The Official Kick-Off!

Last night, amid vegan sandwiches and fantastic company, Farm Sanctuary’s inaugural NYC Triathlon team officially kicked off training season!  Here we are: plant-based, powerful, and passionate folks who are ready to put in some serious training to benefit an organization that we hold very close to our hearts.  unnamed (1)

Terri, an “[a]iry fast-food joint offering carefully sourced, vegan & kosher spins on casual comfort food” was kind enough to host our gathering and provide some pretty fantastic food.  (My favorites: their buffalo ‘chicken’ sandwich, crunch burger, and cold-pressed strawberry lemonade.  YUM!!)

The night was full of food, introductions, and an overview of our training plan.  We also got a surprise Skype call from Farm Sanctuary’s founder, Gene Bauer (who is quite the athlete himself – he is a regular triathlete and is currently training for his first ultra-marathon!).

Let me tell you a little bit about Farm Sanctuary and why we are so passionate and excited to be on their team.  Well, better yet – let Hilda start the conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ia5kLbRz9I

Since Hilda, Farm Sanctuary has become a safe-haven to thousands of abused, neglected, and tortured animals, most of whom were saved from stockyards, factory farms, and slaughterhouses.  They lived in perpetual fear and pain, and were doomed from the moment they came into this world – until Farm Sanctuary rescued them.  Since its inception 30 years ago, Farm Sanctuary has flourished.  With 3 current locations and a 4th slated to be opened next year in New Jersey (thanks, in part, to Jon Stewart!), nearly one thousand “rescued residents are given the care and love they need to recover from abuse and neglect. All of the animals enjoy nourishing food, clean barns, and green pastures each and every day.”  Not only that, Farm Sanctuary does a huge amount of education, outreach, and legislative work surrounding animal welfare and protection.

Please help us help the animals while keeping us motivated to get out there and train by donating to this special organization.  My boyfriend, Nathan, and I have a joint fundraising page and would be so appreciative of any support: https://give.everydayhero.com/us/tri-ing-4-animals

Until next time ❤

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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!!

6 Weeks Left!

Just about 6 weeks until the big day!!  It’s hard to believe that it’s coming up so quickly.  Crunch time is upon us, ladies and gents.  Time to begin panic mode or beast mode. Which one will it be?

(Beast mode. Obviously 😉 )

So, remember that big swimming adventure I totally hyped up in my last post?  Well…. we didn’t go because the thunderstoms last weekend would have messed us up,  BUT we rescheduled and are going for real in a few days. Don’t you worry – swimming is still going to be turned up to the next level!

Before the storms hit last weekend though, we had a different kind of adventure – a “leisurely” bike ride in New Jersey.   And we learned a couple things along the way:

1. Bike racks are super awesome, but even the easiest one can take over an hour to install, even with instructions (that were only pictures and didn’t makes any sense) and 2 YouTube videos (though now we are pros at it).

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Now THAT is a fine looking bike rack!

2. Even if you are in the best shape ever (which I am not claiming to be) biking hills are killers on the ol’ gams.  My legs were burning and tired and dead by the end of that ride!

Seriously, it was no joke and the hills on the Alpine trail are brutal at times! It was great though – even without padded bike shorts on (noted, and I will not be making that mistake again) – and we called it a day after almost 23 miles of nonstop hills (mountains?) and some terrifying minutes a busy street with the tiniest bike lane ever.

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She’s alive!!!

Aside from that it’s been swimming and running, swimming and running.  Oh, and lots of swimming and running, too.  Here are a couple highlights:

What better way to strengthen those legs and build up some speed than some hill running, right?  So, the day after we biked up the Jersey equivalent of Mt. Everest, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to run 4 miles of Harlem Hill in Central Park – just up and down, up and down. If you know Harlem Hill, then no explanation needed. If you aren’t familiar, let’s just say it is no picnic – especially on a humid afternoon in the middle of they day. But, while the way up took effort (like a gasping for breath, sweat flying everywhere, whole body kind of effort) the way back down was actually fantastic, and I was happy with my splits. (And even happier for the downpour that happened right after I finished!)

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Ok, where are we? Biking, check. Running, check. Now on to swimming.

The other day was a milestone in this year’s tri training: the day I successfully swam a full mile. Yea!! I feel good in the pool and ready for the open water swim on June 13th. Except it is probably going to be super cold in that ocean. And I need to get a new wetsuit. Ok, maybe I am not quite as ready as I think I am!! 😉

That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned for an update about that fabulous swimming trip and to hear about my introduction to the mile high club. (The Mile High Run Club. Get your head out of the gutter.)

I’ll keep doing the training if you all keep doing the donating. Deal? All this is for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – a great cause! – so please help me out in any way that you can.
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!

Runs and Waterfalls

A new training post on a Monday morning.  If that doesn’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will!! 😉

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far – I really appreciate it – but I still have a long way to go.  Please don’t forget to visit my fundraising page (http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyctri15/Meredith).  Every little bit helps the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society get one step closer to finding a cure for cancer, and also helps provide patients and families with much needed treatment and support.

The last month has been full of training… some swimming, some biking, some running.  Oh my!  March 15th was the New York City Half Marathon – known as one of the most prestigious half marathons in the country. Who knows though. I haven’t run  all the half marathons in the country (or anything even close to that) so I’m no expert on the topic. I can say, however, that it was one of the coolest ones I’ve been a part of!  And it was the first half marathon of 2015 so that’s always exciting.

I’d had a cold for the last few days leading up to the race, so this half started out strangely similar to my first half of 2014 – except this time I resisted the urge to chug DayQuil before I left the apartment. Live and learn, right? I’ll only (hopefully) make that mistake once.

It was almost 45 degrees when I arrived to the starting line at around 7:30 in the morning, which was like a heat wave from the frigid cold and rain from the previous few days. Somehow my expected pace got messed up and I was slated to begin in Wave 1, Corral 1 – right alongside the elite athletes who were predicted to run around a 6-min mile. Yeah right. I know I am competitive and always up for a challenge, but no thank you – not today, New York Road Runners! Instead I tried to sneak into the first corral of the second wave but was told it was closed and ended up in the Wave 2, Corral 2. Not bad. We were off in no time and I was running with people who were much more on my level – which was good because I would have probably tried to keep up with the super fast people and totally exhausted myself by mile 2.

The race began in Central Park in the 72nd street transverse and we ran counterclockwise, first tackling the Cat Hill before going to the east side.  I loved getting that hill done right at the beginning and I was so amped up and full of adrenaline that I barely even realized I was running on an incline. I waved to Boyfriend’s bro-in-law and nephew around 101st street and kept chugging along.

Central Park is not known for being a flat course, and I was beginning to notice the hills; after having trained all winter on a treadmill those hills (and the cooler air) took some getting used to! We exited the park at the northernmost part and went in a loop before re-entering just before the Harlem Hill – the worst part of the park!  The part that really lets you know what you are made of.  The part that could make or break the rest of the race. (That might be overly dramatic.) It seemed much longer than it had the last time I ran it and I wondered how NYRR managed to add what seemed like an extra half a mile of hill to Central Park without making the local news.  Sneaky bastards.  Once the hill was over (which turns out was its usual length. My bad. 😉 ) I knew that it was relatively smooth sailing from then on and there were no more major hills.

We exited the park at mile 6 at the south side and it was the coolest feeling ever. Times Square was in front of us – colorful, flashy, iconic Times Square – and both sides of the street were full of cheering fans with signs, cowbells, everything. Some of the better signs said things like “If a half marathon was easy it would be called ‘your mom’.” (no offense, Ma, but I laughed at that one), “Less Walken” (with a picture of Christopher Walken) “More cowbell”, and the usual “Run now, wine later”. The race was live-streamed and televised, and the media was out, along with huge TV screens so we could see ourselves, which was very cool.  Some people stopped to take pictures of themselves on the big screens, but I knew taking out my phone and snapping a pic would mess with my time.  Stupid competitive streak.  (But I did love seeing myself on tv.)

Here I am totally loving every second and taking it all in:

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We turned onto 42nd Street and headed west to the Westside Highway and I got cold from the wind off of the water.  I had my gloves on and was happy that I didn’t take my jacket off earlier when it ws a little warmer in the park.  Once we turned on to the Westside Highway, it was pretty much a straight shot down to the end.  I had read that once we saw the Freedom Tower we would know we were practically done, so I when I saw it a wave of calm spread through me – until I realized that whoever said that was wrong and I still had about 4.5 miles to go.  (Although I guess in the grand scheme of half marathons, 4.5 miles left is almost over, right?)  We continued down, through the Battery Park Tunnel (where I got a little claustrophobic for some reason and sped up just so I could be back outside), and down through the seaport.  One more turn and I would cross the finish line!

People always tell me to enjoy the moment when I cross the finish line and not worry about my exact time, and I usually think to myself something along the lines  of “Yeah, I know. I love that moment – I’m totally into it.” But I guess this is proof that I am all about stopping my Garmin. Damn it, photographic evidence! (This also may be the exact moment I realized I missed running a personal record by about 37 seconds.)

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It really was a great race and a pretty awesome way to officially begin training season.  Check out my bling!

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I have the More Women’s Half Marathon coming up on Sunday, and there have been some pretty great bikes and swims thrown in – including the first outdoor bike adventure of the year and some swims in the Carribean, near some waterfalls, and an essentially private lap pool in the middle of paradise (which I didn’t take advantage of nearly as much as I should have)!

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Not a bad way to train, huh?

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.