NYC Tri, 2015 – Over Before It Began

I can’t believe I am writing this but here we go:

I had a little bike accident over the weekend and broke my left wrist in a pretty bad place (scaphoid) and fractured part of my right hand (trapezoid ridge).  Luckily the fracture in my right hand is too small to require immobilization but I have a cast on my left arm.  A giant purple cast.  Yup.

What can I say – when I do something I do it big.  Can’t take that away from me!

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The bad news is (if you haven’t already guessed) I have to watch the NYC Triathlon from the sidelines this year.  That’s it. To say I’m bummed is a gigantically huge understatement and it still hasn’t completely hit me yet.  No Hudson River. No cheering crowds. No finish line glory.  No heart beating and out of breath sense of accomplishment.  Six months of training and it’s over – just like that.

My first reaction was that I had nothing to show for all the hard work I put into the last 6 months, and hearing the doctor tell me that the triathlon was out of the question hurt so much more than the actual injuries. But looking back, I really did learn a lot.  My swimming is so much better and more efficient.  My running is faster.  Biking seems to have gotten the best of me for now but lessons were learned there, too – lessons that will stay with me and only help me after I get back on my feet.

Also, I had so much support from you all throughout training and, maybe most importantly, helped raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – $3,590, in fact!  Thank you, I am so appreciative.

But part of the deal was that I do the training and hard work and you donate, right?  I am working with Team in Training (TNT) to transfer to another event.  Maybe the NYC Marathon?  Maybe the Nation’s Triathlon in DC? I don’t know yet, and that will depend on how fast I heal and can get back into the swing of things.  I’ll know more in 2 weeks when I get more X-rays and a CAT scan.  Worst case scenario: I defer my NYC Tri entry to next year. If a donor feels a certain way about me not doing the tri this year, I can arrange for you to get your donation back – but please remember the cause; LLS is fantastic and really doing some great things.  And I’ll still do an event.  Just not the one in 2 weeks.

I guess that’s all for now, folks.  But stay tuned – you know what they say:

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I’m on it, and I’m coming back.  Today a spectator, tomorrow a finisher.  And in the meantime, TNT just got one more cheerleader.  I’ll be wearing my purple and cheering for my team!

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Entering the Home Stretch!

17 days – thats it! In 17 days I will swim a mile in the Hudson River, ride 25 miles and run 6.2 in the NYC triathlon in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! And I am ready (for the most part- I do plan to get out on that bike a couple more times for some long rides. But THEN I’ll be ready!). Swimming isn’t nearly as concerning for me as it was last year; in fact, it might be my favorite event now. Yes, even before running! (I can’t believe I just said that.)

Yesterday was the fundraising deadline and I am still a bit away from my goal. But the good news is that donations will still be accepted through July 8th so there is still some time if you haven’t already donated! Please click the link below and consider donating to such a great cause. Do it because everyone, in some way, is affected by cancer. Do it because swimming in the Hudson River is crazy and you support my insanity. Do it because it was just payday, or because you are SO happy that this is the last time you will read a post from me begging for money. Do it to change someone’s world. Every penny counts!  Here is my fundraising page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

And also watch this super short video of my experience from last year’s triathlon. http://magis.to/eisiTEQHAgd6LnEBDmEwCXh7?l=vsm&o=i&c=m

Two things stand out in that video:

1. I had SO MUCH FUN.  Those smiles are so incredibly real and I plan on having even more fun this year!

2.  I need to actually purchase race photos so not all my pictures say “proof” across them.

Ok, want to hear more about training?

On Sunday I ran in the Achilles Hope and Possibilities run, which is probably the most inspiring race on the NY Road Runners calendar. Achilles International was founded by Dick Traum, the first above-the-knee amputee to finish the NYC marathon! (actually, I think he was the first amputee, period.  Forget the above-the knee part!) He refused to let his disability hold him back and wanted others to feel the same and so he founded the organization.  According to their website, “Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.”  Awesome, right?  And Jon Stewart hosted!

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The race itself was fantastic. 5 miles through Central Park with 3,317 other runners of all different shapes and sizes and abilities. This is one race that really encourages you to give it your all; we ran with runners with prosthetic legs, blind runners who were being led by Achilles guides, wounded war veterans, and runners with other physical impairments. Everyone. Together.

photo 1 A before picture – just seconds away from the starting horn!

It was a cloudy and humid 64 degree morning, but the spirit of the event made everyone forget about the looming thunderstorm that was threatening us and everyone seemed excited and happy to be there.  I know I was – and I was even happier when I realized that we wouldn’t be running Harlem Hill!  God that’s a great feeling.  I was happy with my overall time.  Here are my splits:

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And some obligatory after photos:

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Other than that, I’ve been running on my own and with Team in Training (TNT), swimming even more, and biking a bit – soon to be much more as we head into the home stretch. Despite having done TNT last year, I have learned so much during this year’s training. My coaches and teammates have had some invaluable advice and I am going into the triathlon with so much more knowledge and confidence than last year, plus the added advantage of having done it before.

I’m ready for you, Hudson River!!

No Guts, No Glory!

Someone once said that “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” Well, having had all three yesterday, I can tell you it is a true statement (though I prefer sweat and salt water).

Yesterday my NYC triathlon team and I took on Coney Island with a vengeance as we completed our first open water swim practice of the season.

7:30am, Coney Island, triathlete states of mind.

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(Picture stolen from TNT teammate C. Oh)

I had a new wetsuit to test out – Orca 5S, this year’s version of the fabulous one I had last year – and was excited to see how it compared.

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Just like last year, we got into the frigid water and acclimated ourselves to everything – the temperature, the waves, the murkiness, the flailing limbs around us – before we started actually swimming. And just like last year I had trouble putting my head into the water. WTF!? The amount of expletives going through my mind for the first 20ish mins was enough to make a sailor blush and I was at a total loss. I wasn’t panicking like last year, which was a plus, but I was frustrated, mad and confused as to why it was not as easy as I expected. So I swam with my head up.  Ugh.

Then it was time for a 30 minute continuous swim. Ok, I thought, do it like you know you can – like you’ve done it before – and get out of the water feeling good and confident, or continue being a scared little p**sy and this whole thing is for nothing and a waste of time. Up to you.

Good pep talk, right? But it worked and I tuned everything else out – the other people all around me (Boyfriend included because he was doing great and didn’t need me worrying about him), the waves, my foggy goggles, the sunburn that was inevitably going to be on half of my face because I am a left side only breather, all of it – and slowly but surly got my head in that ocean. And once I did, everything started working like it was supposed to. My body became horizontal which helped me to glide through the water better, my arms were calm, my legs didn’t kick in overdrive, my breath was rhythmic and natural, and I actually felt fantastic. (And that new wetsuit did an awesome job!) I remembered key swimming techniques that I had recently learned and just focused on those. By the end of the 30 minutes my hands were numb from the cold water but I felt good – which was a huge improvement from this time last year!

Little victories.  I’ll take them anywhere I can get them.

And speaking of swimming, last week Boyfriend and I spent two days at Hungry Ghost Guest House in New Paltz. Known as a vegan “active retreat”, Hungry Ghost is owned and operated by athletes/super awesome couple, Mike and Petra Trunkes, who encourage swimming, biking, running, and a variety of other outdoor activities (which happen to be a few of our favorite things!) We took about 5 hours of Total Immersion (TI) swimming lessons with Mike. Because the lessons are taught in a small pool with a wave machine that makes a current to essentially keep you in one spot, TI focuses on mindful practice so that changes and corrections in swimming can be made immediately. There were also mirrors on the inside of the pool and cameras so that we could watch our technique and immediately see what needed to be tweaked. Seriously – it was fantastic, Mike was a great teacher and the two were the best hosts!! (Not to mention Petra’s chocolate chip and banana pancakes with apple compote were out of this world!) I have a strong feeling we’ll be back in New Paltz very soon for an open water swim or tune-up before the triathlon. While we were there, we also took advantage of being so close to the mountains and ran around Lake Minnewaska. Here are some highlights:

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Ok that’s it for now! Please keep me motivated by donating to my fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as I continue to train. Right now I am 59% of the way to my goal and need your help to keep the momentum going. Let’s do this together! http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

Thank You!!

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Thank you so much to everyone who has donated so far.  Because of YOU I am 36% of the way to my fundraising goal of $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Because of YOU we are that much closer to finding a cure for cancer.  Because of YOU this lady – my grandma, my first dancing partner and swimming (among countless other activities) cheerleader – is still remembered and alive in our thoughts and actions.  (She rarely got in the pool and when she did she made sure to NEVER get her hair wet, but she loved watching us splash around!)

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If you haven’t already, please consider donating to my LLS fundraiser.  http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/meredith

In other triathlon news:  Swimming is about to get kicked up a notch – Boyfriend and I are going to take it to a whole new level!  Wait until you hear about what is going to happen over the weekend.  All I can say is that I am SO excited and will take a ton of pictures for you all.  It is just what we need to prepare ourselves for the first team open water swim at Coney Island that is scheduled for June 13th. (Yikes – that is coming up quickly…!)

Stay tuned!

Little of This, Little of That

Yikes! It’s been a while since the last time I wrote! Don’t worry – my time has been training-filled and full of learning experiences. Since my last blog entry – the NYC Half – I have done 2 more half marathons! Last month was the More Shape Women’s Half Marathon, which was 2 laps around Central Park. Great race, boring route.  I know, calling Central Park boring makes me sound like a brat, but after the scenic-filled NYC Half, that park just seemed uneventful.  And 2 times on Harlem Hill was no walk in the park.  (Bad pun?  Is that even a pun?  Whatever, it’s staying.)  Here are some highlights:

IMG_2565-4 The race was sponsored by Shape Magazine, whose parent company is Meredith! It was nice to see my name plastered all over the place during packet pick-up and I pretended to be a celeb – the Meb Keflezighi or Deena Kastor of the race.

IMG_2579-1 Just me, my race, and my Nathan.  (Not that Nathan, sillies.  My other Nathan – the cool little running belt I got from my mom!)

IMG_2587 Here I am debating what to have for brunch when the race was over.  Tofu scramble with all the fixings? Toasted sesame seed bagel dripping in (tofu) cream cheese and Earth Balance?  Definitely a Bloody Mary.  Or a Mimosa sounds good.  I always want mi-more mimosa.

CP3 Done!  Apple in my hand and brunch on my mind (still).

CP4 Not bad for a “boring” course, right?!

 

Ok, all caught up on the Women’s Half?  Good!

Now on to the next one:
Last Saturday, over 26,500 of us tackled the Brooklyn Half Marathon – the biggest one in the country! Another spectacular event put on by New York Road Runners. The humidity (76%) and 15 minutes of rain could have thrown us all into a frantic state of disarray, but we pulled through!

Actually, I really hate to say this, but this race had a lot of casualties – many more than I am used to seeing. Probably because of the humidity?  I saw so many people fainting.  A seizure, maybe even 2.  AND heard that there was a heart attack right behind me.  I (along with some guy who was running near me) had to veer off couse one time to flag down a police officer for someone who needed serious medical attention, and helped to wave down EMT on at least 2 other occassions.  It was scary.  BUT all that, the humidity, and the rain aside, it really was a good run.  The Brooklyn Half is one of my favorite races and I had been looking forward to it for a while.

BKprePacket pickup.  No sleep ’til Brooklyn!!

BK1 DADA DADA DADA DADA BATMAN.

BK2Champions.  Warriors.  Winners.  (or just 3 people ready to go back to bed.  We had gotten up at 4:45am to get to the starting line for 7am.  By 9:30am we were far from home, tired, sore, and maybe a little delirious.  But we were done!)

What’s next on the agenda? A lot of swimming. It’s time to step up my game a bit and show that water who is boss. TNT group training sessions in swimming have continued to be extremely helpful and valuable. Even though I did most of the swim practices last year, I am still learning tips and tricks that have helped my form and overall execution of the stroke and I feel surprisingly calm, cool and collected in the water (a welcome change from this time last year). Regardless – there will be plenty goggles, open water swims at Coney Island, and Body Glide in my immediate future, and I am perfectly fine with that!

Although I have a high commitment to my training, I still need some motivation to keep me going sometimes. Your donation to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraiser is just what I need to push me through rainy days and mental blocks, to get me pounding the pavement, into the water, and spinning those wheels. Your donations helps me to realize that this is all for something bigger, and I thank you!

http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

Click on my fundraising page and please consider making whatever contribution you can. No penny is too little, and no dollar is too large- everything will help to make a positive change.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”  – Anne Frank

It’s About That Time

Official kickoff for the Team in Training’s (TNT) NYC Triathlon team is in just about two weeks, which means one thing: the triathlon is just about 4 months away!!  While I cannot wait to jump into the Hudson again (and even more – I can’t wait to step out of the Hudson after!), I am excited for the opportunity to be able to once again fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  Since I first came into contact with TNT and LLS last year, I’ve been pretty open about what sucked me into their mission.  I was only fourteen years old when my grandma died from non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and I wanted to make sure that she was still remembered, that what she went through was not forgotten, that it could be used to someway, somehow, change someone else’s life for the better, so that maybe some other little girl somewhere could have more time to spend with her own grandma.  And so here I am!

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But I am not doing this on my own.  I am just a small part of a team with the same goal of eradicating cancer once and for all so that our loved ones could live fuller lives and stick around with us for a bit longer.  Not a bad goal, right?

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Training for the triathlon will be just as eventful as last year, so you don’t want to miss any of these updates!  The NYC Half Marathon is coming up in less than 2 weeks, followed by a couple more awesome runs, some epic bike rides, (hopefully less traumatizing) swims in the ocean, and so much more – and you can have a front row seat to all the training successes, mishaps, and lessons along the way.  This winter has been way too cold and long, and adventures are calling my name.  Treadmills, stationary bikes and indoor pools: get ready to take five – I am heading outside!

Now, what can you do to help?  Every penny that is fundraised goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Want to see the impact of your donation?  Well, here you go:

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Here is my fundraising page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith

Thank you so much in advance for your donations, your support, encouragement, words of wisdom and everything else you all throw my way.  I really appreciate it all.

Alright, let’s go!

NYC Triathlon (part 1): The Build Up

It took me a while to write this because I didn’t even know where to begin! The triathlon is over and I not only survived it, but had an amazing time doing it.  It was so much fun and I kind of can’t wait to start training for next year!!  The weekend started on Friday with the Team in Training Inspiration Dinner where we gathered together one last time and basically patted ourselves on the back for getting through the training and making it to race weekend.  When we walked in to the banquet room all the mentors were lined up in the doorway with cowbells and cheering for us, which was actually pretty awesome. We heard from a cancer survivor (and fellow triathlete) who reminded us just how important the nearly 1 million dollars we had raised were to patients and their families.  And then some awards were given out. I was one of the top 10 fundraisers (which was a surprise to me!) and got a certificate and a TNT visor. At that point I had raised $6,320, but donations are still coming in and I am now up to $6,475 and counting! Thank you to everyone who donated. Seriously – it means so much to me. I have until the end of September to stop fundraising, so let’s get to an even $6,500! (You can donate here: http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri14/meredith)

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On Saturday I went to a mandatory briefing where we were told pretty much everything we would need to know for race day.  I thought it would make me a little more relaxed about everything, but by the end of the briefing my stomach was in knots.  And where there weren’t knots, there were butterflies fluttering around.  And where there weren’t butteflies, there were feelings of anxious uneasiness.  I picked up my race packet (which made the anxious uneasiness change over to excited anxiety), bought a triathlon t-shirt that had the names of all 4,000 participants, and went home to grab my bike and bring it to the transition area. I got some good advice to stop in at the bike shop before checking in my bike, which turned out to be a great idea because my front wheel was really loose and a bad pothole could have been disastrous!  It seems one can’t ride without a front wheel.  Live and learn, I guess. 😉  I also got some more air put in my tires by a shocked employee who could not believe that I was doing a triathlon with such an old bike.  He wished me luck and told me to stop in sometime to try out some “real bikes.”

My transition – yellow transition – was in the same place where we had met for alot of TNT group training bike sessions and where I’ve played wiffleball a few times so I was very familiar with the area. The field was pretty unrecognizable, though.  There were hundreds of spaces for bikes – most of which were already filled with the bike of a corresponding race number, and people were rushing around getting last minute things in order. I racked my bike (with help from a seasoned triathlete and super nice stranger who actually knew what he was doing and could tell I was clueless about the whole thing) and walked home with adrenaline building with every step.

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I had been too busy and overwhelmed with all the pre-triathlon stuff to really be excited before, but now it was real. Now there really wasn’t much else to do aside from putting my number tattoos on my arms (which I had almost forgotten about), making sure all my stuff was packed and ready to go (which it wasn’t) and going to bed early (which I didn’t).

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Ok – fast forward a few hours. Dinner was eaten, last minute supplies were picked up and I was excited, feeling like I could bounce off the walls and not the least bit tired. It was Christmas Eve x 10. My birthday x 50. The last day of school before an epic summer vacation x 100.  Time for number tattoos, which were carefully stuck to my arm like tattoos from a Cracker Jacks box.  I also wanted names on my arm so that I could look down at them in case things got hard during the triathlon – names that had inspired me to do this in the first place with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and TNT.  The cancer fighters.  The survivors.  The victims.  My grandma.  Her name was first, followed by three more, and the list ended with initials of a good friend – a survivor who helps motivate me every day.

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(I also tattooed this guy. 20140811-105715.jpg Check out those guns. 🙂 )

 
Then I set my alarm for 3:30am so that I could get to my transition by around 4:15am and tried to sleep.  Much easier said than done.  I slept for maybe 3.5 hours, jumped out of bed at the sound of the alarm and headed for yellow transition with one hand squeezing my boyfriend’s hand while my thumb on my other hand nervously played with a ring I had on. (Props to him for everything – for getting up so early, for making my tattoos and the names on my arm perfect, for just being there.)   We made there just around 4:30am and I ran into the transition area to make sure all my stuff was set up and ready.

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I got my stuff situated, met a few of my teammates, and we started the mile walk to the starting line.  I was in my corral with 2 of my teammates by 6am, and kept going from excited to nervous as we pulled on our wetsuits and talked about who knows what for the next 40 mins.

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One thing that kept me calm though was my fan club of 7 (and counting!) who were already assembled right on the other side of the fence cheering me on with posters and everything right at 6am!! I didn’t expect that – especially so early and in the cold drizzle.

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Ok – now it was around 6:40am and the line was moving.  I was freezing and ready to be in the water, but was really wishing that the rain would stop and the sun would come out.  There were 15 people in each 15-second wave, and so the line was moving quickly.  We were told to put our goggles on and make sure we were ready before even stepping onto the barge.  I was so happy to be with my 2 teammates because I think I would have been freaking out if I were in a wave where I didn’t know anyone.  Now we were on the barge – and waiting.  Waiting for the horn to sound.  Waiting to officially get this triathlon started.  Waiting for the plunge into the Hudson River.  It couldn’t have been longer than 10 seconds, but it seemed like forever.  I was ready, I was excited, and I knew my fan club had my back every second of the way.

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And then the horn sounded.