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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!