I am an Ironman!
First, this is a long-ass race report. But in my defense, this was a long-ass race.

As many of you know, I committed to the 2014 Ironman Mont-Tremblant last August 16th and immediately posted it to Facebook so that I’d be socially accountable. Many said that committing to swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, then running a marathon – all under 17 hours, is reason enough to have ME committed. Prior to signing up, I’d done a half-Ironman and run 4 marathons. This race would be a big jump, but I had a year to train. And after that year of training, race weekend was finally here.
Getting to the start wasn’t easy. Training officially began in January with my Team In Training Ironteam crew. I’d trained with them and our head coach Jay Borok last season for the 70.3 and was excited to do it again, this time for the full 140.6. The season was long and fun, though nor everything went according to plan. A few work pitches, an illness, and a job change certainly cost me a few training sessions. In the beginning of June, I tweaked my bike seat and ended up with knee pain that cost me a few weeks of riding during our peak building period. And of course, that knee pain led me to favoring my other foot, which led to a fractured metatarsal.
But why would I let a diagnosis like a “subchondral fracture of the second metatarsal head,” just eight days before Ironman, stop me? (okay, so I got clearance from my podiatrist, though he warned it would HURT!)
RACE WEEKEND
Emily and I flew to Montreal on Thursday evening and met my father at the airport for the drive to Mont-Tremblant. Nerves began to kick in, but I was excited. We checked into the Westin, the same hotel we stayed at last season for the 70.3, then headed out to carb-load.
Friday morning, I woke up early to meet a couple of teammates for a 20 minute swim in Lac Tremblant. The water temperature was 68 degrees – perfect for a wetsuit swim! After washing up, I headed to athlete check-in. Shit got real. I received my bib, numbers, swim cap and my sweet, new Ironman backpack. After picking up my bike from TriBike Transport, I spent the rest of the day taking photos, eating, watching Veronica Mars on DVD, and having panic attacks. 

Saturday morning, I met Coach JP and teammates for a quick ride to make sure our bikes were ready to roll. It was raining and about the same temperature forecasted for race day – perfect to help figure out my race day clothing plan. We checked our bikes into transition and headed back to our hotels to pack our transition bags.
Ironman has SO MANY BAGS! Rather than bringing a single bag to transition and having a single set up, the race provided individual gear bags for morning/start, swim-2-bike, bike-2-run, and bags for special needs run and special needs bike. I’d never had special needs on a race before, but this distance allows you to pack bags for the halfway points of the run and bike so you can change gear and restock nutrition. And after a heartfelt lunch with my family (Mom and Phil joined us in the Great White North as of Friday evening!) and the entire Team In Training Ironteam from around the country, I officially checked in my transition bags and rested up.
RACEDAY MORNING
I set my first alarm for 4:07am, but to say it worked would be a lie – I barely slept! I ate my standard pre-workout PB&J and headed out for a team photo, to get body-marked, and to check my special needs bags. Then I headed back to my hotel room to grab Emily and my wetsuit.

The walk to the start was longer than I remembered and we got there way to close to my 6:42 start time. I found a few teammates and together, we scrambled to get on wetsuits and head to the start. I said goodbye to Emily and after pushing through a packed crowd of spectators, made it to the corral as my wave (M 18-34) was moving onto the beach. No pre-race dip in the water for us. I tried to sync my Garmin 910xt, but there was no time. The gun went off.

THE SWIM – 1:22:43
The swim start was rushed, but I guess it worked out because I had no time to panic. Everyone ran into the water quickly, though I was toward the back as I was hoping my Garmin might sync. I gave up, figuring it would connect while I was swimming. Alas, it never did, but no worries – the course is well marked and I’m generally pretty consistent with my swim pacing.

Lac Tremblant is beautiful and calm – last year’s swim there was the first time I felt comfortable in open water and the feeling never left. I felt great. Sure, swimmers from other waves behind me got a little physical, but I just kept calm and stayed focused. At the halfway turnaround, the water got a little choppy and I hear a few people got sick, but it didn’t affect me at all. I just kept moving. And on the return portion of the swim, I’m pretty sure I caught a boats wake which helped me draft and save a little energy.
I predicted a 1:20 swim and was pretty close to it. If I didn’t have to stop to adjust goggles that got knocked, stop when I caught up to a line of slower swimmers, and didn’t stop to attempt to pee in the water near swim exit (I failed) – I’d have nailed it. Ultimately, the swim was long, boring, and almost perfect.

T1 – 00:18:16
I never have good transition times, but knew my Ironman ones would be awful. T1 is about 300 meters from the water and I didn’t want to risk running barefoot on my broken foot. I walked the distance, finally took my pee-break, then headed into the transition tent. Rather than having your gear by your bike, transition bags were lined up on the way to a giant changing room. I grabbed mine and was immediately directed into a big room with all the other male athletes to change. While you generally keep the same gear on for an entire triathlon, Ironman lets you change between sports due to the distance and I opted to take advantage.
After drying off a bit, I switched out my tri-shorts for bike shorts (I did leave on my tri-top). I lathered on chamois cream, doused myself in sunblock, added some arm sleeves, threw on my socks, cycling shoes, headband, helmet, gloves and sunglasses and was on my way.
I scarfed down a Bonk Breaker as I grabbed my bike and walked toward the mount line. And was off.

THE BIKE – 7:42:11
I was nervous heading out for the ride. Sure, I’d done a 100-miler in training with lots of climbing, but I’d missed out on weeks of building endurance and strength on the bike due to injury. And even my taper period had me only riding on my trainer in case my foot bothered me.  The course consisted of two-loops of a hilly course with close to 3000 feet of climbing per loop.

Having done a loop last year, I knew to start out slow. The beginning isn’t tough, but does consist of some rollers and I wanted to keep my heart rate low. I discovered that while my Garmin said it was finally connected to all the satellites, the distance feed was still not working. I tried to tweak while riding, but gave up. Luckily, I have a separate cadence monitor on my handlebars and it has an odometer – I took note of the reading at 10k and was able to gauge my ride from there. So much for distance alerts along the way.
After getting out of the Tremblant village, a ride down Montée Ryan takes you onto 117, a beautifully paved highway for about 14 miles before a turnaround. I knew there were a few decent hills and some rollers, but generally, this area isn’t too bad. Normally. The winds were strong, and blowing straight at us. It took a lot of extra energy to move and I certainly missed the strength I missed out on from injury-induced lost training time. At least at the turnaround, the headwind became a tailwind. Spent some quality time in aero and let the wind push down the hills. There was one solid climb at mile 32, but took advantage of the bathroom at the peak to catch my breath and lower my heart rate back down.

After a short ride continuing along the highway, we rode into Saint Jovite where the roads were packed with spectators and volunteers. The area is flat and eventually leads back to Montée Ryan / Tremblant. And it was there, around mile 44 or so, that I saw Emily and my family. As you see by Emily’s signs, they weren’t hard to miss! Seeing loved ones on the road has always been a huge motivation for me and exactly what I needed as I approached Chemin Duplessis. That’s French for “big fucking mountain.”

I spent 5 miles trying to climb a mountain with an average 12% grade (and max of 15%). Thankfully, I’d experienced these hills before and knew that they were broken up with short flats and downhills. I took it easy and enjoyed the ride as best I could, knowing that what goes up must come down. And man, the down was awesome. Hitting 40mph or so without pedaling. I quickly found myself at the halfway point in around 3 hours and 36 minutes. Not bad, considering the winds and a pair of pee-breaks.
This is when I hit special needs. Some people don’t stop, but I decided to take my sweet-ass time. I reloaded all my water bottles (more on specific nutrition later), restocked my nutrition, rubbed on some more chamois cream, ate a Bonk Breaker, and took another bathroom break. The extra time is a small price for the extra comfort on such a long day.

I headed out for loop 2. The winds were still rough, but at least I knew what I was up against. I chatted up a few other athletes and just hammered away at the miles. After spotting my support crew again near the century mark, I began my mountain ascent at the 102 mile mark. Who the hell puts a mountain at the end of a ride like this!? Obviously, the hills were a lot tougher on this go-round. But with the end of the ride so close, it was easy to keep my mind on the prize. Because at the end of the day, a race of this distance is all about will-power. Sadly, I didn’t get to enjoy the downhills as much this time around because it freaking started raining! I was pretty soaked by the end of the ride but luckily, I was about to change.
Overall, the bike was great. I definitely wasn’t as strong as I could have been, given my late-season injuries and of course, all my bathroom stops along the way didn’t help (I think 4 + special needs!). However, I knew I had the endurance and while I didn’t break the seven hours I’d have liked, I’m really happy with how the ride went and how I felt after.
T2 – 00:16:21
Another slow one since I didn’t want to run until the actual run. I took my time changing into running shorts, race singlet, and visor. I then filled up my water bottles – I’d have loved to fill them up prior, but the stupid FuelBelt bottles have a tendency to leak when not upright.
I tied up my Brooks Adrenalines and was heading out when I realized I hadn’t put Arnica on my foot. Arnica’s known to help relieve pain and swelling and it would be key to helping manage pain from the fractured foot through my run. I took my shoes back off, rubbed on the gel, and headed out yet again. Oh, and I restarted my Garmin! FINALLY, a fully-functioning watch! There was no way I could do the run without knowing my pace.

THE RUN 5:34:07
I headed out of the transition tent and immediately saw Emily and my family. After a few photos and a quick chat, I went on my way. In true Ben fashion, I wasn’t really sure where transition ended and the run started, so I just hit start on my Garmin at a random point and away I went.
The run course consisted of two half-marathon loops. The first few miles were hilly, and I’d already committed myself to walking them in hopes of keeping my heart rate low and conserving energy. And it would be a great way to try and not destroy my fractured foot too quickly.

I stuck to my plan and from an energy perspective, I felt great. My foot hurt a little, but was able to run pretty well (when I DID run). However, I think I did the typical overcompensating-on-the-good-leg thing, because by the 5k mark, my right Achilles tendon was acting up. Alas, this was race day and I knew it was something I’d just have to deal with. 
I continued to run/walk, with the running sections being pretty solid. It began to rain, which I actually enjoyed. I was heating up a little on the run and the rain felt great! Luckily, it only last a couple of miles so my shoes didn’t get too squishy. At each aid station, I grabbed some water and ate a little something – banana and orange slices, a few Honey Stinger Chews. I’d brought my own nutrition, but with the walking, it was definitely convenient and a lot more fun to just grab stuff on the go.

Most of miles 3–10 were on a flat, tree-lined roadway. However, a short area of dirt caused some problem, as some sand got into my sock. I felt the irritation and stopped to try and get it out twice to no avail. So around mile 10 or 11, I stopped at a medical station to get some Vaseline for the area to avoid a blister. The medic was awesome and one-upped that with some second skin.
I made it back to town and up through the hills leading to Tremblant village where I stopped at special needs to refill my water bottles. I saw Emily just before the half-marathon mark, and then my father who ran a little with me as I passed our hotel in the village. I’ve been asking him to exercise for years – this little moment made me so happy!

I kept running and made my way down the finisher chute. Except I wasn’t finished! Those cruel bastards put up a sign – finishers to the left and second loop to the right. The worst. Well, I already had come to grips with the upcoming second loop, so it didn’t mess my mind up too badly.
The first loop, including my bathroom breaks, special needs, and walking, timed out to 2:33:05. Not too bad. When I DID run, I was hitting about a 9:15-9:30 pace. However, I knew this second loop was going to be way tougher. My energy level was still great, but my foot and ankle were starting to really hurt.
I began running less and walking more. I knew the pain would only get worse, so I just did my best to run as much as possible until it stopped me. I’d let the pain subside, then repeat the cycle. I kept an eye on my watch and knew that if I walked the entire second loop, I’d just maybe make the 17-hour cutoff. I wasn’t worried about my final time, given the foot, but I still wanted to do my best. So I just continued on. I ran into a few of my teammates and friends along the way, but let them go ahead. I didn’t want to force myself into worse injury.
I continued to watch my watch and do math in my head. I realized that with my current pace, including walking, I could break 16 hours. So of course, I set a goal – 15 and a half. It’d be a struggle, but hey, Ironman is about pushing yourself. And worst case, I could always slow down if the pain got too bad.

As I left the wooded path and headed back toward town for the final 5k, I realized that I was doing well on time. And with only the little more than 3 miles left, I committed to running as much as possible. I walked the hills and ran the flats and downhills as best I could. I grabbed a little flat Coke from the aid stations to give me a little extra zip. And as I came up on 15 hours, I reached the 25.2 mile mark. One. Mile. To go.
The finisher chute may be the coolest experience ever. Crowds going crazy. The climax of all those months/years of training just ahead. And in Tremblant, it’s all downhill.
Then the words blasted across the night, slightly drowned by the cheering of thousands: “Benjamin Waldman – you are an Ironman!” FINAL TIME – 15:13:38

POST RACE
I’ve never smiled so much, so deliriously. I received a finisher hat and t-shirt, then a volunteer directed me to get my medal. I shuffled through the finish area where someone handed me the greatest drink of my life – chocolate milk. I love chocolate milk in life, no less for recovery. There were lots of people and food, but I needed to get back to my room and ice my foot. The fracture was killing me, so I got a plate of pasta and wandered back up toward the Westin.

In the room, I found that Emily had already taken care of picking up all my transition and special needs stuff and had rinsed out all my gear. Amazing. I did some stretching, ate a little snack, showered, and passed out!
I woke early to hit the expo again – this time for finisher gear. Ironman expos are expensive!
By 10am, we were on our way to the airport. And I was on my way to the greatest few binge-eating days of my life.
NUTRITION NOTES:
BREAKFAST: Peanut butter & jelly, water
PRE-SWIM: Banana
BIKE: Drank Skratch continuously throughout, supplemented with a SaltStick every 30 minutes. Alternated every half-hour between eating a Honey Stinger Waffle (vanilla) or a Bonk Breaker Bite (peanut butter chocolate chip). Averaged just above 300 calories/hour.
RUN: winged this one since I walked so much. Grabbed orange and/or banana slices from about every other aid station. Consumed about 90 calories of Honey Stinger Chews every 40 minutes. I drank a little flat Coke at miles 20 and 23 for an energy kick. And continued taking SaltSticks every 30 minutes throughout.
FINAL THOUGHTS
Well, I did it. It was awesome. In retrospect, I’m super grateful that I took on the challenge and didn’t let a fractured foot stop me. The race is long and hard, but compared to the time, effort, and anxiety leading up to the day, the race was a breeze. I had a great time out there, even with the pain on the run. And the run – I know I was averaging a slow pace with all the walking, but I really felt like it was easier than running a marathon alone. Maybe it’s because I was just so excited to be on the last leg? Is it because I was run/walking and maybe I should walk aid stations for all my future marathons?
I’d have loved to race faster, but given the injuries, I’m extremely proud of my time. And at the end of the day, if you aren’t qualifying for Kona, no one cares. All that matters is that you finish. And that was never a question.
And I’m glad that I did this race with Team in Training – people yelled from their bikes and the sidelines and stopped me on the run to thank me for supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Survivors. Friends and families of survivors. And to each one, I expressed that I was grateful and honored to be able to do my part for them and their loved ones. And t’s those loved ones, especially my very own dad, Fixler, and Briel that kept me going at the toughest of moments.
I thought this would be a one-and-done experience and that’d I’d stick to 70.3s in the future. But with every passing moment, I get more excited about the thought of doing another in the future. Will you be joining me?

I am an Ironman!

First, this is a long-ass race report. But in my defense, this was a long-ass race.

Ironman FB commitment

As many of you know, I committed to the 2014 Ironman Mont-Tremblant last August 16th and immediately posted it to Facebook so that I’d be socially accountable. Many said that committing to swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, then running a marathon – all under 17 hours, is reason enough to have ME committed. Prior to signing up, I’d done a half-Ironman and run 4 marathons. This race would be a big jump, but I had a year to train. And after that year of training, race weekend was finally here.

Getting to the start wasn’t easy. Training officially began in January with my Team In Training Ironteam crew. I’d trained with them and our head coach Jay Borok last season for the 70.3 and was excited to do it again, this time for the full 140.6. The season was long and fun, though nor everything went according to plan. A few work pitches, an illness, and a job change certainly cost me a few training sessions. In the beginning of June, I tweaked my bike seat and ended up with knee pain that cost me a few weeks of riding during our peak building period. And of course, that knee pain led me to favoring my other foot, which led to a fractured metatarsal.

But why would I let a diagnosis like a “subchondral fracture of the second metatarsal head,” just eight days before Ironman, stop me? (okay, so I got clearance from my podiatrist, though he warned it would HURT!)

RACE WEEKEND

Emily and I flew to Montreal on Thursday evening and met my father at the airport for the drive to Mont-Tremblant. Nerves began to kick in, but I was excited. We checked into the Westin, the same hotel we stayed at last season for the 70.3, then headed out to carb-load.

Friday morning, I woke up early to meet a couple of teammates for a 20 minute swim in Lac Tremblant. The water temperature was 68 degrees – perfect for a wetsuit swim! After washing up, I headed to athlete check-in. Shit got real. I received my bib, numbers, swim cap and my sweet, new Ironman backpack. After picking up my bike from TriBike Transport, I spent the rest of the day taking photos, eating, watching Veronica Mars on DVD, and having panic attacks. 

Ironman mont-tremblant big chair

Saturday morning, I met Coach JP and teammates for a quick ride to make sure our bikes were ready to roll. It was raining and about the same temperature forecasted for race day – perfect to help figure out my race day clothing plan. We checked our bikes into transition and headed back to our hotels to pack our transition bags.

transition bagsIronman has SO MANY BAGS! Rather than bringing a single bag to transition and having a single set up, the race provided individual gear bags for morning/start, swim-2-bike, bike-2-run, and bags for special needs run and special needs bike. I’d never had special needs on a race before, but this distance allows you to pack bags for the halfway points of the run and bike so you can change gear and restock nutrition. And after a heartfelt lunch with my family (Mom and Phil joined us in the Great White North as of Friday evening!) and the entire Team In Training Ironteam from around the country, I officially checked in my transition bags and rested up.

RACEDAY MORNING

I set my first alarm for 4:07am, but to say it worked would be a lie – I barely slept! I ate my standard pre-workout PB&J and headed out for a team photo, to get body-marked, and to check my special needs bags. Then I headed back to my hotel room to grab Emily and my wetsuit.

team photo

The walk to the start was longer than I remembered and we got there way to close to my 6:42 start time. I found a few teammates and together, we scrambled to get on wetsuits and head to the start. I said goodbye to Emily and after pushing through a packed crowd of spectators, made it to the corral as my wave (M 18-34) was moving onto the beach. No pre-race dip in the water for us. I tried to sync my Garmin 910xt, but there was no time. The gun went off.

pre-swim

THE SWIM – 1:22:43

The swim start was rushed, but I guess it worked out because I had no time to panic. Everyone ran into the water quickly, though I was toward the back as I was hoping my Garmin might sync. I gave up, figuring it would connect while I was swimming. Alas, it never did, but no worries – the course is well marked and I’m generally pretty consistent with my swim pacing.

Lac Tremblant exit

Lac Tremblant is beautiful and calm – last year’s swim there was the first time I felt comfortable in open water and the feeling never left. I felt great. Sure, swimmers from other waves behind me got a little physical, but I just kept calm and stayed focused. At the halfway turnaround, the water got a little choppy and I hear a few people got sick, but it didn’t affect me at all. I just kept moving. And on the return portion of the swim, I’m pretty sure I caught a boats wake which helped me draft and save a little energy.

I predicted a 1:20 swim and was pretty close to it. If I didn’t have to stop to adjust goggles that got knocked, stop when I caught up to a line of slower swimmers, and didn’t stop to attempt to pee in the water near swim exit (I failed) – I’d have nailed it. Ultimately, the swim was long, boring, and almost perfect.

swim exit

T1 – 00:18:16

I never have good transition times, but knew my Ironman ones would be awful. T1 is about 300 meters from the water and I didn’t want to risk running barefoot on my broken foot. I walked the distance, finally took my pee-break, then headed into the transition tent. Rather than having your gear by your bike, transition bags were lined up on the way to a giant changing room. I grabbed mine and was immediately directed into a big room with all the other male athletes to change. While you generally keep the same gear on for an entire triathlon, Ironman lets you change between sports due to the distance and I opted to take advantage.

After drying off a bit, I switched out my tri-shorts for bike shorts (I did leave on my tri-top). I lathered on chamois cream, doused myself in sunblock, added some arm sleeves, threw on my socks, cycling shoes, headband, helmet, gloves and sunglasses and was on my way.

I scarfed down a Bonk Breaker as I grabbed my bike and walked toward the mount line. And was off.

bike transition

THE BIKE – 7:42:11

I was nervous heading out for the ride. Sure, I’d done a 100-miler in training with lots of climbing, but I’d missed out on weeks of building endurance and strength on the bike due to injury. And even my taper period had me only riding on my trainer in case my foot bothered me.  The course consisted of two-loops of a hilly course with close to 3000 feet of climbing per loop.

bike elevation chart

Having done a loop last year, I knew to start out slow. The beginning isn’t tough, but does consist of some rollers and I wanted to keep my heart rate low. I discovered that while my Garmin said it was finally connected to all the satellites, the distance feed was still not working. I tried to tweak while riding, but gave up. Luckily, I have a separate cadence monitor on my handlebars and it has an odometer – I took note of the reading at 10k and was able to gauge my ride from there. So much for distance alerts along the way.

After getting out of the Tremblant village, a ride down Montée Ryan takes you onto 117, a beautifully paved highway for about 14 miles before a turnaround. I knew there were a few decent hills and some rollers, but generally, this area isn’t too bad. Normally. The winds were strong, and blowing straight at us. It took a lot of extra energy to move and I certainly missed the strength I missed out on from injury-induced lost training time. At least at the turnaround, the headwind became a tailwind. Spent some quality time in aero and let the wind push down the hills. There was one solid climb at mile 32, but took advantage of the bathroom at the peak to catch my breath and lower my heart rate back down.

instagram bike

After a short ride continuing along the highway, we rode into Saint Jovite where the roads were packed with spectators and volunteers. The area is flat and eventually leads back to Montée Ryan / Tremblant. And it was there, around mile 44 or so, that I saw Emily and my family. As you see by Emily’s signs, they weren’t hard to miss! Seeing loved ones on the road has always been a huge motivation for me and exactly what I needed as I approached Chemin Duplessis. That’s French for “big fucking mountain.”

Emily with signs

I spent 5 miles trying to climb a mountain with an average 12% grade (and max of 15%). Thankfully, I’d experienced these hills before and knew that they were broken up with short flats and downhills. I took it easy and enjoyed the ride as best I could, knowing that what goes up must come down. And man, the down was awesome. Hitting 40mph or so without pedaling. I quickly found myself at the halfway point in around 3 hours and 36 minutes. Not bad, considering the winds and a pair of pee-breaks.

This is when I hit special needs. Some people don’t stop, but I decided to take my sweet-ass time. I reloaded all my water bottles (more on specific nutrition later), restocked my nutrition, rubbed on some more chamois cream, ate a Bonk Breaker, and took another bathroom break. The extra time is a small price for the extra comfort on such a long day.

bike shot

I headed out for loop 2. The winds were still rough, but at least I knew what I was up against. I chatted up a few other athletes and just hammered away at the miles. After spotting my support crew again near the century mark, I began my mountain ascent at the 102 mile mark. Who the hell puts a mountain at the end of a ride like this!? Obviously, the hills were a lot tougher on this go-round. But with the end of the ride so close, it was easy to keep my mind on the prize. Because at the end of the day, a race of this distance is all about will-power. Sadly, I didn’t get to enjoy the downhills as much this time around because it freaking started raining! I was pretty soaked by the end of the ride but luckily, I was about to change.

Overall, the bike was great. I definitely wasn’t as strong as I could have been, given my late-season injuries and of course, all my bathroom stops along the way didn’t help (I think 4 + special needs!). However, I knew I had the endurance and while I didn’t break the seven hours I’d have liked, I’m really happy with how the ride went and how I felt after.

T2 – 00:16:21

Another slow one since I didn’t want to run until the actual run. I took my time changing into running shorts, race singlet, and visor. I then filled up my water bottles – I’d have loved to fill them up prior, but the stupid FuelBelt bottles have a tendency to leak when not upright.

I tied up my Brooks Adrenalines and was heading out when I realized I hadn’t put Arnica on my foot. Arnica’s known to help relieve pain and swelling and it would be key to helping manage pain from the fractured foot through my run. I took my shoes back off, rubbed on the gel, and headed out yet again. Oh, and I restarted my Garmin! FINALLY, a fully-functioning watch! There was no way I could do the run without knowing my pace.

Run transition

THE RUN 5:34:07

I headed out of the transition tent and immediately saw Emily and my family. After a few photos and a quick chat, I went on my way. In true Ben fashion, I wasn’t really sure where transition ended and the run started, so I just hit start on my Garmin at a random point and away I went.

The run course consisted of two half-marathon loops. The first few miles were hilly, and I’d already committed myself to walking them in hopes of keeping my heart rate low and conserving energy. And it would be a great way to try and not destroy my fractured foot too quickly.

run course elevation

I stuck to my plan and from an energy perspective, I felt great. My foot hurt a little, but was able to run pretty well (when I DID run). However, I think I did the typical overcompensating-on-the-good-leg thing, because by the 5k mark, my right Achilles tendon was acting up. Alas, this was race day and I knew it was something I’d just have to deal with. 

I continued to run/walk, with the running sections being pretty solid. It began to rain, which I actually enjoyed. I was heating up a little on the run and the rain felt great! Luckily, it only last a couple of miles so my shoes didn’t get too squishy. At each aid station, I grabbed some water and ate a little something – banana and orange slices, a few Honey Stinger Chews. I’d brought my own nutrition, but with the walking, it was definitely convenient and a lot more fun to just grab stuff on the go.

run loop 1

Most of miles 3–10 were on a flat, tree-lined roadway. However, a short area of dirt caused some problem, as some sand got into my sock. I felt the irritation and stopped to try and get it out twice to no avail. So around mile 10 or 11, I stopped at a medical station to get some Vaseline for the area to avoid a blister. The medic was awesome and one-upped that with some second skin.

I made it back to town and up through the hills leading to Tremblant village where I stopped at special needs to refill my water bottles. I saw Emily just before the half-marathon mark, and then my father who ran a little with me as I passed our hotel in the village. I’ve been asking him to exercise for years – this little moment made me so happy!

running with dad

I kept running and made my way down the finisher chute. Except I wasn’t finished! Those cruel bastards put up a sign – finishers to the left and second loop to the right. The worst. Well, I already had come to grips with the upcoming second loop, so it didn’t mess my mind up too badly.

The first loop, including my bathroom breaks, special needs, and walking, timed out to 2:33:05. Not too bad. When I DID run, I was hitting about a 9:15-9:30 pace. However, I knew this second loop was going to be way tougher. My energy level was still great, but my foot and ankle were starting to really hurt.

I began running less and walking more. I knew the pain would only get worse, so I just did my best to run as much as possible until it stopped me. I’d let the pain subside, then repeat the cycle. I kept an eye on my watch and knew that if I walked the entire second loop, I’d just maybe make the 17-hour cutoff. I wasn’t worried about my final time, given the foot, but I still wanted to do my best. So I just continued on. I ran into a few of my teammates and friends along the way, but let them go ahead. I didn’t want to force myself into worse injury.

I continued to watch my watch and do math in my head. I realized that with my current pace, including walking, I could break 16 hours. So of course, I set a goal – 15 and a half. It’d be a struggle, but hey, Ironman is about pushing yourself. And worst case, I could always slow down if the pain got too bad.

finishing the run

As I left the wooded path and headed back toward town for the final 5k, I realized that I was doing well on time. And with only the little more than 3 miles left, I committed to running as much as possible. I walked the hills and ran the flats and downhills as best I could. I grabbed a little flat Coke from the aid stations to give me a little extra zip. And as I came up on 15 hours, I reached the 25.2 mile mark. One. Mile. To go.

The finisher chute may be the coolest experience ever. Crowds going crazy. The climax of all those months/years of training just ahead. And in Tremblant, it’s all downhill.

Then the words blasted across the night, slightly drowned by the cheering of thousands: “Benjamin Waldman – you are an Ironman!” FINAL TIME – 15:13:38

finish line

POST RACE

I’ve never smiled so much, so deliriously. I received a finisher hat and t-shirt, then a volunteer directed me to get my medal. I shuffled through the finish area where someone handed me the greatest drink of my life – chocolate milk. I love chocolate milk in life, no less for recovery. There were lots of people and food, but I needed to get back to my room and ice my foot. The fracture was killing me, so I got a plate of pasta and wandered back up toward the Westin.

post race icing

In the room, I found that Emily had already taken care of picking up all my transition and special needs stuff and had rinsed out all my gear. Amazing. I did some stretching, ate a little snack, showered, and passed out!

I woke early to hit the expo again – this time for finisher gear. Ironman expos are expensive!

By 10am, we were on our way to the airport. And I was on my way to the greatest few binge-eating days of my life.

NUTRITION NOTES:

BREAKFAST: Peanut butter & jelly, water

PRE-SWIM: Banana

BIKE: Drank Skratch continuously throughout, supplemented with a SaltStick every 30 minutes. Alternated every half-hour between eating a Honey Stinger Waffle (vanilla) or a Bonk Breaker Bite (peanut butter chocolate chip). Averaged just above 300 calories/hour.

RUN: winged this one since I walked so much. Grabbed orange and/or banana slices from about every other aid station. Consumed about 90 calories of Honey Stinger Chews every 40 minutes. I drank a little flat Coke at miles 20 and 23 for an energy kick. And continued taking SaltSticks every 30 minutes throughout.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, I did it. It was awesome. In retrospect, I’m super grateful that I took on the challenge and didn’t let a fractured foot stop me. The race is long and hard, but compared to the time, effort, and anxiety leading up to the day, the race was a breeze. I had a great time out there, even with the pain on the run. And the run – I know I was averaging a slow pace with all the walking, but I really felt like it was easier than running a marathon alone. Maybe it’s because I was just so excited to be on the last leg? Is it because I was run/walking and maybe I should walk aid stations for all my future marathons?

I’d have loved to race faster, but given the injuries, I’m extremely proud of my time. And at the end of the day, if you aren’t qualifying for Kona, no one cares. All that matters is that you finish. And that was never a question.

And I’m glad that I did this race with Team in Training – people yelled from their bikes and the sidelines and stopped me on the run to thank me for supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Survivors. Friends and families of survivors. And to each one, I expressed that I was grateful and honored to be able to do my part for them and their loved ones. And t’s those loved ones, especially my very own dad, Fixler, and Briel that kept me going at the toughest of moments.

I thought this would be a one-and-done experience and that’d I’d stick to 70.3s in the future. But with every passing moment, I get more excited about the thought of doing another in the future. Will you be joining me?

LLS photo


I’m down with Barry.
Want to feel bad about yourself? Go to Barry’s Bootcamp. Seriously. The instructors are ripped and looking at them make me feel weak and lazy (see above). Which is kind of awesome, because who doesn’t want to be motivated to work harder and get stronger?
My buddy Chris has been singing the gospel of Barry’s for a long time and even got a job there. Finally, I caved and let Emily take me to a class. I’m glad I did.
Here’s the gist. Bootcamp is an hour-long class divided between alternate intervals of floor exercises and treadmill. Workouts vary by class and instructor, but most of the classes 

Most classes I’ve attended thus far were “Hard CORE abs.” Other classes include “chest, back & abs,” “butt & legs,” “arms & abs,” and “full body.” You choose  to start either running or on the floor (I prefer running, obviously) and then generally do three intervals of each.
The run is amazing. While I’m used to endurance running, this workout is about pushing your body with sprints and hills. I generally hate treadmills, but the instructor will continually yell out changes in speed and incline, keeping you on your toes. And don’t worry – you are given a range so you work out to your own ability. I’ve had my total mileage hit close to three miles, and that is including walking/recovery!
 
The floor varies pending on the targeted muscles for the class. There are workout mats, steps, light weights, medicine balls, and resistance bands which might be utilized, though many exercises are pure body weight. Expect a solid workout that will constantly leave you praying each exercise will end. The instructors have a way of pushing you right to the edge without going over. And between the words they speak and their ripped bodies as they walk around, motivation to push yourself won’t be an issue.
 
Finally, I hate gym showers but let me tell you, I don’t hate theirs. Clean and great products – a huge benefit considering it was so close to my office. And of course, they have a smoothie bar to refuel post-workout. Pricey, but delicious. 
The verdict? Check out Barry’s Bootcamp. And if you see Chris, their creative director and my former coworker (below), say hi!

(photos courtesy of Chris)

I’m down with Barry.

Want to feel bad about yourself? Go to Barry’s Bootcamp. Seriously. The instructors are ripped and looking at them make me feel weak and lazy (see above). Which is kind of awesome, because who doesn’t want to be motivated to work harder and get stronger?

My buddy Chris has been singing the gospel of Barry’s for a long time and even got a job there. Finally, I caved and let Emily take me to a class. I’m glad I did.

Here’s the gist. Bootcamp is an hour-long class divided between alternate intervals of floor exercises and treadmill. Workouts vary by class and instructor, but most of the classes

Barry's interior

Most classes I’ve attended thus far were “Hard CORE abs.” Other classes include “chest, back & abs,” “butt & legs,” “arms & abs,” and “full body.” You choose  to start either running or on the floor (I prefer running, obviously) and then generally do three intervals of each.

The run is amazing. While I’m used to endurance running, this workout is about pushing your body with sprints and hills. I generally hate treadmills, but the instructor will continually yell out changes in speed and incline, keeping you on your toes. And don’t worry – you are given a range so you work out to your own ability. I’ve had my total mileage hit close to three miles, and that is including walking/recovery!

Barry's interior 

The floor varies pending on the targeted muscles for the class. There are workout mats, steps, light weights, medicine balls, and resistance bands which might be utilized, though many exercises are pure body weight. Expect a solid workout that will constantly leave you praying each exercise will end. The instructors have a way of pushing you right to the edge without going over. And between the words they speak and their ripped bodies as they walk around, motivation to push yourself won’t be an issue.

Barry's floor 

Finally, I hate gym showers but let me tell you, I don’t hate theirs. Clean and great products – a huge benefit considering it was so close to my office. And of course, they have a smoothie bar to refuel post-workout. Pricey, but delicious. 

The verdict? Check out Barry’s Bootcamp. And if you see Chris, their creative director and my former coworker (below), say hi!

Chris

(photos courtesy of Chris)


I paced NOLA.
I’ve always wanted to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon or Half Marathon. It seemed like a cool city and my trip there last year confirmed it. So when Emily signed up with Team in Training to run the full there this past February, I was sort of jealous. I immediately put in time off at work to head down and cheer her on, but then I did my research.
It turns out, the first 12 miles or so of the half are part of the full marathon route – and the races share the same start time. I chatted with Emily and we decided that I could help pace her through those miles on her way to a new marathon PR.
  
I signed up with three weeks till race day (thanks, MRY, for paying for my entry as part of your “Get a Life” program!) and realized – I hadn’t run distance since the Marathon in early November! Alas. Emily and her training partner, Lauren, were looking to run around a 9:15 pace through those 12 miles and I agreed to take on the duty of keeping them steady and honest.
We flew down to New Orleans and met up with the team. We didn’t do much of the touristy stuff since we’d just been there six months earlier, so we focused solely on the race and the food. Perfect.

Saturday morning, we did a shakeout run with the team along the Mississippi. Short and easy. Then we hit the expo which was hosted by Brooks. Man, they did it right. They turned the standard expo shopping experience into an adventure with fun games and computerized gait analysis. Who doesn’t want to geek out at a marathon expo? I bought a cool t-shirt, played some silly games, and of course, partook in the photo booth with Emily and a few of her teammates.

We took it easy the rest of the day until the Inspiration Dinner, the pre-race ritual for Team in Training where they remind everyone that they are running for a great cause and announce the total funds raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society throughout the season. And soon after, we went back to our room, prepped for the race, and passed out.
Race morning was chilly and the fog was thick. The temperature was perfect – 57 degrees. But the humidity was 100% (I still don’t understand how that doesn’t mean we are literally swimming.) and I knew the 13.1 miles would be interesting.

Emily, Lauren and I were off, running a route that was semi-familiar. We’d run a chunk of the half marathon course on our last visit, though this time, we couldn’t see much due to the fog. The miles passed us by, albeit slowly. I am bad in humidity, but I had no choice but to fulfill my duties as pacer. I generally stayed a few steps ahead and told the girls to back down a little if they pushed ahead. I consistently reminded them to eat and drink and did my best to keep the mood light and positive.
As we approached mile 12, we had a sad moment. We’d gotten to the spot in perfect time, but it was now time to say goodbye. I wished them luck on their PRs and took off at the course split. I had a mile to go and realized I was about a minute off from hitting the two-hour half mark. This race was never about my time, but with this dangling in front of me, how  could I not go for it? Alas, despite my best efforts, my lack of fitness and the humidity got the best of me. Final race time: 2:00:16. I’ll take it.

I found the Team in Training tent to cool down and recover a bit, but my day wasn’t over. I headed out to mile 24 to cheer on runners and wait for Emily. And after a few minutes, she appeared. She looked great and I jumped in with her to run her to the finish. What’s another two miles, right? I was feeling dead, but compared to her 24 miles, I didn’t have much to complain about (main photo is from mile 24.5). We ran together until the finisher shoot, at which point I jumped out and ran along the sidelines, trying to snap photos. Sorry to anyone I might have run over! 

And of course, Emily crushed her marathon best and set a new PR! Lauren came in shortly after, setting a new record for herself as well. We came to New Orleans. We ran. We conquered. First half marathon of the year done – and was already looking forward to my next one – the NYC Half.
As for the race – I highly recommend. I’ve now run three RnR races and all were put on impeccably.  The course was flat (my Garmin said elevation gain: 4ft / loss: 9ft), the city was fun, and the local food and booze is perfect for post-race recovery. If you are considering running NOLA in the future, DO IT!

I paced NOLA.

I’ve always wanted to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon or Half Marathon. It seemed like a cool city and my trip there last year confirmed it. So when Emily signed up with Team in Training to run the full there this past February, I was sort of jealous. I immediately put in time off at work to head down and cheer her on, but then I did my research.

It turns out, the first 12 miles or so of the half are part of the full marathon route – and the races share the same start time. I chatted with Emily and we decided that I could help pace her through those miles on her way to a new marathon PR.

full course  Half course

I signed up with three weeks till race day (thanks, MRY, for paying for my entry as part of your “Get a Life” program!) and realized – I hadn’t run distance since the Marathon in early November! Alas. Emily and her training partner, Lauren, were looking to run around a 9:15 pace through those 12 miles and I agreed to take on the duty of keeping them steady and honest.

We flew down to New Orleans and met up with the team. We didn’t do much of the touristy stuff since we’d just been there six months earlier, so we focused solely on the race and the food. Perfect.

shakeout NOLA

Saturday morning, we did a shakeout run with the team along the Mississippi. Short and easy. Then we hit the expo which was hosted by Brooks. Man, they did it right. They turned the standard expo shopping experience into an adventure with fun games and computerized gait analysis. Who doesn’t want to geek out at a marathon expo? I bought a cool t-shirt, played some silly games, and of course, partook in the photo booth with Emily and a few of her teammates.

NOLA expo

We took it easy the rest of the day until the Inspiration Dinner, the pre-race ritual for Team in Training where they remind everyone that they are running for a great cause and announce the total funds raised for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society throughout the season. And soon after, we went back to our room, prepped for the race, and passed out.

Race morning was chilly and the fog was thick. The temperature was perfect – 57 degrees. But the humidity was 100% (I still don’t understand how that doesn’t mean we are literally swimming.) and I knew the 13.1 miles would be interesting.

Lauren and Emily

Emily, Lauren and I were off, running a route that was semi-familiar. We’d run a chunk of the half marathon course on our last visit, though this time, we couldn’t see much due to the fog. The miles passed us by, albeit slowly. I am bad in humidity, but I had no choice but to fulfill my duties as pacer. I generally stayed a few steps ahead and told the girls to back down a little if they pushed ahead. I consistently reminded them to eat and drink and did my best to keep the mood light and positive.

As we approached mile 12, we had a sad moment. We’d gotten to the spot in perfect time, but it was now time to say goodbye. I wished them luck on their PRs and took off at the course split. I had a mile to go and realized I was about a minute off from hitting the two-hour half mark. This race was never about my time, but with this dangling in front of me, how  could I not go for it? Alas, despite my best efforts, my lack of fitness and the humidity got the best of me. Final race time: 2:00:16. I’ll take it.

my stats

I found the Team in Training tent to cool down and recover a bit, but my day wasn’t over. I headed out to mile 24 to cheer on runners and wait for Emily. And after a few minutes, she appeared. She looked great and I jumped in with her to run her to the finish. What’s another two miles, right? I was feeling dead, but compared to her 24 miles, I didn’t have much to complain about (main photo is from mile 24.5). We ran together until the finisher shoot, at which point I jumped out and ran along the sidelines, trying to snap photos. Sorry to anyone I might have run over! 

Emily finish line

And of course, Emily crushed her marathon best and set a new PR! Lauren came in shortly after, setting a new record for herself as well. We came to New Orleans. We ran. We conquered. First half marathon of the year done – and was already looking forward to my next one – the NYC Half.

As for the race – I highly recommend. I’ve now run three RnR races and all were put on impeccably.  The course was flat (my Garmin said elevation gain: 4ft / loss: 9ft), the city was fun, and the local food and booze is perfect for post-race recovery. If you are considering running NOLA in the future, DO IT!


I’m back in purple.
It’s official. I’ve begun training for my first Ironman. When I crossed the finish of my first half-Ironman, my first thoughts were “Why the fuck would anyone want to do double that?” An hour later, I was already pondering the possibility and thinking about where I might get my finisher tattoo (an Ironman tradition). Check out my buddy John’s:

I began researching coaches and teams in the fall. I trained for the 70.3 with Team in Training (who I’ve also raced two marathons and the NYC triathlon with) and was open to the possibility of sticking with them, but wanted to make sure I was making the best decision. After all, 140.6 miles is no joke and everyone’s goals are different – I had to figure out the right choice for me.
I began researching local groups with past teammates Ali and Julie. Terrier Tri. Empire Tri Club. Asphalt Green Tri Club. TriLife. We spoke to everyone from coaches to Ironman athletes who had trained with each team to future-Ironmen on each team. Each had their own great qualities, but none seemed quite right for me. And oddly, the girls felt the same way.
Team in Training was holding an info session about the upcoming IronTeam season so we attended. Turns out, Coach Jay Borok was leading the team again. I loved Jay last season and loved his philosophy. We spoke privately for a little about my goals and concerns. And I knew this was it. I was back on the Team. And of course, my buddies, Ali and Julie, are back with me, as well as a bunch of other friends and teammates from various races/seasons.

The season officially kicked off on January 28th and we are already going strong. I’m pumped! If you plan on training for your first endurance race, I HIGHLY recommend finding a team. And not just any team… a team you love. It makes training more fun, motivates your ass to move, and just makes training overall a greater experience.

See you in the pool, in the bike lanes and on the run!

Im back in purple.

Its official. Ive begun training for my first Ironman. When I crossed the finish of my first half-Ironman, my first thoughts were Why the fuck would anyone want to do double that? An hour later, I was already pondering the possibility and thinking about where I might get my finisher tattoo (an Ironman tradition). Check out my buddy Johns:

John Tan tattoo

I began researching coaches and teams in the fall. I trained for the 70.3 with Team in Training (who Ive also raced two marathons and the NYC triathlon with) and was open to the possibility of sticking with them, but wanted to make sure I was making the best decision. After all, 140.6 miles is no joke and everyones goals are different – I had to figure out the right choice for me.

I began researching local groups with past teammates Ali and Julie. Terrier Tri. Empire Tri Club. Asphalt Green Tri Club. TriLife. We spoke to everyone from coaches to Ironman athletes who had trained with each team to future-Ironmen on each team. Each had their own great qualities, but none seemed quite right for me. And oddly, the girls felt the same way.

Team in Training was holding an info session about the upcoming IronTeam season so we attended. Turns out, Coach Jay Borok was leading the team again. I loved Jay last season and loved his philosophy. We spoke privately for a little about my goals and concerns. And I knew this was it. I was back on the Team. And of course, my buddies, Ali and Julie, are back with me, as well as a bunch of other friends and teammates from various races/seasons.

Julie and Ali

The season officially kicked off on January 28th and we are already going strong. Im pumped! If you plan on training for your first endurance race, I HIGHLY recommend finding a team. And not just any team a team you love. It makes training more fun, motivates your ass to move, and just makes training overall a greater experience.

IronTeam 2013

See you in the pool, in the bike lanes and on the run!


I’m resolute – 2014 edition.
Normally, this is where I list out multiple goals for the new year. (Okay, the year isn’t so new, but it’s been busy!) But 2014 is different. Yes, I’m signed up for the NYC Marathon thanks to the NYRR 9+1 program, but I might not even run it. It’s just not a priority. And yes, I obviously plan to stay healthy, but that’s all part of the program this year. What program?
THE IRONMAN!
My one and only goal is to complete my first full Ironman this August in Mont-Tremblant. That’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, then a marathon. Yikes.
You may recall that I raced my first Ironman 70.3 there last year. The course was amazing though tough. This summer, I’ll be going there again for another loop as I run the 70.3 as a practice for the big show. And on August 17th, I’ll be doubling the distance.
I’m excited. And terrified. And feeling a bazillion emotions that can’t be put into words. Depends on the day, really. All I know is, I paid my entry fee and have already been signed up for coaching with Team in Training again.
Off to train! (As I’ll be doing non-stop till mid-August.)

Im resolute – 2014 edition.

Normally, this is where I list out multiple goals for the new year. (Okay, the year isnt so new, but its been busy!) But 2014 is different. Yes, Im signed up for the NYC Marathon thanks to the NYRR 9+1 program, but I might not even run it. It’s just not a priority. And yes, I obviously plan to stay healthy, but thats all part of the program this year. What program?

THE IRONMAN!

My one and only goal is to complete my first full Ironman this August in Mont-Tremblant. Thats a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, then a marathon. Yikes.

You may recall that I raced my first Ironman 70.3 there last year. The course was amazing though tough. This summer, Ill be going there again for another loop as I run the 70.3 as a practice for the big show. And on August 17th, Ill be doubling the distance.

Im excited. And terrified. And feeling a bazillion emotions that cant be put into words. Depends on the day, really. All I know is, I paid my entry fee and have already been signed up for coaching with Team in Training again.

Off to train! (As Ill be doing non-stop till mid-August.)


I’m reflective – 2013 edition.
2013 flew by – in some cases literally. It was a crazy year, jam-packed with swimming, biking, running, and a ton of work travel. I set some big goals and some small ones. Time to look at how I did.
GOAL 1: STAY HEALTHY. I did pretty well this year! I had a few small issues along the way, but nothing too crazy. I strained a calf while trying to forefoot run on hill repeats. And I managed to smash another toe this year – though this one was just a sprain. I visited my favorite physical therapist, Alison, just before the NYC Marathon as I had some tendonitis in my foot, which she eradicated with just a few exercises. My biggest injury was not due to overuse, but instead due to a bike crash at the NYC Tri. Yeah, that hurt. Fortunately, my injuries healed within a month and I was back at it in no time. In terms of judging this goal, I really am focused on whether or not I’m training smarter and avoiding major overuse injuries. And with that, I think I did a pretty decent job – MISSION SEMI-COMPLETE.

GOAL 2: BREAK MY NYC MARATHON TIME. The NYCM and I just don’t get along. My 2011 NYCM was a disaster due to injury and 2012 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. And while I hoped to dominate the course in 2013, the fates had other plans. It may have been all the travel. It may have been the cookies I “carb-loaded” with. Whatever it was, I quickly knew it was not my day. It sucked, but I managed to get to that finish line in 4:22. Alas, another medal on my wall and no matter performance, 26.2 miles is always a killer accomplishment. That said, I had done so poorly in 2011 that this year WAS technically a PR! I’ll take it – and make sure I get ‘em next time. MISSION COMPLETE.

GOAL 3: RUN LOTS OF MILES, BUT NOT A SET AMOUNT. This was the first year I decided not to set a specific mileage goal. I choose to focus on triathlon over running, which meant more pool and bike time and I didn’t want to risk missing other workouts or overuse injuries to hit such a goal. And while I ended up below the 1k I’d have loved, I’m proud of all 865 of my miles which included the run portion of my first half-Ironman, a marathon, and 5 half marathons. MISSION COMPLETE.

GOAL 4: LESS LIFTING. Well, I did this one, for better or worse. I let me gym membership expire and was gym-less for the first time since high school. My coaches said I didn’t need a gym and I could just focus on body weight exercises and I’d be fine. Well, I was pretty good throughout the triathlon season about doing my body weight exercises, and I lifted weights a few times thanks to hotel gyms during my travels throughout marathon season. Still, I missed having a membership of my own. May just suck up the costs, even if I only go once a week – we’ll see. As for 2013 though, MISSION COMPLETE.
GOAL 5: BEFRIEND KARA GOUCHER. Progress! While Kara and I have yet to become besties, I can say that she noticed me! I finally came to terms with the pointlessness of saving all my Runner’s World magazines – afterall, they’re all pretty much available online. But I couldn’t bring myself to toss the Kara cover issues and when I tweeted about it, she noticed! Swoon! MISSION SEMI-COMPLETE!

GOAL 6: RACE MY FIRST HALF-IRONMAN. This year, I officially became a half-Ironman! I signed up for Team in Training NYC’s IronTeam and completed the Mont-Tremblant 70.3. That’s 1.2 miles in the water, 56 miles on the bike and then a half-marathon. After half a year of race training and years of endurance training, it felt amazing to cross that finish line. It was tough, but my love for triathlon was further solidified and I can’t wait to get back out there in 2014! MISSION COMPLETE.

GOAL 7: QUALIFY FOR THE 2014 NYC HALF AND NYC MARATHON. Another year, another attempt at completing the NYRR 9+1 and 4/5 Borough programs. Well, I did it again. Not sure I’ll take advantage of the Marathon entry, but I’m already signed up for the Half. If you are a NYC resident and want to run the best races in the city, I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities! As for me, MISSION COMPLETE.

GOAL 8: MORE YOGA AND OTHER ASSORTED WORKOUTS. Well, I made it to a few Bikram classes again this year – three, to be exact. I found my way into a few Soul Cycle classes and did a couple of classes at Tailwind Endurance along with Team in Training. The only other class I did was a Barry’s Bootcamp. I LOVED Barry’s, and while I only went one time during 2013, it made me realize that I need to do better on this goal in 2014. Classes can be fantastic and it’s fun to mix up the routine. However, for 2013, I can only give myself some credit as I really didn’t do enough. MISSION  SEMI-COMPLETE.

FINAL THOUGHTS. 2013 was all about having fun. I completed my longest race yet while running with new friends, found a new class I love, got to run in a few new cities, and participated in my first running relay. It was a great year, and hope to extend the positive attitude into 2014 as I aim for even higher goals. Congrats to everyone on an amazing year and let’s make 2014 even better!
FINAL NUMBERS
RUN – 865 miles
BIKE – 1,245 miles
SWIM – 63,714 meters

I’m reflective – 2013 edition.

2013 flew by – in some cases literally. It was a crazy year, jam-packed with swimming, biking, running, and a ton of work travel. I set some big goals and some small ones. Time to look at how I did.

GOAL 1: STAY HEALTHY. I did pretty well this year! I had a few small issues along the way, but nothing too crazy. I strained a calf while trying to forefoot run on hill repeats. And I managed to smash another toe this year – though this one was just a sprain. I visited my favorite physical therapist, Alison, just before the NYC Marathon as I had some tendonitis in my foot, which she eradicated with just a few exercises. My biggest injury was not due to overuse, but instead due to a bike crash at the NYC Tri. Yeah, that hurt. Fortunately, my injuries healed within a month and I was back at it in no time. In terms of judging this goal, I really am focused on whether or not I’m training smarter and avoiding major overuse injuries. And with that, I think I did a pretty decent job – MISSION SEMI-COMPLETE.

With Alison at PT

GOAL 2: BREAK MY NYC MARATHON TIME. The NYCM and I just don’t get along. My 2011 NYCM was a disaster due to injury and 2012 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. And while I hoped to dominate the course in 2013, the fates had other plans. It may have been all the travel. It may have been the cookies I “carb-loaded” with. Whatever it was, I quickly knew it was not my day. It sucked, but I managed to get to that finish line in 4:22. Alas, another medal on my wall and no matter performance, 26.2 miles is always a killer accomplishment. That said, I had done so poorly in 2011 that this year WAS technically a PR! I’ll take it – and make sure I get ‘em next time. MISSION COMPLETE.

Running the NYCM 2013

GOAL 3: RUN LOTS OF MILES, BUT NOT A SET AMOUNT. This was the first year I decided not to set a specific mileage goal. I choose to focus on triathlon over running, which meant more pool and bike time and I didn’t want to risk missing other workouts or overuse injuries to hit such a goal. And while I ended up below the 1k I’d have loved, I’m proud of all 865 of my miles which included the run portion of my first half-Ironman, a marathon, and 5 half marathons. MISSION COMPLETE.

Dailymile running graph

GOAL 4: LESS LIFTING. Well, I did this one, for better or worse. I let me gym membership expire and was gym-less for the first time since high school. My coaches said I didn’t need a gym and I could just focus on body weight exercises and I’d be fine. Well, I was pretty good throughout the triathlon season about doing my body weight exercises, and I lifted weights a few times thanks to hotel gyms during my travels throughout marathon season. Still, I missed having a membership of my own. May just suck up the costs, even if I only go once a week – we’ll see. As for 2013 though, MISSION COMPLETE.

GOAL 5: BEFRIEND KARA GOUCHER. Progress! While Kara and I have yet to become besties, I can say that she noticed me! I finally came to terms with the pointlessness of saving all my Runner’s World magazines – afterall, they’re all pretty much available online. But I couldn’t bring myself to toss the Kara cover issues and when I tweeted about it, she noticed! Swoon! MISSION SEMI-COMPLETE!

Kara Goucher tweet favorite

GOAL 6: RACE MY FIRST HALF-IRONMAN. This year, I officially became a half-Ironman! I signed up for Team in Training NYC’s IronTeam and completed the Mont-Tremblant 70.3. That’s 1.2 miles in the water, 56 miles on the bike and then a half-marathon. After half a year of race training and years of endurance training, it felt amazing to cross that finish line. It was tough, but my love for triathlon was further solidified and I can’t wait to get back out there in 2014! MISSION COMPLETE.

Mont-Tremblant finish line instagram

GOAL 7: QUALIFY FOR THE 2014 NYC HALF AND NYC MARATHON. Another year, another attempt at completing the NYRR 9+1 and 4/5 Borough programs. Well, I did it again. Not sure I’ll take advantage of the Marathon entry, but I’m already signed up for the Half. If you are a NYC resident and want to run the best races in the city, I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities! As for me, MISSION COMPLETE.

NYRR program chart

GOAL 8: MORE YOGA AND OTHER ASSORTED WORKOUTS. Well, I made it to a few Bikram classes again this year – three, to be exact. I found my way into a few Soul Cycle classes and did a couple of classes at Tailwind Endurance along with Team in Training. The only other class I did was a Barry’s Bootcamp. I LOVED Barry’s, and while I only went one time during 2013, it made me realize that I need to do better on this goal in 2014. Classes can be fantastic and it’s fun to mix up the routine. However, for 2013, I can only give myself some credit as I really didn’t do enough. MISSION  SEMI-COMPLETE.

Nike plus 2013 running map

FINAL THOUGHTS. 2013 was all about having fun. I completed my longest race yet while running with new friends, found a new class I love, got to run in a few new cities, and participated in my first running relay. It was a great year, and hope to extend the positive attitude into 2014 as I aim for even higher goals. Congrats to everyone on an amazing year and let’s make 2014 even better!

FINAL NUMBERS

RUN – 865 miles

BIKE – 1,245 miles

SWIM – 63,714 meters


I ran Green Bay.
Well, I’m finally going to attempt to do something about not posting enough. Rather than just wait for major things to write about, I’m going to start sharing some of the more interesting things I come across, try, and do (at least in my opinion). And with that, let me tell you about Green Bay.
I’ve written before about how I love to run in new places, so I was excited to head to Green Bay for work. I’d never been in Wisconsin, no less the city, so this was going to be a chance to cross an item off a few lists.
As I rode from the airport to the hotel, all I could think was, “Man, it is flat!” And it was. I landed in Green Bay mid-day on a Monday and work kept me busy through Tuesday night. And though I did get in a short gym workout at the hotel, it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that I hit the pavement.

Man, it was cold. I’d brought some running clothes options, though it’s been a long time since I had to figure out the proper layering for those temperatures. Fortunately, I chose well: cw-x thermal tights, a tech-t with a long sleep Nike Dri-Fit top over it, a skull cap and Nike storm gloves. The wind was cold, but I stayed comfortable.

I ran an out and back along the Fox River Trail – including some boardwalk, some sidewalk, and lots of roadway designated for rec-use only. I didn’t see a single other runner and just two cyclists. Perhaps Green Bay isn’t a big fitness town? Or maybe they are smart enough to stay inside where it’s warm.

Typically, river runs are beautiful, but this river run was just pure industrial. Not much to see, though even with the smokestacks, I felt like the air was cleaner than running up 1st Avenue. And I was grateful for such an easy running route. Kudos, Green Bay.

Overall, the run and the trip were great. Always exciting to cover new ground. And to hang out with NFL stars. Yup, I’ve been on an NFL tour, helping bring consumers’ #MyFootballFantasy ideas to life.
Here’s what we did in Green Bay:

Yup, a woman’s fantasy was for Clay Matthews to have a tea party with her two-year-old (and teach her six year old how to flex). Fantasy granted.

I ran Green Bay.

Well, Im finally going to attempt to do something about not posting enough. Rather than just wait for major things to write about, Im going to start sharing some of the more interesting things I come across, try, and do (at least in my opinion). And with that, let me tell you about Green Bay.

Ive written before about how I love to run in new places, so I was excited to head to Green Bay for work. Id never been in Wisconsin, no less the city, so this was going to be a chance to cross an item off a few lists.

As I rode from the airport to the hotel, all I could think was, Man, it is flat! And it was. I landed in Green Bay mid-day on a Monday and work kept me busy through Tuesday night. And though I did get in a short gym workout at the hotel, it wasnt until Tuesday morning that I hit the pavement.

Green Bay weather

Man, it was cold. Id brought some running clothes options, though its been a long time since I had to figure out the proper layering for those temperatures. Fortunately, I chose well: cw-x thermal tights, a tech-t with a long sleep Nike Dri-Fit top over it, a skull cap and Nike storm gloves. The wind was cold, but I stayed comfortable.

map of Green Bay run

I ran an out and back along the Fox River Trail – including some boardwalk, some sidewalk, and lots of roadway designated for rec-use only. I didnt see a single other runner and just two cyclists. Perhaps Green Bay isnt a big fitness town? Or maybe they are smart enough to stay inside where its warm.

Typically, river runs are beautiful, but this river run was just pure industrial. Not much to see, though even with the smokestacks, I felt like the air was cleaner than running up 1st Avenue. And I was grateful for such an easy running route. Kudos, Green Bay.

Overall, the run and the trip were great. Always exciting to cover new ground. And to hang out with NFL stars. Yup, Ive been on an NFL tour, helping bring consumers #MyFootballFantasy ideas to life.

Heres what we did in Green Bay:

Visa Clay Matthews

Yup, a womans fantasy was for Clay Matthews to have a tea party with her two-year-old (and teach her six year old how to flex). Fantasy granted.


I’m a five-time marathoner. And learned a lesson along the way.
The New York City Marathon was the marathon that inspired me to become a marathoner. I’d run my first half marathon in 2009 and about a month later, went out to First Avenue to cheer one of my oldest friends, Elyse. To that point, I’d never imagined running a marathon. By the end of it, I knew running a marathon was not an option.

2010 was my year and I was pumped to run my city! Then I got a call – my cousins were planning their wedding for the same weekend. Sorry Steph and David, I really thought about it. Alas, my love for them won out (the fear of my Jewish mother’s wrath probably had an effect, too). So I ran Chicago and committed to 2011 in NYC.
And in 2011, I made it, though not in great shape. A recent IT band issue had me limping in the weeks leading up to the Marathon, but I was not going to let that stop me from the greatest race in the world. I ran for about 15 miles before my ITB said, “hell no.” I painfully run-walked the final 11 miles. I crossed that finish line, but man, it sucked.

I planned on redeeming myself in 2012, but we all know what happened to the Marathon that year. I went on to run Philly with the knowledge that redemption would come in 2013. And with the Marathon’s cancellation, 2013 was poised to be something special. The bombings in Boston boosted this feeling – between the two tragedies, so many runners felt so hurt and violated and this was the catharsis needed to recover.
It’s with all this in mind, that I began training for the Marathon. My season began immediately coming off of the Ironman 70.3 and was immediately derailed by a bike crash during the NYC Triathlon. The three weeks off to heal were just a hint at the months to come. The season breezed by, and while I had a lot of great runs, my overall training was less than stellar. I ended up traveling a lot, both personal and for work and while I love running in different cities, it’s hard to get in quality workouts. At least I got to meet a few football stars for work.
  
By the end of September, I was battling some EHL tendonitis due to the infrequent running and/or a poorly tied shoe. Either way, I ended up with very few runs throughout the last 5 weeks of training. Alas, this was the NYC Marathon and I was excited!
The race always starts with the expo – though I took it easy this year and managed to spend less than $100! And of course, took advantage of a few photo ops. And met Bart Yasso! Thanks for joining and taking pics, Emily!

Friday evening, I joined my Team In Training teammates at our “inspiration dinner” to carb load, celebrate the end of training and be reminded of the people we run for. Together, TNT NYC raised over $1.5 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! And of that, $50k was raised by my own friends team, The Repeat Offenders. And the group of marathoners I mentored for TNT raised over $60k!

Saturday was uneventful, spent eating carbs and watching The X-Files. Yup, I am a newbie and ripping through it on Netflix. And all too quickly, I was waking up to an alarm at 5:47am to get ready and head to the Staten Island Ferry.
I was planning to head to Staten Island alone, but ended up running into my IrontTeam teammate Steve, our mutual friend Diego, and a bunch of their training buddies. We had a blast on the ferry and they kept me distracted from thinking about the race. We landed at the terminal and the only anxiety I felt was due to needing to pee.

I left the crew and found my friends Elyse, Carolyn, Ali and a few other TNTers. Carolyn, Elyse and I were all planning on starting together and after chugging some UCAN and making a few bathroom stops, we found ourselves at the base of the Verrazano. And we were off.

The race itself is a quick story summed up by three words: not my day. I started off alright, but just felt like I was putting in a little too much effort. We were slightly ahead of our pace, but it was early and I should not have been feeling tired. By mile 8, I was feeling off. I had to pee and knew that a pitstop changed my day in Philly the previous year, so I pulled over with high expectations. Alas, an empty bladder didn’t do the trick. I continued forward, slowly falling off pace as I slowed down. By mile 11, I knew this was not going to be a great race and let go of my time goal. At least I looked cool in photos.

I ran into a few of Emily’s girlfriends and a two of my teammates as we made our way through the north end of Brooklyn. They all asked, as you do, how I was feeling. And I knew the answer. Within a few miles, I was hitting the 59th Street Bridge and I had to take a moment to walk. I was beginning to feel dizzy and had a weird empty feeling. I’d been sticking to a solid nutrition, hydration and salt plan and couldn’t nail down why I was feeling so off, so I really backed down. I ran into my friend and coach, Sarah, who was supporting TNTers along First Ave. I told her how I was feeling and asked for advice – I was seriously considering dropping. She gave me a good pep talk and reminded me to just be safe and walk when needed.
I continued up first where I ran into another friend and teammate, Kristy. She ran with me for a good half mile, if not more, all while really helping my mental space. She reminded me that while the physical battle was not going well, it was the mental battle that I was really losing. I thought about the names on my back: Fixler, Briel and my father. This run was about so much more than me or a time. It was a symbol of being strong and fighting back. And so I continued.

Kristy headed back to her post, but within moments I found Carolyn by my side. We ran together a little, but I told her to continue on without me. I didn’t want to detract from her race. I ran into many more friends (and since my time-goal was shot, stopped to take some photos with a few) and coaches along the way, some of whom jumped in and ran with me. And I bumped into one of my mentees from the season, who was also having a not-so-great race. We ran with each other for a while, split up, then found each other again several times over the final 5 miles. Having teammates out there makes such a difference!
 
Finally, I made it through the first portion of Central Park and onto Central Park South. The energy was amazing and since I knew my time was shot, I walked a bit to take it all in – and conserve some energy so I could run the finish.  As the finish line approached, all I could think was, “why are there mountains at the end of a freaking marathon!?” It’s funny, I run those little hills by Columbus Circle regularly, but on race day, they were gigantic.
I crossed the line at 4:22:01. ZERO. ONE. How annoying is that? And it puts my pace officially at 10:01, even though it’s technically barely a fraction over 10:00. I’d be upset, but honestly, it wasn’t my day. I knew it early on and I knew it when I finished. And while I may have been significantly off my time-goal, I crossed that finish line. I received my medal and headed toward the exit.

Oh, and those ponchos everyone joked about leading up to the race for those who chose the non-baggage option? They were awesome!

Two weeks later, I look back on my fifth marathon and appreciate it more each day. It was a rough day. Maybe it was all the travel leading up to the race. Maybe it was the injury. Maybe it was the cookies I ate as part of my carb-loading the day prior. All I know, is I learned an important lesson:

A huge thanks to my Mom and Phil, Emily, Dad, Ariel, Briel, my MRY family, my friends, my TNT teammates, and the millions of strangers who came out and supported the runners and made the Marathon, and my not-so-great day, amazing.

I’m a five-time marathoner. And learned a lesson along the way.

The New York City Marathon was the marathon that inspired me to become a marathoner. I’d run my first half marathon in 2009 and about a month later, went out to First Avenue to cheer one of my oldest friends, Elyse. To that point, I’d never imagined running a marathon. By the end of it, I knew running a marathon was not an option.

Elyse at the 2009 NYC Marathon

2010 was my year and I was pumped to run my city! Then I got a call – my cousins were planning their wedding for the same weekend. Sorry Steph and David, I really thought about it. Alas, my love for them won out (the fear of my Jewish mother’s wrath probably had an effect, too). So I ran Chicago and committed to 2011 in NYC.

And in 2011, I made it, though not in great shape. A recent IT band issue had me limping in the weeks leading up to the Marathon, but I was not going to let that stop me from the greatest race in the world. I ran for about 15 miles before my ITB said, “hell no.” I painfully run-walked the final 11 miles. I crossed that finish line, but man, it sucked.

Me at the 2011 NYC Marathon

I planned on redeeming myself in 2012, but we all know what happened to the Marathon that year. I went on to run Philly with the knowledge that redemption would come in 2013. And with the Marathon’s cancellation, 2013 was poised to be something special. The bombings in Boston boosted this feeling – between the two tragedies, so many runners felt so hurt and violated and this was the catharsis needed to recover.

It’s with all this in mind, that I began training for the Marathon. My season began immediately coming off of the Ironman 70.3 and was immediately derailed by a bike crash during the NYC Triathlon. The three weeks off to heal were just a hint at the months to come. The season breezed by, and while I had a lot of great runs, my overall training was less than stellar. I ended up traveling a lot, both personal and for work and while I love running in different cities, it’s hard to get in quality workouts. At least I got to meet a few football stars for work.

me and harbaugh me and julio me and drew

By the end of September, I was battling some EHL tendonitis due to the infrequent running and/or a poorly tied shoe. Either way, I ended up with very few runs throughout the last 5 weeks of training. Alas, this was the NYC Marathon and I was excited!

The race always starts with the expo – though I took it easy this year and managed to spend less than $100! And of course, took advantage of a few photo ops. And met Bart Yasso! Thanks for joining and taking pics, Emily!

me at the NYCM expowith Bart Yasso

Friday evening, I joined my Team In Training teammates at our inspiration dinner to carb load, celebrate the end of training and be reminded of the people we run for. Together, TNT NYC raised over $1.5 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! And of that, $50k was raised by my own friends team, The Repeat Offenders. And the group of marathoners I mentored for TNT raised over $60k!

The Repeat Offenders

Saturday was uneventful, spent eating carbs and watching The X-Files. Yup, I am a newbie and ripping through it on Netflix. And all too quickly, I was waking up to an alarm at 5:47am to get ready and head to the Staten Island Ferry.

I was planning to head to Staten Island alone, but ended up running into my IrontTeam teammate Steve, our mutual friend Diego, and a bunch of their training buddies. We had a blast on the ferry and they kept me distracted from thinking about the race. We landed at the terminal and the only anxiety I felt was due to needing to pee.

With Diego, Steve, and friends

I left the crew and found my friends Elyse, Carolyn, Ali and a few other TNTers. Carolyn, Elyse and I were all planning on starting together and after chugging some UCAN and making a few bathroom stops, we found ourselves at the base of the Verrazano. And we were off.

Ali and Carolyn in the start village

The race itself is a quick story summed up by three words: not my day. I started off alright, but just felt like I was putting in a little too much effort. We were slightly ahead of our pace, but it was early and I should not have been feeling tired. By mile 8, I was feeling off. I had to pee and knew that a pitstop changed my day in Philly the previous year, so I pulled over with high expectations. Alas, an empty bladder didnt do the trick. I continued forward, slowly falling off pace as I slowed down. By mile 11, I knew this was not going to be a great race and let go of my time goal. At least I looked cool in photos.

running through BK

I ran into a few of Emilys girlfriends and a two of my teammates as we made our way through the north end of Brooklyn. They all asked, as you do, how I was feeling. And I knew the answer. Within a few miles, I was hitting the 59th Street Bridge and I had to take a moment to walk. I was beginning to feel dizzy and had a weird empty feeling. Id been sticking to a solid nutrition, hydration and salt plan and couldn’t nail down why I was feeling so off, so I really backed down. I ran into my friend and coach, Sarah, who was supporting TNTers along First Ave. I told her how I was feeling and asked for advice – I was seriously considering dropping. She gave me a good pep talk and reminded me to just be safe and walk when needed.

I continued up first where I ran into another friend and teammate, Kristy. She ran with me for a good half mile, if not more, all while really helping my mental space. She reminded me that while the physical battle was not going well, it was the mental battle that I was really losing. I thought about the names on my back: Fixler, Briel and my father. This run was about so much more than me or a time. It was a symbol of being strong and fighting back. And so I continued.

TNT shirt with names

Kristy headed back to her post, but within moments I found Carolyn by my side. We ran together a little, but I told her to continue on without me. I didnt want to detract from her race. I ran into many more friends (and since my time-goal was shot, stopped to take some photos with a few) and coaches along the way, some of whom jumped in and ran with me. And I bumped into one of my mentees from the season, who was also having a not-so-great race. We ran with each other for a while, split up, then found each other again several times over the final 5 miles. Having teammates out there makes such a difference!

walking up 1st ave with carolyn with Adam

Finally, I made it through the first portion of Central Park and onto Central Park South. The energy was amazing and since I knew my time was shot, I walked a bit to take it all in – and conserve some energy so I could run the finish.  As the finish line approached, all I could think was, why are there mountains at the end of a freaking marathon!? Its funny, I run those little hills by Columbus Circle regularly, but on race day, they were gigantic.

I crossed the line at 4:22:01. ZERO. ONE. How annoying is that? And it puts my pace officially at 10:01, even though its technically barely a fraction over 10:00. Id be upset, but honestly, it wasnt my day. I knew it early on and I knew it when I finished. And while I may have been significantly off my time-goal, I crossed that finish line. I received my medal and headed toward the exit.

NYC Marathon 2013 medal

Oh, and those ponchos everyone joked about leading up to the race for those who chose the non-baggage option? They were awesome!

NYRR marathon poncho

Two weeks later, I look back on my fifth marathon and appreciate it more each day. It was a rough day. Maybe it was all the travel leading up to the race. Maybe it was the injury. Maybe it was the cookies I ate as part of my carb-loading the day prior. All I know, is I learned an important lesson:

a lesson learned

A huge thanks to my Mom and Phil, Emily, Dad, Ariel, Briel, my MRY family, my friends, my TNT teammates, and the millions of strangers who came out and supported the runners and made the Marathon, and my not-so-great day, amazing.

Nike NYCM 2013 finisher shoot