Hello blog followers! Please note, only 2 weekends and one week have gone by since my last post, i’m getting better ;)So after my last post I headed on Saturday morning to Utica, New York for the Boilermaker. Having lived in Syracuse for some time, it was always on my want to race list. The race also frequently appears in Runners World as one of the best races to do. Having now done it, I couldn’t agree more. What an amazing experience!
Upon arrival we headed to the expo to pick up our packets. For being a 15K race, the expo was much bigger than I expected with lots of vendors. With our packets we got a special Boilermaker Pint Glass, pretty cool! I found it a bit odd that you had to purchase your own medal if you wanted one (they only did finisher pins at the finish line), but then again it really was only a 15K. But nonetheless, of course I had to have one to add to the collection! Probably the highlight of the expo for me was getting to meet Danni from the Biggest Loser (last seasons winner). After waiting for a few minutes, we got a picture together and chatted about my upcoming Ironman. She is doing her first one in 2014. She wished me good luck and I was all smiles. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to watch the show and how inspired I am by all of the participants. It was nice to know she felt inspired by me too 🙂
The rest of the afternoon was spent hitting up the Saranac Brewery. We took the brewery tour and indulged in some beer tasting (I was carb loading!) I had such a great time and was excited to know that the post race party was also hosted by Saranac and promised a great time! After this we headed to the hotel to change quick and grab dinner at a great Italian restaurant at the Turning Stone Casino. My visit to Turning Stone brought me back to my college days and my roommates love for the dollar wheel!
Sunday morning we were up early to head to the race. We parked at the finish area and hopped on a bus to the start. We got there early but it worked out for the better as we got a better position within our corral and no waiting for the bathroom. There was so many people, well 14K to be exact. The race attracts some of the fastest international runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, etc. so that was pretty neat to see as well. I had seen the elevation profile for the course and it looked pretty challenging. However, the long climbs also had long downhills so in the end, it would balance out a bit. My plan for the day was to use the race as a training run. I didn’t want to push and risk anything, but rather I just wanted to take in the scenery and enjoy the day. I did just that! I didn’t run with music (good practice for Ironman Lake Placid) and I just listened to the cheers and course bands. The streets were just lined from end to end with locals cheering us all on, it was truly incredible how the community lives for this event. I was so wrapped up in the entertainment that I really barely felt like I was running up hill (an awesome surprise later when we started going downhill). It was a VERY hot and humid day, after all it is the middle of July. However, the race was well prepared with water and ice stations every half mile. Yes, you read that right, every half mile. On the course I also had a first. I consumed by first race popsicle ever! Wow! I need to do that more often, what a great cooling sugar boost 🙂
About an hour and 23 minutes later and 15K under my belt, I crossed the finish line! I felt great at the end. I could tell that I took it easy early in the race and still had a ton in the tank towards the end as I passed a lot of people, without even trying to. One thing that I found unique about the finish line (and each of the mile markers) was that they are permanent establishments in the community and exist year ’round. Just goes to show how this community really embraces this event. I got my finishers pin and then waited for Jason to finish. when I started standing was when I realized just how hot and sweaty I was. I was dripping sweat and my clothes were absolutely drenched. I was ready for the post race party!
Jason finished (despite barely training) and we headed to celebrate. Saranac provided their wild hop pilsener for the party. They also had a band and was just a great environment. Since this year was Saranac’s 125th anniversary, after the traditional flyover, they conducted the worlds largest toast. The sun was baking us! After a couple of beers and grabbing some snacks, we headed to the car to cool off and head back to the hotel. It would be a quick stop before heading to Buffalo for the week!
We got to Buffalo early Sunday evening and were pretty exhausted. We headed to bed early so we could have a better day Monday. Monday was a rest day for me so we decided to do something fun. We headed to Becker Farms to pick blueberries and raspberries! What a blast, even though it was VERY hot out in the fields. We cooled off afterwards in the brewery with some beer and wine tasting. We walked around the farm a bit to check out all that it had to offer. It even provided a possibility of a future event venue 😉 We then headed back to my parents house to relax in the pool.
Monday evening I met a great friend from high school that has also gotten into triathlons. She introduced me to her tri coach and group she trains with. I really enjoyed the experience and got to meet some great people. Her coach has done Ironman Lake Placid before so I picked his brain a bit on what to expect and some of the lingering questions I still had. One part of our convo really stood out to me. He asked me when was the last time that for 17 hours straight, everything went as you planned? Of course my response was, never! He then said, well then why would you expect race day to be any different? Hmm good point. He was highlighting that stuff will go wrong, things you didn’t plan for will happen, and you need to be ready to just move on and put it behind you and focus on the path forward. I thought it was a good perspective and something I will definitely take with me on race day. My friend also let me borrow her pool card so I could swim, awesome!
Tuesday morning I got up and headed for my swim and bike ride to get it out of the way before spending the day with my mom for her birthday 🙂 I swam at the University of Buffalo which has a great facility. The water there was much cooler then what I’m used to but the water was so nice. It didn’t have the heavy chlorination smell that the Y at home as. It was a nice change of pace. My ride was also great as I enjoyed riding out in the country a bit with super wide shoulders and the cars giving plenty of room, also a nice change of pace. The rest of the day was filled with with relaxation and celebration.
Wednesday I had another ride to do, about 90 minutes with some ladder speed work built in. Again, nothing too eventful here. Wednesday night I met the Buffalo Tri Club for their open water swim at Lake Erie. Oh my goodness. I was so glad that I went as I met so many great people. Some of them have done Ironman Lake Placid before, some are doing it this year, and some are also headed their to volunteer and cheer. It was great to share stories and meet some awesome people to have an eye out for in Lake Placid. I really wish we had a solid group like this where I live to train with. Made me want to move back to Buffalo, well maybe just for the summers 🙂
Thursday I had a quick 40 minute (HOT) run in the AM before headed to Toronto for the day for some sightseeing with Jason (his first time). We had a blast despite the heat. I finally went up the CN Tower and took in the beautiful views. We also hit up the St Lawrence Market for lunch, the Distillery District, the Steam Whistle Brewery, the Eaton Center, and some leisurely walking around the city. While the day was exhausting, I was glad we did it!
Friday was a longer bike ride for me, 3 hours. I got up early to beat the heat and the wind that built up throughout the day. Although the riding in that area is pretty flat, the wind created a challenge for the day. I pushed through though and then spent the rest of the day relaxing with my bestie from home poolside. We caught up and it was just really nice. Reminds me that I just don’t go home to visit often enough. Late Friday afternoon I headed to a special meeting for an hour or two. More on this to come in an upcoming post (stay tuned!)
Friday night we headed to Duff’s for some Buffalo traditional wings before the storm came. I knew there was a storm coming but never predicted it to be as bad as it was. The rain was insane and the lightening was even more so. Oh my goodness was it scary. Even scarier was the devastation to the area that we viewed the next morning. Our phone rang Saturday morning to let us know that the high school was being used as an American Red Cross disaster center for anyone that needed it. We were lucky that we didn’t lose power and damage was minor. Others were not so lucky 😦
Saturday was another rest day for me and I gladly took it! The weather was still pretty yucky until early in the afternoon. I got up early and hit the Farmers Market to grab some great fruits and vegetables (I’m addicted to smoothies in the ninja lately!) After, I went with my mom to the local craft show, it’s one of our traditions that I love. Again, the weather didn’t really cooperate but we made the best of it, two trips later. Saturday afternoon the entire family hopped in the car to check out a local ice cream place i’d been dying to try. Everyone loved it! We even walked around a bit afterwards and took in some of the Erie Canal history on the lock system.
Saturday night was a chill at home night with some great pizza from my fav pizza place in the world. I also watched the bike video of the Ironman Lake Placid course so that I could know what to expect. I felt kind of guilty watching it from the couch rather than on my bike trainer, but better than nothing.
Today I got up early, well tried to, in order to take advantage of the cooler morning (lower 70’s). I had a solid 90 minute run and felt good. I even kicked it in at the end. I knew I would spend the remainder of the day stuck in the car for the drive home. We stopped in Syracuse for a quick lunch. We got home around dinner time and spent quite a bit of time unpacking the car and dealing with other unexpected tasks (I will spare you the rant). I sit here now blogging and reflecting on such a great trip. It was a great week with family and friends, as well as focusing on my upcoming event and remaining preparation. I realize there is a ALOT to do between now and when I leave for my even first thing Thursday morning. However I look at the clock right now and get goosebumps. At about this time next week, give or take, god willing, I will be crossing the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid and checking off an Ironman from my bucket list as I heard Mike Reilly announce “Jacquelyn Stevenson, you are an Ironman!” (Yes, I’m now in tears!) Wow. Stay tuned, almost there!