Conquering Fears

This weekend I participated in the NYC triathlon. The race consisted of a 1 mile swim, a 40k (24.8 miles) bike and a 10k (6.2 miles) run. Most of you would probably assume that for me, the race got more challenging as it went along . For the most part, you are right. My swim time was 7th in my age group (not going to lie, a slight disappointment), my bike split was 20th and my run split was 102nd. So yes, things got more difficult for my as the race went along — but that’s only speaking about the physical challenges.

Mentally, the swim was the worst. Ever since I was accepted into this race I’ve been panicking. I mean, swimming in the Hudson? Who wouldn’t be nervous?

Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson
Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson

But I’ve had a fear of open water swimming for years. Swimming in pools, fine. You can see the bottom, most of the time they don’t contain animals and the chlorine keeps out all of the “bad things.” But swimming in open water, that’s another story.

Some of you may remember this post blog I wrote about visit my grandparents in Florida. In it I mentioned my fear of open water swimming:

Abby and I spent a lot of time swimming in the bay in front of our grandparents house. We would blow up rafts and inner tubes, and see who could stand on them the longest without falling in the water. At the end of the bay, there was a mangrove island, no more than 150 yards away. When Abby was 7 years old, she decided she was going to swim out to this island. My dad jumped in the inflatable row-boat and paddled along besides her as she bravely made her way out to the island and back. When she returned, my grandfather gave her a sliver dollar for accomplishing this feat. Year after year, when we returned to their house, my grandfather would ask me if I was ready to make the same swim. Not until I was 21 years old did I actually do it; and I was freaking out the entire time. Sadly, I never received a silver dollar for my feat of bravery…

So for me, taking on the Hudson, which is fill with who knows what, was a feat for me. And it definitely gave me reason to smile the rest of the race, even when I was running/jogging/trudging at the end!

So happy to be out of the water
So happy to be out of the water
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
So close to the finish!
So close to the finish!

Thank you Matt for acting as my support crew. It was reassuring to see you running along the path as I swam, frantically swinging your arms around and telling me to go faster. It definitely reminded me of our days on Gators. Plus your hair looked amazing.

photo (28)

 

IronMatt

Please excuse my recent absence from the blogging world. Last week was a big one in the Englehauer household.

On Saturday, my husband, along with 24 other Robin Hood athletes competed in the US Ironman Championships held in New York City.

They don’t call it an “Ironman” for nothing—the race included a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson (that suffered from a sewage leak just days before the race), a 112-mile bike along the Palisades and then a refreshing 26.2-mile run that finishes in Riverside Park. Our athletes posted times ranging from 9 hours and 59 minutes to 15 hours and 48 minutes. All of the athletes were well ahead of the midnight cut off and all crossed the finish line with big smiles across their faces. Matt was no exception.

Matt posted a blistering swim split, 43 minutes, clearly channeling his days as a Bernal’s Gator. He then followed that up with a solid bike, averaging just over 18 mph for the 112 mile ride.

The marathon was definitely the most difficult part of the race – temperatures reached the high 90s, the first 14 miles of the course has an incredible amount of hills and just for fun at mile 17, there were stairs on the George Washington Bridge that you had to run up and down. And to make things even more difficult, Matt’s training consisted of short tempo runs and a 10 mile run in the Hamptons one weekend.

Matt overcame all of this to finish his marathon in 4:40 for a total time of 11:52 (well under his 13 hour goal!)

I was happy to cheer him on the whole way but there was nothing like watching him cross the finish line.

 

So while I am so proud of Matt and all he accomplished on Saturday – let’s not overlook all of the sacrifices I had to make to get him there.

1. For the past 3-4 months, Matt has used the Ironman as an excuse to get out of household duties. “I’m too tired from training to clean up the apartment…. I need to go work out, I don’t have time to cook…. I – I – I” While there is no “I” in team, it isn’t an accident that Iroman starts with the letter I.

2. To cheer on Matt on Saturday, my alarm went off at 3:00am. That’s early people!

3. We had custom-made Robin Hood cowbells for the race.

They were a big hit but I got a  blister from all the ringing. Looks like racing 140.6 isn’t the only thing that can lead to injury (this photo also brings up the fact that I didn’t have time to get a manicure this week with all of the running around I was dong for Matt).

 

So in the end, while I think everyone should be impressed with Matt I would like to ask for a little recognition myself. After all, I am an Ironmate!

I’m a Mooseman!

This past weekend, Matt and I continued our suburban tour — only this time we headed north.

On Friday, we loaded up the car with wetsuits, bikes and running shoes and drove up to the great state of New Hampshire for the Mooseman Half Ironman Triathlon.

We spent Friday night with my parents before heading up to Wellington State Park to check in and attending the athlete meeting. The entire day on Friday, it was pouring rain. Not really ideal conditions for a triathlon. Between the rain and the  insanely fit people all around me, I got ridiculously nervous. But thankfully my fan club of two, Matt and our friend Ryan (who were both racing as well) convinced me that everything was going to be ok and I wasn’t going to come in last. After a long, soggy day and a pasta dinner, we turned in for the night.

Now, I don’t really want to relive all 70.3 miles so here are some highlights.

1. Getting my wetsuit (thanks Jamie) on with only a minor amount of wiggling, pulling and yanking

2. The temperature was right around 60 degrees – sounds cold but it made the 62 degree temperature of the water seem much much warmer.

3. The pouring rain we experienced Friday slowed to a very light drizzle.

4. During the bike, the hills were so steep that my speed dropped down to 2 mph and I almost fell off my bike (but I didn’t!)

5. My feet were numb  from being cold and wet on the bike for 3 hours. During the first two miles of the run I felt like I was running on stumps. But I kept running.

6. The run was painful, but since it was an out and back run that we did twice, I got to see both Matt and Ryan a few times. It is surprising how far a fist pump can get you :)

7. I ran through the finish line with a smile on my face!

While the race wasn’t always pretty and my time wasn’t earth shattering, I was happy with it. Just getting out there and doing it was enough for me. However, for Matt and Ryan, this race is just the beginning… they are both competing in the Ironman US National Championships being held in NYC in August. I’m not going to lie, the thought of doing a race twice that length makes me throw up in my mouth a little. 70.3 is enough for me!

**See a recap of the race by this year’s winner, Alex Mcdonald. Congratulations on your big win!

I Love My Triathlete!

Yesterday Matt completed in the NYC triathlon. While I would have loved  to participate, it was nice to support Matt 100%. We are normally competing the in the same races, and while at the end of the day we support each other, it is hard to ignore the competition that exists between the two of us. Some couples would hate it if there were any sort of competition between them, but I think that it makes our relationship even better. We met in a competitive environment and both swam at a fairly high level, so it makes sense that we would bring that attitude into our relationship.

The first triathlon that we did together was the Timberman. That year, Matt’s training was pretty much non-existant and I ended up crossing the finish line a few minutes ahead of him. The next year, Matt came back with vengeance, and while we both improved upon our times from the year before, he posted a time that was a few minutes better than me. While I see this as a tie since we both finished first once, Matt argues that since his time the second year was the best overall, he is the ultimate winner. I still think that we need to compete in that race one more year to really determine the winner.

Some of our friends, who know us well, love to fuel our competitive nature. They are always asking us who is a better swimmer, or who would win in a race of a give stroke and distance. So one day, we decided to settle this argument once and for all. Matt and I took to the pool to compete in a series of 4 x 50s, one of each stroke. Matt won 3 of the 4 and I was truly disappointed in my performance. However, the next day, I went home sick from work with swine flu… clearly that explains my weak performance the day before. Again, I think a re-match is in order.

So while I love Matt and support him in all that he does, I certainly don’t like losing to him. I hope that as our relationship continues, we never stop racing or challenging ourselves to be better as individuals and ultimately, to be better together.

So while I am extremely proud of Matt and the results he posted yesterday, I am also very excited for next year. Hopefully, we both get the opportunity to compete in the race and I end up on top ;)