*Last year my Bucknell buds and I decided to compete in a triathlon relay as a way to (1) stay fit, healthy and (2) keep in touch better. Naturally this was decided during a night where we were eating a homemade deep dish cookie pie. That fateful eve Team Cookie Pie was born. We may not be the fastest on the race course, but damn are we good at transitions.*
Team Cookie Pie is our name and this is our Timberman story.
Team Cookie Pie was back at it again this past weekend at the Timberman Half-Ironman (Relay!). After last year’s victory… ahem, #1 in transitions, at Cranberry Trifest olympic distance triathlon Justine, Jess and I knew that we had to up the ante. The only option was to get serious and go Iron!! We set our eyes on the Timberman Half-Ironman event held at Lake Winniepesauke, New Hampshire on August 16th, 2015.
The day began with a 4:30 wake up snap chat for one of my teammates. It made her smile immensely and pop off the couch. I, however, rolled over on my half-deflated air mattress, heard my back crack in 10 spots and closed my eyes. At 4:30 am I don’t snap and I don’t chat. Regardless, after a few minutes I rolled off the mattress, prepped the coffee to percolate, munched on a bagel and peanut butter and got myself race ready. It would be just about 7 hours until I would be racing myself a half marathon under the mid-day sun.
By 5:30 am all three members were awake and semi-functional. We arrived at transitions at about 5:40 am where we watched the sun rise over Lake Winnipesauke. Quite a view. The water was still and quiet, much like the triathletes who we encountered in transitions. This Iron experience made it crystal clear how triathlons are VERY different than road races:
1. Triathletes don’t show emotion on race day. There is very little smiling. Talking in the porta-potty line is strongly discouraged. And never EVER laugh in front of a triathlete. In general, try to show as little visible emotion as possible.
–Justine is Italian, Jess is from the Jersey Shore and I am, well me- needless to say we did not blend in very well.
2. Spandex is the race day attire of choice. There is at least one runner here who would like this trend to make its way into the running realm. Spandex vs split shorts? Honestly, do you even have to ask?
— #2 makes #1 not so bad. It’s okay if you don’t talk, just stand there and look pretty.
3. Their aid stations are top-knotch, grade A-mazing! Feeling parched? Have some water, some extra cold water, Gatorade or even Coke. Feeling hot? Here’s a cold, wet sponge to put at the nape of your neck or even a few ice cubes to rub on your face.
— Okay, triathlons win. Please please please can we have this set up at races?
The girls and I spent the morning trying to blend in with the triathletes. Unfortunately we had the scarlet letter ‘R’ (for Relay) marked on the back of our calf’s shouting to the world that we were relay nerds and not ‘a bunch of hardos’ (as per Justine). Awe shucks, can’t pull a fast one on any of these Iron people.
Leg #1: 1.2 mile open water swim by Justine Grossman
When Team Cookie Pie first united Justine was not a swimmer. However, being the go-getter she is, Justified was up to the task! Girl learned proper swim strokes, got herself a coach, actively trained for the past 4-6 months and turned swimming into a solid new hobby!!
As we stood at the start line waiting for Justine’s wave to be called Justine’s nerves began to grow. She may look all tough and serious on the exterior, but Jess and I knew that our friend was nervous about what awaited her in the water. Why? Because it’s not just swimming. It’s swimming in open water while trying to go in a straight line with other swimmers kicking/elbowing you. Yikes. (Yet another reason why I run)
We even spoke to another race g0-er at the starting line. She said, “Why are you so nervous sweetie?… What time do you typically swim 1.2 miles in?” Justine responded, “Well, see, funny thing about that. I technically have never swam 1.2 in open water before. So… yup.” Jess and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Why? Because if there’s a will, there’s a way. And I have yet to meet someone with a stronger will than my buddy, Alpha Justine. 🙂
FYI: Justine ROCKED her first 1.2 mile OWS with a 40:31 and I am so incredibly PROUD of her!!
Leg #2: 56 mile bike ride by Miss Jessica Grohowski
There’s no two ways about it: Jess is a cyclist. When she’s not tearing it up at Boston Boxing, she rides regularly throughout the week and long on the weekends.
So when Jess told the team that she was probably going to ride about 14 mph I cocked my head to the right and was confused. I was pretty sure Jess was underestimating her own ability on the road but I didn’t dare say a thing.
Before she left she shouted, “I’ll be back in 4-4.5 hours. Unless I power-up Super Mario Style. Then I’ll be back in about 3:30.”
That day Jgro had the RIDE OF HER LIFE! She ATTACKED 2,000 ft of elevation that plagues the cycling route and rode the first 30 miles in 18.9 MPH. Say whaaaat!?! Despite fighting lingering back pain throughout training everything came together for Miss Jessica on Sunday and she flew threw her 56 miles in 3:22:38 at 16.58 mph. Jess, you never cease to amaze me! Power up, indeed ;). So proud of you!
*On the flip side, Jess’ amazing ride left me realizing that I needed to be race ready about one hour earlier than I initially anticipated! Not enough time to warm up! Let’s move, move, move!!
Leg #3: 13.1 miles by yours truly, Kass Berry.
Who doesn’t love a half marathon 11:30 pm start time in August when it is 85 degrees and humid out?!? To say that I was nervous about this race is to put it lightly. If training to heart rate this summer has taught me anything it is that I personally do not do well in the heat/humidity.
The night before the race Beth and I met to discuss race strategy. Knowing that it was going to be brutal weather and tough race conditions (time of day, hilly route etc) we agreed that I would not race to time, but to heart rate.
This decision was the single best decision that I have made for a race all year. IMO it is
sheer stupidity simply foolish to try and ignore the impact that weather will have on your race pace. Reconfiguring the plan to race to heart rate took the pressure off and made this more of a “hard effort” run than a race. Instead of trying to hit a specific pace I was told to keep my heart rate between 160-165 for miles 1-7 and 165-172 for miles 7-12. Let the pace be whatever it may be. Simple as that! In fact, my watch display was turned to heart rate- not pace- during the entire race. I only knew my mile splits when the watch beeped on the auto-lap to display them. My goals for the race were as follows:
1. Stay in control throughout the race and don’t go so hard that you’ll blow up.
— This is not my goal race. This is a hard effort run with friends and will be treated as such. No need to throw it all down on the line to risk blowing up and walking for the final miles.
2. Follow the plan and don’t get attached to the average pace.
— I repeat, this isn’t my goal race. Put the ego aside and follow the plan that will get you to the finish line with a smile!
3. Stay cool. Literally.
–Beth told me to take advantage of the ice cubes, sponges and water at every aid station. And I did. And it was GLORIOUS.
The course was a double loop, well sort of. Runners started in transition and took the same road out & back and then out & back AGAIN. The rolling hills were often shaded by trees and the flat parts were often in the brutal sun. Ouchfest. Even though tt was a tough potatoes kind of run I felt in control throughout the majority of the race. I’ll admit that there were some dark times between miles 4 and 7 where I felt like my flesh was slowly melting off of my body, I simply didn’t want to be running in the heat or bobbing and weaving around tired triathletes. It’s also possible that I became a little pissy (see above picture), but in that moment I got the negative out, started having fun and refocused on the race! Lap 2 felt amazing as I became focused even more positive. I just kept repeating to myself, “Focus. Focus. Focus.” I don’t know why, but it calmed me down and helped. If it works, it works! At mile 12 I gave it my absolute all and negative split the race with a final mile split of 7:22 and a final time of 1:41:04 as per race stats (7:42 splits).
I may not have ran my fastest half marathon, but I ran smart. I had fun and I didn’t blow up in the final miles. This was a solid effort run and exactly what I needed for a training run leading up to my goal race, the Baystate Half Marathon in October!
During my run I passed over 650 other athletes- so that was pretty cool! Of course most, if not all had swam and biked earlier in the day! Triathletes are crazy!!!
Even though the scorching conditions made for one tough race, I’ll admit that I actually had a great time during the Timberman run! I sprinted through the finish line with my arms up and a huge smile plastered on my face. This is the hallmark of an awesome race and a great day :).
A huge THANK YOU to my teammates, coach Beth from Your26.2 and husband for all of your support on race day, and every day :). Love you!
A ginormous CONGRATS to my coach Beth who raced for QT2 Systems the half-iron at Timberman and came in 4th place for women!!! SERIOUSLY BETH!?! You. Are. Amazing! I am so lucky to have you guiding me through this wild journey!
Sad note: Team Cookie Pie ranked SECOND in transitions at this event and took sixth place in the event for all relay teams. We lost first place transitions by ONE SECOND. One singular second! I smell a comeback for Team Cookie Pie brewing for next year. Who’s in!?!
A great day with awesome friends (and an amazing hubs!)! Can’t wait to do it again next year :).
Never Stop Running,