CF January Race Report: Polar Prowl Half Marathon

As I mentioned in my anti-“new year, new you” post, I’m planning to ramp up my running in 2016. I’ll be focusing on improving my time and strength in the half marathon distance while running 12 half marathons in 12 months.

A lot can happen over 12 months: Changes in diet, new training approaches, and (in Colorado) the impact of varying seasons. So, I’ll plan to share with you a race report for each new race I run, filled with the training approach I took, goals going into the race, most memorable parts of race day, results, and key learnings that I’ll use moving forward.

First up: Polar Prowl Half Marathon – Lakewood, CO – January 9, 2016


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Set Your Foundation

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I’ve sat down three different times over the past 10 days to write an inspiring “go get ’em” piece” filled with how-to’s on sticking to your goals, starting that healthy diet, or picking up an exercise routine that works for you.  While I was inspired by the standard January chatter online about promises for the coming year, my words on the screen just seemed empty and expected. So, rather than going that route, I’m going to share with you some key things I learned about myself in the last few months of 2015 and how I hope they can translate to – and inspire – your (read: our) success in 2016.


The Foundation

While I found myself in the midst of one of the more challenging quarters of nursing school that I will face, I was proudly still making time for my health. During these three months, I reinforced some things that I already knew about myself, but had never truly tested. Ultimately, I’ve zeroed in on three essential elements that have led to my success and sanity:

I thrive off of morning workouts: I’d much prefer to wake up at 5a.m. to fit my training in than to squeeze in a 6p.m. workout at the end of the day when my mind is filled with the stress that the day had become.

need my 8 hours of sleep: I know that if I’m going to wake up at 5a.m. to train, I need to be in bed and falling asleep by 9p.m. Now, that doesn’t mean closing the books/turning the T.V. off, letting the dogs out to go potty and getting my lunch ready for tomorrow at 9. That means starting to wind down at 8 so that I am actually falling asleep by 9.

My key to healthy eating is preparation and indulgence: Sound contradictory? Keep reading. The only way I know that I’ll eat a healthy lunch tomorrow is if it is packed and ready to go tonight. I also know that allowing myself to indulge a little bit is that only way I’m not going to continuously gorge on every piece of junk food presented to me. Simply put, I plan my meals for the week on Sunday, I cook in bulk so that my leftovers last me a few days, and I grab a handful of chips, or a bit of chocolate here and there throughout the week. The weekends are left for eating out and satisfying my pancake and beer cravings.

New year, New You. Not

I figured out that the reason I struggled writing up this post is because I really hate the idea that we have to reinvent ourselves with each new year. I’m all about improvement and setting goals, but let’s start being a little more forgiving, realistic, and loving of our current selves. Regardless of the changes we may want to make, we all have strengths in our foundation and should be focusing on using those strengths in order to successfully accomplish our goals. I accomplished a lot in 2015, but the bulk of my progress came from identifying and capitalizing on the traits I identified above. Change doesn’t come overnight, but you can set yourself up for success by making little changes today.


Maybe you want to run your first half marathon, but you’ve never run more than a mile in your life.

First of all, be excited! Positive self talk is the first key to success. When you’re comfortable sharing your goal with others, tell them “I’m going to run a half marathon in _____” instead of “I’m trying to train for a half marathon, but we’ll see.” Then, remember that this is your goal and should not be compared to anyone else. Who cares if you know people who run half marathons regularly. Do you know where they started when they started running? You sure don’t. So, don’t downplay your ambitions based on the assumptions you make about others.

Second of all, it’s yours to make happen – no one is going to do it for you. If it was worth setting as a goal and talking to your friends and family about, it’s worth seeing it through. You can talk as much you want about doing something, but you’re not going to get anywhere until you lace up those tennies and hit the pavement.

I get it. The thought of running 13 miles is pretty scary. But remember, you’re not running 13 miles today. You’re running one mile – or maybe half of one mile. The focused act of zeroing in on the baby steps and your personal foundation of strengths will take you the rest of the way. I promise!


Where are we going?

I’ve identified 2016 to be the year of learning from and building upon my strengths. My focus will be school, and in order to be successful in school, I know I need to continue eating well, sleeping soundly, and training for something. Instead of making a laundry list of everything I hope to accomplish this year in hopes that I check one or two off the list come December, I’m going to focus on two headlines that will build from my current strengths and uncover new knowledge. Here’s what I’m planning this year:

I know I like to run. So, I’m going to run one half marathon each month for as long as my academic schedule allows. Hopefully these will all be able to be organized races, however there may be months where my half marathon will be a lonely run on my own due to scheduling conflicts. With this goal, I’ll experiment with CrossFit endurance type training in an effort to build both strength and speed.

I know I like to (and am good at) eating paleo. So, I’m going to maintain a paleo diet throughout the week, and I’m not going to care about my diet on the weekends. In the meantime, I’ll plan to experiment with with varying approaches such as Zoning, Lean Gains and Intermittent Fasting.

What about you? How will your foundation hold you up to meet the goals you set for 2016?

-Live Every Day-

Coming Clean

And then there was silence.

Embarrassment, self-reflection and redirection led to a seven month lapse since my last post, and some tough decisions. I have more than accepted the fact that I’m an impulsive person. I’m inspired easily; I get grandiose ideas and want to act on them NOW; and I love pushing myself. I do, however, pride myself on the fact that I’ve (for the most part) learned to recognize and suppress those tendencies. I really am a logical and responsible person. Seriously.

In August 2014, I relapsed.

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Sophomore jitters

An inventory of early Ironman excitement the second time around

When Adam and I set out on our Ironman journey, we thought it would be fun to document the process and let it all hang out there. It started as a little side thing we’d have fun with, documenting our victories and failures throughout the year-long road to our first Ironman.

It turned out to be much more than that.

imaz start

Writing not only gave us the unique opportunity to tune in to the often overlooked details, but it allowed us to share with our friends and family exactly why we were always so exhausted on the weekends and not raging at the Swizzle Inn with everyone else. When we got to the starting line, Tri For Les followers were right there with us and knew exactly what we had put in to get there. It was really something special.

I’m excited to start blogging about my next journey, but I’m curious how it will compare to the excitement of the last go-round. After all, that was my first Ironman! Now? I’m just an Ironman who signed up for another race. Whoopee.


Let’s take a look back at the Q&A I answered In November 2012 right after registering for Ironman Arizona: Cecily Ironman Q&A November 2012

Thinking back, there are three specific words that come to mind when I took the plunge and registered for my first Ironman: excitement, fear, uncertainty. I remember leaving the registration tent with my brother that morning and the only thing either of us could think or say was “holy shit” with the sudden panicked urge to go for a long bike ride that weekend.

I remember having to make a conscious effort to tell people “I’m training for an Ironman” as opposed to “I’m trying to train for an Ironman.” I was overwhelmed with the end picture, but I was confident that I would put in the work to get as close to making it a reality as I could.

Registration for Ironman Boulder was exciting and still somewhat of a “holy crap” moment, but it was much different. I signed up online, had a little chat with my coach about the road ahead, and then grilled up some steak for dinner. Just another race added to my calendar. No biggie.

Let’s take a closer look at how those rookie feelings compare to this year. Below, I’ll answer the same Q&A, with new perspective:

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Finish line void

How to keep fitness a priority without a big race on the horizon

Footrace finish line, 1925

The desert heat didn’t used to phase me.

Three years ago, in my first triathlon blog post, I talked about staying motivated to conquer the pivotal battles that ensue on the sun-induced pre-dawn training path.

A year after that article, upon registering for my first Ironman triathlon, I went on to write about how Keanu taught me the importance of showing up.

Back then, with Ironman Arizona in my sights, I had no problem navigating the heat, waking up early for workouts, rushing to the gym after work, and squeezing in late-evening runs.

Now, about nine months after crossing the Ironman Arizona finish line, I’m singing a different tune.

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Ironman Boulder or Bust

“It’s undeniable that completing an IRONMAN race is a huge challenge. But it’s a challenge that close to 100,000 people accomplished in 2013. This means that with smart training and reasonable goals, it’s attainable. I, for one, cannot wait to toe the line again.”
Alison Patillo

For the past few months, I’ve watched and listened in envy as friends of mine have trained for and competed in half and full Ironman races. Hearing their struggles of injuries and exhaustion mixed with the excitement of hitting new milestones has left me first in awe of their perseverance and, second, in complete thirst to get back in the game.

But, Cecily, didn’t you recently write about enjoying those oysters and not letting a stupid race define your existence? Guilty. Still important. However, what if the timing were right and another race on the horizon were manageable? What if all the pieces fell together?

“Pay close attention to where your mind wanders in the shower. Your natural wanderings are your compass to what’s truly interesting to you.”


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How do you prefer your oysters?


Hello, old friends. It has been over seven months since my brother and I crossed the finish line in one of our greatest accomplishments to date.

So, where are we now?

You know that star QB on your high school football team who is now 30 years post-grad, cracking open a Budweiser or Coors (heavy, of course), still wearing his State Championship ring and letterman’s jacket and talking about “the glory days” when he threw a 60 yard pass to the end zone? Yeah. That’s how I feel.

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Ironman training plan, Crossfit Endurance style

A comprehensive look at the training logs, resources and thought processes behind my first Ironman triathlon

Double unders

About a year ago, I not only showed up and committed to taking on my first Ironman triathlon, but I also pledged to use an unconventional training program that focused on strength training and shorter distances at higher intensities.

The program is called Crossfit Endurance (CFE), and now that I’ve got my first Ironman in the books, I can say to you without a shred of doubt that it works.

But back then, I didn’t know it was going to work, so I spent hours researching CFE Ironman training plans to make sure I was headed in the right direction.

I found a lot of helpful resources and great advice – which you’ll read about later on – but I was never able to find a comprehensive, detailed training plan that didn’t require some form of payment or subscription.

To remedy that, for anyone in the same position I was in, I’m going to share my complete training logs, workout routines and resources, for free.

In this article, you’ll also read why I decided to go the CFE route (rather than the more conventional Long Slow Distance (LSD) approach), see what resources I used to help formulate my program and learn key tips to keep in mind when following CFE.

To begin, let’s take a look at the main reasons I opted for a Crossfit Endurance program, rather than LSD.

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Lookin’ good, doin’ good

Tri for Les t-shirts raised over $400 for the Arizona Humane Society!


Here you have it: proof that we didn’t run off to Belize with the revenue generated from our Tri for Les: IMAZ edition t-shirts

The Tri for Les community donated a grand total of $416.33 to the Arizona Humane Society in honor of our animal-loving aunt Leslie.

We dropped off the check the day after our big race (notice the tired in our eyes in the photos here).

Here’s an idea of what the donation amount will cover:

  • The average cost to care for an animal until it’s adopted ($300)
  • “Mercy grooms” for two neglected animals with painful, severely matted coats ($50 x 2)
  • Food and vaccinations for one animal for a week ($10)

We’re happy to have been able to give something back during our Ironman journey, and lucky to have such a generous crew in our corner.

Thanks to everyone who bought a shirt, rocked it on race day and otherwise supported the cause.

You guys rule! Be sure to remember that every time you wear, see or daydream about these shirts.

– Live every day –

Adam and Cecily

AF race report: Ironman Arizona

A recap with lessons learned from my first Ironman triathlon


Three weeks ago, I crossed the finish line at Ironman Arizona in 13:30:18 and accomplished my biggest goal of the year: to become an Ironman.

The race was one of the best experiences of my life and I still haven’t come down from that high.

I frequently brag talk about the feat to anyone who’ll pretend to listen, replay the day in my head, and scroll through finisher photos, articles and notes from the race.

As much as I’m tempted to keep basking in my Ironman glory, I need to keep moving if I want to make this experience truly last.

Similar to my excitement at the beginning of the year to conquer Ironman Arizona, I can’t wait to build on this momentum and launch into new projects and races on the horizon.

But before moving on to what’s next (which I’ll detail in another article), I’m going to share analysis of my performance at Ironman Arizona.

By evaluating my performance and sharing the gory details, I hope to not only cement the takeaways in my head, but also offer insight to help other Ironmen in training.

Read on for an updated report of my taper week, analysis of the swim, bike and run, plus major lessons learned from drinking too much sports drink (hint: lots of time wasted in the Port-o-Potty) and failing to plan for the first few hours after the race (hint: a cold, stiff, delirious and cranky Adam).

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