I got this.

Ok, so anyone who knows me personally-even a little bit, or is friends with me on facebook knows that I recently competed in a very big race this past weekend. It was something that I have been working towards for a long time. Almost immediately after I competed in my first triathlon 2 years ago, I knew I wanted to do more. Bigger races. Longer ones. And my ultimate goal was to be where I was on Sunday. At a half-iron distance triathlon, called the Toughman, which included a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. I thought about doing one last year, and a friend of mine tried hard to convince me, but I just didn’t feel ready. Not physically (I could have gotten through it-it might not have been pretty, but I think I would have been able to finish)-but mentally. My mind wasn’t there. And I truly think that your mental preparedness is almost as important as your physical. However, this year, I felt ready. I put in the work. I had gone over it in my head. And over.  And over. And over. And then again. I imagined myself swimming-and getting kicked and elbowed in the face but not freaking out. And then again on the bike-where I was comfortable and in my groove. And then on the run, which is my least favorite, but I knew I could do it. I was ready. And I trained. And trained hard. I swam so hard I almost fell over getting out of the pool. I biked so hard that I was chafed in places that make life difficult for days. And I ran. And ran. And ran. I was ready. However, even after all that, when it came to the days leading up to my race, I was a nervous wreck. I could barely eat. Sleep was impossible. I had to take a Valium the day before because I was such a basketcase. I relied on one friend in particular to talk (text) me through my nerves, as she’s a triathlete herself and knew what I was experiencing. The thing she kept saying over and over again was “YOU GOT THIS.” It took me until the morning of the race to realize, but when it hit me, it really hit me. I DID have it. And it went something like this:

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My sweet husband got up with me at 4am, took the hour drive to the race site, and stayed all day. He tracked where I was so he knew when to be ready with the camera. Unfortunately, his memory card was full by the time I crossed the finish line. So no money shot. I also had two friends come up to support me-they left their houses at 5am and were there to see me exit the water, and also stayed all day long. Those two are old pros at these things and brought chairs to nap in. But when I finished, they were front and center cheering me on. My parents brought my kids to see me finish-and I couldn’t help but hear “go mommy!!!!”, which completely made my day. However, all of it didn’t come without consequences. I have some major back issues, and being on my bike hunched over for 3 1/2 hours put me in quite a bit of pain. Thankfully, there were massage therapists on hand post-race.

All in all, it was an amazing and life-changing experience. As soon as I was finished, I couldn’t wait to sign up for the next one. I feel so fortunate to have found something that I love doing so much. Triathlons are challenging, exhilarating and completely addictive. And I am proud to call myself a triathlete.

And now I promise I’ll shut up about it.

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my go-to playlist

In a little over 2 months, I have the biggest race of my life. It’s called the Toughman triathlon, and for me, it will be like climbing Mount Everest. I get a little sick to my stomach when I think about it, actually. So for the next couple months, I’ve got to train and train hard. One thing I rely heavily on at the gym (and even more so on a run) is my music. It’s such a great motivator. When I’m not feelin it, or when I’ve hit a wall and I feel like I can’t go on, the right song gets me moving. I have certain go-to songs that I love during a workout; none of them are really anything new and probably songs you’ve heard a million times before, but I thought it would be fun to share it. I always love hearing the music that other people work out to and love adding new songs to my list. I like songs with varying tempos, as I find that while doing things like running or spinning, I like to change the speeds up. I’m on my spin bike at the gym a lot. I don’t take classes anymore as they’re all in the evening and by then I just want a cocktail and my bed, but the bikes are always available. I love when I have the room to myself-just me and my bike. And my music. I like songs with a slower tempo for climbs, and faster ones for sprints. And the same thing for runs-I’ll speed up my pace every few miles, and when I’m tracking my run I like to see the different pace I had for each mile. And it’s all due to what song was on. Pretty fun, actually. Blah, blah, blah, here are the songs that I love to work out to:

Tell me, what are your go-to workout songs?

This is 40.

Yesterday, I competed in a race that, besides giving birth, was the most challenging physical thing I have ever done. And it’s still very much on my mind. I competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge, which was a half-marathon run on Bear Mountain in New York. It was a largely uphill race, and the terrain was so rocky and intense that at times it really took my breath away. I had never seen, or done, anything like it.

I’m still in a post-race glow today. I usually am after a race. There’s no denying it, as 1:  I am in a decent amount of pain today, and 2:  I’m pretty damn proud of myself. Maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I did my first 5K. My husband was training with a Muay Thai gym at the time, and those guys ran a lot. I decided to do one of their races with them (after not running at all-ever)-and really tried to keep up. I kept a decent pace, but afterwards, dry heaved into a garbage can for a good 20 minutes. Not pretty. I did one more with them, but after that pretty much didn’t do any other races at all. I always went to the gym, went to my spin class, lifted some weights, but that competitive bug hadn’t taken root.

That is, until after having kids. I had gained an enormous amount of weight while pregnant. Enormous. We’re talking about 70 pounds. (It’s ok to be grossed out at me. I am too.) 2 babies in 2 years, and it had left my body a mess, head to toe. I got back to the gym a month after my son was born, lost 20 pounds rather easily, but then it just stopped. I had hit a plateau doing my same-old, same-old workout, so I enlisted the help of a trainer.

I had seem him around the gym-he seemed really friendly and was always chatting with everyone around the gym. I watched him interact with his clients for awhile before I approached him and asked if he would take me on as a client. He agreed, and that was the start of a beautiful friendship. After only a couple of weeks, I felt as if I had known him for years-and he voiced the same sentiment. We got on like old friends. I knew I had made a lifelong friend. But he also did more than that-he ignited something in me. He talked about wanting to do a triathlon-something I knew nothing about. Our workouts began geared towards them-we spent more and more time in the pool and I joined a running group that went on weekly trail runs. We talked more and more about it, I read up on them, and before you knew it, I had signed up for 5 of them, as well as a 100-mile bike ride.

That season, I became a triathlete. Through and through. It’s in my blood now-and it will always be. The thrill of crossing a finish line after hours of physically pushing yourself-there’s nothing like it. It’s a rush. The other thing that happened that season-most of that baby weight fell off, and I had a blast doing it. And now, this new race season is upon us, and I plan on pushing myself physically more than ever before-and it started with my race yesterday and will end with a half-Ironman distance triathlon in September, which will include a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. A few years ago, I never would have thought it was possible. But that’s the thing-not to sound cheezy and cliche, but anything is possible. It’s amazing what your body can do when you test its limits. Truly amazing. My mindset is such that I believe I can do anything I set out to do. “I gave birth, surely I can do this” often goes through my head. I pushed out 2 living things the size of watermelons out of something the size of a pie-hole, surely a run is no problem, right?

Later this year, I’ll be turning 40, and it has me thinking. We are so much stronger than we realize and capable of so much more than we know. I plan on pushing this theory to the limit. Each year my goals get bigger; my sights higher. Who knows what next year will bring? If you had told me 20 years ago that at 40, I’d be my strongest ever, I’d have told you you were crazy. And now I’ll tell you that I’m just getting started. And it all started with 2 beautiful babies and an amazing trainer.

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