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


I’m a van member.
Relay races have been growing in popularity for years. I’d first heard about them from some runner friends a few years back who’d run from Miami to the Florida Keys and I thought, “Man, that sounds fun.” A screening of the documentary Hood to Coast confirmed it – I had to do a relay at some point. But with my marathons and triathlon training schedules, the question was when?
My buddy and Team in Training coach Javy (below, doing catching up on some reading) came to me over the summer with an invite to join his Ragnar Napa team. He was putting two groups of 12 together to run the distance from San Francisco to Napa. The teams were a work in progress, but Emily and I signed up. She’d never been to SF before, so we’d head out west for the race, spend a night in Napa, then wander my second favorite US city together.

Typically, I’d be all up in planning. However, between the NYC Marathon training and work, I have been swamped. Race weekend came quickly and on Thursday, September 19th, we were on our way to California. We met up with Javy and a few friends and picked up the vans – and some In ‘N’ Out Burger.

We carb-loaded with the rest of our two teams – The Coast-2-Coasters and the Coast-2-Coasters x2. Only we were a significantly smaller group than 24. Turns out that a bunch of friends and teammates bailed on the trip and we’d only be 17. Ragnar rules state that you must compete as a group of 12 or an “ultra” team of 6, whereby each runner had to run 2 sets of relay legs. And Emily and I were on the Ultra team, along with Javy and new friends Abby (a fellow TNT mentor), Colleen and Akito. I’d originally asked Javy to keep my mileage below 20 as it was a down week in my training schedule (I’d normally just run a 12-miler), but that quickly went out the window as we plotted our van’s ultra legs. By the end, I was running as runner 2 and runner 8 for a total of 31.1 miles.


THE START

In typical fashion, we got to the start a little late. We quickly joined a safety briefing and I was directed to a special tent to sign a waiver – I was running the Golden Gate Bridge leg and though I didn’t read it, I’m assuming it said I wouldn’t jump. We were scheduled for an 8am start, though due to our lack of timeliness, Javy got permission for us to go with the next wave. We assumed it was at 8:30 so when the gun went off at 8:20, Emily and Sirrah (leg one for the other C-2-C’s) tossed their jackets and took off in a panic. So much for a smooth start. Our teams raced to the vans so that we could drive to the first exchange where I would start my first leg, leg 2.

LEG 2 (my 1st leg), 8:44am. – Officially 5.5 miles rated hard. 

I’ve run the Golden Gate Bridge before, but never all the way across. I was excited to finally do it – and was grateful to get such an awesome leg to start off my relay. The course guide rated it hard, but it didn’t look too tough on paper. I lined up with Mara from the other Coast-2-Coasters team and waited for our leg 1 runners – they were going to stick together for their leg. Mara and I agreed to start off together and see how we felt. She suggested she was going to be running a slower pace than I intended, but with the largest number of miles in a 30-hour period looming ahead of me, I figured she’d help me pace myself. Turns out, I didn’t need the help. Mara and I stuck out the entire leg together which was significantly tougher than expected! 
We started off with some steps that took as down to a running path which then lead to a running trail – where we were dodging tree branches and tree roots. The trail had several sections of steps up and down, including a decent climb. We found ourselves running along a section of beach, then up a large uphill into a neighborhood where we finally had some solid pavement and got some muscle relief on the down hills – my legs were trashed from the trails, stairs and beach. But that wasn’t before a little more climbing to get to the base of the Golden Gate. Once on the Bridge, the rest of the run was cake. The span is long, though relatively flat across. I’d say we enjoyed the view, but it was foggy! Of course, that didn’t stop us from snapping a selfie before reaching the end of the bridge and the end of our first leg.

I don’t know our kill count (number of people passed) for specific legs, but we got a pile on the bridge. Final average pace – 9:49.

LEG 8 (my 2nd leg), 1:27pm. – Officially 5.3 miles rated very hard.
 
I’m not used to running twice in a day, so my legs started a little stiff. The plan was to really take it easy on the first half of this leg, which was all uphill. And let me tell you, that was a HILL. Over the course of 2.5 miles, I steadily made my way to the peak. I try and incorporate hills into my runs whenever possible, so did fairly well overall and collected a few kills, but that’s not to say I didn’t take a minute walk break at around mile 2. It was on this hill that I racked up a pile of kills – as the race showed throughout my legs, it’s the hills that seem to really separate the runners from weekend warriors.
I hit the peak of the hill and suddenly my legs kicked in. Pacing myself was futile – I just went with what was confortable. My Garmin had mile 1 at 8:51, mile 2 at 8:45 and mile 3 at 10:56 (with that walk). The final 2.5 miles averaged around an 8:00 pace! I racked a few more kills, but sadly, not the one I was gunning for. A girl was about 200 meters in front of me on the downhill. By the end of the leg, she was just 20 meters ahead – she knew I was gunning for her and kept it up. Whoever you are – great job! Final average pace – 9:11.

LEG 14 (my 3rd leg), 6:43pm. – Officially 4.7 miles rated moderate.

I don’t really remember much about this leg. It was relatively flat and small rollers, with the exception of one quick, decent climb. Most of the leg was along a single road which ran along farms and woods. At one point, I hard a sound coming from behind me to my left. It was an antelope, running at full speed. We raced. He won. Then he almost got hit by a trailer, which managed to avoid him by inches. I got a few more kills, but the most notable part was the transition to dusk. Ragnar rules state that a reflective vest and headlamp must be worn from 6:30pm to 7:30am and so while it was still relatively light out, I wore my night-gear proudly. I love gear.

I pushed hard into the exchange where I handed off to Abby. By the time our van pulled out of the lot, it was already dark! Final average pace – 8:27.

LEG 20 (my 4th leg), 1:01am. – Officially 5.5 miles rated hard.

This leg was wild. It was the middle of the night and it was POURING. Lucky for me, I like running in the rain. Most of this run was along the edges and through neighborhoods – but the first 1.5 miles was all up a steep hill. My legs were burning, especially my calves which were still roughed up from running on the beach and trails during my first leg. I managed to keep a slow and steady pace up the hill, knocking off a few kills along the way. After the hill, there were some rollers, followed by a decent downhill. Up top was foggy – very foggy. I hadn’t noticed how treacherous the conditions had become during my ascent as I was going slow, but on the downhill, it got scary fast. The sidewalks were slippery and not well lit. The headlamp reflected off the fog so that I could only see a few feet in front of me and no more. Flashing red rear lamps ahead on other runners assured me that I was on course.
I chose my steps carefully, frequently checking in with myself to regain control from gravity on the descent. Toward the bottom of the hill, the fog lifted a bit and I went for it. I nabbed a few more kills and was completely soaked through. Fortunately, I had so much fun, I didn’t really notice my feet sloshing around in my running shoes. Final average pace – 9:09.

LEG 26 (my 5th leg), 6:59am. – Officially 8.3 miles rated very hard.

I was NOT excited for this leg. I’d already run 20+ miles, and was on almost zero sleep. Alas, after a small delay (Abby got lost on leg 21), this run ended up starting post-sunrise. At least it wasn’t raining anymore! I’d dried up my shoes as best I could and put on some dry running clothes and grabbed the baton (snap bracelet) from Emily and was off. I’d thought this leg was going to be relatively flat – turns out he first few miles were a slow ascent which was then followed by rollers.
Luckily, I made a friend on the course who kept me distracted for those first uphill miles. Together, we passed the Napa County line and cheered – then I let him take off as I felt myself fading a bit. I’d taken a SaltStick with caffeine that Akito had given to me, which kicked in shortly after. I regained my drive, though I still felt a little sluggish as I made my way through the rolling hills. At mile 6, I decided to take a Honey Stinger, my first nutrition during a run. Man, it helped. After a couple of minutes, I was ready to rock and finished strong. 29.1 miles done and just an easy 2-miler to go on my final leg. Final average pace – 8:56.

LEG 32 (my 6th leg), 10:59am. – Officially 2.0 miles rated easy.

This was my finale and I was excited. After a long 26 hours, I was planning on taking this slowly, but even the pouring rain couldn’t hold me back. I got the slap bracelet from Emily at the exchange and took off. The course was flat and I was flying. The rain felt great, keeping me cool. My turnover was incredible and when I looked down at my watch, I was cruising at nearly a 7-minute mile pace! I slowed down a little, knowing that while the leg was short, I DID have to last another mile. My first mile came in at 7:22. I continued to ease back a little, until we turned off road and onto the edge of a field. My legs were now fried, but the vans were ahead in the distance. I picked up my pace and finished strong. I was done! Now for my teammates to finish their legs and party at the finish line! Final average pace – 7:41.

THE FINISH.

Akito took the final leg. My van arrived at the finish line to meet him, just in time to see our counterparts, the Coast-2-Coasters full team finish. We took lots of pictures and heard the announcer give a special shoutout to an ultra-team. Emily made sure to update the race officials and let them know that we were about to finish as an ultra-team too (it wasn’t on the books since we were originally registered as a 12-man team).  We headed behind the finish line and waited for Akito so we could run in as a team. He turned the corner and as a group, crossed the line! We did it!
We took a bunch of photos and explored the finish party. We scarfed down free Dominos Pizza, then Javy and I tested out products from FRS Recovery drinks to MuscleEgg. We were going to hang in the finisher area awhile, but decided to head back to our hotel. It was a good half hour drive away and we needed showers – and sleep!
And of course, we took a final look at the van – 241 kills as a team, 54 of which were mine!


NUTRITION – I do want to note nutrition – I had no clue how to handle it for the race and totally winged it. I’d brought out a pile of random running nutrition and the team had purchased bananas, bread, bagels, peanut butter & jelly and lots of candy for the cans.
From what I can remember: I ate a banana and Clif Bar before my first leg. I then ate a PB&J on a bagel around lunchtime, a half Subway turkey sub around dinnertime and the other half of the sub after my latenight leg. I ate a Honey Stinger waffle before my second and fifth legs. And I consumed lots of Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, pretzels and water throughout. I drank Nuun throughout my runs to help my hydration and even took a couple of salt pills to help. At one point, we stopped at a gas station to refuel the van and our bodies – I chugged a protein shake and a Naked Juice. I’m sure I ate some other random things throughout, but way less than expected. Because we were an ultra team, I was constantly worried about consuming too much before my next leg, which was always just around the corner.


FINAL THOUGHTS – I always wanted to do a relay and am so glad I did. While our original plan was to be a 12-person team, I’m grateful that we did it as an ultra – I wouldn’t want it any other way. While a 12 person team allows vans to alternate and runners to get sit-down meals and sleep, being “always on” just added to the excitement and adventure. In the end, I broke a new personal record for miles in a single day (well, 30 hour period) and did better than ever expected. And I had a blast. And I was impressed and proud of my teammates every step of the way – congrats to ultra-runners Emily, Collen, Abby, Akito and of course, Javy, who ran a total of over 46 miles! And congrats to our other Coast-2-Coasters team, especially former Ironteam teammate Adam, who actually ran an ultra as they had only 11 runners and he took the extra legs. You guys are all amazing.

Have you run a relay? Thinking about one? I want to know! Excited for the next one!

I’m a van member.

Relay races have been growing in popularity for years. I’d first heard about them from some runner friends a few years back who’d run from Miami to the Florida Keys and I thought, “Man, that sounds fun.” A screening of the documentary Hood to Coast confirmed it – I had to do a relay at some point. But with my marathons and triathlon training schedules, the question was when?

My buddy and Team in Training coach Javy (below, doing catching up on some reading) came to me over the summer with an invite to join his Ragnar Napa team. He was putting two groups of 12 together to run the distance from San Francisco to Napa. The teams were a work in progress, but Emily and I signed up. She’d never been to SF before, so we’d head out west for the race, spend a night in Napa, then wander my second favorite US city together.

Javy reads Bop magazine

Typically, I’d be all up in planning. However, between the NYC Marathon training and work, I have been swamped. Race weekend came quickly and on Thursday, September 19th, we were on our way to California. We met up with Javy and a few friends and picked up the vans – and some In ‘N’ Out Burger.

In 'n' Out

We carb-loaded with the rest of our two teams – The Coast-2-Coasters and the Coast-2-Coasters x2. Only we were a significantly smaller group than 24. Turns out that a bunch of friends and teammates bailed on the trip and we’d only be 17. Ragnar rules state that you must compete as a group of 12 or an “ultra” team of 6, whereby each runner had to run 2 sets of relay legs. And Emily and I were on the Ultra team, along with Javy and new friends Abby (a fellow TNT mentor), Colleen and Akito. I’d originally asked Javy to keep my mileage below 20 as it was a down week in my training schedule (I’d normally just run a 12-miler), but that quickly went out the window as we plotted our van’s ultra legs. By the end, I was running as runner 2 and runner 8 for a total of 31.1 miles.

Mileage

THE START

Coast-2-Coasters starting line

In typical fashion, we got to the start a little late. We quickly joined a safety briefing and I was directed to a special tent to sign a waiver – I was running the Golden Gate Bridge leg and though I didn’t read it, I’m assuming it said I wouldn’t jump. We were scheduled for an 8am start, though due to our lack of timeliness, Javy got permission for us to go with the next wave. We assumed it was at 8:30 so when the gun went off at 8:20, Emily and Sirrah (leg one for the other C-2-C’s) tossed their jackets and took off in a panic. So much for a smooth start. Our teams raced to the vans so that we could drive to the first exchange where I would start my first leg, leg 2.

LEG 2 (my 1st leg), 8:44am. – Officially 5.5 miles rated hard. 

Ragnar Napa leg 2

I’ve run the Golden Gate Bridge before, but never all the way across. I was excited to finally do it – and was grateful to get such an awesome leg to start off my relay. The course guide rated it hard, but it didn’t look too tough on paper. I lined up with Mara from the other Coast-2-Coasters team and waited for our leg 1 runners – they were going to stick together for their leg. Mara and I agreed to start off together and see how we felt. She suggested she was going to be running a slower pace than I intended, but with the largest number of miles in a 30-hour period looming ahead of me, I figured she’d help me pace myself. Turns out, I didn’t need the help. Mara and I stuck out the entire leg together which was significantly tougher than expected! 

We started off with some steps that took as down to a running path which then lead to a running trail – where we were dodging tree branches and tree roots. The trail had several sections of steps up and down, including a decent climb. We found ourselves running along a section of beach, then up a large uphill into a neighborhood where we finally had some solid pavement and got some muscle relief on the down hills – my legs were trashed from the trails, stairs and beach. But that wasn’t before a little more climbing to get to the base of the Golden Gate. Once on the Bridge, the rest of the run was cake. The span is long, though relatively flat across. I’d say we enjoyed the view, but it was foggy! Of course, that didn’t stop us from snapping a selfie before reaching the end of the bridge and the end of our first leg.

Mara and me, Golden Gate Bridge

I don’t know our kill count (number of people passed) for specific legs, but we got a pile on the bridge. Final average pace – 9:49.

LEG 8 (my 2nd leg), 1:27pm. – Officially 5.3 miles rated very hard.

Ragnar Napa leg 8 

I’m not used to running twice in a day, so my legs started a little stiff. The plan was to really take it easy on the first half of this leg, which was all uphill. And let me tell you, that was a HILL. Over the course of 2.5 miles, I steadily made my way to the peak. I try and incorporate hills into my runs whenever possible, so did fairly well overall and collected a few kills, but that’s not to say I didn’t take a minute walk break at around mile 2. It was on this hill that I racked up a pile of kills – as the race showed throughout my legs, it’s the hills that seem to really separate the runners from weekend warriors.

I hit the peak of the hill and suddenly my legs kicked in. Pacing myself was futile – I just went with what was confortable. My Garmin had mile 1 at 8:51, mile 2 at 8:45 and mile 3 at 10:56 (with that walk). The final 2.5 miles averaged around an 8:00 pace! I racked a few more kills, but sadly, not the one I was gunning for. A girl was about 200 meters in front of me on the downhill. By the end of the leg, she was just 20 meters ahead – she knew I was gunning for her and kept it up. Whoever you are – great job! Final average pace – 9:11.

LEG 14 (my 3rd leg), 6:43pm. – Officially 4.7 miles rated moderate.

Ragnar Napa leg 14

I don’t really remember much about this leg. It was relatively flat and small rollers, with the exception of one quick, decent climb. Most of the leg was along a single road which ran along farms and woods. At one point, I hard a sound coming from behind me to my left. It was an antelope, running at full speed. We raced. He won. Then he almost got hit by a trailer, which managed to avoid him by inches. I got a few more kills, but the most notable part was the transition to dusk. Ragnar rules state that a reflective vest and headlamp must be worn from 6:30pm to 7:30am and so while it was still relatively light out, I wore my night-gear proudly. I love gear.

Emily and I in night gear

I pushed hard into the exchange where I handed off to Abby. By the time our van pulled out of the lot, it was already dark! Final average pace – 8:27.

LEG 20 (my 4th leg), 1:01am. – Officially 5.5 miles rated hard.

Ragnar Napa leg 20

This leg was wild. It was the middle of the night and it was POURING. Lucky for me, I like running in the rain. Most of this run was along the edges and through neighborhoods – but the first 1.5 miles was all up a steep hill. My legs were burning, especially my calves which were still roughed up from running on the beach and trails during my first leg. I managed to keep a slow and steady pace up the hill, knocking off a few kills along the way. After the hill, there were some rollers, followed by a decent downhill. Up top was foggy – very foggy. I hadn’t noticed how treacherous the conditions had become during my ascent as I was going slow, but on the downhill, it got scary fast. The sidewalks were slippery and not well lit. The headlamp reflected off the fog so that I could only see a few feet in front of me and no more. Flashing red rear lamps ahead on other runners assured me that I was on course.

I chose my steps carefully, frequently checking in with myself to regain control from gravity on the descent. Toward the bottom of the hill, the fog lifted a bit and I went for it. I nabbed a few more kills and was completely soaked through. Fortunately, I had so much fun, I didn’t really notice my feet sloshing around in my running shoes. Final average pace – 9:09.

LEG 26 (my 5th leg), 6:59am. – Officially 8.3 miles rated very hard.

Ragnar Napa leg 26

I was NOT excited for this leg. I’d already run 20+ miles, and was on almost zero sleep. Alas, after a small delay (Abby got lost on leg 21), this run ended up starting post-sunrise. At least it wasn’t raining anymore! I’d dried up my shoes as best I could and put on some dry running clothes and grabbed the baton (snap bracelet) from Emily and was off. I’d thought this leg was going to be relatively flat – turns out he first few miles were a slow ascent which was then followed by rollers.

Luckily, I made a friend on the course who kept me distracted for those first uphill miles. Together, we passed the Napa County line and cheered – then I let him take off as I felt myself fading a bit. I’d taken a SaltStick with caffeine that Akito had given to me, which kicked in shortly after. I regained my drive, though I still felt a little sluggish as I made my way through the rolling hills. At mile 6, I decided to take a Honey Stinger, my first nutrition during a run. Man, it helped. After a couple of minutes, I was ready to rock and finished strong. 29.1 miles done and just an easy 2-miler to go on my final leg. Final average pace – 8:56.

LEG 32 (my 6th leg), 10:59am. – Officially 2.0 miles rated easy.

Ragnar Napa leg 32

This was my finale and I was excited. After a long 26 hours, I was planning on taking this slowly, but even the pouring rain couldn’t hold me back. I got the slap bracelet from Emily at the exchange and took off. The course was flat and I was flying. The rain felt great, keeping me cool. My turnover was incredible and when I looked down at my watch, I was cruising at nearly a 7-minute mile pace! I slowed down a little, knowing that while the leg was short, I DID have to last another mile. My first mile came in at 7:22. I continued to ease back a little, until we turned off road and onto the edge of a field. My legs were now fried, but the vans were ahead in the distance. I picked up my pace and finished strong. I was done! Now for my teammates to finish their legs and party at the finish line! Final average pace – 7:41.

THE FINISH.

Coast-2-Coasters x2 finish

Akito took the final leg. My van arrived at the finish line to meet him, just in time to see our counterparts, the Coast-2-Coasters full team finish. We took lots of pictures and heard the announcer give a special shoutout to an ultra-team. Emily made sure to update the race officials and let them know that we were about to finish as an ultra-team too (it wasn’t on the books since we were originally registered as a 12-man team).  We headed behind the finish line and waited for Akito so we could run in as a team. He turned the corner and as a group, crossed the line! We did it!

We took a bunch of photos and explored the finish party. We scarfed down free Dominos Pizza, then Javy and I tested out products from FRS Recovery drinks to MuscleEgg. We were going to hang in the finisher area awhile, but decided to head back to our hotel. It was a good half hour drive away and we needed showers – and sleep!

And of course, we took a final look at the van – 241 kills as a team, 54 of which were mine!

Coast-2-Coasters x2 kills

NUTRITION – I do want to note nutrition – I had no clue how to handle it for the race and totally winged it. I’d brought out a pile of random running nutrition and the team had purchased bananas, bread, bagels, peanut butter & jelly and lots of candy for the cans.

From what I can remember: I ate a banana and Clif Bar before my first leg. I then ate a PB&J on a bagel around lunchtime, a half Subway turkey sub around dinnertime and the other half of the sub after my latenight leg. I ate a Honey Stinger waffle before my second and fifth legs. And I consumed lots of Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, pretzels and water throughout. I drank Nuun throughout my runs to help my hydration and even took a couple of salt pills to help. At one point, we stopped at a gas station to refuel the van and our bodies – I chugged a protein shake and a Naked Juice. I’m sure I ate some other random things throughout, but way less than expected. Because we were an ultra team, I was constantly worried about consuming too much before my next leg, which was always just around the corner.

full Coast-2-Coasters, finish line

FINAL THOUGHTS – I always wanted to do a relay and am so glad I did. While our original plan was to be a 12-person team, I’m grateful that we did it as an ultra – I wouldn’t want it any other way. While a 12 person team allows vans to alternate and runners to get sit-down meals and sleep, being “always on” just added to the excitement and adventure. In the end, I broke a new personal record for miles in a single day (well, 30 hour period) and did better than ever expected. And I had a blast. And I was impressed and proud of my teammates every step of the way – congrats to ultra-runners Emily, Collen, Abby, Akito and of course, Javy, who ran a total of over 46 miles! And congrats to our other Coast-2-Coasters team, especially former Ironteam teammate Adam, who actually ran an ultra as they had only 11 runners and he took the extra legs. You guys are all amazing.

Have you run a relay? Thinking about one? I want to know! Excited for the next one!


I’m covered in Bling. And bandages.
I never had a doubt that I’d be doing the NYC Triathlon again this past summer. It was my A-race the summer prior and my first-ever Olympic triathlon – I figured it’d be the perfect comedown race after Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.
I was excited. I was super-nervous leading up to the race last summer and a year later, finally conquered my open-water anxieties. And I figured the distance, less than half of the race three weeks prior, would be cake. This was going to be fun.
Sunday morning began early, as transition areas closed by 5:40. I set up my gear and met up with a few friends with whom I’d hang out until our race start hours later. We walked up toward the start and I managed to see Emily right before she lined up on the dock and wished her luck. Then we waited for our turn. And waited. The wait is long, but suddenly it was time to line up. My IronTeam teammate Mike and I lined up together and enjoyed a team-urination moment. As I mentioned in my Tremblant post, nothing like a good pre-race wetsuit pee.
Suddenly, we were lined up and the horn blew. The swim was great. The scary Hudson was no longer scary and I was pumped to see how I’d do with the river’s strong current. My swim was smooth and fast, with only a few “battles” in the water – please note: if you grab my leg, I’m going to kick you. I exited the water with ease and did the barefoot 400 meters back to transition.

I hopped onto my bike and headed up hot corner, a steep exit from Riverside Park onto the West Side Highway. I was riding quickly up the highway when I hit a pothole. I heard a little rattling, so I stopped to check out my tires. All good.
The course was super-crowded, but I did my best to race ahead, passing others when I could and trying to avoid the dickhead-wannabe-pros who fly by without so much of an “on your left” as they pass. Maybe you’ll get a “fucking move” if you’re lucky. Alas. The other obstacles on the course were newer riders, as this is a popular race for newbies, and the heat – I had one of the latest starts and I was sweating like a maniac.
Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. What comes next needs that Steve Jobs delivery. DOWN I go. I was up in the Bronx and headed back to Manhattan when I got stuck behind a few bad cyclists riding their breaks. I wanted to pass, but there was no room. I got stuck drafting, which yes, is illegal, but riding breaks at under 20 mph should be illegal too. I hit a pothole on the downhill that I couldn’t see in time – sweaty hands up,  me and bike down. I controlled the fall a bit, which felt like it happened in slow motion. But I couldn’t control the TNT teammate who happened to be drafting me due to the same circumstances. He was able to slow down a bit as he hit my bike and was laid out next to me on the road.
We looked at each other and made sure the other was physically okay. He and I had been passing each other back and forth for miles and had built a bit of race day kinship as we were both wearing our team purple. We got out bikes to the side of the road and assessed the damage. We both had some cuts and bruises but nothing terrible. Both bikes were a little beat up, mine more than his. I helped him fix his chain and we got him on his way. I turned to my bike – both breaks were broken and the hoods on my handlebars were twisted. I attempted to fix it myself and debated if I should quit. My legs were starting to throb and I had blood dripping down my leg and arm. Then came a bike mechanic.
I’d now been on the side of the road for a while, so the mechanic was doing one last sweep. He came over and MacGyver’d my bike so that it was semi-rideable. The wheels were not true, the brakes were a little weak and my spirit was shaken, but the thing could get me through the next ten miles. So off I went.
I got to transition 2 and obviously knew my easy race and finish time goal were no longer realities. I took my time, cleaning off my cuts with anti-bacterial wipes and water. I regrouped, and headed out for a run. It was now really hot, but felt I had no choice but to battle the 6.2 miles to the finish. This war story would only be good if it ended with medal.
I headed out to 72nd Street where I was greeted by friends Lora and Carolyn. I showed off my battle wounds and they couldn’t tell I was injured from a distance due to my big smile. I guess I love racing and crowds! I continued on into the park, but my cuts were now throbbing and I had some joint/muscle pains creeping up.

I stopped by a medical tent in Central Park to get some ointment on my cuts – I was nervous about the Hudson bacteria that could be running around on my skin, and I got bandaged up a bit. I continued on where I made a new friend, a parathiathlete on two prosthetics who was visibly struggling. He looked beat up, so I checked in to make sure he was okay. He was from out of town not used to the humidity. I had a SaltStick with me that I was planning on taking at mile 4, but knew this man needed it more than I. He popped the pill and my guess is it helped – from what I could tell from Facebook, he was the final finisher!
I mad a few more friends along the way and saw lots of TNT folks who cheered me on, including Coach Javy and our other teammate Javi O who helped run me up Harlem Hill. By the final mile, my knee and ankle really hurt – but Emily was there to help me to the finisher chute.
I crossed in three hours and thirty-two minutes, almost an hour slower than planned. I got my medal, found Emily again (and her mom), took a couple photos. and got out of that park as soon as I could. I needed to ice and pop Advil!

I took my bike to the shop on the way home, though I didn’t actually bring myself to get checked out till over 24-hours later. Priorities. Ultimately, I had a bit of road rash, some cuts and bruises, a strained finger, a strained shoulder, a strained ankle and a bruised spleen. Seems like my handle bars got me in just the right spot. I healed fast, though the spleen injury had me on the sidelines for a few weeks.
They say there are two types of cyclists – those who’ve crashed and those who will. I guess they are right. The experience was scary, but I’m grateful. It could have been a lot worse, and I’m thankful for all the friends who were worried about me when I didn’t show up along the course at an appropriate time. Now to shake it off, get back on the bike, and ride. Oh, and I got some fun urgent care photos at City MD AND at NYU:

Im covered in Bling. And bandages.

I never had a doubt that I’d be doing the NYC Triathlon again this past summer. It was my A-race the summer prior and my first-ever Olympic triathlon – I figured it’d be the perfect comedown race after Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.

I was excited. I was super-nervous leading up to the race last summer and a year later, finally conquered my open-water anxieties. And I figured the distance, less than half of the race three weeks prior, would be cake. This was going to be fun.

Sunday morning began early, as transition areas closed by 5:40. I set up my gear and met up with a few friends with whom I’d hang out until our race start hours later. We walked up toward the start and I managed to see Emily right before she lined up on the dock and wished her luck. Then we waited for our turn. And waited. The wait is long, but suddenly it was time to line up. My IronTeam teammate Mike and I lined up together and enjoyed a team-urination moment. As I mentioned in my Tremblant post, nothing like a good pre-race wetsuit pee.

Suddenly, we were lined up and the horn blew. The swim was great. The scary Hudson was no longer scary and I was pumped to see how I’d do with the river’s strong current. My swim was smooth and fast, with only a few “battles” in the water – please note: if you grab my leg, I’m going to kick you. I exited the water with ease and did the barefoot 400 meters back to transition.

Transition area

I hopped onto my bike and headed up hot corner, a steep exit from Riverside Park onto the West Side Highway. I was riding quickly up the highway when I hit a pothole. I heard a little rattling, so I stopped to check out my tires. All good.

The course was super-crowded, but I did my best to race ahead, passing others when I could and trying to avoid the dickhead-wannabe-pros who fly by without so much of an “on your left” as they pass. Maybe you’ll get a “fucking move” if you’re lucky. Alas. The other obstacles on the course were newer riders, as this is a popular race for newbies, and the heat – I had one of the latest starts and I was sweating like a maniac.

Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. Crowded course. Sweating. Potholes. What comes next needs that Steve Jobs delivery. DOWN I go. I was up in the Bronx and headed back to Manhattan when I got stuck behind a few bad cyclists riding their breaks. I wanted to pass, but there was no room. I got stuck drafting, which yes, is illegal, but riding breaks at under 20 mph should be illegal too. I hit a pothole on the downhill that I couldn’t see in time – sweaty hands up,  me and bike down. I controlled the fall a bit, which felt like it happened in slow motion. But I couldn’t control the TNT teammate who happened to be drafting me due to the same circumstances. He was able to slow down a bit as he hit my bike and was laid out next to me on the road.

We looked at each other and made sure the other was physically okay. He and I had been passing each other back and forth for miles and had built a bit of race day kinship as we were both wearing our team purple. We got out bikes to the side of the road and assessed the damage. We both had some cuts and bruises but nothing terrible. Both bikes were a little beat up, mine more than his. I helped him fix his chain and we got him on his way. I turned to my bike – both breaks were broken and the hoods on my handlebars were twisted. I attempted to fix it myself and debated if I should quit. My legs were starting to throb and I had blood dripping down my leg and arm. Then came a bike mechanic.

I’d now been on the side of the road for a while, so the mechanic was doing one last sweep. He came over and MacGyver’d my bike so that it was semi-rideable. The wheels were not true, the brakes were a little weak and my spirit was shaken, but the thing could get me through the next ten miles. So off I went.

I got to transition 2 and obviously knew my easy race and finish time goal were no longer realities. I took my time, cleaning off my cuts with anti-bacterial wipes and water. I regrouped, and headed out for a run. It was now really hot, but felt I had no choice but to battle the 6.2 miles to the finish. This war story would only be good if it ended with medal.

I headed out to 72nd Street where I was greeted by friends Lora and Carolyn. I showed off my battle wounds and they couldn’t tell I was injured from a distance due to my big smile. I guess I love racing and crowds! I continued on into the park, but my cuts were now throbbing and I had some joint/muscle pains creeping up.

NYC Tri - getting cut cleaned

I stopped by a medical tent in Central Park to get some ointment on my cuts – I was nervous about the Hudson bacteria that could be running around on my skin, and I got bandaged up a bit. I continued on where I made a new friend, a parathiathlete on two prosthetics who was visibly struggling. He looked beat up, so I checked in to make sure he was okay. He was from out of town not used to the humidity. I had a SaltStick with me that I was planning on taking at mile 4, but knew this man needed it more than I. He popped the pill and my guess is it helped – from what I could tell from Facebook, he was the final finisher!

I mad a few more friends along the way and saw lots of TNT folks who cheered me on, including Coach Javy and our other teammate Javi O who helped run me up Harlem Hill. By the final mile, my knee and ankle really hurt – but Emily was there to help me to the finisher chute.

I crossed in three hours and thirty-two minutes, almost an hour slower than planned. I got my medal, found Emily again (and her mom), took a couple photos. and got out of that park as soon as I could. I needed to ice and pop Advil!

finish with TNTerswith Ryan Cohen

I took my bike to the shop on the way home, though I didn’t actually bring myself to get checked out till over 24-hours later. Priorities. Ultimately, I had a bit of road rash, some cuts and bruises, a strained finger, a strained shoulder, a strained ankle and a bruised spleen. Seems like my handle bars got me in just the right spot. I healed fast, though the spleen injury had me on the sidelines for a few weeks.

They say there are two types of cyclists – those who’ve crashed and those who will. I guess they are right. The experience was scary, but I’m grateful. It could have been a lot worse, and I’m thankful for all the friends who were worried about me when I didn’t show up along the course at an appropriate time. Now to shake it off, get back on the bike, and ride. Oh, and I got some fun urgent care photos at City MD AND at NYU:

At City MDEmily's supportive at City MDNYU urgent care


I’m an Ironman 70.3er.
Last year, I joined Team in Training to train for my first triathlon. I had a blast and knew that I wanted to continue to the next level. And of course, I wanted to continue with Team in Training – my friend Ariel who I run for is still in treatment and until her cancer, and all cancer is 100% curable, I will not stop.
It was with great excitement that I signed up for my third season (I did the NYC Marathon / Philly season after that first NYC Tri). I committed myself to competing in the Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant triathlon on June 23, 2013. That’s 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking and 13.1 miles of running through the mountains of a French-Canadian ski-resort.
Official training began in January. For nearly six months, 30+ teammates and myself trained tirelessly, six days a week. Each week contained at least one coached swim, run and long bike ride and a solo brick, long run and swim. It was tough but fun, and my workouts grew in time and distance with (somewhat) ease. 
FRIDAYBefore I knew it, June 19th was upon us and I was in a cruising along the highway in Quebec along with Emily and teammates Jonathan and Julie. We arrived Friday in the late afternoon and quickly checked into the race and grabbed our bikes from the bike transport provided by TNT.
The race was centered around the Mont-Tremblant village – I’d heard the whole experience was beautiful and I knew immediately that this would not disappoint. The village was quaint and welcoming, though one couldn’t stop noticing how hilly everything was. Why did we pick a race in the mountains!?

Julie and I (and our teammate Mike) were both staying in the Westin, a three-minute walk from the Team in Training hotel and the expo. We checked in, dropped off our gear and found an awesome gift from my TNT crew back in NYC – thanks guys!

We then hit the expo, where I bought some awesome Mont-Tremblant 70.3 gear. Typically, I won’t buy race-gear till after a race, but I was nervous that sizes could sell out and knew the shop closed soon after the race ended. A billion Canadian dollars later, I bought myself an awesome t-shirt and cycling kit – though true to my superstitions, not to be worn till post race! (watch out future Mont-Tremblanters – there is Canadian tax, province tax and a resort tax.)

We headed to dinner where we carbed-up like crazy and went to bed nice and early.
SATURDAY
I woke up around 7am and had a light breakfast, grabbed my swim gear and headed down to the hotel lobby to meet Julie and Mike. Our team had a scheduled 8am swim to check out Lac Tremblant. A couple of teammates had come up to Mont Tremblant a few weeks prior and told us that the water was freezing, so we headed to the race’s swim exit with trepidation.
It was raining and the sky was grey, so we were wet long before getting into the water. We zipped up our wet suits and headed toward the dreaded freezing lake – only to discover it wasn’t freezing! It was cold, but I’ll take mid-60s temperatures over mid-50s like we expected, any day! We entered the water and headed toward a buoy, a good 250 yards out. I stopped at the buoy and enjoyed a gorgeous view before turning around and heading back to the beach.
I loved the lake instantly. The water, though cold, was manageable with a wetsuit and two swim caps. And it was clear! Unlike the waters around NYC, I could see the bottom of the lake and swimmers around me. The water was calm and I felt extremely comfortable.  I have always hated open water swimming, but I knew this lake was going to be my chance to get over it.
After the short swim, I went back to my hotel to grab my bike. The team was scheduled to do a short ride a few hours later, but Julie and I were anxious to get the ride done and get our bikes into transition. We headed out and noticed quickly – there were a lot of hills around our hotel! Rain was still pouring down, so Julie and I decided to play it safe and cut our ride short. We brought our bikes to transition, only to find we were two of the first. We wrapped out seats and handlebars and said goodbye to our friends on two wheels.

The rest of the day was lazy – hanging around the hotel, the athlete briefing, beginning to prep my transition bag and eating. In the evening, we had our team inspiration dinner. Team in Training hosts such a dinner before each event – where we talk about the season, celebrate our training and fundraising milestones and are reminded of why we train – to aid in the battle against cancer. This season, I was lucky enough to meet honored teammate Dani (photo below), a survivor and honored teammate who was to compete in the race as well. She shared her story and it was tough not to tear up – I’m so grateful to know her and am so proud that the training and fundraising I do helps keep people like her alive. She is amazing. And I took that thought back with me to the hotel where I had to finish packing.

I finished laying out all my race gear and packed my bag. Man, it was a lot of stuff! And then Emily surprised me with her race-day outfit. Awesome!

I set my alarm for 4:30am and went to sleep, surprisingly calm. 
RACE MORNING
I ate a small breakfast consisting of peanut butter on white bread and a banana, threw on my tri-gear, grabbed my transition bag and headed to the team hotel for a quick team photo.

We left the hotel to head toward transition where we got our body markings and set up our transition areas. Before long, my teammates and I were heading toward the start beach.
I was anxious, but surprisingly not too nervous. I was scheduled for an 8am start and it was still only 6:30am. A few teammates and I hung around the entrance to the swim area and took advantage of the time to wait on the long bathroom line. The race officially began at 7am. The excitement was almost tangible – the only thing thicker might have been the humidity (we’ll get to that later). Teammates with earlier starts began peeling off to line up. I was fortunate enough to have a few friends and teammates starting in my wave, so after throwing on our wetsuits, we headed to the beach and hung out as a group.
That’s where I had my first success of the day – I learned to pee in my wetsuit! I still can’t pee in the water, but let me tell you, peeing in your wetsuit is as fantastic as everyone says. Sure, to a non-triathlete this might all seem gross, but seriously, the warmth and laughter that came with the situation was a great way to break any tension I was feeling.
It was 7:50 before I knew it and it was time for my wave to get ready to line up. We got into the water to the side of the start to get ourselves race-ready - they say it’s good to give yourself a little time to adjust to the water temperature to help avoid the shock of water temperature and sudden effort. At 7:56, we lined up. I looked at my friends and we all wished each other luck. And at 8:00, the the gun went off.
THE SWIM
I was nervous for the swim leading up to the race. While very comfortable in the pool, I’ve never found my comfort zone in open water and find that without lane lines, I tend to meander off course a little. Thankfully, I had a few triathlons behind me and the prior day’s test-swim. I felt confident as I ran into the water – my goal was to stay confident and relaxed and site regularly.
And I did exactly that. I kept a nice, steady stroke speed and just focused on getting from one buoy to the next as opposed to the whole 1.2 mile distance. I managed to stay on course due to frequent sighting and the amazing race support in the water – the buoys were large and there were kayaks lining the entire course. I kept my own pace, drafting off others occasionally and pausing for a brief moment every 200 yards or so for peace of mind.

I quickly found myself at the turnaround feeling positive. And while the swim certainly didn’t feel short, I found myself sighting the swim finish area quickly. The water began to shallow out, but I avoided the temptation to stand – the practice swim the day before revealed that I would still have a 100+ yards to go, so I played it smart. I stood only when my hands touched the bottom of the lake during a stroke. I immediately began running toward the beach and was welcomed in by Emily, who secured what might have been the best spot by the swim finish. Such a welcome sight!
SWIM TIME – 40:22, right on target. 

TRANSITION 1
As I exited the water, I began stripping my wetsuit off immediately. There was a beautiful carpet leading out of the water toward the road which I’d follow to transition and I began to run forward, only to be greeted by wetsuit strippers! I’d never experienced them before, but I’d been tipped off and knew what to do. I laid down on the floor and a pair of volunteers ripped the neoprene off my body with one solid yank. Amazing.
I’d received another tip from one of my coaches that morning – take off my caps and goggles and hold them in my hand as I took off my second wetsuit sleeve (pre-strippers). This would get them lodged in the sleeve so that I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying them separately as I ran to the transition area. Brilliant and worked perfectly – a lifesaver considering I had to then run nearly half a mile to transition. Luckily, a good portion of that long, barefoot run was on a nice carpet.
I got to my bike, hung up my wetsuit, threw on my socks, shoes and helmet and took off. 
THE BIKE
Discussion of the bike course had been frequent all season. One look at the elevation chart would make any person in their right mind say, “WHY did I choose a race in the mountains!?” The race was only a year old, so researching others’ experiences on the course was a bit difficult. Most race reports were from pros and elites who all shared the same basic thought – the course was challenging but not the toughest thing ever. Of course, I’m no pro.

Luckily, I didn’t have time to worry. I left transition, crossed the mounting line and was off! The first ten miles was a series of rolling hills and flats – nothing bad. I made sure to take a sip of Nuun water every ten minutes or so. The sky was still grey, but it was super humid and getting hotter. I was taking it relatively easy, knowing there were big hills to come. (Maybe a little too easy, in retrospect, but more on that later.)
Mile 10 had a solid downhill and was enjoying it thoroughly when it hit me – I was going to have to ride up it on the way back! I recalled looking at elevation charts and guessed this was the mile 32 hill. I enjoyed the slope while I could and found myself on a long flat along Route 117 North. The ride was relatively calm. I passed some people and some passed me. I ended up neck and neck with teammate Mike and we kept switching leader positions, much like we did on many of our training rides. However, on the ride back along 117, he overtook me and took off. I let it slide, though I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so tired and he seemed so energized. Normally, we ride around the same level. Alas, I let him go and focused on me – there was still another 30 miles to go!

Then I got there – mile 32. That giant hill unfolded before me and I looked at my watch. A little early for a Bonk Breaker, my cycling calories of choice, but didn’t want to risk the uphill nearing empty. I chowed down and hit the hill. It was tough, though not any tough than the hills I dealt with on my training rides. Oddly, it felt tougher than it should have and I was grateful for the aid station at the top. I stopped to use the bathroom, then quickly continued on my way. I knew I had a relatively simple ride back to town and the Mont Tremblant Village.
The spectators were great and the French accented “Go go go’s” were deafening. I made it to the outer part of the village where a large spectator bridge was set up – and Emily was at the base! She got a few photos and cheered like a nut, and I couldn’t have felt more energized. Perfect, considering I was about to start the second out-and-back, the area with the toughest hills which the course map said averaged a 12% grade on the way out.
My energy level was low, but I just assumed it was calories so I began eating my second bonk bar as I headed up toward mile 46. The hills were tough, but as I’d read, they were rollers. Lots of quick, steep climbs followed by flats or slight downhills. I stood for a few climbs and took advantage of the rests in between. I found my teammate, John, on the hills and we rode together for a bit, certainly helping me stay focused. I passed him as we neared the top of the climb, though he caught me on the way down.

And the way down was AWESOME. Getting to the top of the course was well-worth the downhills. The descent was rolling, but fast. I took advantage to give my legs some rest for the upcoming run and still managed to hit 40mph without trying! A small uphill snuck its way into the overall descent, but for the most part, the final 5 or 6 miles were fantastic. I cruised into the transition area, glad to be done. One more leg – but man, was I feeling tired.
BIKE TIME – 3:41:39. I should have been done about 30 minutes faster, despite the hills. I knew I had given the ride my best, but began realizing today’s best wasn’t my usual – something was wrong.
TRANSITION 2
Bike in was very close to my transition area, so I didn’t have time to think about why I was feeling so tired. I racked my bike and swapped shoes. I made a quick call to wear a headband instead of a visor as it was still really grey out and headed to run out which was on the opposite side of transition. My legs felt heavy, but hey, that’s why they call a bike-to-run workout a BRick. Emily caught a few glamour shots of me in transition and then I was off.

THE RUN
Running is my sport, so I expected this to be easy. I was feeling more tired than anticipated, but hey, I was already going for a solid 4.5 hours. The first 2.5 miles included a few solid uphills – those didn’t help. I managed to keep a decent pace, but could easily tell that my energy levels were not up to par. Most BRicks during training didn’t involve running hills, but I generally had significantly more oomph.
I took a Honey Stinger gel at around mile 1 and waited for the energy to kick in. I felt a little burst, but not what I needed, so I began to think. And it hit me. – I was dehydrated. I’d been drinking Nuun throughout the bike and run and supplemented it with SaltSticks, but certainly not enough. I knew I had to adjust.

The middle eight miles were flat and ran along the Parc Linéaire, a dirt path along a decommissioned railway. While it should be easier, you do expend a little extra energy on dirt since you don’t get the same bounce in your step. But hey, better than hills. I did my best to rehydrate and continue running without stopping, but by the 10k mark, I needed a breather. Once you dehydrate, you can balance yourself out a bit, but you don’t get back that full swagger. I didn’t let it get to me – I knew I’d keep pushing and run as much as I could. And because the path was an out and back, I got to see a lot of my teammates several times. I can’t express how much I love them and they motivate me – and was happy to give them so motivational love along the way too.
The final miles were back on the streets, back through the town where the run began. I was struggling, but pushed myself forward. I drank lots of water and sucked the juice from a few orange slices. At the final aid station, I took advantage of what I think of as the Ironman nuclear option – I drank flat-Coke from an aid station. I knew there would be a few hills to climb before the finisher’s chute.

As I crested the hills, Coach Megan was there yelling her head off. She asked if I was okay – I’m sure she was well-aware that I was behind where I should have been. Damn (lack of) hydration. She gave me a few inspirational words that really helped get me through the next bit till the finisher’s chute.
And just like that, I was on my home to the finish. Fences appeared around me and I found myself on a beautiful downhill as I entered the village. I felt DEAD. The Coke was wearing off and I was crashing, but I knew I just had a couple hundred meters to go. And there was Emily, right by our hotel (what a tease, I just wanted to lie down!), screaming like a maniac! Just what I needed.

I busted down the chute with my eyes on the finish line. I raised my arms in triumph and crossed with a  smile on face – hey, I needed a good profile pic, right?
RUN TIME – 2:15:37     ||     FINISH TIME – 6:50:3
I received my medal and Ironman 70.3 finisher hat (the best finisher gift ever) and went to find Emily. She was already there – she had run on the sidelines with me and we took a victory photo. We found a bunch of my teammates and after lots of hugs and food, we grabbed my stuff from transition, checked my bike to have it transported back home, and went back to the hotel (where I had some congratulatory beer, scotch and cookies waiting for me – thanks Ali and Carolyn!).


THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY.
When I was heading down that finisher chute, all I could think about was how I was never doing that again, no less a full Ironman. But even then, I knew I was lying. Within hours, I was already thinking about my next race.
I loved the distance and feel confident that with the right training, an Ironman is attainable. It won’t be easy, but I know it’s a dream that can be reality. A few takeaways:
The swim was the swim I needed. I am finally over the hump in terms of anxiety and open water swimming. I know that not every swim will be as pleasant, but the fear is gone. Now to work on breathing to my other side so I meander less…
I need to continue to practice cycling long. I need to continue building strength and endurance and learn to read my body’s signals when I ride as well as I can when I run. And I need to get more comfortable riding for longer periods of time in aero.
And the biggest takeaway – I need to work on my nutrition. I feel really good about my calorie intake, but need to understand my electrolyte output and intake better. And with that comes various options of nutrition. I have to spend some time looking at more alternatives for the bike and see what works. Any advice / thoughts are appreciated!
As for the race – the course was amazing. It was challenging, as expected, but definitely doable with solid training. The route was fun and scenic and the support along the way was amazing. I’ve never seen a marathon so well-put together, no less a triathlon. And a marathon involves WAY less. In fact, the entire town was amazing. They truly rallied behind the race and made all the athletes feel genuinely welcome. If you are considering this race, I would say do it!
MOST IMPORTANTLY
Thank all of you for your support as I took on 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling, and 13.1 miles of running. It was hot and humid and tough as hell, but it’s nothing compared to the battle faced everyday by cancer patients everywhere.
Together, you and I raised $4,000 through this race for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and my Ironteam teammates and I raised over a combined $150,000! We have made an impact – this drug, funded by LLS, is proof.
If you’d like to make a donation, it’s not too late – I’m continuing my efforts through the NYC Marathon season. Just visit www.bensTNTpage.org. Thanks!

I’m an Ironman 70.3er.

Last year, I joined Team in Training to train for my first triathlon. I had a blast and knew that I wanted to continue to the next level. And of course, I wanted to continue with Team in Training – my friend Ariel who I run for is still in treatment and until her cancer, and all cancer is 100% curable, I will not stop.

It was with great excitement that I signed up for my third season (I did the NYC Marathon / Philly season after that first NYC Tri). I committed myself to competing in the Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant triathlon on June 23, 2013. That’s 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking and 13.1 miles of running through the mountains of a French-Canadian ski-resort.

Official training began in January. For nearly six months, 30+ teammates and myself trained tirelessly, six days a week. Each week contained at least one coached swim, run and long bike ride and a solo brick, long run and swim. It was tough but fun, and my workouts grew in time and distance with (somewhat) ease. 

FRIDAY

Before I knew it, June 19th was upon us and I was in a cruising along the highway in Quebec along with Emily and teammates Jonathan and Julie. We arrived Friday in the late afternoon and quickly checked into the race and grabbed our bikes from the bike transport provided by TNT.

The race was centered around the Mont-Tremblant village – I’d heard the whole experience was beautiful and I knew immediately that this would not disappoint. The village was quaint and welcoming, though one couldn’t stop noticing how hilly everything was. Why did we pick a race in the mountains!?

tremblant village 1tremblant village 2

Julie and I (and our teammate Mike) were both staying in the Westin, a three-minute walk from the Team in Training hotel and the expo. We checked in, dropped off our gear and found an awesome gift from my TNT crew back in NYC – thanks guys!

carbing gift

We then hit the expo, where I bought some awesome Mont-Tremblant 70.3 gear. Typically, I won’t buy race-gear till after a race, but I was nervous that sizes could sell out and knew the shop closed soon after the race ended. A billion Canadian dollars later, I bought myself an awesome t-shirt and cycling kit – though true to my superstitions, not to be worn till post race! (watch out future Mont-Tremblanters – there is Canadian tax, province tax and a resort tax.)

MT gear

We headed to dinner where we carbed-up like crazy and went to bed nice and early.

SATURDAY

I woke up around 7am and had a light breakfast, grabbed my swim gear and headed down to the hotel lobby to meet Julie and Mike. Our team had a scheduled 8am swim to check out Lac Tremblant. A couple of teammates had come up to Mont Tremblant a few weeks prior and told us that the water was freezing, so we headed to the race’s swim exit with trepidation.

It was raining and the sky was grey, so we were wet long before getting into the water. We zipped up our wet suits and headed toward the dreaded freezing lake – only to discover it wasn’t freezing! It was cold, but I’ll take mid-60s temperatures over mid-50s like we expected, any day! We entered the water and headed toward a buoy, a good 250 yards out. I stopped at the buoy and enjoyed a gorgeous view before turning around and heading back to the beach.

I loved the lake instantly. The water, though cold, was manageable with a wetsuit and two swim caps. And it was clear! Unlike the waters around NYC, I could see the bottom of the lake and swimmers around me. The water was calm and I felt extremely comfortable.  I have always hated open water swimming, but I knew this lake was going to be my chance to get over it.

After the short swim, I went back to my hotel to grab my bike. The team was scheduled to do a short ride a few hours later, but Julie and I were anxious to get the ride done and get our bikes into transition. We headed out and noticed quickly – there were a lot of hills around our hotel! Rain was still pouring down, so Julie and I decided to play it safe and cut our ride short. We brought our bikes to transition, only to find we were two of the first. We wrapped out seats and handlebars and said goodbye to our friends on two wheels.

Bike at transition

The rest of the day was lazy – hanging around the hotel, the athlete briefing, beginning to prep my transition bag and eating. In the evening, we had our team inspiration dinner. Team in Training hosts such a dinner before each event – where we talk about the season, celebrate our training and fundraising milestones and are reminded of why we train – to aid in the battle against cancer. This season, I was lucky enough to meet honored teammate Dani (photo below), a survivor and honored teammate who was to compete in the race as well. She shared her story and it was tough not to tear up – I’m so grateful to know her and am so proud that the training and fundraising I do helps keep people like her alive. She is amazing. And I took that thought back with me to the hotel where I had to finish packing.

Dani and I

I finished laying out all my race gear and packed my bag. Man, it was a lot of stuff! And then Emily surprised me with her race-day outfit. Awesome!

gear laid outemily's shirt

I set my alarm for 4:30am and went to sleep, surprisingly calm. 

RACE MORNING

I ate a small breakfast consisting of peanut butter on white bread and a banana, threw on my tri-gear, grabbed my transition bag and headed to the team hotel for a quick team photo.

IronTeam NYC pre-race Mont-Tremblant 70.3

We left the hotel to head toward transition where we got our body markings and set up our transition areas. Before long, my teammates and I were heading toward the start beach.

I was anxious, but surprisingly not too nervous. I was scheduled for an 8am start and it was still only 6:30am. A few teammates and I hung around the entrance to the swim area and took advantage of the time to wait on the long bathroom line. The race officially began at 7am. The excitement was almost tangible – the only thing thicker might have been the humidity (we’ll get to that later). Teammates with earlier starts began peeling off to line up. I was fortunate enough to have a few friends and teammates starting in my wave, so after throwing on our wetsuits, we headed to the beach and hung out as a group.

That’s where I had my first success of the day – I learned to pee in my wetsuit! I still can’t pee in the water, but let me tell you, peeing in your wetsuit is as fantastic as everyone says. Sure, to a non-triathlete this might all seem gross, but seriously, the warmth and laughter that came with the situation was a great way to break any tension I was feeling.

It was 7:50 before I knew it and it was time for my wave to get ready to line up. We got into the water to the side of the start to get ourselves race-ready - they say it’s good to give yourself a little time to adjust to the water temperature to help avoid the shock of water temperature and sudden effort. At 7:56, we lined up. I looked at my friends and we all wished each other luck. And at 8:00, the the gun went off.

THE SWIM

I was nervous for the swim leading up to the race. While very comfortable in the pool, I’ve never found my comfort zone in open water and find that without lane lines, I tend to meander off course a little. Thankfully, I had a few triathlons behind me and the prior day’s test-swim. I felt confident as I ran into the water – my goal was to stay confident and relaxed and site regularly.

And I did exactly that. I kept a nice, steady stroke speed and just focused on getting from one buoy to the next as opposed to the whole 1.2 mile distance. I managed to stay on course due to frequent sighting and the amazing race support in the water – the buoys were large and there were kayaks lining the entire course. I kept my own pace, drafting off others occasionally and pausing for a brief moment every 200 yards or so for peace of mind.

tremblant 70.3 swim course

I quickly found myself at the turnaround feeling positive. And while the swim certainly didn’t feel short, I found myself sighting the swim finish area quickly. The water began to shallow out, but I avoided the temptation to stand – the practice swim the day before revealed that I would still have a 100+ yards to go, so I played it smart. I stood only when my hands touched the bottom of the lake during a stroke. I immediately began running toward the beach and was welcomed in by Emily, who secured what might have been the best spot by the swim finish. Such a welcome sight!

SWIM TIME – 40:22, right on target. 

swim exit

TRANSITION 1

As I exited the water, I began stripping my wetsuit off immediately. There was a beautiful carpet leading out of the water toward the road which I’d follow to transition and I began to run forward, only to be greeted by wetsuit strippers! I’d never experienced them before, but I’d been tipped off and knew what to do. I laid down on the floor and a pair of volunteers ripped the neoprene off my body with one solid yank. Amazing.

I’d received another tip from one of my coaches that morning – take off my caps and goggles and hold them in my hand as I took off my second wetsuit sleeve (pre-strippers). This would get them lodged in the sleeve so that I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying them separately as I ran to the transition area. Brilliant and worked perfectly – a lifesaver considering I had to then run nearly half a mile to transition. Luckily, a good portion of that long, barefoot run was on a nice carpet.

I got to my bike, hung up my wetsuit, threw on my socks, shoes and helmet and took off. 

THE BIKE

Discussion of the bike course had been frequent all season. One look at the elevation chart would make any person in their right mind say, “WHY did I choose a race in the mountains!?” The race was only a year old, so researching others’ experiences on the course was a bit difficult. Most race reports were from pros and elites who all shared the same basic thought – the course was challenging but not the toughest thing ever. Of course, I’m no pro.

elevation according to my Garmin

Luckily, I didn’t have time to worry. I left transition, crossed the mounting line and was off! The first ten miles was a series of rolling hills and flats – nothing bad. I made sure to take a sip of Nuun water every ten minutes or so. The sky was still grey, but it was super humid and getting hotter. I was taking it relatively easy, knowing there were big hills to come. (Maybe a little too easy, in retrospect, but more on that later.)

Mile 10 had a solid downhill and was enjoying it thoroughly when it hit me – I was going to have to ride up it on the way back! I recalled looking at elevation charts and guessed this was the mile 32 hill. I enjoyed the slope while I could and found myself on a long flat along Route 117 North. The ride was relatively calm. I passed some people and some passed me. I ended up neck and neck with teammate Mike and we kept switching leader positions, much like we did on many of our training rides. However, on the ride back along 117, he overtook me and took off. I let it slide, though I couldn’t understand why I was feeling so tired and he seemed so energized. Normally, we ride around the same level. Alas, I let him go and focused on me – there was still another 30 miles to go!

cycling 1cycling 2

Then I got there – mile 32. That giant hill unfolded before me and I looked at my watch. A little early for a Bonk Breaker, my cycling calories of choice, but didn’t want to risk the uphill nearing empty. I chowed down and hit the hill. It was tough, though not any tough than the hills I dealt with on my training rides. Oddly, it felt tougher than it should have and I was grateful for the aid station at the top. I stopped to use the bathroom, then quickly continued on my way. I knew I had a relatively simple ride back to town and the Mont Tremblant Village.

The spectators were great and the French accented “Go go go’s” were deafening. I made it to the outer part of the village where a large spectator bridge was set up – and Emily was at the base! She got a few photos and cheered like a nut, and I couldn’t have felt more energized. Perfect, considering I was about to start the second out-and-back, the area with the toughest hills which the course map said averaged a 12% grade on the way out.

My energy level was low, but I just assumed it was calories so I began eating my second bonk bar as I headed up toward mile 46. The hills were tough, but as I’d read, they were rollers. Lots of quick, steep climbs followed by flats or slight downhills. I stood for a few climbs and took advantage of the rests in between. I found my teammate, John, on the hills and we rode together for a bit, certainly helping me stay focused. I passed him as we neared the top of the climb, though he caught me on the way down.

cycling uphill

And the way down was AWESOME. Getting to the top of the course was well-worth the downhills. The descent was rolling, but fast. I took advantage to give my legs some rest for the upcoming run and still managed to hit 40mph without trying! A small uphill snuck its way into the overall descent, but for the most part, the final 5 or 6 miles were fantastic. I cruised into the transition area, glad to be done. One more leg – but man, was I feeling tired.

BIKE TIME – 3:41:39. I should have been done about 30 minutes faster, despite the hills. I knew I had given the ride my best, but began realizing today’s best wasn’t my usual – something was wrong.

TRANSITION 2

Bike in was very close to my transition area, so I didn’t have time to think about why I was feeling so tired. I racked my bike and swapped shoes. I made a quick call to wear a headband instead of a visor as it was still really grey out and headed to run out which was on the opposite side of transition. My legs felt heavy, but hey, that’s why they call a bike-to-run workout a BRick. Emily caught a few glamour shots of me in transition and then I was off.

transition 2

THE RUN

Running is my sport, so I expected this to be easy. I was feeling more tired than anticipated, but hey, I was already going for a solid 4.5 hours. The first 2.5 miles included a few solid uphills – those didn’t help. I managed to keep a decent pace, but could easily tell that my energy levels were not up to par. Most BRicks during training didn’t involve running hills, but I generally had significantly more oomph.

I took a Honey Stinger gel at around mile 1 and waited for the energy to kick in. I felt a little burst, but not what I needed, so I began to think. And it hit me. – I was dehydrated. I’d been drinking Nuun throughout the bike and run and supplemented it with SaltSticks, but certainly not enough. I knew I had to adjust.

early run photo

The middle eight miles were flat and ran along the Parc Linéaire, a dirt path along a decommissioned railway. While it should be easier, you do expend a little extra energy on dirt since you don’t get the same bounce in your step. But hey, better than hills. I did my best to rehydrate and continue running without stopping, but by the 10k mark, I needed a breather. Once you dehydrate, you can balance yourself out a bit, but you don’t get back that full swagger. I didn’t let it get to me – I knew I’d keep pushing and run as much as I could. And because the path was an out and back, I got to see a lot of my teammates several times. I can’t express how much I love them and they motivate me – and was happy to give them so motivational love along the way too.

The final miles were back on the streets, back through the town where the run began. I was struggling, but pushed myself forward. I drank lots of water and sucked the juice from a few orange slices. At the final aid station, I took advantage of what I think of as the Ironman nuclear option – I drank flat-Coke from an aid station. I knew there would be a few hills to climb before the finisher’s chute.

running 2

As I crested the hills, Coach Megan was there yelling her head off. She asked if I was okay – I’m sure she was well-aware that I was behind where I should have been. Damn (lack of) hydration. She gave me a few inspirational words that really helped get me through the next bit till the finisher’s chute.

And just like that, I was on my home to the finish. Fences appeared around me and I found myself on a beautiful downhill as I entered the village. I felt DEAD. The Coke was wearing off and I was crashing, but I knew I just had a couple hundred meters to go. And there was Emily, right by our hotel (what a tease, I just wanted to lie down!), screaming like a maniac! Just what I needed.

running through finisher chute

I busted down the chute with my eyes on the finish line. I raised my arms in triumph and crossed with a  smile on face – hey, I needed a good profile pic, right?

RUN TIME – 2:15:37     ||     FINISH TIME – 6:50:3

I received my medal and Ironman 70.3 finisher hat (the best finisher gift ever) and went to find Emily. She was already there – she had run on the sidelines with me and we took a victory photo. We found a bunch of my teammates and after lots of hugs and food, we grabbed my stuff from transition, checked my bike to have it transported back home, and went back to the hotel (where I had some congratulatory beer, scotch and cookies waiting for me – thanks Ali and Carolyn!).

finish with Emilymont-tremblant medal

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY.

When I was heading down that finisher chute, all I could think about was how I was never doing that again, no less a full Ironman. But even then, I knew I was lying. Within hours, I was already thinking about my next race.

I loved the distance and feel confident that with the right training, an Ironman is attainable. It won’t be easy, but I know it’s a dream that can be reality. A few takeaways:

The swim was the swim I needed. I am finally over the hump in terms of anxiety and open water swimming. I know that not every swim will be as pleasant, but the fear is gone. Now to work on breathing to my other side so I meander less…

I need to continue to practice cycling long. I need to continue building strength and endurance and learn to read my body’s signals when I ride as well as I can when I run. And I need to get more comfortable riding for longer periods of time in aero.

And the biggest takeaway – I need to work on my nutrition. I feel really good about my calorie intake, but need to understand my electrolyte output and intake better. And with that comes various options of nutrition. I have to spend some time looking at more alternatives for the bike and see what works. Any advice / thoughts are appreciated!

As for the race – the course was amazing. It was challenging, as expected, but definitely doable with solid training. The route was fun and scenic and the support along the way was amazing. I’ve never seen a marathon so well-put together, no less a triathlon. And a marathon involves WAY less. In fact, the entire town was amazing. They truly rallied behind the race and made all the athletes feel genuinely welcome. If you are considering this race, I would say do it!

MOST IMPORTANTLY

Thank all of you for your support as I took on 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling, and 13.1 miles of running. It was hot and humid and tough as hell, but it’s nothing compared to the battle faced everyday by cancer patients everywhere.

Together, you and I raised $4,000 through this race for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and my Ironteam teammates and I raised over a combined $150,000! We have made an impact – this drug, funded by LLS, is proof.

If you’d like to make a donation, it’s not too late – I’m continuing my efforts through the NYC Marathon season. Just visit www.bensTNTpage.org. Thanks!

With a few teammates