Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Is (SO NOT) In The Air!

Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  But Pittsburgh (and just about all of the northeast, midwest, and other awful places to live) didn't get the memo.  Indeed, yesterday morning when I drove to work it was raining, then snowing, then icing, then slushing and then raining again before it turned back into snow.  I wanted to cry.

But weather aside, it is definitely starting to feel like racing season is here!  And this makes me VERY happy!

Signs that spring/racing season are upon us:

1) I filled out my NCAA basketball bracket.  Go Zags!

2) Last Sunday I spent much of the day refreshing ironman.com so as to track all my friends racing in San Juan and Cabo!  YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  I love this time when either (1) you are racing yourself or (2) your friends are racing and you can follow along with their progress!

3) New tires are glued onto my race wheels and Petey (the bike) is all tuned up and ready to roll!  I only needed all new cables, a new chain, new pedals (at least those were under warranty!), new tires and new shoes!  (what can I say, I'm hard on my bike and all associated equipment)

Very excited about my new shoes. They are nice and light.  And they don't stink.  Yet.

4) Oscar is deep into track coach mode.  I'll see him again after Memorial Day (the weekend of the state track championships in PA).

I cannot WAIT for my first race of the season - Oceanside 70.3 in less than 2 weeks time!  I feel like there will be much rust to bust off and I'm sort of worried I forget how to do this whole triathlon thing.  But I'm *really* looking forward to remembering how!  (also, I *might* look at the Oceanside weather once or 10,000x per day and envision myself in sun and 60s...)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Big thanks to everyone for their congrats and encouragement regarding my new relationship with CID.  I am excited to say the least and I appreciate that you are also excited for me!

I did want to mention that this type of sponsorship is not quite the norm in our sport.  Not only because it's with a business not associated with triathlon, but also in the way it came about.  Just to dispel any myths, it's usually not the outside company pursuing the triathlete but vice versa (ie: athlete begging company for support!), at least in my experience as an athlete with my results.  I'd imagine it might be a different story if you are the reigning Ironman World Champion!  Nevertheless, I think there are a lot of misconceptions as to what being a pro triathlete is like, how sponsorship works, etc... and I didn't want to add to that misconception.  I'm obviously far from an expert and have much to learn myself but this is what I do know: sponsorship is all about relationships, forming good ones and expecting there to be give and take on both sides.

That aside, I did want to talk a bit about my other sponsors for this year (besides CID) and let you know how much I appreciate their support!

My Family:
Simply put, there is no other sponsor that I have or ever will have that will come close to giving the support that my family has given me, both financially and emotionally, through the years.  My parents have been "sponsoring" me now for 33 years!  :)  And Oscar, oh my.  I'm not sure he knew what he was signing up for on our wedding day.  But he has never once grumbled about this journey that we've embarked on.  He certainly has had reason to.  I have truly, truly been blessed with an AMAZING family and I have no doubt I wouldn't be where I am today without them.

If you don't already have one of their kits ladies, GET ON IT!!!  I first noticed SOAS racing kits out on the course in 2011 when my friends Jess and Hailey were on the SOAS team.  I pretty much had kit lust right away.  I knew in 2012, my first pro year, that I would love, love, love to work with SOAS and so I approached Kebby and Steph, the two beautiful SOAS creators and it was a done deal!  I LOVE training and racing in their stylish gear, but even more so, I love to work with a company that is for women and created and run by women.  SOAS is a small business that is growing by the day and my goal is to grow as an professional triathlete along with them.  Seriously, you know you want one...

I've been eating PowerBars for 20 years.  No joke.  I used to take one every day in my lunch all through high school.  That was back in the day when gels didn't even exist.  GASP!  I consider PowerBar my first "real" sponsor, even supporting me as an age grouper.  They are a great company that gives A LOT back to our sport.  And their products simply work for me.  I race on PowerBar gels only.  I eat the bars in training constantly.  Have you tried their new Energy Blends?  If not, get on it!!!

I'm excited to work with Brooks again this year and race and train in their awesome shoes and clothes!  I've worn Brooks shoes for a long time, pre-sponsorship for sure, and so it only made sense to try and form a relationship with the company that I already trusted with my feet!  Usually plagued with injuries, I've done very well in Brooks shoes and so it's a company that I will stick with for a long time to come!  And besides that, their stuff is really cool.  :)

Rudy Project:
I've never worn any other brand of helmet.  Seriously!  The very first bike helmet I bought was a Rudy and I never strayed.  Once you find something you like, stick with it, right?  2013 will be my first year of working with Rudy and I'm pretty excited to continue to race and train in their helmets and sunglasses.  Rudy Project did save my life after all.  When I was hit while out riding back in 2007, my Rudy helmet cracked in half but my head was intact.  THANK YOU RUDY PROJECT!  I still have a picture of that helmet, by the way.  (but I won't post because it's all bloody and I don't want to gross anyone out :).

Local Support:
I'm also lucky to have some great local support in keeping me and my bikes healthy!  First, Big Bang Bikes is where I've bought all my bikes now (among other things) and they have ALWAYS taken such great care of me.  If you are in the Pittsburgh area and need a bike or a bike part or access to THE best mechanic ever, Big Bang is your shop.  I can't tell you how many times I've shown up at the shop with a million requests and, "oh...by the way...can you get this all done by tomorrow?!?!" and they don't even bat an eye lash.  Good people.

And finally, the people that keep my body in one piece: Dr. Brad at De Novo Pittsburgh Chiropractic and Greg Babiak, my massage therapist.  I'm not sure what I would do without either.  I see Dr. Brad weekly (sometimes more), his magic hands go to work, and then amazingly enough my hamstrings move again!  If you need ART in Pittsburgh, Dr. Brad is your man.  And Greg is your man for sports massage!  He is THE most thorough massage therapist that I've ever gone to.  He takes his time and makes sure that each kink and knot is worked out.  And he genuinely cares AND understands as he is a triathlete himself!

Needless to say, I have a lot of people looking after me.  I couldn't feel more thankful and blessed AND ready to do these people and companies proud in 2013!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Double Race Weekend 2013

This weekend I got to run not just one but TWO 5K road races.  Pretty much my definition of awesome.  I wish all weekend training could consist of racing.  Hmm...maybe an idea to run past Dirk...  ;)

The History
At the beginning of the year, Dirk told me he'd like me to do a short(ish) running race every 2 weeks or so throughout the winter.  No complaints here!  So I dug up all the local running races I could find (a surprising number given our winter weather) and passed the dates and distances along to Dirk.  There just happened to be TWO 5Ks this weekend in the area, one on Saturday and one today.  I figured Dirk would pick one or the other but when my schedule showed up BOTH were on there.  Happy day!  I'll admit that I first worried it was a mistake but didn't want to say anything for fear that he'd take one of the races away and add a 5 hour bike ride instead.  That would make for a sad Beth.  (I kid, I knew it wasn't a mistake ;)

5K #1
Saturday's 5K was on a cold morning in North Park.  Oscar couldn't go because he had to coach track practice so off I went by myself.  Not to fear, there were many a friendly Pittsburgh triathlete at the race to chat with!  The majority of Pittsburgh road races are held at North Park and I've run several different 5K courses there.  I'll admit that I was hoping for the flat one but that was not to be.  Instead we ran quite a hilly 5K which I fear made it even more painful than I imagined it could be.  It also didn't help that I went out in 5:48.  Ooops!  Mental note, don't do that again during Sunday's 5K.  After that first mile I don't remember much other than the fact that I was breathing so hard I was scaring myself.  5Ks are just PAINFUL affairs and while over relatively quick, it still wasn't over quick enough!  19:15 was the final result.

5K #2
Today's race was in more ideal conditions.  For one, Oscar was also racing so that made it more fun!  Also, this WAS a flat 5K, just out and back on a trail in the South Side.  And finally (perhaps best of all), the weather was much warmer, all the way into the high 40s AND (wait for it...), I wore SHORTS!  Unless you've been wearing 10 layers for each of your runs for the past 3 months, you can't possibly imagine how awesome that first run in shorts really is.  You feel so light and free!  It was amazing.

Remembering my error of going out too fast the day before, I mentally reined myself in a little when the gun went off this morning.  And then ran a 5:50 first mile anyway.  Some people never learn!  Still, this time it felt a bit "easier".  That was about the end of easy though because from mile 1 until the finish line, I was in a serious world of hurt again.  By the end I had total tunnel vision on the finishing clock.  I could feel my form breaking down and I was doing whatever I could to get my body across that mat.  Did 5Ks always hurt this bad?  I'm thinking maybe not but they are just extra painful when you aren't used to running sub 6 miles.  All I can say is OUCH!  Nonetheless, the pain paid off because this time I crossed the line in 18:45, the fastest I've run since college (I totally have post college only running PRs because otherwise I might never PR again :).  YEAH!  Happy to run under 19 again and REALLY happy that I wasn't still running at a pace that my body was totally rejecting.  :)

The best news of the morning came when Oscar showed me his watch - sub 17 for the first time EVER for him!  We celebrated with Mexican for lunch.  It was a very good morning indeed.

All in all a good weekend of "training"!  I think it's very important for me to remember how to run on (very) tired legs and run hard too, not just take it easy on myself.  This weekend's races were good practice and very fun to boot!  And now the next race on the docket is an actual triathlon - Oceanside 70.3 in just 3 weeks!  HAPPY, HAPPY DAY!

Oscar doing an impression of my face with 1/2 mile to go?
We can be serious too.  :)
Hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

You Never Know Who You Might Meet At The YMCA

One afternoon about 2 months ago now, I was swimming at "my" YMCA, just like I do about every single day.  Pretty standard swim.  I remember I was tired.  And the swim had a lot of pulling and snorkel work.  I finished up, was packing up my swim bag, when a man a few lanes over stopped me and said "I have 2 questions for you."  I was almost certain he was going to ask me about the snorkel.  That thing absolutely mystifies people (myself included!).  But instead he said, "is that you up on the board?" (referring to the little poster my beloved lifeguards made about me finishing IMAZ this past fall).  "Yep, that'd be me!" To which he asked his second question "are you looking for additional sponsorship?"

Um...come again?!?!  

Turns out this man Casey is the owner of CID Associates, a local company that makes liftable steel buildings.  The company is small, family owned (Casey and his brother run it and it was started by their parents) and just down the road from my house.  In fact I've ridden my bike past the business a gazillion times because it's on the road that takes me north into rural Butler County.  And I have to say, not once while riding past CID, did I consider them a possible sponsorship opportunity.

Over the ensuing weeks, a relationship was born.  Casey is a cyclist, has done triathlon and was interested in supporting a local athlete.  Oh, and he's a Penn State alum.  It's a match made in heaven!  As I obviously don't have any use for a liftable steel building in my triathlon training and racing, CID will instead support my efforts as a corporate sponsor taking care of my travel expenses, which happens to be encompass THE biggest part of my triathlon budget. 

As you can imagine, this is an absolute game-changer for me!  I feel so blessed and so thankful.  In so many ways.  It certainly lifts a major financial burden.  

I told Casey today that it's not just the financial support that makes a big difference to me though.  It simply means the world to me that a local company would invest both time and effort into "one of their own" in helping me get to that next step as a professional triathlete.  I am truly, truly motivated by the support I receive, from my family and friends, from my other sponsors, and now from a small company that makes steel buildings in Sarver, PA.  When I'm tired and the training is hard I simply have to remind myself that I have a lot of people rooting for me and sacrificing for me.  I need little more than that to keep moving forward.

The history and culture of the city I call home (PITTSBURGH!) is not lost on me.  Nor is the culture of CID.  This area and this business is built on hard work.  Pittsburgh was built through the steel industry.  It's blue collar.  It's tough nosed.  It's FAMILY.  It's do your own proud.  And that is exactly what I plan to do for CID and all the others that have helped me inch forward towards my dreams - put  my head down and do the work that is required and then race with all my heart.  

Thank you CID, for making me a part of your family.  Tough like steel.

You know you are part of the team when you have your own mug!