The not-so-skinny on race prep

With less than 24 hours before the start of my very first 15k, I’m trying not to freak out staying calm, relaxed and keeping my head in the right frame of mind. I’m certainly not as worried as I am typically before a triathlon (damn you swim!), but nevertheless, the butterflies will be there whether it’s your 1st race or 100th.

As I mentally get my mind in shape, I’m also beginning to lay out everything I’ll need for tomorrow. The gun goes off at 7:05am, so it’s going to be an early wake up call, no doubt. Like any big event, if you’re prepared the night before, it’ll make for a smooth morning (and some extra snooze button hits!).

Now it’s no surprise I’m plus sized at the moment, and with that comes some extra challenges both pre, during and post race. I’ve learned lots of lessons over the past 3 years in how to accommodate for and work with my curves in a way to make racing comfortable. After all, if it were a painful, uncomfortable experience, I probably would have quit a long time ago.

Here are some of my tried and true tips for race success.

The shoes you wear on race day should be the shoes that you have been training with. The worst thing you could possibly do is buy a new pair of shoes for race day (or even as soon as a month before!). Make sure you have clocked in plenty of miles in your race day footwear. You’ll save yourself from chaffing, blisters, achy soles and toes. Remember, we’re aiming for comfort. Don’t even think about throwing your race shoes in the wash anytime before an upcoming race. You don’t want to alter the shape or feel of the shoes- and that goes for the soles as well. If you’re really concerned about the condition of your shoe (remember, it’s a race, not speed dating) then throw some new laces on and wipe a magic eraser on them to give them that “new” appearance.

Same rules apply. Going out and buying a whole new outfit for race day is just plain nuts. Whatever you’ve been training in is what you should be donning on race day. A few years ago I stumbled upon some yoga capris at Wal-mart. They’re knee-length and have a high waistband that you can either fold down or not. I carry a lot of my extra pounds in my mid-section, so many times regular workout shorts (even from the plus sized clothing section) will roll down past my midriff as I workout. I love these yoga pants because I can keep them unrolled and they stay put. If you can’t find pants like these, try using maternity workout pants (hey, nobody has to know!). They have that same extra large band that will hopefully solve the rolling down problem. Oh, and as for your unmentionables? Again, nothing brand new. Bust out those comfy cotton panties that are just the right size and worn in. You wouldn’t want photographers to catch you reaching for a wedgie!

As far as tops go, keep it simple. I have yet to find a good, supportive sports bra to handle these DD’s, but have found success with this bra, which isn’t necessarily a sports bra, but it’s comfortable and keeps those tatas locked and loaded. I’m a layerer. I’m not big on the feel of a loose shirt rubbing up against bare skin, so I love long and lean tanks. Right now Target has my favorite of these on sale for $5! They come in a TON of colors, and the XXL is long and large enough to cover my booty, and show off some color under my tees. I never race in just a tank though. The skin to skin rubbing that will happen under your arms will be enough chaffing to make you quit at mile 1. Throw on a light, 100% cotton short sleeve, v-neck tee and you’ll be good to go.

If you usually don’t run with a hat, don’t decide to wear one now (even if one came in your goodie bag). There’s nothing worse than hat headache. Do, however, have a plan for tying back your hair. I just bought myself the highly recommended Bondi Band to not only keep the hair out of my eyes (and believe me, I have unruly hair), but also the sweat. Speaking of sweat- it is NOT a good idea to apply sunscreen anywhere above the eyes. Once the sweat begins, and the sunscreen starts piercing your eyes with burning flames, you WILL regret it. Use the Bondi band to both keep your hair back and protect your precious forehead skin. Nonslip, ouchless rubber bands are also a good thing to keep handy (and will prevent you from looking like a lion if you have thick, curly hair like I do).

Must-have supplies
-Water. Make sure you are hydrating at least 48 hours before race time.
-Ibuprofen. Trust me, 2 of these little guys isn’t going to do any harm, and will help with inflammation during the race.
-Breakfast. Bulk up on carbs and proteins like a bagel with peanut butter and a fruit smoothie.
-Snack. If you’re doing a race longer than a 5k, definitely pack a snack to carry with you. Sports beans, fruit leather, or gels will do the trick and fit nicely inside a pocket.
-Chaffing cream. I cannot live without Monistat’s chafing gel. I take this to the beach, slather it on for races, and even long days at theme parks where I know I’ll be sweating a lot. Guys, don’t be deterred by the brand name. This get turns into a smooth powder when it drys, making the perfect barrier for those areas that rub. Believe me, this will be the best $5 you’ll spend during race prep!
I’m going to go ahead and get off this laptop and take some of my own advice and finish packing for tomorrow. Stay tuned for my post-race recap and tips on what to do after you’re done celebrating yo
ur huge achievement!
-Steph :)


Get off the couch

There’s no way that 3 years ago I would be sitting here,
typing this post- just 1 day away from racing in my first 15k race.

That Stephanie would have called this Stephanie

But here I am, with just under 2
months worth of training, ready to tackle this distance, and place
a 15k medal in my collection. I’m VERY excited about this race.
After all, the Gasparilla Distance Classic was my first real
attempt at competitive 5ks. And when I say “competitive”, I’m most
definitely talking about the competition with myself: replacing my
old self with a new and improved self. Gasparilla holds dear to my
heart. I was over 300lbs when I participated in that first 5k, and
I’ll never forget the feeling that my best friend Kristin and I
felt when we crossed the finish line. I was hooked, and I wanted to
do more. Our official finish time, 49:37.

3 months later, I completed
my second 5k race: PanCan’s Purplestride, shaving 2 minutes off my
Gasparilla time.

Just 4 months after that, I
completed my first Sprint Triathlon in 1:58.
Then, my first Turkey Trot
5k, where I matched my PurpleStride time.

And then, the cycle continued. More Gasparilla,
2nd triathlon, more Purplestride, and turkey trotting with my

So, what are YOU waiting
for? Start with a 5k (3.1 miles) and take it from there. Find a
local race, at least a month away, pay the entry fee (usually
$15-30, which often include goodies, a medal and a tshirt!) and
begin training by merely walking around your neighborhood every
evening with a pal. Most 5k races WILL have lots of walkers, so
place yourself in the back of the pack and go at your own pace!
Remember, it’s a competition with yourself. Don’t worry about how
you’ll look or what people will say if you’re too slow, not
running, or continuously taking a million cell phone pics of
yourself as you go through the course. Believe it or not, the
racing community is THE most supportive group of athletes you’ll
find. After the heroes finish, believe me, they’re on the sidelines
cheering you on as you join their club and call yourself a
finisher. You’ll feel amazing, and you’ll want to do more and push
harder (and get more medals).
So pick a race then follow
up on this blog posting to share the good news! You can do

Gasparilla 15k training, wait, what?!

So what I thought was going to be a nice little lunch and a 5k walk with my pal Lindsey turned into a commitment to do a 15k race.

You see, we were sitting there at Pane Rustica, enjoying bliss in the form of a acorn squash stuffed with chicken salad when before I knew it, we were both on our phones, credit cards in hand, registering for a 15k race just a month and a half away.

Well, here I sit, a WEEK away from the big day, feeling like I can actually DO this.

The man and I have been training religiously: walking around the new neighborhood, parks, trails and anywhere else we can plant our feet at. And tonight? We decided to spend our 8th month anniversary completing our longest training yet: 10k (6 miles). Although it seemed like a huge task initially, we (aside from some sore feet) felt awesome as we finished that last mile.

I can’t wait to cross that finish line next Saturday and collect my 3rd Gasparilla medal (my first 15k one!).

Stay tuned for a race recap!

PS- The guy is doing the 5k! SO proud of him!


Tarpon 2011, New bike and more

Life has changed over the past year.
Some for the good. Some for the bad.

Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2011, and it’s been quite the adventure to say the least. She’s been a trooper enduring chemo, a double mastectomy and a bout of radiation. She’s on the home stretch and kicking cancer’s ass all along the way.

I trained off and on throughout the summer. I probably should have been on my bike more than I’m willing to admit, but I hit the pool almost everyday, working on my stroke, my breathing and my speed. It was a good summer for swim training!

Unfortunately, I was still stuck with “the lead sled”, as my boyfriend endearingly referred to it as (my Wal-mart special Schwinn). Hey, I mean it DID take me through my first triathlon season without fail (or a flat), and has been, all in all, a “good” bike. I knew I needed something lighter, faster and more reliable, but I just wasn’t in the right financial state to pick up something worthwhile. I figured I would ride it one more time for Tarpon 2011, then officially retire it as I scrimp and save for something new (used). Unfortunately, Tarpon was canceled, and I wasn’t able to compete. Fortunately, the next event happened to change that Tarpon cloud.

I was more than surprised, floored, ecstatic, elated, on the verge of fainting when my awesome boy(man)friend (boyfriend is SO 7th grade) surprised me with a bike. He told me we had to pick something “up”. Little did I know he had a surprise in store- a Trek!

Faster. Lighter. Smoother. I just cannot dig up enough adjectives to describe the difference I feel after just one ride on this baby. With 24 speeds, I’m going to fly.

The good news? Tarpon was rescheduled for October 8th, and I shaved off 8 minutes from last year’s time and I attribute it completely to my new wheels!

Here’s the race recap:
I was partially ready for the race, but excited to have my first double digit race number (#48), ever.

How was the swim? Although the air was chilly, the water wasn’t too bad. It was early October, so it was comfortable. I had a great start (the water was DEEP!). I knew it was going to be a hard race because although I was doing it with the Tri Monsters, I had no one at my level racing by my side like last year. I was all on my own, and I had to overcome that mental barrier pretty quickly. I as rounded the first buoy, I realized how deep the water was when I felt my timing chip come off of my leg. When I reached down to grab it, I couldn’t reach the bottom and didn’t want to waste any more time or effort on an impossible search, so off I went. Although I wasn’t the last out of the water, I was definitely towards the bottom, but I had completed one of the most horrifying tasks: I finished the swim all alone.

I climbed onto the shore and jogged to T1, feeling better than I thought. I got my breathing under control, threw on my helmet, shoes, took a swig of water and jumped on my awesome new Trek. The ride out onto the causeway was NUTS! The wind was blowing and it was quite the task just to get the first 2 miles out of the way. Once I was able to turn a corner and get away from the headwinds, I was rolling. The 10 miles were effortless. Brian was waiting for me as I passed the truck, rooting me on like the amazing boyfriend he is. I felt SO good turning the corner and coming back into T2- again, not the last bike back!

I mounted my bike, removed my helmet, threw on some shorts and off I went for the last leg of the race- the 5k. I felt amazing. My pace was great, the wind was cool and the cheers from the sidelines were there- just like last year. I wasn’t the last one off the course, and I’ll never forget the feeling when I crossed the finish line and met my team and my guy right there waiting to give me the much appreciated support I need to keep going with this endeavour.

Once I did the math (clock time-wave start time) I was able to calculate an 8 minute reduction from last year’s time. I couldn’t feel more proud of myself, and more motivated to kick it up another notch next season.

Deb’s husband Gene took a video of the whole experience. Check it out and join us for the 2012 season! (that’s me in the black and purple!) 🙂