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#Trackmytraining: “I AM a Triathlete!!”

image001Date:  10/4/16

I started writing this week’s entry during the bike so you’d think it’d be easier for me to get down on paper… ok the screen… but it is still all sinking in. I did it!  Me!  Someone who, when this began, couldn’t even run a mile! Someone who a year ago weighed 75lbs more and was so accident prone walking was nearly an extreme sport. I started this journey with a Little Engine That Could mentality… I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… and Sunday, I proved I COULD.

The night before the race, I was talking to someone who asked me how long I had been training for this race, and without thinking I answered 10 weeks. I knew I missed the first 2 weeks of the 12 week beginner program so it was an easy calculation for me. It wasn’t until I saw the look on his face that I realized how much I had accomplished in such a short time. At the beginning of this, I couldn’t run a mile without stopping and now I am a triathlete! In case you were wondering, saying that doesn’t get old! The word alone is intimidating- triathlon. That’s three times an athlete! I wasn’t an athlete at all when this began- and as my mom will lovingly remind me, I never really was. Beginners start at all different levels, but for me, this was very much stage 1.  Empire gave me the tools, the training and the confidence to get there without even realizing the amount of hard work I was putting in. How do you eat an elephant, they ask? One bite at a time.. well how do you train for a triathlon- one work out at a time! Each week, I’d seen improvement but not until I was really put to the test could I see it all come together. The camaraderie amongst the team helped push us all further, in our work outs but also on race day. With 23 of us testing our training, there were plenty of supportive faces around the course, and each time I saw someone or heard someone yell out “EMPIRE” or “caliente,” I knew I had to kick it into high gear (sometimes literally).

Some of you may be reading this thinking about signing up so let me give you the Good, the Bad and the Ugly so you can see, from my perspective anyway, what it’s really like.

The Ugly: The mental game is so much more important than you realize. Telling yourself you can’t even for a second can put you back minutes or completely. The moment you start to doubt yourself or get scared, you give yourself a window of saying ok to failure. That’s not why you work hard each day to get to this point. Can’t is my least favorite word, because it’s bs. What you mean is won’t- you won’t try harder, you won’t go out of your comfort zone and that’s fine, but you won’t accomplish all that you can either. Sunday’s swim was particularly difficult for me. I don’t know if it was my anxiety going into the day, the crowds or just fear but I found the swim to be the biggest challenge (and as a water baby this threw me). Close to the first buoy, I had been swum over, hit, grabbed onto and probably even inhaled some pond. I heard myself saying, “why are you doing this?? This is stupid! Just stop now!”. I didn’t like the way this voice sounded in my head. I remembered my training, took a second to treadwater, let people pass, shook my head and thought about all the Empire people there with me, my parents who had driven nearly 5 hours to watch me cross that finish line and how hard I had worked to get to this point, was I really going to give up that easily?? I changed the tune- slow and steady I repeated to myself. And in the end, it was only 6 minutes longer than it took me in the pool! Keep stay positive, it’s not easy, but the negativity is ugly and if you’re not careful, it will win. 

The Bad:  Man, it’s hard work! Each day, each work out, each milestone is a hard won victory. Every day is a day to conquer a different work out and push yourself harder. Uphill speed drills, biking up the Harlem hill- I wouldn’t say it’s fun during, but I have always felt better after and been impressed with what I was able to achieve. You have to push yourself each step of the way. Race day is no different- the swim was hard, getting onto the bike and going almost immediately up a long slow incline was hard, talking myself into not stopping running even though I was tired, was hard. Each step of the way can feel difficult and almost tedious but getting back to transition to start the next activity, I knew I could keep going and was that much closer to crossing the finish line. During I felt like I did all I could do, but now looking back, I think I could have pushed harder! This is not for everyone, but everyone can do it if they’re willing to work for it.

The Good: Crossing that finish line was the greatest and most proud moment of my life. I surprised myself by being so overwrought with emotion I was fighting back tears. I had done it!! I finished! There is no better “good” than setting out to accomplish something and working hard to achieve it. The confidence the beginner program has helped me unleash comes out in all areas of life, not just in my fitness routine. The friendships I made during the last few weeks are ones I know will stay with me for a long time, our racing days are just getting started after all! I have definitely caught the bug and am looking forward to another race- I’m not saying I’m going right to the Olympic distance, but I know I can do better and I am looking forward to proving that to myself! 

The Mightyman Montauk Triathlon was by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I couldn’t be happier to have done it! The Empire Beginner Program comes with a group of incredible coaches to help guide and push you as well as a group of people who are in the same boat you are. It’s not about how fast each person finished, or how well you did, but that we all finished, therefore we all crushed it!

I am so thankful to everyone for all the support along the way, for believing I could do this, especially when I needed the reminder and for reading these updates so I knew I couldn’t let you down either! Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!

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#Trackmytraining: Montauk, Here I Come!

Date: 9/26/16

“After the LBI Tri you’ll officially be a Triathlete!” The words hung heavy in the air, I hadn’t even thought of that! A year ago, I was just starting out and hadn’t even thought of completing a triathlon yet and now I was looking at this as practice for Montauk, but it’s true! I did it! I finished my first triathlon even if it was a mini sprint and for me just practice! I know I could have done better, but I felt like I pushed myself and I still finished in under 1:30 which was my goal.

400m swim- Check
10 mile bike- Check
3.1 mile run- Check!! 
1:29:01 – sure I can think of a few better ways to spend an hour and a half, but by 9am, I had already completed more than most people would all day!

I’m so happy I decided to do the LBI Tri this year, not only is it my “home course” and my original bucket list race, but it gave me the practice and confidence I need for Montauk. I definitely have a lot of changes to make but I wouldn’t have realized them without this experience. 

The swim, which I had envisioned being the easiest part for me, proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. I’m blaming most of that on the wetsuit I borrowed. I didn’t realize there was a difference between a surf suit and a swim suit which made it a little harder, but what really did me in was the fact that it was too big! Just a couple of weeks ago it fit fine, and now I felt like there was an inch of water between me and the suit anchoring my whole swim. I still finished in a little under 9 minutes so not too bad, but felt I could do better. Working on sorting out the wetsuit for Montauk now, so glad I practiced in this one before October 2nd!

My first transition, was just shy of disastrous and will be the biggest area of improvement for me! I decided I’d wear the same thing I did for the Empire Mini Tri several weeks back, putting on the tri shorts with suspenders and t-shirt as well as my sneakers before the bike. Between putting my clothes on in the wrong order (suspenders should go first, duhh!), not using a racebelt and needing to re-pin my number, twice and forgetting to untie my shoes before, I lost a lot of precious time- 5:40 to be exact! I am looking forward to the next Empire shopping day so I can get my one piece Tri Suit to wear under the wetsuit, a racebelt and the quick ties for the shoes so I don’t have to worry about tying my sneakers at all. I knew this transition would take a longer than it should, but I didn’t expect to watch people come out of the water after me and start the bike before I could. It really helped show how the transition areas can make or break it- you know if you’re really racing.

The bike took a lot longer than expected! Having done 9 miles in 20 minutes at a not race pace, I had high hopes for making up some time on the bike. But three loops half into increasing head winds, gears changing on their own (have I mentioned how awesome my 25 year old Caliente Schwinn is?) and hairy turns at each end brought me in with a time over 40 minutes which really surprised me. I did make up some ground from the transition which was good. Now looking back, I can say I just didn’t push myself hard enough.  Each time I passed my family and those who came out to cheer me on or even one of the friends I did the race with, I got a new spur of energy and picked up the pace. Montauk will be even better for this with so many friends participating and everyone cheering me and the Empire team on. 

The run and transition to it were pretty uneventful which is all I could hope for. I walked a little here and there in the beginning but felt my muscles seizing when I did so I slowed the pace and kept to a jog for the remainder. Getting my “land legs” back after being on the bike, and the swim, was my biggest challenge here. I can see, if need be, walking a little in the beginning and then pushing hard with the run the rest of the way through. They had so many awesome volunteers to really cheer us on during this part which also helped. 

All in all I’m really proud of myself. I finished, which was all I really wanted to do and I came in 2nd place of the Athenas.  Which still feels a little embarrassing to admit, even if it took losing 72lbs to get there (and now I’m 74lbs down and officially no longer even qualify for this category).  I hoped when I had to check that box that perhaps it would mean I’d be the best out of the category, but I had no idea I really did it until they called my name!

A fellow Empire beginner (thanks Yael!) gave the great advice of smile the whole time, this way you get great pictures! While I tried my best and felt like there were definitely times my smile was traded in for a classic- “why am I doing this??/how many more laps is it?” look  instead, I have it on high authority I had a big, proud, heartfelt smile on my face and even a couple of pictures to prove it! It was a really great experience overall and I’m so thankful to have participated in a more formal race as practice for Montauk- MightyMan here I come!! 





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#Trackmytraining: The Big Reveal! Total Transformation

img_0691-1Date: 9/13/16

A year ago today, I made the hardest decision of my life… to get off my butt and make a change. I set out to lose 80lbs by my 35th birthday (10/27 if you’re marking your calendars).  I started working out and a week later changed my diet fully (even gave up cheese for 6 weeks!). 

My only real goal at that point was a revenge body. My trainer asked me at our initial meeting, “revenge on who?” and I just said “everyone”. What I didn’t realize is that it really was on the old me. The girl who made excuses and allowed everything else to be a priority aside from herself. That has all changed now! 

As I’ve said, I’ve never been a runner or cyclist (or as I’ve realized now-a “real” swimmer). I was working to get in shape and lose the extra weight I’d been carrying around my whole life. I had been really enjoying the weight training and even the menu planning, but couldn’t make myself do the cardio. I had no problem (most mornings) waking up to meet my trainer and get my butt kicked, in fact I loved it. But largely, it was the other days I found my motivation lacking.  Having always heard from my many friends who have always done triathlons and some not so gentle nudging from my friends who belong to Empire, I decided it would be the perfect complement to my fitness regime- and boy was I right! I have been absolutely loving the routine, comradery (in case you’re not sick of hearing me talk about that yet!) and the work outs! I started my training with Empire in early July and feel like a different person in the last two months.

The training has given my workouts purpose. The goal was no longer to get just to in shape but to finish this pretty cool thing. I have still been working out with my trainer twice a week and continuing to do the total body conditioning in addition to the Empire workouts, but with this new goal in mind, everything seems a bit clearer.  The weight is coming off, the meal prep is easier to do, because I am striving towards something and I’m not doing it alone. Having the goal of the race has been more helpful than I imagined. It pushes me to reach a goal and by a certain date. There’s a sense of accountability now that I didn’t have before. If I slipped and missed the gym or didn’t eat well that day, it wasn’t the end of the world, it was just me I was letting down, which now I know is the most important person to not let down! With the Tri, I have more people supporting me and cheering me on and an actual thing to finish! I may not have a real time in mind, but after this week’s LBI Tri I will. Even if I really still just want to finish, preferably not last!

While doing a sprint triathlon was on my bucket list, I don’t know that it was something I ever really imagined I’d check off. Now less than a month away from MightyMan Montauk, I can’t wait and am already considering an Olympic distance one (we’ll see how 10/2 goes first!). And I’ve even signed up for a mini sprint this weekend as a practice workout. The LBI Tri was the race I wanted to check off my list and now it’s my practice! This Sunday, I’ll be testing my skills with a 400m swim, 10 mile bike and 3 mile run. I would never have even seized the opportunity to sign up for this if it hadn’t been for my Empire friend Julie who pushed me to do it with her. I’m so thankful to have a buddy to complete this with but even more so to get to do the race in my hometown.  

In the last year, I have lost 70lbs, gone from size 16 to a 6 and have muscle definition I didn’t know I could even have! I even wore a bikini on the beach for the first time ever! I can run three miles, without stopping, and in 28 minutes, swim 400m in 11 minutes (in a pool, but still!), dead lift 225lbs and so much more! People always ask, do I feel better and I almost laugh, because I know they mean physically and want me to say yes. But the truth is, physically, I don’t feel much different. It’s not like I couldn’t breathe or anything before. I do feel like I can DO more now. I never really let the weight hold me back from anything, I will say it is all A LOT easier now! The best part is how I feel MENTALLY, that’s where the biggest change is. After being out of the workout routine, even though I had more fun than I even expected on vacation, I see the difference! And I am fighting my way back. I didn’t realize how much I needed the structure (and endorphins) for my sanity.  I have already worked out three days in a row and feel like the new me again! I’m really starting to see the Tri addiction thing now!

I’m not one for public showings but this felt worth sharing. The picture to the left is a year ago, the middle picture is at the end of May before my training with Empire began and I kicked my overall fitness routine into high gear and the picture on the right is now! It’s been a year of hard work and lots of changes but I feel great and am so incredibly proud of myself. The year has flown by (as they tend to do) and being in the position I’m in now vs where I was last year makes each missed happy hour, each uneaten bite of cake worth it!

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#Trackmytraining: Ready to Ride

FullSizeRender-1Date: 9/9/2016

I never put much value into routine and always thought of myself as too spontaneous to really appreciate it. That seems to have changed! Being on vacation was everything a vacation should be, but it was NOT good for my workout routine. Sure, I could have been better about it- I had the time, the resources, but I lacked the motivation. I didn’t have my work out buddies around me, I was surrounded by all kinds of good foods that I don’t normally go near and I didn’t have my routine.

After talking with several Empire Buddies throughout the vacation and some more “exercise inclined” friends, I re-found my motivation. Went on a 9 mile bike ride (at a leisurely zone 2 pace) in 20 minutes and ran 3 miles (in 28 minutes) to an hour spin class! I had never felt better!! I’ve never been able to run 3 miles straight- I hadn’t been able to run 1 when I started! And now less than 2 months later I can do more than triple! I felt so good in fact, I signed up to do the LBI Tri on 9/18 as a practice race since it’s a little shorter (400m swim, 10 mile bike, 3 mile run) than Montauk it doesn’t count as my first Sprint. It’s also a great training terrain since it’s completely flat. Guess that bug really did bite!

I just keep thinking now how much more I can and should be doing but if the last year has shown me anything it’s that I can achieve it and will only get better! I am looking forward being back in the game now and ready for action.

Stay tuned for next week’s before and after reveal, marking 1 year since Rachael began her mental and physical transformation. We’re so proud of you, Rachael!

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#Trackmytraining: “It’s the moment I realized I caught the bug.”

Date:  9/2/16

If you told me this a year ago, I’d never believe you. But today I found myself in my happy place- laying out on the roof, feeling the sun, listening to the waves crashing, head in a silly book… and I can think about is the tri. The workouts, the people, am I falling behind. Thinking about it so much, that I had to put the book down and write this. It’s the moment I realized I caught the bug.

It’s so easy to skip out on “vacation” but next week I’ll just be one week closer to October 2nd and one week further from my last hard workout. The latter thought is the one that pushes me.

Today I rode about 9 miles. And it felt great! I felt faster, it felt easier, I almost felt myself wish for a hill… Almost… then laughed and kept going. I got home thinking I want to go again! I was even happier to see I made the trip in 20 minutes, when at my last benchmark  it had taken me 28 minutes- shaving 8 minutes off my time and knowing I had more juice left. I felt great! And all it took was 20 minutes. There are no excuses for missing that (though give me a minute I’m sure I’ll come up with a few…).

It’s the people that pull me back in (albeit at times kicking and screaming). Talking to a friend about the race, or being asked about the work out, knowing I’m missing it. Seeing the TrainingPeak email come through reminding me to keep going, that the calendar doesn’t stop for vacation.

I may be already fighting off excuses for tomorrow, but I’ll get out there. And while I am enjoying vacation, I’m looking forward to getting back to the team work outs- a thought that NEVER would have entered my mind a year ago.

It’s too soon to tell if it will stick or not, but I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug. See- kicking and screaming – but missing everyone!

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#Trackmytraining: Swimming, Biking, Running…Oh My!

Date: 8/26/16

IMG_0286This week, as you would imagine most weeks to be at this point, consisted of a little bit of each swimming, biking and running – some with better results than others.

Thursday we did speed workouts at the secret track (I could tell you but then….). We jogged about a mile and a half up to the track (and back-which I that was a good enough work out) did our stretches and then paired off to start our 200m sprints. We were told to find someone around our same speed (which unfortunately for me there were no turtles around) but Yael was gracious enough to appreciate the extra time between her laps and partnered with me. We only had to do 5 laps but with the encouragement (and perhaps a little guilting) of the team I did 6. I’d have kept going if my knee didn’t start popping out at the end of each lap. It’s an old injury but certainly not one I want to upset now. I finished the 2ndlap in 50s which wasn’t nearly as fast as others, but again it’s not about them. Since the members were running it with us it helped push me to go faster (that and Alison running past telling me to keep it up!). After watching the Olympics that evening and seeing Usain Bolt win the gold in 19.78s, I felt pretty good about only being 30.22s slower and am considering it a win… for me; especially considering less than a year ago I would not have made it around the track at all! Harry led this drill and in his usual motivating way reminded me, “you’re in pretty good shape” which may have been the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! Unbelievably (or perhaps not so implausibly) I heard a few things like that this week!

I’ve been trying to incorporate biking into a bit more of everyday life- both for the work out and to increase my comfort level around cycling through the city- which had been going very well. I was starting to feel like one of those bad ass bikers (yes, for the record you can be a bad ass in hot pink!) that cautiously hugged the side of the road. Friday, I was 2 blocks from home when a passenger decided to hop out of a cab… about 3 feet in front of me! Without enough time to stop, I plowed right into the door (thankfully not flying over the handlebars!) I will say everyone was very nice about it, passersby coming to my aid but it was still one of the scariest moments of my life. As I tested my limbs I found myself mostly ok- save a few scrapes, bumps and bruises (and a twisted handlebar). The Caliente lives on and so do I!   I supposed it was bound to happen at some point so hey at least that’s out of the way right??

Saturday (and Sunday) I decided to get my swim on! As part of the Empire beginner program we have a couple of swim coaching sessions that are much smaller groups than the open water swim so we were able to get more personal attention. Being the good Jersey girl I am, it was hard (gross understatement) to give up a summer weekend down the shore, but the prospect of improving my swim was too great to pass up, especially after realizing I wasn’t where I thought I was after the Open Water Swim. The coach, Tyrone, was fantastic!! He really got into the basic techniques and then told us personally how to improve based on where we were. I had thought I was killing it because I was moving faster than I thought I’d be able but he confirmed while I was the most “aggressive” swimmer I wasn’t the most efficient. He helped me identify a few things, that I’m continuing to work on, to be able to conserve the power I have and perfect my stroke (and probably more importantly my breathing). I’m so glad I attended this session to get such valuable “one on one” attention without ever being made to feel like a beginner.

One thing that remains, regardless of the activity, is the team comradery. As October 2nd draws nearer we are all (I think) finding the friendships forming and continuing to cheer each other on. I was even called “Skinny Rachael”, which for someone who’s always been heavier, I’d never expected to be called but MAN did it feel good!

I knew what I was signing up for, but I didn’t know just how much I would really be getting. I am already thankful for the experiences I’ve had and continue to look forward to the big day and each new milestone the journey brings!

Keep it up Rachael! We’re so proud of your journey and all the progress you’re making!

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#Trackmytraining: “I can do this. I AM doing this!”

Date:  8/19/16

FullSizeRenderI’m “In Training” now. The words hung heavy in the air as the reality set in. My mom was right (per usual). I wasn’t just getting in shape/being healthy anymore, I was IN TRAINING. I had set my sights on a “revenge body”- on getting healthy and looking great. I hadn’t planned on this kind of a goal. THIS is serious! This is hard; this is real! This is the first time I’ve had a goal of this nature in a long time, as long as I can remember anyway! I’m reaching WAY outside my comfort zone, on a daily basis,  for something I talked about (perhaps half jokingly) for years- and now I’m doing it! I’m terrified, but loving every minute!!

With this reality setting in, I can see it all more clearly. The trainings both with the group and individually have become something I look forward to and still fear (a little) all at the same time. But I keep going and am so proud of myself when I finish each one, even if I’m not as fast or graceful as someone else. I still did it!

It’s been an incredible experience to be doing this during the Olympics; to be able to watch the best athletes in the world compete in the trials I am working towards achieving, on such a small scale comparatively, is literally awe-some. It’s impossible to not find an entirely new level of respect and adoration for them all. I’m also so grateful to be able to study their technique (even if the swimmers are completely stressing me out as I realize what 750m really looks like!)

Being part of Empire, I am beyond fortunate to find great encouragement much closer to home. Having Chris Moser ride (ok blow) past me on Harlem Hill and (I think, it could have been my inner monologue escaping again) say “this sucks” (which it absolutely did) and then to see his incredibly inspiring Nike ad during the Olympics that night or a new friend confidently reminding me I can do it, knowing nothing about me other than the fact that I’m there and trying, or Brad, one of my cycling coaches, teach me how and when to shift gears (completely changing my world!) –all of these together show me I am part of something and yet competing only against myself. I can do this. I AM doing this! The team helps motivate me to keep going and believing in myself!

I accidentally missed the last group run, which was a much needed hill workshop, and am still beating myself up about it. But I didn’t just go home. I decided to face the lower loop that we ran for our bench mark 2 weeks back. It felt like 110 degrees with about 1000% humidity, but I gave it a shot. And I ran the whole thing- without stopping and shaved 58 seconds off my benchmark time!! I am still so proud of this improvement and can’t wait to see my progress as training continues!

I continue to surprise myself with each workout- I can push harder, for longer and go faster than I really thought I’d be able to and certainly more than I ever have before. I cannot only feel and see the difference in the runs, bikes and swims but I can recognize the mental difference. The fears are dissipating, though I’m still nervous, as I gain the confidence in myself. Thanks to the Empire team mentality, the fun is coming through as much as the work. And while it is hard work,  it doesn’t feel like too much. In the beginning I  would have said I could never complete this week’s mini tri (200m swim, 6 mile bike, 1.4 mile run) but I did- without stopping! It wasn’t easy, but I did it. And I know that as the next several weeks progress, so will the trainings. Come October 2nd I will be excited to check Triathlete (ok maybe an overstatement, but the Mightyman Montauk Sprint) off my list.

I had set a “by the time I’m 30” bucket list which included losing 80lbs and completing a triathlon sprint… well as we near my 35th birthday (gulp!) I am nearly 70lbs down and about to complete my first tri! By the time by birthday arrives at the end of October, I know I will have completed both!

Benchmark stats: 1.7 mile run- 18:02

-2lbs (though by Friday I am anticipating this will be     closer to -5!)

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#Trackmytraining with Rachael: “Blood, Sweat, Tears….and Benchmarks!”

Date:  8/8/16


Here we are 58 days to the Mighty Montauk and I am more excited and more terrified than ever!

It has been a really fun and exciting ride already. Officially 3 weeks into my training I have more new gear than I ever imagined (complete with my new Pretty Pretty Princess, hot pink youth-sized bike helmet), made some great new friends, and have a new found confidence in my abilities. I won’t go so far as to say I’m a “runner” or “cyclist” yet, but I’m getting there! Even though I am just starting out, I have been able to do more already than I imagined and can see a difference each week in how much more I can push myself and how much those around me pushing themselves does for me.

Last Thursday, we had our first benchmark run. Which for me was a BIG deal! I had no idea how much, how fast or how hard I could run- and now I know I can run (mostly) 1.7 miles in 19 minutes. I also know I can’t do worse than that! A little over 11 minute miles doesn’t seem like too bad a starting off point- for me anyway. One of the greatest things about the sports encompassed in a triathlon is that they are very much individual sports. I was a little down after our benchmark run for a few different reasons, mainly because coming in last, even if not in a true race, is never fun. One of our Coaches and an Empire Tri Club Ambassador, Harry, reminded me that I’m not running anyone else’s race. I’m running my own race, and this is MY starting off point. I can only get better from here and they are here to help make sure I do just that. It may sound obvious but it was damn near revolutionary to hear. I know it’s a cliché quote, but even coming in last place I’m still ahead of everyone who never started, and considering that’s where I was a month ago- it feels pretty darn good!

I’ve always participated in more team sports and I really thought I’d miss that environment with the solitude provided by running, biking and swimming, but the comraderie within the Empire Tri Club- the beginners, members and Ambassadors- has started to make all the difference already. Whether it’s a text message pushing me to do an early Saturday morning 20 mile GWB ride with a 4 mile run (one day Julie, one day!) or an long time triathlete reminding me I’m just starting out and that I will finish the tri and get better along the way, there is absolutely a team mentality which I am already feeding off of.  I may be more of a “beginner beginner” than everyone else, but that doesn’t seem to matter or be something that anyone notices but me. Everyone has been incredibly supportive and excited to be on this journey together.  While I haven’t met everyone yet or formed the relationships I’m sure are coming, I can already see how the social element provided by the Empire training program will continue to motivate me on my path to Montauk.

In the past 3 weeks I have lost 6lbs (which would have been more had it not been for a summer girls weekend getaway at the shore – and all the wine that goes with that!), can see new muscle definition, experienced increased energy levels and the desire to work out in ways I have never wanted to before- like running, cycling and swimming! Despite a minor setback (like getting my wisdom teeth out) I am looking forward to our first open water swim clinic at Coney Island on Sunday and hoping my high school swimming skills are still on point (16 years later…)

Benchmark Stats:

Running: 1.7 Miles- 19 Minutes, PPM: ~11 min./mi.

Cycling: 9 Miles- 28 minutes (half of which were very much into the wind!)

                                   Weight lost: -6lbs

Thanks for checking in. Stay tuned for more updates on my own personal road to the Mighty Montauk Sprint!

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Meet Rachael! A Beginner’s Road to her first Sprint

Meet Rachael.  Like many folks out there, doing a triathlon has been on her bucket list for many years.  And like many of us, life gets in the way, time gets short and excuses take priority over making a commitment to doing something for OURSELVES.  We’re excited to have Rachael on board, taking the plunge to do something out of her comfort zone to help better her mind, body and spirit.  We are honored to guide Rachael on her journey. So join us here and on social media, and follow along as we #trackhertraining to help prepare her to dominate the Mightyman Montauk Sprint Tri on October 2nd.  Let’s do this, Rachael!

Date:  7/21/16

rachaelToday’s the day!

I officially start training for my first triathlon! I can’t believe this day is finally here- mainly because I’ve been talking about doing this for YEARS! Once upon a time I said I was going to do it before my 30th birthday… and now here we are with my 35th (EEEK) birthday just 3 weeks after the triathlon!

Yesterday, I picked up some gear- my Empire tech tee, hat, racing shirt and bib shorts (trust me I wanted everything but had to keep myself in check… for now anyway!). That’s when it hit me – this is really happening!! Luckily for me- I was greeted by Alison, Claudina and several other Empire staffers who introduced me to a couple of other beginners and really made me feel comfortable and confident- all the things I really needed! Everyone was so nice and helpful, they really pumped me up! Getting to meet a few other beginners before today’s run was great too because it helped remind me, I’m not the only one just starting out. I know you’re probably thinking “DUH! It’s a beginner’s program, of course you’re not the only one!”, but sometimes it’s hard remember that.

I’m so excited to be sharing my journey with you! Especially because it means I’m going to work that much harder to not let you down, or you know- be completely embarrassed! It may be helpful to know a little about me, so here goes. While I’ve always been (or wanted to be) “athletic”- running and cycling have never been “my thing”. I’ve always been overweight and this past September, I reached an all new “scary weight”. So I decided it was time to take action. I started doing all the right things- eating right, exercising, even stopped drinking during the week (and for those of you who enjoy a good happy hour or glass of wine after a hard day as much as I do, you know how killer this can be!).  So now I am down 60lbs and am the smallest and in the best shape I have ever been. That being said I’m far from being “in shape” or done shredding… and still not a real fan of running or cycling.  Though based on my interactions thus far- I think Empire might change all that!

The highlight, and extent, of my running career to date is that I have run 14 miles (read- a jog-walk, 4 years ago, with short breaks every mile and half). Left to my own thoughts for 4 hours (at least) I understood how people could love running. It became so much more a of a mental game than a physical one, even though I can assure you my body was more tired than my brain afterwards!

I have had friends throughout my life who love running, triathlons, Ironman Races, Toughest Mudders – you name it. They’ve all tried to get me into it but nothing seemed to make sense, until I heard about this beginners training program. Empire’s approach of bringing people who are all new to this and starting at the very beginning is what drew me in and the kind, encouraging nature of the trainers kept me.

While I am nervous- I am more excited to conquer (aka finish!) the Mighty Montauk Triathlon on October 2nd!  Stayed tuned for more updates on my progress and musings. Don’t hesitate to shoot over any questions you may have- in case you haven’t noticed- I’m pretty much an open book! J

Countdown to Race Day:  72 days!

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Tales from a Beginner – Mona Rayachoti

Empire Tri Club’s first Beginner Program Session of the season has just finished! Here is what some of those participating athletes have to say about their experience in training with the team and completing their first triathlon.

Newbie triathlete Mona Rayachoti shares her story:

Q: Tell us about your journey with Empire Tri Club in preparation to your first race?
A:  When I decided to take on a triathlon, I was looking for a training program. I’ve been a runner for the last 3 years, doing several half marathons and a few marathons, but the triathlon world was a whole new game. I was looking for a program that was beginner friendly and Empire has a beginner program. I hadn’t ridden a bike in 2 decades, so the bike workouts with the coach were very helpful. Also, while I’ve been a runner for a while, I found the run workouts with speed work very helpful. My running pace improved since joining Empire. Overall, I felt mentally prepared for my first triathlon. Besides the workouts, I learned all about the logistics, like how to set up transition and be efficient, etc.

Q: What was the first thing you did when you crossed that finish line?
A:  I was so happy to finish and officially be a triathlete! I think I joined the rest of the Empire group at our area after I finished

Q: What inspired you to take on a triathlon?
A: I’ve done a few marathons and I thought the triathlon would be a whole new challenge. I’d have to relearn how to bike and swim. I volunteered at the NYC triathlon last year to get entry for this year. I’m glad Empire’s beginner program trained me for a sprint first and now I can take on the olympic.

Q: If you had to do it over again, what would you do different on race day? Or not change?
A: My biggest mistake was panicking during the swim part and that slowed down my entire race. If I hadn’t panicked and just stayed calm and focused, my swim might not have been as long. However, I’ll have a chance to practice a few more open water swims before NYC triathlon, so hopefully I’ll be better prepared mentally.

Q: How were the nerves on race day?
A: Pretty high, because it was my first ever triathlon.

Q: Did you feel prepared for the race?
A: For the most part, yes.

Q: What was the greatest takeaway from your experience with Empire’s Beginner Program?
A: I went to the majority of the group workouts and followed the training plan and it make me feel more prepared. I wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own, so the support of Empire was a huge help. The triathlon world doesn’t intimidate me as much. Also, the coaches were so encouraging! I was afraid that they’d only cater to the faster people, but that was not the case at all. I got so much encouragement and support from all the coaches.

Ready to complete YOUR first triathlon?!  Sign up here.