Seemingly everywhere I’ve turned this week there has been talk of the Broad Street run. Whether at the coffee house in town, my son’s preschool or even the local Shop Rite, our town is abuzz with race day chatter. Obviously this race has grown exponentially over the past five to eight years, so additional dialogue between runners seems only natural, but I think all this talk a week or so in advance of the race also tends to elevate nerves and heighten anxiety (at least for me)! No longer is this a “little race down Broad Street”, but instead has become one of the most well known 10 mile races in the country and for certain a race that you will encounter many a friend (or foe, should you have any). What’s even more interesting though, is the amount of people I’ve personally spoken with in the last several days who are struggling with their training and in particular, their last few runs just days before the race. Is it possible that so many of us are hitting a training wall at the same time or are we (gasp) psyching ourselves out? In the event it’s the latter, I’ve decided to dedicate my last blog pre-race to motivating and inspiring EVERYONE who is running on Sunday to have their most fun race to date (and if a PR is achieved too, well, all the better)!

So where’s a blogger to start? Well, Google of course!

The first thing I Goggled was “motivation.” Here’s what I found:
Motivation is the driving force by which we achieve our goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure.

Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and grades, coercion and threat of punishment.

It shouldn’t be too much of a debate as to which motivation we are calling upon to run a good race on Sunday, right? Despite the fact that 10 miles might feel like punishment, it is something we are choosing to do, for the “enjoyment in the task itself.”

So there it is- #1. Enjoy the race. Your time is secondary.

The second thing I Googled was “bad runs before race day”. (I probably shouldn’t have Googled this! Talk about psyching yourself out! But I took one for the team and have only listed below what I believe to be an encouraging article).

And not to be forgotten….. some good advice for those not so great race days (it happens to all of us and while I’m wishing everyone a great race this weekend, a little perspective never hurts):

And lastly, I came across this video a few weeks ago and just had to share. It totally makes me giggle. Not at the cyclist’s expense, but because it just goes to show no matter how well prepared you are, anything, and I mean anything, can happen on race day.

See you at the finish line.

On a positive front, I’ve managed to avoid any additional falls on my bike. And before you ask, naysayers….. yes, I’ve actually ridden. (Easy to avoid a fall with your bike hanging nicely on a peg in the garage). But no, not me. My love affair with the bike and open road continues (sorry Herb, but getting to the gym 35- 45 min in advance of the class is hard to rationalize to an already pressed for time working mother of three). But now that the weather has apparently broken (dare I hope after Sunday’s Mother wind) and the camaraderie (and cocktails) of Rode’s and Saturday morning rides call…. well I’m sold! That said, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was incredibly nervous rolling up to Rode’s on Wednesday night. However, I want to assure all newbies, or anyone debating on clipless pedals, to go for it! Sure the two falls at Action Wheels (and the future falls that are inevitable as I continue to get acclimated) suck, but the actual ride with clipless was so much better. The feet falling off the pedals, the gripping of your toes in your sneakers, it’s all gone. You are free to focus on your ride- increasing your speed, learning your gears and hopefully, one day becoming coordinated enough to take one hand off your bike and grab a quick swig from your water bottle (if that is not a sign of a confident cyclist I don’t know what is)! So the biking is all good.

Running. Ah, my old friend running. Running and biking. They’re like silver and gold. (One is new and the other is old). Luckily I have Broad Street next weekend to keep me focused and dedicated to turning the weekly miles. If I didn’t, I am sure I would have forgone the 8 mile run on Sunday in the brutal wind in favor of something more enticing. Like a nap. Or a root canal. But Broad Street looms and the motivation that so many of my fellow MHWTC friends were competing in Riverwinds served to keep me on track. I am pretty sure that once Broad Street is over, I will scale back my weekly mileage in an effort to better master the swim.

Which leads me to my nemesis. If running is my old friend and biking is my new love affair, then swimming remains my thorn. How much of that is self imposed as I continue to belabor it, you decide. I have my own opinion and battle with the mental game of it all. In truth though, while I feel the biking is an easier take off from running, swimming is actually progressing to some degree. This week I swam a 1/4 mile easier than I ever have (and by ever I mean this whole 5 or 6 weeks I’ve been doing it) and I met an encouraging fellow triathlete at the gym this week. He’s training for an Ironman and like me, struggles with regulating his breathing while swimming. So he’s doing it with a snorkel. (This is, apparently, USTA approved). Now I’m not advocating this (for me especially. He is, after all training for a 2 mile swim versus a 1/4 mile swim), but it was refreshing to talk with someone who struggles with one aspect of the tri. But it clearly hasn’t stopped him. And it definitely won’t stop me. Maybe our conversation was exactly what I needed prior to my swim that day. The right dose of humility, acceptance and determination I feel most athletes need to face, overcome and thrive in their sport.

So the training continues. Less than 3 months to Queen of the Hill! Hope you’re all finding your stride, swim and pace as you begin your season. Happy Easter all! Catch you next week-

First order of business: Congratulations to my fellow clubbers who cleaned up at Riverwinds today:
~ Jen McCarthy – 1st place age group 35-39
~ Colleen Foster- 3rd place age group 40-44
~ Cheryl Tavano – 2nd place Athena

A hearty congratulations to all MHTC members that competed today!

In addition, a quick update on my training for Queen of the Hill:

I bought clipless pedals! Yeah! I rode around the parking lot at Action Wheels a few times (yes, back to skirting the dumpster) and then… I promptly fell. I was clipping in and out with relative ease, but maybe got a bit overzealous and went to step off the bike with my left foot, only realizing a second too late that I was still clipped in. I was not moving (thank God!), but I did fall.. “like a Redwood tree” (to quote my husband). On the next go I basically did the same thing, but bound and determined not to wipe out twice, I ended up half falling, half straddling my bike.. and scraping my shin nicely along the way. It’s inevitable though, right? Let’s just hope (please, please, please) that this fulfilled my falling initiation and that I do not repeat on a group ride. Or alone on a ride for that matter.

And lastly….before I head back out to practice clipping in… and out… and back in… (wax on / wax off), I thought it wise to do some research on clipless pedals best practices. Below are some articles and tidbits I’ve picked up along the way, as well as some additional cycling info I’ve unearthed over the past few weeks. Happy reading!

Great local haunts:

Cool site for planning rides:

Gear changing video:

Bike positioning:

Clipless Pedal videos:

Clipless Pedal articles and tips:

OK, we’ll finally answer the BIG question. Once you get used to clipless pedals, the chances of coming to a stop before exiting your pedal (and thus falling over) are greatly reduced. BUT…chances are, in that first day or two, you’ll forget that you need to twist your heel out (instead of pulling back) to unclip. By the time you recognize your mistake, it’s too late, as you’ve lost all forward speed. And, with no place to go but down…you get the picture. You will, in very slow motion, and nearly always with people around to see it happen, fall over. You’re not likely to get hurt, but it’s terribly embarrassing. And most likely there’s nothing that makes you so special that you’ll avoid the fate shared by just about everyone else. Just try and remember this…

That said, there are a few things you can do to make your first time in clipless pedals a little easier:

wpid-bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif When you first get your clipless pedals (what ever the style) have someone put your bike on a trainer – so that it is stable and stationary – and spend a half hour practicing clipping in and out of your new pedals.
wpid-1__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif Have the bike shop set the mechanism on the pedal a little bit less tight for the first few weeks.  Once you are comfortable clipping in and out of your pedals, tighten the pedal up again so it holds you more steadily for the long haul.  Ask the salesperson or bike mechanic how to do this for your specific pedal type.
wpid-2__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif On your first couple of rides, try to ride in areas that have long periods where there are no stops.  As you are riding along practice clipping in and out in these areas.  You don’t have to stop, just get used to the feeling of clipping in and out.  On your first ride try to find a big empty parking lot to ride about in and try out the pedals
wpid-3__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif Most people will find that they can clip in and out on one side better than the other.  Work out which side this is for you and try only to clip in and out on that side when coming to a stop.  If you build up this habit you will limit the times when you clip out with one foot  but lean the wrong way and fall over anyway.
wpid-4__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif Do not look down at your pedal when clipping back in.  You can’t see the bottom of your foot anyway so get into the habit of keeping your eye on the road ahead instead.  This is a safety issue more than anything else.  If you feel that you need to look down, first pedal through the intersection unclipped before looking down
wpid-5__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif You only have to unclip one pedal when you are at an intersection.  Get used to leaving the other shoe clipped in.  It means one less pedal to worry about.  Also when you start from a stopping position be sure to have your clipped in foot at about the 1 o’clock position so that your first stroke is a downward one that will give you more speed.
wpid-6__@__bluebutton-2011-04-16-08-17.gif OK, this is going to sound a bit pessimistic, but as you are getting used to your clips be sure to pack a little first aid kit in your bike gear bag.  Some antiseptic wipes, band-aids and Brave Soldier road rash ointment would be ideal.  Ideally you should always carry a basic first aid kit when you ride.  You can buy a cycling specific kit by Brave Soldier from a good bike store or online at places such as Performance Bike for around $10.  One thing this pack is missing is a pair of sterile gloves.  Try to have these on hand as well for times when you may need to attend to someone else’s wounds.
Happy riding!

Dear Blog,
I’ve been avoiding you. I think I might have writer’s block. So what to do?

Well….. run! And bike! (and swim?). Get the juices flowing! I have sometimes found when I am most tired, most frustrated and least motivated to exercise, I turn in the best runs. So after almost a week of no blogging, I re-dedicated myself to some good r&r (runs and rides) to clear the cobwebs.

So where were we?

When I last blogged a group of us had just completed a great run on the AC boardwalk, only to be confronted with more cold, wet, miserable weather the beginning of the week. A nice day off on Monday, a decent swim on Tuesday (both uneventful and not really blog worthy) and Wednesday arrived with my first Rode’s ride. It was great fun! A ride that starts AND ends at a bar? I like it. I like it a lot! There were a number of new faces, inspirational women (a Boston Marathoner co-mingles among us!), and of course, the celebratory cocktail at the end of the ride. A few members were clipped in (to their clipless pedals… I still can’t rationalize this) for the first time and everyone did great!

On Thursday I was presented with an opportunity to run Broad Street… yeah!….. Except… I haven’t really been training for a 10 mile race. I am, by nature, a scheduled person, so for Broad Street I generally start training the 1st week of February (not 1st week of April). I have, however, done a 6 and 7 miler the past two weekends respectively, so feel with a little extra nudge, I still have time for some decent longs runs before race day debuts. To be frank, how can I say no to Broad St? It’s historically one of my favorite races and after the moaning and groaning I’ve done about not getting in…? Of course a quick check of my calendar reminded me that I had rested, swam and biked since the AC race, but not run. So I took to lacing up my Saucony’s on Friday afternoon and turned in a 4.5 miler, a 4.5 miler and a 7 miler on consecutive days.

And guess what happened while I was running those miles? Ideas started flowing. My fingers started itching for the key pad and after a great bike ride tonight (80 degrees, who could stay home?), here I am making friends again with my blog. So what were some of the ideas? Well, to start with, I’d like to invite a newbie guest blogger to write about their experience at the Riverwinds tri this weekend. I will not be tri-ing, but would love to capture this event through the eyes of another newbie. Interested? Please leave comment below.

And as ideas for my blog started flowing, other resolutions followed suit. The laundry list of well, laundry and household chores that seemed to be weighing on me all weekend seemed less overwhelming as I mentally organized them during mile three and four. The few outstanding work issues/problems I’ve been wrestling with? These started falling into place too. And the best part of my Sunday run? Getting stopped twice by two van loads of pre-teens on a scavenger hunt. Running with a runner qualified them for extra points. Somewhere, a local Church boasts two pictures of me, my iPod and smiling kids. How great is that?

Bottom line… what did I conclude at the end of yesterday’s run? That I tri for sanity. That I tri for resolution. That I tri for happiness and peace at the end of a long week and weekend. Why do some of our fellow club members tri?

“…for feeling of accomplishment. Whenever I go out for either a run, swim or bike ride I know that I will do what I set out to do.”
– Jen McCarthy

“….for the sense of fulfillment. That I have achieved something that I consider to be challenging”
– Laura Longo

“…simply because it makes me feel good about my day. I love the physical and mental satisfaction of a long run or conquering a steep hill. I come to my family a happier (less stressed) person.”
– Colleen Fossett

“…So I am physically fit and will hopefully pass on my will of feeling physically fit to my children.”
– Bridget Stankoski


Top Ten AC April Fool’s Run Learnings:
1. A beer garden at the finish line = lots of motivation for finishing fast, but not a good source of hydration. Hello? Were there only 2 water stations in 7 miles (sorry, 6.8 miles)?
2. 7k/11k = guaranteed PR (at least this year). Who has a PR for these distances in their arsenal?
3. Carpooling with/Driving a State Trooper = very interesting conversation, also = nervousness to have a half beer (1 full hour) before driving home.
4. Laura Longo & Jen McCarthy = v. fast. Must I literally live in between the two??
5. Cigar smoke (outside a casino)…. not a good inhalant during a race.
6. Jester hats. Fun for some, not for me. Enough said.
7. Bally’s appearing deceptively close on the back half of the run….. not cool.
8. Mullica Hill tri club = cool girls, young looking members (age is merely a number, right)? You know who you are… and you owe me a cocktail!
9. Promptly awarding winners in each category is essential; standing around for almost 2 hours afterwards (long after the beer truck was closed) = sore quads.

And finally….
10. A great race opener for the Mullica Hill tri club and a great bonding experience for newbies and veterans alike!

Check out this quick YouTube video of the race start:

See you guys at Rode’s tonight! Let the fun continue….


Saturday, April 2, 2011
10:45 pm

When I first contemplated the idea of blogging about my experience as a newbie, I was immediately fixated on two things: 1. If I thought taking on a new challenge such as training for a triathlon would be difficult given my work/family schedule, why would I possibly layer on additional responsibility? How would I… (wait for it… the thing we all aspire for).. find balance? 2. What if I wasn’t able to master swimming and ultimately the three sports combined well enough to actually compete? I was quickly able to talk myself off the ledge regarding my second concern (fear?), by reminding myself that I am, what I consider to be, an athlete at heart. Sports have played a major part in my life since early adolescence and were an integral part of my collegiate experience. I, and my fellow teammates, learned early on what it meant to be dedicated and responsible at a time when most teenagers are learning to rebel. I was responsible though (mostly) and earned the respect of my coaches and teammates alike. I was a team captain my junior year and was what I like to jokingly refer to as “the people’s captain.” While I tried hard to earn a great deal of respect from my coaches, I mostly felt I was relatable to all members of the team: freshmen, seniors, starters and back up players. I have recently come to view myself similarly in the sport of triathlons: “the people’s triathlete.” I’m not an overly fast runner, biking is so new to me and while I love it, I am positive I have quite a ways to go before I come close to being a competitive biker and swimming, well, I won’t belabor that point.

However, what I believe makes me most relatable to you, the reader, is my goal of finding balance in my life, not my time at the end of the race. This week can be used as a perfect example at attempted balance. I had all day meetings in Boston Monday through Wednesday, a long standing doctor’s appointment on Friday in Philadelphia for my youngest child, and laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, work, work, work and working out to cram in between all these things. Who doesn’t, right? In a nutshell, I made it through the week with two decent run workouts, no swims (oops), 1 spin class and a great bike ride today. Tomorrow I will partake in the 1st annual AC April Fools Run. So what’s the worry? Well to start with, this morning while I laid on my side of the bed with three kids and a dog beside me, I was feeling slightly guilty about my decision to bail on the group bike ride this morning. I didn’t go last week, nor did I run in the South Harrison 5K and I’m really enjoying being part of the tri club so I want to do tri things. Like group rides. And races. But I take the most pride in being a good wife and mother so I had to pick. Have to balance. With tomorrow’s run taking up most of the morning and early afternoon, I just couldn’t bare slipping out early again this morning after missing my family so much this week. But it weighed on me, and still does, even after my lovely ride this afternoon, taken while the kids were napping and thus not at anyone’s expense. We had a full day, a great (albeit rushed) breakfast at Harrison House this morning, followed by quality time with kids, mixed with cleaning, laundry and phone call catch ups with my extended family in PA. I hope to run a good race tomorrow. I hope to get a good night’s sleep tonight (never a guarantee in this house) and I hope to continue being the wife and mother I take so much pride in. Sound familiar? Yeah, like I said, the people’s triathlete. 🙂

See you at the finish line….