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Race Recap: MightyMan Montauk Half Iron Distance Triathlon!

MIGHTYMAN MONTAUK RACE RECAP

In December, I signed up for my first half IRONMAN race - in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 13, 2018.

When I clicked register - I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t make it to the start line. Either a work trip would come along that I had to be at, or my legs (shins) wouldn’t get me through the training. What I really wanted was a summer spent swimming, biking and running with my friends who had agreed to sign up with me.

Triathlon Planning

I was excited for free outdoor lap swimming at NYC pools, Saturday long rides up 9W and on Long Island, and getting myself back to weekend running and brunching with friends. Even if I didn’t become a (half) IRON(wo)MAN I knew that if I enjoyed the training, it would have been worth it.

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When I train for something – I tend to get tunnel vision. This 70.3 race consumed most of my spare time and mental energy from June up until yesterday. I did what I had to do to stick as closely to my training plan (this one) as possible – weekend plans meant Thursday morning long bike rides before coming into the office. Monday rest days were sacred. Foam rolling was a daily occurrence. I convinced myself that tart cherry juice was helping with inflammation and I submitted myself to 4 weeks in a row of acupuncture even though I’m terrified of needles.

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

I swam farther than I had ever swam before (and cried tears of joy) and found myself more and more comfortable in the pool. I biked further than I had every biked before. I PR’d Harlem Hill multiple times. I surprised myself on every transition run off the bike. I showed restraint on my weekly running mileage.

Overall, I trained 1,000 + miles and I continued to tell myself throughout the 14 weeks that THIS was the accomplishment. Whether I made it to the start line and whether or not I crossed the finish line, I was so grateful for 4 months of discipline and dedication and purpose and pride.

Half Ironman Training

I was so grateful for 60 miles on Long Island with my best friends followed by yacht club beers with my parents. I was so grateful for open water swim practice while on family vacation at the lake. I was so grateful for the people of Clinton, NY who found me a bike to train with while I was in town for work. I was so grateful for the Friday night run to the pool followed by dinner and drinks. I was so grateful for a return to morning park loops with Tiffanie. I was so grateful for the once a week F45 training with Abby when I just didn’t want to swim bike or run for once (not as grateful for the box jump injury resulting in my shin being Steri-stripped shut).  I was so grateful for vibrating foam rollers and compression leggings and the discovery of Asser Levy Pool at sunset.

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So when our North Carolina IRONMAN was cancelled last Monday because of Hurricane Florence, I was in a bit of a dazed disbelief, but I was also telling myself that it was OK. That the 1000 miles I trained were more of an accomplishment than the 70.3 on race day. And I still 100% believe that’s true. That’s what I’ll continue to be most proud of.

But I also didn’t want to be robbed of the proof that my training had worked. That all those hours could get me from start to finish of a 70.3 distance triathlon.

On Friday I happened to see a post on the North Carolina race page that MightyMan Montauk was offering $40 off registration to anyone who could show they had been registered for North Carolina. The race was on Sunday and they offered a half Ironman distance option.

I texted my friends asking, “Is this crazy?” And their response of “Yes, but I’m totally in” is why I love them. I booked a hotel at 5 PM on Friday. I packed a bag Friday night. I got some sleep, woke up Saturday morning, got myself on a train, and at 3 PM I was in Montauk.

Montauk Cycling

I walked myself, my bike and my massive backpack the mile to registration, paid my $200 cash, and was officially signed up 20 minutes prior to packet pick-up closing.

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I continued the .5 mile walk to Atlantic Terrace, checked-in, and was told that there would be a wedding happening outside our room until 11 PM. Grrrreat.

Next I walked to IGA, bought a banana, walked to Herb’s, got a chicken cutlet/cheddar/avocado/spinach sandwich on a roll, took a picture of the beach, shaved my legs, put my race tattoos on, organized my stuff and crawled into bed where I sat listening to Armchair Expert until 9.

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I also eavesdropped on the maid of honor and best man speeches of the wedding – they weren’t that great. Around 9 I turned off the lights, popped a melatonin and dozed off until Abby and Annelise arrived at around 1 AM.

That’s right, 1 AM. They’re the crazy ones.

We got settled, they filled out the registration paperwork so it would be ready to go in the morning, and we all fell into bed. 3 hours and 45 minutes later, our alarms were going off and it was GO TIME.

I got dressed:
-Favorite Sports Bra
-Voler Tri Shorts
-Tank Top
-Long Sleeve
-Wet Suit Legs on, arms tied around my waist
-Flip Flops
-Garmin (life changing realizing I could wear it for the swim!)

MightyManMontaukTri

I prepped my food:
-Joseph’s Tortilla
-RX Peanut Butter
-Banana 
(*This is truly the highlight of every long workout and race)

Downed some Stumptown canned cold brew, triple checked my bag, body glided the neck and ankles, triple tried to poop (and failed) and we were out the door by 5:15.

It was a half mile walk to Fort Pond transition area where Abby and Annelise registered and got tatted up. The sky was starting to lighten as we made our way to the second transition area and laid out everything we would need for the run (the course had officially changed on Friday when they announced that they couldn’t hold the swim at Fort Pond due to algae levels – just another wrinkle).

MightyManMontaukTriathlon

I ate half of my PB banana wrap, gathered everything I would need for the swim/bike and we set off on our bikes (in wetsuits and flip flops) to the swim start/transition one at Navy Beach. It was about a 3-mile bike ride and we were feeling warmed up.

At Navy Beach we racked our bikes, set up what we would need to transition from swim to bike, got our timing chips and most importantly, Abby braided my hair and gave my wetsuit a loopy hookeroo.

Half Ironman

The entire time a woman was on the microphone going over the different swim courses and I was just getting more and more confused. We donned our hot pink swim caps and headed towards the water where we asked multiple people, “Do you know where we are supposed to turn?” The general consensus was just keep the buoys on your left at all times which seemed simple enough (foreshadowing – it was not simple).

Everything had moved so quickly that morning that I hadn’t really had time to freak out at the fact that the water was pretty choppy looking.

What I liked about the swim start was that we just waded into the water up to our chest and once they said go, people went as they pleased – once you crossed the buoy your timing chip activated. It was a lot less stressful than a jump start, though there was still a lot of kicking and splashing as people got started.

I had just figured I would follow the hot pink swim caps and figure out the course, but it was evident pretty quickly that most of the pink swim caps were going to be wayyyy ahead of me. I felt the familiar feelings of “oh my God I can’t do this” and then I looked around and for the first time realized that these were no joke WAVES and they were not cyclical, rolling waves – they were choppy waves coming from all different directions and crashing into each other and rolling you around and making buoy spotting next to impossible. My mindset was “I have an hour to get this done – until they force me out, I’m going to keep trying.”

At one point, I looked up and saw Annelise next to me and felt so much relief. Then I saw that she was struggling too and tried to calm us both down.

It was chaos out there – and because they had used the backup swim plan, I felt like most of the lifeguards on paddle boards and jet skis were also confused as to what colored caps were supposed to be swimming where. At one point I was swimming into oncoming swimmers which yes, seemed wrong in retrospect, but I was keeping the buoys on my left like they had said! One of the lifeguards started aggressively screaming at me, telling me to stop backstroking and swim, and generally acting like I WANTED to be swimming off course. It was ridiculous.

Luckily, at that point in the swim Abby and I had found each other and though we were one of only a few pink swim caps left in the vicinity, as long as I had her in my sights I felt OK. We somehow navigated to the turn buoy (me, entirely by backstroking and looking at the sky and trying to calm myself down and swallowing giant mouthfuls of salt water as waves crashed over me) and thankfully once we turned all those waves were pushing us into shore and I could finally put my swimming to use. I settled into a pattern of 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight, 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight.

The times I was actually swimming were definitely the best I’ve done in open water. I could exhale this time without panicking about the fact that it was pitch black.

The closer we got to the swim exit the more crowded and stressful it got but I swam as much as I could instead of standing and running on the rock bottom and dragged myself up onto the shore. I like to think I made this look partially more graceful than the others around me not used to rocky bottom swim exits. Thanks, North Shore!

1.2 Mile SWIM: 44:48

I knew Abby was close behind me so I took my time in transition so that we could head out on the bike ride together. I ate the second half of my wrap, put on my arm sleeves, put on my socks and bike shoes, made sure all my things were in my bag so that the race people could transport it back to Fort Pond bag check, put on my sunglasses, did the hokey pokey, turned myself about. Me, Abby and Annelise set off – “Just like any other Saturday ride!” I told myself.

Transition 1: 8:17

The first 15 miles of the bike were awesome. I felt really really good. I ate a date at mile 10 and was cruisin’ even up the very hilly straightaway to the lighthouse. The hills were hard and numerous but I was handling them well mentally. And seeing the lighthouse was so nice and memory inducing!

But around mile 15 I started to get the familiar post-swim cramps. These were like NYC Tri x 128390. I couldn’t sit up straight, I couldn’t take a full breath in, I felt like I was being stabbed in the side and back and stomach and my chest was tight. I honestly started to question if something was seriously wrong.

Abby passed me and I told her what was up and that I was just hoping sometime over the next three hours, the pain would go away.

Even though it was the last thing I wanted to do – I knew I had to keep drinking and eating if I ever wanted to make it through the rest of the race – even though my stomach felt so so awful.

The cramping was really bad for about 45 minutes and then it eased up a little but I couldn’t get out of my head telling myself that there was no way I was going to be able to run.

I knew that thought was not at all useful and I needed to just focus on the bike. I never found the rhythm I had had for the first 15 miles and I knew I was going much slower than most of my training rides. I’m very bad at self-motivating on the bike – if I’m next to someone I can keep up, if I’m alone on a highway – not so easy to get my RPMs up.

This was a course where you were alone a lot.

But I kept going, kept eating a date every 10 miles, had half an RX bar in the last 10 miles, and swapped out my water bottle at the halfway point.

I knew Abby wasn’t too far ahead of me and I kept telling myself to reach her so we could run together but my legs just weren’t having it. Eventually, the bike was over and I ran to my rack where Abby was finishing up her transition and checked on my cramp status which was definitely better than when she had seen me on the bike but also not great.  

57 Mile BIKE: 3:33:29 (15.7 MPH)

She headed out and I followed behind, after changing my socks and putting on my sneakers. Last minute I decided to run with my phone in my Spibelt because I fully expected the cramps to make this a loooong, slow, walk-filled half marathon with possible phone calls crying to my parents. I left transition and started the run, clutching a melted half of an RX bar in one hand. 

Transition 2: 4:11

I ran with Abby’s advice in mind – run each mile and only think about that mile. I just concentrated on getting to each aid station, where I allowed myself to stop, drink, and walk to the garbage can before starting to run again. My first mile split was 8:25 which was much slower than my usual transition runs but I figured that was safe and smart.

Stomach was feeling OK, right shin was hurting, left glute pain that I’d been worried about seemed numb – all systems were go and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the next two hours were by no means going to be easy but that this was possible and I was going to make it happen.

By the second aid station I realized that Abby was coming from behind me because she had stopped to use a porto potty at a construction site (so resourceful) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that we could run together.

I had been entering a head space that I did not want to be in – due in part to a lonely bike ride and the almost entirely crowd-supportless course.

We agreed that there was no need to run up “Murder Hill” or any of the other vertical incline hills that the race creators for some reason decided to include on the run course. It was seriously unreal. 806 feet of elevation climb on a run course?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. We had trained for a 56-mile bike ride with less elevation gain.

Even with Abby beside me, there were times I started telling myself that I didn’t want to keep going. That this was stupid hard and I should never have signed up. That I should just walk. That I couldn’t keep up with her. Mainly, I just kept thinking, “I want this to be over, I want this to be over.” And – “HOLY HELL MY ARM PITS ARE CHAFING SO MUCH.”

I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have Abby next to me step after step. In true Abby fashion - steadfast, strong, positive, realistic, random (refusal to put down her orange) – I just kept doing what she was doing and I knew we’d make it. 

She waited for my two porto potty stops (there was some GI distress happening), we walked the hills, we drank 6890 tiny cups of water, we cringed at the thought of any form of sustenance, we said things like “single digits left!” and “5K left!” and “this straightaway is going to suck but then it’s going to be the best!” and “Shalane and Emma to the finish!”

Half Ironman Finish

And when we crossed the finish line together, it was the sweatiest, happiest, proudest hug ever with maybe some tears - I don’t really know, everything was a little blurry.

13.1 Mile RUN: 2:09:34

TOTAL: 6:40:20

70.3 Half Ironman

We got our medals and towels (which were not soaking wet and cold like I had hoped but still very nice towels) and gave Annelise big sweaty hugs and walked over to the food table where I demolished many many pieces of watermelon which was everything I didn’t know I had been waiting for.

We zombie walked around for a little, took some photo booth pics, took some phone pics, called my dad, got some popcorn (also a great post race snack – yum salt), got our bags, got our bikes and walked back to the hotel.

Things to note: my swim cap smelled like straight up seafood stew. Yuck. I somehow ripped two big holes in my $300 wetsuit. Wonderful. I was very sunburnt. It was a perfect day weather wise! I was proud that I kept myself sufficiently hydrated and fed. I was never hungry and I was peeing clear all day (this is what you get when you read a race recap, sorry).

Overall the race was fairly well organized – the bike and run courses were clearly marked to differentiate between the Olympic and Half distance races. I liked that everything was super close to where we were staying. I liked that it was a small race that kept things from seeming overwhelming.

I didn’t like that the swim was so chaotic, the bike course was almost entirely unsupported in terms of water/mechanics/etc., and there was no crowd support. Oh, and like I said, the run course was just stupid difficult. I would consider doing this course as an Olympic in the future though!

After we all showered we got food at Gig Shack (burger, fries, beet and goat cheese salad, hummus platter with mushrooms, endive, candied macadamia nuts, parsnips – it was phenom) where there was live music and outdoor seating.

Gig Shack Montauk

Next stop was Montauk Brewery (so glad to have finally made it there!) and there double IPA was so so good. Last stop for the day was John’s (duh) for ice cream (Peanut Butter Blast) and a frozen chocolate covered banana (there’s always money in the banana stand).

Montauk Brewery Triathlon

Abby, again, is a crazy, wonderful human and drove Annelise and I back to our apartments before driving back to her house late last night.

I don’t remember falling asleep it happened so instantaneously. 

Montauk Sunset

In conclusion-

Nothing about yesterday's 70.3 was how I had pictured it in my head since I signed up 10 months ago. 

There was no careful taper - I spent the week before the race working 12+ hour days on my feet, eating chicken tenders and drinking copious amounts of wine (in what was the most fulfilling work week of my life to date, so no regrets!)

There was no time to stress about my outfit, to carefully pack my bags and to triple check my to-do lists. There wasn’t even time to MAKE a to-do list. 15 hours after seeing that MightyMan Montauk was offering day of registration and a discount for those whose Ironman NC 70.3 race had been cancelled, I was on a train.

There was no expo and practice open water swim and big race night dinner with my friends. I ate a deli sandwich alone at the hotel while a wedding raged outside my window and my friends drove through the night to arrive at 1 am.

We we're supposed to have a down-stream fast channel swim and a flat bike and run course. We got a chaotic ocean swim (ok it was a bay but it opens up into the OCEAN), a hilly bike, and a run with so many hills I stopped counting.

I was supposed to finish with two other incredible women who supported me and pushed me and trained 1000+ miles with me. Knowing that Kayla couldn’t be there and that the unexpectedly wavy swim course rattled Annelise definitely changed the celebratory mood that we had all dreamed of and worked towards. They trained just as hard and are more than capable and beyond prepared to go the same distance.

But there are silver linings to every changed plan. 

I had no time to doubt myself or to panic. I felt like this race was truly just a chance to give my training a shot in a scenario where I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to race at all. 

It cut training short when I was starting to feel burnt out anyway and it came after a week of relatively low mileage since I had been away for work. 

There were no delayed flights or lost bags - just a train ride to one of my favorite places. 

I got to complete my first 70.3 on the island that I love so much - I felt comfortable and at home.

And i got to run 13.1 miles with my best friend - something I haven't done since 2016. 

Without you by my side for every step Abby- those last two hours would have been a lot less pretty. But your experience and steady determination kept me going and smiling and crossing the finish line with you was a definite life highlight. 

To everyone who has exclusively heard me talk about 70.3 training for the past 4 months ITS OVER and I'm sorry I’ve been a broken record and thank you for listening.

(And no, I’m not ready to sign up for a full!!!)

Half Ironman Finisher

Bikers Beware: Things To Look Our For on Your Next Ride

As a runner, I despised cyclists. I assumed they had it easy, zooming loops around Central Park in 20 minutes while I slogged around in more than double the amount of time by foot. Wheels = easier than feet, right? 

Wrong. 

Now, as I pass runners in the park, I envy them. As I struggle up Harlem Hill on the lowest gear, I dream of running up it instead. Bikers and runners sharing Central Park can lead to some tense moments, but runners who think the bike lane is their personal HOV lane aren't the only thing that cyclist's need to be aware of while they're out for a spin.

Here are just a few of the unanticipated potential roadblocks I've encountered in the saddle. 

BUGS

Bugs in your eyes. Bugs in your ears. Bugs in your mouth. Bugs splattered on your face.  Bugs splattered on your arms. Lots of bugs. 

There's even a BUG MOUTHGUARD. 

BIRDS 

I am terrified of birds, especially pigeons - the gluttonous, fat, flying rats of New York City. There are a shockingly large number of slow-moving pigeons that I have encountered in the park and they have come nauseatingly close to my head. 

Birds of the smaller variety also love to dart out, flying low to the ground, and passing inches from your tires.

This video gives me a panic attack. 

FRISBEES 

If I were more dexterous, it would have been awesome to reach up and grab the frisbee before throwing it back to the kids playing - all while riding my bike. 

Instead, I held on for dear life and kept pedaling as it whizzed past my face so closely that I felt the breeze. 

CITI BIKES

If you see someone on a Citi Bike doing loops of Central Park - beware. They likely have no idea what's going on around them. They will weave. They will come to a dead stop out of nowhere to wait for their friend. 

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HORSES 

For now, cyclists still have to share the park with horse & carriages.

HORSE SHIT 

Dodge that ish if at all possible.

TEXTERS 

People tend to think they're capable of crossing Central Park without looking up from their phones. 

IMMATURE TEENS

I once encountered a teenager who thought it was hysterical to stand in the middle of the bike lane and play chicken with cyclists. 

SQUIRRELS AND CHIPMUNKS 

They like to dart out into the path and then just stop in sheer terror. 

CHILDREN 

I once almost hit a small child who squirmed out of his parents hand-hold and went sprinting across the street. 

DOGS

Whoever said NYC was a concrete jungle with a lack of nature and wildlife has never gone for a bike ride in Central Park. Bugs, birds, squirrels, likely-rabid-raccoons and dogs have all come incredibly close to taking me out. People, I get that you want your dog to run free but we live in a world where small children are put on leashes - use one for your dog, please? 

*Side note: Once saw a man cycling with a dog sticking out of his backpack. 

POTHOLES 

A lot harder to avoid as a cyclist when you're moving at 16+ miles per hour!

DISTRACTING CHALK ART

Self-explanatory:

Runners, I feel ya, I do. Bikers go zooming by as you trudge along and you kind of want to punch them. But cyclists are people too - and we've got a lot to contend with out there. 

Let's take solace in the fact that we have the same mortal enemy - slow moving tourists. 

BIKE UPDATE: 

If you're wondering how cycling is going for me these days - it's been a little better. I don't panic as much and I had my cleats loosened so that clipping out doesn't require wrenching my foot as aggressively. 

My roommate got a bike too, and we went out for a fun little ride with some friends last weekend which was awesome. Most importantly, we have our eyes on some tris (poet) in August which is giving me the extra motivation to get in the saddle. 

Roomies that ride together, stay together!

Roomies that ride together, stay together!

It's still not easy and I still feel disappointed by my pace, but I'm enjoying it a lot more and getting (slightly) more comfortable. 

I'm still no pro though - after 18 miles today my legs felt like jelly and when I went to dismount I forgot to lean to my  unclipped side - spilling onto the cement while still attached to my bike. The man next to me panicked and started asking if I was OK - luckily I had been at a complete stop and was only bleeding a little bit. I assured him I was fine and that, "this happens all the time." He must have thought I was a moron! 

I told my friend the other day that, "It's better to fail at something hard than to not try at all." 

I'm taking my own advice and pedaling through the pessimism! 

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Why My First 5 Boro Bike Tour Was A Bust

In my short time as a bike owner, I've come to realize that New York City is not the most bike-friendly city - especially for someone just starting out. Sure we have miles and miles of designated bike lanes - but these lanes are part of busy streets where cyclists are forced to dodge buses, pedestrians, taxis and more. 

In 2013 there were 6,328 reported bicycle/motorist crashes in NY. So when I read that NYC is ranked #1 in "Bike Friendly Cities" I am verrrry skeptical of the criteria. 

But once a year, in the spring, 40 miles of NYC roadways become a playground for cyclists. In it's 40th year, the TD Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour is a chance for biking fans of all ages to ride all day with no fear of cars, buses, tourists or taxis. 

It's just you, your bike and open road. Oh, and over 30,000 other participants. 

For years I've heard how wonderful the TD Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour is. I know many people who insist you have to do it at least once, while others sign up year after year. 

Once I had a legit road bike, I knew I wanted in. I paid the steep entry fee (around $100) a few months ago and before I knew it, it was time to start preparing for the ride. 

TD Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour 2016

TRAINING? 

I didn't do a lot to "train" for this bike ride. The 40 mile distance was intimidating, but in the end, I knew that it was a no pressure, casual ride and I could likely make it to the finish. Especially after my journey over the GW Bridge and into the Palisades, a ride that ending up totaling around 38 miles, I knew I had it in me. 

I attempted to do one more long ride the weekend before the tour, but I ended up falling off my bike and quitting. 

BYE CLIP IN PEDALS 

I had been told to expect some crowded areas during the ride, as cyclists of all skill-levels are out there. There are people with carbon fiber tri bikes and there are also people out for a joy ride on their Citi Bikes. 

I was expecting a lot of stop and go and to be surrounded by some people even more  uncomfortable on their bikes than I am - so I had my platform pedals put back on my bike before the ride. 

No thank you to clipping in and out and being petrified for 40 miles. 

Biking is NOT a cheap hobby, I'm coming to learn, nor is it convenient. I now need to get my bike back to a shop to have my clip-less pedals reinstalled. Will the headaches of cycling never end? Sorry, I'm being a grouch. 

BIKE EXPO 

TD 5 Boro Bike Tour

In order to pick up my ride packet, I made my way over to South Street during my lunch break, where the expo was being held.

It was almost exactly like any running expo I've been to which meant sampling a lot of granola bars and taking any free thing that I could only to get home and say, "I HAVE NO USE FOR THIS WHY DID I TAKE A FREE PENCIL!?" 

As per usual, I spent unnecessary money on something because, "It's SUCH a good deal!" And workout clothes are my weakness. I walked away with my first cycling jersey - the Giro Ride short sleeve jersey in WILD LIME. It's retail price is $100 and I snagged it for $30 so I don't feel too guilty. 

As part of each participant's packet you get a bib to pin to yourself, a bib to twist-tie to the front of your bike, and a helmet cover that says TD 5 Boro Bike tour! No ride shirt BOO HISS. 

THE FORECAST 

Once I was done frolicking in the sunshine at Bear Mountain on Saturday it was time to face the facts - the forecast for Sunday's bike ride was miserable. Starting at 8 a.m. there was a 50% chance of rain throughout the morning. And it was a cold, windy rain too. 

My professor from grad school, who I was supposed to meet up with at the start, decided that it wasn't worth it. But I'm poor, and the fact that I had spent $100 for this bike ride made me feel obligated to at least give it a try. 

PRE-RIDE

In order to get more rain-free miles in, since I didn't expect to slough it out for all 40 miles, I rode to the start from my apartment. It was about 7 miles total, and the fact that I wasn't clipped in made it a whole lot less stressful. It also helped that it was 6:45 a.m. and the roads were basically car-free. Plus, as I got close to the start, there were tons of other 5 Boro Bike tour participants headed to the corals that I could follow. Directions aren't my specialty, so I was happy to have people to guide me. 

I found my way to the coral and waited for Wave 2 to be sent on our way at 8:10 a.m. 

As I sat in the corral waiting to start, I looked around and realized that thankfully, I was by no means the only cyclist without fenders on my tires. I knew going fender-less would result in lots of wet, muddy spray from the ground, but the price tag just wasn't worth it to me. $50+ to buy them and have them installed is a lot when I don't plan on making rain-rides a regular occurrence.

There were a lot of people at the start who seemed to have plastic bags or shower caps around their feet which would have been a good call - I'm clearly not a seasoned pro when it comes to dressing myself for 40 mile bike rides. 

Looking back, I probably would have lasted longer had I dressed warmer, but, c'est la vie!  I wore: 

  • Icebreaker Merino Wool Beanie under my helmet
  • Long Sleeve Dri-Fit Shirt 
  • Fancy Shmancy Nike Winter/Rain Jacket 
  • Northface Fleece Lined Winter Running Leggings 
  • High socks over my leggings 
  • Buff
  • Winter Bike Gloves 
  • SPIbelt

After some speeches from TD Bank execs (I have a strange obsession/love for TD Bank) and race directors, we were off! 

THE RIDE

I noticed lots of people with interesting things attached to their helmets in an effort to keep their sights on people in their groups. There were pineapples and beers that made me laugh.

The ride started up 6th Avenue and it was awesome riding through midtown with not a car in site! Hellooooo Bryant Park! Hey office! Lots of TD Banks that we passed had employees out cheering the riders on. 

Though the rain started promptly at 8:00 a.m., I was surprised at how high everyone's spirits seemed. There was lots of "Woo"ing and laughing and jokes around me. And for awhile, I was really diggin' the ride more than I had expected. 

While there were certainly tons of other people out there, it wasn't ever horribly congested - especially since I wasn't looking to break any records with my speed!

We made our way up to Central Park and I considered ducking out at Engineer's Gate to go to my apartment but decided to keep going. 

There were a few parts where you had to stop at crosswalks to let pedestrians through, but nothing too obnoxious. Everyone seemed to be having a great time which confused me a little because the weather was so miserable but, maybe those people were dressed warmer than me! 

Up in the 100s I started getting more and more cranky and after a quick stop to use a portapotty I decided that when I approached 96th Street on the FDR I would peel off the route and head home.

But before that, there was a quick roll through the Bronx (I can't believe how short the course in the Bronx is!) and over two bridges which was again pretty darn cool. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I headed home after about 12 miles on the course for a total of 20ish for the day. Though it was cold, lonely and wet (not to mention uncomfortable considering all the bruises I got at Bear Mountain) I was proud of myself for doing it at all. I was just bummed that the weather had ruined what would have been an awesome, fun day in the sunshine! 

I guess there's next year? (Except not really, because I've sworn off paying lots of money for bike rides that could end up with a forecast like THIS - not worth it to me!) 

When I got home, I scrolled through Instagram and realized just how many 10K, half marathon and marathoners had trudged through the rain that morning as well. Special shout out to my best friend Allison for running her second half marathon in those conditions! 

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT'S THE LONGEST BIKE RIDE YOU'VE EVER BEEN ON? 
DO YOU LIKE RIDING IN THE RAIN? 
WHAT ABOUT RUNNING IN IT? 

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A Plethora of Pictures and a Disappointing Bike Ride

Spring has arrived here in NYC and I am amazed at how different every street looks with leaves on the trees. Seriously, I keep thinking I've made a wrong turn!

The warmer weather, the green leaves, and the colorful bursts of flowers blooming have all encouraged me to slow down a little, keep my head up instead of looking down at my phone, and to notice some of the truly beautiful sights I'm surrounded by in this concrete jungle. 

I've been snapping pictures left and right & since I haven't been writing many general life update posts, I figured I'd just do a photo dump. That's a very unappealing blogger phrase, isn't it? Photo dump? 

Let's call it a PLETHORA OF PRETTY PICTURES instead. 

And some stories. 

Central Park Bridge

Central Park is simply stunning during this time of the year. 

Usually, I run without my phone in the park. I'm so close to home that I tie my keys to my shoelaces and leave everything else behind. But with everything in bloom, I've been very tempted to bring my phone with me on my runs so I can stop and get in a few more shots like this! 

Central Park Flowers
Central Park Sunset

The other night, I took my GoPro out for a walk in the park at sunset. Unfortunately, I still have yet to master my GoPro - instead I just ended up taking pictures on my iPhone and then editing them until they looked really grainy and awful...woops! But you get the idea - it was a really pretty night in the park! 

Central Park Sunset
Central Park Sunset
Central Park Sunset
Central Park Sunset
Central Park GoPro

Can you tell which one was taken with the GoPro? Heh. 

I've also been swooning over the flowers popping up everywhere! 

So happy to break out these shoes - they are so comfortable but soo worn out. I think it's time for a new pair. Or 3. Any suggestions? 

Upper East Side Apartment

I've also found myself taking a lot more notice of the architecture I pass every day. There are so many unique looking buildings in Manhattan, and even in my own little area of the city. 

Upper East Side Apartment
Upper East Side Church
Upper East Side Architecture

Last weekend, I set off on what I planned on being a 30 mile bike ride to prepare for the 5 borough bike tour. The ride was supposed to end at Zen Bike's, where I bought my beautiful Bianchi, so that it could get a tune-up. 

I rode across to the east side hoping to hop onto the East River running path and well, I made it about 2 avenues before my tires skidded out from under me because of the rain and I completely wiped out. Luckily, I fell into a parking lot and was able to stand and brush myself off. But I had some lovely scratches and a nice big bruise on my butt. 

Tears sprang to my eyes but instead of going the "boo-hoo" route I told myself, "It's going to happen. Get up, get back on, and get your ride done." 

I walked my bike the rest of the way to the river because I was really shaken up. When I finally set off again I realized that the entire east river path is basically impossible to get onto until you're way far downtown. That's what I get for jumping the gun and not just waiting for the group ride at 11 a.m. 

Frustrated at myself, wet, sore, and scared of riding in the streets - I slowlyyyy got myself to Zen's. It seemed that every turn I took there was something else in my path. Construction, a street closed for a festival, a moving truck. It was an absolute DISASTER. 

Needless to say, 30 miles didn't happen. Instead, I took my bike on the subway home. But, I got the tune-up done and the platform pedals put back on (I'm scared to clip in for the stop and go of the 5 Borough Bike Tour) so it wasn't a complete failure of a morning. 

And, I got this trio of pretty pictures: 

Sutton Place
Sutton Place Park
Sutton Place Park

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT SPRING? 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE FLOWER? 
HAVE YOU FALLEN OFF YOUR BIKE??

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Biking Blues

I spent a lot of time last year saving up the money required to purchase a road bike. During that time, I dreamed of zooming around Central Park, going on epic adventures into New Jersey, and kicking ass in triathlons. 

In the past few months of owning said road bike, I have covered 116 miles, but I have not achieved any of those 3 above-mentioned things. 

Biking Blues

1. Zooming Around Central Park

Instead of zooming around Central Park, I have been boldly reminded that Central Park is hilly. Very hilly. And I have been humbled to find that as I climb the park's many hills, I look longingly at the runners and think, "That sounds so much easier right now." 

Cycling and running are both hard. I had the uneducated opinion that the bikers had it easy as they whizzed by me in the park. Nope, not at all. My legs burn like hell each climb - so much so that I'd like to ditch the bike and go up Harlem Hill on foot. 

2. Epic Adventures into New Jersey

I attempted an adventure into New Jersey and to be honest, it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Getting up to and over the George Washington Bridge was terrifying as a new cyclist who is still not entirely comfortable being clipped into her bike. 

My instinct on an uphill ramp with people flying past me is to stop. When I stop, my instinct is to pull my feet up - not to click them out and think, "Ok, now which side do I need to lean to?" 

I've fallen in a mud puddle and I've fallen in the middle of 96th street at a red light. And those weren't even the worst parts. 

Finishing that ride felt nothing like a victory. It felt like I had been run over by a car. I immediately fell asleep for an hour before waking up so ravenous that I thought I would cry. 

3. Kicking Ass in a Triathlon

I have certainly not kicked any ass in a triathlon. 

In fact, I have not even mustered the courage to seriously consider registering for one. My time in the pool has been non-existent these past few months and while I originally thought the biking portion would be no big thang - I am now absolutely terrified to ride in a crowded group of cyclists. 

I know I need to stick with it. I don't plan on quitting. But it would be a lie to say that I haven't been feeling discouraged.

With the weather getting nicer, and my legs still not having a ball with running, it's time to look at this whole biking thing as a challenge to conquer. I worked hard to afford the bike but that's not where the hard work stops.