Triathlon Research Camp- Day 1

day 1 swim start

Holy crap I’m training in Kona.  I mean, that much should be obvious seeing as I signed up for a triathlon camp here, but the reality really hit me on the first day of the camp.  This place is literally legendary, and not only do I get to experience parts of this course, but I get to work with some of the best in the world on getting BETTER at this sport I love here.

Incredible.

Day 1 of the camp was like going to the most amazing tapas restaurant in the world- I got to “sample” a little bit of everything and really whet my appetite for the week to come.

The morning was spent doing time trials on the swim, bike and run to (1) establish our starting points and (2) get some video analysis done to look at our form, technique and areas of improvement.

Since I literally have nowhere to go but up, I was both nervous and excited to get out there and figure out my starting point.

My starting point is slow kittens.  And yet, I actually did right around where I expected for each of the three trials.

We started out with a 3k run time trial (that’s about 2 miles for us normal people in the US- :D).  We rode our bikes up to a large parking lot that bordered the bluest water I’ve ever seen and then ran a 3 loop course on the black top.

I’m not going to lie, I was SO relieved that we got to do the run first.  It is by far the most challenging of the three disciplines for me, and was the bit I was the most nervous about.

Even with the heat and humidity, I finished the time trial in right around 25 minutes (which

for me at a 12:44ish pace is actually pretty damn good), and I was really happy with it.

We then had a chance to have a quick chat with Olympic Gold Medalist coach Chris Pilone about our running trial, and I am SO excited to work with him in a more individual small group setting later this week.  This guy is a coaching genius, and I have a feeling my running will transform based on his guidance.

day 1 chris pilone

Chris Pilone

Let me just say, there are some BEASTS in my group.  We are broken into squads of 8 athletes, which is great because it’s a small group where we can really get to know each other, get a lot of individual attention, and it’s not too cumbersome for the time trial efforts.  These other athletes are beyond inspiring and supportive, and we spent the entire day encouraging each other and witnessing some fast performances!

Vanessa, one of the many amazing people in my group!

Vanessa, one of the many amazing people in my group!

After the run, much to my relief, we hopped on our bikes for a super short spin over to a beautiful outdoor pool for our swim time trials.  It felt great to sink into the cool water and get in a quick warm up before putting down our efforts.

We did two trials.  A 100m all out sprint, and then after about 45 seconds of recovery a 500m effort.

For me, this was my strongest effort of the day.  I felt really smooth and strong in the water, which surprised me given how little swim training I’ve done this season.

I also got the chance to meet Rick Wells, a commonwealth games swim coach who, within about 30 seconds of seeing me in the water gave me two great pointers on my form that already had me swimming stronger.  This dude is probably still one of the fastest swimmers in the world, and with his coaching this week, I bet I see some serious improvements on not only my swim technique, but swim times.

day 1 swim

Next up was the bike video analysis.  We rode a short ways over to one of the most picturesque spots I’ve ever seen where Tri Research had wind trainers set up under banyan trees overlooking the ocean.  We got set up on the trainers to do a bit of pedaling, focusing on a really easy spin effort with some cadence pick ups so that the coaches could really see our form and fit on our bikes.

Here I was introduced to Ivan O’Gorman, a Retul bike fitter, also known as the Irish mad scientist of fit.  (Okay, maybe that’s what I’m calling him in my head, but trust me, it suits him.)  He spent some time watching each of us during the spin, and then came around with some great feedback afterwards on our fit.

For this camp, I actually brought my road bike, as I haven’t had a really great professional fit on it and I know there’s a lot of room for improvement with my positioning.  He had some great tips on how I could tweak my saddle position to get more power out of my legs, and to also get my upper body in a better and more comfortable position.  I’ll actually be working with him Thursday evening one on one to make those changes, and I have a feeling I’m going to feel like I’m riding a whole new bike once he’s done.

day 1 under the trees

Finally, it was time for the bike time trial.  I won’t lie, this is the one I was most looking forward to.  Our coaches drove us out along the legendary Queen K highway to a point about 16 miles out from the hotel.  From there we pushed off for a 15k time trial back towards town.

I literally can’t find the words to describe how beautiful it was.  To the right I had the most blue, beautiful water I’ve ever seen, meeting the perfect blue of the sky.  To the left, the lava fields, which looked sort of like the surface of the moon, only black as pitch and just as foreign.

I put down a decent effort given the gently rolling terrain (not used to that being from Florida where it is FLAT) and the crazy wind conditions (I swear I had a headwind, wicked cross wind and a tail wind at different points, all while riding a straight line in the same direction!).  I averaged around 15.8 for the effort, which was exactly where I expected to be.

day 1 time trial

Following the morning of intense activity, we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and much deserved lunch.

Not like I need to tell ya’ll this, but I totally ate ALL OF THE FOODS… and then some.  The amount of deliciously prepared fresh fish and veggies available on this island makes me swoon, and was exactly what I wanted and needed after a great morning.

The afternoon was just as spectacular, but in a totally different way.

After lunch we enjoyed presentations from key members of the Sansego Coaching team to give us a basis for the breakout sessions we would be attending during the week.

We kicked off with a great lecture to get us pumped up about Goal Setting and Season Planning.  Following that, one of my favorite coaches for the week, Frank “The Great Dane” Frank Jakobsen discussed periodization.  We then hopped into Principles of Fitness and Running form with Olympic Gold Medalist coach Chris Pilone,  and followed that up with a both hilarious and informative lecture of Workout Planning and Time Management by Matt Koorey.

The day wrapped up with Craig lighting a fire under each of us with a great session on Motivation and Mindset.

These talks not only gave me numerous “take away” points in each, but really set the tone for the level of excellence, competence, and just overall fantastic coaching we would receive for the week to come.

Want to know what happens next?  Be sure to check out the Day 2 recap!

Questions- What is your favorite place to swim, bike or run and why?  Have you ever been to Kona?  What athlete do you most admire?  

Triathlon Research Camp- Check In Day

I don’t think I’ve ever been wide awake at 4 a.m. local time and not been drunk.  Then again, even if I’ve been awake and drunk, chances are good that I wasn’t exactly all that “with it…” but I digress.

I’m in Hawaii, and it’s amazing.  Not only am I bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4 a.m. local time (6 hours behind my actual time zone of 10 a.m.), but I’m getting ready for day one of Triathlon Research’s Summer Training Camp with Craig Alexander.

Yes kittens, CRAIG FREAKING ALEXANDER.  He and his coaching group, Sansego, are here for 5 days to help whip me into shape to go from just “doing” triathlons to actually racing them.

Nervous in an understatement.

So is excited.

I’ll be chronicling all the details here, because I’m certain I’ll want to remember every minute.

Check In Day:

The camp will officially kick off today, on the 22nd of September, which meant yesterday my mission in life was to get my butt to KONA.

As I live in Florida, that’s a long trip.  A REALLY long trip kittens.  Reported in to the airport bright and early at 6 a.m. local time, and landed 12 hours by the clock, but 18 ACTUAL hours later in Hawaii.

As proof: I give you airport sunrise from Florida

airport sunrise

And airplane sunset from right over Kona:

airport sunset

Strangely, took off and it was 85 and humid.  Landed and it was 85 and humid.  Something tells me I’m going to feel right at home.

It was dark by the time I was on the ground in Kona, but I wish it hadn’t been.  This was easily the best airport I’ve ever been in from a pure uniqueness factor.  It was completely outdoors, open air, and had these sort of hut like shelters throughout in case of bad weather.  I had a moment of wondering if they just dropped us off in the middle of some rainforest community before I saw the signs for baggage claim and a few Triathlon Research shirts and knew I was in the right place.

Headed to the hotel for a flawless check in, minus the fact that when I stumbled into the lobby, jet lagged, sweating, and juggling suitcases, Craig was standing there and after hugging a few people I’m pretty sure I just stopped, stared with my jaw open, mumbled something about being star struck, and then walked away.

Brilliant.

But on the upside, I got some SWEET swag to go along with my room key at the absolutely beautiful King Kam Marriott, and amazing smelling Hawaiian Lei.

Camp swag Kona

As much as I wanted to enjoy the spectacular pool and party the night away, by the time I got my bike put back together and had a chance to meet a bunch of the Tri Research peeps that I’ve been working with for months, I was so exhausted I couldn’t hold my head up.

I figured that just this once, sleep is more important that wine.

Today we start off with a “bang;” time trials in all three disciplines to get some great baseline measurements of fitness, as well as all the other neato things we can track and measure.

Then, this afternoon we get to meet the amazing coaches at Sansego and start on this sweet 5 day journey.

Stay tuned for updates kittens, I promise there will be many, and they will be hilarious and informative as always.

Questions- Have you ever heard of the Triathlon Research camps?  Who is your favorite pro triathlete?  Can you hear my stomach growling for breakfast from where you live?

IronGirl Clearwater Half Marathon Race Report

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.21.06 AM

This is the first race I’ve ever done where I slept like a baby the night before the event.

Granted, that’s probably because two nights before the event I went out with the hubs and got completely wine wasted, stayed up till 3 a.m., had to wake up for work at 6 that morning and didn’t let myself take a nap, but I digress.

All things considered, that was actually, apparently, a really smart idea.  I fell into bed the night before the race by 8:30, and when my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

The drive from my home to Clearwater was uneventful, and by the time I arrived and found parking, the sun was starting to peek out over the horizon and the day was shaping up to be a beautiful one.

Oh, and I had drank so much water and coffee that I had to poo and pee like, immediately.  So I made good friends with a port-o-potty.  And YAY, that was the only time I had to get friendly with that stinky receptacle for the day.  10 points for me.

This is what I look like at 5 a.m.  I'm smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.

This is what I look like at 5 a.m. I’m smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.

I had done this half marathon before, back in 2011, which was the first year they had it.  The course had changed since then, and I was excited to learn we’d be running along the water, and over and back two of the most beautiful bridges along the way.

Going into the race I knew there would be steep bridge repeats, four total, but I hadn’t really planned for how that last one beginning at the 12 mile marker would feel.

And honestly, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t think too much about it on the front end.

Starting line... 321 GO!

Starting line… 321 GO!

The race was amazing.  We started right on time, and within less than a mile the herd had thinned out and there was room to find your groove.  I even hooked up with a friend of mine, Erin, and we took a running selfie!  She and I hung together for a mile or two before her speedy needs got the best of her and she took off. Go girl!

This is what a running selfie looks like!

This is what a running selfie looks like!

All in all, the race was perfect.  Miles 1-10 felt amazing.  My 5k time was right on target of my goal pace, and my 10k was trending just a bit ahead of where I expected it to be.  My legs and lungs felt great, and I stuck with a cup or two of water at every aid station.  The course was beautiful, and the volunteers were amazing.

Mile 10 marked the first of the two return trips across the bridges.  On the way over I had run up each, but for the first time in the race outside of taking in some water, I slowed and walked up the bridge.  My heart rate stayed under control, but my quads were starting to really not love life.

Check out that view!

Check out that view!

This bridge is the steeper of the two, and after only about a half mile I was on top.  I enjoyed the view for just a moment, looking across the water to the next bridge that awaited me, and started running my way down.

By mile 11 my legs were questioning my sanity, and I started with run/walk intervals.  After checking my pace on my trusty Garmin I realized that I was on target to PR by nearly 10 minutes, if I could just keep my last two miles under 14 minutes each.  Given that I had kept well under that pace up until that point, I knew I could do it.

I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it's not even a bit blurry... what's that tell ya?

I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it’s not even a bit blurry… what’s that tell ya?

Then we hit mile 12, and you know how people say the “wheels came off?”  Yeah, I totally understand that saying now.  It felt like one minute I was chugging along and the next I was lucky to be walking.  My quads were cramping so intensely every step was actually painful to the point that I’m certain I cried out a few times, and the last bridge was really an exercise in will power.

Never once did I think I would quit, but it was absolutely hard to convince myself to keep going.

In the end, that last mile took me 25 minutes.  I didn’t PR, in fact, I finished about 8 minutes slower than the last time I did the race.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.18.18 AM

My husband had been tracking me on my Garmin, and when I called him after I finished the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m so sorry!”

He fully expected me to be devastated, as I had been so close to a huge PR.

Funny this was, and is, that I’m not.  Sure, it would have been awesome if my increased strength, fitness, and solid training had resulted in a mile 1 to mile 13.1 strong and amazing race.  But it didn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m not super proud of my effort.

I haven’t raced in years due to a stressful work environment, and a ton of weight gain.  This is the first time since 2011 I’ve even been in good enough shape to consider doing a half marathon.

The last time I ran this race I did it “just to finish.”  This time, I actually trained and pushed myself to finish faster than before.

finisher medal

Clearly, there were some gaps in my training, and knowing that is going to make me even more prepared for the rest of my races this season.  But I’ve gotta tell ya, even with that last excruciating mile, I am damn proud of my effort.

So MEOW kittens!

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Did anyone else have races this weekend?  How did they go?  What did YOU learn for next time?

Doc’s Skincare Product Review- Sunscreen and Chamois Cream

It’s possible I have the most sensitive skin on the planet.

And living in Florida where it’s hot and sunny year round, that can be more than a bit of a challenge.  Sunscreen is absolutely crucial, but nearly every brand I’ve ever used causes my skin to break out in either adolescent acne, or a rash that can range from looking like bug bites all the way to chicken pox.

See?  This was the result of a bad sunscreen experience about a year back.

allergic reaction rash

Another “fun” side effect of having such sensitive skin is that products that are designed to prevent chaffage can also cause a rash or irritation that causes my bum to look more like a baboon’s than a normal human.

In fact, my husband has dubbed the effect “hyena ass.”  I’m not posting a picture of that, you’ll need to use your imagination.  It’s bad.

So when I interviewed Coner Mullervy for Trail and Tarmac and he mentioned Doc’s SkinCare chamois cream as being his absolute favorite, I decided to do a bit of research.

From Doc’s website:

At Doc’s Skincare, we’re committed to making the highest quality and longest lasting natural skincare products for serious athletes who demand the most from their bodies.

They just developed their latest product, a SPF 30 sunscreen, and are well known for their natural Chamois Cream,  that can also be used to prevent chaffage on other parts of your body.

Naturally, I had to try both.  Here’s what I thought.

Doc’s Natural Sunscreen

The Claim:  Broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection with safe minerals

Decrease your risk of sun damage, skin cancer and premature aging with the all natural minerals.  Doc’s Natural Sunscreen safely and effectively blocks damaging UVA & UVB using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Decrease your exposure to bizarre and harmful chemicals found in store brands.

Docs Sunscreen

What I Thought:

This stuff is absolutely incredible.  It’s a spreadable formula (rather than a lot of the sprayable ones on the market), that’s very liquid-y and absorbs easily.  The sunscreen is fragrance free, and the consistency makes it easy to apply, see where you’ve applied.  It blends quickly and doesn’t leave any sticky, oily, or crunchy residue.

I’ve used this nearly a dozen times now, on everything from short 30 minute runs to 3 hour rides.  Most recently I wore it this past weekend during a half marathon where I was outside for a total of 5 hours without applying (not recommended).

Not only have I not sunburned even once, but my skin has remained pimple free and not irritated in the least.

The best part?  This isn’t one of those sunscreens that makes sweat pour off of you into your eyes and then burns like hell.

I’m a sweaty girl no matter what, but this stuff stays put and definitely does the job.

Doc’s Natural Chamois Cream

The Claim:  Naturally formulated chamois cream with tea tree oil

Longer lasting, natural protection against chafing. No toxic chemicals that penetrate your skin. No petroleum-products to clog your pores and eat up your padded cycling shorts. Just safe, natural & proven ingredients to protect your butt and enhance your performance. Doc’s Natural Chamois Cream with tea tree oil is the chamois cream alternative with over 95% all-natural ingredients.  And this stuff is guaranteed!

Docs chamois cream

What I Thought:

I’ll admit, once I opened this bad boy up, I was skeptical.  One of the ingredients is natural tea tree oil, which smells a little medicinal and ever so slightly like a really mild Vick’s Vapo Rub, and I couldn’t really imagine rubbing that all over my lady bits.

But hey, I’ll try anything once, so on a particularly hot ride last weekend I slathered up and set out for 45 miles in the 90 degree heat.

The formula of this cream is just that, creamy.  It reminds me of a whipped shea butter type product, only not oily at all.  It was just slightly tingly, but not unpleasant, and the sensation went away almost immediately.

45 sweaty miles later I peeled off my favorite spandex tri shorts and inspected the goods.

First thing I noticed right off the bat, my bottom wasn’t nearly as red as it usually gets.  While I could still see where my saddle had been positioned, I wasn’t dealing with baboon butt right off the bat.

Where I REALLY noticed the difference though, was over the next few days.  Typically following a long ride I can expect some serious irritation on the nether bits that will sometimes even blossom into a bit of a rash complete with clogged pores.  After use Doc’s Chamois Cream, nothing.  My skin looked normal!

Not quite ready to shout their praises just yet, I’ve it three more times since, on rides both long and short with similar results.  The addition of this cream made for really comfortable riding conditions, and have kept my nether region in tip top shape from a chafing perspective.

My ONLY caution- if you are someone who saves your… ahem… bits, defiantly don’t apply it right after shaving.

That pleasant tingle?  Kind of a raging furnace if you happened to cut yourself and give yourself razor burn.

Otherwise, two thumbs up on this product!  I’ve also started using it on hot spots on the bottom of my feet, and under the strap for my heart rate monitor (typical areas that chafe a bit for me), and have had great results.

So moral of the story, if you’ve never tried Chamois Cream, TRY THIS ONE.  Chances are, you’ll love it!


So readers, now it’s your turn.  Do you suffer from hyena ass?  What sorts of products do you use to help with chafing?  Favorite brand of sunscreen?  Respond in the comments!

 

Repeat after me: It’s ok to take a rest day

rest day

My workouts have been awesome lately.  I’ve had several solid weeks of training, and have managed to fit in not only my runs in preparation for the upcoming half marathon I’ll be doing, but several rides, and weight training 5x per week.

My diet has been, uh, ok I guess, but given my activity level I’m getting away with eating a lot of things I normally wouldn’t and still maintaining my weight.  Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can probably tell you, gaining it back is among one of my biggest fears, so I’m happy that I seem to be holding pretty steady.

Yesterday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed just like every other day, but within about 10 minutes of getting out of bed my energy was zapped.

My entire body hurt.  I mean, I’ve been sore daily for the past several weeks and the level of ouch was about normal, but for some reason, yesterday it was hitting me particularly hard how sore I was.

And I was tiered.  Even after my usual cup of coffee in the morning I was still dragging, and just didn’t have it in me.

I made the executive decision to skip my morning Yoga class, and it was a good one.

By 3 o’clock I was ready for a nap, and my body told me without hesitation that I would not be riding that night.

I won’t lie, I tried to pep talk myself into it.

I mean, it’s only Wednesday.  I can’t skip a workout this early in the week.

And I ate rice with lunch.  RICE!  That’s carbs, I need to work that off, right?

And what about cross training?  I mean, riding my bike is great cross training for this run I’m doing and I don’t want to take a step backwards in my fitness, do I?

And oh my god, the CALORIES!  If I don’t workout how am I going to burn at least 500 calories over what I eat so I can continue losing weight?

So yeah, I’m more than a little crazy.  But after a few hours of playing this game with myself I finally said ENOUGH.

My body needed rest.  Even today, I’ve decided to postpone my long run for the week (9 miles) until tomorrow to give my body just a little more time to recover.

Sure, there’s a million reasons for me to train, but sometimes we also need to realize when our bodies are actually trying to tell us something.

There’s a definite difference between being lazy or unmotivated, and legitimately needing rest and recovery.  It took me awhile yesterday to realize and understand, I’m on the recovery end of that spectrum.

So the moral of the story for today, kittens, is that it’s ok to take a rest day.  Learn from my inner struggle and listen to your body.  It’s the best way to prevent getting burned out, prevent injury, and ensure that you love your training every day.

Anyone else have a hard time taking an unplanned day off?  How do you cope?

Spicy Treadmill Hill Interval Workout

hamster wheel

Today I’m suffering from one heck of a sunburn after a charity ride this weekend.  Now that all my northern followers want to punch me in the face, I will continue to complain because I need to get in a little run today, which means doing it in the treadmill.  If there’s snow and ice where you live, my bet is you’ve become more than a little familiar with this torture device over the winter months.

If you’re like me, you might refer to these as “dreadmill” workouts.  I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t love running on my own personal hamster wheel at the gym.

To keep it spicy and interesting, I love this thirty minute hill interval workout below.  I’ve added in my own personal (and oh so eclectic) playlist based on the beats per minute that will match my running stride.

Feel free to use it, and if you don’t like the song suggestion check out this website to find another with the same beats to keep your heart rate up and your legs moving.  I’ve included songs from every different genre out there, so hopefully there’s something you love, and maybe even new inspiration for your playlist!

For the workout, the effort is based on an RPE, or a rate of perceived exertion.  This is based on a scale of 1-10, 1 being an easy peasy stroll through the mall and 10 being a level of effort you couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds.  You’ll notice I ramp it up and hit all the way up to an RPE of 9, so while puke isn’t eminent, it is possible.

I didn’t include the speed, as we’re all different at what pace we run (read slow as shit here), so  use the RPE as your guide, and be sure to use the incline to really give your legs and heart a spicy little workout.

Once you’ve given it a try, don’t forget to let me know what you think!  Leave  a comment, a favorite workout song, or post your own boredom busting treadmill routine for me to try.  I’m always looking fun new ways to shake it up!

 

Time

Effort

Incline

Song

0:00-3:00

Warm Up RPE 2

1%-3% (Increase 1% each minute during the warm up)

Maroon 5- Maps

3:00-7:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

Jeremiah- Down on Me

7:00-11:00

Hill Run RPE 8

5%

Taylor Swift-Shake it Off

11:00-15:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

T-Pain- Church

15:00-18:00

Recovery RPE 3

1%

Meghan Trainor- All About that Bass

18:00-22:00

Hill Walk RPE 7

8%

Luke Bryan- Country Girl Shake it For Me

22:00-24:30

Hill Run RPE 9

8%

Slipknot- Wait and Bleed

24:30-29:30

Hill Walk RPE 6

6%

The Who- Baba O’Reiley

29:30-32:00

Cool Down

1%

Kelly Clarkson- Stronger

Does it still count as running if turtles are lapping me?

Here’s a surprise.  I can run over 3 miles and not pewp my pants.  At least, that appears to be the case so far.

On Wednesday, this happened:

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 1.12.12 PM

Now, I’m not actually sure that it counts as running since I’ve seen little old ladies in my neighborhood power walk faster than a 14:20 mile, but whatever, I got it done.

It was beautiful and sunny and a day that couldn’t be missed, and I was grateful to spend so much of it outside.  Sweating.   And smiling.  But sweating none the less.

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Why am I doing all this running, you ask?  (Or maybe you didn’t, but hey you’re reading and I’m enlightening so go with it…)

Because this girl is officially signed up for the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater coming up on April 11th!

iron girl

While I haven’t been posting about it much, I’ve been diligently following Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program for novices, and am really starting to get excited for the race.

While nearly 7 miles didn’t feel good by any stretch, it felt possible.  And even the last mile or two I was still jogging with frequent walk breaks.  My legs were tiered, but not completely spent, and I am starting to build the confidence that I will be able to keep moving forward for over 13 miles.

With just over six weeks left until race day, this is where things get serious.  My long runs increase a mile every week, so the next few weeks have me peaking at the 10 mile mark.  I’m also supplementing heavily with cycling, which is amazing for cross training my cardiovascular system while giving my knees and ankles a break.

And, of course, I’m still weight training every day.

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve felt this strong and healthy. Here’s hoping before race day I also start feeling a bit fast.

My goal for this event is to finish in under 3:15 with a stretch goal of finishing in under 3.  The last time I did this event was in 2011 (good God has it been that long?!) and I finished in 3 hours and 47 seconds.  My cardio isn’t as strong this time around, but who knows what improvements 6 weeks will bring?

And let’s face it, I’m really just in it for the t-shirt and medal anyway.

iron girl medalAre any of my readers training for a spring race?  What are you running?  How is your training going?  Fill me in dudes and dudettes!