2015 South Beach Triathlon Goals

So here we are: T-minus four days until the South Beach Triathlon, my first race of the season. Woohoo! I’m pumped to fly down later this week, avoid getting sunburned, and, of course, see how my training has progressed so far.

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Locked in and ready to rock! Wheels from MB (thank you!), tune-up by Zen Bikes, and (hopefully) all the watts from Tailwind Endurance.

Out of curiosity, I revisited my pre-race goals from last year’s SoBe outing. Aw, Carrie, you sound so cute. So young, so excited. Obviously, I’m psyched this year too, but I’m at a totally different spot mentally: This will be my third time taking on the 0.5-mile swim, 20.7-mi. bike, and 4-mi. run, so I’m shooting for process and performance goals. These specific, tangible objectives equate to improving time from past races, and more importantly, these factors are relatively controllable. And if I execute precisely, then hopefully it will lead to solid outcome goals.

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And if not, that’s OK. After all, it is April; I’m not trying to peak.

Even though there are certain splits I’ll be chasing, I plan to race hard, race smart, and above all focus on the feeling (and not become emotionally attached to the numbers).

Swim: get out in front and find a pack (a.k.a. draft)

Honestly, I have no idea what my race pace is at this point. From swimming with Bearcat Masters and in a metered pool (as opposed to yards), I’m definitely faster and fitter than last year. But how will this improvement translate to 800m in the open—and most likely choppy—ocean? Slash will it even translate at all? There’s only one way to find out. #WannabeSwimmer

Last year’s swim was decent, but I didn’t swim strategically; after rereading my race recap, I remember spending a lot of energy maneuvering around people and never linked up with a group. Things will probably be different in my new age group, though. Hopefully, I’ll be able to hang with the lead pack, dial in to a perceived “race pace” (whatever that means), and conserve energy by drafting as much as possible. Obviously, I want to swim faster this year, but even if my split stays the same, I’ll probably come out of the water feeling fresher—which means I’ll have more juice for the bike and run.

Bike: be aggressive and burn a few matches

All right, #letstalkwatts: Having another year of training, knowing how to handle my tri bike (SoBe was my third time riding it), and coming to the saddle with a more fit engine, I should be able to do big things. Thus far, all of my watts have been made at Tailwind Endurance with access to a power meter; and since I will not be racing with power, my main focus during the 20 miles will be finding that comfortably uncomfortable feeling. Earl and I have talked strategy and time goals for the past few weeks, and he’s also the one who prescribed those “fun” bike-run-bike-run-bike-run bricks. These workouts have helped me figure out how hard I can push on the bike and still run afterward—and how it should feel. Focus on the feeling; don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers. Basically, I plan to burn a few matches on the bike. After all, I have a whole box at my disposal; I just need to be smart and strategic about using them. And I cannot leave my run on the bike course.

Run: work through the first mile and hang tough

For the past two years, I have not been able to string together four solid miles off the bike. This was probably due to lack of run volume, and I definitely came off the bike too aggressively. But thanks to Coach Pat, my run is the best it’s ever been. And since I’ve done a few road races and completed the abovementioned “fun” bricks, I know how my off-the-bike pace should feel. I know how the opening mile will shake out. And I know I can sustain it. Focus on the feeling.

Let’s do this—I’m coming for you, Miami!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of April 6 (Week 14)

Well, well, well. It’s almost that time.

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No, not almond milk latte time. (Although I’ll always say yes.) T-minus one week until South Beach!

General training notes: I say this a lot, but this was another productive training week. Aside from Thursday epic energy crash, I’m feeling smooth and strong across the disciplines. Let’s hope this translates next Sunday!

Monday – a.m. run and swim with Bearcat Masters

Easy four miles solo and 3,800m with the Bearcats

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Working on locking it in with 8x500s, plus some upper-body strength training and corework

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

Another “fun” bike-run-bike-run-bike-run brick to dial in race pace efforts—and I was feeling all the feelings. For bike effort one and two (both 12 minutes on erg mode), I held my FTP and hit my off-the-bike pace pretty easily, but round three was tough. My legs refused to turn over, which forced me to decrease my output and adjust the erg accordingly. My inability to execute the final set bummed me out, but Earl gave me a peptalk after: it’s all about perspective, and now I know how it feels to burn too many matches on the bike; so when and if this feeling arises on Sunday, I’ll know to back off. Plus, on the bright side, I have a target wattage range and feeling for race day too. Focus on the feeling; don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m run

While the rest of the class did VO2 max intervals, Earl put me on the other side of the studio, pulled up the SoBe course on YouTube, and instructed me to ride at tempo for an hour. The ride itself felt great, but as soon as I got home, I was ready to go back to bed—even after my standard post-workout cup of coffee. My coworkers noticed I was dragging all day at work, and after talking with Coach Pat, we decided to scrap the planned 45-min. steady run. (I’m guessing the fatigue resulted from Wednesday’s brick; Earl said it would take about 24 hours to recover, and even though I felt fine the day of, clearly, he was right, ha!) This was the first workout in …. a very long time I consciously chose not to do, but it was the right move. Case in point: I went to bed even earlier than normal and slept for 10 hours.

Friday – a.m. run

Awesome seven miler in the morning, and later that afternoon, I saw Isang for a pre-SoBe full-body sports massage/flush-out. Aside from some tension in my neck, there were no hotspots, and she even asked if I’ve been doing yoga because I’m so flexible. That totally made my day.

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Two-hour blissful endurance ride at Tailwind:  there were a few threshold/climbing efforts, and we rode for 45 minutes on the Ironman New Zealand course. After refueling with coffee, eggs, butternut squash soup, and maybe one blueberry muffin, I swam 3,700m with the Bearcats.

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Another blissful two hours in the saddle. We spent the first hour doing 10-15-minute blocks of cadence work, and for the second hour, we rode a course that contain various endurance and tempo efforts.

So what’s the game plan from now until Sunday? Wednesday’s killer brick was my last hard bike/run workout, so my rides and runs this upcoming week will be easy with some race-paced efforts sprinkled in to keep my legs sharp—and to remember what it feels like. Since swimming is low impact, I will not be altering those workouts, and I plan to do an easy open-water swim Saturday morning with the team before the race. But, as they say, the hay is in the barn; I won’t become any faster between now and Sunday, so it’s time to stay loose and trust my training.

When is your next race?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of March 30 (Week 13)

To all who celebrate, happy Easter!

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I’m hopping (get it?) on a train shortly to see my sister (she turns 22 today, yikes!), so let’s keep this recap short and sweet.

General training notes: Solid, solid training week. In the water, on the saddle, and on the pavement, I feel the best I’ve ever felt across all three disciplines—fit, smooth, and strong—and I’m excited to see how this translates at South Beach in two weeks, ekkk!

Monday – a.m. run and swim with Bearcat Masters

Three easy miles on the West Side Highway and 3,000m in the water—and the Russian swim coach said women shouldn’t do triathlons. “Do something gentle,” he said. What the what?! I gave him a hard time, obviously, but he’s so old school it’s not worth it. Just make me a better swimmer—and what I do with that swim is up to me.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Coach Pat is making me faster! Felt smooth and strong during my 16x200s, and then I ran circles along the indoor beach volleyball court to get ready for SoBe. Dun-dun-duuunnnn. After work, I swam 2,600 easier meters with the Bearcats. Shout out to my lanemate for letting me “practice” drafting, ha.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

With SoBe coming up, I want to dial in my race paces, so Earl suggested doing a fun bike-run-bike-run-bike-run brick: twelve minutes on erg mode, immediately followed by a one-mile run at race pace; repeat two more times. Unsurprisingly, I felt much more comfortable on the bike, but I was able to lock in my race pace by the second round. Overall, though, it went extremely well.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m run

Killer VO2 max class: five, one-minute efforts; three, five-minute efforts; then five more one-minute efforts. At lunch, I snuck away for 45 minutes steady outside.

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Locking it in with Lady Liberty in the distance

Note to self: run later during the afternoon; there were way too many people.

Friday – off

Unplanned rest day due to pinkeye

Saturday – a.m. run and CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

What to do on 4/4? Run on the Williamsburg Bridge with friends/ultrarunners for four hours of course.

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I got to run with Coach Pat! Er, technically, run the same route as him. He obviously lapped me during his 32-plus mile run. As the underachieving triathlete, I logged only 10.

After refueling with a cinnamon raisin egg sandwich (delicious!), I headed to Tailwind for a two-hour blissful endurance ride. We did a bunch of endurance to threshold efforts and then rode a course for 35 minutes. This is also when I reviewed Wednesday’s brick with Earl and discovered I should’ve set the erg 30 watts higher. So that’s why the workout felt so good. Back to the paincave on Wednesday …

Sunday – off

T-minus two weeks until SoBe—time to lock it in!

Are you celebrating Easter?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of March 23 (Week 12)

Why oh why do the weekends pass so quickly? Maybe the faster they come and go, the faster spring will actually get here. We had some flurries yesterday morning. That is so not OK. Anyway …

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Casually playing wetsuit dress-up. Totally normal.

General training notes: As you know, the past two weeks have been tough mentally (in terms of training and life). Thankfully, it feels like the upswing has finally arrived because things are working themselves out and getting dialed in. T-minus three weeks until South Beach!

Monday – a.m. run and swim with Bearcat Masters

Easy three miles along the West Side Highway and 3,000m with the good ole Bearcats. The new-to-me Russian coach keeps giving me a hard time about the butterfly—which I’m assuming means I’m either totally hopeless or … no, probably totally hopeless.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Not to jinx my running progress, but there may have been some #FireOnTheTrack during Coach Pat’s 12x300s. These intervals led to a cardio/lung burn around repeat 11, but it gives me confidence to know I can hit a “controlled sprint,” hold the effort for a bit, and not feel totally gassed. Gotta prime that engine for SoBe!

… and then I went down at masters. Well, that’s being dramatic. I was fine until our final 4×25, 2×50, 1×100 speed set during which the worst calf cramp kicked in. I actually had to stop mid-set because it started to spasm. After talking with one of the coaches, he said it could be the result of two intense workouts back-to-back. (Even though I drink all the water during the day.) Actual swimmers, has this happened to you? Any coping tips?

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Whew, another killer VO2 max power hour: 5×4-min. blocks with the odds on a flat course and the evens on a hill. I had a mini-mental lapse during the third repeat, but was able to dial back in and hold these 115 percent efforts.

Thursday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run outside)

I was feeling all the feelings during this brick. First, I altered the VO2-focused ride so I was working with threshold values, and Coach Pat said to run an easy five miles off the bike. But I had a tough time settling into my easy pace—as in I was going faster than prescribed. At first, I was happy with how the easy feeling resulted in a higher than anticipated pace. But then I thought about running six miles hard … could I do it? Don’t get ahead of yourself, Red.

Friday – a.m. run

Long runs after bricks are the best; it really makes you appreciate running on fresh legs.

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Rainy runs FTW!

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Even though I’m racking up the QT hours at Tailwind, I have not been doing enough longer endurance rides. During this two-hour workout, we did a bunch of endurance and tempo intervals and then rode part of the 70.3 California bike course. I felt great throughout, and I really tried to dial in the efforts (and not push too hard) and focus on the feeling. Training with power is awesome, but I do not have a power meter on my bike; this means on race day, I’ll need to trust myself and race by feel (and not get emotionally attached to the numbers).

I could talk about the masters drill work I did with paddles (#wannabeswimmer), but I actually dove off the blocks! Without bellyflopping or loosing my goggles! Success!

Sunday – a.m. run and p.m CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Coach Pat gave me the green light to do what I wanted at this morning’s NYRR 10-K Spring Melt Down, so I put it on cruise control—partly because Central Park is hilly, and partly because I had a bike workout. Anyway, it went well (48:13), and I’m really happy with my mental game; positive thoughts, used my mantra when necessary, and no mental slipups.

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If it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen, right?

Another “blissful endurance” ride at Tailwind: We started with 3×10-min. intervals with specific cadence and effort level prescriptions. For example, the first block had a two percent gradient, and we held 80 percent of our FTP at 80 RPM; the second block had a 1.5 percent gradient, and we stayed at 80 percent of our FTP at 90 RPM; for the final one, there was a one percent gradient, and we hung out at 80 percent at—get this—100 RPM. That one was actually kind of fun because I’m naturally a 93-95 RPM rider. The second part of class was an erg mode workout (sigh) with endurance and tempo efforts.

Overall, I’m pleased with this week’s training and hope to carry the momentum into the final stretch.

Has spring sprung for you yet?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of March 16 (Week 11)

Greetings from Upstate New York where we’re currently experiencing a snow globe effect!

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Happy spring? I came home for a long weekend, and even with the snow, it couldn’t have been better: escaping the city, seeing family, and simply relaxing. After all, family time is the best time.

General training notes: Knowing a trip home was coming up, I was able to work hard, dial in, and get my workouts done at the beginning of the week. And as tough as last week was mentally, there were no head games this week, and the self-doubting was kept to a minimum. I have a feeling my confidence will come and go throughout the next month since my first race of the season takes place in April—yikes!

Monday – a.m. swim with Bearcat Masters; p.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Morning swim … who am I? This was my first one in quite some time, and it was with a new-to-me Russian coach. He asked if butterfly was my favorite stroke, and I couldn’t tell if he was mocking me or being semi-serious. Anyway, we did a ton of unconventional tech work, and quite honestly, I had no idea what was going on for the majority of the practice (#wannabeswimmer).

After work, I hit up Tailwind for a VO2 max-focused ride. Wowza, my new power numbers are making me work, but that’s how you get better. Also, I made so many watts, I busted my tire.

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Photo courtsey of Tailwind

Lots of people were impressed, but it was brought to my attention I should’ve been riding on a trainer tire.  And the trainer tire has been put on, by the way.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Fast and strong 16x200s on the indoor track, plus some strength training and corework. I stopped home after work and almost didn’t make it to the pool because I fell asleep watching the news, but I was really glad I did: 2,175 meters, and one of the coaches worked with me on diving off the blocks. #wannabeswimmer

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Woohoo for power hour fun: 5×4-min. blocks with two minutes at threshold and two minutes at VO2 max. For additional fun, there was a gradient on the second and fourth intervals. Again, my new power numbers are challenging me big time, but that’s how you get better.

Thursday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

As not-so-great as last week’s brick went, that’s how awesome this one ended up being. I executed the 75-min. VO2 max workout well (5×1-min. intervals, 4×3-min. intervals, and 1×5-min. block) and felt strong during the run. Out of the gate, the pace felt incredibly sustainable, and I couldn’t truly feel the effects of the ride until mile 2.5; and even then, it was my legs—not lungs—that started to feel taxed.

Friday – a.m. run

Easy-ish eight miles back in Upstate.

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Legs felt less than fresh after bricking and traveling, but that’s to be expected.

Saturday – a.m. run

Steady-ish run split between outside and the ‘mill. The conditions seemed to be OK when I started, but as the snow started to fall more aggressively, I started slipping and sliding. Wiping out and getting hurt during a training run is so not worth it.

Sunday – off

All right—less than one month until SoBe. Time to get things dialed and locked in!

What’s your favorite part about going home?

Evolving as a Triathlete

Throughout the past few months—as the 2014 triathlon season ended, as the off-season came and went, plus as the 2015 campaign kicked off—my outlook, mentality, and training needs as a triathlete changed. Big time.

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It’s officially official—my journey to become an actual swimmer has begun (but still a #wannabeswimmer).

This is a post I’ve drafted, edited, reformatted several times, so hopefully, the current version makes some sense. What I’m trying to say, though, is fill up your water bottle, top off your cup of coffee, and settle in; this is a lengthy one, folks.

First, let’s rewind to last year. As my second official year of training with and racing for Full Throttle Endurance, this campaign saw improvement across the disciplines, especially on the bike. I trained hard, raced hard, and had a blast. I bonded with teammates, and there’s no doubt I’ll call a few folks friends for the rest of my life. Basically, it was pretty close to being perfect, a realization I didn’t completely make until much later.

So yes, I couldn’t have asked for a better season—but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to attack the off-season, address my weaknesses, and use that momentum to catapult 2015. Spending my training time solo gave me some serious headspace; thinking, reflecting, and goal setting happened, and as things started to change, priorities began to shift. And I slowly changed too.

Last year: My identity was tied to the team.

I was all Full Throttle all the time. Always working out at the gym, always attending optional workouts, always organizing weekend rides. Technically, I worked for the team, too, doing social media and other technological/logistical stuff. So it made a lot of sense when I settled into the unofficial “inner circle,” privy to coaches’ only knowledge. And I love knowledge—knowing what’s going on, having people confide in me, and basically just knowing everything about everything. After all, knowledge is the best commodity.

This year: My identity stems from several different facets.

Breaking off and doing my own thing during the off-season highlighted just how much I was involved with the team—and just how much I lost myself in the team. Er, maybe not “lost myself,” but overall, I was not being my most authentic self (Rich Roll term #fangirl). Were there times when this wasn’t the case? Absolutely. For the most part, though, I got caught up in the good and the bad. The praise, awards, favoritism, interworkings, drama, it all affected me on a daily basis.

Those authentic times had some common factors—how I was thinking, who I was with, what motivated me—which ultimately sparked the desire to tri try life outside FTE.  Yes, I’m still training and racing, but it’s much different than last year: how I train, where I train, and who I train with.

Last year: I trained almost exclusively with the team.

And hey, since I was the team, it made sense. I never missed a workout, including a handful of disastrous yet memorable yoga classes. Teammates and I even drove to Connecticut to swim in the long-course pool. And I regret absolutely nothing. It was my second year of official training, so logging time, miles, yards, watts, whatever across the disciplines was going to lead to improvement. And it worked.

This year: I am “doing me.”

Clearly, last year’s format proved beneficial, but it was definitely atypical. (Remember my sympathy taper crazies? Definitely not normal.) During the season, I knew it was special, but I didn’t completely realize how nearly perfect it was until after Nationals.

To sum it up, things have changed—both on the team and individual levels—and I’m going through a training transition. There’s no doubt in my mind I could’ve stayed with the group and continued to get better, but I need more now. Swimming with Bearcat Masters will hopefully lead to faster times in the water. Cycling (and training with power) at Tailwind Endurance will hopefully lead to increased bike fitness, strength, and power. Running under the guidance of Coach Pat will hopefully help me become an all-around threat. Basically, I’m doing what I have to do to get better.

Last year: It was all about pushing through the pain.

And honestly, that’s just the team mentality. When you get a bunch of talented, type-A triathletes in one area, then yeah, there’s going to be a lot of intensity and competition. Looking back, this atmosphere was the most noticeable on the bike, specifically during our team rides in Central Park. At first, I played into it, but I slowly became unenthused and opted out of these “races.” The aftermath inevitably led to drama (see above), and since I was close with teammates and coaches, I served as a mediator between the two groups.

Our team speed workouts centered on pain too. Case in point: I vividly remember my coach saying, “if you don’t throw up or pass out after speedwork, you didn’t push hard enough.” Again, working in these threshold zones leads to progress, but only if you have the base mileage—which I did not. So even though I turned myself inside out on the track, I didn’t fully reap its benefits. The team spent its training time swimming, “racing” bikes in Central Park, and doing speedwork, and there wasn’t an emphasis on the easier, base-building workouts.

This year: It’s about focusing on the feeling and enjoying the process.

When training began this year, my endorphin highs were short, and I crashed almost immediately after workouts: ‘So what if I just crushed that bike workout? What’s next?’ or ‘I just ran eight miles. Now what?’ became routine reflections. The swimming, biking, and running didn’t seem to be enough anymore—but that stemmed from other stuff, which I figured out (#vagueblogging)—and I didn’t know what to do. Doing work, feeling that good kind of discomfort, and hitting the numbers drove my motivation. And in this quest, I got lost.

Throughout the past year, Earl, my all-time favorite Tailwind coach, and I have developed a solid coach-athlete relationship, and he picked up on what was going on. “Focus on the feeling,” he advised. “And don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers.” This outlook has changed how I approach workouts, how I function during workouts, and how I review what happened during workouts. Now, instead of ‘I just ran nine miles; what’s next?’ it’s ‘I just ran nine effortless miles and felt strong the entire time—yes!’

Last year: I thought in the short term.

My thoughts centered on the immediate: today’s workout, next week’s training schedule, and this season’s goal races. The “big picture” thinking I did surrounded Nationals in August; that race was always in the back of my mind, and that race was the one my coach always mentioned during key workouts.

This year: I’m remembering my long-terms goals.

Yes, I obviously want to improve in the short term, continue getting faster across the disciplines, and piece together strong races this year. However, as January approached, and I struggled to figure out my training plan, Earl told me to remember what my long-terms goals are—and to keep those in mind. In a few years, I’d like to make the jump to the 70.3 distance, and Ironman Lake Placid will definitely happen within the next 10 years. (Overall, I eventually see myself becoming a 70.3 athlete. A longer swim and bike work to my advantage, and hopefully by that time, the run will be on par with those two.) Anyway, I want to make progress in the short term—and remember it’s about laying the foundation and gaining experience for long-course racing.

Thinking about where I was this time last year—in terms of fitness, my mental approach to triathlon and life, maturity as a triathlete and human being—I cannot believe how much I’ve grown. A portion of this transition stems from becoming a legitimate adult in their mid-20s (wahhh!) and figuring out who I am—and the kind of person I want to become. Even though I was happy last year, I have an incredibly strong sense of self now. In terms of life, work, and triathlon, I’m exactly where I should be; I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I love what I’m doing.

How have you grown throughout the past year?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of March 9 (Week 10)

Self-doubt. All athletes fall victim to these negative thoughts that creep into our heads and try to convince us we’re less than: Can I hang with these people in the water? Can I endure 12, two-minute VO2 max efforts? And how in the world am I supposed to run off the bike after?

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Can I finish this slice of apple pie?  No doubt there.

I struggled to silence these questions this week; it was definitely more of a mental battle than physical one, which stems from the fact my first race of the season is about one month away. Yes, everything got done, but I didn’t feel great about a lot of it.

General training notes: As I outlined above, this proved to be more of a mental training/taxing week. (With Cherry Tree on Sunday, I backed off volume and intensity early in the week, and Coach Pat also had me taking it easy in terms of the run.) On the bright side, I would much rather work through this stuff now, so it if surfaces on race day, I know how to deal with it.

Monday – a.m. bike; p.m. run

Easy 30-minute spin-out on my indoor trainer, plus three easy miles along the West Side Highway after work.

Tuesday – a.m. run; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Easy five miles in the morning and 2,500m after work with the Bearcats. We’ve been doing a lot of kick sets during these Tuesday practices, and the line of the night occurred during our 8×75 set: “If I wanted to use my legs, I’d be a runner!” declared one of my lanemates. (I decided not to mention I ran that morning.)

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Oh, biking; you never let me down: two, seven-minute blocks during which we built the effort and added gear every minute. Then we tackled 5×1-min. VO2 max efforts with one minute rest. And finally, ten minutes at threshold.

Thursday – a.m. run; p.m. swim

Easy six miles on the West Side Highway, plus an easy, tech-focused 1,300 yards after work. (Victoria, I actually did catch-up and thought of you!)

Friday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

Well, this could’ve gone better. I used my new power numbers during the VO2 max intervals, which made both the ride (gotta work for more watts) and run much harder. Coach Pat told me to run three miles, and this was the first time it took me a while to settle in. The pace felt sustainable, but I could tell immediately I “over biked,” and that’s when the mind games started. I struggled to stay in the current mile—the old “run the mile you’re in” mentality didn’t quite work—but I was able to hang tough until things started to feel better around mile two. Bottom line, I got it done, but it left much to be desired. Again, on the bright side, I can draw on this experience if and when something similar happens on race day.

Saturday – “off”

I MET AND RAN WITH RICH ROLL.

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He was here for the NYC Veg Food Fest, so I organized a group run and book signing on behalf of JRab. He gave me a hug, and we are now BFFs.

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#FanGirl #MostAuthenticSelf

Sunday – a.m. run and bike

Steady 40 minutes on the ‘mill, strides, and corework, plus an easy two hours on the spin bike.

What was the highlight of your week?

2015 Cherry Tree 10 Miler Recap

Another weekend, another race in Brooklyn. This past Sunday, I ran around Prospect Park not once, not twice, but three times for the Cherry Tree 10 Miler.

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Rabbits who run!

Originally scheduled for February, this “race for the hardcore” gets a great turnout thanks to its versatility: You can cover the 10 miles as a three-person relay (which I did last year) or as an individual. Also, the swag is solid. Last year, we received fleece-lined Buffs; a few weeks ago, we got singlets. Yes, for a winter race.

Far from wintery, though, the weather was perfect: sunny, around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, plus no snow, slush, or ice. And even though I thrive in the cold, these conditions were ideal—especially for executing my race plan. Coach Pat passed along my target splits, and our goal was to start off slightly fast, settle in for a few miles, then build the effort and finish strong. Unlike the four miler a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t be heading into the paincave until late in the race, and I knew this would be a challenge for me mentally: being disciplined enough to cruise, run easy, and stick to the plan, especially since as a short-course triathlete, I associate the good kind of discomfort with doing work; and that feeling wouldn’t surface until mile eight.

Another factor I sort of failed to consider centered on the course: three loops. Three mind-numbing loops of a short, three-ish mile route with one gradual hill. Granted, I was prepared to deal with the hill, but I underestimated how mentally taxing it would be to run in a circle three times. Case in point: During the third loop, I had to work harder to maintain focus and prevent those mental slip-ups.

Anyway, here’s the best way to break it down:

Miles 1 and 2 (7:46 and 8:10) – ‘Easy, Red. Ease into it.’

My primary focus during these opening miles was not to go out too fast (semi-accomplished?) and feel things out. My legs felt pretty good, and I knew a solid outing was feasible if I stuck to the plan …

Miles 3-5 (all 8:0X)‘Settle in. Discipline. Smooth and strong … and smart.’

… but then I hit mile three and was tempted to throw the plan out the window. ‘What if I hit my off-the-bike pace now? I feel good!’  To talk myself down, I added “and smart” to my mantra. Also, a friend/fellow EduRunner was doing the race, and told me he would be running easy. Our easy paces are not the same (read: I’m a bit faster), so I was confused when he passed me, and I was maintaining something between easy and steady for me. It became a mind game, and it took a lot of effort to keep my brain turned off and simply run my race.

Miles 6-8 (all 8:0X, except when I hit the hill for the third time; that was 8:13) – ‘Smooth and strong.’

I thought about taking off my long-sleeved Philadelphia Half-Marathon shirt, but ultimately decided I didn’t want to blink anyone with my paleness.

Miles 9-10 (7:30 and ?)‘Here we go! Smooth and strong off the bike!’

I tried not to look at my watch because honestly, seeing anything in the seven-minute ballpark still freaks me out. (I know, I know; don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers.) There was some pain, but there was also a strong finish, so I’ll take it!

Official time – 1:19:39 (7:58 min./mi.)

And I was that runner/triathlete who asked 30 seconds post-race if anyone wanted to swim.  Who am I?!  Oh yeah, #wannabeswimmer.

In all seriousness, though, these two Prospect Park races give me confidence heading into South Beach. For the four miler, I was able to run smart, hang tough, and execute the plan for the most part. And the same goes for this past weekend; I ran my race (slash solid training run), stuck to the plan, and finished feeling strong (and was back biking and running the next day).

What are your tricks for staying mentally focused?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of March 2 (Week 9)

All right, folks. I don’t care if this sounds dramatic, and I definitely do not care about vague blogging: This was the most stressful week of my life. (Aside from Honors week in college when I had to crank out 70-plus pages of rhetorical and grammatical analysis, plus other fun writing/journalism things.) If you follow run-specialty news, then you know what’s up; and things are still up in the air, but it looks like I’ll be OK. My friends and family were even more invaluable this week, and I feel very fortunate to have so many awesome people in my life.

General training notes: Even though work was a s****show (sorry, grandma!), my workouts this week went really, really well. I felt recovered, fresh, and ready to get after it each and every time. And honestly, compared to what is/was going on at work, the endurance stuff felt kind of easy; it was a release, it was an escape, and it kept me sane.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. run

Before work drama went down, I faced my second power test of 2015—and totally nailed it. My five-minute “blow-out” effort clocked in at 290 watts (#letstalkwatts), and following an easy 10-minute spin, I went into the paincave for 20 minutes and averaged 240 watts. Woohoo!

Then worked knocked everyone on their butts. And then I hit the West Side Highway for an easy three miler.

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Being present, being mindful, and focusing on the feeling

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Thanks to Sunday’s rescheduled Cherry Tree 10 Miler, Coach Pat gave me some added rest between my 3x1200s, and I felt awesome overall. And during the Bearcats workout, one of the swimmers said I was fast. And then he found out I was a triathlete and was floored. It’s all about keeping a low profile.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

This was a fun, four-minute block workout: 1 minute at tempo, 1 minute at threshold, 1 minute at VO2 max, 1 minute recovery. We went through it once, then rested; then did it twice and rested; etc. I used my new power numbers and felt great!

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim

The CompuTrainers were acting wonky, but we did a lot of VO2 max blocks. After work, I hit the pool for an easy 1,500 yards.

Friday – a.m. run

Easy six miles along the West Side Highway

Saturday – off

Sunday – Cherry Tree 10 Miler

I’ll definitely write a recap, but this went well. Even though I was tempted to deviate from the plan, I remain disciplined, stuck to my paces, and finished feeling awesome. (Official time was 1:19:39.)

How do you stay grounded when life gets crazy?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 23 (Week 8)

Thank GAWD February is finally over. Seriously.

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I’m not too pleased Parks and Rec is dunzo, though. (And yes, I’m ignoring the grammatical error.)

Even though the month started on a high note (with me officially “aging up” and all), it seemed like a serious grind. Please tell me I’m not the only one who felt this way.

General training notes: Whew, this week kicked my butt. Coach Pat and I backed off the run volume a bit, and during this mini-down period, the training load from the past three weeks hit me: always sleepy, always hungry. Overall, though, the workouts went pretty well. I’m still feeling great on the bike (FTP testing takes place next week!), I’m still loving the run, and I’m still not dreading the swim.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. run

Lots of tempo, sweet spot and threshold fun: 30-, 10-, and 5-min. blocks that contained varying intervals. After work, I logged an easy three miles on the ‘mill, plus some much needed strength training and corework.

Tuesday – a.m. run; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

An easy four miler along the super icy Hudson River with some pick-ups sprinkled in. I held my own in one of the middle Bearcat Masters lanes (probably because I skipped the pre-practice happy hour, ha!) and even moved up a few spots during the 2,800m workout. Progress!

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Loved, loved, loved this workout: Ten minutes of under/overs (one minute below threshold, one minute above), then descending blocks (five minutes, four minutes, etc.) of building efforts.

Thursday – a.m. run; p.m. swim

Easy seven miles in the morning and 1,500 yards in the pool after work. I planned to do 2,100 yards, but my legs were fried. Usually, my body loosens up after 1,000 yards or so, but I could tell that would not be the case today. I considered pushing through, but ultimately decided to listen to my body and shut it down.

Friday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

You know you’re going to spend some time in the paincave when the erg mode workout is called “blitzkrieg.” The first portion of the ride wasn’t too bad—lots of VO2 max intervals of varying times and intensities—but the short, 10-second micro-bursts totally taxed my legs and made the final 10-minute threshold block tough. During that time, the coach talked to us about mindfulness and how to deal with the negative voice in our head that wants us to give up. It was very fitting because I was so tempted to throw in the towel—but was able to mentally regroup, focus on the feeling, and ultimately finish strong. And he called me a machine after, so that was cool.

After a quick shoe change, I went across the hall to Finish Line PT, hopped on their treadmill, and cranked out two miles. Overall, it went really well: the pace felt sustainable (Coach Pat gave me the green light for three miles next time!), and my legs felt fresh. Come to think of it, this may be the first brick ever where the jello/concrete leg feeling never occurred.

Saturday – a.m. run; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Forty-five minute steady run on the West Side Highway …

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… and a monster-for-me swim of 3,400m.

Sunday – off

In semi-related news, the Cherry Tree 10 Miler is rescheduled for next Sunday!

What are you looking forward to in March?