Race Recap: AC 70.3

Monday, September 18, 2017

For the past 8 months my Atlantic City half Ironman journey motto was "How bad do you want it."

On days when I wanted to cut a run short or jump off the bike early or skip the pool because the pool is cold, I would say that to myself to remind me that this journey would NOT be easy.

Racing 70.3 miles is NOT a walk in the park, it takes training, early morning and REALLY late nights pounding pavement or on the bike trainer. I started a new job in March, have been planning a wedding and help Ainsley's Angels full time. I could have made EVERY excuse in the book leading up to yesterday, but I wasn't going to do that because I wanted yesterday. I wanted it BAD and I wanted to cross that finish line. I'm blessed to have the ability to do this and there is not one day where I take it for granted.

I'm not the skinniest, lightest or fastest athlete, but I'm STRONG, physically and more importantly, MENTALLY. I was without a doubt one of the heaviest females out on the course yesterday representing the Athena's, and proud to show all of the spectators watching on the Boardwalk yesterday that weight is a NUMBER, it doesn't define who you are or your availability to compete at this caliber of a race. It all comes down to how bad do you want it!

Race Expo

I won't write much about this but the expo was great. I got to meet other Athena ladies who I'm friends with on a Facebook page in person, as well as the Women for Tri ladies which is a Facebook page I LOVE. I got to see the IronVillage and FINALLY bought some Ironman branded gear. I have refused to wear it until I did an Ironman race. Happy the wait is over.

Day Race

Yesterday was a long, hard, yet amazing day. I knew it was not going to be easy, but for some crazy reason, I feed off this shit. I live for race day and the nerves and the pukey feeling leading up to it. Taylor deals with my crazy emotions and is always telling me "I know you're going to kill it, you always do!" He's usually always right. He's the best.

It was an early start on race morning. Up at 4:30 a.m. and got to the site around 530. I had an hour in transition to get all of my gear laid out and ready to go. I filled up on bike water bottle with my nutrition, placed my fig newtons on my bike and placed my sneakers, hat, sunglasses and running bib together for the run portion. Janice and I were about 10 bikes away from each other in transition so we chatted as we set up. We both left transition and tried to choke down a bagel before the start. I can NEVER eat on race day because my nerves are so high but I was able to eat half as Taylor stood there
as my food monitor. (Again, he's amazing and wants the best for me.)

Anxiously, 2500 of us waited at the swim start. This course was a rolling start so you put your self in line with what time you think you will finish. With a goal of 45 minutes, Janice and I set ourselves in the middle. We chatted with our friend Kelly and met a nice woman from State College in line. Chatting together settled the nerves...at this point, I was ready to get the day started.

The swim is my favorite part, it always is because for some reason I'm good at it. With the rolling start, 6 of us started every 10 seconds. I got to the dock with Janice and 4 dudes...beep, beep. beep...GO! Off the dock, no turning back. For me, the swim is all about keeping rhythm with my stroke and breathing. I passed lots of green caps (guys!) and found my rhythm after about 200 yards in. For a while there was no one around me..just the water and the casino skyline I saw with every breath. It was an out and back swim and I was so happy to hit the turn around. Coming back we were swimming into the current so I had to put a little extra pull into the swim. Around 1300 yards my neck started to burn. I realized my suit and sports bra were chafing the back of my neck. I've never had this before and it was so painful. I knew that would NOT be pretty at the end of in the shower later that night. People were getting tired and lots were converting to breath stroke to catch their breath. I knew I had to keep fighting and did. I could hear the announcer and knew I was getting close. Through the two buoys and I was finished! Goal time: 45 minutes Actual Time: 47 minutes

Into transition I went and was in and out in under 3 minutes. I racked my bike, dried my feet, put my shoes and helmet on. Lets ride -- my least favorite discipline in triathlon. The bike was looooong. It was a 2.5 loop which took you on the AC Expressway and off exit 5 through a community there. That loop at exit 5 we had to do 3x and it was terrible for me. The road wasn't very smooth and just enough small hills to kill your legs. I kept telling myself get through those 5 miles and hammer it on the straight away on the Expressway -- so that's what I did. At the other turn around I saw Taylor camped out on his chair cheering EVERYONE one. By mile 45 my ass hurt so bad I had no idea how I was gonna get done. When I sat up it hurt, when I went down into aero it hurt. Only 10 miles and you're off this damn thing I repeated over and over. The bike is my weakest and I really prayed to be fast enough to give myself enough time on the run to make the cut off. Goal Time: 4 hours Actual Time: 3:44

I finally got off the bike and had to change up for the run. I racked my bike, grabbed my run gear and onto the LAST leg. Another fast transition. (I dont know how so people take SO LONG in there, boggles my mind!) As I was running out of transition there were two volunteers there to spray you down with sun screen. The entire bike ride was cloudy but for the run the sun was out. I knew I'd regret not putting it on so I decided to lube up. I had terrible chafing on my neck from the swim and it burned soooo bad when the ladies sprayed. I actually yelled and the one lady said "I know sweetie, I'm sorry but itll be worth it. Now go become an Ironman."

So off to the run...I took about 15 steps and said to myself ohhhh boy, this is gonna be a long 13.1 miles. My legs felt like jello and it took me the first mile to find them. I saw Taylor waiting for me and I finally saw Janice. It was great to see her face. I was cruising for a bit and Janice caught up to me around mile 4.5 She was feeling it and I told her go sister, crush this!! I was feeling good through mile 8 and that is when the struggle bus hit. I knew the last 5 were going to be more than moving my legs but mentally getting through it.

I didn't train this way but sometimes you need to make a race day decision...during the run I did a run/walk method. I really wanted to run each mile, walk each aid station, but it wasn't happening and I wasn't going to let it ruin me. I was still smiling and loving this day. So on the boardwalk there were flags hanging on the pools...I ran 5 flags and walked a flag. I did this over and over and over again. It made the miles go by quicker and kept me moving forward. I had the same routine at each aid station, two cups of water (drink one and one on me), orange slice, and cup of ice that went into my tri kit.

I ended up running into my friend Howard from the Lansdale Run Club and we ran alot of the run together. We didn't say much, but knowing he was there gave me some comfort. I saw Janice at mile 11 when I was at 10.5. We knew this stretch was doing to be hard and hurt. We hugged each other and I told her how proud of her I was. I wish I could have seen her cross the finish line. I tried so hard to catch her on the turn around but I just couldn't. With two miles left I looked at my watch and started crunching numbers. I knew I was going to make it happen, today was happening. Hello water works. Spectators kept saying to me "you're there, hang in there." I think they all thought I was hurt and I'd ugly cry saying to them "I did this, I'm really doing this". Them all smiles would say Yes you are, keep going.

Howard and I ran the last mile together and I told him to go ahead of me because I wanted MY moment running down the chute alone to the finish. That red carpet and the fans and seeing Taylor was just as I expected. I soaked in every. single. step of that red carpet and that is the moment I've replayed in my head for 8 months straight saying "how bad do you want it." Hands in the air, playing off the crowd and finally a big huge yell...I did it. I fucking did it!!! "And here is Amanda Piccccccirilli from Lansdaleeeeee, Pennsylvania" the announcer said for the crowd to hear. I walked through, got a water towel and my finisher pint glass. And there waiting for me was my IronBestie Janice. I hugged her so tight and cried like a baby, then she cried. She did it. I did it. WE did it. TOGETHER, from start to finish. Run Goal Time: 2:45 Actual Time: 3:12

Yesterday was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. Way harder than a marathon.But i loved it, every single minute and mile. I literally smiled the whole race and enjoyed it and the people. Yesterday's main goal was to have FUN and enjoy every moment. I did just that and was happy with my time based on what I was hoping to get. Overall Goal Time: 7:45 Actual Time: 7:52

Re-Scheduling & Dog Barking: Road to AC70.3

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I just looked at my GoPro video from last night and I was so pissed. HAHAHAHAHA But in all fairness, the gym is seriously insanely packed and I need to come up with a new game plan on run days.

I've been a baby this winter and hitting the treadmill more than years past, HOWEVER, each and every time I go to the gym there are no available treadmills. So after being upset for the 5th time I think I need to say enough is enough and only head to the gym for spin, yoga and lifting.

In theory I should REALLY start getting up early and running with The Run Club in the morning (I miss my asscrackers). But let me type out my logic and MAYBE I'm insane for thinking this way, but I'd love your comments on this post to say "Amanda, I can understand your view point" or I'd appreciate hearing  "Amanda, you're insane, that's a dumb reason." So here we go.

Since moving out of my parents house I've not gone for early morning runs with The Run Club. When I lived at home I'd take him out for a quick pee, I'd get dressed and he'd curl up in bed with my mom until I got back. I now live in an apartment which is a twin house converted into an upstairs and downstairs apartment. Our neighbors upstairs are super cool and the twin connected to us is a family of 6 - two adults and 4 kids. Run Club runs START at 5:15 a.m. which means I need to leave the house at 4:45 a.m. Taylor leaves the house every day at 5:30 a.m. for work.

It doesn't matter if it is 5:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m., Gatsby barks his face off when we (mainly I) leave the house. I'm sure this is normal, HOWEVER, to have my dog barking his face off at 4:45 a.m. and/or 5:30 a.m. when Taylor leaves, I feel awful that my neighbors have to hear that/deal with it so so early in the morning. So to not have to deal with it I just run at night.

Am I insane for thinking this way?! He has to stop barking at some point, right? I feel like my only other option is to run at home BEFORE Taylor leaves at 5:30 a.m.

Please, some feedback is appreciated. 

Off to Spin tonight with Janice and Taylor. I've been using the My Fitness Pal for logging my food and workouts and it's working really well. I have a few accountability buddies on there so it's nice to have the support. Love you A.R.


Fight The Food: Road to AC70.3

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How many of us can relate: We just had an 8+ hour work day, we know we need to get to the gym to get a good workout in and then we realize we didn't meal prep for dinner. You get in your car after your awesome workout and you just say to yourself, "I'm too tired, I'll just go pick something up." The "go pick something up" usually means fast food or something of poor quality. Say goodbye to the 1500 calories you just burned.

I am the first one to say I am guilty of this...tonight was ALMOST one of those nights -- I was debating between Saladworks and Wendy's because they are both easy stops on my way home.

And then as I put my car into drive I said NO AMANDA!!! Stop being a lazy turd and go home and make food. MAKE THE SMART DECISION, AMANDA.

My eating habits are not great -- I  can work out has hard as I want, but exercise will NEVER outweigh an awful diet. I've been heavy and Ive been thin. I know what it takes to lose weight and get to my fittest ability. But it doesn't come without WORK and smart choices.

Tonight was a victory in my book -- I made the RIGHT choice to make a healthy dinner and not let the inner demon win.

Celebrate the small victories in life -- sometimes they are some of the biggest ones.


Dip, Baby, Dip: Road to AC70.3

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It felt so good to get into the pool on Friday. Like really, really good. This was the first time I took a dip since my Olympic Triathlon in Atlantic City back in August. I really only planned to swim maybe 400m but I felt really good and it turned into 1000m.

I went about it in 100m intervals....swimming the 100m and then giving myself a 20 second rest and completing 10 sets. Taylor and I joined the YMCA this summer and I'm so glad we did. Our facility has three pools and the one pool is amazing. Six lanes of quality. Surprisingly it is always jam packed. Luckily, there were a few lanes open on Friday and I got it done. I know others would have been willing to share.

Friday night was spent at dinner with my parents and packing for a weekend trip to Philadelphia as my best friend and her husband decided for a random visit. Saturday morning Taylor and I got up super early to run with our friend, Vickie. I knew I had to call someone to run with me for accountability or I would have over slept and missed the workout completely. Vickie is one hell of a lady and I miss not seeing her as much. It was great to catch up with her and hear about her fitness adventures for 2017.

The rest of the weekend was spent in Philly doing super tourist things, drinking and eating way too much and belly laughs. Sometime it is the perfect medicine the doctor subscribes.

On to another week of meditation, workouts and burning off the thousands of calories I took in this weekend.


Meet Janice: Road to AC70.3

Friday, January 13, 2017

Everyone, meet Janice. She is the one who is going to have to put up with me most over the next250+ days. With unusual 60 degree temperatures in January, there was NO WAY I was going to run inside on the treadmill on a day like that. So we packed up our cars and headed to Fischers Park. Janice's babygirl, Brooklyn, tagged along with us and she did amazing in the jogging stroller. I have a feeling she's going to have to get use to it because IRONmama Janice will most likely be bringing her on more runs than not. It was great to see Janice experience what I do during Ainsley's Angels events pushing.

Brooklyn is a great little distraction and her laughing when we laugh is the cutest thing in the world. I got to pick Janice's brain a little bit and see where she is mentally as we go into this journey called Ironman.

Post-run I hung out at the dark for a little and did my meditation there. With a backdrop like that, how could I not.

I can't help but let doubt creep into my mind every so often...I'm not strong enough....I'm not fit enough...I'm not capable of doing this. Doubt is the worst thing, but it's digging deep and facing that demon head on and saying YES I CAN that will get me through my darkest days of training.

Things are happy go lucky right now but give it a few weeks and tougher days are ahead. But I've learned to appreciate my efforts and believe in me. YES I CAN!!!

IRONbesties: Road to AC70.3

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In my eyes, it's pretty freakin cool when you and one of your best friends get to tackle a HUGE milestone together, like a half Ironman. That best friend is Janice. I just recently asked Janice to be in my wedding this October and as part of our wedding website, I asked all my bridesmaids to write a little blurb about how they know me. Here is what Janice had to say:

I met Amanda in second grade at Gwynedd Square Elementary. It was always easy to be friends with
her. She is outgoing, kind and leaves a lasting impression. Our friendship is simple, we push each other to be our very best! It started spending endless years competing on the soccer fields as kids. Soccer was life. Fast forward, we now share a love/passion for Triathlons. She's the only friend crazy enough to sign up for a 70.3 Ironman this September with me! Amanda is the most fierce athlete I know. She never quits!! I am beyond honored to be her bridesmaid and share this journey with her!

I am beyond humbled to hear those words come out of Janice's mouth, however, I'm not too sure if she knows how much she means to me. She taught me at a very young age friendship loyalty. For instance, she grew up loving the Backstreet Boys....I was an N'Sync fan. Two rivals, however, we loved each other for being opposites and regardless of musical preference, we still had each other. We sang our hearts out to both bands and told all our secrets as we laid on her water bed. Her basement bedroom was the coolest bedroom any of my friends had. In my eyes she was SOOOO cool. I was the lucky one.

Her humor, outgoing personality, and adventurous lifestyle are only a few of the things I love about Janice. I can remember going to her house in second grade, eating spaghetti and meatballs, dancing, and making up live performances. Luckily for me during middle school, Janice moved THREE DOORS DOWN from me!!! For nearly 7 years she was the first person I got to see EVERY morning. We laughed, shared stories, sat next to each other on the bus. Her hair was always a different color and most days ended with "wanna hang out later?" She was the best morning caffeine I could have.

From little 7 year olds, to now grown women, her as a mom, me as a soon-to-be bride, SHE is the one that inspired me to get into the sport of triathlon. She bugged me for YEARS and I always pushed back because I was too busy being just a runner. I am so grateful that she finally got me to commit to the Sandy Hook Iron Girl race in 2015 because this sport has opened my eyes to new challenges I never thought possible.

You're a wonderful mother, a terrific wife, a cherished friend and the greatest female role model Brooklyn has ever seen. Thank you for opening my eyes to new adventures....thank you for always believing in me when I don't believe in myself....and more than anything - thank you for being YOU. This journey would be nothing without you and it is because of YOU I hit the 'register' button.

Stroke It, Ride It, Pound It. Me and you girl.


The Yoga Struggle is Real: Road to AC70.3

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The gym is absolutely packed with new year's resolution go-getters (GET AFTER IT!!) However, it is REALLLLLY screwing up my workout flow.

Despite the hectic YMCA, sometimes you gotta deal with the cards dealt and do whatever necessary to get it done. So that's what I did. I squeezed in an almost quick mile and then headed to yoga class. Fashionably late because I went to the wrong classroom, into yoga I went.

Yoga is seriously my real life torture chamber. I have ZERO flexibility and I haven't had any my  entire life. I'm no where close to touching my toes and Taylor has no idea how I was a gymnastic growing up (lets just say my splits and handstands were never straight but I still won first place in the all-around competition.) Enough down memory lane, back to today. Right, right, yoga is torture. I find no calm or peacefulness in the practice ... I sweat like a pig, my body shakes.  I hurt, I'm sore.

BUT, let me throw this in, I'm really starting to enjoy the challenge and I really think it will help with my flexibility and my stretching. I'm in it to win it. Plus, the meditation at the end is always my favorite. (I started a new year's meditation challenge...Ill post about that another time.)

Run - Yoga - Run was Tuesday's workout and mission complete.

On to the next day.


It's Happening: Road to AC70.3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 is going to be a big year.... with a wedding in October, one who is sane would think, "hey, maybe you should evaluate your life and what you have in store the next 10 months." Well let's get real...I'M INSANE!

In 276 days I get to marry my best friend. But before I walk down the aisle, in 249 days I will be attempting my first half IRONMAN with my best friend, Janice.


A half IRONMAN is 70.3 miles in total -- that means a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. I've ran half marathons and marathons, I've completed sprint and Olympic distance triathlons...and I can only do what is next on the bucket list...half ironman.

After several months of being UBER lazy after the Marine Corps Marathon, this past week I got back into the swing of training. Gosh does it hurt. Starting from step one is NEVER easy, but sometimes it has to be done - too frequently for me because after a major race I usually give myself a rest period. And to be quite honest, I didn't want to put my sneakers on. It was about the week of Christmas where I was REALLY craving to lace up and get back after it. So here I am.

I'm excited, scared and more than anything - thrilled to share this journey with all of you by vlogging (see video above). My "official" training plan starts January 29th -- I plan to use the IronGirl sprint triathlon training plan for 12 weeks (building my base endurance), followed by the Be Iron Fit Half Ironman training plan leading up to race day.

I've decided to REALLY focus on all aspects of my training this year -- swimming, biking, running, lifting and of course nutrition. Be Iron Fit uses zone heart rate for training so I'm excited to experience that. And in the end -- lets hope that I'm fit AF for the wedding in October (hoping I can spray tan the razor back tanlines off!!)

So here we go -- Road to AC70.3. Let's get it done!
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