Thursday, December 29, 2011

3 Months Away: I'm only half crazy

1.2 Mile swim... 56 mile bike... and a 13.1 mile run.

3 Months away. 

You must be kidding...


I had only done 2 Sprint triathlons before signing up for a 70.3. Alex, my brother, trained me and taught me everything I needed to know in order to complete my frist triathlon season this past summer. Myself, Alex, Alex's friend, and Alex Jackson (who is now my boyfriend and I will refer to as 'Jackson' or 'Jacks')... ended up doing about 7-8 Tri's in total last summer (2011). We did both Sprints and Olympics. By the second race, I was addicted.

We signed up for this 70.3 in the heat of the  moment. It all started when Alex brought it up randomly and said it would be fun. He immediately text messaged Jackson asking if he would do it with us. An hour later we were all typing in our emergency contact information and credit card numbers!!!!!

Alex, Jackson and I- Independence Sprint, June 2011 (my first Tri)

Now, my brother tells me to stop annoying him about training or to stop bothering him about signing up for races. In reality, he should not be yelling at me when he has to complete training runs in the cold, swim in a dirty public pool, or has to bike for miles on his trainer infront of a television..... THIS WAS ULTIMATELY HIS IDEA!!!!!

True pain after Quakerman Olympic, Sept. 2011. DON'T BLAME ME!

I think the reason why I immediately agreed to this race was because 
I was excited about my podium finishes in my frist two races, pumped up for longer distances and was addicted to the idea of "the more races the better" (I also liked hanging with 'the boys'). So.... I agreed to take the challenge of racing a Half Ironman. But, I had no idea what I was in for at the time! At first, we could not stop talking about the race, the course we would have to prepare for, the new gear we need, etc. Now... winter has crept up on us and is flying by. Training has officially begun kicking us in the butt.

The sticker my father got for us, which is posted in our kitchen!

The three of us (The 3A-Tri Team) will travel, gear in hand, (and probably looking at one another asking why the heck we are doing this)... to Oceanside, California to race on March 31st. We are shipping our bikes out prior to going, maybe even some of our gear, and then bringing only our necessities with us on the plane. The goal is to make this as seamless as possible and not forget anything, while having our bike at home with us for as long as possible to keep training the week before.

We are planning to go out hopefully that Monday or Tuesday to get settled. We will have to continue our taper workouts and rest our bodies, hydrate and get acclimated to the time change to prepare for Saturday. Our families are coming around that time too, to have a little vacation and cheer us on during the race!

Me... well, I will be pacing back and forth, checking my tri- bag a million times for things I need, following a strict nutritional carb- loading plan while chugging smart water. As I will be losing my mind, the boys will most likely be sitting on the beach with a beer in their hands.

.... I have a tendency to freak out a bit before races.

Packet Pickup, Independence Sprint Tri  (My First Race!)

Right now I am trying to avoid biting off more than I can chew. I have graduate school, which luckily as the training is kicking into high gear, it is winter break. I also have two sponsorships, beginning to teach spin classes and working. I have qualified to go to the USAT (USA Triathlon) Age Group National Championships in August. From there, if I place in the top 15... I go to Worlds. This is my goal.

I have always been very competitive ever since I was a child: Bigger is better. Give it your all or don't bother. Pain is gain. Never give up. Second place is the first loser... and now I have committed to the statement, 'longer distance is better'. 

I think thus far in training, the most valuable advice I give myself is: take each day step by step, don't forget to live life while enjoying myself and remember my priorities. After all... this is supposed to be fun, right?...  "Sleep in, you can swim later." "Don't cancel on a friend because of a spin class, catch the next one." "Have a piece of cake- you only live once."--- These are all things I tell myself to keep me living a 'normal' life while in training.

Bakery House Cake... incredible and will never give it up.

 My school and loved ones come first no matter what. My health and my long- term future trump that of my triathlon abilities or passions. It is three months out now. Once it hits 4 weeks out, that is when I should skip the cake and wake up even earlier to get in harder and longer workouts. I know that there is no need to torture myself more than I already am right now. This will only lead to burn out.

A little bit more about me: 

I grew up in the Villanova area right outside Philadelphia. Actually, I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska (almost in a parking lot), but have lived in Philly for as long as I can remember. I graduated from Villanova University, majoring in both English and Secondary Education. Having 3 siblings who are my best friends, two older and one younger (Ashley, Alex and Grace), and two loving parents... I have always grown up with an enormous amount of support and encouragement. I was raised to believe anything was possible.

I was so cute....

I started riding horses when I was about 6 years old until I was 17. Over that period of time the hobby and passion quickly turned into an enormous commitment and almost like a job, as it became my number one priority. I lived, breathed and dreamt about show jumping for years and years. My parents took turns traveling with me as my siblings came when they could. My family were without a doubt, my biggest supporters. But with success, of course there was compromise. I was rarely home. I was basically home- schooled by tutors wherever I was at the time as my work was faxed or mailed to me by local schools back home. I lacked the relationships I now wish I had experienced with friends and most importantly my family.  Everything took a back burner and became a second priority to riding. At that point my dream was the Olympics and nothing would stand in my way.

The Winning Edge and I, my last year.

A quick turn happened when I got injured and had to have surgery on my leg. After a year of rehabilitation and bed rest I 'got back on the horse', to simply prove doctors (who said I couldn't walk again) wrong. But I knew riding would never be the same. I 'retired' from the sport after my Junior year of High School. I was lost of where to go and what to do.

I learned that sports come and go... abilities change over time for better or for worse and passions may transform. One day, for whatever reason, I will not be able to train or race in Half Ironmans or triathlons (at least not as often or as much). The day will come when Tri's can't be a priority at all  and my time is full with something else, maybe even something more fulfilling. Because I have experienced this loss already and know the feeling of putting everything you have into one specific thing and it being taken away... I will never let my true priorities and what means most take the back burner again. I will never again be faced with the question "what do I do now?"My family, loved ones and education come first now and always will.

Ashley, Alex and Grace (Best siblings ever)

With that said, the next three months are going to be fun... exciting, nerve wrecking, tiring and somewhat torturous. I am sure I will be moody because I will be tired, consumed with nerves and excitement, hungry for a milkshake and a big cheese pizza 99% of the time. But most of all.... I will be hard at work and trying to keep a balanced life.

I have always said: the beginning of the triathlon is a rush, the middle sucks and the end... well, there is no feeling like it. I believe the training will be the same. When signing up for this race it was exciting, it is getting to be very difficult and brutal... but the race itself and the end will be the best feeling ever.

As of now, I have no real goal in regards to how fast I want to finish quite yet. I do not know that I will ever have that type of goal for Oceanside. I have to wait and see. I want to have fun with the experience and not have any extra pressure for this long of a distance. But I do know, that my number one goal for this 70.3 is to finish and finish strong, with a smile on my face.


'Never give up'- 

~ ~ ~ ~

Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don't think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made.- Patti Sue Palmer, U.S. Olympian


  1. Ali,
    Congrats! We are all looking forward to following your journey. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    You always make us proud and this is just one more exciting example.

  2. Ali, I love your blog! More please!!! Can I follow you on twitter for more inspiration and reminders about your blog updates and events?

    1. Ash- more each week, going to pick it up and write Sundays, Wednesdays and maybe Fridays! I do not really use my twitter... I will when I am a month out from the race though- I will keep you posted via blog! :) xo

  3. Alright Girl! Good luck and keep us informed. I love this stuff!!

    Uncle Sam

  4. Ali,

    Welcome to the blogging world! Writing can be so therapeutic especially when it is about a passion. Wishing you lots of luck and fun during the journey!

  5. Dear Ali - I'm a friend of Ashley's and am training for IM St. George in May - just saw her post this on FB and am excited to follow (and will be putting up my own blog as well soon for folks). Looking at this today definitely helped fire me up for the evening session I have at the Main Line Y :) Thank you for putting this up! It will surely help me I know.
    John Miles