Friday, August 31, 2012

Run The Base

This morning I set out for a long bike ride, pushing for 25 miles. My front tire went flat at mile 14 and that was that. I really need to learn how to change a tire; instead it was hubby to the rescue. Coincidentally, I won a tire repair kit from TwoTri this week.

In keeping things positive, I'll tell you about my great run yesterday instead of today's disappointing ride...

I had exactly one hour of free time while Little Girl attended preschool orientation. Her school is adjacent the Air National Guard base, so I decided to just park, drop and run right there. Inside the Guard base, there is a gold gem - a running trail that only military have access. I'm able to sneak in via my military spouse ID.

Once on base, my friend Patty (who is a JAG officer) also joined me for the run.  The running trail is pretty unique compared to my normal routes. It's rough with gravel and some bigger rocks, so I pay special attention to my footing. The elevation is no joke. Some quick, some long, but plenty of hills to work the quads. It's pretty remote, but safe since it's fenced in on base. Last time I ran it with my husband, we even saw a couple deer!  I just love a scenic wooded trail to run.

Once off the trail, we ran a loop around the base. For those of us who don't see 'big military planes' (officially known as C-130's) everyday, it's pretty darn neat to get up close and personal with them.

As we reached the far side of the base, I had to pop in on my hubby at work. I haven't seen his new office since he was promoted... plus Patty and I needed someone to take our sweaty picture, right?!  It was so hot and humid for so early in the morning. Can you see our skin glowing with sweat?

I ran my way off the base and back to preschool to pickup Little Girl. 5 miles done. I'm going to make this a weekly adventure now that school has started again. Running the Air Guard base got me energized for my upcoming Air Force Half Marathon... just 2 weeks away!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crazy when Tired

I do crazy stuff when I'm tired.

Last week was an insanely busy week for me. School started, three birthday parties (one of which was my daughter's), meet the teacher night, a race, baseball game and my parents visiting from out of town. Lots of fun, but enough to seriously wear me down. I woke up Monday morning with a sigh of relief. Hubby off to work, Big Girl on the school bus and just a quiet morning with my little one. TGIM... Thank Goodness It's Monday!

And that wasn't even the crazy part...

After the hustle and bustle of the week, I managed to run one of my best races ever on Saturday morning. Smashed my 5k PR and am still in shock over the time I ran. If you want the expanded version, race recap is here.

On Saturday night, we relaxed at the local minor league baseball game, staying late to watch the spectacular fireworks display. I was more exhausted than my kids when we got home. I ended the evening by running into the bathroom door... literally kicking my left foot into the edge of the door. I heard some kind of 'crack' but wasn't sure if it was the bone, a muscle pop or the toenail flying off. Either way, OUCH! And sudden panic for the runner in me...

Sunday morning I awoke in the 5am hour (again not enough sleep) to meet my girlfriends for a long run. My little toes were painfully throbbing from the previous night's collision. So I did the obvious... I taped my toes together, laced up my shoes and headed out for double digit miles. The first mile was pure pain with every step and I was doubtful on making the long haul. But then it kinda went numb and I ended up with almost 11 miles. It may have been stupid, but I toughed it out. I used Monday to rest and ice the toes. The swelling is down. In my expert diagnosis, I'm pretty sure I didn't break the toe, but instead bruised the tendon. It's healing and will be fine. That's the story and I'm sticking to it.

I was up late last night (that would be past 10pm for this momma). All day I had been scrolling past Route 66 Marathon's facebook photos releasing their 2012 medals.  I even told myself, "You should unlike their page because it's not gonna happen this year."  But I didn't. And by midnight, I was registered to run 26.5 miles (marathon+detour)... in a mere 11 weeks!  Instead of freaking out this morning, I am super excited and focused.  I've had my eye on this Oklahoma event all year, plus I've been craving the challenge of building endurance. While my fall calendar is booked with half-marathons, the 13.1 lure just doesn't give me the drive and discipline in training that 26.2 does. I have felt like a slacker lately and this is just the kick in the booty that I needed!  Anyone else running Route 66 on November 18?  If you're on the fence... remember price increases in three days. Check out the gorgeous finisher medals here for the 2012 race.  P.S. I have the most awesome husband who practically registered for me after hearing me ramble on and on about this marathon...

So NOW is the time to get CRAZY.... marathon training again! Whoop!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monitor your Heart - Giveaway!

This week in the #LoseAMarathon weight loss challenge was all about heart rate training. Whether or not you are participating in #LoseAMarathon, I invite you to participate in this mini challenge.  I found the challenge intriguing since I've read so much about heart rate training in fitness instruction and weight loss. I typically workout pretty hard (by perceived exertion standards), so I was positive I was getting the best results possible, right?! Until I discovered that I may be working too much in the anaerobic zone - burning glucose rather than my unwanted fat. What?! 

The mini challenge was an introduction to heart rates... to figure out your heart rate zones and monitor your heart during normal weekly activities. Here's the assignment...

1) Figure out your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). Try the Simplistic method for ease... Subtract your age from 220 (226 for women). For example, a 37 yr old women (like me!) would look like this: 226-37= 189 is my Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). If you’d like a more accurate read, see your doctor or try the Karvonen Method.

2) Calculate your heart rate for the five different zones. Using a calculator, simply multiply your MHR by the appropriate decimal. For example, the base of my Aerobic/Moderate Zone would be 70% of 189 (.70 x 189) equaling 132. Use the chart below for zone percentages.
3) Learn HOW to take your heart rate. Using your pointer and index fingers, gently locate your pulse on either your wrist or in the nook of your neck. Once you locate a strong pulse, count the beats over the course of 20 seconds (obviously use a clock that has a second hand). Multiply that number by 3 to figure your beats per minute (bpm). For example, as I’m typing this (at a fairly resting heart rate), I counted 24 beats while holding the pulse on my neck.  24 x 3 = 72 beats per minute (bpm). The more you practice, the easier it gets to locate and count. Obviously if I was in the middle of running, that number would be much higher. That is the old-school way that I was taught in PhyEd class. Today, of course, there is numerous products on the market that will measure your heart rate for you. Many machines like treadmills and ellipticals have a built-in heart rate monitor that you simply place your hands on and it will read your heart rate. Or you can purchase a heart rate monitor (watch + chest strap) that you wear during exercise and it will display your heart rate at all times during your workout. Enter below for your chance to WIN a Mio heart rate monitor!

4) Monitor and record your heart rate this week. What is your resting heart rate when you first wake up? How about when you’re doing housework? Out for a walk? Hard exercise? Compare your perceived exertion with your actual heart rate. What zone are you running in? There is all kinds of opinions online about which zone is best for weight loss - I invite you to do your own reading and research there. This challenge is about familiarizing yourself with heart rate training and what it is.
Print this worksheet HERE to help with the Heart Rate mini challenge.

Congrats to Tiffaney V.
on winning the Heart Rate Monitor!
Please email your shipping address to me at

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Race Recap: Hanna City Hustle 5K

I felt like I haven't given the 5k a fair shot this year. I don't run many to start with, and the three I ran this summer had extraordinary circumstances (one scorching hot, another a fun run, and the third part of a triathlon). I PR'ed each one, but was left wondering what was possible under better circumstances. I pride myself on endurance, but am naturally curious to see what I'm capable with speed too.

So last week I signed up for a small town race just miles from my house. My goal was simple... to close out the summer with a solid attempt at speed. Leave it all on the course and finish with a new 5k time that would be difficult for me to beat in the future. Ultimately, I really wanted to get under the 26 minute mark.

The Hanna City Hustle turned out to be the perfect race for me. It was pure and simple running. No congestion. No frills. Easy in and easy out.

One of the mistakes I make in short distances races is the failure to warmup appropriately. This time, I decided to ride my bike to the race, which provided a great 7.5 mile ride. My muscles warmed up nicely, which allowed for a great stretch before the race began. It was a beautiful morning in the low 70's and I was ready to run.

My hubby and I lined up with maybe 150 other runners. With a simple 1-2-3, we were off and running. Already warmed up, I probably started off down the opening stretch a little too fast. By time I saw my parents and kids a half mile in, I settled into a comfortably hard pace. At mile one, a guy called out my first split, a 7:50. I glanced at my watch to see it was right. Yes! Wowza!

To keep myself driving, I continually set targets ahead of me. There was an older guy running strong ahead and step by step, I caught up to him. When we hit a slight downhill, I used it to soar ahead. The race course was a nice stroll through neighborhoods and then we hit an in/out stretch on a country road. It was fun to see the leaders flying past... a female and male side by side. (The chick ended up winning the whole shabang!)  Shortly after them, I saw fellow Sole Sister Crystal. She's an impressively fast runner, but more amazing is her support of other runners. She called out to me, "Jess you're doing great. You're fourth female! Catch her - You can do it!"  Sure enough, I counted one more female between Crystal and I before the turnaround. She was a good 1/8 mile ahead of me though. I picked up the pace and slowly closed the gap over the next mile.

On the way back to the finish, we weaved once again through the neighborhoods. There were a couple mild inclines that began to pinch my energy. I was breathing so hard trying to push the last mile. I wondered how off the charts my heart rate must be at that moment! As the course turned one final corner, we had a nice long straightway to sprint out the finish. I've train myself to have an end kick no matter how tired I am, but unfortunately the female in front of me also had a strong finish, so I simply couldn't catch her.  As I came across the finish, I was shocked when he called out 24:48. Say what?!? I stared at my watch... Holy crap! Forget the 25's... I just soared into the 24's. I was absolutely ecstatic with that time.

After the 5k was done, my kiddos ran the kids race. Little Girl is super competitive and sprinted out a big finish.  Big Girl just smiled and waved as she ran. It makes me laugh how they are complete opposites.

Afterward we relaxed at the Pancake/Sausage Breakfast that was included in the race entry. It was a beautiful morning to sit in the grass, eat yummy pancakes and talk with other runners. I grew up in a small town so I enjoyed this comfy casual setting in Hanna City.

As the awards were called out, I was thrilled to win my first 1st place age group medal! And so did my friend Crystal!

Official Time: 
24:48 (7:59 pace)
#4 out of 51 females
1st place in my age group F35-39

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LoseAMarathon Weigh-In #9

When the #LoseAMarathon challenge started, it seemed like September was so far away. It was easy for me to dismiss small results with a simple “next week”. Well, next week has come and gone, and now there are only FOUR WEEKS LEFT! I am not on track to lose the full -26.2 that I envisioned, but I have not quit. I have simply adjusted my goal. I hope to crush the ‘half-marathon’ goal by the Air Force Half Marathon (23 days!), and will aim for the full mary before Thanksgiving. The weight has been coming off slowly, but honestly I haven’t been 100% dedicated either. I’m not disappointed though. Instead of gaining beer/brat pounds like every other summer, I’ve maintained my weight loss from week to week.

In recording the weigh-ins, I know many of you are in the same boat. I invite you to adjust your sail with me. With four weeks to go, give yourself a new realistic goal. It’s never too late to re-energize your weight loss efforts. Comment below your newly adjusted goal to hold yourself accountable... and then GO FOR IT!

We are on the home stretch... and there is a large bunch that are pushing hard to the finish!  I am pulling for each and every one of you! Keep it up!  The participants below have taken charge and produced BIG in week nine.  I was delighted to see some new names in the Scale Crushers! Congratulations!!

Lost -5 lbs or more
Jennifer H.
Carol U.
Samantha G.
Esther G.
Erin W.
Cara M.
Maria Q.
Joanna S.

Lost -3% or more
Carol U. 
Jennifer H.
Erin W.
Jaclyn W.

And I'm delighted to add the 'Marathon' Section!  Congrats to Brant & Ann who were the first to cross the #LoseAMarathon finish... but I know they're not done yet.  50K?

* To quality for Scale Crushers, you must report in two consecutive weigh-ins before the deadline.
Reminder: Weigh-ins are due before midnight every Monday (email me your full name & weight).  If you miss it the deadline, please just wait until the next week to report. 

This week's prize goes along with our current mini challenge (heart rate training). The lucky two participants below win a Mio Heart Rate Monitor! Congratulations! Please e-mail me at with your shipping address to claim your prize. Special thank you to Heather and her company for supplying these monitors as a prize.

JOY WHITESEL (Women's Heart Rate Monitor)
BRIAN HART (Men's Heart Rate Monitor)

Keep an eye out later this week when I'll be hosting a 
Women's Mio Heart Rate Monitor Giveaway for ALL readers.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five For Friday

One more day. Just one more day until hubby comes home. I can do this. It's the end of summer which means several things... 1) the busiest time of year for my wedding business 2) my kids are getting bored and sick of each other's company 3) lots of busy stuff to for back-to-school 4) my daughter's upcoming birthday 5) training is at full peak for fall marathons. And then my hubby leaves for a work trip. I've tried my best to just breathe and keep it all motion. How single parents do it, I have no clue! Every time my husband has these trips, I'm reminded how much I need him.
Me & my girls after a run together this week.
I've actually had a great week of running. By the third day of single-parenthood this week, I "invested" in my sanity and hired a young girl down the street to come watch cartoons babysit with my girls every morning for an hour. This was surely my best decision of the week. The weather has been remarkably cool for August (a refreshing change over this summer's heat) making for pretty awesome running weather.  I logged 32 run miles and 16 on the bike since hubby left town. No excuses. Staying focused. Air Force Half Marathon... 28 days!

Join me for my "birthday run" on Saturday, October 20 in Lake Geneva, WI.  I will be running the ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon. Use discount code GLAMB5 at registration to receive $10 off the Half and $5 off the 5k.  Plus I will have a special "birthday favor" for all the ladies who register with my code!  I'm excited about this race because I've heard many great things about the ZOOMA Women's Series of races. They cater to women (obviously) so the events have a lot of nice touches that are unique to women. Instead of the typical finisher's medal, participants receive a necklace designed by Satya Jewelry. Plus the finish line features wine, spas and shopping! Growing up in Wisconsin, Lake Geneva is known as a vacation destination, and I'm anxious to enjoy its beautiful fall colors.

I finally signed up and started using Instagram. I honestly don't get it yet... how is it different than posting pictures to Facebook/Twitter as normal? Seems like just another time waster social forum. Lots to learn yet I guess... So if you're an Instagramer, look me up @runwjess. I'll follow back.

On Sunday, I'm escaping with my BFF (best fitness friend) Kelli to Wisconsin for a day to run the Dirty Girl mud run. It will be a fun day getting down and dirty, but a huge step out of my comfort zone.  Obstacles and slippery mud. I plan to take it easy, laugh a lot, and just make sure I don't hurt myself.  Are you racing this weekend? Tell me where... Good luck y'all!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Virtual Games Recap & Winners

I miss the Olympics already. For a couple weeks, we had stellar TV to watch both day and night. My kids were totally engaged in nearly every sport. Still today, they are playing "pretend" gymnastics, role playing medal ceremonies, and begging for swim lessons and to run the track again.

Running the Virtual Games, I had one of my highest mileage weeks since marathon training. I guess it was just the motivation I needed.  I started off my Virtual Games with my first triathlon, in which I PR'd the 5000m in 26:02. Not a bad start!

I tacked on marathon mileage and the 10,000m throughout the week, but saved the short sprints for a track meet with some of my Sole Sisters on Friday night. It was so enjoyable to run these sprints with other people. Afterward, we all agreed that we needed to do 'track meets' more often. It was a fun change from our usual distance runs. Plus we included 'kid heats' to give us rest make it a great family night.
Sole Sisters!
Kids lined up for their 100m. They took this very serious!
My official finish times of the Virtual Games

Thank you to all who participated and made it a fun side-event to the real deal in London! Here are some of the blogposts detailing their Olympic action...
  • Maggie and Kelly had a fun night at the track here
  • Laurie got smoked by her 10 year old here.
  • Jessica's son smoked his run for the Games here.
  • Jess found her speed at the track here.
  • Heather completed her marathon in just 2 runs here.
  • Daniele compared her finish times with the Gold Medalists here.
  • Tonya got it done in Akron here.
  • Margaret looks adorable in her red, white & blue tophat here.
  • Christine wonders if she's the next Bolt here.

See photo submissions from ALL contestants
in my FB Virtual Games photo album here.

Email your shipping address to 
to claim your prize!  I've got some goodies for you! 

Veronica O.
Fancy Nancy
Kim P.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Haribo Gold Bears: Review & Giveaway

I count calories and watch my diet because I want to reach a healthy running weight. The less I have to carry, the faster I run. However, I'll be the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth. Sometimes I need a little something to fulfill that craving without breaking the calorie bank for the day.

Today, Haribo Gold Bears satisfied that afternoon sweet craving.  My little girls and I gathered around the picnic table to "test out" this colorful treat. They were more than willing to offer assistance in this product review!

These little chewy candies are 140 calories for 17 pieces. I cut that serving in half for a 70 calorie snack. High in carbs and sugar, I could also see using these on a long run instead of an energy gel. I do that with jelly beans too.

It was hard to decide what color to start with... but yellow won. My favorite flavors were the red and orange. Big Girl liked white and yellow best; and Little Girl said red and green won the flavor test.  In their official review, my girls said, "These are really really good. Squishy and yummy." Big Girl added, "I could just hang outside and eat gummy bears all day."

In the final conclusion, they gave Haribo Gummy Bears two thumbs up!

Would you like to try Haribo Gold Bears??
Enter below... 
10 winners will receive a coupon for a FREE 5oz. BAG!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 11, 2012

LoseAMarathon Weigh-In #7

I was completely distracted this past week with my impending triathlon.  I did a mock-tri and strained my quad and didn't exercise for 3 straight days in hopes that the muscle would heal in time for the tri. It did improve, however, three days of light activity had me fearing my Monday show-down with the scale. Amazingly... I lost another pound! How the... Whatever, I'll take it.

With the tri behind me now and unable to find another one before the end of summer, I'm trying to focus on my next half-marathon (Sept. 15). With the cooler weather this week and the kids heading back to school shortly, I hope to restore a stricter schedule than this summer.  While I've enjoyed the flexibility of my workouts, I'm also missing out on key runs... like tempos and intervals. My sprints yesterday for the #VirtualGames was a nasty reminder that it's been too long since I've hit the track.

Another key motivator?  My mom is kicking my butt in this challenge! She's down -10.4 to my -8.4 pounds. I've got some catching up to do!

As I record weights each week, I am pulling for each and every one of you! It's so motivating to me to see your successes and struggles.  Keep it up!  Weight loss is tough and sticking with it for seven weeks... even tougher!  The participants below have taken charge and produced BIG in week seven.  Congratulations!!

Lost -5 lbs or more
Deirdre G.
Deborah M.
Heather L.
Lynn B.
Tabitha Y.
Hannah Y.
Joanna S.

Lost -3% or more
Deborah M.
Deirdre G.
Hannah Y.
Tabitha Y.

* To quality for Scale Crushers, you must report in two consecutive weigh-ins before the deadline.
Reminder: Weigh-ins are due before midnight every Monday (email me your full name & weight).  If you miss it the deadline, please just wait until the next week to report.

I tallied up some totals and this number is just shocking to me... 
3000 POUNDS! 
As a group, that is how many pounds we have lost, thrown to the curb, dissolved from our bodies!!  Absolutely amazing! Keep up the great work!

This week's randomly drawn winner is TERESA HULETT. Congratulations, you've won a Kitchen Food Scale. What gets measured gets managed. Please email your shipping address to claim your prize.

Don't forget to report your weigh-in for week 8 before midnight on Monday, August 13 to This week's upcoming prize drawing is for a Heart Rate Monitor (both women and men versions).  Thank you to our inspiration Heather for acquiring these great prizes from her employer!

Far End Gear: Review & Giveaway

When I started lacing up the sneakers, any run without music was punishment. I needed the music, the beat, the distraction, blasting in my eardrums. It was like my own personal cheerleader that said, "One more block!"  Let's face it, running kinda hurts when you start out. As the years have gone by, I've slowly weaned myself off the music for a variety of reason... but one of the most important being safety.

Most of my runs are on streets. Despite large shoulders, several lanes and traffic signs, drivers are not always the most alert. This has become increasingly dangerous with smart phones in everyone's hands. While I can't control the actions of drivers, I can take personal responsibility for my own safety... which means maximizing all my senses on the run.  Sight and hearing are the two biggies. Many runners rely too heavily on the first and plug up their hearing with pumping music. I understand. I get it. I did it too.

Here's how I began the weaning process after one too many close calls...
First, I began to tuck one ear bud into my sports bra to free up an ear. As it became a sweaty annoyance between my girls, I just cut off the left ear bud off my headsets. Yes, I'd buy a $30 pair of earphones and immediately cut the left side off, pull out my electrical tape and wrap the open wires. Running with just one ear bud made a huge difference in hearing what's was going on around me... especially behind where vision is void.  I always feel bad when I run up behind someone (with earphones), call out a warning, and yet still manage to scare the crap out of them as I pass. Imagine if I had ill intentions? Please please use common sense and be aware of your surrounding. If you can't run without music or podcasts, consider taking at least one bud out.

With all that said, I was out-of-my-seat excited when I saw the one-bud earphones from Far End Gear. Finally - a custom-designed earphone that I don't have to destroy!  A one-bud earphone with both channels of sound pumped into a single ear piece. (While my method of cutting off one cord sounds ingenious, it did severely deflate the sounds quality)  OneGood Earphones enables a runner/hiker/cyclist to maintain alertness in any environment while still enjoying their choice of entertainment with exceptional sound quality.

Far End Gear provided me with several pair to test out.  The first pair I unwrapped was Brite Buds, the world's first line of reflective cord earphones. The fabric-wrapped cord intrigued me, and I was anxious to test it out. Not only for the reflectivity issue, but also for comfort. The rubber on other cords always seem to stick to my sweaty skin, resulting in the earbud tugging out of my ear.  The fabric around the cord employs the same inter-locking process used in high-grade parachute cords, weaving water resistant fibers with glass bead retro-reflective threading.  The bud rested comfortably in my ear and during a 5 mile run, the cord never pulled and the bud never moved from my ear. Instead of constantly adjusting the earbud, I kinda forgot it was there. That is my definition of the perfect earphone!

Secondly, I tried the Short Buds. Again, I was delighted that someone created something that fills a much needed niche. When I listen to music, I use a tiny ipod shuffle that clips to my sports bra or hat. I like it simple and small. The Short Bud is absolutely perfect for this setup with a shorter 15" cord. No more tucking all that extra cord into your sports bra!  Safety and music without the extra cord.

All earphones from Far End Gear come with 3 eartip sizes and are compatible with most stereo and mono devices. Far End Gear carries a complete lineup of earphones, no matter what you're preference.

Other earphone products carried by Far End Gear include...
• OneGood Earphones come in regular buds, wrap-around ear hooks and even with a microphone built into the wire for answering mobile calls.
• BuDLocks replace the stock, in-ear budtips produced by other manufacturers. The soft silicone wing gently locks into the bowl of the wearer's ear, locking it in place during vigorous activity.

Here's your chance to try out 
Far End Gear's revolutionary Brite Buds!! 
Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Race Recap: Oshkosh Sprint Triathlon

This past Sunday, I completed my first triathlon. As always, the journey was the reward. I registered way back in January for this frightful new challenge, because I knew I'd probably chicken out otherwise. The thought of a swim and bike sandwiched amongst other people scared the crap out of me. Slowly but surely, I taught myself to swim and grew more comfortable in the pool. (I'm still no expert and have a long way to go... but that only intrigues me to keep trying.) The skinny tires of a road bike also kinda freaked me out. But I took the plunge and bought myself a road bike...  I can't even imagine riding anything else anymore! I love that bike. And through the six month process of adding  two sports in my routine, I lost 20+ pounds the healthy way. The cherry on top? All that cross-training made me a stronger faster runner.  Win. Win. Win.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling anxious, but ready. I fueled up with my regular breakfast and a dose of coffee. My mom marked my arm/calf, and I was on my way to Winneconne, WI, home of the Oshkosh Area Triathlon and also my high school alma mater. As soon as I stepped outside, I noticed the cool temps (60 degrees) and the tree tops swaying. Wind, strong winds. The park was no different. Waves crashed into the banks, promising a tough swim. The longer I gazed at the lake's waves, the more my stomach turned. At one point, I sat down to calm myself, knees to chest, eyes closed and rocked like a baby. Focus. I can do this.

I set up my transition area quickly, chatted with other racers, and waited for the last possible minute before transition closed to drop my jacket and move towards the start. There were a total of 9 waves of swimmers (max of 100 each we were told, released every 4 minutes). My Team Triumph and the Olympic participants took the water first. I was in wave 6, and before I knew it, we were up. Surprisingly (and thankfully!), the lake water was warmer than the air that morning.

 Above: My dad (on camera duty) found me right before I entered the water!
Above: Fist pump to take on these rough waves

I started off the swim with a freestyle stroke, which quickly seemed ridiculous. We were swimming against the waves at the start and every time I'd come up for air, a big wave would crash into my face. I found it nearly hopeless to breathe and started to panic.  I switched to a side stroke so I had a clear visual of when the waves would strike. I could feel my heart rate soaring and I tried to focus on staying calm. There were lifeguards in the water with floats and I saw other swimmers struggling towards them for relief.
Just keep calm. Move forward.

By time we reached the first buoy, I was starting to find comfort. I kinda chuckled to myself because this was not at all the swim I had trained for! Now the waves were hitting us sideways. The guy next to me switched to a back stroke and kept swimming crooked into me. It gave me the extra encouragement to swim faster to get past him. Finally, I hit the last buoy and made the turn back to the shore. Ahhh-Finally!!  I put my head down and put forth the best freestyle swim I had in me.

1/4 mile SWIM = 11:57
My goal had been to slide in under 10, but the rocky lake definitely threw a wrench in that plan. In fact, both the overall male/female winners mentioned in their "speeches" that this was the hardest swim they've ever done. Whew-good, it wasn't just me.

As I made my way out of the water, I heard my dad cheering me in and later along the transition chute, I saw my little girls with my mom and grandma. I can't imagine doing this one without my cheerleaders. It was so cool to hear them yell as I came in/out each transition.

The first transition felt pretty smooth. I towel-dried my legs and feet, slipped on my socks, shoes, headband, glasses and helmet. After a couple words to the few guys around me, I ran towards the 'bike out'. I really didn't want an accident, so I decided just to stop and mount my bike as normal rather than trying anything fancy.
T1 time: 2:00

When it comes to the bike leg of the race, I really had no goal... except not to fall! I had driven the course the day before so I knew there were a couple rough gravel and broken pavement spots to avoid. The event had great volunteers at each and every one of those spots warning bikers of the hazard. In fact, the best thing about the bike was the volunteers. They were ample-staffed at every cross road so we could just zoom right through. That was fun! The 16 mile bike course had some rolling hills, but nothing difficult. I found it fairly easy to keep a consistent pace the entire ride. In hindsight, I probably could have pushed a little faster on the bike, but at the time, I kept warning myself to save something for the run. Being my first tri, I didn't know what to expect and I certainly didn't want to bonk on the run.

This was the first time I rode bike in a group of any number, much less a race situation. I found it absolutely thrilling!! There are definitely more duathlons and triathlons in my future. 
16 mile BIKE = 50:55 (18.8 mph)

As I came into the second transition, I was delighted to see an empty rack. There were only a couple bikes back from my wave so far. I must be doing something right? I had decided not to use my clip shoes for the bike portion, so T2 was quick... rack the bike, off with the helmet and a new headband. I swallowed down a GU energy as I exited the transition area and I was out for the final leg of the tri.
T2 time: 1:12

As always, the run felt so weird after the bike. I felt like I was running in slow motion. I couldn't tell if my legs were tired or just numb. The run course crossed over the bridge (Wolf River) and wound through the neighborhoods that I knew so well in my hometown (but have never run!). I enjoyed this run very much. The course was busy with athletes of all levels, but never congested. I settled into what felt like a comfortable working pace. I was surprised to see my first mile split as an 8:22. I ignored my watch the rest of the run and just took it home. The final stretch had a little uphill that hurt, but when we turned the final corner back into the park, the street was lined with spectators. Just then, someone came up on my left to pass... ah, no way buster! We sprinted it out to the finish side by side. I love ending races like that! Thank you whoever you were...
3.1 mile RUN = 26:02 (8:24 pace)
This is also a new 5k PR for me! Shocking even to me that I was able to run a PR time at the end of a triathlon. It also gives me hope that I can get into the 25's?

Official Finish Time 1:32:08

I was feeling really good about how my first triathlon had played out. My cheering section was right at the finish line so I got to celebrate and rehash the race with them right away. (Although my dad was still waiting on the bike course with the camera... he totally missed me zoom past. Poor thing, he was all worried about me stranded out on the course, while my mom was ticked cause they couldn't find him. Races are tough on more than just the athlete...)
My cheering section (minus 1 missing father...)

I wandered to the results board and saw this...

"We'd better stick around for the awards ceremony," I told my mom with a smile.  I usually don't register for the the Athena division (women 150+lbs), but for some reason I did back in January. I was still over 150 so it was the right place for me.  We laid out our sweatshirts, relaxed and waited for the Sprint Awards to begin.  Sure enough, they called out my name... "And first place for the Athena division from Peoria, IL is Jessica McMullin."  OMG, I never thought I'd hear those words!

Collecting my very first trophy!

I'm not sure WHO was more excited over my trophy?!?  Smiles all around!

Note: I went online to double check my official times and it looks like the results have been revised. There are now two ladies in front of me (who deservingly earned the spot with better times). So it looks like I ended up with 3rd place rather than 1st. No biggie... just happy I don't have to return the trophy! Seriously, if I would have been bumped to fourth, I just might have cried... 

If I had registered in my typical age division F35-39, I would have came in 7th place out of 33, based on my time.  Overall #43 amongst 256 females.  Not too shabby for my first tri.  No doubt, there will be more...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The final brick in the wall

Friday I head back up to Wisconsin... for my FIRST TRIATHLON! I made the decision to attempt a tri back in December, started training in January (learn to swim!) and now finally, race weekend has arrived.  I don't expect to win or place or anything like that... but as an athlete, I do want to do the best I can and not embarrass myself.  The sprint triathlon is in my hometown of Winneconne, so hopefully I will swim/bike/run into some familiar faces.

I've completed countless bricks in the past six months. In fact, I'm kinda addicted to brick training. Single workouts just don't feel like enough anymore. (Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal or no interruption in between, just as you would do in a race.)  My swim is still shaky, and I'm still getting comfortable on my new road bike, but endurance-wise, I am ready.

This past week, my mind has been whirling with detail stuff... gear, transition how-to's, etc. I'm total OCD. Thank goodness for the great YouTube videos out there. To set myself at ease, I decided my last brick on Wednesday was going to be a 'mock tri'.  I packed up all my gear and headed to the city of Morton. They have a big outdoor pool that always has an open lap swim lane. I set up the back of my mini van like a transition area, changed into my tri suit and headed into the pool.

I didn't time the swim, but completed 13 laps in the pool which would equal well over the 1/4 mile in the sprint tri.  The glaring afternoon sunlight on the water was a real adjustment. Must buy mirrored goggles. I grabbed my bag and jogged back out to my transition area in the parking lot.

Quickly I toweled off and slipped on my socks, shoes, glasses and helmet. I was sailing along country roads for the next 48 minutes, covering almost 13 miles. My new tri suit dried quickly on the ride and was very comfortable. The only thing I found missing was gum. I gotta have gum on the ride, so I made a note to add that to my bag, along with a packet of GU Energy gel.

By time I came in for the second transition, the afternoon sun was so hot with temps in the mid-90's. Thankfully, my actual triathlon on Sunday will be in the wee morning hours instead of high afternoon.  I love to run, but running after a swim and bike is kinda difficult. It feels like I'm moving in slow motion and I have a tough time naturally gauging my speed.  I was sweating like a pig and reminded myself that I definitely need a headband in the T2 setup. I finished the 3.1 miles in 28:30 which I'll be happy with come Sunday.

After my mock tri, I was exhausted but gave myself much needed confidence for this weekend. With a couple adjustments, it should be a smooth ride on Sunday... I hope.

• • •

A couple hours later, I headed back out for 3 miles with the Sole Sisters along the riverfront. It was still summer hot hot hot, so I ended the run in the water fountains...

LoseAMarathon Weigh-In #6

After weeks of stalemate with the scale, I finally saw movement in this week's weigh-in. Slight (down -1 pound), but still movement in the right direction. The weekends continue to challenge me, but my tough workouts are keeping my food choices in check.

Each week, I recognize the top performers on the scale.  Weight loss is such a tough battle of determination and willpower.  These participants have attacked the challenge and LOST BIG in week six.  Congratulations!!

Lost -5 lbs or more
Julie H.
Laura M.
Stacey P.
Brant M.
Amanda W. 
Crystal H.
Christina N.

Lost -3% or more
Stacey P.
Laura M.
Crystal H.
Amanda W.

And we have a couple who are closing in on 26.2, the full marathon!  Holy smokes!

* To quality for Scale Crushers, you must report in two consecutive weigh-ins before the deadline.
Reminder: Weigh-ins are due before midnight every Monday (email me your full name & weight).  If you miss it the deadline, please just wait until the next week to report.

Congrats to EMILY KRAFT who won the random prize this week... a handy dandy book called "A Quick Guide of 25 Healthier Snack Alternatives to Fast Food".  Please email your mailing address to to claim your prize.

Here's a reason to stay engaged in the Marathon Weight Loss Challenge... The best prizes are yet to come... 
week of Aug. 6 - Kitchen Food Scale
week of Aug. 13 - Heart Rate Monitor Watches (1 women, 1 men)
week of Aug. 20 - Bob Harper's Totally Ripped Abs DVD

So keep plugging away #LoseAMarathon participants! Good luck the rest of this week.