Monday, January 10, 2022

Welcome to 2022!

Okay, I know we are now 10 days into the New Year, but Happy New Year anyway. January happens to be a very stressful and busy month for me that sets the tone for the rest of the year. So, what do I have on the horizon?

I have the following:

  • F^3 Half Marathon: January 29th in Chicago
    • Yeah, it may be -20 or it may be 40 degrees. I'm just going to go for it and see how everything goes.
  • United Airlines NYC Half Marathon: March 20th in NY
  • Chicago Half Marathon: September 25th in Chicago
    • Although it is technically a work day for me, I'm always trying to help anyone and everyone who needs my help to get to the finish line.
  • Bank of America Chicago Marathon: October 9th in Chicago
    • Another work day for me but I need to decided if I will cross the finish line or bail out after going back and forth on the course to help my athletes and anyone else who needs help.
  • New York City Marathon: November 6th  in New York
    • This has been the one race that I have always wanted to do and I will be doing it running/representing T2EA (Team 2 End AIDS or #ganginred). The goal is to smile and have fun.
Now I have some other races that are in the works:
  • Chattanooga 70.3: The return of #theBeez and #theFro adventures.
  • Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3: I wasn't able to do the sprint last year due to airline issues but I will do the double.
Unknowns and possibilities:
  • USAT MultiSport Festival in Irving, TX: Aquathlon only
  • ITU Worlds for Aquathlon: Ibiza (date unknown)
We will see how the landscape plays out. But until then, check out some of the awesome photos from my TrainingPeaks Ambassador photoshoot by @snowymountainphotography.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Return to racing: Chicago Half Marathon 2021

This past Sunday, I participated in the Hoka Chicago Half Marathon. Per usual, I usual finish around the 3 hour mark as I double back on the course to help runners from the charity that I coach for - Team to End AIDS or any other runner who needs encouragement. It has been 2 years since this race has been put on due to the pandemic. When we participated in this race 2 years ago, it was pouring rain (if it's raining, we're training/racing). This time around, the weather was actually pleasant, delightful. So let's get into the intricacies and things to know about this race if you are interested in doing it in the future.

Packet Pickup:

The packet pick-up venue has changed over the years from the very first year that I did this race. The venue was in the West Loop which was very accessible to the Green and Pink CTA lines or via Divvy Bike. If you didn't want to pick up your packet on Friday or Saturday, you had the option of paying $40 extra to pick it up on race day. I would suggest going to the expo. You never know what may happen on race day. I was in and out of the expo in less than 10 minutes (world record) but it was a small expo and I didn't need to purchase anything. One of the things to note is that parking is at a premium in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side and with the Uber and Lyft high prices, it's preferred to take advantage of the free shuttle buses (school buses) from either Belmont Station or Millenium Station. The only bad part is that you have to leave so early in the morning but you get to the race without having to deal with parking or the price of an Uber or Lyft.

Race Morning:

I got up early (3am) to get ready and to hop on the "L" to get to the Belmont Station to catch the shuttle. Luckily, the shuttles were there and ready for boarding. I saw some of my athletes and ended up sitting in the back. Now, if you are part of #teamtall, the seats are not meant for you. During the ride, we had an interesting mix of music from Lite FM including, Air Supply, The Bangles and Whitney Houston.

Once we hit our final destination, it was a nice 10-15 minute walk in the dark to the team tent where we could eat breakfast, have coffee and just get ready to race. 

Right before we took off for the corrals, we had our team photo. *note: Shameless plug for my T2 fundraiser

The course:

The course changed slightly from 2019 due to the construction of the Obama Library. We headed North on LSD from 63rd to 31st Street and this is where it got a little congested/a little tricky. 

We ended up migrating onto the Lakefront Path heading towards the South end of McCormick Place, heading under McCormick (very dark especially if you were wearing sunglasses) for a short stint and turning around to head back South on the bus causeway before we reconnected onto the Lakefront Path back to 31st street, going over and coming back onto LSD on the Southbound lanes. 

At Mile 12, I decided to do my double back on the course motivating and helping my fellow runners who needed that extra motivating. I ended up running literally into one of my athletes, Kali and I ran in with her. All in all, it was a great race with great weather and great friends. This is the perfect race to do if you are doing the Chicago Marathon since it falls perfectly with the training plan. Also, this is one of the few races where you get a medal as big as your head.

Monday, January 4, 2021

2021 and what I learned from 2020

Welcome to the first Monday of 2021. Normally, this would be the time of year when gyms are busting at the seams with #newyearrevolutionaries and those returning to fitness after a short or long break. Not this time. We are still in a Covid-19 world and fitness centers across the country are either at limited capacity or shut down completely. In 2020, we had to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Some of us learned new technologies to reach current and new participants.

For me, with races being cancelled, training was not. I rode a lot of miles on the trainer. I ran a lot of miles. I did a lot of dryland strength training (no pools/no open water swimming). 

2020 Totals:

1. 1151.5 miles of running (the run streak continues)

2. 2881.3 miles of cycling 

3. 181,146 yard or 102 miles of swimming

I was interviewed on 3 different Podcasts. I faced my fear of biking outdoors and started to actively bike commute once our facility reopened. I may have been doored (5 times), cussed out by motorists, had bottles thrown at me (twice), flipped over the handlebars of a Divvy Bike (in slow motion) and rode like I was in the Tour de France (more than a handful of times). My bike handling skills greatly improved. My anxiety of riding in traffic eased up. I rode in oppressive heat, unrelenting winds, pouring rain, snow, 19 degrees (not fun), early morning and late at night. I learned that I’m a better biker than I thought. It was years of others telling me that I was not good enough that got in my head. Not anymore, albeit there is still some anxiety, doubt and fear in the back of my head.

So that brings us to 2021.

• I'm a brand ambassador for @TrainingPeaks, @nuunhydration,  @fuerzacoffee, @blueseventy,  @honeystinger,  @coeursports

● I am approaching 250 days of running in a row. I’m continuing with 5 Zoom Pilates Classes until in person classes return. Although I think I will continue to keep 3 classes going.

● I will be presenting at a conference (virtually).Hopefully, this will lead to more opportunities.

● #TeaserTuesday and #WundaChairWednesday posts will continue. Some other things are in the pipeline which will be announced later on.

● Race wise, I only have technically 3 races in 2021: Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3 distance in June, ITU World Championships in Aquathlon in September and the Chicago Marathon (it’s really a work day) in October.

So, that is it for now. Here’s to a great start to 2021!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

200 DAYS...of running

This morning marked a milestone for me. I have made it 200 straight days of running. Some days were just a mile and other days were 13.1. Total runs actually are 236 and counting. When I set out on my #runstreak back on May 1st, I was looking to only go through the #chimarathon.

When that became clear it was not going to happen, nor would any of my races or events, I decided to keep going because as my hashtag has been since the world stopped due to Covid-19, #trainingisnotcancelled.

So why do a #runstreak? It was something to keep myself accountable. It is something that kept my stress and anxiety levels down. It is something that helps me clear my mind and either just zone out or think of ideas/solutions.

Since I have hit the 200 day mark, I have run a total of 924.2 miles. Last year, my #runstreak started a month later (June 1st) and at the end (October 13th), I ended with 525.14 miles. That’s a huge increase but remember, I started a month early and I was doing some (okay, a LOT) of virtual challenges. But, another item I realized is that today also marks my #ironversary, the day I crossed #IMAZ 7 years ago. 

Some people have been wondering will I return to the full Iron distance and the answer is yes. Not in 2021 unless something magically happens, but definitely in 2022.

Now when will my #runstreak end? You just have to find out.

Monday, June 1, 2020 the world turns topsy turvy

Today is June 1st. A new day, a new Monday and a new month. For the past 77 days, I have been SIP (shelter in place and "unemployed"). 2020 has been interesting and stressful to say the least. The year started really well. Training for Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and Half Iron distance race in June and also my A race which was the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam for Aquathlon in September. But then Covid-19 reared its ugly head. Rev3 Williamsburg has been postponed to August of this year, although I have decided that I will defer until 2021 due to the lack of swimming since March 15th. And just last week, the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam has been cancelled and will reconvene in 2021 but I still have my spot. Hey, at least I purchased my TEAM USA uniform!

But let's get to the heart of everything that is happening NOW! As a Black Woman... in America...I'm tired. I am mentally exhausted. I am so happy that I do not have a television but the live feeds from the protests of the death of George Floyd; or let's add the death of Amaud Aubrey while he was running; or  Breonna Taylor who was shot in her home is too much for any one to take. What do I have to worry about? I have to worry about being followed by the police when I am running in my neighborhood. I have to make sure that I am wearing something that is non-threatening (a running skirt and a brightly colored top). I have to make sure that I have my ID on me at all times. Look, I'm just trying to workout for my sanity since gyms are closed and I do not have the space (or the money) for a treadmill.

Everyday is a struggle. I wake up, throw on my running clothes and running shoes to hit the pavement. I run to escape try and soothe my soul. I run for my mental and my physical health. I run because I need to be free. I have learned, while we are SIP that there are some streets here on the Northside of Chicago, where I live, I really have no business running down. Learned that the hard way. I have dealt with my share and will continue to deal with racism throughout my daily encounters. I have dealt with it in racing, in training (I'm a Pilates Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor) and Coaching.

I'm tired, but I keep going because I shouldn't have to cower in the corner.

I'm tired, but training is not cancelled.

I'm tired, but race day will return.

I'm tired, but I have an obligation not only to myself to remain healthy, but to my clients and athletes.

I'm tired, but I hope to one day see a world where I am not judged based on my skin color or my sex.

That is all.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 is almost done and 2020 has just gotten very interesting

I know, it's been a while but now I'm back. For real, for real, I'm back! So, what have I been up to?

1. In February, I went to Austin, TX to do the Austin Half Marathon with my good friend Sally.

Yes, that is my medal with a bowl of ice cream. I deserved it.

2. I did Chattanooga 70.3 in May for a second time with the swim being being cut short AGAIN!!!! 

3. At the end of September, I did the Chicago Half Marathon in the pouring rain. I actually did 17 miles of it as opposed to 13.1 as I was on coach duty and also running back and forth running my athletes in.

4. I did the Girls on the Run 5k to help out one of my athletes to be a running buddy to a young girl. Although it was my slowest 5k, it was so much fun except the girl I was paired with face planted towards the end. Don't worry, she got up and finished like a Champ!

5. In the early part of November, I flew down to Miami for the MiamiMan Multisport Festival. I competed in the Aquathlon (1000m swim and 5k run). It was literally a fly in/fly out race. The only goal I had was to get 18th place in my age group which would mean I would qualify for the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam in 2020. Guess what? I qualified! Yes, I am going to Amsterdam by any means necessary to race. I can't pass up this opportunity.

6. Last, but not least, the Turkey Trot 8k on Thanksgiving morning with my T2 #ganginred

So, as I prepare to swim 100 x 100 yards after I finish training clients (yes, 10,000 YARDS) on this NYE, 2020 is the year of Joy.

I am going to actually put myself first. I normally don't race a lot due to my commitment as a trainer and a coach. Not gonna happen in 2020. If all goes well, this is my race schedule for 2020:

March 28:         Rock n' Roll DC Marathon
April 26:           Challenge Cancun
May 23:            Soldier Field 10 Miler
June 27-28:       Rev3 Sprint and Half Iron
September 10:   ITU World Championships - Aquathlon
September 27:   Chicago Half Marathon
October 11:       Chicago Marathon (I am actually starting and may/may not finish - coach duties)
November 22:   Ironman Cozumel 

Whew! That's a lot but we'll see how it goes! Happy training and Happy New Year!
#afrocoach #milesandsmiles #swimmer #blackmermaid #blackgirlsswim #cyclist #runner #coach #athlete #marathoner #triathlete #multisportathlete #coffeelover 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Run streak: I made it to 100 days of running today

I'm back! Did you miss me? I'm really back now.

I never set out to do 100 days of running. My original intention was to run 30 days from June 1st to June 30th. I had just came off of training and finishing Chattanooga 70.3 and was looking for a new challenge. Marathon coaching/training was starting soon, so why not start on June 1st, a mere 9 days before the start of training. I have never ran 30 days in a row. PERIODT!!!!!! My rules were simple. If it was on the training plan, then either I did the mileage or time. If it was not on the training plan, then I had to run a minimum of 1 mile. Easy, right? Not necessarily. There were some days that my legs were like "f*** you" and other days where I felt strong. Days where my migraine tried to get the best of me and days where I question my sanity. Days where I found clarity and days where I just needed to run.

June 30th came and went. I logged 71.3 miles.

Hmmm, let's keep going until my birthday. Well, my birthday fell on a Wednesday (#temporunwednesday) and there was a track workout on Thursday.
Well, let's keep going to the end of the month. July gave me 104.8 miles.  Okay, let's just go into August up until day 75.

On  a side note: during the first 7 days of July,  I also did a swim streak. I ended up swimming over 33,000 yards in 7 days.

So, what had happened was? Day 75 came and went.

I was so far into no man's territory, I just started having the thought of:
1. Do I go to day 100 and so be it?
2. Do I go to day 135 (#chimarathon)?
3. Do I go to day 150?

That was going through my head. My August bank account gave me 146 miles. Oh boy! 

September shows up and now it's like I need to grab that carrot! It was the countdown to today. 100 days of running totaling, as of today: 351.7 miles or a Hell of a lot of my family members. 
So now, I'm continuing on until at least the Chicago Marathon (remember, I do not cross the finish line but I run a whole lot). 

But what I have learned in this journey, so far is that I can run every day and be okay. I can run a variety of paces, depending on duration. I prefer to run in the morning but sometimes my schedule dictates when I run. I have been able to inspire friends to try their own streak. So, here's to the next 35 days or more.