Updated: Jan 10, 2020
When I set out to achieve three different races in three different days, it wasn't because I thought 'this sounds fun and seems like a good idea' (full disclosure, sometimes that is exactly what I think and then I suffer later). But, in the after math, all have ended up being fun because of the challenge that something like this might be achievable for me.
The MudHen Race Series, put on by Delmo Sports, is a three-day race series consisting of a 5k run, an 8k run and a half-marathon run. I have done races through Delmo before and they have always been top notch events. So once I received their email, I signed up right away. I was so excited.
Two years ago, after my first season of triathlon, I ended up signing up for several races. I attempted two triathlon's over one weekend, didn't anticipate the challenge hills would put on me, and ended up hurting my IT band, and tendons in my ankle. This injury made me pull out of road running races and I needed to change from competing in the full Atlantic City Ironman 70.3 to the Aquabike. Because of this setback and thinking everything I was doing for training was correct, I became a bit defeated and had little interest in wanting to compete again. In 2018, I competed in two sprint distance triathlon races, the Broad Street Run and two half marathons. This was coming off a full year of having at least one event per month. Furthermore, because I was set back and bothered by the fact that my heart rate would not stay under control during my running practices or races. Below, my heart rate was well into the 200's during the Broad Street Run.
I sought out adding personal training to my plan because I figured it couldn't hurt (figuratively), my mom encouraged me and I thought it would challenge me in new ways. I also thought maybe it was a solid answer to all of my other questions that I had been toying in my head (what else can I do to improve? what did I do wrong? maybe I should just run and run and run?). Over the course of several months, and a lot of massage therapy, I gained confidence and improved my running pace. I worked with both my trainer and also with an app called Chris Hinshaw's Aerobic Capacity-a tailored program to achieve specific goals; mine happened to build my run engine.
I also prepared in different ways by using the MySwimPro app which gives me specific swim sets to not only prepare for my triathlon swims, but also helps to build my lung capacity. For a great article on this, go here: https://blog.mapmyrun.com/can-swimming-make-you-a-better-runner/. You can also use my code: TRICOLE and receive 20% off a premium MySwimPro yearly subscription.
Preparing for these three races consisted of a lot of squats. And when I say a lot of squats, I mean at least 1,000 squats. That may be a bit of an over-estimate, but I'm probably only off by a tiny bit. It also consisted of yoga, a ton of arm workouts, 4+ hours of stair master (usually added at the end of a workout, on leg day, with a resistance band added in for extra fun), increasing my intake of protein, electrolytes, amino acids, making sure I was getting sufficient rest and overall maintaining my overall happiness. For my workout carbohydrates, I rely on Xrcel. I discovered them two years ago at the Escape the Cape triathlon and have never looked back. I also use Thorne Supplements for my electrolytes, amino acids, l-glutamine and vitamins. They are tested for illegal substances and trusted among several Team USA sports and are very friendly with my gut. If you'd like an affiliate code for Thorne (PR139491), use that or reach out to me for a discount code!
I used to think that I needed to run long distances prior to running half-marathon's. The longest run I completed, was an 8 mile hill run around my neighborhood. It consists of larger rolling hills and two steep and long hills. It's a fair challenging run that I love doing to see where I need to make adjustments and if I need more squats in my life.
My mom (she ran the half-marathon portion of the MudHen) and I headed to the shore on Friday morning. Stopped at the wawa on the way for coffee and arrived at the beach house in the afternoon. It had been storming off and on all day with breaks of sunshine, which wasn't too unusual for the season and also the Jersey Shore. My goals for these three races were simple: complete each distance no matter if I have to walk; race fast during the 5k and 8k portions; pace comfortable for the half-marathon.
Due to this weather, the 5k portion of the MudHen race series needed to be cancelled. Never the less, I am not one to give up and once there was a break in the weather with the sun shining, I grabbed my mom and we completed a 5k on the promenade of Sea Isle City. We finished the run in 28:05 which was a 9:11/mi pace. So much better and faster than my previous attempts between 10:30/mi-11/mi. I not only felt comfortable running at that pace, but I noticed my heart rate under better control as well as my breathing pattern. We headed to the MudHen brewing shortly after that run to pick up the 5k medal and my bib for the next day's races.
Waking up Saturday, there were noticeably stronger winds. The weather forecast called for 18mph winds with 30mph Gail wind gusts! The plan for the 8k, as my mom and I both thought that the winds were going to push one way and against the other, was to run fast in one direction (whichever direction the wind would push me in) and then suffer on the way back. I was also fortunate enough to see some of my high school friend's, Matt and Alison, as well as Matt's husband, Jason. They also ran the 8k and added a level of excitement and inspiration! Follow Matt's journey (it's amazing) on instagram (@yearofnosugar) and you'll also get to meet his adorable family!
The course consisted of racing on Wildwood's Boardwalk with a neat off shoot into Morey's Pier and back out onto the boardwalk. The winds blew me in every direction possible and I had no way of actually telling if I was pushing hard enough or not enough at all. The race ended with me achieving a PR of 48:27 (9:45/mi)! After the race, I was exhausted from the winds that I like I needed to sleep. Instead, I took in protein, electrolytes, rolled out my muscles using my three favorite tools, eating a chicken and noodle dish for dinner, and eventually going to sleep early.
The next morning my legs felt somewhat tired, but not sore, and definitely something I could run on. We got to the race site, finished our pre-race needs and headed to the start line. My mom was also racing this one. Funny enough, I had mentioned to her the day before that she would definitely crush 2nd place age-group (see below).
We started this race on the boardwalk and made our way to North Wildwood. After 3 miles of running, my legs began to feel it, as well as my pace. One we hit mile 4 and made our way to mile 5, the winds picked up and I began to feel like I was on a stair master with a resistance band around my legs running full force. This wind was significantly worse as we crossed the bay so I kept my pace to a walk as to not injure my legs. I ran a walk then run pace for the next three miles and eventually made my way onto Stone Harbor for the turn around.
On the way back, I kept my walk/run pace going in between periods of feeling nauseated and tired. We eventually made our way back onto the boardwalk and I immediately had a sense of relief and also a visual on the finish line. My pace picked up, and I was consistent along the last two miles of the race and I ended up finishing 2:22:38. All that said, it was only approximately 1 minute off of my best PR time for a half-marathon and 20 seconds faster than the Philadelphia Half-Marathon last November. My heart rate was better controlled and I felt stronger, even though there was some crazy winds.
Overall, I am very happy with the outcome! Back to more squats, running and hard work. Also, yes, my mom crushed her half-marathon and achieved 2nd place age-group: