Triathlon Training Log – Off-Season, Week 1 (Sept. 5)

Just as quickly as my seven-day period of inactivity began, Sloth Week ended. It was a smashing success, giving both my body and mind a break from triathlon.

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Summer sunsets in the 315

But all good things eventually conclude, and this week, I reintroduced exercise to my routine. Since my coach and I are meeting this upcoming week—to review 2016 and plan my off-season—I was left to my own devices. However, I know we’ll focus on swimming and running from now through December, so I made an effort to devote time to those disciplines and set a precedent for the next few months.

Monday – off

I went home for Labor Day Weekend and spent Monday traveling back to NYC (and reading “Boys in the Boat.” It’s so good.)

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

Easy shake-out run in the morning (3.6 miles), plus my first Bearcat swim practice of the fall season. I’m already doing much better than last year as far as swimming goes because I didn’t avoid the pool for three months. Success!

Wednesday – p.m. EngineRm workout

Fueled by the Olympics, my new obsession is rowing: a total-body workout that actually favors taller humans? Sign me up!

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The phrase Engine Room refers to the middle seats in an eight-oared boat (3, 4, 5, and 6) that are typically occupied by the most powerful rowers.

Earl and I talked briefing about rowing before Nationals, and he recommended EngineRm, an indoor erg facility that caters to athletes. I took a 101 class after work and then joined an hour-long endurance workout. I am totally hooked.

Thursday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Again, it’s all about doing better than last off-season: not only was this workout my second time swimming this week, but I also did the entire IM practice as prescribed. Things got a little dicey when it was time to do the butterfly, but we’ll get there. It was a shorter practice in terms of time and distance (one hour and 2,200m), but that’s fine considering it’s the start of the fall season.

Friday – p.m. run

Easy four-mile run-commute home

Saturday – a.m. run-row “brick”

I ran the scenic route through Central Park to EngineRm as an abbreviated warm-up (1.6 miles) before class. I loved the workout we did because it was structured similarly to a VO2 max set on the bike: we did five intervals of 1:15 “on” and 45 seconds active recovery, and we increased the intensity/stroke rate each time (think building the effort). Then we repeated the set again with the goal of improving our numbers. In case it isn’t clear, I am really digging rowing. The actual motions and technique remind me of swimming, and so far, the workouts we’ve done are similar to what I do on the bike.

Sunday – p.m. attempted run-swim-run brick (run to the pool, swim with Bearcat masters, run home)

In addition to rowing, I am currently obsessed with run commuting. Since it takes about 45-50 minutes to get to my pool via public transportation, I figured it would be worth a shot to see if I could get there more quickly by running—and it was a success. I’m sure I can make my route more efficient with additional trial and error, but it took about 30 minutes today. (With run commuting, especially in a city, it’s important to manage expectations: between the pedestrians and traffic lights, you aren’t going to be setting any PRs, but it’s a great way to get in a few extra easy miles.) The pool was closed today, though, due to an emergency, so no swimming, unfortunately. But I ran back home and logged close to seven miles.

How do your workouts change when you aren’t training for a specific event?

16th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon Recap

My 2016 racing season officially ended a few weekends ago at the 16th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon, my favorite local yokel race. This was the first swim-bike-run event I did four years ago (wow!), and when possible, I love going home and doing it again.

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… and also relaxing at home

Although I had a satisfactory outing at Nationals, it always lights a fire inside me. Racing alongside stellar athletes is both humbling and motivating; and even though an August event is late in the season for me, I always want to race one more time afterward. Luckily, we were firing on all cylinders at work with the Olympics so I accrued a few comp days and used a handful to head home to the Syracuse area for a long weekend.

Since we eased off the gas post-Omaha—the “A” race was over, and work was nuts—I didn’t know what to expect from my legs. But because I had a tough swim and run at Nationals, I was primarily concerned with those two disciplines. (The bike would simply be what it would be, especially since I had not been on my tri bike post-Nationals.)

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I really need to get a Tailwind t-shirt so I can change after the race like everyone else.

Overall, it was a good day: the choppy swim and windy bike equated to tough conditions, but I felt good about the outing I pieced together—and any day you find yourself on the podium is a good day.

Swim – 800m – 15:26

It seems like the swim course changes every year, and this time around, the 300 or so athletes faced a “C”-shaped out-and-back route. Unlike Omaha, the swim was wetsuit-legal, and the water was choppy, which I liked because it separated the field. At 8:30 a.m., my wave of women 39 and under was released, and I immediately surged to the front of the pack. Since it was only a half-mile swim—I usually swim twice as far in an Olympic-distance race—I decided to kick as if I were at a masters swim practice, a.k.a. much more frequently. There were six buoys out to the turnaround point, and I hit my first group of dudes at buoy three. (Luckily, it wasn’t a Wall of Dudes.) Given the wind and chop, I was happy with the course I swam and how I paced it: I settled in after the first 200m or so, and then I started to push again after hitting the turn around buoy. One girl in my wave tapped my feet around the 500m mark, so I threw in a surge in an effort to get some separation. She tapped me again around 700m, and that’s when I really started to push. I really wanted to be first out of the water!

Transition 1 – 1:21

Mission accomplished!

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Thanks for the photo, Dad!

She was just a few seconds behind me, but I saw her sit down in transition so I knew I would be the first woman out of T1.

Bike – 14 miles – 45:11

As soon as I mounted my bike, my legs let me know they did more work than usual during the swim. It took a few miles for me to settle in, and during the process, one pocketfriend zipped by me. I let her go because I didn’t want to burn all my matches in the opening miles.

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Even though I know the course well, I always forget how hilly it is; it’s like Quassy in the sense that it punches you over and over again. (And you feel the effects more if you’re 5’10” as opposed to 5’.) So like Quassy, my plan was to “cover up” and be conservative on the hills and make my moves on the flat portions. There’s a monster hill about halfway through, and the woman who won the sprint race outright (she beat all the dudes and ran an 18-min. 5-K off the bike) zoomed by me. I was able to hammer the last few miles, though, and as I passed one dude, all he said was, “Wow.”

Transition 2 – 1:00

As I rolled in, I knew I was the third female overall, but that placing didn’t affect my race plan. I just wanted to run a solid 5-K—and hopefully not get passed.

Run – 5-K – 23:24

The theme of this race was definitely, “I forgot how hilly this course is!” and the run was no exception.

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The hill in the opening mile punched me hard, but I was able to rebound and settle into my target pace from there. The 3.1 miles passed by quickly—and I wanted to keep going?

Official finish – 1:26:46

Even though this was a slower day compared to last year, my coach would remind me to focus on the feeling and not become emotionally attached to the numbers. Like Nationals, I felt much more in control and comfortable with the effort I was putting forth. Better yet, I had tangible goals that centered on execution (i.e. kick more during the swim, be a “boxer” during the bike, etc.). Precise execution would lead to a good day, and that’s what happened.

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Aero is everything.

I’ve become better at this process throughout the season: remaining mentally sound during a race and executing precisely and confidently. I’ve matured a lot as an endurance athlete this season (season recap post to come), and I’m excited to build on this progress during the off-season.

Triathlon Training Log – Week 39 (August 22)

Well, that’s it. My 2016 triathlon season is officially in the books.

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Nice view up here. Wonder what it is like a little bit higher …

Thanks to the Olympics, I accumulated a few comp days at work, which let me come home for a long weekend, spend some time with the fam, and do the 16th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon.

General training notes: Since I was still recovering from work—and because I had the local yokel sprint on Sunday—we kept training light this week. Nothing hard, nothing strenuous: just enough to keep the body moving and the legs fresh.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run

After disembarking the early morning bandwagon pre-Nationals, I struggled to hop back aboard this week. I did three loops of the Reservoir in Central Park that were peppered with fartleks, plus one mile at projected local yokel pace for a total of seven.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy-ish 70-minute ride with lots of cadence drills

Thursday – a.m. run

This four miler was a total slog, but on the bright side, I saw a few friends in Central Park.

Friday – off

Travel home

Saturday – shake-out run and tech ride

Easy 10-minute jog, and I rode my bike up and down the driveway a few times to make sure everything felt OK. My front brakes were rubbing, so I paid a quick visit to Syracuse Bicycle for an adjustment (and to see my people).

Sunday – 16th Cazenovia Triathlon (800m swim, 14-mile bike, 5-K run)

My final race of the 2016 was a sweet one: I cracked the overall female podium for the sprint! That means a lot because this was the first tri I did four years ago, and it’s super motivating to see the progress I’ve made. Race report to come!

What’s new with you? How did your workouts go?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 38 (August 14)

The “A” race is done. The Olympics are done. I can finally breathe!

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When you have to work weekends for the Olympics, you get the park to yourself for the most part.

… and start scheming for the off-season.

General training notes: following Omaha, this week was all about recovering, and honestly, simply making it through the week. We’ve been firing on all cylinders with the Olympics and have worked nearly three weeks straight so we squeezed in the workouts where we could.

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy hour-long spin to flush out the legs

Tuesday – p.m. run

Easy and oh-so-humid run along the Reservoir focusing on form and not running like a basketball player

Wednesday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

I only had time for a 50-minute ride after work, and my set included four intervals that served as “zone checkers”: endurance, tempo, sweet spot, and VO2 max. This was the first workout post-Nationals with some quality intervals, and I felt great.

Thursday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Gotta love it when what would normal be IM day ends up being freestyle day. A packed pool meant we stuck to shorter intervals—lots of 25s, 50s, and 75s—and since it was our last practice of the season, we ended the hour-long workout by doing cannonballs off the blocks.

Friday – off

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

Quick hour ride and 20-minute run before heading into work and watching Gwen make history and win the gold medal in triathlon. (She is one of our athletes at work.) Getting paid to #fangirl and handle digital communications is the best.

Sunday – a.m. run

With Meb running the marathon, I did six miles before work, went into the office for more #fangirling, and then ran two miles home.

Did you watch the Olympics?

2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Recap

Last weekend, I took on my “A” race of the season, USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

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Unlike the past three years in which Olympic-distance race took place in Milwaukee, the event occurred in Omaha, Nebraska this time around. (Typically, the race site rotates every two years, but Milwaukee did a phenomenal job, which is one of the reasons they hosted for a third year.) It was impossible not to draw comparisons between the two cities and to say Omaha differed from Milwaukee would be a huge understatement. I don’t want to spent this entire post ranting about sub-par race logistics, but:

-It’s not ideal when hotels are located three miles from the race site, and there are only two school buses shuttling 2,000-plus folks back and forth between the properties, which took about 15-20 minutes without traffic. (Allegedly, four buses were running on race morning, but the bus dropped us off one mile from transition.  Again, not ideal.) Although three miles is not far, it was not a walkable route, and this was a race where a rental car would have been warranted I think.

-It’s not ideal when the bike pick-up location is situated half a mile from the race site. (It’s also not ideal when you’re a bonehead and leave your pedals in your hotel room, thus forcing yourself to walk back to the shuttle drop-off site, take the bus back to your hotel, etc.  The pedal incident was totally my own fault, but this process that would’ve taken all of 30 minutes in Milwaukee—walking back to the hotel, grabbing the pedals, heading back to the race site—ended up taking two-plus hours in Omaha.)

-It’s not ideal when the race starts 30 minutes late. (For me, this meant my F 25-29 wave didn’t jump into Carter Lake until it was nearly 10 a.m.) However, I did get to hang out with Victoria for three hours …

-It’s not ideal when there are no mile markers on the run.  It’s also not ideal when there is no ice left on the run, and the temperature is closing in on 90 degrees. (Full disclosure: I had ice on the run.  A few of my friends did not.)

It’s all about perspective: Omaha has a lot of room for improvement for next year’s event.

Anyway.

Before the race, Earl and I met to review the plan, and we knew it was not going to be a fast day:  non-wetsuit swim, plus long runs in transitions 1 and 2 and a hot, exposed (read: unshaded) run. Due to these factors—and the fact that it was a new race—we did not establish time goals.  Rather, he gave me mental cues for each leg of the race that centered on execution; these reminders helped keep me in the moment, and I knew if I executed, then I would put myself in a position to have a great day.  And even though it was not a PR outing, I was satisfied with how it went overall.

Swim – 27:32 (54/119)

Mental cue: draw a straight line down the bottom of the lake (in an effort to help me pull and finish my stroke)

With water temperatures clocking in at 80-plus degrees weeks before the race, I did not bring my wetsuit to Omaha, but I did invest in a swimskin. It gave me a little buoyancy, but as its name implies, it’s much thinner than a neoprene wetsuit.  I was really glad I had it for this 1500m outing though.

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Although the water was murky—I couldn’t see my hands while I was swimming—it was a fairly easy course to navigate.  After the second turn buoy, though, it felt like there was a current.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense for a lake swim, but during the second half, I struggled to stay on course.  I felt smooth and strong, but it also felt like I was out there for a while.  But again, given the no-wetsuit aspect, I knew it would be a slower swim. (I’m usually two-three minutes faster.)

Transition 1 – 2:20 (64/119)

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The run from the swim exit to transition to the bike mount area was on the long side—probably around a quarter of a mile.

Bike – 1:14:47 (36/119)

Mental cue: smooth, strong, controlled

It’s time to talk watts.  I rode the route twice on the CompuTrainer beforehand, and the course knowledge helped tremendously: I knew where the two hills and the handful of gradual climbs were located.

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It was heating up when I got on the bike—upwards of 80 degrees Fahrenheit—but I felt good and moved through the field quickly.  This was a big-time hammerfest!

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There were a few turns, though, which took away from hammering, and I also got caught up in a game of leapfrog in the opening miles.  In hindsight, this would’ve been a great place to lay down a surge, get into open space, and continue to ride my own race. I definitely lost some time getting sucked into that game.  At the turnaround, I started to push more and took advantage of the tailwind on the way back to transition.

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Cornfields. Everywhere.

Transition 2 – (56/119)

Again, there was a longer run from the bike dismount line to my personal transition area, and then a long run to the run exit.

Run – 54:38 (59/119)

Mental cue: let the “belt buckle” pull you through (forward lean, engaged abs, and not running upright like a basketball player)

With temperatures nearing 85 degrees Fahrenheit and not a cloud in the sky, I mentally prepared to settle in and grind out this hot run.

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The out-and-back course took competitors on a highway and to the TD Ameritrade Stadium, and although it was flat, it was also completely exposed, a.k.a. no shade.

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Grinding it out on the warning track. Do I look like a basketball player? (Rhetorical question)

There were also no mile markers, which would’ve been preferable.

I positive split the run big time, but the huge personal victory was my mental game:  there were no breakdowns, no slip-up, and no wheels coming off.  Of course, there were a few mini-battles I had to work though, but I was able to overcome the negativity before it led to anything really detrimental. This was absolutely huge because the run is where things tend to go south real fast.  So even though this split is not indicative of my fitness, I am pleased with how I hung in there mentally.

Sidebar: I’ve never seen so much walking at an Olympic-distance race, including Quassy. It was total carnage out there. Around mile four, one girl in my age group was passed out on the side of the road and receiving oxygen from medics. That was scary.

Finish – 2:41:19 (44/119)

When I crossed the finish line, I knew it was nowhere near a PR, but I was satisfied:  I executed across the disciplines, and I remained mentally tough.  Earl always reminds me to “focus on the feeling and don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers,” and although I want the numbers to improve, I felt strong and confident in my ability out there.  In fact, this is the first race I’ve done in my four years triathloning in which I was totally, completely mentally in it—and that makes me excited for the future.  It’s a process, and we’re getting to where we need to be while enjoying the journey.

Triathlon Training Log – Weeks 36 (August 1) and 37 (August 8)

And just like that, the “A” race has come and gone.

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Not pictured: cornfields. Cornfields everywhere.

I spent a total of 30 hours in Omaha, Nebraska this weekend doing some swimming, biking, and running with 2,000 other triathletes—including the one and only Victoria! We had three-plus hours to wait between transition closing and our respective swim waves starting at USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, so it was nice to hang out and talk about watts, amongst other things. The race itself was an interesting experience. All things considered, I had a relatively good day, but Omaha has a lot of work to do in order to even come close to how efficiently Milwaukee hosted and produced this race. More to come in the race report!

Anyway, I didn’t post last week’s training log because we’ve been firing on all cylinders at work with the Olympics. We have 68 athletes competing—they’ve already won 13 medals—and they are keeping us busy in terms of digital communications.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

There’s no better way to kick off the training week than with a ride on your race course. The Nationals bike course was available for download online, so we synced it up with the CompuTrainer software. The good news: it’s incredibly hammerfest friendly. The bad news: I don’t know how hard I’ll be able to hammer after swimming in water that’s 85*F.

Tuesday – p.m. run in Central Park

We played around with my rest/recovery this week, so what would normally be a morning workout turned into an evening run. Based on the fact that I slept 10 hours, I definitely needed the extra rest! After work, I did my 6x800s at race pace in the park, and although it was packed, it *was not* humid, which was amazing. Hitting and holding my pace—while not running like a basketball player—felt much easier without the extra moisture in the air. I was happy with how I executed, but I know Omaha will be hot and humid, a.k.a. not these conditions at all.

Wednesday – p.m. brick/ “Groundhog” workout (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run on the treadmill)

Putting the finishing touching on the fitness with a final race simulation workout: 3x (10 minutes on the bike at 95 percent and 8 minutes on the treadmill at race pace). This went so much better than it did last week! Being able to execute confirmed the hay is in the barn—at Nationals, it will come down to how well I manage the heat.

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

Another round of 6x800s with descending rest for a total of 5.5 miles. Since the water temperature in Omaha is hovering around 85*F, I ordered a Blueseventy PZ4XT swimskin and tested it out at masters. Wiggling into it was quite the process, but I definitely felt a difference in terms of body position/buoyancy and hydrodynamic.

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Hammered the Omaha course and then went to work

Sundayp.m. swim and run home

I was at work all weekend due to the Olympics, which meant my normal masters swim wasn’t going to happen. My coworker gave me a guest pass to Equinox so I could swim on my own after work, but the pool was closed. Womp, womp. So I did an easy three-mile run home.

Monday – off (with p.m. sports massage)

Recovering and resting was the number one priority this week. I stayed up late Sunday night because we had swimmers competing, so I knew a morning workout wasn’t going to happen. After work, though, I got my usual pre-race sports massage.

Tuesday – p.m. run

Well, this could’ve felt a lot better. I had 4x800m on the docket, and even though I executed and hit the pace, I felt not-so-great. I’m sure this was due to a combination of not getting enough sleep, being mentally stressed/fatigued from work, and eating a piece of chocolate cake beforehand. (What? How else would you celebrate one of your athletes getting a silver medal?)

Wednesday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 45-minute ride to flush out the legs

Thursday – p.m. run

I was supposed to fly to Omaha after work, but my flight—and all flights out to Omaha—was cancelled. I needed to blow off some steam, so once I was back in the city, I ran a few easy miles with Tailwind folks.

Friday – travel

Travel day, part deux. Once I finally made it to Omaha around 1:30 p.m., I spent the rest of the day going to packet pick-up, getting my bike, and bringing it to transition. In theory, this process shouldn’t have taken long. However, the race site was a few miles from my hotel, and the bike pick-up spot was about a half mile from transition. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the school bus shuttles the race provided (that took folks from their hotel to the race site) were not running as often as they should have. I have a lot to say regarding the logistics of this race, but that’s another post.

Saturday – USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

It was not a fast race, but I am satisfied with how it went. I almost cracked the top third of my age group, but I had a mentally strong day overall—including hanging tough and staying focused during a hot run.

Sunday – travel

Caught a super early flight back to NYC, and I’ve spent the day recuperating and mentally preparing for the next two weeks at work. Covering the Olympics is a serious endurance event.

What have I missed? How are your workouts going?

Volunteering for the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the New York City Triathlon

I’m no stranger to volunteering. From Syracuse 70.3 to countless stints at Ironman Lake Placid, I’ve embraced the spirit of giving back to triathlon. After all, it’s given me so much, brought some phenomenal people into my life, and ultimately shaped who I am; the least I can do is peel off wetsuits and manage transition bags for a few hours. A few weeks ago, though, I had an unparalleled experience when I volunteered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) at the New York City Triathlon.

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Although several friends are involved with CAF and other likeminded non-profit organizations like Achilles, I had yet to volunteer for this type of group. The week of the race, my duties were routine:  I emailed my athlete, exchanged phone numbers, and answered a few questions he had about traveling from the airport to his hotel. Some of my responsibilities centered on these logistical uncertainties—how to get from the hotel to transition, how early to leave the hotel on race morning, etc.—and since I sort of did the race in 2013, I was able to answer course-specific questions.

This is where “standard” volunteer duties ended and paratriathlete handler responsibilities began.

On Saturday, the day before the race, we met at the mandatory briefing, which was held in Midtown Manhattan. There was a separate presentation for paratriathletes and their handlers, and I did my best to absorb as much information as possible: the classifications, the scoring system, etc. We also reviewed rules and identified appropriate instances and protocol for an athlete asking for help, and we continued this conversation as we brought our athlete’s bikes to transition to Riverside Park.

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Racing chair on the left (for the run) and handcycle on the right (for the bike)

There are several areas on the NYC Triathlon course that are not ideal for paratriathletes.  Luckily, since both my fellow handler and I had done this race, we were able to pinpoint a few problematic points, and in some cases, we were able to scope them out. When our athlete arrived at these spots during the race itself, he had to clearly ask for assistance (i.e. “May I please have some help here?”) so he would not get DQ’ed for receiving unsolicited help. Anyway, after getting his handcycle and chair situated in transition, we talked through our race-day plan once more and agreed to meet the following morning at 5:30 a.m.

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A unique aspect of the NYC Triathlon includes its transition setup: there are two (yellow and red) that run along the Hudson River, and your transition color dictates your swim wave. The yellow transition contained pro males and females, plus elite age groupers, all females, and a handful of dudes. After the final wave of the yellow transition was released into the Hudson, there was a 20-minute break, and then the paratriathletes were released at 7 a.m., which meant these folks had clear water. My fellow handler and I helped our athlete down the ramp to the swim start, and he simply exited his chair, and then we hightailed it 0.9 miles south to the swim exit and waited.

Now, I’ve worked swim exits many times. And yes, I am a total endurance sap who cries during every Ironman Lake Placid video. But I was on the verge of tears at the swim exit.

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Watching these strong, capable, absolutely relentless individuals swim 1K was incredibly humbling and inspiring. All too often, we get caught up in the data, paces, and accolades we chase while pursuing the perfect race. We worry about minutia: which goggles to wear, which ring to be in on a hill, when to take a gel. We analyze metrics. We obsess over those 15 seconds we lost in transition. And we take it for granted.

I’ve taken race experiences for granted. But seeing my athlete navigate this race in his chair—pushing him up the steel swim ramp exit, lifting him in his chair up four steps into transition, helping him back into his chair after he fell due to pockets of sand in transition—instilled a new sense of gratitude in me.  It also made me quite anxious. He entrusted me with parts of his race, and I wanted him to have the best day possible. This responsibility stressed me out—volunteering in this capacity allowed me to have a direct impact—but it gave me a greater emotional connection to his experience. And ultimately, this higher investment led to a greater “reward.”

If you have the opportunity to volunteer for one of these organizations, do not pass it up.

Triathlon Training Log – Week 35 (July 25)

It’s the calm before the sportz storm.

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Family selfie in Central Park

The Rio Olympic Games begin on Friday. #Hammerfest2016/#Sweatfest2016 takes place in two weeks. Suffice to say, these upcoming three weeks will be crazy. Does anyone have a fast-forward button I can push?

General training notes: as I mentioned last week, this training segment revolved around locking in to race paces. The quality, intense workouts were frontloaded to the beginning of the week, and after Thursday, we eased off the gas and focused on volume. We’ll ramp back up tomorrow (Monday) and log some solid efforts through Wednesday, and then that’s it. Taper time—and I’m definitely ready for it. Between triathlon and life, I am carrying a fair amount of stress. The mental aspect won’t necessarily improve during the taper—I am highly susceptible to #tapercrazies after all—especially since we’ll be working around the clock with Olympic coverage at work.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Locking in to race watts: 2×20 minutes at 95 percent with five minutes of easy riding between each. For the first interval, I went with my natural cadence (93-95 RPMs); for the second, I overgeared a bit and grinded it out at 83-85 RPMs.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Race-paced run fun: 8x800s with two minutes of easy running between each. Even though there was some humidity, I was able to lock in the pace and execute—and I tried not to run like a basketball player. I saw two friends in the park, too. Or rather, they saw me. I was so focused on my not-running-like-a-basketball-player cues that I didn’t see them, and they were the ones to say hi to me first. Usually it’s the other way around.

Wednesday – a.m. brick/ “Groundhog” workout (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run on the treadmill)

To get used to the transition from biking to running, Earl programmed my first “groundhog” workout of the season. If you remember, I completed this workout last year a few times before Nationals, and it really helps dial in target outputs and build confidence to execute when you’re comfortably uncomfortable. This workout included three rounds of 10 minutes on the bike at 95 percent and 8 minutes on the treadmill at my target race pace. On the bike, I experimented with my cadence (95 RPM on the first round, 83-85 RPMs on the second, and 90-92 RPMs on the third) and confirmed 90-93 RPMs will be my racing sweet spot. This was a tough workout, and there were some dark points I had to work through—especially during the second round—but I was able to execute and finish strong.

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

Race-paced 800s take two—gone horribly wrong, unfortunately. By the third repeat, I realized race pace was not happening given the humidity, so instead, I focused on my form. After work, I swam an IM practice with the Bearcats.

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. bike-swim-bike

I was totally a high maintenance triathlete. During the 20-mile ride out to the Palisades Swim Club, I lost a contact lens (remember how this happened at Nationals last year?) so I effectively had one eye for about 10 miles. Things continued to spiral downward: I flatted. Thankfully, I made it to the pool and had some help fixing it. The swim workout was tough, too. I felt great in the water, but there are some fundamental issues with my stroke we’re trying to improve. And on the 20 miles back to the city, a group of us almost got hit by a fire truck. All in all, it was just another day in the life of an NYC triathlete.

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

This long endurance brick was supposed to begin with an outdoor ride, but morning showers prompted me to push it indoors. After two hours riding the Ironman Mont-Tremblant course, I hit Central Park for an easy 30-minute run. Executing well across the disciplines was exactly the confidence boost I needed after yesterday’s disastrous outing.

How did your workouts go this week?

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.

2016-hits-hudson-valley-swim-course

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?!

2016-hits-hudson-valley-olympic-run-course

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.

2016-hits-hudson-valley-finish

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!