So, a few weeks ago something pretty shitty happened to me. I was driving back from the T3 endurance training camp in Lake Placid when my tri bike was taken. The details are sad, painful and even a bit embarrassing for me recount. I left it unattended for a few minutes when I stopped at a gas station to get a Red Bull for my drive home. No it wasn’t locked. Yes, I feel incredibly stupid about that. What can I say? I grew up in the area and honestly never dreamt anything like this could happen.
The hours and days that followed were a whirlwind of [pretty terrible] emotions. There was a brief glimmer of hope where my bike was maybe spotted along the highway but when I and others drove to the location, it was gone. I drove slowly around the area it went missing again and again, ultimately giving myself a flat tire on my car from driving on whatever debris was on the highway shoulder. And still…. nothing.
After filing a police report, I waited for hours in that same parking lot, stranded in part by my car’s flat tire but also sort of just paralyzed by the situation.
Do I drive back to Boston? What if shows up? Maybe someone has it and is just looking for the owner!
Occasionally I’d look back at my bike rack with torn straps that had once held my most prized possession and my heart would sink further. 150 miles from home in Boston; 6 weeks out from the race I’d been training for for nearly a year….and no bike. Overwhelmed, heartbroken, and exhausted, I called my Mom and started crying.
Not to belabor/sound dramatic about how shitty this felt because I’m sure some of you may be thinking, “Kay, it was just a bike…Keep it in perspective!”
And of course that’s true. But this bike was really special to me. For one, it was a really nice bike! I worked really, really hard to buy the original frameset and perhaps even harder to get the components upgraded only a month prior to it going missing. It spent most of the year in my basement on a trainer where I’d spent hundreds of hours training on it. It was the bike that I planned to ride 112 miles through the Adirondacks during Ironman Lake Placid next month. I know it’s silly to say… but I loved it.
So alright, alright! What’s the silver lining? Well, here it is: YOU ALL! The support from my friends, family and the online community was… incredible to say the least. The Facebook post I made soon after it went missing went essentially viral (by my standards at least). I had COUNTLESS people reach out and offer to lend me a bike or help in anyway they could. People I had never met before were sending me Facebook and Instagram messages offering to help incredibly generous ways.
And each time someone reached out I was so incredibly touched and the world, that had gotten so heavy over the past few days, became just a little bit lighter.
There’s not a single day that I don’t remind myself how privileged I am to be able do this sport. Not just the obvious fact that I could afford such a nice bike to begin with, but also that I’m able-bodied enough to put it to good use; that I grew up in area where I could start going for solo runs and bike rides in high school, that I learned to swim at a very young age (okay yes, and haven’t improved that much since then). Most of all, I’ve always known how incredibly lucky I am to have friends and family who support me through something kind of crazy like training for an Ironman.
And these past few weeks have just solidified all of that. Friends and complete strangers offered to lend me their (also very expensive) bikes so I could still race Lake Placid on a tri bike. COUNTLESS people checked in regularly to see if there was any news and if there was anything they could do to help.
So what do you make of that? Well, my take is this: It’s the shitty things and people that seem get a lot of attention. Whether it be a rotten bike thief, or a horrible world leader who separates families at our nation’s border….
There are so many really, really kind, amazing people out there still. Like, at least 20,000,000 of them in fact. There’s also this thing called insurance, which I’m really glad I have. I got fitted today for a new bike and I’m hoping to get on it in the next week or two… just in time to start my taper for Lake Placid.
THANK YOU SO MUCH friends, families, strangers who I’ve never met for all of your support and kind words these past few weeks. I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to me.
A few of you asked if I set up a crowd funding account. I did not but would love for you to consider to donating to this way better cause instead.
I’m probably of the 1 in 1000 people (including non-triathlon folks) that enjoys reading the lengthy race reports that triathletes like to write…which is why if I write them, I usually try to keep it short and sweet. BUT I’m currently stuck traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike on a 13+ hour car ride home to Boston so figured why not have at it! This report is neither short nor especially sweet, but neither was the race itself! To the 0.1% of social media followers that may read this, here’s to you!
Ironman 70.3 was my first official 70.3 and my first ever Ironman race. When I signed up for it, people kept saying “Ooohh! North Carolina in June?? Good luck with that!” but I never really took their warnings seriously… until I arrived down there a few days before the race: 88 degrees, 70% humidity, water temps IN THE 80S! Eeeeps! This northerner was not prepared. I stopped thinking about a goal time for my race and started focusing more about my fueling/hydration plan.
I started hydrating extra the week before and basically cut out fiber all together the days leading up to the race as I am prone to GI issues, particularly when it’s hot out. I use a great smoothie mix made by Field Work Nutrition Company that allows me to still get the important nutrients even while cutting out vegetables (too much fiber) during race week. My race day breakfast included a smoothie made from Primo mixed with 1 banana, cinnamon applesauce, water (though normally I would do almond milk) and ice, plus half a bagel on the side for a few more grams of carbs and some solid food in my stomach.
I basically had one goal for race day: respect the heat and stick to my race plan. Shout out to my Coach Karen Allen Turner for giving me some great guidelines to adhere to for race day. I stuck to them the best I could. Here’s how it went:
So, because I’m from New England, I didn’t have a chance to open-water-swim before the race (aside from a quick dress rehearsal the day before). However, I kept telling myself on my pool days “yeah, but on race day you’ll be in a wetsuit”. Of course with 81 degree water, Raleigh was not wetsuit legal. I did have a friend lend me her Blue Seventy Swim Skin the day before the race. While swimskins don’t offer the buoyancy (read: security) of a wetsuit, they do keep your kit sucked in nice and tight to you, which cuts down on drag. The swimskin worked great and I was lucky to have it!
The Raleigh swim starts in Jordan Lake, about 40 miles outside of downtown. We boarded the buses from Raleigh around 5:00 am. Transition closed at 6:45 which gave me PLENTY (maybe too much) time to get in the water and warm up before my wave went off at 8:15
Jordan Lake was much nicer than I was expecting. There were a lot of nay-sayers on the Internet talking trash about the water quality but the lake (other than being like bath water) was fine. My swim wave ended up combining 3 age groups, so it was pretty large. As instructed by my coach, I seeded myself closer to the front of my wave so I could hopefully find a faster swimmers feet to hang onto. I may have been a little overzealous in this as when the horn went off, I found myself hanging on for my life in a cluster of swimmers WAYY faster than me. About 200 yards out, I started panicking that I had gone out too fast and felt myself start to hyperventilate. I’ve never had a panic attack in the water before but felt it coming on this time. I started breaststroking to calm myself down and eventually, after a few moments, I passed the first turn buoy and got back into my rhythm. Just as I thought I was in the clear, the men from the Relay wave caught me. As they crawled over me in the water, I wanted to shout at them, “YEAH, BUT YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANYTHING AFTER THIS”. But instead I waited until someone who seemed closer to my ability swam near and tried hanging on. This time I was much more successful. The last 1000 yards or so yards went by without any more drama… but I was still more than happy to finally get out of the water. Averaged 1:59/100 yard, which is slow for me, but considering my few hundred yards of breaststroking, I was okay with it.
Aside realizing I couldn’t take off the swimskin by myself, T1 went pretty smoothly. The only unique thing about Raleigh is you had to pack your swim gear into a bag so it could get transported back to the finish for you (since it’s a point to point bike ride). That wasn’t a big deal and only took a few seconds to do. As I ran to “BIKE OUT” I saw two, younger boy volunteers holding enormous sunscreen bottles and shouted “YES! Get at me, boys!” They thought that was funny and did a great job throwing massive amounts of sunscreen lotion on me. Time in T1 was 4:50.
My heart rate was a little high from the anxiety of the swim so I took the first 5 miles of the bike to get my heart rate down. I drank the first half of my speed bottle right away to catch up on fuel and hydration. I got on the bike around 9:00 am and it was smoking hot out already. About 15-20 minutes into my ride, I settled in aero and basically stayed in that position most of the course. My new Shimano Dura-Ace wheels had me feeling like I was flyyying on the flats and downhills. The course was basically rolling hills the entire way, which kept things interesting. I rode fairly conservatively – spun up most of the hills, tried keeping watts below ~220, even on the hills. I had a power target in mind to average but focused more on my heart rate than power. More than anything, I knew I had to be super smart about hydration during the bike. Because it was SO DAMN HOT, I just kept drinking. I started with 3 bottles of First Endurance EFS. I refilled my speed bottle with Gatorade Endurance at every aid station. After the first one, I managed to refill “on the fly”, which I was pretty pleased with myself for. I also had 2 energy gels and a protein bar (broken up to have about 1 portion per hour). Since it was so freaking hot, I also dumped a water bottle over my helmet and into my bike shorts at every aid station to try and stay cool. Volunteers didn’t seem too weirded out by it.
I ended up averaging a little low for normalized power but was SPOT ON for my heart rate target. My bike split was almost exactly 3 hours (3:01) which was faster than I was planning for actually! Averaged closer to 19 mph, which was solid for 2800 feet of elevation. Felt good and was even happier to finally pee as I came into transition (yes, in my chamois), which was my goal indicator of hydrating okay on the bike. YAY!
So, the distance between the bike dismount zone and the entrance to the actual transition area was ridiculously long. There’s almost nothing more awkward than running in bike cleats while pushing your bike along on pavement so I was not impressed with this aspect of the race. Other than that, T2 went fine. I practiced in my head during the bike what I was going to do during transition. Took out my cooling towel, wet it with an extra water bottle, chugged half the emergency RedBull I had in my transition bag, grabbed my Base Salt and Clif Bloks and was off.
My coach warned me not to go out too hard on the run and to instead use the first mile to get my heart rate in check. That’s exactly what I did. My first mile was exactly on target at 8:14 min/mile pace and heart rate low Zone 2. The run course was two loops and contained (without exaggeration) at least 6 out and back U-turns. So… it was pretty congested out there. The tight turns made it difficult to get into a rhythm and, of course, that mother f**king heat. I knew from feeling the strength of the sun on the bike that the run would be brutal but there was no way to really prepare for it. I took a salt lick every mile or so, had an energy chew every 2 miles, drank Gatorade at every aid station. Around mile 3-4 I got an incredible stitch out of nowhere. You know the kind where it’s hard to even stand up? Yeah, like that. I ended up walking the next aid station and drinking extra Gatorade and water this time. I forced myself to start running again and was surprised to start feeling better.
By the second lap I actually felt pretty good so tried to start picking up the pace, but as soon as I did the stitch would start to come back. So instead of pushing it, from then on I just took it from one aid station to the next. The heat had me a little nauseous so I ditched trying to eat anything solid and went straight liquid calories. I started drinking cola in addition to water and Gatorade around mile 7 and the caffeine seemed to really help. I also followed a cooling protocol given to me by a friend (thanks Sam!) which included water over my head, plus handfuls of ice in my sports bra and chamois at each aid station and that (plus the cooling towel) really saved me. Running in nearly 90 degree heat is no joke! At mile 10 I thought to myself “Just a 5K left. Anyone can do a 5K” (a mantra given to me by a friend) and decided to actually pick it up. This was the first time my heart rate went out of Zone 2 all day. Mile 10-12 was a long steady climb back into town so my final splits were not anything special but I was able to get back down into the 8s and finished the run course in 1:57.
Raleigh 70.3 was a tough battle that tested both my mental and physical fitness in a way that it hasn’t been before. The course was mostly well designed and very well supported. The volunteers were INCREDIBLE. But by far my favorite part of the day was seeing my brother, who also raced, on the course and my husband cheering me on.
My goal for this race was sub 5:30 and/or top 10 in my age group. I ended up finishing in 5:48 and 14th in my age group. For my first official 70.3 and the race day conditions, I think I executed it nearly as best as I could have. I’ve been going back and forth like “Man, should I have ridden a little harder on the bike? I probably could have pushed harder on the run.” but then I remind myself that this was just the warm up: I’m still gearing up for the Big Dance in Lake Placid on July 22nd. This was the last year Ironman Raleigh 70.3 will be held so I was happy to help send it off… but will probably stick to racing above the Mason Dixon line from now on. Bring on IMLP!
I haven’t blogged in a while. Despite my New Year’s Resolution to “write more,” I just simply haven’t had the free time between work and Ironman training.
I was recently promoted at work (yay!). While promotions are awesome, early feelings of pride and accomplishment quickly converted to stress and anxiety as I realize the implications of having more responsibility, more exposure to leadership, etc. More than anything else, it’s been a struggle to navigate my new role and still make it seem like I (at least somewhat) have my shit together.
To use a swim metaphor, it’s like just when I figure out how to tread water to stay afloat, someone comes and hands me a 20 pound weight to hold over my head and am back to almost drowning. Essentially, I’m doing too much to really feel like I’m doing anything well. I shared this with one of my mentors and asked for advice on how to do better.
Her response was this: “I think you’ve got it wrong and actually you are kicking ass and we, as women, are just way too hard on ourselves.”
Maybe she was kind of right. I was probably promoted for a reason… was probably given more responsibility for a reason. No one has called me out on not doing a good job in my new role.
I started thinking about this and wondering about other areas of my life. Silly things that have been causing me stress for no reason.
Take this photo:
This is a photo of me taken at the Outrival Racing training camp. It ended up getting picked up by Outrival and QT2 Systems and shared on their social media accounts. This could have been really cool but all I could think while looking at the photo on my phone screen is that I’m nearly 10 pounds over “race weight,” that I don’t look like an endurance athlete… blah, blah blah… all the horrible things we think about our bodies from time to time for no good reason.
The thing is: I was one of the strongest runners at that camp. The fact that I was even at that camp and the fact that I’m training for an Ironman 10-12 hours a week shows that I have a pretty decent level of fitness. So really, that kind of self-loathing about an extra few pounds is kind of crazy!
And obviously I’m not alone. Here are just a few examples of conversations with my girlfriends from the past few weeks:
I could seriously be 10 pounds lighter if I didn’t drink beer. (Yeah, maybe… but then you wouldn’t drink beer and that would be so sad and boring)
I only worked out 4 days this week… that’s pathetic. (No, you’re working full time and going to nursing school at night and it’s amazing that you find any time to work out)
I’m going to show up for work my first day and they’re going to immediately fire me when they realize how unqualified I am. (They hired you knowing your experience and decided you were the best person for the job.)
You get it. This topic is so pervasive in women’s conversation it is almost cliché to even write a blog. But for real. Maybe it’s time we actually start to cut the crazy talk and cut ourselves some slack.
So I took that quote from my mentor and have used it as mantra these past few weeks. Here it is for you to keep in your back pocket for whenever you need it.
In endless support for the sisterhood …on International Women’s Day and all the days!
I like to think of myself as a generally positive person. Not the… in-your-face, everything-happens-for-a-reason type of positive. More the pragmatic… “sh*t happens but it will all work out” type of positive. You know what I’m talking about, right?
So when my Achilles Tendinitis flared up 3-4 weeks ago for the first time in years, I was okay with taking it in stride. As my Coach reminded me, now is the time to rest and heal; focus on my swim; take a needed break from running, etc. I’ve been a good little athlete: avoided running; prioritized stretching and strengthening; convinced my husband to torture me with an achilles “sports massage” almost nightly.
Because of all of this, I was really ready for my test run today (20 minutes, super easy) to go well. But it didn’t. It still hurt… so much that I had to cut it 2 miles in.
Pragmatic, positive Kalyn reminded myself that it’s only been three weeks; that it’s cold and my achilles is going to be extra stiff in this weather; that injuries (this one in particular) take time to heal and Ironman Lake Placid is still 8 months away.
But then Negative Nancy (that bitch) swept in: “How am I going to ever get to marathon level run-volume if I can’t even run 2 miles?” “Swimming and biking alone is no way to work off these holiday cocktails and cookies.” “I’m getting so out of shape.” Wah. wah. wah.
Basically Nancy won. She took over my mind like whoa and I spent the rest of the afternoon sulking through social media, being a brat to my husband, contemplating quitting triathlon all together (such a drama queen). When the hubs said he was going to the gym, I begrudgingly agreed to go with him….I literally rolled my eyes pulling on my bathing suit on and grimaced as I got into the pool.
But something changed as I started to go through my swim drills. I actually felt really good in the water and couldn’t believe how quickly and easily I was reaching the wall. I checked my Garmin to confirm: yes, this was a good pace!
HOLD UP! Maybe I wasn’t so out of shape! Maybe this whole “focusing on swim technique for the winter” thing was actually working!
I met my husband in the lobby feeling significantly more perked up.
“Should we grab a beer at Trillium?”
Um… yup. With good beer, the answer is always yes.
So we did. For those not familiar (i.e. non-craft beer peeps): Trillium makes some of best beer. No joke: their double IPAs are ridiculous. Awesomely enough, they just opened a seasonal, beer garden at the old Substation in downtown Roslindale… just a few blocks from our house.
The Garden was filled with fellow yuppies, buzzed off 8.5% beers and holiday cheer: Exactly our kind of scene. 😉
I had the Dialed In DIPA…So freaking crisp and juicy that I had to get a second. And somewhere on the way to my own beer buzz, I decided I’d stick with triathlon a little while longer.
The moral of the story is that injury still sucks but there’s nothing that a decent swim and even better beer can’t make better. So I guess I’ll continue to practice patience and positivity to ring in the New Year!
You ever have one of those conversations where you realize halfway through what an ignorant dummy you’ve been?
That was essentially my experience during my nutrition consult with The Core Diet this weekend.
By way of background, “back in the day” I ran D1 track while earning my degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Vermont. I was a sprinter in college but spent the next 5-6 years training for some longer races, including the 2013 Boston Marathon and most recently a half ironman (70.3) this past fall. All of this is to say that I thought I knew a thing or two about nutrition and training despite some lived experiences suggesting otherwise – e.g. debilitating muscle cramps, GI issues (oh, I could blog for days about the runner trots), essentially crawling (dehydrated and under-fueled) the last 6 miles to the finish line of 70.3… etc.
So, I finally figured when I signed up for my first full Ironman (IM Lake Placid 2018!!) that I needed to actually get my sh*t together. I was beyond pumped for my initial nutrition consult that came with my 1:1 coaching package from QT2 Systems.
Our conversation went something like this…
Me: I know everything about eating healthfully because I went to school for nutrition (I’m paraphrasing….and I hope I didn’t sound this arrogant)
RD: How do you usually fuel during long runs or rides?
Me: Hmm… I use Infinit sometimes—like when I have it—but I’m out of it now… so usually just water and a Clif bar or Gu or something.
When was the last time I fueled or even brought hydration for a run??
RD: What do your longest training days consist of right now?
Me: Two to three hours. I’m doing a two-hour trail run this weekend.
RD: You need to be fueling for something like that. How are you doing that?
Me: Ehh… I hadn’t thought about it honestly. It’s pretty cold out…I’ll probably just carry a water bottle.
This sounds incredibly silly as I’m saying it out loud.
RD: You should have more than water and probably need more than one water bottle’s worth.
It goes on. We start talking about electrolytes and glucose and all things I “knew” or at least thought I knew, but definitely forgot how to apply. Namely, you need to fuel for long workouts (duh!) and there are ways to do that are better than others to keep your training on track over the long – term.
Long story short, RD Jaime (who’s a serious badass, by the way) dropped a whole world of wisdom on me during that 30-minute call. I swallowed (pun intended) my ego and and realized that sports nutrition for endurance is it’s own crazy discipline that I apparently know nothing about.
I picked up a new CamelBak (because I hate my handheld water bottle and fuel belts) plus some electrolyte tabs and put my nutrition refresher crash-course to the test on my two-hour trail run. I’m pleased to say that it WENT AWESOME! Yes, I ran slower than normal (coach’s orders) but I felt confident that I could easily run another two hours without bonking… and what’s better than that? I actually felt so great and energized afterwards that I went for a second hike with my family later that day.
Training day: CHECK.
Time with family: CHECK!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That does not always work out so well!
Committing to Ironman training has meant surrendering to the idea that I don’t know everything, or even close to everything. It’s been about finding a team of experts that know their sh*t. It’s been about talking to other athletes, about listening more, about trying new things… and eventually I might figure it out. This weekend’s conversation got me one step closer.
Like so many others after the New Year, I started 2017 with a crazy amount of motivation to train. I had signed up for my first half Iron and started working with a coach for training for the first time.
I trained every day, rarely missing a workout. My “tempo” run pace quickly dropped from around 8:30 min/mile to 7:30 min/mile. I bought a new Trek Speed Concept (not a bad whip for a bad a newbie) and a power meter and watched my watts increase. My first race of the year (despite racing like a complete idiot) I took 3rd overall for women and won my age group at the HITS Hudson Valley Olympic.
That was July.
Then life happened.
Luckily most were good life-things but still life-things that needed to be prioritized, often times over training. (1) I was promoted at work, (2) we adopted a puppy (she’s the best), (3) my only sister got married, etc.
Some were bad life-things. I had two bad bike crashes in one month, the second ending with a broken hand just two weeks out from the 70.3 I’d been training for all year.
All that is to say that somewhere along the line, I forgot that I do this shit for fun. Training became a stressor instead of stress reliever: another obligatory responsibility that I’d grown to resent.
So, after my last race I took about 6 weeks off from “training”. I worked out when I felt like it, and I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t. I gained a few pounds and didn’t sweat it. I mostly just focused on letting myself heal.
This week I started back up again. With a new coach from QT2, who I love, my training theme for the next few months is durability. I’m keeping my training effort very aerobic to work explicitly on building endurance (as a former college sprinter, my slow-twitch fibers are the ones that need the most work).
All of this is to say that I am doing a lot workouts at lower effort. Lots of Zone 1 runs and rides, lots of swims where I’m not caring about the pace at all and just focusing on technique.
And you know what? It’s been awesome. This weekend I went out for a 90 minute easy trail run and genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Loving that run took me out of my funk. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I found myself smiling during a “work out”. I’m pumped to do speed work again. Waking up at 5:45 to get on the trainer isn’t my favorite but I’m doing it and do not feel like I’m acquiring massive sleep debt along the way.
Ironman Lake Placid is 9 months away. My prep race for it is Ironman 70.3 Raleigh in June. I have plenty of time to stress about training as race day grows nearer… but it’s too early in the journey to sweat the small stuff. For now, I’m just pumped to be excited to train again.
A bunch of girlfriends out on the trails
Me and Evie
P.S. Easier pace runs means more runs with Evie – so she is very happy too. 🙂