Friday, August 10, 2018

North Park Triathlon Recap

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!  I have an exciting post and update to share today- I completed my first triathlon!  If you've been following for the past few months, I've been training for the North Park Triathlon.  I chose this race because it's close to my house, so I could get in a lot of on-course training, and it was also a sprint, so I could ease my way in to this new sport!

I really enjoyed the entire process of tri training and the actual race!  I'm definitely going to be doing more, and now know exactly what I can improve on next time (spoiler alert- SWIMMING).  Here's a recap of how the race went-


 700 meters

Goal : 15:00

Actual : 19:00

For the swim, we were in a huge pool (the largest in the county) for a 700 meter swim.  The pool length is 50 meters, so luckily I only had to do 7 laps (or 14 lengths).  In each lane, there were four athletes, with two at each end.  

As soon as my heat started, I took off at a comfortable pace on the swim. I'm used to swimming in a normal sized pool (25 meters), and having the length be double didn't really bother me at first.  I was feeling strong and was even able to pass the two athletes that started at the other end of the pool!

Unfortunately, by the time I hit the halfway mark, I started to feel like I was choking on the water. I'm not sure what happened because this has never happened to me in any of my workouts, but every time I went in the water it just felt like I wasn't able to breath.  So, I made sure to keep moving, and ended up doing a sort of doggy paddle/side stroke while I kept trying to cough out the water.  Physically I felt fine and kept trying to swim normal again, but kept getting the same choking feeling.  It might have been nerves or just inexperience, but it was so frustrating!!

I finally finished and was happy to be done (and not kicked out to the "slow swimmers lane" to make room for the next heat), so I jumped out of the pool and ran around the pool and out to the transition area, where I quickly toweled off, threw on my shoes and helmet, and took off!


12 miles

Goal : 1:00:00

Actual : 51:40

The bike was actually a ton of fun!  The course we went on was a loop around the pool area and is a little over 2 miles, so we had to do 5 total laps.  The course is really hilly, so my strategy going in was to really push it on the straight and downhills, and make it up the hills without stopping.

This is a course that I practiced a lot during training, and tried to get in at least a few loops every weekend.  I got to practice shifting up and down, which really helped me on race day!  I definitely felt tired and sluggish on my first lap, thanks to just finishing up the swim.  By the time I hit my second lap, I was feeling much better, and seemed to keep feeling better the further on I went.  

Before I knew it, I was finishing up my final lap, and pulled back in to the parking lot where the transition area was.  I dropped off the bike, grabbed my sunglasses and hand waterbottle, took a salt tab, and struggled to start running (jello legs!)


3.1 miles

Goal : 30:00

Actual : 30:34 

The run was on trails that went around the park, which meant that we did not have to run by the bikers (good), we had a nice, soft surface and shade to run in (double good since it was a really warm and sunny day) but also meant HILLS!  My strategy quickly became walking up any steep hills while I got some water, and taking off when the trail flattened out.  This worked out great for me, and I started to pass people left and right. 

The first mile of the run was definitely the most difficult and hilly, but by the time we passed the water station at the one mile mark, the trail had more rolling hills instead of sharp climbs.  At this point, I took in a Margarita Shot Block to get in a bit more sodium.  I was really sweating at this point, and just ready to be done!

The race finished on the side of the bike course, close to the transition area.  I could see my cheering section and gave it everything that I had left in the tank!


Goal : 2:00:00

Actual : 1:44:43 

Have you ever done a triathlon?
Which would be your favorite leg?
What's the most recent item you've checked off your bucket list?

Monday, July 30, 2018

Triathlon Training : It's Go Time and a Look Back

Happy Monday everyone!  It's that time again- race week.  While it feels familiar to have a race coming up, it also feels completely foreign to me since it's my first triathlon.  I still don't really know what to expect or what race day will look like, but I'm very excited (and super nervous!)

I've missed a few weekly check-ins during my training, so I decided to give an overall look at how my training went.


I would probably have to say that swimming is still the area that I'm most uncomfortable with.  I was going an average of 3 times a week and had a good schedule going, and then my gym closed back in May and I really struggled to get back on track.  I also feel like I hit a plateau and haven't made much progress in the past few months- once I was able to swim 1000 yards non-stop, my paces pretty much stayed stagnant around 2:05/100 yards.  I'm not intimidated by the distance any more (and my race is only 700 yards) but I know I'll be one of the slower people in the field.

No pictures of me swimming, so you have to deal with my blurry fierce face in my swimming kit!

This year, I swam around 30,575 yards, which is over 17 miles!!


As an absolute shock to me, I've started to fall in love with biking.  If you remember back to when I started training, I was really scared of biking and would be proud of myself for getting through a ride without falling off.  Now, I look forward to biking days and am hoping to do some longer rides and focus more on biking once triathlon training is over!  It might be because I get to ride with Dan, but there's just something about it that is so much fun, and also a great workout.

This year, I biked around 130 miles!


Running has always been my first love, but I definitely didn't follow any kind of strict training plan for this triathlon.  It's only a 5k run, which I know that I can always get done.  My training was mostly 2-3 days of running a week, with one of them being a longer run with friends, and one on trails (since my race will be a 5k trail run).  I also tried to incorporate as many "brick" workouts as possible- biking followed immediately by running- to help me get used to the feeling of that transition.

During my triathlon training, I ended up running three races!  I did a Park Run 5k during my trip to Scotland, a quarter marathon on the Big Island in Hawaii, and the Chicago Half Marathon last weekend with friends.  I didn't "race" any of them (in fact, I haven't trained or pushed myself in any race this entire year which has been a great break), but it was still helpful to keep me on track while I was away traveling!

Other Stuff

Besides the normal swim/bike/run, I've also been doing great with cross training!  I've been getting in at least one workout a week, usually with Class Pass, but also doing some hiking and stand up paddleboarding.  I love mixing it up, which is probably why triathlon training has been so fun, and I feel so strong!  I've really been enjoying my classes at Beat Fitness, which uses a lot of body weight and dumbbell exercises for a tough but fun workout!  The other day, a stranger even complimented my arms, which has literally never happened before in my life.  Thanks, Brian!

My happy place is in the water!

There you have it- I've put in a lot of work to get out of my comfort zone, and I almost feel ready to do the darn thing!  I still think I could have put in a bit more effort (especially lately with the swim), but overall I'm proud of myself!  I don't really have goals other than finishing and not crashing on the bike portion, but other than that I would like to get under my estimated finish time of 2 hours.  We'll see what happens!

Anyone who's done a triathlon- what advice can you give me?
What challenges did you set for yourself this year?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Triathlon Training : Almost There!

Let me be completely honest- this was not the best week of training!  There were a couple life events thrown in the way that I had to work around, so I was just happy to get in at least one swim, run, and bike this week.  There's only 3 weeks to go until race day, so let's just hope I'm doing enough to finish at this point!  

Here's a look at how training went-


1 hour SUP
Such a perfect day out, so after work I immediately headed to the lake for some paddling.  It was really crowded but I still got to relax and enjoy the weather!


3.1 mile run
For some reason, I thought it would be a smart idea to go for my run after work, during the highest temperatures of the day, without water.  Luckily I was going on a trail run (since my tri run portion is on trails) which helped A LOT!  I love running on trails and need to get on them more, but this was such an enjoyable run.


Rest Day!
For work, we went to the Pirates game!  It was a lot of fun and the Pirates managed a great win (with a home run).  Since I was out all day and got home late, I decided to take the day off.


Beat Fitness
After work, I headed up for my favorite class!  Today's circuits included a lot of fun equipment, like a bosu ball, Ski-erg, and bats.  The workout wasn't as hard which hopefully means I'm getting in better shape.


1000 yard swimming
This was a really long day!  Dan came home from Hawaii, so I picked him up at the airport at 6AM.  Then, I had to race home for a meeting, and then head to North Park for a work picnic.  It was a ton of fun, and I got to learn how to play Cricket!  Afterwards, I headed to the pool to get in a swim.  I felt great the entire time!


8 mile run
I met up with friends early in the morning to get this run done!  It was super hot, so we mostly spent the entire time trying to survive the heat.  I was also pretty tired because Dan and I went to a birthday party the night before and didn't get home until midnight, so I did pretty well for only getting 5 hours of sleep.


15 mile bike
After spending most of the day out in the sun enjoying the Deutchtown Music Festival, then dealing with trying to find where a mysterious beep was coming from in our house, Dan and I both really needed to sleep in!  So, we hung out around the house and watched the Wimbledon finals until getting out around noon for a bike ride.  By then, it was in the 90s and about to storm, but luckily we got in a great bike ride.  We headed out to the Butler Freeport Trail, which is great for both biking and running/walking and is also shaded the entire way!  This was my longest bike ride to date, and it was really good.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Triathlon Training : One Month Away!

Believe it or not (I sure can't)- it's the final countdown until my first triathlon!  In less than four weeks, I'll be toeing the pool line and getting ready to dive in to this new adventure (jk about diving, I don't know how to do that yet).  

I haven't posted a training update in a while because I was in Hawaii for the past two weeks, and didn't really do any specific workouts while I was there.  I did run in a race and do lots of active things, but I'll share those in a separate post.  For today, I'm going to look back at last week and how training went!


Rest Day!
This day can also be known as struggle city.  I traveled home from Hawaii on Sunday, and because of the time difference got back around 6AM in Pittsburgh and immediately worked.  I ended up being up for about 35 hours straight, so working out was definitely not in my cards.


2 mile run
I was still not feeling fully recovered, but I wanted to at least get in a little workout.  I went to the park after work for a quick run.  It was HOT (we got a heat wave like most places) but it actually felt amazing!


 6.5 mile bike
I woke up early and thanks to the holiday got to go for a bike ride before it was too warm out.  I met up with my mom for this ride, and we went on a nice and easy ride on the river trail.   


BEAT Fitness
I made it back for my favorite strength training class!  For these circuits, we got to do a TON of squats.  There were goblet squats, step out squats, sumo bar squats, Bosu ball squats, and more!  It was a fun workout that went by really quickly, but I felt it for a few days after.


Rest Day!
Legs were too sore to do anything, so I just relaxed and took Selma out for a walk.


5 mile run
I met up with Steffany and Maddie for this run, and we enjoyed the cooler temperatures.  I was still really sore, so this was a struggle for me!

700 yard swim
After the run, I immediately went to the pool to get in a swim.  I was surprised that I didn't feel like I lost any fitness with my swimming (I'm not that fast to begin with, so I guess there's not much to lose!).  This was a good test, since the swim portion of my race is 700 yards, and this felt relatively easy.

5 mile hike
Since it was such a nice day and I felt bad for leaving Selma all morning, I decided to take her on a hike at Hartwood Acres.  This is a nearby park that I've only visited a few times, and I need to go more. There are so many trails and roads to explore!


10 mile bike
I met up early again with my mom for this bike ride.  We did the triathlon course (minus a small section that goes on a semi-busy road that I wanted to avoid).  The course is pretty tough with lots of short steep-ish hills, so I know I need to practice more and work on changing gears.  I also got to test out a triathlon suit that I found on Amazon, and it worked pretty well!
2 mile run
After the bike, I wanted to work on transitioning to running.  I surprised myself by keeping an 8:30 average pace and it felt really good!  Next time I want to do the actual running course so I can get used to the trail we'll be running on, but this was still a good test for me.

Did you get the heat wave last week??  How did you deal?
Have you done a triathlon before?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ireland Highlights

It took me a while, but I finally finished up my post all about my trip to Ireland!  This was the second part of our trip to Scotland back in May (which we bought on Groupon), and unfortunately this leg of the trip was way too short.  I've heard so many great things about Ireland, so I definitely feel like I need to come back for a longer time to really experience the country!  It was extremely beautiful and amazing, but we were constantly rushing through things because we only had two full days.

Here is my very abbreviated trip summary!  I hope you enjoy, and make sure to give me recommendations on what I need to visit when I (eventually..hopefully...) make it back!

Green Acres Bed and Breakfast

One of the best aspects of our Groupon was being able to choose any Bed and Breakfast that we wanted.  Since we only had a few days in Ireland, we decided the best idea would be to pick a place that was near Dublin, so that we could easily get in to the city and surrounding areas, but not have to deal with all of that traffic.  We ended up settling on Green Acres, which is in County Dublin, but outside of the city limits in Rathcoole.

The place was beautiful, and had a pub right down the street (An Poitín Still- highly recommend...see pic above!).  Breakfast was hot every morning, and the owner, Mary, always made sure we had a full day of adventure ahead of us.  We would share our itinerary, and she would make recommendations or give us directions. 


We spent one full day in Dublin, and definitely didn't even scratch the surface on this wonderful, bustling town!  Unfortunately we had to skip a lot of the popular tours (Book of Kells, Guinness Storefront) and set out on foot to see as much as possible.  A few of my favorite stops included-

St. Stephen's Green
I always like a good city park, and this one is beautiful.  One minute, you're on the loud and chaotic streets of Dublin, and the next you're in a serene park, surrounded by lush trees and walking around a crystal clear pond.  I think this would be a great place to relax and maybe even have a picnic.

Trinity College
While we didn't get to see the Book of Kells, we did get to walk around the campus.  The college is really beautiful, with old gray stone buildings and grassy lawns.  The campus is walled off from the rest of the town, with only a few entrances, so it felt like we were in another world!

Grafton Street
If you're looking for a good shopping area- check out this pedestrian street.   There were so many shops and restaurants and musicians all over the place!  Loved the atmosphere of this fun street.

The Hairy Lemon Pub
I read about this place in my Rick Steves guide, and really enjoyed it.  It was pretty touristy, but still a fun restaurant with character.  I had a great vegetable pie (yummy vegetarian alternative to their regular Irish pies that are cooked with lamb) and a pint of Heineken.   I was happy to see a Terrible Towel hanging up (and equally upset to see something from Philadelphia).

Dublin Castle
Once again, we didn't make it into the castle, but just walking around the grounds gave us a great view of the building.  There is also a park right outside which we enjoyed!

Christ Church Cathedral
One place that we did make it inside was the Christ Church Cathedral.  This is a beautiful church with a huge crypt (largest in the UK and Ireland), complete with a "cat and rat" on display.  Won't even explain that one...

Temple Bar
We of course had to stop in the lively Temple Bar area!  Fun fact- this river-front area in Dublin is called Temple Bar, but there is also an actual pub called Temple Bar, seen above.  Kind of confusing!  Even though it was daytime, there were already people ready to party.  We stopped in one for a pint of Guinness and explored all of the beautiful streets (and unfortunately couldn't get a picture without accidentally including a close-up of other people..sorry lady!)


On our second (and sadly, last) full day in Ireland, we took a short trip down to the tiny town of Cashel.  There is pretty much just one attraction to visit there- the Rock of Cashel.

Rock of Cashel
There are a few different names for this historic site, including Cashel of the Kings and St Patrick's Rock.  While taking a tour, we were able to learn a lot of interesting history of this ruin, starting with its founding in the 12th Century.  There are lots of building to explore, including a round tower, High Cross, and chapel.

Heritage Trail
After our tour of the Rock was done, we ventured down a trail to find more ruins.  Turns out that this is part of the Tipperary Heritage Trail that extends down over 50 kilometers!  We definitely didn't make it that far, but enjoyed stopping at a few sights along the way. This picture is taken from Hore Abbey, which was a Cistercian monastery.  The views from here were spectacular, and you can see the Rock from one of the old "windows".


When we were done exploring the town of Cashel, we made our way over to the town of Kilkenny.  Fun fact- George Clooney traces his lineage back to Kilkenny!  Sadly, he didn't seem to be visiting the homeland, but this was definitely my favorite town that we visited.

Smithick's Experience
While we decided not to do the Guinness Factory tour in Dublin, we did make it to the old Smithick's Factory!  Interestingly enough, the Guinness family now owns this brewery as well.  The tour itself was really interesting- we learned about the origins of beer, about the Smithicks family and religious oppression in Ireland, and finally got to sample the beer.  It was a great tour that I would recommend (plus the beer is delicious).

Medieval Mile
If you're looking for a way to see all the tourist stops in Kilkenny, look no further than following the Medieval Mile through town.  At one point, Kilkenny was the medieval capital of Ireland, and it really feels like you step back in time when you walk around.  There are so many places to stop along the route and you could definitely spend all day exploring.

Kyteler's Inn
After going to the brewery and walking around the town a bit, we decided to stop for some food and decided on an old pub- this place opened back in 1263!  There's a bit of interesting history about this place that's detailed on the menu...the original owner was a lady named Alice de Kyteler, who was married four times.  Rumors circulated around town because of her multiple marriages, and she was eventually accused of witchcraft and sentenced to be burned.  She ended up escaping the country, and the pub is now said to be haunted by her.  The food was great and it was a really cool place to be!

Kilkenny Castle
This is such a beautiful castle.  We were able to walk around the gardens and the huge park, but (again) didn't go inside.  The outside was stunning though, and we were able to read about the history on the signs all around the park.  


On our drive back to our Airbnb, we decided to take a scenic route back and stop in the town of Glendalough.  From the visitor's center, there's a great trail that you can take through streams and woods, and visit the Monastic City with some cool ruins and a cemetery, and a few lakes.  While the town is tiny, it was worth the stop, even if you just need a break during the gorgeous drive.

Sally Gap

If you've ever seen the movie PS I Love You, you might have seen this area!  This is a famous road that goes through the Wicklow Mountains, and has incredible views of the Irish countryside.  While the road is pretty challenging to drive up- with windy, skinny country lanes- it is well worth it!  We were lucky enough to hit the summit while it was drizzling slightly and saw the most incredible double rainbow.  

Have you ever been to Ireland?
What place would you like to re-visit?
Do you like trying out breweries?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

30 x 30 Update

Hi everyone!  Today I'm dropping by to share my annual update on my 30x30 list.  I started this list when I turned 25, and now I'm over halfway (I turn 28 today).  Time is just flying by, and here is an update to how I'm doing.

Buy a house 4/1/16

Break 2 hours in the half marathon 10/11/15 (first time)

Break 4 hours in the full marathon

Complete a triathlon (sprint counts!) - Signed up for one in August! :)

Get Married 5/6/16

Splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime meal

Bungee Jump or Sky Dive 10/17/15

Visit Falling Water

Go to all the east-coast MLB stadiums (Remaining stadiums: Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, Turner Field)

Cook a fancy 5-course meal

Plant a garden 

Learn how to ski

Stay at a BnB in Vermont

Learn how to belay 11/6/15

Have a spa day

See a Broadway musical

Ride a jet-ski 7/4/15

Stay at a really fancy house on AirBnB Seashell House in Isla Mujeres

Attend a professional tennis match Cincinnati Open 

Run a race for each birthday
  1. 2015: Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 miler (43:17)
  2. 2016: Butler Road Race 5 Miler (44:03) 
  3. 2017Butler Road Race 5 Miler (44:26)
  4. 2018: Kona Quarter Marathon (1:02:53)
Get PMP-certified (No longer work in project management, so taking this off the list!)

See the Northern Lights

Attend a TED conference

Read 25 books off the Time All-Time Novel list
  1. 1984
  2. Atonement
  3. Animal Farm
  4. The Great Gatsby
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird
  6. Native Son
  7. Watchmen
  8. White Noise
  9. Ubik
  10. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  11. Deliverance
  12. Grapes of Wrath
  13. Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret

Try Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga

Hike part of the Appalachian Trail

Learn how to sew and make something

Be in a member of a studio audience for an event or show

So, I have 18 items crossed off, 4 in the works, and plans to cross off a few more pretty soon!  I still have a ways to go, but I'm excited about all of the remaining items.  How fun is it going to be to see the Northern Lights?!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Triathlon Training : Week 4

Ok everyone- it's week four of training and I think I'm officially obsessed with biking.  This week, I managed to go three times, and I wish that I could go even more!  It's such a fun activity to do in the summer, and it's becoming more thrilling and enjoyable to me rather than just scary.  I guess that's a good thing to feel at this point in training, right?

Here's how my week of training went, which included my first brick workout, a new distance record for biking, and my first experience with biking in traffic!


12.5 mile bike
This was such a great bike ride!  I can really tell the difference in my comfort level now, because I was able to work on taking my hands off the handles (something I was terrified to do just last week), and worked on speeding through turns instead of braking.  Plus- it was my longest bike ride ever, and is the distance of my race (12 miles)

3.25 mile run
For some reason, Dan thought it would be fun to go running after the bike ride, so this was my first ever "brick" workout!  We ended up doing a little over a 5k.  It was crazy how my legs felt like jello when I started out...definitely have to work on this transition.


BarreAmped Express / 45 minutes
I had a wine club event at the Pittsburgh Winery after work, so I decided to sneak in a barre workout on my way there.  The class was really good and had me shaking the whole time!  During the ab portion, we put the little barre balls under our butts and did ab exercises while balancing on it.  It made it a lot harder but also more fun!  I was also happy to have Alexa doing this workout with me, so it was all around a great night.


Rest Day!
I was actually planning on swimming and made my way to the gym, but it started to storm as soon as I got there and the pool was closed for the day.  Bummer!! 


7 mile run
I met up with Steff after work to go for a run around the lake. It was super warm and sunny out, but not much humidity, so it actually felt really great out.


Rest Day!


1050 yard swim
I made it out to the pool in the afternoon to go for a 20 minute swim.  I was lucky to have an entire lane to myself, and had a great swim.  It's crazy to me how I'm able to swim this far non-stop now when a few months ago I could barely even do 100 yards with breaks at each end!

6.2 mile bike
Dan and I met up with my friend Amanda and her boyfriend Daniel for my first street riding experience!  We started out at the Millvale Riverfront Park, and made our way to Allegheny City Brewing.  It was such a fun ride and wasn't scary at all to go on the road.  Plus, the beers at ACB made the trip well worth it!


2.5 mile run
I had a few things to do in the morning, so I was happy to have an excuse to wake up early and get in a run before it got too hot out.  Even at 7AM, it was already sunny and humid, so I took this run nice and easy!  I got to see a deer super up close and personal, and spotted a few cute bunnies and ducklings as well.

12 mile bike
Once again, Dan and I decided to bike for beer!  We were meeting up with my family for a late lunch at the Hofbrauhaus, and decided to park about six miles away in Homestead.  There's a trail that runs that entire distance (and is the start of the GAP trail!) so it was a great ride!  Plus, refueling with amazing German beer is always a good idea.

Do you like to bike commute?
What were your workouts like this week?