Triathlon Training Log – Week of Aug. 25 (Week 33)

Hello, hello!

wegmans-syracuse-orange-cheese-twists

I’m back in Upstate New York for a few days. Gotta appreciate the Cuse Nation section in Wegmans!

General training notes: Woohoo for the official start of run training! As I mentioned, Coach Pat has put together my plan, and I’m currently entering phrase one, aka base building. The primary goal centers on (slowly and safely) increasing my mileage. (During the season, I was not running enough.  Period.) It’s been tough to run easy, but I’m keeping the larger goal in mind.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Still not feeling swimming at all. The only reason I made it to the pool was because I planned to meet a teammate. Nice perk of training with other people, right? I essentially pulled 1,500 yards and then ran an easy 3.5 miles outside.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy four miles outside and some upper-body strength training and corework.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Our team rides are becoming smaller and smaller, but I still got in a solid 40 mile with some teammates. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been running more or biking less, but my legs felt incredibly fresh, and climbing hills seemed easier too. However, I felt much less explosive. Trade-off of running all the miles, probably.

That night, some coworkers and I went to Brooklyn Boulders to scale things.

brooklyn-boulder-exist-to-inspire

Bikes, bikes, bikes!

It was awesome, and I can’t wait to climb again!

Thursday – a.m. run

OMG, this was such a great run. Clear skies, no humidity, slightly overcast, upbeat playlist—those eight miles flew by in no time. I felt invincible. I love running!

Friday – a.m. run

I took the train home Thursday afternoon for Labor Day weekend, and since Coach Pat suggested seeking out surfaces other than pavement/concrete, I met up with MB for an easy 40 minutes on the trails at Green Lake State Park. Running on dirt and dodging rocks and roots provided a new challenge to say the least—I’m not quite ready for my XTERRA debut—but it was nice to change it up. MB and I always have a ton to talk about, so it was great to catch up and log some miles.

Saturday – a.m. run

Since all my weekday runs went well—I felt great and followed the distance/pace/time plan—I asked Coach Pat if I could run around the lake, which equates to nine-ish miles. And under two stipulations, he gave me the green light! As per his instructions, I took a gel and 15-minute break halfway through, and I kept the pace extremely easy; if I felt fatigued at any point, I would have to be a responsible athlete and shut it down. Like Thursday’s run, the 9.25 miles passed quickly. And even though the mid-run break was new protocol, it allowed me to break up the outing into two, 4.5-mile shorter runs. For what it’s worth, my second wind kicked at around mile six, and I had to be carefully not to speed up.

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy, 30-minute shakeout on trails. My calves felt a little tight, but that’s probably because I didn’t foam roll the day before. Because I foam roll now because I’m a runner!

In related news, I logged 34 miles this week. That’s a solid start to base building, right?

So what’s going on with you? What did you do for Labor Day? How’s the working out going?

2014 Off-Season Triathlon Goals

So. It’s been a few weeks since my last triathlon of the 2014 season, which has given me time to reflect on my training and performance and develop a game-plan for the off-season.

First, I owe a huge thanks to my family, friends, coaches, teammates, and basically everyone I’ve interacted with these past eight months. There’s no way I would’ve been successful without help. Syracuse Bicycle hooked me up with a sweet Slice, and the guys at Zen Bikes took care of me when it came to maintenance and random questions and concerns. The Tailwind Endurance coaches were instrumental to my improvement on the bike, and obviously my Full Throttle Endurance coaches and teammates motivated and pushed me too. My coworkers and friends were incredibly supportive, and my family was my rock. So thank you, thank you!

2014-triathlon-off-season-goals-collage

From left to right: Getting dialed in at Syracuse Bicycle; pushing all the watts at Tailwind Endurance; hamming it up for the camera with my coaches; trying not to cry after my Girls’ Club colleagues/friends made me a card and t-shirt before Nationals; running a 4th of July 5-K with my dad.

Anyway, let’s talk about what’s going to happen from now until official training starts up in January 2015.

Swimming will become my recovery workout of choice. I’ll still get in the water once or twice each week, but I’m not trying to make gains. My swim improved this season (#wannabeswimmer), so as long as I start 2015 at a better spot than 2014, then I’m OK with backing off the volume. And honestly, those training hours would be better spent on another discipline.

Biking will still be a top priority. It would be crazy to back off the bike now—I’m finally starting to find my cycling legs! Ideally, I’ll get in the saddle three times each week, and as the weather gets colder, I’ll become a regular at Tailwind again. I want more watts!

Strength training will happen on a regular basis. During the winter, I was diligent about strength training thanks to “optional” sessions after our indoor cycling workouts. As the season progressed, though, it became less of a priority; with only so many training hours, something had to give—and it couldn’t be swimming, biking, or running. Anyway, I plan to strength train and do corework at least twice each week. Both will help across the disciplines, especially the corework in terms of the bike.

Running will become a top priority. This requires some explanation.

Last off-season, I focused on the bike, which needed to happen, and I made some serious gains. Case in point: The bike was my weakest discipline at 2013 Nationals; this year, it was my strongest. And this was noticeable during all my races: I’d work the swim and rock the bike—and then try to hang on and not get run down.

During some races, this strategy worked: at SoBe and Stamford, I was able to hold off girls because of my swim-bike combo. However, when I looked at final run times, there was a lot of room for improvement. When I couldn’t run down the second-place female at Hopkins (who beat me by 30 seconds), this further proved my run needed some attention. And at Nationals, I put time into girls and came off the bike 23rd, which was where I needed to be. But then I got run down.

This was a frustrating fact to accept, and one of my first thoughts upon finishing the race was, “My run has to get better.” I needed this wake-up call. I absolutely love biking, and if I didn’t get run down at Nationals, then I would probably spent the off-season pushing all the watts.

But I got run down.

So this brings me to an important announcement: The man, the myth, the legend Coach Pat—who founded Educated Running—will be doing my run programming. He’s a legit runner (he WON the Bear Mountain Half-Marathon this year), he’s an experienced coach, and he isn’t too shabby as a triathlete either. Basically, this is what he does—and I have no idea what I’m doing. (Full disclosure: I’ve know and work with Pat in real life.)

trifecta

Throwback to our days as models. Pat is on the right.

I’m not sure what is reasonable to expect in terms of progress during the next four months, but I do know it will be—well—four more months of specific, structured run training than I had last off-season. And I’m keeping the big picture in mind, too: This training block will set the tone for 2015—and beyond.

Bottom line, I’m super excited to start training with Coach Pat. Wait, I’m excited to run? Guess I’m making progress already.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Aug. 18 (Week 32)

Let’s jump right in, shall we? This has been a week that couldn’t end soon enough.

kindness-is-magic

When in doubt, turn to NYC chalkboards for inspiration.

Thanks to marathon training, I’ve entered the busy, chaotic season at work, so I’ve been refamiliarizing myself with this pace. In addition to this adjustment, I’ve also stopped “official” triathlon training. As you’ll see below, I’m still swimming, biking, and running, but both volume and intensity have decreased. That’s totally fine and needs to happen, but the combination of increased work stress and decreased training load have made me feel so off this week.

General training notes: So if “farting around” described last week’s workouts, then I’ll use the phrase “structured farting around” for this week. Since training started in January, I’ve followed a rigid schedule, and it feels good to do what I want—within reason. If I’m being honest, I’m completely over swimming right now, so biking and running have become my workouts of choice. And tomorrow, I have exciting news to share regarding off-season training.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

I have not been feeling the swimming lately. I went through the motions, logged 3,600 yards, and then did an easy five miler outside.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

When in doubt, pedal it out: Thirty-five solo miles in Central Park. This was the first entirely solo ride I’ve done in the park—and it was liberating.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Another Central Park ride: Thirty-three miles with teammates.

Thursday – a.m. run

You guys. I still can’t believe this happened: I ran 9.5 miles! Who am I?! This was my longest run of the season, and it felt great!

Friday – a.m. run and strength train

That’s right—two days of running in a row. I did slightly less than four miles and some strength training and corework.

Saturday – a.m. run and bike

Note to self: do not go running before biking. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be a big deal—just an easy 40-minute shakeout—but my legs were not happy about riding immediately after even though it was a chill, 45-mile ride. Never again.

Sunday – off

All right, Monday–I’m coming for you.  How have your workouts been going lately?

Random Thoughts Revisited from the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Just for fun, I thought it would be cool to revisit what went through my head at last year’s Nationals and how my mindset changed this time around.

Last year: ‘Friendly triathletes and great atmosphere—I don’t want to leave!’

This year: I really tried to avoid the hoopla this year. My flight landed in Milwaukee earlier, and I took care of the expo and pre-race stuff on Thursday when most folks were still trickling in. I also opted out of the Friday afternoon practice swim in an effort to avoid the nervous energy. Overall, I came to Nationals with a different mentality—I wanted to fly under the radar, do my own thing, and stay out of my own head. Yes, I wanted to enjoy the experience and have fun, but putting together a solid race was my primary focus.

Last year: ‘Milwaukee is a great venue.’

This year: Milwaukee is still a great venue. Going back to a familiar place gave me an increased sense of calm confidence: I knew the city, the course, and exactly what to expect. Before the race, I visited the Milwaukee Public Market several times, which was a foodie’s paradise.

kopps-milwaukee

And I went to Kopp’s post-race for some life-changing tiramisu custard.

Last year: ‘Everyone looks so fit.’

This year: Everyone still looked fit, but I didn’t have the jaw-dropping reaction I did last year. This is partly because I came into the race leaner and fitter, and I also knew everyone else would be chiseled.

Last year: ‘I need a new bike.’

This year: Hello, race-ready Slice!

cannondale-slice-5-105-womens-nationals

But I still experienced some bike envy. My teammates and I were talking during bike drop-off, and we estimated transition was probably worth $10 million. And one of my teammates who has a custom bike said even his eyes were wandering.

Last year: ‘I can’t believe how far I’ve come in one year.’

This year: I’d been looking forward to this race all year; I could not wait to take on the same course with another year of training and see how much I’ve improved across the disciplines. My swim was three minutes faster, and I shaved seven minutes off my bike split. (Based on my training and racing, I was hoping to take four minutes off my run, but we know what actually happened.)

Last year: ‘I have the best team ever.’

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-fte-dinner

This year: Still true!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Aug. 11 (Week 31)

Remember Operation: Sloth Week after Nationals last year? I planned to do the same thing post-Milwaukee this week—relax, work out on my own terms, and slowly transform from triathlete to real person.

milwaukee-sunrise

I’ll be back next year, Milwaukee! (*Knock on wood*)

However, that mission lasted about three days before my body revolted.

General training notes: Basically, in the words of my high school basketball coach, I “farted around” Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and worked out recreationally. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) By Thursday, I was itching to put in work again.

Monday – off

I slept until 6:30 a.m., leisurely enjoyed some Wegmans flavored coffee, and had a peaceful morning.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

I slept in again, ran 3.6 steady miles, and did some upper-body strength training.

Wednesday – a.m. indoor cycle

Rain, rain, go away—because I want to ride my bike! The precipitation canceled our outdoor ride, so we retreated to the indoor cycle studio. My coach had to organize bike trailer unload, and he left me in charge of the workout. So I basically made my coaching debut.

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

After a sub-par swim at Nationals, I didn’t want to get back into the water. But I had to test some toys for work, so into the pool I went. Anyway, since some folks have upcoming races, we incorporated some race-paced efforts into this 3,100-yard workout. I felt good, and my splits were right where they should’ve been, which confirms I had an off day in Milwaukee. After, I ran an easy five miles along the West Side Highway with my coach, and we had a nice heart-to-heart about my training, what happened at Nationals, and where my efforts need to be focused this off-season.

Friday – a.m. bike

It felt so good to get back in the saddle! My last ride was at Nationals, but my last road-bike ride was … uh … two weeks ago? We had a smaller group, so we split into boys’ and girls’ groups for steady loops. Including the ride to the park and the warm-up and cool-down loops, I logged 33 miles.

Saturday – a.m. bike

A few teammates and I met up for a low-key, 45-mile ride, which obviously concluded with brunch.

SundayBattle of Brooklyn 10-Mile Race

Woohoo for another JackRabbit race! I worked and ran (best of both worlds, right?) two loops of Prospect Park. I had to “pinch hit” and join a JRab relay team, and then I did another loop with a coworker who signed up for the full 10-mile distance. So I ended the day with 6.8 miles or so—and brunch. Hmmm, I’m starting to notice a pattern …

2014 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Recap

On Saturday, I put my training to the test and took on my “A” race of the season: the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Held in Milwaukee, this event attracted 4,850 of the country’s best triathletes. More than 3,000 folks qualified for the Olympic distance (0.9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run), which resulted in the biggest and arguably most competitive field this race has seen.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-pre-race

Game faces and game braids!

I did this race last year, and my mindset differed greatly this time around: I was not intimidated, I was there to compete, and I felt much more confident in my training. Bottom line, I knew I belonged.

Another difference between the 2013 and 2014 races? Expectations. I’ve alluded to objectives, but I’ve never stated them outright because they scared me.

From the start of the season, my primary goals included peaking at this race and performing to a level that would give me a shot at a 2015 International Triathlon Union (ITU) Short Course (Olympic-Distance) Triathlon World Championship slot.

Because Chicago will host this race, the United States would receive 25 slots per age group. (It’s normally 18 slots.) So finishing in the top 25 was part one of the goal. However, the equation contained an interesting wrinkle for me: I’m 24, which means I “age up” next year into the 25-29 group. So even though my calf read “24” in Milwaukee, I was competing against the 25-29-year-olds for a 2015 slot.  This is also a faster, more competitive age group.

My training this season had gone well, and based on race results, earning one of those coveted slots wasn’t completely out of the question. Best-case scenario, I’d be on the brink—even if I had the race of my life: If I swam and biked to my potential, then I’d be competitive, but I’d have to run “out of my mind” in the words of Coach Pat. But that what makes this sport so addicting and exciting: making progress, putting hard work to the test, and going after that invincible feeling when everything lines up and seems effortless.

Swim – 0.9 miles – 25:50 (54/91)

The swim course remained nearly identical to last year’s route, and my wave was scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-swim-course

During my warm-up, though, everyone was pulled from the water, including the wave before mine. I’m not totally sure why, but I finally got to meet rockstar Victoria.  We obviously talked about watts.

When my wave was finally about to go off, I situated myself in the second row. Staying with the lead pack was out of the question (a lot of those girls were actual swimmers), but I wanted to set the tone early and put myself in a position to compete. I could not be passive like I was last year.

As soon as the starting siren went off, washing machine chaos ensued—and it reminded me of contact in the paint during basketball. Let’s do this.

Immediately, I hit an aggressive pace in an effort to draft and/or find clean water, but as I made moves, I took in more water than I should be—á la Pat Griskus. Even though the pace felt sustainable, I was not going to make the same mistake twice and jeopardize my race, so I eased off the gas. After that, I settled into a groove and felt good. I passed some girls who started in the wave before me, but I did not sight well, which is uncharacteristic of me.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-swim-exit

As I neared the swim exit, I couldn’t tell how it went overall. Yes, I felt good, and yes, I passed a bunch of girls who started before me. But I had no idea what my time was or how many girls were in front of me—both of which were probably good things.

Transition 1 – 2:45

For whatever reason, I could not get my act together coming out of the water. It took me longer than usual to find my legs. That’s all that really stood out.

Bike – 24.8 miles – 1:10:54 (23/91)

Overall, I’m happy with this bike split. It’s also a PR.

2014-usa-triathon-national-championships-bike-course

As you can tell from the course elevation, there were a few rolling hills, but this was a flat and fast course for the most part. It was also the same as last year’s ride, and I was pumped to take it on with another year of training and with some fun toys like an aero helmet and race wheels.

When my coach and I talked race strategy, we both agreed I should go for it on the bike. Obviously, I’d leave some gas in the tank for the run, but in order to contend for a top-25 finish, I would need to capitalize on my strengths. And push all the watts.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-bike 

It sounds cliché, but the bike flew by. I overtook a ton of girls, and more importantly, not a single girl passed me. Aside from what seemed like a never-ending headwind, I felt good for the most part, managed my energy well, and stayed mentally focused. Sure, there were tough spells I had to work through, but I never red-lined or felt gassed.

Transition 2 – 1:41

I remember noticing how warm it was. That’s about it. I mean, it was almost noon.

Run – 6.2 miles – 50:38 (44/91)

As I started the run, my legs felt decent. They actually felt fresher than Stamford, but that’s probably because this was a flatter course.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-run-course

My Garmin took forever to sync, so I ran the opening half mile on feel. When it finally loaded and displayed my average pace (7:15), I couldn’t believe it. My goal was to run 7:20-7:30 off the bike. I feel good. I am doing this. Seeing splits that low (for me) still freaks me out a little.

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-run

Like the bike, the run was relatively uneventful. I saw teammates who finished the race already—ah, the perks of being older and starting sooner—and even passed a few girls. Miles two and three came in at 7:30. I am strong. I am doing this.

Everything changed at mile three, though. It felt like I slammed into a wall of heat: Holy $%&*, it’s hot right now. It became oppressive, and my speed slowed. At every opportunity, I dumped water on myself and stuffed ice in my sports bra, but it didn’t seem to help. I was baking and (sun) burning.

And that’s how I lost my top 25 spot: I put a lot of time into the girls on the bike, but they ran me down. It’s disappointing and frustrating when girl after girl passes you, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do. It was just like Hopkins; they made the move, and I couldn’t respond.

Official finishing time – 2:31:51 (36/91)

Even though the second half of the run didn’t go well, I did what I could: I went for it on the bike and pieced together three solid miles on the run.  So I am satisfied with this race. I did what I needed to do and put myself in place to contend. That’s all you can do: play your strengths.

Since I am happy with how Nationals went overall, I am shutting down my 2014 triathlon racing season. This race confirmed what I suspected about my training, so I know exactly what needs to happen between now and when I truly start up again in January for the 2015 campaign. (Post coming soon!)

In the mean time, I’ll continue to swim, bike, and run through the fall, and I’m also going to try to be a “real person,” which means being sociable past 8 p.m., reconnecting with friends, and doing things that wouldn’t be “approved” during the season. Yoga! Maybe rock climbing! Eating out regularly!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Aug. 4 (Week 30)

I’m baaaaaack!

2014-usa-triathlon-age-group-national-championships-collage

I’ve been in Milwaukee since Thursday afternoon settling in before the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, which took place Saturday. I stayed through Sunday to watch some teammates do the sprint race too and arrived home last night. It’s been a memorable trip—and triathlon season.

General training notes: As to be expected during race week, I was a total head case. Because I embraced the taper and shut down workouts early, I had a ton of extra energy. In typical type-A form, I also over-analyzed everything. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were especially rough, but by Wednesday afternoon, I changed my mindset and started to relax.

Monday – a.m. bike

Yes, this sounds dramatic, but this was the worst way to start taper week. My cousin loaned me some race wheels (you’re the best, MB!), so I installed them myself (mistake number one) and took them out for a test ride. During the 30 miles in Central Park, my legs felt absolutely awful, and my effort level did not match my speed; it seemed like I should’ve been going a lot faster for my perceived exertion. Later that day, I took my Slice to Zen Bikes, and the guys joked I must’ve had a great workout because my front brake pads were touching the front wheel and essentially braking the entire ride. Even though I looked like a moron, I felt so much better knowing it was a bike issue and not a “me” issue.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Race wheels take two: 20 miles. Holy cow. Race wheels are incredible. I felt so much smoother on hills and flats—and my speed was, well, very fast (for me).

Wednesday – a.m. swim and run

The lane in the pool was packed, and everyone was doing their own thing—and this organized chaos did not bode well for me, so I hopped out after 1,200 yards. Then I headed to the treadmill for three easy miles, and my coach went over my race plan and goals. That’s when it really hit me: Everything I’ve done this season comes down to this race, which was terrifying and exciting. But it also occurred to me that I felt ready.

Thursday – off

Travel day to Milwaukee. And I always take a rest day two days before a race. It works.

Friday – a.m. run

Doing a light run the day before a race leads to absolutely no gains, but it gives me peace of mind. I always have nightmares about forgetting how to swim, bike, and/or run, so I did an easy run-walk on the treadmill to silence those doubts.

Saturday – USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

There will obviously be a race report, but here’s the CliffNotes version: decent swim, good bike, and good first three miles off the bike. I put myself in a position to contend for a top-25 spot, but couldn’t hold on once I got to the run. Official finishing time was 2:31, which placed me 36/91 in my age group (and 54/128 in my “new” 25-29 age group). I’m satisfied with my performance, and I know what needs to happen during the off-season. Hint: It involved running all the (smart, injury-free) miles.

Sunday – a.m. easy run

My Garmin didn’t sync, but this was an easy, three-mile-ish run through downtown Milwaukee. I even saw a handful of my teammates who were doing the sprint, so I got to wish them luck beforehand.

So what’s next? That’s a good question. Since I’m happy with Saturday, I probably will not race another triathlon this season, but I will continue to swim, bike, and run. I still need to sit down with my coach to recap the race, discuss my season as a whole, and map out some off-season goals, but I already have a few objectives. There will be a post for those, too. This week, I’ll focus on being a “real person.”

Ironman Lake Placid 2014: Tales of a Sherpa and Emotional Guardian

Where should I begin with this post? Let’s go alllll the way back.

ironman-lake-placid-2014-kona-or-bust

This trip north for Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) has been one year in the making. As you may remember, I went last year to train, volunteer, and spectate, and after the 2013 race, one of my teammates signed up to take on this 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run. And with her registration, I committed to returning in 2014 as a full-fledged Sherpa—and I was pumped! Placid epitomizes paradise, and I wanted to go back in any capacity.

It’s tough not to compare this year’s experience to what happened last year, but overall, they varied—a lot.

Let’s start with the Sherpa-ing.

ironman-lake-placid-athletes-training

I absolutely love training and racing, but sometimes it’s refreshing to be in a race environment and not actually race. Crazy concept, right? As a type-A person who does triathlon, I’ve discovered being a Sherpa utilizes my skill set. Not only do I have the logistics under control—planning our day to be the most efficient, knowing where to drop off special needs bags, etc.—but I can also talk the talk. And knowledgeably too. During race weekend, one of my goals included memorizing course maps and the athlete guide so I could answer every question my teammates asked me.

In addition to knowing everything about IMLP, I also took on the role of emotional guardian. I needed to be positive, reassuring, and flexible at all times. Moods swing easily in the days leading up to the race, especially when certain factors come into play: someone’s doing their first Ironman, someone’s shooting for a specific finish time, etc. Needless to say, everything became more intense, and when the crankiness and anxiousness kicked in, I wanted to be there to listen, calm them down, and provide support.

One main difference between 2013 and this year centered on training. I did some final tune-up sessions with teammates—a few race-pace efforts on the bike and some open-water swimming—but logging workouts was not my number one priority. Case in point: My Slice saw only 15 miles, tops. But I knew this would be the case, and I’m totally OK with it. My main goal was to be there for my teammates in every way possible.

ironman-lake-placid-goofing-off

Being there wasn’t exclusive to race day. This was the first time I watched people go through Ironman training. Each of my five teammates approached the distance differently—not to mention they came from various backgrounds, had different goals, etc.—and I learned a lot in terms of how I will navigate long-course training. (We’re talking at least 10 years from now, by the way. And that’s another post entirely.)

More importantly, this was the first time I trained with people who were tackling this distance. During the week, we’d do similar swim and bike workouts, and when Saturday and Sunday rolled around, they’d go long. Very long. Sometimes, I’d tag along and bike 40-50 miles while they did twice the distance. Or if they had a cutback week, then we’d ride together.

Bottom line, when you train together–for six months, at least five days a week, and for nearly three hours everyday–you become invested in their race. And when they have an Ironman on the horizon, it’s impossible to remain unaffected. When dull aches surfaced during long runs, I sympathized. When brick workouts got crushed, I felt invincible. When tune-up races approached, I experienced sympathy taper crazies. Basically, Placid became a pseudo race for me.

ironman-lake-placid-transition

During the race itself, I wanted to be there during all three disciplines, so I volunteered as a wetsuit stripper. At Syracuse 70.3 in 2012, I worked in the same capacity and had a blast. So not only would it be fun, but this position would also grant me access to athlete-only areas—which meant I could be with my teammates right up until they charged into Mirror Lake. Plus, I’d have a front row seat: I’d be able to pinpoint each person when they finished their each loop, and if I played my cards right, then I’d be able to help everyone take off their wetsuits. Four of my five teammates logged both loops of the swim, and I was able to see everyone during the wetsuit stripping process. (Due to thunder and lightning, the swim was cut to one loop or 1.2 miles. Some athletes swam both loops, but others were pulled from the water.)

After the swim, I camped out in front of our hotel—which was conveniently located on both the bike and run courses—rang my industrial-sized cowbell, and cheered until my voice grew hoarse. (And obsessively checked IronTrac, obviously.)

As the day progressed, my mental involvement intensified, which I didn’t think was possible. Waiting for the team colors seemed like an eternity: ‘They should be off the bike now. Why aren’t they here yet? Did something happen? What’s going on?’ Soon enough, the red and black kits appeared: ‘Yes! They look so strong and dialed in!’ And when not-so-great stuff happened, all I could do was run with them briefly, remind them they’re strong, and tell them they’ve overcome this before. But I couldn’t really do anything. I felt helpless. And it was the worst feeling. I had to trust their training and have faith they would work through the tough spells.

Sure enough, they pulled through.

And when they entered the oval, running strong and passing people and accomplishing their goal … being able to see the culmination of their dedication and their training and their hard work was incredible.

Clearly, it was an emotionally charged weekend. And I’m so grateful I was able to be a part of it.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 28 (Week 29)

Woah. Where did this week go?

social-run-turnaround

Have you been running around in circles, too? Between playing catch-up from Lake Placid (recap to come, promise!) and working the New York City Triathlon expo this weekend, I’ve been go, go go—not that I’d want it any other way.

General training notes: So … it’s crunch time. As my last truly hard week before Nationals, this span centered on shorter, intense efforts. There’s nothing increased volume will do now; it’s about honing my paces and getting a feel for what can be maintained across the disciplines.

Monday – off

Totally unintentional. It was a travel day back from Lake Placid. I don’t remember the last time I’ve taken two days off in a row.

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

Huge confidence booster. Absolutely huge. A few teammates and I met up in Central Park for three solid-ish loops on our tri bikes, and then I biked to the gym to run. And it went so well. I want to get better at dialing into my race pace immediately off the bike, which means maintaining a quick cadence—which means running on the treadmill (for now). My goal was to negative split three miles, and I did it! My average pace for the run was actually faster than my projected 10-K-off-the-bike, but it felt sustainable.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Flatted for the first time this season. Womp, womp. But until that happened, the workout went well: one warm-up and two hard loops with one of my coaches. I was in the red for a good portion of the ride, but that’s what I needed.

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

Lots of race-paced efforts in the water (2,500 yards) and a progression run (five miles) on the treadmill. The swim went OK, but the run felt a lot harder than I hoped. You can’t felt great every day, but I wanted this final tough run to go better.

Friday – a.m. bike

Coming off a not-so-great workout the day before, I really, really wanted this ride to go well. And a solid-ish 40 miles later, I felt much more confident in my abilities and training.

Saturday – a.m. brick

Yes, I did two bricks in one week, but this second one was more for peace of mind—mainly to ensure Tuesday’s workout wasn’t a fluke. I rode an hour on my indoor trainer and then headed outside for three race-pace miles. Thankfully, it was a good workout.

Sunday – off

Volunteering and spectating the New York City Triathlon

All right, taper—let’s do this.  I’m coming for you, Milwaukee!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 21 (Week 28)

I have returned from the paradise and magical place that is Lake Placid.

ironman-lake-placid-bike-course

My weekend centered on volunteering, cheering, and being the Sherpa of the year for my five teammates who took on this historical Ironman. I’ll probably write a post once I catch up on life, but it was a memorable, emotional roller coaster kind of weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, and my teammates made me so proud.

General training notes: Not too much to say this week. I frontloaded my workouts because I knew serious training probably wouldn’t happen during the weekend. Everything got logged even with a severe case of sympathy taper crazies.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Even though I logged a killer 78-mile ride the day before, I wanted to carry the momentum through the week. This combo proved to be tough—3,250 yards in the pool and seven miles outside—but I got it done.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Originally, I planned to brick, but my legs still felt trashed from the weekend. Instead, I spun out for 24 miles.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Hello, aero helmet!

aero-helmet-jackrabbit-sports

#InstaFame

One of the perks of being on a team includes getting hand-me-down gear. And I was totally “that triathlete” riding in Central Park and wearing an aero helmet. Hey, I have to test it before Nationals. And I’ll be “that triathlete” again this week because I have to try my borrowed race wheels too!

Thursday – a.m. run

Since I skipped Tuesday’s speedwork to bike, I settled into the paincave on the dreadmill and logged a threshold run. The intervals themselves weren’t incredibly fast; it was the “recovery” at 7:47 min./mi. that got me. I somehow survived the six miles.

Friday – p.m. swim

YES, MIRROR LAKE!

2014-mirror-lake-ironman-lake-placid

It defines paradise—and you can’t beat swimming 1.2 miles in paradise.

Saturday – p.m. run

Seriously, is this real life?

2014-ironman-lake-placid-run-course

Six steady miles on the Ironman Lake Placid run course.

Sunday – spent the day volunteering, spectating, and being a sherpa for Ironman Lake Placid

And no, I did not sign up for next year’s race.  Ask me again in 10 years–ha!