Gearing Up for ESR20

Sooo I signed up for an event, the Empire State Ride (#ESR20), without doing much research, after becoming increasingly frustrated by many people close to me battling or losing the battle to forms of cancer. The final push to register for the ESR came from a rousing speech made by Katie Couric about cancer research during an event I attended at the Smithsonian.

Mind you; this is not just any event, ESR is a 500-mile cycling expedition across the state of New York, starting in NYC and ending in my hometown area of Niagara Falls (Buffalo). Only 250 people dare to participate. Each come with different levels of riding experience and a shared goal to conquer cancer!!!! It will take seven days to complete the route, logging an average of up to 100 miles per day. To say I feel overwhelmed by it is an understatement, BUT ambition is a driving force behind tackling my goals. I have trained for and competed in Spartan Trifectas, Ragnar Relays, Seawheeze half marathons, and more! However, this will be the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. I will share my journey with you along the way through my blog, Gal on the Go, my Instagram account @gal0tgo, and video clips.

What is the starting point for any goal? A plan of action to train properly! That said, I finally finished taking Coach Charlie’s awesome 22-week training program and entering all of the details on my Google Calendar. I have been training indoors unofficially at New Trail Cycling Studio in Reston, Va., since Thanksgiving. However, as of Monday, February 24, things are about to ramp up. Any big commitment takes sacrifice(s), so to my friends and family, I say please note the training schedule above, and I’ll see you again in August. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.

All ESR20 participants have access to an experienced coach named Charlie Livermore and a physical therapist named Easton Osborn. Both of who will be doing the ride with us. I share some of their key advice on training, bike gear, apparel, and more along the road to ESR20!

Training Tips From Coach Charlie:

I asked Coach Charlie advice about prepping my bike and he replied with words that really impacted me… “More important than the vehicle (bike) is the engine, and that’s you. The better prepared you are physically, the more you’ll enjoy the ride.” 

  • Consistency is the most important component of preparing to ride more than 500 miles.
  • Training begins with three rides per week and progresses to five rides per week.
  • Consistency and frequency are more important than any of the specific workouts in the program.
  • It is a progressive program beginning with steady-pace rides, followed by a block of tempo work, intervals, and then focus on climbing with repeats.
  • If you have to shorten workouts or intervals, it’s alright; it’s better than skipping them altogether.
  • If you have to miss a workout here or there, proceed forward and get back on track!

Every dollar counts! To make a DONATION, please go to… http://give.roswellpark.org/site/TR/SpecialEvents/General?px=1413083&pg=personal&fr_id=1550

Funds raised through the Empire State Ride are managed by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that manages all donations made to Roswell Park. The Foundation earned the highest possible rating on Charity Navigator for the fourth consecutive year.

Check out the fun Empire State Ride feature story on newbie rider, Gal on the Go!
THANK YOU! YOU ROCK!

Final Piece of the Spartan Trifecta Puzzle

The day had finally arrived for the last leg of my Trifecta pursuit. It was 59 degrees and partly cloudy; a beautiful fall day for a race in Boston. On my way over to the stadium I could see participants walking along the top of Fenway Park carrying large jugs. I looked away, not wanting to psych myself out. I already conquered the Super and Beast, BUT the cement grounds of the ballpark were different from the grass/mud terrain I was used to, and just because it was a Sprint race, didn’t mean it would be easy. I was very torn because I wanted to get through the course quickly and to the best of my ability, but at the same time, given the historic location and access to special areas like the locker room and dugout, I wanted to pause at points and enjoy the experience. It sort of didn’t go down as planned. I tore through the course because I was unsure how to pace myself through the stadium. Toward the end, when I was running around the clay warning track past the famous Green Monster wall, I slowed down a little to look up and around. While I was taking in the awesome 360-view, I thought WOW, I never imagined I would be running bases at Fenway Park one day! I’m not even a baseball fan (I’m a hockey gal), but I appreciated the significance of the venue. I proudly finished the course in 51:56.

The Spartan obstacle races became addictive, which is something I didn’t expect when I originally signed up for my first, and what I thought would be only one. I never imagined the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Virginia would lead me to Killington Mountain in Vermont and then to Fenway Park in Boston. The journey to accomplish my Trifecta goal took me outside of my mental and physical comfort zones and revealed capabilities to me that I didn’t even know I possessed. I’m not sure what my fitness goals are for 2016 yet. I’m going to take some time off from racing this winter and figure them out.

(FUN FACTOID: The Green Monster aka “The Wall” was part of the original Fenway Ballpark construction of 1912. The wall is the highest among current Major League Baseball fields, and is the second highest among all professional baseball fields, including minor leagues.)

Visit Last Word on Sports to read my article on tackling challenges races from a rookie to seasoned competitor perspective.

Rock Steady

Ready for our third outdoor challenge, my gym friends and I decided to tackle Whiteoak Canyon, another circuit hiking trail located in Shenandoah National Park. Ambitiously, we chose the Cedar Run/Whiteoak portion, described as “a very strenuous 8.2-mile circuit hike.” Strenuous, we learned was the key word, especially in 88+ degree weather!!!!! We were on the trail at 8:33 a.m. Similar to Old Rag, there were two access points to choose. We started at Lower Whiteoak Falls because it’s the steep, most difficult portion of the trail and we were at our peak energy level. We paused to enjoy the six beautiful waterfalls along the way — the tallest at 86 feet. We saw many people taking dips in the bases of the falls to cool off. About mid-way along the hike we missed a crucial turning point somehow and ended up walking an extra 6 miles on a horse trail. The extra miles may not seem bad, except when you add them to the other 8.2 miles and the hot temperature. I was sweating in places I didn’t know a person could sweat! Seven hours later and 14.2 miles, we finished the hike. On the drive home we stopped at Naughty Girls Donut Shop for a reward (…or two …or three). We ate delectable donuts; strawberry shortcake infused with tequila and s’mores infused with vodka. A great way to end a challenging day!

Backpacks packed again, BUT…

  • hydrating beverages (check)
  • health bar and salty snacks (check)
  • peanut butter sandwich (you don’t want food that can go funky in hours of heat) (check)
  • sunscreen (check)
  • bug spray (check)
  • Band-Aids (check)
  • extra socks (check)
  • hand wipes (check)
  • tissues (check)
  • BENADRYL® (item we discovered we should have packed after Jane slipped, landed on some fungus and had a bad reaction)

Reaching New Heights

My gym friends and I try to come up with new ways to challenge ourselves. After gaining confidence from consistently attending fitness classes and doing a few 5Ks, we decided to attempt tackling Old Rag, a circuit hiking trail in Shenandoah National Park with an elevation of 3,291 feet and a little more than eight miles in length. None of us had ever done the trail before. We headed out early in the morning excited, but slightly weary of the unknown.

Our backpacks were packed…

  • hydrating beverages (check)
  • health bar and salty snacks (check)
  • peanut butter sandwich (you don’t want food that can go funky in hours of heat) (check)
  • sunscreen (check)
  • bug spray (check)
  • Band-Aids (check)
  • extra socks (check)
  • hand wipes (check)
  • tissues (check)

All of our cell phones had no service once we reached Front Royal (Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T), so we had to guess the remainder of our driving route. Fast-forward 45 minutes later when we finally found the parking lot. We hopped out of the car and walked the mile to the starting point of the hike. There are two access points to choose. We took Ridge Trail, which proved to be the best because you start off energized on the side with all the boulders and end worn out on the side that’s a rocky dirt trail. We stopped along the hike to enjoy the beautiful views, recharge with lunch and incorporate a few of the moves we learned in class like crab walk, planks and partner squats. We encountered some personal challenges along the way, but stayed strong in our team mentality of encouraging each other. We successfully completed the hike in a little more than six hours. Exhausted, but proud, we made plans to return and do the hike again in the fall to observe the vivid colors of the season.