Hopkins Vineyard Sprint Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, I completed the Hopkins Vineyard Sprint Triathlon (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run) as my final tune-up event before Nationals. My coach said I should get a sense of my “top-end speed,” and my teammates said there would be a wine tasting afterward. Sign me up! In all seriousness, though, I wanted to make sure what happened at Stamford wasn’t a fluke—as in my training is going in the direction it should.

Overall, this race functioned as a solid training day: I logged a quality open-water swim, I put forth a solid effort on the bike, and I hurt on the run. This race also confirmed what I suspected: In Milwaukee, I need to work the swim-bike and simply hang on for the run.

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But any race that results in an overall podium finish is a good race.

Swim – 0.5 mi. – 17:36

Although the Lake Waramaug swim was advertised as half a mile, Garmin data (not mine) measured the course as 0.7 mi. That’s totally fine by me; the longer the swim, the better. Anyway, this was the smartest, most tactically sound swim I’ve logged in a race setting. Out of the gate, I found myself in the lead pack and settled into a solid-ish effort; I was working, but not taking in water like I did at Griskus. I actually drafted effectively and felt good. And like during most swims, I hit Wall upon Wall of Dudes from the earlier waves. I exited the water in the five spot and immediately heard my coach yelling at me from the sidelines: “Everyone is in front of you! GOOOO!” So heading into transition, I thought I had a lot of ground to make up. But that wasn’t the case.

Transition 1 – 1:11

As I stripped my wetsuit and threw on my bike gear, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing came over to brief me: I was fifth out of the water with the third and fourth girls still in transition. I left T1 ahead of them, moving up to third female overall. I love passing people in transition!

Bike – 10 miles – 28:18

Aside from two hills—one being long and the second being steep—the bike course wasn’t too challenging. The hills actually worked to my advantage: I was playing leapfrog with the girl in second place, but was able to attack the first hill and create a gap. Is that how you race tactically?

Transition 2 – 0:35

As I changed gear again, my teammate relayed updated information: the girl in first place just left transition, and I could catch her. And my coach was out on the course waiting for me. Oh good.

Run – 3.1 miles – 26:25

Hands down, this was the toughest and probably 5-K I’ve ever run. The opening 1.5 miles contained a steep hill (steeper than Escape to the Palisades) while the closing half mile or so went off road and through a vineyard. Anyway, coming out of T2, my legs did not feel up to par. And to sum up the run in one sentence, I could see the first place female the entire time, but could not close the gap. Even when I reached my coach and got a peptalk, I could not attack the hill and reel her in.

hopkins-vineyard-triathlon-run

Official finishing time – 1:14:01 and 3rd female overall

A woman from the last wave completed the course the fastest, so she took first, the girl I couldn’t run down took second, and I finished third.

So what did I learn? An Olympic-distance race plays to my strengths because I need a longer swim and definitely a longer bike; ten miles of saddle time does not give me enough real estate to make serious moves. A hilly bike works to my advantage; a hilly run does not.

And overall, like I experienced during Griskus and Stamford, some days you feel junky, some days you feel invincible, and sometimes, you’re somewhere in between. Saturday was an in-between day. But that invincible day where the stars align doesn’t come around often. But I’m chasing it—and hopefully I’ll catch it on Aug. 9.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 14 (Week 27)

Greetings! What did you do this weekend? I kicked off Saturday with some swim-bike-run action at the Hopkins Vineyard Triathlon (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, 3.1-mile run) in Connecticut. Serving as my last tune-up before Nationals in August, this race confirmed what I suspected about my training and abilities so far: I can swim, I can bike, but whether or not I can run depends on the day.

hopkins-vineyard-triathlon-third-female-overall

But any day you nab an overall podium slot is a good day—my first ever!

General training notes: Finally, a recovery week! As I become a more experienced triathlete, I find it easier to embrace the down time. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still hard to back off the intensity and shut down workouts early, but I know it’s part of the plan. In other training-related updates, my road rash has healed nicely. A teammate gave me magic DuoDERM patches; you keep them on and change them our every 24 hours, and they expedite healing and prevent scars. So fortunately or unfortunately, my bada** road rash has basically disappeared.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

In the spirit of decreasing intensity, the 3,050-yard swim contained mostly “steady” sets with some hypoxic-five breathing thrown in—which I actually completed (#wannabeswimmer). I felt good in the water, but when I went on the treadmill for four easy miles, my hip hurt a little bit from Friday’s crash. It wasn’t anything major; just an increased awareness of the area.

Tuesday – a.m. run, strength train, and swim

I don’t know what was going on in my head, but this easy five miler was tough mentally. Even with some chill music, I struggled to stay in the moment and focus on the workout at hand. Sympathy taper crazies, perhaps? Anyway, I did 15 minutes of corework and shoulders after and then swam 2,400.

Wednesday – a.m. brick and strength train

Ugh, this was a frustrating day. The forecast said there was a 90 percent chance of rain, so our outdoor ride was canceled—but it didn’t rain. Instead, I completed a mini-brick indoors: 30 minutes on the spin bike and one race-pace mile on the track. Since I was at the gym, I did some corework and a shoulder circuit.

Thursday – a.m. bike

Even though our normal team workout called for another swim, I opted to ride in Central Park instead. Two pool swims plus an open-water swim on Saturday seemed like enough time in the water. Anyway, two teammates and I logged four steady loops for 33 miles.

Friday – a.m. bike

Because of Saturday’s sprint, I really shut it down: three steady loops in the park for 26 miles.

Saturday – Hopkins Vineyard Triathlon

Solid training day. Race recap coming later this week!

Sunday – a.m. bike

So … I rode 78 miles today. That’s the farthest I’ve ridden—ever. And I’m a short-course triathlete. How did this happen? Well my teammate and I met up with our friend who rides on a cycling team. We didn’t realize it was a team ride, but the guys were cool. Anyway, they took (read: pulled/did all the work) us on a new route, and it took us until mile 45 to realize we were probably in over our heads–because we’d have to bike that distance back to NYC. At that point, we pulled ourselves out of the group and let the guys continue; we turned around to retrace our route and figured they’d catch us eventually. Long story short, we got lost, stumbled upon a mall (not sure if we were in New York or New Jersey at this point), and asked for directions at a gas station—after chugging a bottle of Coke.

coke-78-miles

Elixir of life. Seriously.

Anyway, time to put the blinders on, keep my head down, and go to work—three weeks until Nationals!

Happy

I’m crossing my fingers and toes this post doesn’t act as a jinx and cause not-so-great things to happen. My check-ins have been few and far between, but that’s because I’ve been out living life—and being happy. It’s taken a while to figure it out—or at least partially figure it out—but I’ve found my groove. And that makes me happy.

Work

My schedule shifted to Monday-Friday two (or three?) weeks ago, and my productivity has skyrocketed.

7:11-slurpee

Sugar-free watermelon slurpee for National Slurpee Day

Even though I enjoyed having Thursdays off (and taking noon power hour CompuTrainer classes at Tailwind Endurance), I really thrive off these normal hours. Work does keep me on my toes, though. A lot of time, I don’t know what I’ll be doing until I get to the store; my role isn’t totally clear-cut, and there’s a lot of ebbing and flowing. But that’s OK. I can handle the combination of structured hours and dynamic responsibilities.

These new hours have led to some new and great friendships. When I worked the floor regularly, I became close with my fellow floor staff. (One guy calls me “Carebear,” which is a nickname reserved for family and close friends, and he knows it’s a big deal.) But now, I see our “downstairs” folks—think corporate like buyers, marketing, etc.—more often. They’re the ones who know about my training, my racing, and my general life happenings. For whatever reason, I’m better friends with the guys who work the floor, but my best friends downstairs are girls. (Shout out to Girls Club!) It’s taken more than a year, but I’ve finally found my work BFFs. And that makes me happy.

Triathlon

Where to even begin? First, I signed up for a sprint tri this weekend (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run). It ends in a vineyard. Total no-brainer.

hopkins-vineyard-tri-logo

In all seriousness, though, I wanted one more tune-up race before Nationals in August. This will give me a chance to work on top-end speed (or see if I have any) and test new equipment.  I’m also planning to test an aero helmet.  It even matches my bike, and we know it’s all about looking good in the race photos!

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-swim-exit-wetsuit

Not multi-tasking at the swim exit: ain’t nobody got time for that!

Training continues to go well: The swim is at a good spot, the bike is still a work-in-progress, and the run really depends on the day. Overall, though, the improvements I’ve made this season makes me happy—and I’m excited to see how everything (hopefully) comes together in August.

Speaking of Nationals, there are goals this time around. And these goals sound lofty and scare me. My coach has outlined race scenarios and expects me to dial in, arrive in top form, and piece together my best race of the year. His confidence in me makes me happy. Whether I have that confidence changes every minute (seriously), but knowing that he believes in me makes me happy.

Lake Placid

Before heading to Milwaukee, I’ll make the trip to Lake Placid to cheer, volunteer, and sherpa (yes, it’s a verb) for my five teammates taking on the Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run).

Last year, I logged some quality training, volunteered at gear bags, and soaked in the experience of watching my first in-person Ironman event. This time around, though, my priorities will be different. My teammates will dictate my every move; whatever they need, I’m their girl.

Another change this year includes how emotionally invested I am in this race. When swim splits don’t get hit, I feel frustrated and unsettled. When brick workouts get nailed, I feel ecstatic and unstoppable. Obviously I haven’t done the training in terms of hours and volume, but I feel like I’ve become part of their journey.  And being there for them makes me happy.

This involvement hasn’t affected my training. Aside from the pre-Timberman sympathy taper crazies, I’ve maintained focus and logged the workouts I need to log. However, as Placid inches closer, my mind has started to wander during sessions: ‘I’m doing a five miler right now. So-and-so is running 20. I hope they’re feeling OK. They were worried about their calf …’ I usually let myself think about it for a few seconds and then refocus.

Being this emotionally involved in a race I’m not even doing scares me, but it also makes me happy.

So that’s the gist of happenings here lately. Keeping busy and keeping happy. What’s going on with you?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July (Week 27)

Hello, hello! I’m alive—promise. Still getting used to my new work schedule and playing catch-up from the 4th of July.

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And still having absolutely zero complaints. Life is pretty good right now.

General training notes: Fake-out recovery week, you say? Yep. The entire team thought a well deserved down week arrived, but that wasn’t the case. For me personally, this means I’ll have a recovery week followed by two solid training weeks … and then a taper period for Nationals.

2014-one-month-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships

Ekkk!

Monday – a.m. swim, run, and strength training

As usual, this was a monster swim set (3,675 yards) with plenty of hard efforts. I followed it up with an easy three-mile treadmill run and some upper-body strength training.

Tuesday – a.m. run and swim

Ah, the return of speedwork—and it was brutal. We jogged our mile-ish warm-up to Pier 40’s outdoor turf field, and the humidity instantly became a factor. During the dynamic stretches, I could feel myself becoming increasingly tired and groggy. Suffice to say, the 6x800s didn’t go extremely well. My splits were slower, and it was harder to breathe.

And the swim after didn’t go that well either. In fact, my calves seized up while doing a flip turn (#wannabeswimmer), and I actually had to stop in the middle of the lane because it hurt to move. The takeaway? I need to somehow take in more salt during these ungodly hot workouts.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

This was our second Central Park bike “race.” Same structure as last week—one loop to warm up, two loops to attack at will, and the person who crosses the finish line first win—but I came up with a different strategy with one of my teammates. Long story short, I attacked the second time we hit Cat Hill and dropped everyone—including my teammate who was supposed to relieve me at the top and continue pulling. This all-out sprint created space, which is the goal, but I couldn’t sustain the effort and eventually blew up. Womp, womp. Train, race, learn.

Thursday – a.m. swim, run, and strength train

Boom, boom, boom—get it done! During the swim, I tested Blueseventy’s core shorts. I’m a fan so far. My coach says my body position is already good in the water, so I didn’t notice the extra lift/buoyancy (I don’t notice it when I wear a wetsuit either), but I felt faster. Case in point: I was able to stick with the stronger guys during our pull sets, which I usually struggle to do. A steady five miler followed, and I ended the day with some upper-body strength training.

Friday – a.m. bike

Let’s just talk about it: I had a minor crash in Central Park.

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Unpictured:  arm road rash and chipped nail polish

It looks a lot worse than it is, and wiping out is the nature of the sport.

We were working on bike racing tactics and riding in a single-file pace line. No one is to blame; it was just bad luck. As I took a drink from my water bottle, the girl in front of me slowed down, and I didn’t react in time; my front wheel hit her back one, and I went down. Thankfully, we weren’t going fast, I didn’t take anyone down with me, and my coach was riding with us. I have some tough-looking road rash (#wannabecyclist), and my bike was fine. After debriefing for a few minutes with my coach, I got back in the saddle and finished the workout. It’s going to take more than a few scrapes to keep me down!

Saturday – off

The general consensus from my coach, more experienced teammates, and actual cyclists was to take a rest day. And I felt pretty stiff waking up, so taking a day off seemed like a good idea.

Sunday – a.m. bike

Whew, #girldown. I met up with a legit cyclist—like a dude who rides for a team—and we braved the rain, headed over the bridge, and rode 60 miles. Since I do all my bike training with triathletes, it was cool and eye opening to see how an actual biker rides. There’s something to be said for swimming with the swimmers, biking with the bikers, and running with the runners. He took it easy on me, but he totally kicked my butt—although he said I pushed him too. Yeah, right—ha!

2014 Cazenovia 4th of July 5-K Race Recap

Before spending the day with family, I ran a local yokel 4th of July 5-K in my hometown.

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[source]

Neon makes you run faster.  Also, woohoo for mid-foot striking!

I’ve done this race every year since becoming a “real runner.” In fact, it was my first ready-set-go, run-to-the-finish-line event. (And I actually removed the timing chip from my bib because I didn’t want nosey people looking up my results online.) Since then, I’ve also slugged through the 10 miler around the lake, but I downsized to the 5-K last year. Quality miles over quantity of miles, right? So I pushed, dialed into my tempo pace, and posted a 23:36 finishing time. I worked, I hurt, and I left everything out there.

This year, I ran the exact same time—down to the second. That’s right: I posted another 23:36.  However, I felt totally different both during and after the race.

My Dad and I arrived about 20 minutes beforehand to pick up our bibs and t-shirts, and I even saw my JV basketball coach. He’s a big-time runner (he podiums frequently and wins races), so he gets the triathlon thing; I always enjoy catching up with him.

Anyway, after collecting our materials, I hit the track for a mile warm-up. Initially, I planned to do 1.5 miles and some dynamic stretches, but I ran (get it—ha!) out of time.

Overall, I wanted to put forth a decent effort, but I knew truly racing wouldn’t be a viable option. Because of racing back-to-back weekends—and tapering and recovering and all that jazz—I hadn’t done speedwork in … about a month. And because I’ve been doing Olympic-distance tris, I feel more confident running 10-Ks. If you execute a 5-K right, then it’s brutal. If you run a 10-K properly, then it’s still painful, but more manageable. And I’m all about managing. So the game plan was to just run and go by feel.

There’s nothing too groundbreaking to report in terms of the race itself.

caz5k

As in years past, the course basically starts on a hill, which is why I wanted a decent warm-up. A little after the climb, I saw my 1st and 2nd grade teacher, and a high school classmate cheered for me. When I started talking to him—“Happy fourth of July! How are you?”—I realized how manageable my pace felt. After that, I zoned out a bit, took in my surroundings, and enjoyed running through the area.  And I also kept an eye on the kid who was running next to me; it sounded like he was going into cardiac arrest.  The last half-mile snuck up on me, so I picked up the pace, finished strong, and immediately started cooling down—even though I finally felt warmed up.

At first, I was frustrated I ran the exact same time, but then I realized how different I felt. Last year, that pace equated to a hard effort; now, it feels semi-comfortable and sustainable.  Sounds like progress to me!

How did you spend the fourth of July?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 30 (Week 26)

Don’t make me leave Central New York!

cazenovia-lake-sunset-july-4-weekend

I’ve had a relaxing long weekend at home—I left New York City Wednesday morning and took the train back this afternoon—and it made me realize I cannot go six-plus months without making a trip back here. That’s way too long to go without seeing family.

General training notes: As you’ll see below, this week’s workout schedule changed. First, my team restructured our training because all the triathlon and cycling teams ride in Central Park Tuesday mornings; it’s just too crowded. Plus, the Friday morning summer concert series also started, so hammering loops with semi-clueless pedestrians wandering around isn’t safe. (Instead, this session will be a bike-run brick, and our main cycling workout will be Wednesday.) Two, since I came home Wednesday, I frontloaded my bike workouts and intensity in general. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday saw harder efforts, and I eased off the gas as the week progressed. Let’s just say I got a jumpstart on our recovery week!

Monday – a.m. swim and strength train; p.m. run

Whew, brutal set: 3,700 yards that included 6x150s and 10x75s, and my coach turned the shorter, race-pace efforts into a game. Each lane arranged itself in order of increasing speed (so the slowest person went first and the fastest went last), and the leader would do however many 75s possible before the next person touched their feet and caught them. As the second fastest in my lane, I took 4-7—and it hurt. A lot. After, I did some upper-body strength training; I know, right?

That evening, two of my coworkers and I ran to an animal shelter in Brooklyn to walk dogs.

brooklyn-animal-shelter-lola

Lola was such a cutie!

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Under the new training schedule, Tuesdays will be devoted to speedwork, but since I would be spending the 4th of July at home sans Slice, I wanted to get in as much saddle time as possible. About 12 of my teammates met in Central Park, and we broke into pace groups for three steady-ish loops for a total of 27 miles.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Did I say this last week too? Girl down—wayyy down. This was our first Central Park “race,” and the premise was simple: My coach divided us into groups, and we were instructed to ride one warm-up loop, then race for two and attack at will, and the person who makes it to the finishing spot first wins. To make sure we were safe, one coach road with each group to keep an eye on things. Sounds like pain fun, right?

The night before, my teammate and I exchanged a few texts to strategize: we planned to let others do the work during the first loop, and then make some moves during lap two; she’s great on flats, so she would pull me to the hills, and then I’d surge since I’m an OK climber. However, during the “race,” I started my final hill attack too soon and bonked hard. Arghhh. Train, race, and learn, right? In total, we logged about 30 miles.

Thursday – a.m. run and swim

Back in my itty-bitty Central New York hometown, I logged an easy 2.85-mile run around town to shake out my legs before the 4th of July race. I hoped to do five, but my legs had other ideas; those tough bike workouts took their toll! After, I wiggled into my wetsuit and swam in the lake for 20 minutes. Again, nothing serious; just getting into a rhythm and feeling my stroke.

FridayCazenovia 4th of July 5-K

Even though I used this 5-K as a training run, I’ll probably write a race recap later this week. It went well: I felt OK, dialed into my semi-comfortable pace, and cruised for 3.1 miles. I tacked on a warm-up and cool-down too, so I finished the day with 5.5 miles.

Saturday – a.m. run

This was a great out-and-back five miler. I warmed up for two miles or so and then picked up the pace and cruised since my legs felt good. I’m pretty sure Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse University basketball coach, drove by me—and he actually stopped and let me pass. If I’m being honest, I thought he was stopping to yell at me for not running fast enough and getting back on defense!

Sunday – off

After consulting my training log, I realized it has been 12 days since my last day off. Whoops.

And that’s that—an OK week overall.  I’m actually looking forward to the recovery week. Bring on the rest!

What did you do for the 4th of July?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 23 (Week 25)

Hello, hello!

jackrabbit-watts

#WorkFlow #LetsTalkWatts

General training notes: Woof. My back-to-back races caught up with me, and fatigue plus humidity made for some tough bike and run workouts. And it’s not that bad yet. Anyway, this combo led to a lackluster training week; at times, it felt like I was just going through the motions. However, there are several factors at play: aside from fatigue and humidity, my work schedule has changed, so I’m getting used to new hours, and I’ve also “checked out” a little bit because I’m going home for the 4th of July. ‘Tis life, right?

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

Yeah, this was an aggressive first workout post-race, but it went OK. My legs felt stiff during the bike, but loosened up by the run. Thankfully, it was a short brick—36 biking miles and 1.7 running miles. Don’t know if I could’ve handled anything longer.

Wednesday – a.m. swim; p.m. Anyone Can Win 5-K

Coming off Sunday’s race and Tuesday’s brick, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the pool, but my body fared pretty well. There weren’t a ton of hard efforts, and it felt great to get in the water. And that night, JackRabbit hosted its annual Anyone Can Win 5-K in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It’s a prediction race, so you predict your time and try to run it—without watches, music, etc. I worked and ran, and it was a lot of fun!

jackrabbit-anyone-can-win-5-k-union-square

Yeah, Union Square represent!

It was during this run where I noticed the humidity affecting me; it felt like I was running so much faster and working harder than my chip time indicated. But I should cut myself some slack as my body acclimates.

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

Tough, tough swim. Our main set took the form of a 3×300 that included steady swimming, solid pulling, and race pace 50s. I planned to run five steady miles after, but my legs were shot from the night before, and the humidity was killer, so I did four easy instead.

Friday – a.m. bike

Two words: girl down. We had a smaller group in Central Park, so the entire team completed the warm-up loop together before my coach split us into pace groups. My all-girl group cranked the pace and did three solid loops—and I somehow ended up pulling on a bunch of hills. And when one of the coaches yells at you to push—“Hit 22 going up this hill, Carrie! ”—it’s not like you’re going to ease up and spin out. So yeah, it was an aggressive ride. Including the commute to and from the park, plus warm-up and cool-down loops, I did 52 miles. Very solid for a weekday.

Saturday – a.m. bike

Triathlon life doesn’t get much better than escaping the city, soaking in the sun, and spending time on the bike. One my teammates and I met early to log 40 miles that included hill repeats and solid aero efforts. Since we’re about the same speed (she’s the one I “rode with” during Griskus and Stamford), we took turns pulling on the way back to the city and held a decent pace. Good ride!

Sunday – a.m. run

In an effort to beat the humidity, I hit the West Side Highway for a 7.35-mile run. It felt tough at first, but I was able to work the negative split and get down to my off-the-bike pace for the final mile before cooling down. Success!

All right. Time to buckle down—three days until I go home!

What are your plans for the 4th of July?

2014 Stamford KIC It Triathlon Recap

Two races in two weekends? And two team titles? Done and done!

full-throttle-endurance-stamford-kic-it-triathlon-team-champions

Our fearless coaching staff

On Sunday, Full Throttle Endurance sent 60 athletes to race the Stamford KIC It Triathlon. It’s a small, local race the team does every year, so I was excited to see how much I’ve improved. Plus, I wanted to do another Olympic-distance tri before Nationals in August. And I’d be lying if I said I did not want redemption after Griskus last weekend.

Although the swim and bike courses stayed the same, the race organizers changed the run route and created a sprint-distance race. From a team perspective, this addition worked to our benefit: We were able to “distribute” our athletes so we didn’t have five FTE people racing each other for three podium spots.

Anyway, two aspects that drew me to triathlon included making personal progress and chasing the “perfect” race. Yes, “perfect” isn’t totally realistic, but rather the idea of putting together a race that is as close to perfect as possible. And as any athlete knows, it’s rare when everything lines up and you have a stellar performance.

On Sunday, I came pretty darn close: I raced hard, raced smart, and above all, had so much fun.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-age-group-champion

In summary, this race made me feel happy, proud, and satisfied.  Which almost never happens, by the way.

Swim – 0.9 mi. – 25:36

Held in the Long Island Sound, the swim course remained the same from last year.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-swim-course

Overall, I wanted to learn from my race experience last weekend; this meant being honest with myself and saying I pushed too hard on the swim because it negatively affected my bike and run. Although I can swim a low-24 (maybe faster?), I decided to dial back. It’s all about energy allocation, and if pacing the swim better (read: slower) leads to a better bike and run, then that’s what needs to happen.

Anyway, I felt good during the swim. Good, not great. The lead pack of women dropped me after 100 yards or so, and instead of freaking out—ah, hop on their feet and draft!—I stayed composed, settled into a rhythm, and stuck to my plan. Like last year, I really enjoyed the swim and came out of the water feeling strong.

Last year’s time – 25:10

Transition 1 – 2:12

Since I didn’t crank the swim, I hit the sand running to start making up time. Other than struggling to take off my wetsuit because of the big timing chip, nothing too eventful happened.

Last year’s time – 2:36

Bike – 24.8 miles – 1:17:09

Pre-race, I had mixed feelings about the bike. Yes, I had done it before knew what to expect; it would be hilly, but not as grueling as Griskus. But after feeling absolutely awful last weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect—but my body was ready to rock.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-bike-elevation

Like last week, I planned to ride aggressively and race on feel. Even though I’m relatively new to this sport and still learning how to allocate energy across the disciplines, I have a good idea of how I should feel in the saddle. Basically, this meant pushing when I felt good and backing off when I didn’t.

Anyway, like Griskus, one of my teammates and I rode together. (She’s a little faster than me in the water, but I caught up to her on the bike.) We didn’t draft, but there is an advantage to racing with a training partner. We’re about the same speed, so I knew I could stick with her, and she kept me focused and pushed me too.

Bottom line, I did not want to get off the bike and was happy with how it went.

Last year’s time – 1:25:38

Transition 2 – 0:44

Total blur—get in and get out.

Last year’s time – 1:13

Run – 6.2 miles – 46:42

Like the bike strategy, I planned to run on feel. My Garmin came out of T2 with me, but I only wanted to see distance covered. Plus, my coach gave me a rough time goal—sub-47 would be awesome, he said—but I didn’t want to stress myself out with splits.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run-elevation

Coming off the bike, I wasn’t sure how the run would shake out. My calves tightened up immediately, but that’s normal. Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to really run off the bike! Also, it takes me about one or two miles to settle in and get my running legs under me, and the course worked to my advantage; the opening mile was totally flat.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run2

As I gain more experience racing, it has become easier to turn off my brain and just run. There were a couple of climbs—around miles 1.5 and 5—but I stuck to my plan of running by feel. My second wind kicked in around mile 3.5, and I couldn’t believe how great I felt, so I started pushing a little more. And the run route reminded me of home, so both my body and mind felt right.

About 400m from the finish line, I spotted one of my teammates and coaches who were cheering and running people in. They did the same thing at Griskus, and I was not in a good place physically then—but it was the complete opposite this time: I gave them a thumbs up and starting smiling. “Carrie, stop smiling! There are still people to pass!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I picked them off and finished strong.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run

Last year’s time (different run course) – 50:23

Official finishing time – 2:32:25

Last year’s time – 2:45:02

I could not stop smiling after crossing the finish line. I was actually happy and completely elated. (And did I seriously run 7:30s off a hilly bike? What the what?!)

As a type-A person, I immediately think about what could’ve been done better, but there was absolutely none of that on Sunday. Honestly, the only two races where I’ve experienced the same high included my first race and South Beach last year. And it was this feeling that got me hooked.

Yes, age group awards are always great, but I’m concerned with times and how I felt: My splits were solid (excluding the two or three seeded elites, I was the sixth female overall), and I felt good while putting forth the effort required to hit those times.

Two takeaways from this outing: First, I cannot believe how different I felt during Griskus and during this race. My training and tapering were the same, but it really just boils down to how you feel on race day. And two, I need to trust myself and continue racing by feel. If I had seen my pace running off the bike, I absolutely would’ve dialed back; I would’ve eased off the gas because in my mind, I can’t hold that pace—but clearly I can. I mean, I did hold that pace. Also, I’m pretty sure this is my 10-K PR—standalone and off the bike.

Overall, I really needed a solid race, and this gives me confidence for Nationals.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 16 (Week 24)

Hi, hi! What a whirlwind day: I just got back from the Stamford KIC It Triathlon where Full Throttle Endurance did serious work and took home the team title. I had a pretty good race too!

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-age-group-win-2014

Full report to come later this week, but for now, I’ll say as horrible as I felt during Griskus, that’s how great I felt today. I’m really happy with how it went!

General training notes: This was my first time racing back-to-back weekends, which posed an interesting series of events. Since Griskus left a lot to be desired, I bounced back and recovered quickly. It’s interesting because both my coach and more experienced teammates said I could do absolutely nothing this week and still have a solid race on Sunday—but obviously, I can’t sit around and not train for seven days. So overall, this week ended up being a light training/taper week. I’ve become somewhat notorious on my team for not shutting down workouts during these easier weeks, so I got an earful from a lot of folks.

Monday – a.m. swim

For “racing” two days prior, I felt good during this swim. The workout incorporated a lot of pulling and race-pace efforts, and the only time I noticed fatigue was when fins came into the picture. Since I ran easy the day before, my coach said not to run again. (And I listened!)

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

This taper-friendly workout went OK. My coach broke us into groups to ride two steady loops in Central Park. Then we ran 1.7 miles off the bike and then hopped back in the saddle for a cool-down. It’s possible I ran too fast, but I felt good. And my biggest goal coming off the bike is dialing into my pace and cadence immediately; I’m not at the point yet where I can increase my speed and negative split this run, so I need to set the tone early—because I will slow down.

Wednesday – a.m. run and swim

Geez, this tapering stuff is not fun: just an easy four-miler on the West Side Highway and 1,500 yards in the pool. Is it time to race yet?!

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

I couldn’t have asked for a better last swim pre-Stamford. The main set called for 7x100s, and my lane did them on 1:35. (I came in between 1:16-1:20. #wannabeswimmer) And since my coach doesn’t trust me to run easy, I logged three miles on the dreadmill.

Friday – a.m. bike

Yes, I planned to rest Friday, but when I woke up feeling good, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to ride. Don’t worry: I stayed in my small ring and spun out—for 40 miles. Probably shouldn’t have gone so far, but it was such a nice morning!

Saturday – a.m. easy run

Just two dreadmill miles to shake out the legs.

Sunday – Navigators Stamford KIC It Triathlon (0.9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

Time to celebrate!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Here’s the Thing

Hello, friends! Are you bored with all the race talk? Don’t worry; after Stamford on Sunday, there are no more triathlons on the schedule until August. (Although my coach wants me to do a sprint in July, but that’s neither here nor there.)

pat-griskus-triathlon-finish

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Dammit, heel strike!  Coach Pat, this is why I need you!

Even though the past few weeks have been tough, life is going pretty well right now. Here’s the thing:

Let’s talk training first. It’s still going strong. By the way, thanks for putting up with my previous posts where I talked about all my feelings. This training cycle has been mentally challenging, which affects my mood outside of swimming, biking, and running. Thankfully, the next block spans about one and a half months, so I can dial in, put my head down, and focus on putting together the best race possible at Nationals.

My work schedule changes next week—which is bittersweet. Since starting at JackRabbit Sports last year (wow!), I’ve worked Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, which gave me Thursday and Sunday off. At first, I liked having a day off mid-week; running errands and catching up on life seemed easier when all of NYC wasn’t doing the same thing. However, as I’ve started expanding on my community outreach position, it’s become clear a “normal” schedule would be more effective. Ninety-percent of my job happens during regular hours—expos, races, and other events comprise the other 10 percent—so it makes sense that I work Monday-Friday. Hello, 9a-5p world! (Er, probably more like 10a-6p, but you know what I mean.)

This also means I need more real clothes. Yes, it’s a casual, non-corporate environment—I mean, I work in the basement—but I will need to pull myself together and put forth a decent 75-80 percent effort most days. But my (swimming) shoulders and (cycling) legs make it extremely difficult to find clothes that fit. And being on the tall side further complicates this quest. Blahhh.

I’m SO excited to go home for the 4th of July! I booked my tickets—Central New York, here I come! I haven’t been home since Christmas, so I can’t wait to see my family. The only downside is my Slice can’t make the trip too; taking it on the train during a holiday weekend would be an absolute nightmare. Guess that means I’ll do all the open-water swimming and running instead, including a 5-K my Dad and I do every year. Should be fun!

That’s all I’ve got today. What’s going on in your life?