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?

NYRR Al Gordon 4 Mile Recap

On Saturday morning, I hopped aboard the Brooklyn-bound subway for a little four miler in Prospect Park.

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Mangled bib … from running so fast?

Even though I wanted to do well, this race served as a training check-in point. Throughout the past six months, I’ve been working with Coach Pat to get my run dialed in, and for the past four months or so, I’ve been doing legitimate speed workouts. And yes, I did the Philadelphia Half-Marathon in November, but the Al Gordon 4 Mile event is clearly more in-line with the distances I’ll be covering as a short-course triathlete this season.

Shorter means faster, and when Coach Pat passed along the race pacing plan, I freaked out at first: ‘Coach Pat, you want me to go fast!’ But we talked it through and identified some key facts: training has gone extremely well, I’m developing at a great rate, etc. Above all, I trust Coach Pat. He’s not going to steer me in the wrong direction, and if he lays out an aggressive goal with seemingly fast-for-me splits, then he clearly believes in me—and I trust his plan. Plus, this was an exciting opportunity to see how much I’ve improved and see how precisely I could execute.

The race itself was a blur for the most part. Miles one and two (7:38 and 7:27) came and went pretty quickly, and even though both were a few seconds slower than the targeted splits, I remained calm. My brain remained “off” for the entire race, and shortly after mile two, everything clicked: it felt like a second wave of energy surged through my body. Muscle memory took over, and my legs began turning over even faster. ‘Smooth and strong. Smooth and strong.’ Cardiowise, the pace felt effortless. And when I looked down at my watch and saw 6:57 (mile three was 7:07), I could not believe it. ‘Just wait until Coach Pat hears about this!’ I tried not to become emotionally attached to the number and focused on the feeling instead: I was excited, I was happy, and I was grinning like a moron. ‘I LOVE RUNNING! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!’ I felt like I was flying, and from miles two to 3.5, I caught that elusive, invincible feeling. And it was awesome.

I rode that high until mile 3.5 when my legs started screaming. That lactic acid buildup burned, and even though I associated this good type of pain with speedwork, I’m still building the leg strength and mental race game to work through it. (I know how to process it on the bike, which is because I have more experience on the bike. And Coach Pat says more VO2 max workouts will help too.) So I rode the pain train for the last half-mile, and my pace slowed, but I still eked out a 30:17.

So what am I thinking overall? I’m satisfied. I executed pretty well and posted a decent time. And I had so much fun. Above all, this outing gives me confidence heading into triathlon season. My opening miles felt incredibly sustainable, so hopefully this translates to solid miles off the bike.

What’s your favorite distance to race?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 16 (Week 7)

Nothing super new to report over here.

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Just another cold, snowy week.

General training notes: As everyone knows (and experienced most likely), this was a cold, cold week. Freezing temperatures and tons of snow by NYC standards added a wrinkle to my running workouts, but everything still got done.

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

Originally, I planned to run before hitting the bike, but the “feels like” temperature notched in at negative 17 degrees Fahrenheit, so I opted to stay inside and work for an hour. (Nothing like firing off work emails at 5 a.m.!) At Tailwind, 3×10-min. blocks comprised our ride with varying sweet spot and threshold intervals.

Even though it was President’s Day, I ended up going into work, but I was able to sneak away that afternoon for an easy 4.5 miler. For the first time in a while, I ran with a friend (Coach Pat gave me the a-OK) and remembered how much fun it is to run with other people.

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

Three cheers for my first hill workout! Coach Pat assigned 10 Cat Hill repeats this week. The first five were a little dicey. The roads hadn’t been plowed, so I slowed my pace to be cautious. Thankfully, a snowplow came through, so repeats six-10 were locked in.

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Snowy hill repeats for breakfast, mmmm

At Masters, well, let’s say playtime is over. I moved up a lane, which means I’m officially in the middle of the masters pack. We started with a 6×75 kick set, which should’ve been a warning sign. By some miracle, I hung on for dear life and completed 9×100: repeats one-three were 50 hard, 50 easy; four-six were 75 hard, 25 easy; and seven-nine were 100 hard. Total distance was 2,550m.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

The power hour workout seemed unintimidating, but it ended up being a real leg-buster: We faced two blocks (15 and 12 minutes), which contained various tempo, threshold, and VO2 max intervals. The goal was to change our output by changing our cadence first (for example, I didn’t shift when building from tempo to threshold), then add gear (but I did for threshold to VO2 max). Overall, I’ve been feeling really good on the bike, so hopefully this translates to a solid power test in two weeks.

Thursday – a.m. run; p.m. swim

Pretty OK long run in Central Park. My legs took forever to loosen up (it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit), but once I got to mile six, it was smooth sailing.

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Keep doing you, Central Park.

After work, I went to the pool for an easy 2,100 yards. I modified Tuesday’s masters swim workout by doing some tech work, pulling for 6×100, and then swimming easy for 50.

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

In hopes of having a solid showing Saturday, I took it easy at Tailwind. While the rest of the athletes tackled a bunch of VO2 max intervals on erg mode, I spun out and hung out at my sweet spot. My legs felt pretty fresh.

SaturdayNYRR Al Gordon 4 Miler; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

I haven’t decided if I’ll write a full-fledged recap of the Al Gordon 4 Miler, but it went pretty well. Coach Pat mapped out an aggressive race plan, and my initial reaction was, “Coach Pat, that’s fast!” After talking it through, I realized if everything lined up, I could execute and run that fast (for me); but if I didn’t hit the target time, Coach Pat said it was important not to feel discouraged because we are still building speed for the tri season, we were not targeting this event as an “A” race, etc. Anyway, my official time was 30:17 (wahhh, 7:35 min./mi., who am I?!), which was about 45 seconds slower than our projected time. But I threw down a 7:07 in there, and it gives me confidence for running off the bike in a few short months.

After recovering at brunch with butternut squash soup, blueberry muffins, and a bunch of waffles, I logged 3,400m with Bearcat Masters. We did a ton of IM stuff, so I seeded myself in one of the slower lanes. But there were some positives: I got to lead the lane; I got called a distance swimmer; and the coach said I could’ve made the intervals of the lane above me.

Sunday – off

Did the cold weather affect your workout plans this week?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 9 (Week 6)

It seems like I say this all the time … but how can February be more than halfway over?

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Social media planning, V-Day cookies, Triathlete magazine … this is my #workflow.

Slow the heck down, 2015!

General training notes: Overall, this was a wacky week. I planned to do the Cherry Tree 10 Miler on Sunday, but it was cancelled due to projected cold temperatures and sustained winds. And since this would’ve been a solid progression run, Coach Pat had me back off Tuesday’s speedwork, Thursday’s long run (obviously), and Saturday’s usual masters swim. (And Wednesday also became a rest day.) Basically, this ended up being an easier week.

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

Easy 4.5 miles on the West Side Highway with freezing rain before heading to Tailwind for a threshold power hour ride: 4×7-minute efforts. To make it interesting, we added gear and decreased cadence from minutes 3-4 to simulate hill climbing. Even though my ideal RPM is 90-93, I’m becoming comfortable and efficient “grinding it out” at 80-85 when necessary.

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

As outlined above, Coach Pat gave me an easier speed workout: 7×500 at tempo pace. I had to make a conscious effort to slow down in order to execute the prescribed splits, and yeah, it was tough—but I reminded myself Sunday would be the real workout, and that’s when I’d get to push the pace (relatively speaking anyway). I had some fun with weights, Therabands, and corework after.

At Bearcat Masters, shorter sets—lots of 25m sprints, 50m kicks, and 75-100m at race pace—comprised our 2,450m workout. And I learned a new drill (sailboat) and even got to lead one of the sets! Even though I’ll rock the #wannabeswimmer status for a while, I do plan to move up a lane next week. I’ve had the chance to get my fins wet (ha!), see the format of workouts, and determine the average pace of the lane. (OK, so I honestly don’t know how fast I’ve been swimming, especially since I’m used to putting everything in terms of yards, but I do know it hasn’t been super challenging for me to make our intervals.)

Wednesday – off

Originally, I planned to do a power hour ride at Tailwind, but it was cancelled. (They’re in the process of moving/expanding.) However, given Sunday’s race, this ended up being a good day to rest.

Thursday – a.m. run

Five easy and uneventful miles on the West Side Highway

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Let’s keep it short and sweet: “You executed pretty damn perfectly,” the coach told me afterward. BOOM. We rode a 16-mile course with varying hill lengths and gradients with the goal of holding VO2 max on the hills and recovering on the flats.

Saturday – a.m. swim with Full Throttle Endurance and strength train

Even though I’m one of the slower ones at Bearcat practices, it’s still crazy for me to think I’m the fastest at these triathlete swims. Being in charge of the fast lane is a nice confidence boost—and it comes with added responsibility of pacing and keeping the lane on track—but I would much rather be challenged as the caboose at masters. In total, I logged 3,000 yards and then spent about 40 minutes doing strength training and corework.

SundayCherry Tree 10 Miler a.m. run

Womp, womp—I was so pumped for the Cherry Tree 10 Miler! Yes, because there were post-race brunch plans, but more so because I wanted to execute Coach Pat’s pace plan. Unfortunately, the race for the hardcore threatened to be too hardcore, but I still got my 10 miles done.

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You never let me down, Central Park.

It’s all about layering, folks!

Have you ever signed up for a race or event that was eventually cancelled?