Friday, April 26, 2013

Boston Marathon: Post Race

I have been pretty quiet so far about my experience at the Boston marathon for a couple of reasons. It was pretty hard for me to fully process and am still in the middle of it of doing so. I also needed some time to grieve and soak it all in. And although I got many texts, emails, and messages about friends and family happy I was safe, I had many people ask me "my story" and I began to feel uncomfortable reporting it. For some context I was about two blocks away, but I didn't see or hear the bombs go off and there are far more people who were closer and more affected than I.

As the week continued on from Monday's events I quickly became frustrated by people wanted to know where I was and what I was doing at the time of the explosions. Yes, they were all glad I was safe, but only 15 minutes in the car after leaving Boston I already had a Michigan news channel calling me for the scoop. Although I participated in the interview this notion of how people wanted to be brought into the drama of the event was one of the harder things I had to wrap my head around. I later found out that a symptom of post-traumatic stress is not wanting to talk about it, but I'm not sure if this directly relates to my frustrations.

Another concept that took some time for me to understand was how quickly people went to make good out of the tragedy that was unfolding. There was a quote that went viral from Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) that said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." That quote and similar messages were everywhere and although I am extremely "move on" type of person I could not connect with these sentiments immediately.  It was too soon for me. All I felt was a huge sense of disappointment. It hurt to be pessimistic, but I can only think of those that were even closer to the center of the events than me that saw the pain, smelt the fear, and heard the cries and I could only imagine they wouldn't want their experience flowered over with good just yet.

Surprising to me, I had some other minor post-traumatic stress symptoms when I got home. It came in form of an extra sense of paranoia. I would be walking down the street worried at any moment something might happen or hear a siren and pause in thought of tragedy happening all over again. A loud noise and expect the campus to be shut down. With time it has been improving, but I have heard that I will carry that stress for a long time. I am astonished by this since I feel like I was apart of the worst, but I did experience the terror and that was enough I suppose. I wish I would've documented my array of feelings and emotions over the days following the tragedy because it was a wave of up and downs, but I didn't have the energy. I can only believe time will make the feelings of uneasy, anger, and sadness go away.

In some ways, although strange to say, I appreciate being there. Although I can only begin to conceptualize what it felt like to be a part of September 11th, being in Boston have given me a glimpse into the terror that they went through and that those go through around the world. Although we will overcome and move forward I was moved by a quote from marathon winner Amby Burfoot, "We can not cover our eyes and ears, and pretend violent acts don’t threaten our great institutions." I ask that when you remember this tragedy and how we overcame, you don't forget those who suffered.

As for the race, it went as well as it could. I did not have high expectations as my training and motivation had faded in the prior months. Since it was my first Boston I had a mix of ideas on what was going to become in the hills. Some said they were easy, some said they weren't, all I know is I was not prepared for them. The days following the race my quads done. Like rocks. Sharp intense aches and pains that I have never experienced before. Gone. They still are. I have nothing in them. Walking down stairs was not an option. I have never felt so much on my damage before but can't fully determine if it was the hills or my lack of long runs. I think I am going to stick to flat marathons from here on out.
I'm going to use this photo to remember my Boston marathon and all the other photos I have seen over the last weeks will be to remember my experience after the Boston marathon. Run happy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ally Stacher Interview

I don’t want to introduce you because I feel like everyone should know who you are because you are a badass, but just in case, for those triathletes who might not know your stature, can you describe who you are and what you do?

I'm Ally Stacher, I'm a professional cyclist with Specialized-Lululemon. I'm a support rider and do I everything I possibly can do to help my team succeed.

How old were you when you started cycling and how?

For my senior year in high school we are required to do a senior project. I chose to study endurance sports with an emphasis on cyclist. I went out and bought my first road bike, I did a couple of TT's on it. It was super old school with shifters on the down tube.

I opted for women's wrestling my first year of college and hung my bike up to focus on the mat. I jumped into a couple of random mountain bike races that summer to see how they went. I really just used cycling for cross training.

Being so engrossed and influential in women’s cycling right now, can you talk about a little bit of where it has come, where you think it can go, and what value it adds to both the recreation athlete and the fastest women out there?

Women's cycling has come a long ways since I started racing. There is more depth in the fields. The national team is taking more and more girls over to Europe to give them European race experience and with all the drama going on in the men's sport women's cycling is really growing. I feel women's cycling is going to really take off. We're fun to watch on and off the bike and people like our personalities. The reaction from everyone in the peloton whether it be from the fastest or not there is a positive buzz in the air.

Tell us a little about the team dynamic. All of the ladies seem be smiling and laughing all the time and I would imagine you are all really competitive. By the end of the season when you are all tired, have been living out of a suitcase for months, in close quarters; is there ever any friction?

The team dynamic is one of a kind. Yes we are all extremely competitive. At team camp there was this small plank competition. Everyone was like no no we're not going to do it. But then it came time to start doing planks and everyone was all in. Trixi crushed all of us. Of course there may be some friction here and there, but we're all grown ups and know how to deal with it so it doesn't create a bad atmosphere for everyone.

Can you walk us through a day where you and the team are prepping for that days stage?

Everyone is a little different. What I do: I wake up 3.5hrs before the stage. Eat 3hrs before the stage. Go back to my room, get my bag to the car. Then I either shammy up (if its a close transfer to the start) or I get dressed, gather my race bag and head to the car. On the way to the race I'm snacking. I eat a bar 2hrs before the race and then 1hr before the race. I put my sun screen on, fill my pockets with food for the day. Spin around, sign in with my teammates, sometimes I take some first endurance pre-race then I head to the start line.

Although cycling is kind of a job for you, has it felt like a job yet?

Nope. I love what I do. Some days I have to really dig for motivation to train or race. But all in all I'm grateful for the job and lifestyle that I have.

I know you have a background in wrestling; do you think this unusual background helps your cycling in anyway?

Yes. Wrestling makes you tough. It teaches you how to fight and never give up.

Besides the team being sponsored by Specialized, lululemon’s seems to be really involved; were you a yogi before they got involved?

Yes. I love yoga and pilates. I practice yoga on a very regular basis either in a studio or on my own. I creates a mental and physical balance for me that I need to maintain being a professional cyclist.

What is your favorite yoga pose?

My favorite yoga pose is pigeon pose. 

What is your biggest accomplishment in and outside of cycling?

My biggest accomplishment in cycling was signing with HTC-Highroad in 2011. I was very lucky and honored with the opportunity. Since then I've had the chance to ride for some of the best riders in the world and learn a great deal from them. One of my biggest accomplishments outside of cycling graduating from college. I'm the first college graduate in my family of seven generations.

What is your favorite race and why?

My favorite race is Gracia-Orlova. Its a race in the Czech Republic. I love this race, I love the courses and countryside.

What is the hardest training ride you have ever done?

The Mt. Eddy loop. Its a grouling ride, you climb three major climbs that all connect to each other.

What is the most beautiful training ride you have ever done?

The same as the hardest ride I've ever done. The Mt. Eddy loop. Its almost 10,000ft of climbing in 80miles. Its 3 major climbs that are all back to back.

Is there a dream ride that you really want to get to that you haven’t yet?

I want to ride the whole blue ridge parkway. I'd like to do it this fall.

What is your go-to workout and why? How often do you do said workout?

My workouts really vary. I just really like riding my bike.

What is your favorite biking accessory?

My Lezyne saddle bag. You need all the goodies in the bag incase you're stranded along side the road.

I am in the kitchen every spare second I can get so let’s talk about your baking!


I recently had one of your bars and I loved it. I loved that is was wholesome and hearty. Why did you start Ally’s bars and what was the biggest challenge?

I started making Ally's Bar because I'm over how every bar that I've ever tried taste like crap.

How are Ally’s bars doing so far and what do you see in the future for Ally’s bars?

Ally's Bar is doing good. Its been a fun project to work on. As for the future goes, the sky's the limit.

It is common knowledge you love to juice. How many juicers do you or have you own/owned and which one is your favorite?

I have owned 6 juicers. My favorite and current juicer is my Omege masticating juicer.

I am a vegetable fanatic. Do you have any savory juice recipes?

I'm a beet kind of girl. Beet, kale, red bell pepper and carrots.

Is there anything new in the kitchen you are obsessing with right now?

My Mom just bought me a kitchen aid mixer. Yep I've been baking my little heart out. The guys and girl at Motion Makers bike shop down the road have been reaping the benefits. I gotta take care of my go to shop, they take good care of me.

Favorite meal/beverage?

I love eggs. I'm on a breakfast burrito kick at the moment. It includes: eggs, bacon, kale, cream cheese, cilantro and avocado. I have that in the mornings with a glass of beet, red bell pepper, kale and carrot juice. Its a fantastic way to start the day.

It is on my goal list to do a road race this year, do you have any tips for someone starting out and that might come from water based sports?

Have fun with it. Every race you do is going to be a huge learning experience. Stay towards the front, don't burn to many matches and like I said earlier have fun.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Boston Marathon: Pre-Race

About 7 years ago around this time I was thinking that I was never going to do another marathon again. I had just raced my first the previous Fall and as a novice somehow qualified for Boston. Coming off a fall marathon, not letting my body rest properly, taking on a heavy credit load, working full time, and starting an internship all left me a little lethargic. It was around this week in early April 7 years ago that I had finally gone to the doctor and was diagnosed with chronic mono. Although that might not have been exactly accurate via blood work I was also malnourished and iron deficient so to say the least I was tired and I in no shape to run 26.2. To make things worse I had all my travel plans in place and was ready to go. Rather than waste the money spent I went and watched which was probably one of the hardest race experiences I have had. I actually don't remember much of that weekend because I spent 90% of it sleeping. No joke. I have learned endless amounts since that weekend including how important recovery is and in turn I have had several important races be great experiences and huge PRs. 

Although I believe I will make it to the start line, I am not confident it will be a huge PR. After reading my teammate's recent post on, "Making Lemonade Out of Lemons." This is just what I needed to keep my spirits high and make it a great experience. I have made it through the hard part and now I am off to enjoy the experience and cross it off my bucket list. Besides battling through my own twinges and tightness I can't really put my finger why my training block has fizzled. My first guess is that it was more important for me to get here rather than to race the race. I didn't really think I would get back here as it hasn't been a priority but thrilled and excited to enjoy all the excitement out there.

One last hurdle to get over before the race is from last weekend in moving my parents, I came out with one of these.
It is about the size of a grapefruit. I am not exactly sure how I got this, but I am swinging by the doctor tomorrow morning just to be on the safe side. Yes, it looks like a normal harmless bruise but it actually is somewhat hard and I have never had that happen before. Knowing I have really bad circulation thought it might be a good idea to get it checked out before slamming it into the ground for over 3 hours. I've been slamming Biotta Beet Juice in hopes to flush the bruise out and at the very least I will look tough...or just awkwardly yellow.
Beyond that it is a couple more runs and then we are off! Good luck to all those racing and if you want to track me and channel your strength my bib is 13842 and you should be able to track me at

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Challenge!

Disregard the rolled out of bed and ready to run look. I've been struggling with my core so I am doing a 30 day challenge with some local ladies where I am committing to 15 minutes of CORE everyday. That is, timer on.....15 minutes...ding(!) of core. I am hoping this goes well!