Triathlon Training Log – Week 34 (July 18)

So a little race occurred in my backyard today.

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Gear. Everywhere.

More than 4,000 triathletes took on the New York City Triathlon, an Olympic-distance race under normal circumstances. However, due to extreme projected heat, the run portion was shortened from 10-K to 8-K before the event began. The run course was also cut short last year, but it happened as the race was going on—meaning some folks did the entire 10-K loop while others did 8-K or even 5-K. Per usual, it was a blistering hot day … and it sounds like it’s currently a scorcher in Lake Placid too for the Ironman folks.

General training notes: Nationals is quickly approaching—t-minus three weeks!—so we will be doing a lot of race-specific preparation on the bike and run: wattages, paces, efforts, whatever you want to call it. The city experienced killer heat and humidity this week, but I really can’t complain because that’s what I’ll face in Omaha.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 75-minute recovery ride that left me hungry for the rest of the day. I did not miss those hunger pangs that accompany zone two work.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Another round of race-paced cruise intervals: 3×12 minutes with three minutes easy between each set. These feel better and better each week, so let’s hope the pace feels sustainable off the bike in Omaha.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

We repeated Sunday’s strength workout that centered on low cadence sets. Those intervals did not feel great, but they made the five-minute sweet spot blocks between each feel easy.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy six miler in the morning and 2,500m of IM sets after work

Friday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Apparently masters is not the place to be on a Friday evening—there were just four of us in the pool! On the bright side, that gave the infamous Russian coach plenty of time to work with me on IM technique. It turns out my body position for freestyle is perfect, breaststroke is my second strongest stroke, and my butterfly needs a lot of work. In total, I swam 2,800m.

Saturday – a.m. brick (bike-swim-bike)

Another solid Sportz Saturday outing: twenty miles to the Palisades pool; about an hour in the water for a tech-based swim; and 20 miles back home to NYC. This was my third consecutive day in the pool (who am I?!), and it was noticeable in a good way. Thinking ahead to my post-Nationals life, I have decided this means I will do the exact opposite of avoiding the water during the off-season: I actually want to spend a lot of time splashing around.

Sunday – off/volunteered at the New York City Triathlon

After sort of doing the New York City Triathlon in 2013, I do not have the desire to do it again. However, I have volunteered in the past, and today, I put my Sherpa skills to good use as a paratriathlete handler for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

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This deserves its own post, but it was an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience. Seeing what goes on behind the scenes to make sure these athletes have smooth experiences was eye-opening.

How often do you volunteer at races, events, etc.?

2016 HITS Hudson Valley Recap

Two weekends ago, I took on my second swim-bike-run event of the season, the HITS Hudson Valley Triathlon.  One of my training buds has a house in the area, so even though the race course changed from last year (which I didn’t realize until 11 p.m. the night before), I still escaped New York City with a few friends for a sportz-filled weekend.

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Hardware for everyone!

After a tough season opener at Quassy, I was excited to race again and execute across the disciplines. Between a high volume training weekend in Lake Placid and moving apartments, Earl and I decided the best course of action was to simply let the race happen: go out, see how my body felt, and make adjustments from there. Needless to say, I was carrying both physical and emotional fatigue into the race, so I was relieved the strategy didn’t center on splits and paces.

On Friday, I left the city around 3 p.m., drove “upstate,” and picked up one of my friends from the Rhinecliff train station before we headed to dinner in Woodstock. It was at dinner I learned the race was completely different, which made it easier to let go of expectations; Saturday would be all about having fun and enjoying swimming, biking, and running with friends.

This mentality was perfect because pre-race logistics on Saturday were not smooth: Google Maps led us astray, and we were almost late to the race; one guy who was doing the half forget his water bottles; and another guy forget his goggles—and forgot to register for the race all together. (Luckily, there was race-day registration.) Race-morning craziness is not ideal, but in a strange way, it helped me relax, let go, and let the race happen.

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The race was an adventure, but I had a relatively good day out there.

Swim – 1500m – 26:27 (2/35)

The main characteristic that sets HITS apart from other triathlon race companies is the variety of distances offered: sprint, Olympic, half, and full. This spectrum meant all Olympic-distance athletes started later (8:20 a.m.), and it also meant we would merge with long-course folks during the two-loop course.

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Kind of confusing, but I swam around the four buoys to the far right twice.

It was a “mass start,” and even amongst the dudes, I positioned myself near the front and swam aggressively when we were released. There was a lot of action within the opening 200m, but everyone eventually found packs. And I found myself in no woman’s land:  slower than all the dudes (and the one female pro) who exited the water in 23 or 24 minutes, but faster than everyone else. I did draft off a dude for a few minutes during the second loop, but I eventually overtook him. Overall, I felt really smooth, but I’d like to be closer to 25 minutes at Nationals.

T1 – 1:51 (15/35)

Yeah … totally botched both transitions.  I couldn’t find my bike and obviously left a lot of time here. No excuses.

Bike – 40-K – 1:24:05 (3/35)
How would I describe this two-loop bike course? Punchy.

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There were a couple of kickers.

And it was fair. Because it was two loops, it gave everyone who was unfamiliar with the route one lap to take it all in—which was great because it was a rolling and technical course. My first loop was on the slower side: I rode the descents very conservatively and noted where I could tuck in and hammer the second time around. When I completed the first loop, a volunteer told me I was the first female, but I knew the female pro was far ahead, so I focused on riding my race. On one of the kickers, one woman zipped by me. I’m not used to that, and she was moving! (We talked after the race, and she’s local and rides the course often.) It also started to mist about three-quarters of the way through, but I’ll take 65*F and rain over heat and humidity any day. Anyway, it’s all about progress, and I felt much more composed and confident during this ride than Quassy. In short-course racing, course knowledge is a huge advantage, and unfortunately, that isn’t a luxury I’ve had this year—so I am OK with the split since we know it does not reflect my fitness.

T2 – 1:48 (15/35)

Again, not totally sure what I was doing here.

Run – 10-K – 51:30 (3/35)

This is a first:  the run was my favorite part of the race.  None of us read the course guide beforehand, so we were surprised to learn 90 percent of the course took place on trails, including a stretch that took racers through a cave. Did we sign up for an XTERRA race?!

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Again, per “letting the race happen,” I let go of expectations, embraced the conditions, and simply ran. I was surprised how comfortable and confident I felt navigating rocks and roots—maybe because of the trail running I did in Denver?—and I had a lot of fun out there. I chatted with other athletes and thanked the volunteers. And when it started down pouring, I refused to become frustrated. Everyone had to contend with these conditions, and the rain/trail run combo helped me enter a meditative headspace. It was not my fastest 10-K, but it was one of the most cathartic and enjoyable ones I’ve had in a while.

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Running like a basketball player

Official finishing time – 2:45:43 (3/35)

Overall, I feel good about this outing. In terms of performance, there was time left out there (i.e. what the heck was I doing in transition?), but this race reaffirmed that you can only control the controllables. There were points where a less athletically mature me would’ve become angry, but I was really pleased with how I accepted and adjusted without letting my emotions get the best of me. This was also the first race in a long time where I explicitly thanked the volunteers and cheered for other racers—and it totally made my experience better.

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Cheesin’

Less than one month until Nationals—time to get it locked in!

Triathlon Training Log – Week 33 (July 11)

Hello from the other/Upper West side.

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*Say/sing in Adele’s voice

My sister and I moved this week, so things have been crazy. It also looks like a clothing/workout apparel bomb went off in our new apartment. The unpacking and organizing is well underway though.

General training notes: well, this was bound to happen eventually. After two big weeks of training, the load hit me this week. For the first time in a while, I felt tired and sore—although the stress and fatigue of moving probably added to that. What can you do? Life happens.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

To celebrate the Tour de France, Tailwind hosted a Tour Week where athletes rode different stages every day. To mimic the Tour, this ride contained a lot of hills and sprint intervals, plus two time trial efforts. My legs felt less-than-fresh coming off a solid weekend, but the workout got done.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Hands down, this is the best and more precisely I’ve executed my race-pace intervals. After a longer warm-up and strides, I completed 3×12 minutes at my *fingers crossed* off-the-bike 10-K pace with three minutes of easy running between each set. Next up was one mile at about 30 seconds slower. Including the warm-up and cool down, I logged 8.5 miles.

Wednesday – off

My sister and I moved (!!!) so this was a rest day from training.

Thursday – p.m. run in Central Park

Easy cruise intervals around the Reservoir for about 6.5 total miles. After my workout, I met up with some Tailwind folks, and Earl watched me run for the first time. In shocking news to no one, I run like a basketball player—which means I need to learn how to run like a runner.

Friday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

You know your “A” race is approaching when a crazy Friday night means doing IM work with your masters crew. Due to moving, I’ll be swimming exclusively at night on the weekdays. The infamous Russian coach ran this practice, and although I did not get the exact yardage at the end, I was in the water for 1.5 hours so I’ll take it. I also suffered the most intense calf cramp from pushing off the wall: my calf seized up, and I grabbed the lane line, and I couldn’t move for a few minutes it was so intense. I have experienced these before, but this was definitely the worst one yet. As I’m typing this training log Sunday, it still hurts, and I’m gimping around a little bit.

Saturday – a.m. brick (bike-run-bike); p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Sportz Saturdays are back! After a 20-mile ride from NYC over the George Washington Bridge and to the Palisades Swim Club, I ran five miles on trails. It was hot, and since I hammered the last 10 miles, the run was incredibly tough, and I felt awful—definitely the worst outing I’ve had in a while. Riding the 20 miles back to the city seemed impossible, but I stuck with one of my training buds, and we took turns pulling and drafting.

After that morning, it was a miracle I made it to masters. Much like the run, unfortunately, I felt flat and totally zapped of any energy. I stayed in the water for the 1.5-hour practice, but there were a few sets I skipped; ballpark distance for the afternoon was 4000m.

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Thankfully, this was a good workout to close out a tough training week. After a long warm-up with single leg and high cadence drills, I completed a strength workout: during the odd intervals (1, 3, and 5), I overgeared and built from 80 RPM to 100 RPM; during the even ones (2 and 4), I started at my natural cadence and added gear every 30 seconds. For all sets, I started at tempo and increased to VO2 max plus.

How many times in the past year have you moved?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 32 (July 4)

Another summer weekend that went by all too quickly.

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Camp Moonlight Lane—and obviously not NYC

A few friends and I escaped the city and headed to the Saugerties/Kingston/Woodstock area for some swimming, biking, and running. We raced HITS Hudson Valley Saturday morning and spent the weekend eating, relaxing, and rehydrating. It was perfect!

General training notes: between coming off a training-heavy weekend in Lake Placid (wow, that already feels like such a long time ago) and heading into a Saturday race, I had low expectations for weekday workouts and the race itself. After taking a day off, my body absorbed the volume from Placid, and I felt loose and relaxed while doing sportz on Saturday.

Monday – a.m. swim in Mirror Lake and run

One final 1.2-mile dip in Mirror Lake and three easy miles around it

Tuesday – off

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Following the monster Lake Placid training weekend, I wondered how my legs would respond to a race-wattage bike and two fast miles, but they rose to the occasion. I felt great during the 4×6 intervals, and on the run, I worked down to my projected race pace relatively easily. Could my body be absorbing the effects of LP already?

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy and incredibly sweaty six miles around the Reservoir

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy freestyle-focused 2,400m workout

Saturday – HITS Hudson Valley

Full disclosure: this was small race, but you can only race the people who show up. Between a punchy bike course with a few kickers and a surprise trail run in a torrential downpour, I was thrilled to execute a solid race and secure my first overall female podium—I placed third! A female pro raced and crushed us (she placed second *in the entire race*), but any day you find yourself on the podium is a great day. Race report to come.

Sunday – p.m. bike

After a rosé-filled Saturday afternoon and evening, we all opted to sleep in Sunday morning and push our recovery ride to noon. In typical perpetual training bro fashion, I hit the country roads with three dudes for an easy 20 miles. It was great to spin out and flush everything out.

How was your weekend?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 31 (June 27)

I’m back in NYC, but my heart is in LP.

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Placid paradise

Along with my arms, legs, and entire body. We had a monster training weekend at #WorkLiveTriCamp!

General training notes: ah, a recovery week. With #WorkLiveTriCamp scheduled for the weekend, we stuck to easy workouts during the week. My body definitely needed the rest. Although now I feel like I need a few days to recover from camp! (And there will be a more detailed post on Lake Placid.)

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy 45-minute run along the trails

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Recovery ride with a handful of intervals that focused on cadence

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

A few weeks ago, I did Cat Hill repeats as a recovery run; this time, I did 800s around the lower loop. I really enjoyed this workout, and my legs felt much fresher and looser afterward.

Friday – p.m. swim in MIRROR LAKE

My car left for Lake Placid shortly before 8 a.m., and we arrived around 1 p.m. Since we couldn’t get into the rental house until 3 p.m., we hit Mirror Lake for a 1.2-mile loop of the Ironman Lake Placid swim course. It felt great to be back even though the water was the roughest and choppiest its been in the three years I’ve been going there. Another car of campers arrived around 4 p.m., and I somehow got talked into swimming a second loop of the course. (Slash, it sounded like a great idea after two adult beverages.) This time, it was raining, but we had the lake to ourselves.

Saturday – a.m. brick; p.m. swim

The training day started off slowly due to rain and wind in the forecast, but around 11:30 a.m. the skies looked clear enough to ride. Under normal circumstances, I’d ride the normal bike course, but since it had been raining throughout the night and morning, our coaches advised everyone to skip the seven-mile descent into Keene, which can be unnerving even during ideal conditions. Instead, I ended up riding the run course, heading out Wilmington, and then coming back to Lake Placid. (Once I turned around, my route followed the “normal” bike course.) It was incredibly windy, and the 30-mile ride took a lot longer than anticipated, but it was absolutely beautiful.

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Forever chasing that cataclysmic bliss

Back in Lake Placid, I swapped out my bike gear for running shoes and headed down to Mirror Lake to log two loops. Per Earl’s instructions, the first loop was easy, and it was during the second loop I had permission to work down to my off-the-bike pace. During my 5.5 miles, I saw a few training buds from the house getting after it too.

I closed out the day with another 1.2-mile swim in Mirror Lake. The focus of this workout was to work on drafting and swimming in a pack, but I was in an awkward place: not quite fast enough to swim with the pros and actual swimmers who were at camp and too fast to swim with everyone else. Earl put me in a group with three other people, and I unintentionally dropped them when it was my turn to swim from the back of the pace line to the front.

Sunday – a.m. brick; p.m. swim

This was a monster training day: I rode the same route as the day before, but kept backtracking from Wilmington into Jay and eventually Keene before turning around and heading back to Lake Placid. There were four of us who started the ride, but about halfway through, the group splintered to just Earl and me. Granted, this 53-mile outing was my longest one of the season, but hands down, this was my toughest ride in Placid to date. The wind was absolutely unrelenting. When we were about 12 miles from the house, we made a quick stop at a gas station, and that’s when I called in the reserves: Coca-Cola.

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Gimme energy. Gimme watts. Gimme another pair of legs.

Even with the boost from this endurance athlete’s elixir of life, the rest of the ride home was a total slog. I still don’t know how I pulled myself together to run three miles off the bike, but it got done.

After a pizza and Coke break (#metabolicallyefficient), I headed down to the lake with a few other folks for an easy swim. After this training day, I have even more admiration for long-course folks. I told one of the coaches I questioned a lot out on the bike ride, and he said, “welcome to long-course racing.”

When you need an energy boost during a workout, what’s your go-to option?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 30 (June 20)

It’s all in the details.

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Sunday Runday fun in Central Park

Focusing on executing the little things make big things happen—whether it’s in work, triathlon, or life.

General training notes: per above, this week centered on repeating workouts with the goal of executing them as precisely as possible. We’ve strung together several solid weeks of training, and on Thursday, the load hit me. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming recovery week—and then we’ll turn it back up in LAKE PLACID at the #WorkLiveTriCamp during 4th of July weekend!

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Practice makes perfect so we repeated last week’s push-pull workout (three minutes at 102 percent, then two minutes at 90 percent). This time, the challenge was keeping the harder effort at 102 and not bumping it up to 105. It was also really cool because the efforts at 90 percent felt like recovery. We’re dialing it in!

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park (and p.m. sports massage)

Expanding on the tempo work from the past few weeks, the main set called for 3×2 miles at tempo effort with 3-4 minutes of easy running between each. The first two felt great, but the third one was a struggle.

That evening, I had an appointment with my friend for another “highlighting” session, a.k.a. she finds the areas that need attention and works her magic. I had a lot of hot spots the last time I went, and I was really happy that was not the case this time around.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Every week, this brick feels better and better. Following the normal VO2 max ride, Earl instructed me to hit Central Park and throw in two, 2.5-minute pickups during what would normally be an easy run. So I touched the fire to see if it was hot. I was pleased with how I was able to better control the pace and pick up the effort from easy to tempo and then ease back down.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park and p.m. strength train

Woof. This run never feels great coming off a VO2 max bike and brick, and my body felt totally zapped. The 6.5 miles got done, though, as did strength training later that night.

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

There was a moderate amount of IM work mixed in to this workout, and aside from flopping around when I was supposed to be doing the butterfly, I was able to hang with my lanemates during the main set. We spent some time doing tech first, though, so I was only able to stay for about 2,500m before I had to leave for work.

Saturday – a.m. bike/swim brick

A most successful Sportz Saturday: I met a few folks at Tailwind Endurance, and we rode the 20 miles over the bridge to the Palisades Swim Club. About 20 people showed up for the kick- and tech-heavy swim workout. And then I rode the 20 miles back over the bridge with Earl. Aside from being called a “fertile young woman” by one of the new dudes who rode with us, it was an uneventful and fun morning. (On the ride over the bridge, we were talking about the Olympics, and he asked if I’d go to Rio—and that’s when he said a “fertile young woman” like me should not go. Gahhh!)

Sunday – a.m. run

A nearly perfect long run: I finally executed my Snowman Challenge intervals within five seconds of each other. (Interval one is around Central Park’s rolling lower loop for 1.7 miles; interval number two is on Harlem Hill for 1.4 miles.) Huzzah!

Have your training buddies ever made weird/obscene/kooky comments?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 29 (June 13)

Between work and life stuff, this was one roller coaster of a week.

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But that’s when I enjoy training the most—when it’s your happy place and your constant amidst the chaos.

General training notes: since we’re still a few weeks out from my next race, we’re continuing to repeat workouts and build volume. Practice makes perfect, and mentally, I really like revisiting specific sessions because it makes it easier to see and feel progress. The building volume component is important because in the short-term, there is the LAKE PLACID training trip coming up, and I fully intend to ride and swim every day. I’ll run, too, but Mirror Lake and that beautifully brutal bike course are unparalleled. In the relative long-term, my “A” race is about two months away. We’ll start fine tuning and locking things in soon enough, but it’s still too far out yet.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Pushing, pulling, and making watts: similar to last week, we completed two, 15-minute efforts. This time, though, the intervals were switched, and we spent three minutes at 102 percent and two minutes at 90 percent. I felt really good overall.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park and p.m. strength train

It’s crazy how much of a difference humidity—or lack thereof—can make. We expanded on last week’s tempo run, bumping the interval from one mile to 1.5 miles (with the same 3-4 minutes of recovery). I started at Tavern on the Green and worked my way counterclockwise and along the East Side, which meant I hit the West Side Rollers last. I definitely felt the effort there, but I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth, strong, and in control I felt overall.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

*Knock on wood* my body seems to be figuring out how to run off a VO2 max bike workout. In the saddle, we repeated last week’s VO2 “mix” intervals. (For the tri folks: set one was 2:30 at threshold, 30 seconds at VO2 max; 2 minutes at threshold, 1 minute at VO2 max; 1:30 at threshold, 1:30 at VO2 max with 1:30 recovery between. Set two: 1 minute at threshold, 1 minute at VO2 max, 30 seconds at threshold three times through. Set three: 2 minutes at VO2 max with 1 minute recovery; 1 minute at VO2 max with 2 minutes recovery; 3 minutes at VO2 max.) This time, Earl prompted me to hit the upper side of my VO2 max, so instead of shooting for 105-110 percent, I was locking in to 115-120 percent. The ride felt good—but then I needed to run. Because it was a VO2 max workout, Earl told me to simply “let the run happen,” a.k.a. don’t obsess about hitting a certain pace. I was surprised it only four minutes to so for my legs to adjust, and in the process of “letting it happen,” I worked down to my projected race pace during those 2.5 miles.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy six miles along the West Side Rollers and trails

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

I was a lost soul because my tri buds weren’t there, but it was a productive 2,600m workout nonetheless. Per usual, I was hanging on for dear life when our sets called for backstroke and breaststroke work, but that’s how you get better.

Saturday – a.m. bike

Like last week, a group of us met at Tailwind Endurance and rode over the bridge together. Once we were on the other side, Earl turned me loose and told me to hammer for 10 miles to the Palisades Swim Club. The dudes I was riding with had it made—guess who did all the work and pulled them along for those 10 miles? … although I dropped two of them … I was a little peeved when we arrived at a descent, and the guys who held on bombed the hill and left me in the dust. You made me do all the work, and then you ditch me on a downhill?! Not cool—ha! In total, I rode about 45 miles.

Sunday – a.m. run and p.m. Bearcat masters swim

“Endurance Sundays” doesn’t have quite the rang as “Sportz Saturdays,” but a lot of quality work got logged. I woke up relatively early to beat the heat and complete my 10.5-mile long run. There was a bike race going on in Central Park, and it was so difficult not to yell, “SQUAD!” every time a pack of dudes flew by. Also, cute dudes who can make watts: why are you riding away from me?! Haha!

Since I missed masters swim yesterday, I went to the pool today. I can’t remember everything we did over the course of 1.5 hours, but there was a lot of IM work. Woof.

When work gets crazy, where do you find solace?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 28 (June 6)

For better or worse, I have developed a short-term memory when it comes to races. After last Saturday’s outing at Rev3 Quassy, I gave myself 24 hours to reflect and write the race report—which was a very cathartic experience—and then it was time to let go.

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A Central Park sunrise makes the 4:30 a.m. alarm worth it.

Onto the next!

General training notes: Even though Quassy was a tough day that wasn’t my day, it was a good training day—meaning I did all three sports, but not at a high enough level of intensity to affect upcoming workouts. (To be fair, I did put forth a solid effort during the swim.) After Sunday’s indoor recovery ride, we picked right back up where training left off. My next race isn’t until July—which is also when our LAKE PLACID trip takes place—so we’re entering a volume building phase. It’s also important to note I changed my schedule this week and moved my workouts to the morning. Part of that decision was because I had commitments nearly everyday after work last week, and part of it is for pure socialization purposes. I enjoy training solo, but I also love seeing my tri buds first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to start the day!

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Back at it for some push-pull intervals: I completed two, 20-minute blocks, alternating between three-minute intervals at 90 percent and two-minute intervals at 102 percent. This was a slight increase in total elapsed time from the last night I faced this set (I did 15-minute blocks previously), and my legs felt great.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Woohoo for a surprisingly great tempo run in the humidity! I tackled four tempo-paced miles with three minutes of easy running between each. Once at work, my boss asked how far I went. When I told him seven-ish miles, he said, “wow, you must be pretty fit right now.” And yeah—we’re getting to where we need to be.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Hump Day brick day: I repeated the VO2 mix/max workout from a few weeks ago, although there were a few changes as far as recovery between each set went—which was a good thing because I had to run immediately after. My legs were not thrilled, but they eventually figured out what was going on about 10 minutes into the run. Fifty minutes in the saddle plus 2.5 miles on the road equals one productive morning!

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy recovery run in Central Park along the trails. I spotted my Flat Feet guys getting after it on the bike, and I probably cheered a little too loudly, but …

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

I missed these Friday morning swims! Although these workouts last 1.5 hours, I’ll only be able to swim one hour in order to make it to work on time. I was in an awkward/between lane situation—I’d be hanging on for dear life in one lane during the IM sets, but I’d be too fast in the next one down—but the coach modified the sets. In the end, I moved down a lane, but he gave me faster intervals. I logged 2,500m total and was ready for a nap and second breakfast by 10 a.m.

Saturday – a.m. hammerfest (outdoor ride, outdoor swim, outdoor ride)

A smashing good sportz Saturday! This bike-swim-bike “brick” was my coach’s idea, and it was a solid morning. We met at Tailwind and rode over the George Washington Bridge with another one of his athletes, and then Earl instructed me to hammer the 10 miles to the Palisades Swim Club. Aye, aye! By this point, I had no recollection of Saturday’s race and simply got down in aero and did my thing. It turns out riding a bike is … just like riding a bike. My coach tucked in behind me, watched me hammer, and gave me some feedback. It’s going to take a little longer to get my descending mojo back, but he said things look smooth and strong overall.

During the summer, Tailwind Endurance hosts outdoor swim sessions at the Palisades Swim Club.

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Didn’t make the photo collage this time

There are five or six lanes in the outdoor 25m pool, and since it’s about 20 miles from the city, the facility is an ideal mid-ride “break.” This was the first swim I attended, and it was also the first time Earl has seen me swim so I wanted to make a good first impression. Our group of 15 spent about 20 minutes doing tech work and 40 minutes tackling an interval pyramid. Since I do my swimming with a masters team, I’ve become used to being extremely average so it was interesting to hop in the pool with a bunch of triathletes and be the fastest one in the water (#wannabeswimmer).

Around 10 a.m., I hammered back to the city solo. There was an unrelenting headwind, but my bike and I are now friends again.

Sunday – a.m. run

There was no beating today’s heat and humidity. When I began my warm-up to Central Park shortly after 7 a.m. it was already 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, my workout contained only two solid intervals: one quality lower loop and one solid Harlem Hill loop. (Remember the Snowman Challenge? We’re doing it again.) Nine-ish miles of sweat and another workout closer to race weight, ha!

What was your best workout this week?

2016 Rev3 Quassy Recap

This past Saturday, I took on my first triathlon of the season, Rev3 Quassy. Held in Middlebury, CT and marketed as “the beast of the Northeast,” this event offers challenging Olympic- and 70.3-distance races. (The Olympic takes place on Saturday while the half-Iron occurs on Sunday.)

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Obligatory transition photo

So yes, although it was a race, my game plan for the day did not center on “racing” for a few reasons. As my season opener, this event gave me an opportunity to dust off the racing rust—and honestly, get out a few bonehead mistakes before my target race. Two, this race would be my first time truly riding my tri bike outside this season. And riding for the first time in a race environment was not ideal. Three, this race simply did not suit me; in fact, it is the worst race I could’ve done. Not to be dramatic, but basically, this was a perfect storm with the potential for plenty of things to go wrong.

From the beginning of the season when Earl and I were planning my calendar, he made it very clear Quassy would not be a “race” for me, but rather a tough training day. (And not having insurance and the ability to ride my bike outside further supported this outlook.) He developed the metaphor of a boxing match to illustrate our strategy: the hilly course would punch me hard and often. When this occurred, I was tasked with covering up, playing defense, and absorbing the blow. And then, when the opportunities presented themselves, I could punch back, go on the offensive, and make up some time. Overall, it would be an outing filled with strategic moves and countermoves. I would not be “racing” anyone else; it was me against the course.

And this time, the course totally won. Here’s how it went down.

Pre-race:

As I mentioned a few days ago, the week leading up to Quassy was not normal. Due to Memorial Day weekend, we were working on overdrive at the office, and my sister and I also spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights looking at apartments. This life stuff obviously took priority, which led to missed/abbreviated workouts and extra mental/emotion fatigue. And even though Earl and I addressed the bike situation, I was still worried about riding for the first time on a technical course. Honestly, as Friday approached, all I wanted to do was sleep. But once I met up with my Flat Feet guys, and we started talking about the race, my outlook started to change. This outing would not be an accurate reflection of my fitness. This outing would be a long and challenging grind. And by putting myself in an uncomfortable situation now, I would set myself up for success in the future.

Swim – 1,500m – 26:56 (9/28)

Due to an impenetrable fog on Lake Quassapaug, the swim start was delayed 30 minutes.

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Tailwind family photo

My thought process: ‘I hope they don’t cancel the swim! Wait, this also means I’ll be running 30 minutes later in the day, which means it will be hotter. Oh great.’

Luckily, the swim actually happened, and my wave of women 39 and under was aggressive. There was a lot more bumping, grabbing, and jockeying for position within the opening 400m than I anticipated. It was Nationals-level aggressive, but my basketball instincts kicked in. The field spread out quickly, though, and aside from that initial contact and sighting into the sun at the first turn buoy, everything went smoothly: I found my rhythm, drafted when possible, caught the Wall of Dudes who started five minutes beforehand—just another day in the open water.

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We started at the green point and ended at the red.

Even though I thought I swam a tight course, it felt like I was out there for a while, which was reflected in my slower-than-usual split. Everyone who Garmin’ed the swim had a distance between 1,650 and 1,800m, which could be due to swimming off course, but the consensus was the course was long.

Transition 1 – 1:56 (2/28)

Exiting the water is one of my favorite parts of the race, especially when your training buds and coaches line the chute. “Now your race can start!” yelled one of the Tailwind coaches.

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Fist pump

This was probably the only time I smiled during the race.

Bike – 25.7 miles – 1:34:47 (13/28)

Under normal circumstances, I love anything to do with watts—but not this time. First, the positives: in accordance with our boxing strategy, I executed relatively well. I “absorbed” the course’s punches on the climbs. I became reacquainted with my small ring and did most of my overtaking on the ascents. I rode in aero when I could. And I definitely stayed below 85 percent of my FTP per Earl’s instructions.

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Hilly, but fair:  I just could not capitalize on the downhills.

I made a few bonehead mistakes. My bike computer and power meter weren’t working properly so I rode the course “blind” and didn’t have access to total time, average power, etc. I lost a bottle within the first four miles, and luckily, I was riding with an extra. (For Olympic-distance races, I take in one bottle of nutrition, but knowing we were estimating a 1:30 bike split, I brought two bottles.) I taped my gel to the top tube of my bike, but couldn’t get it off. Basically, I made every “first race of the season” mistake possible so let’s hope I got everything out of my system.

My main shortcomings on the bike were my handling skills and simply riding with confidence. Although I paced myself on the climbs, I didn’t feel comfortable descending and truly making up that lost time. So many people passed me on the downhills. So, so many. There were a lot of technical turns too, and since I didn’t ride the course ahead of time—like a lot of my friends did—I lacked the knowledge to know when I could relax into aero and when I needed to move onto the hoods. Although I had prepared for a long ride, I did not think about what it would feel like to be riding timidly for 90 minutes and how that would affect me mentally. When you can’t execute your ace-in-the-hole discipline—and not only fail to execute, but also feel twitchy—it wears on you. Bottom line, I left a lot of time out there. And mentally, I should’ve left that experience out there too—but I carried it with me onto the run.

Transition 2 – 1:07 (7/28)

All I noticed were a lot of bikes back in their racks. That’s not a sight I’m used to.

Run – 10-K – 1:01:08 (18/28)

Grind, grind, grind. I don’t want to say the wheels came off on the run because they weren’t ever really on.

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Oh mile three …

The first two miles were downhill and flat, and there were some friendly faces out spectating, so it started off OK. Mile three was when the course had its initial “punch,” and the combination of the hill and the sun (remember we started 30 minutes later) caused my heart rate to skyrocket. Per our boxing strategy, I had to “cover up,” pump the brakes, and get my heart rate under control. Full disclosure: there was a lot of walking on the hills. In hindsight, I definitely did not need to walk as much as I did—or at all—but thanks to a mentally fatiguing bike, I could not access the headspace necessary for a strong run.

Official finish – 3:05:54 (14/28)

Yeah, three hours is a long time for me to be out there for an Olympic-distance triathlon. But after debriefing with Earl and my Flat Feet guys, here’s what I’m taking from this experience:

My swim put me in a great position to do some serious smashing on the bike. I was within two minutes of six girls ahead of me, and under normal circumstances, I can erase that deficit in the saddle.

That was the toughest and most mentally and physically challenging bike course I will face all year.

That was the toughest and most mentally and physically challenging run course I will face all year.

I left a lot of time out there. (I probably left 2-3 minutes on the swim, at least five minutes on the bike, and 8-10 on the run.) Not to be dramatic, but given the factors leading into Quassy and the race itself, this was the worst possible combination; yet even on this tough day that was not my day, I finished in the middle of the pack—which for most people is not bad, ha! Basically, if I’m able to put myself in a situation with several factors that are working against me, and I’m still able to put together an “average” outing, then hopefully this means I can totally smash a course that works in my favor. Onto the next!

Triathlon Training Log – Week 27 (May 30)

Some weeks are better than others, and this was one week that could not be over soon enough.

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Bikes and skyscrapers: what being an NYC triathlete really looks like

Don’t worry; nothing too dramatic. There was just a lot of extra life stress. And unfortunately, I carried that mental fatigue to Middlebury for Saturday’s Rev3 Quassy.

General training notes: up until this week, my training schedule has been consistent. Essentially, I can go on autopilot because I know which discipline(s) I’m working on each day, and I can complete the workouts as prescribed. This week, however, life tipped the balance and forced us to re-adjust. Memorial Day weekend pushed back what would normally be Sunday’s brick to Monday. My sister and I looked at apartments Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; I was completely exhausted on Thursday, and all I wanted to go was go home and sleep—yet I ran the Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park. Bottom line, this triathlon lifestyle is all about training through life and fitting in workouts where you can—and being flexible when things don’t go according to plan.

Monday – p.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Well, the final brick before Quassy could’ve gone better. In the saddle, I tackled 3×12 minutes at race wattage with four minutes recovery between each set. Then it was time for a long and easy 60-minute run. The humidity made the pace feel much harder, and I could tell it would be a challenge to keep my heart rate under control. After the first time two miles, I eased off the gas big time and tried to let the run happen. I even stopped for water a few times—which I never do—because it was just so hot.

Tuesdayp.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Per my usual Tuesday night, I had a swim workout scheduled, but it got nixed in favor of going to an apartment open house. Not ideal that I didn’t get to swim the week of a race, but finding an apartment is more important than attending a masters swim workout, especially when I’m tapering.

Wednesday – a.m. easy bike in Central Park

My #WingedFootLyfe insurance finally kicked in on June 1, so I was able to ride outside! Although Rev3 Quassy would be my first legitimate outdoor ride of the season, I still met up with one of my friends for an easy spin in Central Park. This was my first time riding outdoors since August, so things were twitchy at first, but I eventually found my groove. I won’t be breaking any bike course records on Saturday (spoiler alert: I logged my slowest bike split ever), but I do feel better having completed this abbreviated ride.

Thursday – p.m. Chase Corporate Challenge

Just an easy 3.2-mile shakeout run in Central Park with 15,000 other runners. Earl had me on a tight leash, so I stayed on cruise control—which was fine because I was already bobbing and weaving around a ton of folks anyway. Although my 60-year-old boss beat me … let’s blame the taper!

Friday – off

The Flat Feet Social Club left NYC around 3:30 p.m. and arrived in Middlebury, CT around 6:30 p.m. I hoped to do a little sportz shakeout, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Saturday – Rev3 Quassy (0.9-mile swim, 25.7-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

A tough day that wasn’t my day—but any day you can do sportz with friends is a great day. Race report coming this week.

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Based on Saturday’s outing, outdoor riding needs to become the top priority, but Mother Nature was not cooperating today. That’s one of the great benefits of having a facility like Tailwind at my disposal—I was still able to log a 60-minute recovery ride. My legs and mind definitely needed it.

How do you rebound from a tough week at work—or a tough race?