Triathlon Training Log – Week 30 (June 20)

It’s all in the details.

2016-central-park-reservoir-details

Sunday Runday fun in Central Park

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

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

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

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

Saturday – a.m. bike/swim brick

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

Sunday – a.m. run

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

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

Triathlon Training Log – Week 29 (June 13)

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

2016-love-upper-west-side-nyc

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

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

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy six miles along the West Side Rollers and trails

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

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

Saturday – a.m. bike

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

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

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

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

When work gets crazy, where do you find solace?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 28 (June 6)

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

2016-central-park-nyc-sunrise

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

Onto the next!

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

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

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

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

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

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

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

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

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

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

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

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

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

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

2016-tailwind-endurance-palisades-swim-club

Didn’t make the photo collage this time

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

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

Sunday – a.m. run

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

What was your best workout this week?

2016 Rev3 Quassy Recap

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

2016-rev3-quassy-transition

Obligatory transition photo

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

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

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

Pre-race:

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

Swim – 1,500m – 26:56 (9/28)

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

2016-tailwind-endurance-rev3-quassy-family-photo

Tailwind family photo

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

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

2016-rev3-quassy-olympic-swim-course

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

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

Transition 1 – 1:56 (2/28)

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

2016-rev3-quassy-olympic-swim-exit

Fist pump

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

Bike – 25.7 miles – 1:34:47 (13/28)

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

2016-rev3-quassy-olympic-bike-course

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

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

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

Transition 2 – 1:07 (7/28)

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

Run – 10-K – 1:01:08 (18/28)

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

2016-rev3-quassy-run-course

Oh mile three …

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

Official finish – 3:05:54 (14/28)

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

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

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

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

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

Triathlon Training Log – Week 27 (May 30)

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

2016-rev3-quassy-wheels-up

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesdayp.m. swim with Bearcat masters

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

Wednesday – a.m. easy bike in Central Park

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

Thursday – p.m. Chase Corporate Challenge

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

Friday – off

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

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

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

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

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

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

Being Tactical: Pre-Race Thoughts on Rev3 Quassy

Race week, race week: the next edition of sportz Saturday will occur at a sanctioned event, and I’m excited to swim, bike, and run at Rev3 Quassy!

2016-rev3-quassy-logo

Structured training began in January, so I am itching to enter a race environment, do some sportz, and execute across the disciplines. Plus, I feel like training has been going well, but it will be beneficial to have an “official” check-in point to make sure we’re on track.

Held in Middlebury, Connecticut, “the beast of the Northeast” is known as one of—if not the—toughest courses on the race circuit. It offers both Olympic-distance and 70.3 races, and for those crazy enough, there’s a “revolution” option to race back-to-back and complete both. But tackling the modest 0.9-mile swim, 25.7-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run is more than enough for me. In fact, after the disastrous Pat Griskus Triathlon two years ago, I swore I would never do this race since these courses are so similar. Yet here we are.

As Earl and I developed my race schedule at the beginning of the season, one of our top priorities included exposing me to as many different experiences as possible—both for the build-up to Nationals this year and for my general growth as a triathlete. These mini tests would serve as opportunities to practice pacing, nutrition, etc. in challenging environments before I go to Omaha for *knock on wood* a successful smashfest across the disciplines. The “challenging environment” component is key: my tune-up races will be on hilly courses while Nationals will be flat and fast for the most part. Basically, if I can execute my race plan on rolling courses, then I should be able to lock it in on a flat course.

There’s no doubt Quassy will be the toughest race I do this year—and quite possibly ever. With that in mind, this will be a very calculated outing. This course does not play to my strengths. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst ones out there for me: it’s hilly, and at 5’10”, I am far from being a pocketfriend who can zip up those hills on the bike and run.  And that doesn’t take into consideration the weather either.

Enduring a four-plus-hour college graduation. Would not do it for anyone else, Margaret! <3

We’ve experienced an incredibly hot and humid week here with temperatures reaching the high 80s. Bottom line, facing a hilly course on a hot day is my worst case scenario, and there’s a high chance that’s what the conditions will be on Saturday. Oh, goodie.

It’s all about controlling the controllables: being smart, executing the plan, and racing the course—not the other athletes. On the bike, there will be no hammering. There will be lots of climbing, cresting hills, and managing my efforts strategically.

2016-rev3-quassy-olympic-bike-course

Self, repeat after me: smooth, strong, controlled. Do. Not. Hammer.

Plus, due to my health insurance situation–due to my new job, I did not get insured until June 1–this ride will be my first true outdoor outing of the year. (Although I did spin out in Central Park yesterday in an effort to remember what it is like to handle a bike.) Therefore, I’m really managing my expectations for the bike. Luckily, Earl has data from my bike workouts and knows I’m fit. He’s not concerned about my performance in the saddle—he’s looking forward to seeing how I execute on the run.

2016-rev3-quassy-run-course

What goes up must come down …

Bottom line, this will be an incredibly solid training day. It’s going to be a grind. It’s going to be tactical. But I’m confident in my training thus far, and no matter what happens out there, the only place to go is up.

Triathlon Training Log – Week 26 (May 23)

All in all, it was another great week.

2016-rhinebeck-ny

Not NYC

My sister graduated from college yesterday (waaah!), and it was so nice to spend the day with the family. The last time I saw everyone was back in March before #WingedFootLyfe began, which was way too long ago. We had a great (and hot—97 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact) day together!

General training notes: it’s almost here—my first triathlon of the season takes place next weekend! With that in mind, this was the last “normal” training week—plus tomorrow’s brick—before we taper slightly for Rev3 Quassy. Things seem to be progressing nicely, and Quassy will serve as a nice check-in point to ensure everything is on track.

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Hands down, this was the toughest VO2 max workout I’ve done in a while. A “graduate course in VO2 max work,” in the words of Earl, this ride contained three main intervals, each with a mix of threshold and VO2 max efforts, and all with little to zero rest. The most challenging block was number two: one minute at threshold, 30 seconds at VO2 max, and 30 seconds at threshold—three times through with no recovery until complete. Wowza.

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

Eight-ish miles of cruise intervals starting at endurance and building to 10-K pace. I found myself horizontal on the couch after work and almost didn’t make it to swim practice, but once I got in the water, I was so glad I was there. We tackled a pyramid workout with 25s, 50s, 75s, and 100s, and once again, I led the lane. Good thing or bad thing if I’m more stressed about doing math versus making the intervals? Ha!

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. run

Wednesday was when the humidity arrived, which made this threshold ride much more challenging. For 15 minutes, I rode three minutes at 90 percent and two minutes at 102 percent, rested for five minutes, and repeated. The added moisture in the air meant I felt this in my lunges more than my legs—and it didn’t let up as the day progressed. After work, I met one of my friends for an easy and super sweaty four miler in Central Park.

Thursday – a.m. run

Humid and sweaty hill recovery run in Central Park: I warmed up for three miles and then did six super easy repeats of Cat Hill. I’ve been loving doing my run workouts in the park because I always see so many familiar faces. It’s a great way to start the day!

After work, I went to see my friend for a sports massage—and it was definitely the most painful one I’ve had in a while. Thanks to my training load and intensity, I had more hot spots than usual, but she was able to work out the knots and flush everything out.

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

Thanks to Memorial Day, we had early release from work, so I hit Tailwind around 3 p.m. for some sportz fun. When I showed up at Tailwind, my Flat Feet Social Club guys were there making watts—it was such a nice surprise! Anyway, this brick went well overall. In the saddle, my mains set included three, 10-minute intervals: five-minute build from tempo to VO2 max and then five minutes at sweet spot. My legs felt fresh and springy, which was probably due to Thursday’s massage, and the run actually went OK too. All day, I worried how the heat and humidity—it was around 80 degrees Fahrenheit—would affect my run. I started off on the conservative side and built the effort from there, but kept my heart rate in check. I’m still getting the hang of these progression runs—holding back at first and then finding the next gears—but I felt much more in control this time.

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. strength train

Completed my normal full-body routine and did some corework

What are your Memorial Day plans?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 25 (May 16)

All in all, things are going pretty well over here.

2016-grandaisy-bakery-nyc

and coffee. I always need coffee.

Maybe one of these days I’ll have a non-training post to share, but to be honest, swimming, biking, and running is taking up nearly all of my time outside of #WingedFootLyfe—but I wouldn’t want it any other way right now.

General training notes: after taking it easy last week, I was pumped to get back after it and log some quality efforts. As per usual, my week started off with relatively intense workouts that tapered off as Thursday and Friday approached. And in the words of my boss, I had another “monster” training weekend. T-minus two weeks until Rev3 Quassy!

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Back to putting in work—and putting out serious watts. The 6×3 minutes at VO2 max workout has become a staple, which is nice because every week I can see improvement in terms of output and feel stronger in terms of effort. Tailwind actually hosted an evening event, so I had a crowd cheering me on. It was especially funny when one of the coaches came over and started to chat *during* one of the intervals—and we carried on a conversation. “Carrie’s VO2 max is like everyone else’s zone two,” he said. That made my night!

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

This week, I played around with my morning routine: I took a crazy early train uptown to Tailwind, brought my adult clothes, did my workout in Central Park, and then got ready for work at Tailwind. I tackled 3×12 minutes at race pace along a rolling route in the park and felt strong overall. It helped seeing a ton of friends out there and getting after it too!

After work, I rallied hard to make it to masters practice, and our main set was a descending pyramid with 25s, 50s, and 100s. (Again, the pool has been packed, so we stick to shorter sets.) I found myself in charge of the lane for a bit too!

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

I had plans after work, so this was another early watt-making morning. Earl programmed a push/pull workout: during a 15-minute set, I alternated between two minutes at 102 percent and three minutes at 90 percent (no recovery until the 15-minute mark). This was one of the tougher workouts I’ve done in a while, but Earl told me to think about it as a racing practice—the efforts at 102 percent were surges, and the time at 90 percent is my target race output.

Thursday – a.m. strength training; p.m. run

Completed my normal full-body program with corework and ran an easy six miles after work with a coworker. Within five minutes of being in Central Park, I saw three friends, one of whom my coworker knew too—what a small world!

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park); p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Another Saturday, another day full of sportz. My morning began at Tailwind for a hour-long ride that contained three, five-minute builds (tempo to threshold to VO2 max), plus two, 10-minute blocks at Olympic-distance race wattage. I could feel myself “burning matches” and was anxious how my four-mile progression run off the bike would go. Earl wanted me to “shake out” the first mile—or run it relatively easy—and then negative split the run with mile four clocking in 30 seconds faster than mile one. Since I was holding way back at the beginning, I struggled to find my rhythm and feel smooth—and when I did, it was time to shut down the run, ha! This was much more of a strategic run: I focused on building the effort every mile as opposed to hitting my race pace immediately and holding it. We’re still very much in the information gathering phase, so we’ll play around with my run pacing strategy more in the upcoming months.

I finished the day with a monster (for me) 4,000m Bearcat masters swim. I loved the 6×400 main set, but I was totally dunzo for the rest of the day.

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

Since moving to the Upper West Side, Tailwind hosts more of these “Velo Bricks” that allow athletes to log a quality ride on the CompuTrainer and then immediately run off the bike in Central Park. Saturday’s workout was a Velo Brick, and this was another tough one. The CompuTrainer was set on erg mode—meaning the resistence is automatically loaded, and you must control it with your cadence—and we completed three sets: set one contained three-minute intervals with equal rest at 105, 107, and 19 percent; set two had two-minute intervals at 110, 112, and 114 percent; and set three consisted of one-minute intervals at 115, 120, and 125 percent. On its own, this is a challenging ride—but doing an hour-long run off it? Sheesh. Let’s just say running slow enough for a long run was not a problem today, ha!

What did you do this weekend?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 24 (May 9)

To sum up my weekend:

2016-may-brick-smashfest-tailwind-endurance

So many hanging bikes

There was a lot of this.

General training notes: hello, recovery week! As to be expected, intensity decreased across the disciplines during the weekdays. Biking easy especially felt good, and my body definitely needed it. On Saturday and Sunday, though, Earl programmed not one, but two bricks for double the sportz fun—and they went really well!

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 70-minute spin-out with plenty of single-leg and high cadence drills

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

Easy cruise intervals (3×12 minutes) along the West Side Highway for a total of 7.25 miles. It was a total zoo at Bearcat practice—there were at least eight people in our lane—so we did shorter sets (25s, 50s, and 75s) with lots of hypoxic breathing work. I led the lane (!!!) and got into a good groove when we had to breathe every five strokes, but I couldn’t make seven and nine happen. And so continues my #wannabeswimmer saga …

Wednesday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Repeat of Monday’s 70-minute ride

Thursday – p.m. run

Easy six miles after with a friend and coworker. Central Park was absolutely perfect—sunny and about 65 degrees Fahrenheit—and totally packed. Tourists riding rented bicycles make me nervous!

Friday – a.m. strength train

Normal full-body strength training routine with some corework

Saturday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park); p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

In this edition of Sportz Saturday, I had an easier 70-minute ride programmed and then a quality run with race-paced efforts. Unfortunately, the guy I ran with last week was riding/bricking long, so we weren’t able to sync up. Our workout went really well before, and I worried about whether I’d be able to hit the pace on my own—but I did! It took about 13 minutes for my legs to feel “normal,” but I was able to stay focused and execute. We’re getting to where we need to be!

Later that afternoon, I went to a nearly empty Bearcat practice. (Saturday was our first truly nice spring day, so most folks were probably outside enjoying it.) Like last week, I wore my Blueseventy core shorts and somehow managed to get my legs to work for 4,000m. Sheesh.

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

Because smashing one brick wasn’t enough … ha! Today, I logged a quality 70-minute bike workout with lots of threshold efforts before heading out to Central Park for an easy hour-long run. This was easily the best run I had all week, but that’s probably because I was warmed up from the bike … and running easy, of course.

What was your best workout this week?

2016 Seneca7 Recap

On April 23, I returned to my old college stomping grounds in Geneva, NY with six New York City friends for the annual Seneca7. (Sidebar: I can’t believe this race happened nearly one month ago! Time sure does fly.)

2016-seneca7-team-photo

Lakeside at Camp Hoho

I’ve referenced this seven-person, 77.7-mile relay on the blog a few times, and last month’s outing was my first time doing it since 2012—a.k.a. my senior year of college. Now that seems like a lifetime ago!

That race four years ago easily makes it onto my “best days ever” list, but even so, I struggled to field a team and head back to the Finger Lakes region. For the past few years, the Seneca7 fell on the same weekend as the South Beach Triathlon. And although the majority of my NYC friends are runners and triathletes, it was tough to find seven humans who could commit tin February to a race in April. Luckily, though, our schedules worked out, and “Joe Paulik’s Inaugural Fun and Senexy” (it’s an inside joke) was one of the 283 groups who made the cut; when registration opened, it sold out in 31 minutes! When I did this race in 2012, there were about 1,200 runners compared to the nearly 2,000 this year. Clearly, the Seneca7 has become well known over the past four years, and I wondered if this growth would affect race day. Spoiler alert: it was an amazing day.

2016-seneca7-bib-medal

Each race medal has the leg engraved (1, 2, etc.) so you can collect all seven!

As our team organizer/head Sherpa, I was responsible for pre-, during, and post-race logistics including, but not limited to getting a rental car, making hotel reservations, and navigating our minivan through Upstate New York. The drive from NYC to Geneva was uneventful, but long; we left around 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the pre-race briefing site at 3:30 p.m. I was really looking forward to the trail mix bar, but most of it was gone by the time we got there, which is totally our own fault. Packet pick-up went smoothly, and Jeff Henderson, the race director, kept everyone laughing during the race briefing. He definitely had the line of the weekend: “There are not enough port-a-potties in the state of New York for this race.”

2016-seneca7-logo

Buncha port-a-potties because we “can’t get enough!”

We grabbed an early dinner at one of the restaurants downtown, and I took everyone on a tour of campus. And that’s when worlds collided: being back on campus four years removed from graduation with friends from NYC. It was crazy to think back to where I was four years ago, what I was doing, what my goals were, and where I ended up.

2016-seneca7-hobart-william-smith

Ah, Quad life …

Just like the Armory Indoor Marathon, our number one priority for the Seneca7 was having fun. Everyone on the team was a runner, but we were at very different fitness levels. Case in point: one girl ran a 3:25 at Boston while another hadn’t laced up since December. So for us, the day centered on hanging out, having fun, and doing a little running.

For us, race day began at 6:45 a.m. Like years past, start times were staggered based on projected paces, and I selected a conservative 9:30 min./mi. team average. I wanted to start as early as possible because we’d be making the drive back to NYC immediately afterward. In the end, we averaged 8:25 min./mi., although we received a penalty too much of a differential between our projected pace and actual pace/finish time. We were pleasantly surprised with our average, and although receiving the penalty was a bummer, it didn’t break the day—it was all about having fun. The high-energy start line and the super friendly volunteers set the tone for the day, and I even reconnected with several college classmates and a few tri friends.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Seneca7, each team of seven covers a total of 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake, a.k.a. the mileage is divided up. And since it’s a relay-style race, you don’t log your entire mileage in one stint: runner one runs and passes off the slap bracelet to runner two; runner two runs and passes off the slap bracelet to runner three; etc. This cycle repeats three times as the team makes its way around the lake.

2016-seneca-7-seneca-lake

Exchange point at mile 37.8: Clute Park in Walkins Glen

Each person covers somewhere between nine and 15 miles, and as runner six, I logged 12.4 miles total. When discussing the pace plan with Earl, we determined each leg was essentially its own race: my first leg (4.6 miles) was flat and fast; my second (4.9) was a gradual climb; and my third (2.5) was rolling. And the goal was to run each as fast as possible. As to be expected, the terrain affected my pace—my first and flat leg was the fastest, and my second and hilly leg was the slowest—but I averaged 7:50s for the 12-ish miles. Also, breaking up the mileage and running it relay-style added an extra challenge: sitting in a car and then running on fatigued legs. On my third outing, my legs felt totally trashed—but it was great practice for running off the bike, ha. It made me wonder if the cycling teams—the folks who *biked* around the lake instead of drove—were onto something!

2016-seneca7-running

Grinding it out on hilly leg number two. Imma runner?!

Overall, it was a super fun day, and we’re already looking forward to heading back next year.

2016-seneca7-post-race

Unpictured: delicious post-race chili, cornbread, and homemade chocolate chip cookies

Have you completed a relay race?