Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Part 2-Mont Tremblant

In the weeks leading up to the big dances I would have these waves of panic about, not being able to get into Canada, not having Ruby with me in Kona and having panic attacks the entire time I was on the island. Then there were days when I would have these moments during workouts when my whole body would get covered in goose bumps and I would feel complete calm about what I was about to do. Just before Mont Tremblant I wasn't 100% certain I would be ready and I just wasn't sure I could bring it 2 years in a row. Powering through became my speciality.

Travelling to Canada was amazing because my parents live close enough to come. My dad hasn't been to a World Championship since my first Kona, so having my family there was a special treat. Having my parents at races just makes me feel a little but more at ease, between my mom's sense of humor and the belief that my father always has in my ability, I was feeling pretty grateful to race so close to home! Kebby had sent a sweet new red and white kit, my ode to the Canadian flag, so I was feeling pretty psyched to get put there and test my heart and courage!
I was happy to be accompanied to my pre race shake out, by my dad and sister Kim. It was drizzling and cool and I couldn't find my teammates until Kevin Wilson came over and wrangled me to the swim finish where his wife Kristen and K Dubs were just finishing their swim. We headed out for an uneventful 15 minutes on the rolling part of the bike course and as we got back to the parking area I forgot how to unclip and i tipped right over on my bike like a newbie. K Dubs 11 year old kept us from running to slow on our run and then proceeded to kick our asses during strides. We were ready!

We met up with the HPT gang in transition and got tattooed and tried to stay warm. Once we got over to the swim start I became obsessed with finding a safety pin for my timing chip. Obsessing over something like this helps take my mind off the fun (pain) I'm about to endure. I dragged poor Kristen Wilson all over in search of a pin! Finally we happened upon a very warm, inviting tent where I walked in and shouted, "does anyone in here have a safety pin to spare?" A nice lady gave me a safety pin and finally it was time to go.

Races are always a blur to me. The swim was relatively uneventful. My goggles came loose a time or two, but the best part was standing up and Kristen Wilson being right by my side! I yelled something to her and started the long sprint to transition. The bike ride was congested! I spent a lot of time yelling, passing and getting repassed. On the way out on the interstate there were huge packs of assholes riding together. I even yelled over at them, "way to ride fair a&&($:/s!" By the time we hit the rollers things spread out a little bit, but I was still with a couple of women that I had played leapfrog with for a solid 40-45 miles. In my head I always make new bike friends during races, people that ride hard and honest and are willing to gut it out. Amanda Wendorff and Andrea Hopkin became my new bike bff's that day.

Into transition I was fairly pleased with my ride, but knew I had had had to run my guts out to get to the front. I don't race with a gps, because I just want to run as hard as possible to get to the front. After 3 years with Coachulio I know I'm almost always fit enough to hang on. I was pretty sure I was in third coming off the bike and could see 2nd most of the first lap, until somewhere in the madness of the village she shook me. What I did get to see at the end of lap 1 was Ruby and my mom-it always refills me when I get to see my family. On the second lap I wasn't loving my splits so tried to keep pushing but my legs just didn't seem to have it all. About halfway through I passed the girl who was leading off the bike and just tried to hang on to second.

After crossing the finish line second in my age group I wanted to be happy. My family was there and they were excited, I even asked Julio if it was okay to be happy with my race. I thought I was happy with it for about an hour before I started picking my performance apart. Second place might be the hardest place to finish because you pick every detail apart and try to figure out where you could've done better. We didn't exactly train through Mont Tremblant, but we didn't do a complete taper either. Needless to say, I left Canada  a little pissed off at myself for not digging deeper on the run and making stupid mistakes at the end of the bike.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Season in Review-Part 1

A Season in Review-

When I crossed the finish line at Kona last October I was very pleased with my results and didn't think I'd come back for 2014. I had secured a spot for 70.3 Worlds in Mont Tremblant and that would be the years A race. Then my High Performance Training sisters, Noga Ruttenberg and Jenn Zopp, kicked ass at Ironman Florida and my plans changed. The idea of sharing the Kona experience with my sweat sisters sent me back to Eagleman with a mission. For someone spending a majority of the spring riding and running indoors Eagleman is a perfect qualifier.  Eagleman was my first chance to wear every piece of Coeur Sports clothing In my closet, so I took every opportunity for costume changes. Love love love that stuff!  My momager/sister Tammy and I joined a good chunk of the team and my favorite assistant coach, Robbie Ames in Cambridge! Ta and I were lucky enough to bunk with Ed, Julio and K Dubs (Kristin White). I love the atmosphere in the big orange HPT tent when we're all together. Thanks to a flawless plan from Coachulio and some terrific training weekends with my HPT teammates Eagleman was a success. A small glitch with my new ride from Argon 18 (who needs handlebars that stay put) hampered my bike time a little, but I made up any lost time with a solid run. Kona slot in hand, I headed back to the Adirondacks with a mission!

Having Jenn, Noga and K dubs to commiserate with made Kona training so much easier. At HPT we aren't just a bunch of people getting programs from the same guy. This is a real team/family where we can lean on each other and take care of each other. In mid July Julio and Noga brought the team north for a Lake placid training weekend. I rarely ride the Ironman Lake Placid course because I have such great, quieter roads in Tupper Lake, but for these people I would ride endless laps of that course! The biggest day of the camp was a long ride with a bonus trip up the Whiteface Memorial Highway followed by a quality run. The ride up Whiteface was among the hardest sustained hours of my life! I never would've made it without Noga and the team hammering away together. We celebrated at the top before heading down and putting in several more hours. We were cautious descending but somewhere about halfway Noga hit a frost heave and flew off of her bike. I braked hard at the sight and did a little endo. When I got up Noga was out cold. Ed, Jenn and Dr. Sergai handled the situation beautifully and before too long Noga was responding and on her way to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, in a helicopter. It was scary seeing my strong, vibrant, funny friend out like that but we all remained positive that her strength and sense of humor would pull her through the rough time.

Noga's biggest worry when we got to her in Burlington, was that everyone got their workouts done, not how badly she was injured or how much pain she was in. A true coach right there! I knew Noga was tough, but the way she soldiered through the pain and still had her sense of humor and so much compassion for the rest of us made us all realize that she is in fact superhuman! I went home the next morning unsure about what to do next. The best sight that I could have seen on the way home was 4 of my teammates running down Main St in Lake Placid together, thank you Kevin, Kristen, Laura and Nick for making my day. I'd give myself a few days to lick my wounds, heal my separated shoulder and then get back to work for my friend who could not.

The end of July and August weren't easy. I spent a lot of time asking myself what the hell I was doing. I'd lost Stu the summer before and very well could have lost Noga, but every time I spoke with her or thought about them I would realize that not trying and sulking wasn't helping anyone. The High Performance Training family banded together and took such good care of each other, they made prepping for Mont Tremblant and Kona so much easier!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I don't care, I love it!

I think I had a breakthrough workout today. After a solid 2 and a half hour ride that included a set of step up intervals that made me shutter when I checked the workout on training peaks, I did a series of mile repeats that felt almost effortless. The sciatic pain from a couple of weeks ago doesn't feel like frayed rope anymore and I can run again! I really try to be good and stick to Coachulio's paces but today's run felt so good. The right shoes, the right nutrition, a sweet new pair of Coeur tri shorts and I couldn't hold it in. Earlier in the week I was forced to look at why I'm doing all of this, why I'm obsessing and treating training like it's a part time job and it occurred to me this is what I was always supposed to be doing. I'm just really attacking it 10 or 11 years later than I ever thought I would be. I finally feel well enough equipped to listen to my coach, listen to my body and be grateful for the time I get to spend training. I don't care, I love it!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hungry Like A She Wolf

It's winter break and I've spent lots of time running and skiing by myself, so I've had lots of time to reflect on the year. After a sub par 70.3 Worlds and an ok Philly Marathon I ended 2012 hungry and with one goal in mind-Ironman Hawaii. It had been 11 years and a lifetime since I'd trained for and raced an Ironman and I didn't know how my body and family would respond, but I knew I had to go back and redeem myself.  I've had so much support from my coach-Julio German, my friends, my family, my go to girls at Faust, and The Fallen Arch in Lake Placid that I'm even more hungry and excited to see what 2014 has to hold.

Over drinks with friends the other day I realized that even after 25 years of being an athlete I am still growing and learning. One of the friends was a triathlete buddy from my first traithlon lifetime and recapping Kona made me realize what a different animal I've become. In the old days it was all about me and the only thing I needed to get back to during a big training day was my big yellow dog. Nowadays every minute I take away from regular life is valuable and must be full of purpose. In the old days I would get into the water full of fear and negative "what ifs." As I was explaining the calm and excitement I was feeling as I entered the water in Kona I realized how much more I'm able to enjoy life as a triathlete in my mid-30s vs my early 20s.

The work I have done with Coachulio has been a major contributor to this enjoyment. He understands what makes me tick and constructed a program that kept me engaged and hungry.  Julio has put together an incredible group of women who are sooo fast and sooooo fun and I can't wait to have training camp at Faust so we can train and laugh together with my sweat sisters. I am forever grateful for all the help from Coachulio and High Performance Training! Check them out at-

I would be remiss if I didn't thank The Fallen Arch in Lake Placid for making training and racing easier by supporting my running shoe addiction. Gail and Bob have been such a huge help over the past couple of seasons and I am pleased to be part of The Fallen Arch Racing Team! They have amazing selection and a wealth of real running knowledge-

The Amy before this phase in my life might've been ready for an easier year or a year of running with my pack of wild dogs, but this older, wiser, well cared for Amy is hungry and full of ideas to continue to get faster and have more fun. Part of that fun and speed will come from joining the Coeur Sports Elite team. Coeur is a new women's triathlon apparel company-a company founded for women by Kebby Holden, a fellow Ironwoman. The cute kits are awesome, but my favorite thing about Coeur is that it's French for heart and the root word for courage-heart and courage-two necessities for all triathletes! From what I've read these women are going to be a blast and I'm so excited to don a new superhero/Ruby's mom suit that maybe I'll upgrade from puffy paint! Look at all the stylish speed-

Cheers to staying hungry for the good life in 2014!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 things I am thankful for...

30. Timex Marathon GPS and Polar HR monitors-the most technology I can stand but definitely helped this year
29. Bagels, Peanut Butter, and Bananas
28. My trusty $187 spin bike-the hours and gallons of sweat that sucker has endured
27. Pizza
26. Coffee
25. The Nice n Easy in Star Lake,  NY
24. Bandit LaDue-the grandma of the Faust Pack
23. Roxy Rocks Roxanne Farrell-sweetest little trail dog you'll ever meet
22. Chance Farrell LaDue-most devoted running dog and son
21. Freckles Frigging Farrell LaDue-the dog who won't run slow and heater on a cold night
20. NYSEF for fostering my daughter's passion for going big and fast
19. My new Toyota dog kennel
18. My old Ruby red Subaru
17. My Tupper Lake Middle/High School Fan Club
16. Bob Tebo and family-Irongrandpa's work ethic inspires daily
15. The Tupper Lake Nice Girls Club-these women are the greatest cheerleaders and always get me
14. Jenny and Al-have been there for all my ups and downs and kept me up and laughing
13. Old and new friends from afar who can pick up right where we left off
12,11,10. My Westchester peeps Ed, Coachulio, and Noga-the last couple of years would not have been nearly as awesome without these people planning, working, supporting and making me laugh so hard I pee my pants.
9. Faust Motel-makes it possible for above people to come together and laugh so hard we pee our pants
8. The Fallen Arch-amazing selection and intuition about making my feet happy
7. The guy at Cabin 1 Bikes-keeps  Rainbow happy and running like a dream and has brought us some of the nicest people Tupper Lake has to offer. Tolerance for 4am spins, 8 hour workouts, and a lot of pizza has been a plus
6. Rainbow Ghostbike-I cannot rave enough about what this perfect fitting bike has done for me!
5. My siblings-so much support from my siblings! A couple of them even left their lives behind in October to help me chase down my dreams in Hawaii
4. My aging body and mind for making it possible to be faster even though I'm closer to 50 than 20!
3. Ruby for tolerating 4am spins, runs, a dirty house, a lot of pizza, races instead of vacations, a nervous and often crabby mother-all of it
2. The McCullouch Family-this was a hard year for this family but in the spirit of Stewart
McCullouch they have soldiered on and inspired me in countless ways.
1. My parents-even when my dreams are scary they have always supported me and made me want to make them proud :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 Results Wrap

Plattsburgh Half Marathon-1:25.10 3rd woman
Eagleman 70.3-4:32.44 1st amateur, 10th woman
Fronhofer Tool Triathlon-2:10.10 1st woman
Timberman 70.3-4:32.37 1st amateur, 5th woman
Lake Placid Half Marathon-1:22.45 1st woman
Ironman Hawaii-9:50.55 4th 35-39 age group, 37th woman

When I gave Coach Julio German 4 weeks to prep me for Rhode Island 70.3 last year I knew triathlon training would never be the same for me. I like to think of 2012 as my base for this season. A season to get my tri legs back under me. My recurring thought this season was -holy crap, I have never prepared so thoroughly for a race in my life! I went into each race this season feeling so ready that my usual pre-race nerves were minimal. Even waiting in Kailua Bay last week I knew I had done everything Coachulio asked of me and that was enough to make it a great day! Even a week later I'm sitting here ready to get moving again and that has never happened after an Ironman or marathon!i thought I'd be ready to pack it in and wait for ski season, but I just love the way my body responded to this Ironman training and race! Back in the old days it took months to get back in the game, but this time I've already given Coachulio his winter assignment-a new 5k pr and possibly a sub 5:00 minute mile. The Faust Pack and I are excited for a winter of skiing hard and running fast!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Road to Kona

The last 4 months have probably been among the most profound 4 months of my life. When I qualified for Kona at eagleman I knew I was on my way back, but I had no idea that I would surpass my much younger self as an athlete. I also had no idea what sort of sacrifice and heartache I was about to encounter. During one of the last days of school my friend Charlene called in the afternoon to tell me that my athlete and good friend Stu had been in a bad crash and was being transported to Burlington for care for a major head injury. Stu has been a big part of our life since he started bringing his bike to Kevin our first summer at Faust and we were instant friends. He was involved in so much within our community that he would often invite us along bringing our family new experiences and friends. The weeks leading up to the crash Stu had finally found his stride again in training and it looked like he was going to be able to fill in his M dot tattoo all the way. You could see it in his eyes and in his tone that the week before like it finally clicked-weight was down and bike and run speeds were going up! I was just getting into Ironman training at this point and it was fun to be sharing my journey with Stu.

We were eating dinner when we got Char's call and spent the next few hours waiting while she handled information coming in and sending information out like a veteran air traffic controller. The next morning she made her first of many trips across Lake Champlain to be by Stu's side. She and her daughter Michele became rocks for the rest of us as the dr's realized Stu might not pull through. Training during this time was such a mix of emotions. This was supposed to be Stu's final push before Ironman and what the hell was I thinking getting out there on my bicycle. I would be running along at tempo pace and think of Stu and then burst into tears. Other days I would be out and the wind, the road, everything would feel perfect and I knew he was with me.

The night that he passed there was a huge thunder and lightning storm. Ruby and I were at his house with his grandchildren and this storm just tore across the north country. I knew it was Stu, he wasn't
the type of person to keep things quiet or small. The next few days training was my quiet time to try and figure things out. What would he want me to be doing. How could I continue on without fear? By that weekend I finally got off my spin bike and got a 100 mile ride in, in perfect conditions. Char, Kevin and Julio had to keep reassuring me that training was safe and would be what Stu would want me to be doing, so I went about it to the best of my ability.

Ironman Lake Placid was approaching and the Westchester County crew converged at Faust to support my good friend Ed. The week was full of errands and bike shops and training, but the whole time Stu was on our minds. A local athlete, Wesley Wilson, heard his story wanted to do something special and offered to get Stu to the finish line by wearing his road id. Wesley had also taken his health by the horns and lost over a hundred pounds to get to the finish line of Ironman Lake Placid and felt and immediate bond with Stu's family. On race day, I was waiting for Ed and Irongramps
Bob Tebo to come by the horseshow grounds when I looked up and there was Wes! I thanked him for
 what he was doing for Stu and the McCulloch family and gave him a hug and watched him run away
with tears in my eyes. Stu brought the athletes near perfect conditions for the run Wes and Ed had a great race and Bob even qualified for Kona!

After the excitement of Lake Placid training got easier and longer and much more intense. Julio was throwing workouts at me that I never could have imagined I could complete as planned, yet somehow my legs were knocking them out! After Noga and I went 1-2 at the Fronhofer tool triathlon and we made sure to give Coachulio props, I couldn't wait to test things out at Timberman. Timberman was an important test for me because I had raced well there in 2009 when I was prepping for Clearwater. The trip to NH was a lot of fun with Kevin and Ruby and we may have even bought a new truck on our way to the race! I put in some great long rides followed by some intense runs and swimming, well I had been swimming. Race day went off without a hitch-good swim for me, solid bike and a
1:27 run gave me the top age group spot, 5th over all and an 8 minute improvement on the course!
Not bad considering I had a taken on a business and a couple of extra dogs and a much busier Ruby
in the 4 years since I had been there last!

The next few weeks of training were filled with disbelief that my body could be handling the workload so well, but I figured my guardian angel, my patient family and friends, and very wise coach had a lot to do with it! I was able to run a half marathon PR with no taper and I was chomping at the bit. When I was doing this in my early 20's I definitely didn't give enough credit to the athletes training and competing and managing full lives with kids and spouses. My family, especially Ruby, sacrificed a lot this summer and usually did so with at least a forced smile. We didn't get as many days at camp with grandma and grandpa and my sisters as we had hoped for, but every time we called they understood. My dogs loved easy run days and I think Chance and Freckles even enjoyed a few tempo days! My girls at Faust definitely picked up the slack in terms of cleaning and motel and Ruby management. When they both went away toSt. Lawrence I was a little lost until reinforcements swooped in! Getting here an racing to my full potential has definitely been a team effort! Thanks to my managerial staff (sisters willing to fly to paradise) I went into race day more peaceful than I've ever gone into an Ironman and really ready to celebrate all the hard work and celebrate Stu and of course my Q. During the rough patches I thought of everyone who has supported and cheered me along as I try and set a good example for my daughter and my students so crossing that finish line 10 minutes faster than I hoped for was a pretty nice reward! Mahalo, Amy