blood glucose as you start the race. Eat something that’s familiar, that you know sits well in your stomach, and that’s rich in carbohydrates. My favorites? A bagel, or cereal with milk and a banana.
7. Hydrate, but don’t overdo it. You want to arrive at the race hydrated, but you don’t have to do anything extra special. Drink some fluid with your breakfast, and maybe a few swigs of water or sports drink 5-10 minutes before the race. Avoid drinking a ton of water in the 2 hours before the race – you’ll end up at the start line needing to pee.
8. When you get to the race, get in line for the porta potties. Many people will end up with a nervous stomach on race mornings. You don’t want to wait until 10 minutes before the race and be stuck at the back of the line, hoping you make it in for sweet relief before the race starts. Instead, hop in line right when you get there, and if you tend to suffer from an upset stomach, get back in line again at some point before the race. (If you’re ever looking for me at a race, you can pretty much be guaranteed to find me just rotating through the porta potty line until a few minutes before the race start, haha!)
9. While on the course, pay attention to volunteers. Last November, I ran a 5K with my sister. We run fairly similar paces, but about 10 minutes after I finished was still no sign of her. The race had a point where it split for the 5K and 10K, and she was so into her music she didn’t notice the volunteers screaming and waving “5K right, 10K left!” She ended up inadvertently running a much longer race. You may have caught a similar story in the news recently about the woman who missed the turn for the half marathon and completed the full. Again, depending on your training, this might or might not be a big deal – but I’m sure it’s something most of us would rather avoid!
10. If you start freaking out on the course – “I’m going to slow!” or “I think I have to puke!” – try to relax a bit by focusing on your breathing or using a mantra. These can help to get yourself under control and can also help you push through a tough section of the race. I personally use “I am a warrior” and “control your breathing, you are fine.” It may sound silly, but it works for me and many other athletes I know.
11. Don’t try anything new on race day! That includes clothing choices (hello, possible chafing!), shoes (blisters, ugh), and fuel (no one likes to vomit during their race). Stick with what’s tried and true, and save the new for your next training session.
Put these strategies into place, and then just trust that you’ve done everything you need to show up at your race ready to kick some serious butt. You can do it!
Share with us: Do you find any of the strategies above helpful? Or do you have another strategy you’d like to share with us?
My oh my, the time has gone by quickly since my last blog post! Don’t things always get so crazy at this time of year?
The 3rd weekend in November, my husband and I celebrated our marriage at our belated wedding reception! You may remember that we eloped in California over the summer after a road race. We wanted to celebrate with friends and family, so we had a reception at Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, MA on Sunday the 18th.
The reception weekend was a ton of fun, and (I’m happy to say) a good example of how you can still stay healthy during special events!
On Saturday night (the day before the wedding), we went bowling with some of our friends who were in town. I don’t know what was going on, but just about every one of us bowled the worst game of our lives – oh well, haha. Then we hit up the karaoke bar at one of the hotels for some singing and dancing!
Then on Sunday morning before the reception, I did the Gobble Gobble Road Race in Southbridge, MA! This was a race to raise funds for Center of Hope, an organization that provides services for developmentally disabled individuals.
Terry and me ran together in the race, and my sister and brother also participated. The race was relatively flat with a few small hills, although it felt like there were more downhills than uphills which is always an amazing feeling! I ended up finishing the race in 34:54, which is actually my best 5K time to date! I’ve had some slightly faster paced 10Ks and half marathons (crazy how I can keep a faster pace in a longer race) but I was pretty proud to get that 5K time. My goal for next year is to get below 33 minutes – it’s going to happen!
My sister, unfortunately, did not do as well as she had hoped. At mile 3 – just before the 5K finish – there was a turn off for the 10K in a separate direction than the 5K finish. After waiting at the finish a few minutes and not seeing my sister, we realized that she probably went the wrong way. We finally got in the car and drove the 10K course and found her just in time to get back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding, haha!
Me and my sister.
Terry and my brother.
The reception was great – and a perfect example of not overindulging at a special event. We had a salad to start, then I ordered the butternut squash ravioli which was tossed with a little olive oil, greens, and nuts – it was fantastic. We skipped the cake (half the time they taste bad anyway!) and instead did a trio of three little mini seasonal desserts – that way we could really enjoy a bite of something tasty but not feel uncomfortably full! And that was it – no crazy buffets or 7 courses. It was perfect for us.
And of course, I spent 3 of the 4 hours of the reception burning calories getting down on the dance floor. We had a pretty sweet mix of top 90s/2000’s pop and R&B – think “Tootsie Roll”, “Cotton Eye Joe,” “Motown Philly”, etc. And no wedding would be complete without an awesome soul train line to end the night!
I love when I can say that I’ve made smart nutrition and physical activity decisions, even in situations that traditionally don’t focus on them. How do you stay healthy when attending or planning special events like weddings or parties??
This past Sunday, I was part of a marathon relay team with Endurance Fitness Systems (EFS). I’ve never done a marathon relay before, so I was excited to get out there and try it. It was also great to meet a lot of Team EFS and get to know them, since (and I’m super excited to announce this) I will be their official nutritionist!!! Team EFS is a great group of people with all different abilities and speeds, and I’m really thrilled that I’ll be working with them. And not only that, but we’ve got EFS partnering with us as well so we can offer you even more great coaching and athlete services (check out our coaching page
Team EFS Photo from Cape Cod Marathon Weekend.
Okay, back to the relay info… In terms of prep, the past two months I’ve been running pretty consistently, although it was hard getting back to my normal pace. After the last triathlon of the summer in late August, I definitely took it easy for a couple weeks before ramping up the running again. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose some of that fitness. Definitely reinforces the importance of staying active during the upcoming off-season.
Team EFS actually had 3 different relay teams of 5 people each participating in the marathon, along with several individuals doing the half marathon and full marathons independently. My relay team was awesome and we had a lot of fun on Sunday. The logistics of the race seemed confusing, but weren’t too bad once we actually got out there and drove from exchange point to exchange point. Luckily my husband volunteered to drive us around all day, so I didn’t have to worry about driving or directions or anything. The only real frustrating one was for the last runner, who had to drive separately to the exchange point only a half hour after start (per the race directors instructions), leaving that person to have to sit there for quite a while until the 4th runner got to that exchange point. For the rest of the exchanges that we did though, it was pretty simple to get from point to point.
I did the 2nd segment, a 6.15 mile segment that was fairly flat (awesome) and it hadn’t gotten windy yet (also awesome). I ended up running with two other Team EFS people, which made the run go by fast and took my mind off it. Ended up doing my segment in 1:11, a pretty good time for me!
When our team finished the relay, we waited by the end to cheer on other athletes. I walked out to just before mile 25 and met up with Jen, one of our friends who was doing the full marathon, so I could run in the last mile or so with her. I remembered when I did my full marathons just how tough those last few miles could be (if you’ve ever seen my Maui marathon photos, the photographer at mile 24 took a great shot of me crying and then dry heaving on the side of the road). It was great to be able to support her towards the end of her first full marathon race.
Now that the relay has wrapped up, I’ve got a few more events on the calendar for this season. I’ll be doing the Winterfest at MHS 5K in Canton on Sunday, December 2nd with my Hyde Park Couch to 5K group, and I’ll be doing the Winter Lights 5K in Plymouth on Friday, December 7th with my Mansfield Couch to 5K group! I’d encourage you to come out and join us for either of these events. And if you’re not quite ready for a 5K yet, contact Inspired Wellness
to schedule your own Couch to 5K program
. We offer programs for worksite wellness, with groups of friends, or on your own. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Last Sunday I participated in the Jamie Fund 5K race. I know, I’m a little late getting this race recap up – sorry! But the race was awesome. This is the 2nd year I’ve done this 5K, and I really like the course, atmosphere, and post-race festivities. Plus, all the race proceeds benefit the Jamie Fund
and iCare Disability Awareness Program.
My husband and I got to the race and met up with some friends who were also running. It was their first 5K in a while, so kudos to them for getting out there and tackling it with us! I know they’ll be joining us for some more in the future.
I was super excited to get my bib number – 33. Anyone who’s ever raced with me knows I like bib numbers with 3 or multiples of 3 for good luck. Yep, I’m superstitious like that. I also always drink a diet pepsi on the morning of my races. I know, it sounds crazy, but us athletes have our quirks.
The course was fast and flat through local Mansfield roads. I knew I wasn’t going to do fantastic in the race – I’ve been struggling a bit with speed the last month – but I always give it my all. I pushed hard in the first mile, clocking a 10:24 mile. That’s pretty good for me, because I’m normally a 12 minute per mile runner. Second mile I slowed a bit with 11:29, and then picked it back up slightly for an 11:17 in mile 3.
My finishing time was 35:01, with an overall pace of 11:16/mile. All in all, I was super happy with my performance. That’s a pretty good 5K time for me. After the race, we headed over to Casey O’Conors where we were treated to some post-race appetizers and indulged in a few beers...
.. And I was so excited to get my first Shipyard Pumpkinhead of the season, complete with cinnamon sugar on the glass – yum!!
Anyway - time to look for some good fall races – only a few 5Ks or 10Ks though. I took a lot on my plate this summer and had a road race, cycling event, or triathlon just about every weekend. I’m looking forward to having a little downtime (and going to zumba and some other classes; I like to change it up during the off-season)!
My goal for next year is to finish a 5K in under 32 minutes. Think I can do it? We’ll see! I’d love to hear from you too - What are your goals for exercise and fitness?
I love this photo that my husband took and edited for me!
A while back on Active Advantage, I scored a deal for a free race entry into the SheRox triathlon - and yesterday I competed in the race! This is apparently the fastest growing women’s only triathlon series in the country. The race was in Devens, Massachusetts.
On a side note, before my race recap - If you’re not familiar with Active Advantage, basically you pay a yearly fee and in exchange you don’t have to pay all those additional transaction fees for races that you register on active – plus you are eligible to score free race deals (like this one for SheRox), get discounts on other races, and get coupon codes for discounts at lots of fun sports-related websites. This is my second year as a member and I love it – and if you win one race, it pays for itself and more! They offer 30 day trials for $1.99, so if you're a frequent racer, click the link below to try it out!
OK, moving onto the race recap - overall, it was an awesome race. I did have just a few small pet peeves though, and one was right at the beginning – the parking was a mile from the start. I realize a mile is not that far to walk, and yes you could just hop on your bike for a quick ride. But when you have someone with you who doesn’t have a bike (like husbands, kids, friends, etc) – you’re obviously going to be walking over with them since they don’t have bikes. It’s not far, but it does take a little bit of time and when you’re trying to get ready before a race, you just want to be at the start getting everything set up just how you want it. I realize the stress caused by this was partially my fault, because if I’d left earlier I wouldn’t have had to worry as much. Although it’s still a tiny bit annoying that after you finish, you’ve got to walk back that mile to the car.
Check-in and packet pickup went smoothly, and then I got transition all set up and headed down to the area for the swim start. The swim was a 0.5 mile triangular course in Mirror Lake. It was a great morning for the swim – it was comfortable outside and the water was warm. My swim wave went off third, and it was fairly smooth with the exception that I got caught in a group of swimmers going just slightly too slow for me, but there were about 5 around me and I couldn’t break out for a few minutes. Also, I definitely should’ve had some tinted goggles, since the first 1/3 of the swim was directly facing the sun so you couldn’t sight anything! I just kept following the people in front of me until we got around that first buoy and I could actually sight again. Felt great once I could get some space on the swim – no problems with breathing and felt strong and steady the whole way.
Finishing the swim, you had to run up a pretty long bumpy concrete hill to get to transition (maybe 0.2 miles?). I should’ve left my flip flops over on the side, because that crap hurts your feet! Went pretty slow getting up that hill, so T1 was pretty long.
The bike course was a 10 mile course – two 5 mile loops. It was smoother than I thought it’d be with the number of women on the course – although my husband said he saw some close calls at a few points when he was watching bikers finishing, bikers going out for the second loop, and runners on the course – all in the same section at the same time. But for my pace, I didn’t have many problems with it being overly crowded.
I had gotten myself all anxious and nervous before this bike course because the elevation map looked like it had a pretty steep hill at one point. Turned out to be not bad at all! I actually really liked the bike course. Much easier course than the MWCC sprint course back in July. I felt great while riding.
Headed out for the last leg, the 2.9 mile run, and knew I was going to struggle. My legs were feeling a bit tired, and mile 0.5 to 1.5 was pretty much all uphill. I was insanely slow on that portion. After the 1.5 mark, then we got the nice downhill portion and I was able to pick up some speed again, but not enough to make up for that crappy run start.
I crossed the finish extremely happy with my performance that day, particularly for the swim and bike. The run could’ve been better, but oh well! I know I haven’t been running as much as I could the last 2 weeks, and there’s nothing I can do about it after the fact.
Here are my splits from the race:
0.5 mile Swim – 15:42
T1 – 5:52 (that stupid concrete hill!)
10 mile bike – 39:58
T2 – 1:25
2.9 mile run – 38:46 (ouch, haha!)
Overall time – 1:41:41
Overall place – 210/281
Age division place – 25/37
To all the ladies out there – which one of you is going to try to tackle a triathlon this year or next year?! Share in the comments if you're planning to do one. If you're thinking about one but are nervous, we can help you with training and nutrition so keep us in mind!
Getting my wetsuit on...a 10 minute process which always causes me to overheat and become very cranky, haha.
My swim wave start!
Heading out of T1 to start the bike.
Finishing up the 1st loop and heading out for the 2nd loop of the bike course.
Post-race watermelon - my favorite treat!
This past weekend, I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon at Mass State! That’s right – a 0.9 mile swim, 22 mile bike ride, and 10K (6.2 mile) run. I had started to train for an Olympic distance tri last summer, but after my apartment fire I lost my bike and didn’t have anything to ride with. So I couldn’t wait to tackle that challenge this year.
The race took place out at Lake Dennsion in Winchendon, MA. It was about an hour and a half from Mansfield, but luckily it was a little later start at 9AM so we didn’t have to get up super early. I did the Saturday race which was a co-ed race, but there was also a Sunday race that was a women’s only one (great if you’re a female racer nervous about a tri and would rather race only with the other ladies).
The swim was great, aside from the slimy stuff on the bottom of the lake that we had to stand on while we were waiting for the gun to go off, haha (it was an in-water start). But obviously that's out of anyone's control. I felt awesome during this swim – much better than the MWCC sprint tri I did two weeks ago, where I felt like I was having trouble getting into a rhythm and breathing at the beginning.
This was also the first race I’ve used my wetsuit in. My wetsuit is like a second layer of skin – it takes me about 20 minutes to get that thing on, all the while I start overheating and sweating profusely. Apparently, the wetsuit people don’t understand that not all women are a size 2 with a flat behind. Getting that thing over my butt is quite a process. If any wetsuit manufacturers are reading this: please invent one that fits curvy women!
The plus side to the wetsuit is it definitely helps with swimming smoother and buoyancy, so it makes the swim feel a lot easier! Someone gave me the tip of standing off to the side in the water to get the wetsuit off. Most people run and take it off at transition, but it’s actually easier to slide off in the water when you still have a layer of water between your skin and the suit. It’d be tough if you’re trying to do it when masses are getting out of the water, but for a back-of-the-packer like me, I’ve got plenty of room to take it off in the water.
Next part was the 22 mile bike, which was great. It was a single loop course, and there were some great stretches of roads between turns where you could pick up speed. A few hilly parts that tested the legs, but overall I felt great on the bike. Ate my Stinger waffle (yum!!) and had a bunch of Gatorade during it to keep me fueled for the run.
The 10K run is where I started to get tired. By that time, the sun had come out and it was probably somewhere in the upper 80s or maybe even low 90s. It felt HOT. Luckily, along the run course they had some ice cold sponges to cool your body off with which felt great. And a few spectators from houses along the run had hoses out to spray us down which was nice too. I couldn’t wait to reach the turnaround point, because there’s such a mental satisfaction when you know you’re finally heading back in the direction of the finish line.
Along the last few miles of the course, I knew I was one of the last few racers (it’s pretty easy to figure that out when you don’t see anyone behind you after the turnaround, haha). There was a medic guy in a golf cart type thing with a stretcher that stopped alongside me three times during the run to make sure I was okay. Yes sir, I’m not injured or dying, I’m just slow, haha! (In all seriousness though, it’s good they had him stopping to check because it was hot and I could see how people might need help).
I crossed the finish line very proud of finishing my first Olympic distance race, and was greeted by volunteers with ice cold towels to drape around my neck and some watermelon – amazing!
I met up with my husband and we watched the awards ceremony. Now, I always race in the Athena category for triathlon – it’s a category for women 150+ pounds (there’s also a similar category for men called Clydesdales with a weight requirement). Sounds silly, but by the laws of physics it takes more effort to get your bike or body to move when you’re a heavier racer – so these categories give you a chance to compete against athletes with similar body weights as you; a leveling of the playing field in essence.
Normally, there are about 5 to 15 Athena racers at the different events that I’ve done. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was the ONLY Athena in this race – so I “took 1st place” in my division! Haha, I know – a bit of a default win (especially since I was one of the last few racers!) – but I’ve never won an award at any race or got to stand on the podium before, so I took the award with a huge smile on my face and was pretty excited about it.
Overall time: 3:37:57
Swim – 40:20
T1 – 3:27
Bike – 1:32:10
T2 – 1:19
Run – 1:20:42
Any of you competing in any triathlons or other races this summer? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment and let us know what you’re doing.
Duathlons are a great race to tackle if you’ve wanted to try a triathlon, but can’t swim, or if you just want to change up your typical road race schedule a bit! A duathlon is comprised of a run, bike, run format. Yesterday, I was able to cheer on my fiancé as he did his first big race of the season – the Wrentham Duathlon: a 3 mile run, 11 mile bike, and 2 mile run.
It was a comfortable, sunny day out – a really nice day for me as a spectator to hang out outside and cheer on the athletes. Although I must say, I always feel odd sitting on the sidelines because I feel like I should be out there racing too!
I thought Firm did a nice job putting on the race, with the exception of a few little issues. They’re the race management company holding the Half Ironman we are training for this summer, so it was good to see how they set-up and whatnot. And they had some pretty awesome music going at the start/finish.
Getting ready before the start in the transition area.
Terry did great, finishing in 1:24! Terry just started doing road cycling regularly this year, though he mountain biked a lot in the past. He’s a much stronger cyclist than I am.
Coming towards the end of the 1st run portion
Cycling like a champ!
About to finish!
I ran into Patricia Lambert at this race too, an attendee from my nutrition workshop at Multisport Expo. Patricia participated in the relay option of the race. Relays are fun, because you can choose the part of the race you’re best at or that you like the most, and only do that portion. Plus you get to pull in a friend or two and enjoy racing as a team. Patricia and her friend came in first in the all female relay portion!
I was also excited to run into Barry Phelps, a great triathlete who I’ve known for a few years through Triumph Triathlon
(a free triathlon group in Boston – I highly recommend checking it out). Congrats to Barry, as he finished 4th overall and took 1st in his age group!
Nice job to all the athletes who competed this race!
One of the best ways that I find to keep myself motivated to workout is signing up for a race. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5k road race, a sprint triathlon, or a marathon – signing up for an event gives your exercise routine a sense of purpose and something to work towards.
If you’ve never considered yourself a runner or a cyclist, don’t let that stop you! When I started training for races, I went from being able to only run about a half mile straight to being able to run a marathon - in only 9 months. You can do anything that you put your mind to, as long as you put in the effort to train!
I wanted to share my race schedule with you all for the upcoming year. It’s a year I’m really exited about because I'm seriously challenging myself, participating the longest event I've ever done in September. I like to share my goals because I find it helps hold me accountable and motivates me!
April 7th – Great Bay Half Marathon
May 20th – North Shore Tour de Cure
100 mile Century Ride to support the American Diabetes Association
July 14th – Mass State Triathlon
, Olympic Distance
September 9th – Firm Man Half IronMan
(That's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run!!)
November 4th – If I get picked for the lottery drawing, I’ll be doing the NYC Marathon
(keep your fingers crossed!)
I’d encourage all of you to consider participating in any of these events with me! If you’re not sure of how to put together a race schedule, we offer customized plans that can help you. Contact us for more information and rates!