Monday, March 14, 2011

Fashion for the IronDog

So - my best training partner is my dog, Eli. Eli accompanies me on most outside runs under 6 miles (he doesn't like going much over that) and I just love running with him. He gets this big, goofy grin which totally keeps me going. Plus, I'm able to completely exhaust him - which is a good thing because we live in a pretty tiny apartment!

Anyway, the weather is starting to warm up a little bit, making it easier to run outside at night after I get home from work. I usually get home from work around 7:30-8, so for now, it's still dark out. I have my own reflector vest and head-lamp, but was always concerned that Eli wasn't visible enough in the darkness. He is a black lab, after all :)

I stopped at my trusty neighborhood REI on my way home tonight, and per usual, they didn't disappoint. I picked up a reflector vest from RuffWear, and a small LED light to attach to the vest.  I love RuffWear products - they are slightly pricey, but hold up really well to all the abuse that a rough-and-tumble lab can dish out.

This is the jacket I picked out for him - and REI had it in a fantastic neon green.

Track Jacket

I was able to try out the vest tonight when Eli and I went on a 46 minute jaunt. We didn't head out until 9pm-ish, so it was already dark out. Eli is used to running with a vest on, because I have been using a RuffWear dog-pack with him for years.

Here are a few pictures from our evening run:

Eli in front of Madison Train Station

You can see the loop on the back of the vest where I was able to attach a LED light. You can't miss him!

My happy puppy

The best thing is, the vest works with the no-pull harness I use with him. The harness connects in front to discourage pulling. I love the harness, and I think he does too - we almost work as a team when he's on the harness.

Anyway - this dog-and-girl training team give the RuffWear Track Jacket a two-thumbs-up recommendation. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Tri Bike

So, I'm been plotting and scheming to purchase my first tri-specific bike for a while now. I first started looking in earnest late last summer, but decided to push the purchase off until now. I've been seriously looking for the past few weeks, and plan on finally (*finally!*) making the purchase within the next two weeks. I have basically narrowed the search down to two bikes:

2011 Felt B16 - pic stolen from, my favorite online tri-shop!

or the

Cannondale Slice 5

Here's the dilemma: I love love love the girly colors of the Slice.  I feel silly to admit it! A local shop has a few in stock, and is building one up in my size for me to take out on a test-ride next weekend. I already sat on one in their shop - that was slightly too big - and I just loved the look and feel of it.

BUT - I also really like the look of the B16. It's slightly more hardcore - doesn't necessarily scream "girl power!" in the way the Slice does. Also, the B16 is a significantly better value for the price - the prices of the two bikes are about the same (both in the $2200 range), but the B16 comes with an Ultegra component set, while the Slice comes with 105. If I wanted to upgrade on the Slice, I'd need to shell out $3200 for the Rival groupset, which isn't something I'm willing to do right now (I'd rather do other things with my money, haha).

Either way, this bike is going to be a significant upgrade over my current ride - a 2008 Specialized Dolce, sized 54. For those counting at home, I am 5'3 - whoever sold me a size 54 bike essentially took advantage of me in my first season. I walked into a shop, took the guy at his word that I needed a 54, and just assumed I was supposed to spend most of my time riding feeling like I would topple over. This past season I had a comprehensive fit done by a local pro rider, and was essentially told that the bike was too big (something I already knew). I've been instructed that this purchase should be in the 48-50 range, and I should seriously consider 650 wheels. So, as long as the new bike FITS, I know it will be a HUGE improvement over my current set of wheels.

That said, I want this to be a bike I can grow with. This bike is going to see me through some pretty long miles this summer in the lead up to Louisville. It's hard to overlook the fact that the B16 comes with a significantly better group-set for the exact same price. I took a S22 (they didn't have a B16 in 50 in stock) out for a quick spin today, and felt very comfortable on the Felt (ha-ha). So that is the way I'm leaning. I anticipate making my purchasing decision next weekend after my Slice test-ride.

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Is the B16 a better bike for the purchase price?

First post!

Every blog needs a first post! So, here I am - a little over 5 months from my first Ironman. Training is going to begin in earnest soon, and I wanted a place where I could document - and share - the journey to Louisville.

First off - don't know how consistent posting is going to be, but I hope to make it here fairly regularly. This year is busy - almost insanely so.  I'm a young attorney - just finished a clerkship and started my adventure into firm life 6 months ago. I'm loving work, but definitely still adjusting to the lifestyle. In addition, I got engaged over Christmas and Mark and I are currently planning a "taper wedding" for August 13th. The whole affair is going to be laid-back and low-key, but I'm still looking forward to it :) Two weeks after the wedding ... Ironman Louisville! I had obviously signed up for IMLoo way before the engagement, and I couldn't imagine pushing off the race.

My tri history: I started law school in the fall of 2006. I had gained a good 20 pounds (significant at 5'3) between starting and finishing college,  and wasn't happy with my weight or my body. I had been a runner throughout middle and high school, so I decided to get back into running. I ran my first marathon (Marine Corps) during the fall of 2007. I took it easy and finished in around 4:45.

I continued to race and train for road races into the fall of 2008 - I finished the 2008 Chicago Marathon in around 4:29. 

 *Temps were in the 90s - they went code-red that day!*

After Chicago, I decided I wanted to branch out into tri training. I bought a road bike (that turned out to be WAY TOO big for me!), registered for Mooseman 70.3, and trained with gusto! I did two tris that spring: a small spring in Bethesda, MD, and Bassman in south Jersey.

 *Coming into the finish - it was hot out!*

I was registered for Mooseman, and had pre-ridden the course, but I had to skip the race at the last minute when I came down with a nasty case of strep-throat three days before the race. That was heart-breaking, and I would have signed up for another half-iron later in the summer, but I took the bar exam in July 2009, and spent most of August 2009 traveling.  I did complete the 2009 California International Marathon in December, and finished in 4:11.

2010 was my second tri season, and I fell even more in love with the sport. First tri of the season was Bassman - where I took 18 minutes off my time from the year before, and took 2nd in the 25-29 age group!

 *Tall girl was first, I (middle) was second, blue-shirt girl was third*

Also had a great experience at Devilman Half Lite 50 a week later. In June 2010, I tackled my first half-ironman in Cambridge, MD at Eagleman. Even though the swim was long (or the current was wacky) and the heat index soared to over 100 degrees, I managed to finish in 6:40, with a smile on my face. 

I spent the rest of the summer training, and did my first Century Ride in August. I also did the Half Vermont Journey Half-Ironman in August, where I cut 30 minutes off my Eagleman time - finished in 6:11, and grabbed third-place in the age group.  November 2010 I ran the Philadelphia Marathon, which was a break-through race for me: I finished in 3:52. The race was quasi-spiritual for me: I pushed myself in ways I didn't think possible, and shattered a goal (4 hours) that had seemed absurd when I ran my first marathon. Philly Marathon will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Now I'm on to bigger and better things in the 2011 season.

Here's a quick peek into my 2011 season:
May 1: Long Branch Half Marathon
May 7: Devilman Half Lite 50
June 13: Eagleman 70.3
August 28: Ironman Louisville
November: New York City Marathon

I'm currently registered for all these races, and don't really plan on registering for any more. I may throw in some small road races and/or century rides this summer, but these are the dates etched on my calendar!