What I Wore {post 19}

Happy Friday! Happy Labor Day weekend!  For the first time in my life, I am not ready to say farewell to Summer.  This one has been so fun and so busy and so so fast ... I need just another week. Or two.  Or maybe a month.  

Here's a round up of some of my recent outfits.

* Printed Top & Tan Pants *

It was hot - crazy hot - the day I wore this.  I wanted something light and easy, and this fit the bill.  The top was a steal (seriously - I think maybe $3 on clearance) from the Banana Republic outlet and the pants are from the Ann Taylor outlet.  This outfit is memorable because during lunch with my colleagues, a piece of ice fell down the little slit in the neckline.  I am the epitome of grace.  

* Teal Top & Colorblock Skirt *

This skirt has proven to be a really great find.  I got it last Spring at TJ Maxx on clearance for something like $11.  I've worn it with a bunch of things, and this day I decided to wear my teal top from the Limited from a number of years ago.  It was humid, so I wore my hair wavy that day.  The wide belt is from Target from a few years ago too. 

* Navy Top & Blue Printed Skirt *

I got this skirt at Target in the Spring and loved the print. I've worn it a few times and hope I can get one more wearing before the weather turns.  Before, I wore it with a blue button-down, but the weather was much cooler.  This time, I wore my navy/lace detail tank from the Banana Republic outlet.  

Looks like someone got a hold of my camera, because this was the next picture in the bunch.  Love the polka dots. 

Enjoy your holiday weekend!  

See you swoon,

Five Things I'm Loving

Hello hello!  I'm here. I'm alive.  I'm just working and training like a crazy person.  I have a bunch of blog posts waiting to go ... but no time to finish them up.  

September is shaping up to be an intense month.  At work, it's very likely that I will have two trials (one is definite; one is probably 75%).  The kids start school.  Soccer, gymnastics, CCD and unofficial cheerleading (Little wants to cheer for Big's soccer games) start. And race-wise, it's my busiest month ... um ... ever.  I have my Quakerman half iron triathlon the Saturday after Labor Day.  Then the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon the next Sunday.  A week's break and then a 100-mile bike ride to support the MS City to Shore effort.  It is a little crazy that by month's end, I will have biked 156 miles and run 26.2 miles in races alone - not including those weekday training rides and runs.  I'll be sure to recap here.  And hopefully pepper the blog with other stuff too.

In the meantime, here are five little things I'm absolutely loving.  Snapped with the ol' iPhone 4 ... because that's how I roll these days.  

(1) new pink Sauconys

I was on a long run recently with my friend Amy. I mentioned at the beginning of the run that I was due for new shoes but hoping to get through my half iron and half marathon with my current ones.  With 8 miles in the bank and 2 to go, I realized that no ... I needed new shoes immediately.  When we got back to the parking lot, we looked at the soles and they were shot.  So off to Famous Footwear I went. I know I wear and love Sauconys, so I just took every single size 7 they had in every style of Saucony, made a pile and tried them all on.  Not surprisingly, in the end, I was down to the Cohesion, which is my style of choice.  There were two colors: grey with blue and PINK with ... I don't even know.  Lots of colors.  I decided to listen to my daughter's inner voice who would surely tell me that the grey ones were "too boyish."  So I bought the pink ones.  They are super pink and super fun and maybe it's in my head, but I think I run faster in them.  It could also have something to do with the fact that the soles are actually supporting me.

(2) Inversion IPA

I found this at my local Whole Foods.  I'm always game for trying a new hoppy IPA, and this one is pretty good.  It has a nice flavor, good balance of hops and a delicious after taste.  I'd get this again for sure.

It is certainly no Hop Devil, which is the IPA by which all other IPAs are judged (by me, but it should be by everyone), but then again, nothing can truly compare to the genius and deliciousness that is my beloved Victory Hop Devil IPA.  I even have a Hop Devil bike jersey, which always gets a lot of attention on the trail.  If Victory Breweries wishes to sponsor a middle of the pack triathlete, I'm your girl.  And I can be paid in Hop Devil currency.

(3) My Trek Lexa

I'm starting to like my bike more and more.  I don't think I will ever *love* it like I *love* running.  But the bike is growing on me.  It helps that the weather is getting cooler.  I had a nice ride with my friend Amy last weekend and the weather was just so perfect.  After my 100 mile bike ride at the end of September, my plan is to upgrade to aero bars, a new seat and new seat position. Oh, and new tape on the handlebars.  I think I'm going blue. Or possibly red. I've always loved the baby blue/red combination.  The pros will love it when they lap me on the IMLP bike course.

(4) Hammer Perpetuem

At the last open water swim I had, the organizers (who are triathlon coaches) had free samples of Hammer products.  One was the Hammer Perpetuem, which I've heard good things about.  It's a sort of energy/protein/carb/whatever drink that you use on long bike rides to keep your energy up.  I used to use diluted Gatorade ... and then tried the Perpetuem.  It was life changing.  I felt so much stronger on the bike, and better yet, I felt amazing when I went from the bike to the run.  I'm a convert.  I'll use this on my half iron and again on my 100 miler.  I didn't experience any tummy issues, but to be fair, I rarely experience tummy issues when I run or bike.  Also, I like the strawberry vanilla flavor.  It kind of tastes like a watered down milkshake.  At least that's what I tell myself.  And I realize this is probably not a selling point to most people.

(5)  Cookie Dough Lara Bars

Finally, I'm in love with the cookie dough flavor Lara bars on long bike rides and triathlons.  I never ate more than energy chews on the bike until this year (primarily because I wasn't doing long distance races) and Amy suggested I give Lara bars a try.  I was not a fan at first ... but then they grew on me and they are super easy to eat on the bike.   I like the cookie dough flavor because there is a sort of gooey center that is as close to cookie dough as a bar made of dates and nuts can be.

I have to laugh because my friend (and Amy's husband) Bill said that it reminded him of the cookie dough energy drink bit on Saturday Night Live (aka: cookie dough sport -- LOL!).  So now every time I take a bite of the bar, I imagine myself on that commercial.  Like this.

On that note, have a fabulous Wednesday.  And if you care to share anything you're currently loving (or hating!), even if it is chugging cookie dough (no judgment), please do.  

See you swoon,

Big Brick in Bridgeton: Who Let the Dogs Out? [who who who who who]

Or is it woof woof woof woof woof?

I have no idea.  Honestly, the last time I heard that song was back in 2002 at my friend Missy's wedding, because her step-father *loved* it and we all danced to it.  But, after this weekend's big brick workout in my hometown of Bridgeton, New Jersey, the song came back into my life with new meaning.  But first a step back. 

The kids and I went to my parents' house for the weekend - they have a pool and my kids just love being around them and their 13-year old cousin.  Plus, a bonus for me is my hometown is very rural with miles and miles of quiet country roads: perfect for running and biking without having to fight with cars.  So, my plan for this weekend was to do a big brick  - the biggest one before my half-Ironman in a few weeks - consisting of a 50 mile bike followed immediately by a 6 mile run.  

It was a gorgeous day out - overcast and cool with very light drizzle every so often, but not so much rain that it was dangerous or even annoying.  I got on the road at 6 am and figured I'd be about 3 hours on the bike and about 55 on the run [note: I was right!].  The bike ride started out normally.  I rode around the areas that I've ridden before.  I decided I would just explore a bit and head into the even more rural areas.  

After about an hour on the bike, I was in Hopewell Township, riding past a house and a big, shaggy dog came tearing out of its yard and chased me.  This isn't the first time that's happened, but it scared me a little.  Still, this dog was big and fat, and I was faster.  I outran him, but it got my heart racing and I promised myself I wouldn't go that way again. 

I continued through Hopewell and got closer to Stow Creek Township.  It starts to get even more rural and the houses start to get much farther apart from one another.  Rather than just tell this story, I'm going to draw it.  Oh yes.  I Paintshopped. 

Here I am on my trusty Trek Lexa.  I am happy that I'm on my bike.  I'm wearing my helmet.  Safety first.    

As I am riding around my hometown, I am struck by how truly lovely the area is. Rolling hills.  Pristine farmland.  Quiet pastures.  "I can do this all day!" I think to myself.  I even start singing really embarrassing songs while I bike.  

However, this idyllic scene stops short when I come to a house that has a very ferocious German Shepherd in the yard.  He is not happy and he is obviously a guard dog.  He comes after me fast.  And I really, truly, have to pedal with every fiber of my being.  

I get past the German Shepherd.  My heart is still beating out of my chest when I see across the street two huge Rottweilers (I think).  Like the German Shepherd, they are equally happy to see me because they can scare the crap out of me and angry to see me so that they can protect their turf.  

And so I was stuck.  The German Shepherd was behind me.  The two Rottweilers were in front of me. None of the dogs was moving.  Well, that's not true.  They were all moving ... right toward me.  I truly did not know what to do.  So I started yelling - LOUDLY - for help.  I figured someone had to be around. But I couldn't go forward and I couldn't go back.  I knew I couldn't outrun all three dogs.  I was screwed.  I started to think of ways I could use my bike as a weapon or a shield.  So begging for help was my last resort.  
I heard a screen door open nearby and lost my focus and then bit it - totally fell off my bike.  I'm happy to report the clipless pedals did their job and unclipped immediately.  But there I was, lying in the middle of Barrett Run Road with my bike on top of me and three dogs right near by.  

Thankfully, the screen door was the owner of the two Rottweilers. He called them and they immediately backed off.  I got up, got back on my bike, brushed the gravel off of my body, and tried to regain my dignity.  I had a little chat with the man, who was calmly just drinking a cup of coffee.  He said that both his dogs and the Shepherd across the street were confined by electric fences, but that if I were to continue going the way I was headed, "there are lots of dogs down that way, and they ain't got no electric fences."  All three vicious dogs, by the way, were all nice and friendly when the man came out. 

So I thanked the man with the Rottweilers and the coffee and went back the way I came.  I did not want another brush with a dog - especially a dog that wasn't hemmed in by an electric fence.  

I need to do a little homework on what to do if, God forbid, that situation ever happens again. Obviously, I need to plan my bike rides more carefully.  I'm still a bit shaken up by the experience though. 

Despite the dog drama, I managed to push out the full 50 miles on the bike.  I experimented with a new sports drink: Hammer Perpetuem, which is specifically designed for long distances on the bike.  I got a free sample at the last open water swim I did and figured a training ride was a good time to try it.  It was life changing.  Truly.  I used to use diluted Gatorade in one of my sports bottles on the bike, but this was so much better.  I came off the bike feeling much stronger and less woozy ... my legs felt great.  I have never ever felt that way off the bike before.  I'm sold.  I ran my 6 miles in just over 9:00 miles, which made me pretty happy.  

So my final brick is in the books.  Next up is a long bike ride, long run and lots of long swims next weekend.  And then it's taper time.  I'm ready for this race.  And thankful that there are no dogs on the course.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 18}

Ahhh. Wednesday.  I hope everyone is having a great week.   Here's a round up of some Summer outfits.

* Black Shell & Emerald and Black Striped Skirt *

This skirt was a score and a steal from Forever 21 over the Winter. I loved the striped skirts that I was seeing all over the place and this one looks much more expensive than it is.  It'a a very easy outfit: just throw it on with a black top or sweater and it's done.  

* Eddie Bauer Cotton Dress *

Talk about steals -- this dress was $19 on clearance at Eddie Bauer in the mall. I don't ever shop there, but was with a friend from work who does, so I went in and lo and behold found this little gem.  It's so comfortable!  I've worn it twice on airplanes this Summer, and it works great for work and for weekend.  

* Seersucker Skirt & Navy V-Neck Tank with Lace *

I found this skirt at the Loft outlet last summer and wear it as much as I can while I can.  I paired it with my navy tank with lace-detailing around the neckline.  I remember this day was hot as hades, so I wanted something light and easy.  This outfit fit the bill.  

Soon enough, Fall will be here.  This is the point in the Summer where I start to really want some cooler temps so that I can wear my cooler weather clothes.  And buy some more, too :)

See you swoon,

Race Recap: 2013 Steelman Triathlon (Olympic distance)

Hello helloooooo! Happy Monday! I'm sorry (again) for being so delinquent with the blog.  I've been in Texas on vacation, visiting one my dearest friends ever.  So, once again, blogging has taken a back seat to life ... which is the way it should be.

I've also been busy busy busy training!  I have my big race - the Quakerman Half Iron-distance triathlon - in less than one month.  Back in early Summer, I looked at my race calendar and there was a huge gap between my then final two races: the Parvin State Park Sprint Tri in mid-June and the Quakerman on September 7.  I needed to fill the gap, so I looked around and found the Steelman Triathlon in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I have heard terrific things about Steelman, and the race was just yesterday (August 11), which would be great timing.  So I signed up.  And so did my friends.  

Steelman has a sprint and an olympic distance.  Because I am using this as a training race for my big race, I went with the longer, olympic distance.  And even better: Steelman and Quakerman are held in the same spot!  The courses are a little different, but it's the same lake, a similar bike and similar run. Sign.me.up.  Here is the sunrise on the marina before the race started.  Pretty, right?

Honestly, I didn't have any time goals for this race, which is unlike me.  It had been a really long time (because of all my traveling lately) since I did a long swim or even a brick workout (brick = back to back bike and run or swim and bike - they are key to training for a triathlon).  So, my goal was to have a strong (for me) swim where I swam the whole time and didn't freak out; to have a strong (for me) bike where I maintained a decent pace and ate to avoid bonking on the run; and a strong run at the end - hopefully hovering around 9:00 miles.  

Spoiler alert - it was a *great* race!  I finished in 3:00:22.  15th out of 26 in my age group and 271 out of 346 people overall.  Not too shabby.   

Here are the details and my summary of the course:

Swim:  .9 miles -- 32:17

HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Hello.  I am so proud of this swim.  The fast swimmers out there are probably all LOL that I am proud of a 32:17 time for almost a mile, but this swim was probably one of my strongest ever.  First, I did not panic or freak out.  Not even for a second.  I had real anxiety about the swim: it had been a long time since I did a long swim (3 weeks before when we went to Lake Placid) and when I did that one, I started out way too fast and lost my cool.  Plus, the swim course at Steelman looked really really long.  Those buoys seemed really far out there.  So I warmed up a bit and decided my strategy would be to swim "stupid slow" in the beginning.  Once I got into a good rhythm, I could push it a bit more, but in the beginning, keep the heart rate nice and low and just get moving gradually.  Oh, and wear a wetsuit.  Because, if nothing less, they are so sexy.  Increased buoyancy is also a big plus.  

Sorry to cut my friends A and B out of the picture, but I don't post friends' pix here unless they give the OK
My plan worked.  I started slowly but strong and just kept moving.  It was great.  Heart rate was comfortable.  I could breathe.  I didn't feel like my wetsuit was choking me.  I had plenty of space. And so it went.  Once I settled into a groove, I was able to draft off of faster swimmers and held my own. 

The course was a point to point swim - you entered at one shore (very rocky) and then swam out to a buoy keeping other buoys to your left, make a left hand turn and then swim a very long straightaway to the marina.  I will warn any future Steelmen: the sun was right in your face for most of the swim.  I had tinted goggles on and sighting was nearly impossible.  I was very fortunate that my wave of swim caps wore neon pink, because I ended up sighting just the pink caps in front of me, since I was blinded by the sun.  One nice thing was there were sailboats along the outer perimeter of the course, so you knew where the "edge" was.   

It got very congested at one point when the faster swimmers of the wave behind us caught up with us, but it wasn't too bad.  Because the waves are spaced 5 minutes apart, if you are a fast swimmer, you are unlikely to have this be an issue.  

After the long straight into the sun, you turn left and head toward the pier.  There were amazing volunteers to help you out of the water - they even unzipped your wetsuit for you!  Nice!  You run over a timing mat and head to transition. 

T1:  3:08

GAH!  This was far more eventful than I would have liked!  I could not get my wetsuit over my timing chip on my ankle!  I was starting to go a little carnival freak crazy and finally got the sucker off.  There may have been some bad words.  And I definitely considered getting out my swiss army knife from my tri-bag and cutting my wetsuit (that would have been a very very bad decision).  Once I got the suit off, I threw on my helmet and glasses and shoes and off I went. 

Bike:  24.6 miles - 1:29:58 (16.5 mph pace)

I remembered the beginning of the bike course from my Quakerman triathlon last year: it is a punishing .6 mile steep climb and at least 1.5 miles to get out of the park onto the roads.  I put it in the small ring before I even started on the bike and just held strong.  The park has added *awful* speedbumps on that entry road, which was a pain.  They are very steep speed bumps and could be pretty dangerous, especially if you're descending down that hill at the end of the ride.  

The bike is my weak spot and least favorite (always) but on this race, my goal was to play around with my "nutrition" plan and just eat as much as possible so I didn't lose steam on the run.  I had a full bottle of diluted Gatorade, a full bottle of water, a bag of energy chews, a Gu and a Lara bar.  I ate all my food and ended up drinking 3/4 of the gatorade and 1/4 of the water.  I felt like I was constantly eating, but that plan paid off, my friends.  

The ride is rolling hills - they look far worse than what they actually are.  After riding the bike course at Lake Placid and in the Pocono mountains this Summer, the Steelman hills seemed much more manageable. That said, they were definitely a bit challenging and climbing took some effort.  I feel that the course was very balanced overall: some nice easy flats where you could "put the hammer down" as the race director suggested, some nice fast descents and some pretty good climbs.  It was a fast ride because there was always a change up ahead.  The Olympic bike is two loops on the road right outside the park where the swim/transition are.  The road is closed to traffic, which is terrific. Sprint and Olympic share the road. Sprint does one loop, while the Olympic does two.  

T2:  1:10

I am thrilled with my T-2 time.  Just over a minute.  I threw off my bike shoes and put on my sneakers and took off my helmet and put on my race belt. I added my visor while running.  

Run:  10k (6.2 miles) - 53:53 (8:42/mile pace)

I never ever judge a triathlon run (or any run, frankly) by the first mile. The first mile of a triathlon run is always a little crazy - your legs are still weird from the bike and you just try to settle into a good pace that you can sustain for whatever distance you are doing.  Once my legs settled in,  I knew this was going to be a great run.  I had fueled properly on the bike, so I was totally set for this run.  Rather than think about the 6 miles ahead, I decided to break the run into three 2-mile segments.  

The run is on paved trails in a nice shady spot. Despite the race site's claim that the run is "fast and flat", there are some hills, but they are not bad.  The Olympic distance does two loops and the Sprint does one. The run was marked with signs at every mile and 1/2 mile to go and was staffed great with water and Gatorade, though no energy gels (be advised in case you do it and plan to use Gu, you'll need to bring your own).

I was psyched to see my pace and really psyched to hit the finish line.  I ended up passing a dude close to the finish and resisted the urge to say "ha. chicked ya".  I thought that would be mean, especially since he cheered me on.  Here are a couple of shots of me sprinting to the finish.  In one, I am apparently flashing running gang signs.  Keeping it totally normal and classy. 

Whew!  Long recap for a mid-distance race.  I have to say: Steelman was incredibly well run.  As soon as I hit the finish line, a volunteer grabbed my ankle chip and someone handed me an iced towel. OH MY GOD.  It felt amazing! And rather than give out medals, the race gives folding chairs that say Steelman on them.  So nice.   The post-race swag is great too: pizza, fruit, gatorade and water.  And good (i.e., 80s) music.  I'm definitely going to race Steelman again at some point.  

So that's my penultimate triathlon of the year.  All that is left is Quakerman -- I have a loose time goal of 6:30 for my first half iron.  I think I can do it.  This race left me feeling really confident, which makes me happy.  Once Quakerman is done, I am in marathon-mode, baby!  Going to break that 4:00:00 mark yet.  

See you swoon,

Nantucket Red Skirt ... it's baaaaack!

Talk about a closet work-horse.  I bought my Nantucket Red skirt last summer after much consternation, and now I can't imagine my wardrobe without it! I've already gotten a year's worth of use out of it, but I wanted to keep going and create more fun looks with it.  Today is one of them.

I bought a "cactus flower" colored gingham blouse from Banana Republic.  I paid about $12 for it, because it was on sale, I had a promo code for 30% off and I had a $10 off reward.  Score!  The color looked pink online, but it's warmer and redder in person.  No matter - I think it looks great with the red skirt.  

What do you think?  I've got more ideas for this skirt, so stay tuned!  And have a great week :)

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 17}

AHHHHHH. Friday!  What better way to celebrate the weekend than with a round-up of some recent summer looks? 

* Anthropologie Striped Dress *

I bought this dress early in July during a great sale at Anthropologie.  I loved it, but felt it needed a little something, so I added a brown leather belt and wore with my favorite new open-toe wedges.  

* Orange Mexican Top & White Pants *

To be honest, I forgot I owned this top.  I found it when I organized my closet.  It was a gift from my husband from a business trip to Mexico, and I never wore it because it was way too big.  I loved the color though, so I took it to the tailor, who worked her magic.  I wore it with white pants and wedges and love the way it turned out. 

with my helper
* Striped Navy Top, Mustard Skirt & Turquoise Bubble Necklace *

This outfit was a bit of a risk, and I think it paid off!  I got this pencil skirt at Piperlime on clearance for about $15.  I've had the striped top for years.  I thought they would look great together.  But the outfit felt a little too serious, so I added the turquoise bubble necklace that I bought at the j.crew outlet with Jamie.  

I am having a great Summer, but just got a handful of Fall catalogues and am feeling the itch for sweaters, boots and Fall clothes.  Just a few more weeks, really!  

See you swoon,