I swam, I biked, I ran: My first triathlon

I am officially a triathlete!

Last weekend, I raced the Columbia Association Super Sprint Triathlon with Rip It Events. The race consisted of four laps/eight lanes (200 yards) in a pool, a 5-mile bike ride and a 1.75-mile run. I finished in 47:21, didn’t die during the swim and had a ton of fun!

Here’s my recap!

The day before

Kree convinced me to go get my race packet the day before to cut down on race day stress, which ended up being a great idea. Members of the Mid Maryland Triathlon Club were there sharing their race tips and explaining how the transition area worked. I’ve done the Maryland Duathlon twice, so I am somewhat familiar with transition and all its ins and outs, but it was still really helpful to hear from them (particularly how to lay out your bike gear so you can quickly get it on after the swim and get out on the bike.) It just made me feel more prepared — always a good thing!

I had planned to get up at 3:30 am on Sunday (yes, really) so I wanted to grab dinner no later than 7, but my husband was whitewater kayaking that afternoon and didn’t get back until closer to 8. THEN, on our way to dinner, we locked ourselves out of our house due to an epic miscommunication. Luckily, we had a window open upstairs and a ladder outside, so Micah broke into the house and got our keys, and we were sitting down to dinner around 8:30. I was in bed by 10:30, not ideal but what can you do? Micah didn’t go to bed until 1! Silly boy.

Race morning!

I told Micah I wanted to leave by 4:45 am — the race location is about 40 minutes or so from our house, and he still needed to get his race packet. While the race didn’t start until 7 am, all athletes had to be on the pool deck ready to go by 6:30 am. Everything was going according to plan until we started loading the bikes onto the rack on my car, and the strap holding the rack to the back of my Bug just fell apart. So we had to take the wheels off our bikes and pile them in the back of Micah’s Outback. Fortunately, that only took a few minutes and we were on our way.

Once we got there, I realized with all the rushing around that I had left my phone behind. I couldn’t have it out on the course anyway, but I did want it to take pictures for Rip It social media (and my own accounts as well!) Luckily, I had plenty of friends who were taking pictures!

We got our bikes racked relatively quickly and had plenty of time to hit the portapotties more than once. (Haha, coffee + race day nerves.) The tri club members who spoke with us told us that our time in transition before the race started would go fast, and it did! Before I knew it, we were being told to assemble at the pool.

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Rip It ambassadors before the race

The swim

Everyone racing the sprint version of the race had to enter the pool and complete their swim before the super sprint even started, so that meant Micah and I were waiting around for a long time. I thought this would just make me anxious, but it was actually really helpful to see the other swimmers navigate the pool and cheer them on. Everyone was self-seeded by their 100-yard swim time, and the paces started at 1:15 and went all the way up to 3:30. I planned to line up with the 2:30 swimmers for my race.

I’m not sure exactly what time the super sprint field lined up, but it was well after 8. At that point, I was just ready to get going. There were way less people registered for the super sprint, which surprised me. But it meant that once the first swimmers started entering the pool, the line went fast and before I knew it, it was time for me to cross the timing mat and start my race.

If you read my last blog, you know I am not a natural swimmer. I dislike getting my face wet, and I also prefer the water to feel like bath water. When I have been practicing my laps, I usually gingerly lower myself into the pool and let myself get acclimated to the water. Of course, I didn’t have that luxury in the race, because other swimmers were lined up behind me, so I just got in the pool and went off. The water was ….not warm. We’ve had a few gross, humid days that are typical of Maryland in the summer, but for the most part, it’s been unusually mild. So the pool (which was outside) felt chilly to me. However, once I finished my first lane, I forgot that I was cold and just focused on finishing. My friend and fellow Rip It ambassador Richard, who had already finished the sprint tri (and won his age group) by the time I got in the pool, came back to the pool to cheer me on. “You don’t have to put your head in the water if you don’t want to,” he kept telling me. But I did swim with my head in the water, and I also only took minimal breaks (a few seconds) between lanes! I’m proud of that.

Once I got out of the pool, I knew the hardest part (for me) was over! My official swim time was 7:19, which I was happy with. I thought I would be closer to 10 minutes!

The bike

The transition to the bike went smoothly (thanks again to the Mid Maryland Tri Club for your organizational tips!) and I was off on the course. Admittedly, I hardly trained on the bike, but I did do the course preview with other Rip It ambassadors a few weeks ago, so I was familiar with the route. I knew it was somewhat hilly but not too bad, particularly for Columbia! And I knew I wouldn’t be particularly fast — partly because I didn’t really train and partly because my bike is a hybrid that isn’t exactly optimized for speed. (It has a basket and a bell on it. Enough said. I do love it, though.) I thought the bike went well and I was relieved that Howard County delayed some road work that had been planned for part of the course. There were some sections that were a little rough during the last mile and a half of the 5-mile loop, but I was able to avoid them. Official time was 23:38 and I did pass a few other people — and yes, I rang my bell, which seemed to amuse them!

The run

“OK,” I thought to myself when I dismounted from my bike. “This is my sport! This is where I can really kick ass!” I ran my bike back into transition, where Kree, who had finished the sprint, was. “Take off your helmet!” she yelled at me. “Don’t forget your bib! Put it on while you start running!” I took her advice and fastened my Spibelt with my bib already attached to it around my waist while I booked it out of transition. (I was only in the second transition for 44 seconds!) I was so excited that I almost ran the wrong way out of transition (thank you Matt for guiding me!)

After the swim and the bike, the run definitely did not feel as easy as I expected it to! My legs felt like jelly and my effort felt like a sprint, yet at the same time I also didn’t feel like I was running all that fast, if that makes any sense.

I had also practiced the run course during the race preview, so I knew it was on a narrow, paved trail that was nice and shady. I did pass a lot of people (though it wasn’t clear who was doing the sprint, which had a 5K run at the end, and who was doing the super sprint.) At one point, I passed another woman who said to me, “You are fast as hell!” “Thanks!” I said. “This is the part of the race I’m good at!”

My run time was 14:01, an even 8 minute pace, and I’ll admit I was a little disappointed in that since it was 1.75 miles. I thought I’d be in the low 7s, but then again, this was after swimming and cycling. And it was my first ever tri. So I’ll take it. As you’ll see below, I came in fourth overall on the run and second overall female.

Final stats

I finished 11th out of 62 triathletes, and was sixth out of 43 women. Yay! The final breakdown:

Swim: 40/62 (23/43 females)

Bike: 27/62 (16/43 females)

Run: 4/62 (2/43 females) ——-> It’s pretty obvious what my strong suit is!

I’m pleased with my race and I don’t think this will be my last triathlon. I really enjoyed myself. I don’t have any plans for another one at the moment, but I could see myself doing the sprint version next year!

And you know how I joked that I wanted to beat Micah in the race because he didn’t really train for it?

I beat him by 30 seconds.

I’m trying not to rub it in too much!

As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own! A full list of 2019 Rip It events can be found here. If you’re interested in running any of them, let me know and I’ll share my 15 percent discount code with you!

I relayed a beer mile — and I didn’t puke

I like running. I like beer. I think these two things pair nicely together — as long as the beer comes after the running. (It’s not uncommon for me to drink a recovery beer after a long run! It counts as hydration, right? Right…..)

So I’ve always been pretty curious about trying to run a beer mile — where you chug a beer, then sprint a quarter of a mile, then repeat this until you’ve chugged four beers and run an entire mile. I’m much better at running long distances than I am at sprinting, and while I can easily down four beers in an evening, I like to enjoy them, not gulp them down as fast as humanly possible.

Still, when my friends Danny and Suzy, owners of Rip It Events, announced they were organizing their third annual beer mile, I definitely wanted to give it a try. Especially when they said it was a neon beer mile, and participants were supposed to wear as much neon clothing as possible. I mean, I’ll jump at any chance to wear obnoxiously bright clothing and accessories that glow. (Side note: This was just a fun run and was not an official Rip It event.) 

My friend Staci was visiting for the weekend, so I asked her if she wanted to run, too, and she said yes. We were both unsure of our beer-chugging abilities and decided to relay the race — meaning we’d each chug two beers and run two laps.

The beer mile took place on a paved trail behind a quiet neighborhood in Columbia, Maryland. The race began at the bottom of a small hill, where about two dozen or so runners gathered to line up our beers and prepare to chug and run. This was in a wooded area, and the race began around 8 pm, which is why we were asked to wear as much neon as possible — it got pretty dark down there.

As I carefully placed our beers (two Dogfish Head Seaquench for me, two Sam Adams Porch Rockers for Staci) on the ground, Staci looked skeptical. (She gave birth to her second child about four months ago and hasn’t had much to drink since.)

“I’m not trying to puke,” she told me. “I’ve already been through two rounds of morning sickness.”

“I think we’ll be OK,” I told her. “If you can’t finish your beers, I’ll finish yours …. but you’ll probably have to drive us home.”

(Did I mention that if you puked, you had to run an extra lap? Those were the rules!)

Since we were relaying, we took turns chugging and running, and I volunteered to go first. I cracked open my Seaquench and started guzzling as fast as I could. Which, turns out, wasn’t very fast. There were runners that chugged their beers in like five seconds flat. I was probably one of the last runners to start my lap, and I was trying my hardest to get it all down quickly (and I looooooove Seaquench.) Once I took off, I started belching uncontrollably — gross! But everyone else was burping, too. Seriously, I never heard so many burps at a race. We sounded like a bunch of frogs.

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I ran my quarter-mile — which was up the hill and back down again — as fast as I could. (Real talk, it took me longer to drink the beer.) Then it was Staci’s turn. She downed her first beer like a champ and took off. Meanwhile, some of my fellow runners were on their third beers. Some were holding strong, others were barfing in the weeds.

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“Oh God, this is terrible,” I heard one guy say. (He may have been boozing up beforehand. Not sure.)

“Worst idea ever,” another one said.

Staci finished her lap and I started on my second Seaquench. I choked it down, turned the empty can over my head to prove it was totally empty (per race rules), and started my second lap. I still burped a lot, but I was able to sprint the quarter-mile while keeping everything down.

When I got back, Staci started on her second beer, but didn’t get very far! She drank a few sips and then handed it off to me to finish. I think it was kind of against the race rules, but it wasn’t like it was the most formal event anyway 😉 She took off for her final lap and I, quite literally, took one for the team and drank the rest of her Porch Rocker.

I’m not actually sure what our final time was — 15 minutes? Even though neither of us barfed (thank goodness!) we both decided to run an extra lap anyway. Lots of other runners were heading to a local bar after the race, but I live about a half hour away, so we decided to head home. (Staci drove, as she’d only had a little more than one beer — safety first!)

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Rip It friends Brittany and Stephanie

It was a lot of fun and made me even more curious about attempting a beer mile all by myself at some point.

I can’t guarantee I won’t vomit, though.

Why turkey trots are a great Thanksgiving tradition

Life has been pretty busy lately. In the last week, I bought a house, traveled to Pennsylvania and Virginia to see family for Thanksgiving and … ran two Thanksgiving-themed races, Rip It Events’ Turkey Chase 10K and Relay in Columbia, Maryland, and the Greensburg Turkey Trot in my PA hometown on Thanksgiving Day. So please forgive the relative lateness of this post!

I’ll start with last weekend’s Turkey Chase — my final race of the year for Rip It Events!

Because I love a holiday-themed, well, anything, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to order a ridiculously huge pumpkin pie-shaped hat to wear in these races. (Thanks, Amazon Prime!) When it arrived in the mail, I realized it didn’t quite stay on my head, but I figured that pinning it to my hair with a half-dozen barrettes would do the trick. Except you know those winds I battled during the Annapolis Running Classic the day before? Yeah, those gusts stuck around for another day. So the hat flew off probably within 10 feet of the start line and I just carried it with me for 6.2 miles. Super cool.

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My buddy Kree, a fellow Rip It ambassador, dressed as a turkey and had a very sweaty race as a result! 

Although I had run a half the previous day, I wasn’t too worried about racing a 10K that morning — I’ve had higher mileage weekends recently as part of my marathon training. That said, my legs weren’t feeling particularly fresh, especially since the Annapolis Running Classic really kicked my butt this year. And Columbia, where most of the Rip It races are, is about as hilly as Annapolis.

The course is an out-and-back, and one of the nice things is that the first half of the race contains more uphill, so you get the hardest parts out of the way early on. I ran the first mile in 8:16, which felt more difficult than I expected it to (as a comparison, I ran the first mile of the Across the Bay 10K in 6:43!) Aside from the rolling hills, that first mile was really crowded, which always makes it harder to run your race pace. I tried to just focus on enjoying the scenery — aside from the wind and the brisk temperatures, it was a beautiful fall day. Most of the leaves were still on the trees, so running through the tree-lined streets of Columbia felt like running through a tunnel of reds, oranges and yellows.

I also wore my Annapolis Running Classic premium during the race, and one volunteer yelled out as I ran past, “Wow, you ran Annapolis yesterday? You’re a bad ass!” That felt pretty good. We had wonderful support from volunteers all along the race — I really appreciate everyone who gives up their Sunday morning to help us out! We couldn’t have these races without you.

I ran my second mile in 8:02, my third mile in 8:15, fourth in 7:48, fifth in 7:37, sixth in 7:52 and the final 0.2 in 1:44. I’m happy with those negative splits, although it was my second-worst 10K time ever: 49:28. I don’t mean to sound unhappy with that. Is that still a solid 10K time? Absolutely. But compared to my recent PR in the Bay Bridge run? Not so much. I’m trying to tell myself that my body just knew it was in taper mode for the Rehoboth Marathon and it was trying to conserve energy. And the wind, well, blew. No pun intended. It is what it is!

As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own! 

Greensburg Turkey Trot

I run the Turkey Trot in my hometown of Greensburg, Pennsylvania every Thanksgiving, and it’s something I always look forward to. It’s a 5K run/walk through downtown Greensburg, the seat of Westmoreland County, nestled in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania. And those hills are no joke. The race organizers did change the course last year and removed one long, super steep hill, but they added in a bunch of smaller hills instead.

Last year, I came in second in my age group with a time of 22:59, and so I was hoping for first this year. I did beat my time from last year, but still came in second with a time of 22:37. I have no idea what my splits were, because my Garmin took its sweet time finding a signal in the few minutes before the gun went off, so I just used the timer function. I can’t complain about a sub-23 minute 5K or second place in my age group, especially over those hills. It was a darn cold morning, too — 27 degrees at the start. Yikes!

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This was the 26th year for the Turkey Trot. The race has raised more than $500,000 for local nonprofits, including the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region. Runners are also asked to bring a canned good or two to the race. It’s a well-run local event and something I’ve been able to introduce my husband to in our years together. My dad usually walks in the Trot, too!

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Per Running USA stats, Thanksgiving is the most popular racing day of the year, second only to the Fourth of July. Is it because runners are looking for an excuse to chow down on that third helping of stuffing, or that second piece of pumpkin pie? Maybe. Is it a fun holiday tradition? Absolutely!

Runaway Bridesmaid: The Bridesmaids 5K

Like most women of a certain age, I have a whole collection of bridesmaids dresses that I’ve only worn once, and will probably never wear again. I’m not hating on any of the dresses — they’re actually all really nice — but it’s not like I go to fancy parties on the regular. Seriously, my Halloween costumes get more use!

So, when Rip It Events announced a new race this fall, the Bridesmaids 5K, I jumped at the chance to recycle one of my dresses!

The Bridesmaids 5K was held Saturday night in Columbia, and about a hundred men and women showed up dressed in their best wedding attire. Most of the men wore tuxedo T-shirts, but a few wore actual suits. The women came in a rainbow of bridesmaids dresses, both long and short, and there were even a few women who wore their wedding dresses! (I would have dearly loved to wear mine again, but my mom paid to have it preserved, and I know she would have been sad if I trashed it during a race!)

I chose to wear the purple dress I wore in my sister’s June wedding. It’s short, and it’s sleeveless, making it relatively easy to run in. Plus, I have purple running shoes. Fortunately, the race was on a Saturday and not a Sunday — being a Steelers fan in Ravens country, I would never wear head-to-toe purple on Sunday around these parts. Ha.

Because I’m in the thick of my marathon training, I had 10 miles to knock out on Saturday, so I ran seven before the race. The weather was pretty cool during the late morning, but by the time of the race, the sun was glaring and it was toasty. Is it not autumn? I’ve had quite a few sticky runs lately and I am over it. It’s mid-October! But I digress.

The run was a “fun run,” meaning it wasn’t timed, meaning I probably didn’t need to push it as hard as I did. All runs in Columbia are usually pretty hilly, but this one didn’t feel quite as punishing as some of the other races. I finished in 21:47, with positive splits: 6:51, 7:02, 7:14. I just don’t think I’m that great at pacing myself during 5Ks. The Glow Run was a fluke. But more importantly, I had fun, which is the whole point!

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To that end, the race was sponsored by AIDA Bistro and Wine Bar, so every runner not only got a wine glass for finishing, but two drink tickets! I usually run for beer, but I don’t exactly hate wine, either. Although I used one of my tickets for beer, and gave the other to my husband, who was nice enough to volunteer along the race course.

AIDA also gave all the runners a 15 percent off coupon for dinner, so that’s where Micah and I ate after the race. Check them out on Facebook — they posted a few live videos of the race!

Rip It Events has one last race this year — the Columbia Turkey Chase 10K and Relay, coming up the Sunday before Thanksgiving on Nov. 19. If you’re interested, shoot me a message and ask me for your 10 percent discount code!

As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own! 

The 2017 Glow Run 5K was lit

Running in the dark is not something I do a lot of. I tend to run alone, and I don’t feel comfortable doing that after dusk. Plus, I have been known to trip and fall while running, and it’s easy to do that when it’s harder to see where you’re going!

Rip It Events‘ 2nd annual Glow Run 5K, however, offered the perfect opportunity to run the streets of Columbia, Maryland at night — complete with glow-in-the-dark necklaces and neon swag.

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I ran the Glow Run last year, before I was a Rip It ambassador, and I loved everything about it. I mean, it was right up my alley.

Excuse to wear the brightest workout gear possible? Check.

Free glow necklaces? Check.

Dance party before the race with songs including the Cha Cha Slide, the Wobble and the Cupid Shuffle? Check.

Also, the race is untimed, so it truly is a fun run. That said, my friends and I are competitive and even though a few of us *said* we were going to take it easy, we didn’t.

I was the first female finisher in the race for the second year in a row. My friends Kree and Mindy were the second and third female finishers, respectively. My friend Matt won the race. We didn’t get anything for our achievements, just bragging rights. (Shout out to 5 Peaks Martial Arts Academy, the school Matt owns and where we all train, for getting us in such good shape. #5PeaksLife)

Can I please brag about my splits for a second? I ran the first mile in 8:05, the second in 7:40 and the third in 6:56. Super proud of those negative splits!

Truly, though, the point of this 5K was to have fun, and we did, despite the cold, rainy weather. One of the best parts is seeing what everyone wears for this race. Runners get really into it — I saw glow-in-the-dark tutus, lots of light up shoes and jewelry and even someone dressed in a neon unicorn costume. (I’ve really got to step up my game for next year!)

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Yes, my husband wore flannel to a glow run.

One of the things I enjoy most about Rip It races — and races in general — is the camaraderie. As the race neared its end and the last runners came through the finisher’s chute, crowds of runners lined up on either side of the chute to give out high fives and cheer everyone on. So fun!

Rip It has two more races on the calendar to finish out the year — the Bridesmaids 5K on Oct. 14, and the Columbia Turkey Chase 10K and Relay on Nov. 19. Interested in running these races? Contact me for your 10 percent discount code!

As a Rip It Events ambassador, I ran this race for free. Opinions are entirely my own!