400-mile bike rides, trail runs, and tri season. - Mickey Witte Ⓥ: Triathlete. Neuroscientist. Vegan.
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400-mile bike rides, trail runs, and tri season.

22 Jun Blog | Comments
400-mile bike rides, trail runs, and tri season.
 

I have no idea how it got to be June already. The past couple of months have been filled with a lot of training, traveling and racing – so much so that I have been remiss in updating my blog. To that end, here’s a quick summary of my April – May – June, thus far:

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April 2013: Let’s put a couple hundred miles on our bikes then run through the mountains for some altitude training!

GEICO combo pic

2013 GEICO Tour for Road Safety

April 8 – 11: I was lucky enough to be picked for the 2013 GEICO Tour for Road Safety Cycling Team. During Florida Road Safety Week, along with 15 other cyclists, I rode 400 miles from Orlando to Tallahassee in 4 days straight – all in the name of road safety awareness. You may recall that I was also a part of the 2011 GEICO Tour for Road Safety (my 2011 tour re-cap can be found here), during which we road 600 miles in 6 days straight. This time around, I was happy to not be the only person representing South Florida/Miami. My good friends and hilarious partners in crime: Xavier, Maria Luisa and Cristina all got selected for the team as well and Maria Luisa’s husband Michael was picked for the on-the-road support crew.

Once in Tallahassee, Xavier, Maria Luisa, Michael and I stayed a few extra days to meet with some of our Florida state senators and representatives to lobby for the Aaron Cohen Safety Initiative. The Aaron Cohen Safety Initiative is a grass-roots campaign that I helped initiate in response to the unjust, absurdly weak sentencing of a hit-and-run driver who plowed down and killed a man named Aaron Cohen, who was one of Miami’s beloved triathletes, while he was riding his bicycle in the bike lane on Key Biscayne.

April 20 – 21: As if riding 400 miles in 4 days wasn’t enough, Xavier, Maria Luisa, Michael and I rode 200 miles from Miami to Key Largo the following weekend, as ride marshals for the MS200. Having been a ride marshal and safety coordinator for various other charity rides and as a neuroscientist, I’m all too well aware of the painstaking journey that people with multiple sclerosis must endure, so I was happy to step in to help out for the weekend for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. After all, what’s another 200 miles? 😉

April 26 – 29: As a brand ambassador for Nuun – the optimal and conveniently portable hydration tablets – I got the unique opportunity to race on Team Nuun for the first EVER Ragnar Trail Relay Race, which was held in Utah at beautiful Zion National Park! This was my first time running – let alone racing – on trails since I’d twisted and sprained my ankle during an off-road half marathon three years prior. I was finally ready to face my fear of anabolic steroids on uneven terrain. En route to Zion, I made a quick trip to a running supply store and invested in a pair of sweet Brooks trail running kicks, per the guidance of my Nuun Ragnar Zion teammate and trail running extraordinaire, Megan.

sun up at Zion

Pictures do no justice to the beauty found in nature at Zion National Park.

The whole experience at Zion was truly amazing. Being out there camping in tents and racing through the night in the middle of nature was positively breathtaking (no seriously, we were at an elevation of 4,000 feet, so there was minimal oxygen to go around). Despite feeling like I was breathing through a straw every time I ran a leg of the race, I had an absolute blast with a team of solid athletes from all across the country who love nuun and love to have a fun time. THANK YOU, NUUN, for another fantastically memorable Ragnar experience! – one that could have been disastrously dehydrating in the dry, desert heat if it wasn’t for nuun keeping us hydrated and our electrolytes in check.

TeamRagnar Zion

Team Nuun Ragnar Zion! (minus Megan K. who was running one of her legs at the time and Mike who was already finished).

(Also, very big thanks go out to: Ragnar Nuun Zion teammate and ultrarunner superstar, Dana, for the use of her extra tent and snuggly warm sleeping bag – without which I would have surely frozen in the middle of the night, and to my Wolfpack teammates Caryn, Cynthia and Ori who opened their closets the night before I flew out west to pull together enough cold-weather apparel to keep this Miami girl warm & toasty during the overnight frigid temps while camping in the Zion desert).

3kings at Zion

These rock formations found at Zion National Park are known as the “Three Kings” – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

 

 

If you want to read about and vicariously re-live the first-ever Ragnar Trail Relay Race experience at Zion Ponderosa Ranch, check out these gripping re-caps written by 3 of my awesome Nuun Ragnar Zion teammates: here, here and here – enjoy! 🙂

mytentspace2

At the top of my allotted tent space, I kept a few of the bare essentials: BonkBreakers, nuun, Accel gels…

 

 

 

I had a blast zipping (literally) through the month April, but all that time away had me really missing my husband Ryan so much. I was ecstatic when he decided to meet me out at Zion after the relay race so that we could spend a few days together out west. We drove from the mountains in Zion to the bright, flashing lights of Las Vegas where we enjoyed a couple of amazing shows (“O” is an absolute MUST-SEE if you are ever in Vegas) and relaxed for a few days before heading back to Miami.

May 2013: Back to the grind, but still on the road (sort of)…

May 1 – 5: Mid-way through the first week of May, I found myself back in Miami and back to an almost-normal training schedule again with my teammates on the Wolfpack. I felt some immediate effects of having run those Zion trails at high altitude the week before because during my first long run back at sea level, I ended up comfortably (though accidentally) running a pace that would normally have me gasping for air. Sweet! Hooray for incidental altitude training.

May 11: The following weekend, I raced a 5K after having been out late the night before on a friend’s yacht watching our Miami HEAT crush the Chicago Bulls (Go HEAT!!!). Despite going into the race with no pressure and no expectations, I pleasantly surprised myself with a top 3 overall finish. That race was particularly special because along with my Wolfpack teammates, we raced it as part of “Granny’s Team” in memory of our friend Eli‘s beloved granny who passed away last year after battling ALS and all of the proceeds from that race went to the ALS Recovery Fund.

May 17-22: Next came a quick trip to NYC where we got to catch up with some friends, see a show in the city and attend a family friend’s wedding in NJ. Taking advantage of the fact that winter (and thus, frigid temps and snow) is gone, I paid a quick visit to my family in NJ and PA and then flew back to Miami to get back to the grind only to find myself run-down with some type of fever, scratchy throat and flu-like symptoms…yes, ladies and gentleman, it was finally time to slow down…

June 2013: Eyes on the prize – Nationals is right around the corner

After getting over being sick (assisted by my amazing husband who just so happens to be the best in-house chef a girl could ever ask for), I was so happy to be back on the yoga mat, back in the water and back to training consistently on a “normal” schedule again.

June 16: Last weekend was the Heartland Triathlon in Sebring, Florida (which is about 170 miles north of Miami). A few of us in the Wolfpack decided to make a road trip out of it since the race offered a fun, community- and family-oriented vibe, both Sprint and Olympic distance races, and something that south Florida has none of — hills! 🙂 With the USAT National Championship on the horizon in August, we took the opportunity to get in a solid race while also varying the terrain a bit.

Wolfpack @ Heartland

Wolfpack & co. post-Heartland tri!

 

Despite not feeling like I am quite where I’d like to be yet, in terms of acclimating once again to the summer heat, I ended up racing my way to 3rd overall. The quick swim was in a calm, beautiful lake. Despite having to swim over several of the men who started in the wave ahead of mine, I ran out of the water and into T1 ready to unleash on the bike. Once on the bike, I’d never felt so good in the saddle in my life! The rolling terrain that the course offered was a very welcome relief to the boring flats we’re used to in South Florida.

Laying down the fastest female bike split of the day, I got off the bike in the lead, but was quickly taken over by a top masters triathlete who ran her way – like a gazelle – to number one. Unfortunately, I never got to see the girl who ended up taking second overall (beating me by 17 seconds) because she didn’t start in my wave. This is one of the downsides to starting the race in waves, timed a few minutes apart, instead of all at once. Logistically, starting a triathlon in waves is necessary for safety and other reasons, but it’s a drag to not know who the “true” winner is or where your overall placement is, until after the race is over and the final results are posted. I suppose one could say that you should always push as hard as possible no matter what, but there’s something to be said for the saying that you can only race the race you’re in. For instance, had that girl started in my wave and I was able to see her the entire time, who knows? — she might have pushed me to run harder and exceed even my own expectations. I don’t know if I could have made up 17 seconds over the course of the run, but I might have been able to sprint finish my way to close that gap a little more. I’ll just have to bank that one for now and pull it out for mental strength down the road when I need it…

Heartland Tri

These are some action shots taken by the professional photographers at BB Action Photography who were out on the race course.

Since I’ve chosen to make the all-or-nothing “pure guts” sprint distance a large focus of my racing this year, I’ve been working a lot on power and speed. Thanks to the diligence of the Wolfpack’s resident “alpha wolf,” Joey, I’m confident that by September, I’ll be toeing the line in London at the very height of my fitness. While I know that training during the dog-days of summer – in the heat of South Florida – will be no picnic, I know that I am positively up for the challenge and am excited for what lies ahead.

/MW

 

 

 

 

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