2015 Philadelphia Half-Marathon Recap

This past weekend, I once again escaped New York City for a race. However, this one did not follow the normal swim-bike-run format: on Sunday, I ran the Philadelphia Half-Marathon, a.k.a. a 13.1 miles through the city sans swimming and biking.



This was my second time doing Philly, and like last year, it was supposed to be a low-key race weekend with family and friends. Unfortunately, my immediate family was sick, so they were unable to make it. And my entire friend group was simply on a different timetable: some of us were doing the marathon; some of us weren’t leaving NYC until Saturday afternoon; etc. This combination translated to pre- and post-race experiences that were much different from what I anticipated, but it turned out to be totally fun.

A few Tailwind Endurance training buds and I discovered we were taking the same Friday night train, so we traveled south together, went to the expo, and grabbed dinner. The next morning, we met up for a shake-out run, and we linked up race morning too. (And we reconvened after to go to Geno’s for Philly cheesesteaks.) I have to give credit to my diverse triathlon arsenal on this one because I would’ve been flying solo otherwise—and since this was not a goal race, I wanted to socialize a bit more.

So more about that “not goal race” part. The Philly Half has become a late-season staple in my schedule because it keeps me running during the off-season. This year, Coach Pat and I were able to be more aggressive with my run training, and after my last tri in August, we slowly increased my weekly volume to about 30 miles per week. That’s the most I’ve run ever! My “engine” (cardio base) from triathlon season carried over quite seamlessly too, so even though this was not a goal race—it was a “C” priority, but we did taper a bit—we planned to be more aggressive and execute the most perfect race possible.

Thinking about the most perfect running race intimidated me—just ask Jen or any of my work friends. After reading over the plan and calculating the splits, I realized if the stars aligned—if I felt great, ran smart, and stayed mentally sound—we were looking at a 1:43 half. Wait, is this me we’re talking about? Mind games ensued, but as soon as I hopped on the train, my outlook changed. Coach Pat has not steered me wrong. Earl has told me time and time again, “having confidence is a choice. You need to choose to be confident.” And as I reflected on my roller coaster of a triathlon season—leaving my former team, assembling my triathlon arsenal, sustaining a bike crash—I realized I was strong enough to overcome anything on that course.


And on race day, I simply had so much fun I ran an extra half-mile—ha!


The race plan: we would start easy (miles 1-2) and build to tempo effort (miles 2-6); relax on the first hill (mile 7); build the effort again (miles 8-9); relax on the second hill (mile 10); and then hang on and finish strong (miles 11-13.1). According to my Garmin, I ran 13.1 miles somewhere in the 1:44-1:45 ballpark and logged a total of 13.67. Unfortunately, this data did not translate to official race results. (Chip time was 1:49:40.) However, after reviewing the outing with both Coach Pat and Earl, we are viewing this (1:44-1:45 Garmin time) as PR.

Honestly, the race was a blur, but here are a few bits and pieces I remember:

Miles 1-2 – relax, settle in, and keep the pace easy

Target – 8:15; actual – 7:39, 8:01

Well, whoops. ‘Slow down, Red—this is not a 10-K off the bike.’ I didn’t feel amazing during these first two miles, but I felt strong. It usually takes me four or five miles to settle in and feel decent so I wasn’t worried.

Miles 3-6 – take advantage of the flat course and build the effort

Target – bring the pace to 7:40; actual – 7:56, 8:03, 8:13, 7:52

Within this chunk, I realized my watch was off. At first, it was only a 0.1-mile deviation, but it ballooned to 0.5. I felt like I was doing everything right: I was in control of the pace, I took a gel at the 45-minute mark as planned (hence the slower split at mile five), etc. My paces matched my effort level, but I couldn’t figure out where the extra mileage was coming from. Looking back, I realize I was probably bobbing and weaving too much.

Mile 7 – relax at the hill and run with confidence

Target – 8:15-8:20; actual – 7:38

Due to the Garmin deviation, this was not at the actual hill. This happened on Chestnut Street where the crowd lined up Tour de France style. This is one of my favorite times during the race, and I even ran into one of my old work friends. You know you’re a runner when …

Mile 8 – increase the effort

Target – 7:50-8:00; actual – 8:30

This is when I actually ran up the hill. The wind at this part of the exposed course prompted me to really back off the effort; I didn’t want to burn too many matches here. My hat also blew off, so I actually backtracked a few steps to retrieve it.

Mile 9 – relax at the hill and run with confidence

Target – 8:15-8:20; actual – 6:42

Yep, totally not at the hill. There was a big downhill here, and my legs simply took over. Muscle memory kicked in, and it was a really cool moment. It just happened, and I just ran.

Miles 10-13.1 – hold strong

Target – 7:30; actual – 8:51, 8:10, 8:13, 8:23, 5:36 for the last little bit

During this span, I actually hit that second hill and again eased off the gas. It wasn’t until after the hill where I let myself attempt to calculate my finishing time. (I do words, not math.) According to my Garmin, a 1:45 was totally within reach. ‘I’m doing it! I’m a runner!’ But my watch was off. Sure, the distance, time, and pace it recorded were accurate, but those values did not match up to what the course actually measured. When my watch went off for mile 13, and I saw 1:44:17, I was feeling all the feelings. An unofficial 13.1-mile PR somewhere between 1:44 and 1:45 was huge. Absolutely huge. But I couldn’t even see the finish line. It took me several seconds to realize that although I just logged a major PR on my watch, I may not even break 1:50 according to the race clock. That was an incredibly bizarre realization.

My mental game had been locked in the entire run, and only after hitting 13 miles on my watch did it begin to wander. I was incredibly frustrated, and I realized this would be the biggest mental test I’d face: I could check out and ease off the gas; or I could hang tough and stay in it. Granted, my legs didn’t have a finishing “pop” in them so I mostly cruised to the finish line. My first thought? ‘OK, so that happened. Now what?’

 It took some time to fully process everything and come to terms with the official race results. I learned I can run strong for 13-plus miles. I can stay positive and mentally engaged for 13-plus miles. I can execute even when things go awry. And if I can run a 1:44-1:45 half, then I can definitely run faster than my current 45:xx 10-K PR off the bike. All good things!

And with this 13.67-mile run through Philadelphia, my 2015 racing season is officially over. I will be slothing around for a few more days (#SlothWeek), and official base building for 2016 begins next week. Bring it on!

But first, bring me a piece of apple pie …

Training Log – Week of Nov. 16 (Week 46)

So this was a thing that happened this weekend.


The Philadelphia Half-Marathon is always a blast. In fact, I was having so much fun I ran an extra half-mile on race day.

General training notes: In the lead-up to Philly, I felt absolutely junky. My legs felt heavy during every run, and I had no idea how I was going to string together 13.1 miles on Sunday. However, as soon as I hopped on the train Friday night, my entire outlook changed. I was ready, my legs were ready, and it was going to be a fun 13.1-mile run—except I ran 13.67 miles, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – a.m. run

Easy five miles along the West Side Highway

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Even though running is fun, I really love making watts: we faced 3×12-min. sweet spot blocks (staying between 88-92 percent) with four minutes recovery between each set. For the next few weeks, it’s all about logging time in our endurance, tempo, and sweet spot zones; woohoo for base building!

Thursday – a.m. run

Easy four miles along the West Side Highway. Felt absolutely c-r-a-p-p-y.

Friday – rest

Saturday – a.m. run

Conversational 20-minute shake-out run with some of my Tailwind buds. I spent the rest of the day on the couch in my hotel room napping, drinking water, and watching Friends on Netflix. I did manage to pull myself together and meet one of my work friends for dinner, though.

Saturday – a.m. run

Conversational 20-minute shake-out run with some of my Tailwind buds. I spent the rest of the day on the couch in my hotel room napping, drinking water, and watching Friends on Netflix. I did manage to pull myself together and meet one of my work friends for dinner, though.

Sunday – Philadelphia “Half-Marathon”

OK, so it was in fact 13.1 miles, but I ran 13.67. It’s a little frustrating because I executed the race plan and logged a huge and unofficial Garmin PR for 13.1 miles (1:45:xx!), but the race wasn’t officially over at that point. Oh well. On the bright side, 13.67 is a new personal distance record! Full recap coming later this week.

And now, Sloth Week 2015 begins: no physical activity for SEVEN days. If anyone needs me, I’ll be sleeping in, drinking flavored coffee, and live tweeting this week’s activities. (Related, I’m going home for Thanksgiving!) Feel free to play along and pepper your tweets with #SlothWeek.

How often do you take an official break from training?

2015 Philadelphia Half-Marathon Goals

Race week, race week! It’s been three months since I’ve had an event on the calendar, and even though this is not my typical swim-bike-run outing, I’m pumped to take on the Philadelphia Half for the second year in a row. Last year, I had a blast, and even though it will be tough to replicate that race-day experience, I’m excited to escape NYC, spend some quality time with my fam, and *knock on wood* string together 13.1 solid miles.


Another way to escape the city: retreat to Central Park

As a short-course triathlete, I do not view the Philly Half as a true goal race. This event found its way onto my calendar simply so I’d be motivated to focus on my run during the triathlon off-season—because if left to my own devices, I’ve be making watts around the clock. After my final tri in August, Coach Pat started increasing my running frequency and volume. I’m at the point in my running career where gaining experience (like muscle memory from running all the miles) and confidence (like logging strong 11- and 12-mile outings) is the goal. I will definitely race the half-marathon distance one day—which will most likely be preceded by a 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike—but for now, it’s about continuing to grow and transferring this development to triathlon.

So although there is a race plan for Philly, I feel as though I’ve already won. Thanks to Coach Pat, we’ve once again made productive use of the triathlon off-season, and I’ve improved a lot both physically and mentally as a runner. Going into last year’s Philly Half, I told him that was the most prepared for a race I’ve ever felt—and I feel even stronger and fitter this year. So even if race day doesn’t pan out as planned, I’m proud and motivated by the progress we’ve made—and I’m psyched to keep working at it. Here are my big three goals for Philly; accomplishing them will put me in a really good spot for performing my best.

Stay positive and mentally sound


Po-si-tive! Po-si-tive! Cheering on the NYC marathoners a few weeks ago.

During this year’s triathlon racing season, my mental game proved to be a limiting factor. In addition to upping my running volume and frequency, Coach Pat also suggested reading Running Within, which helped me a lot, especially in terms of reframing challenges and race happenings (i.e. not swearing when a pocket-friend passes you). You’re always going to experience highs and lows on the run, and I was able to use the strategies outlined to cope with and ultimately overcome challenges. Although I hope it’s all smiles and cute guys like last year, I know there will be low points—and now I have the tools to work through them. Bottom line, I can run 13.1 miles; my mental game will determine just how quickly they get logged.

Execute the plan and focus on the feeling


Marathon thunderstick fun #TheRabbitLife #branding

Last week, Coach Pat mapped out the race plan and broke it into sections: miles 1-2; miles 2-6; mile 7; miles 7-8; mile 9; and miles 10-13.1. Visualizing the race as smaller chunks helps me a lot mentally, especially when there is a target pace range involved. By focusing on each segment—instead of thinking about all of those 13.1 miles—and locking into the prescribed pace, I increase my chances of staying strong for the entire outing. Thinking about 1-4-mile sections seems much less intimidating too.

That being said, though, I cannot become emotionally attached to the numbers and let them overwhelm me. We have an aggressive plan. I know what I should be feeling. I know it’s sustainable. I just can’t be intimidated by the numeral values that accompany the feeling.

Have confidence—and have fun


#TheRabbitLife isn’t all fun and games: “For when you just can’t ‘adult’ anymore.”

As one of my triathlon coaches told me before Nationals, “having confidence is a choice. You need to choose to be confident.” My fitness from the tri season has carried over to this run block, and I’ve been able to build on it. I’ve done everything to put myself in the best possible situation for success.

One of my elite runner friends asked how I was feeling in the lead-up, and I told him it will be nice to do a race without the pressure of winning my age group and potentially contending for an overall podium slot. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love racing. But there’s something to be said for toeing the start line and only competing against yourself. Last year, I smiled for 12.5 miles, and it was time I had fun running a half-marathon. I hope to have a similar experience this time around.

Training Log – Week of Nov. 9 (Week 45)

A tough week at work was vindicated by my family’s visit this weekend.


Evening forecast: wine. Every night. We had a lot of fun!

General training notes: The only major occurrence worth noting this week is when I rolled my ankle on Thursday during speedwork. It was kind of ridiculous, actually. Between my 400m repeats, I pulled over to the side of the running path so I wouldn’t get in the way of fellow runners and cyclists, and I simply stepped on the cobblestone at an awkward angle. For better or worse, my ankles are used to being rolled from my basketball years. (You can take the girl away from basketball, but you can’t take the basketball out of the girl.) As a precautionary measure, I ended my workout early and carefully jogged home. I saw my go-to massage therapist on Friday (I had a pre-race massage scheduled before the ankle incident), and she spent some time working on it. Luckily, it feels fine, although it’s pretty black and blue.

Monday – rest

Tuesday – a.m. run

Steady and uneventful five miles along the West Side Highway

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

As I’ve said in past weeks, biking is starting to feel more natural. Getting and staying in the zone is easier, and even though I had to drop my FTP from 235 to 215 this week, I’m OK with sacrificing 20 (off-season) watts to focus on the run. Anyway, for the next eight weeks or so, these Tailwind classes are all about base building, a.k.a spending quality time in tempo and sweet spot zones. We faced a 3 x 10-min. sweet spot block (with four minutes rest between efforts), and I felt smooth and strong.

Thursday – a.m. run

With the Philly Half taking place next weekend (ahhh!), Coach Pat programmed 12x400m at 10-K race pace. If I execute precisely at Philly, then I’ll be spending a good amount of time at this pace. Overall, these intervals went well. I stayed within a three-second window for each, and even though I was working, it felt sustainable. And after the ninth repeat, the ankle roll occurred.

Friday – a.m. November Project workout off

The ankle was still bruised and swollen, so I opted to get extra rest and skip the NP workout. Plus, the group was meeting at a track, and I didn’t want to do intervals two days in a row. (I’m not that hardcore of a runner … yet!)

Saturday – a.m. run

Easy four miles along the West Side Highway. I unintentionally executed my pace plan for the opening four miles of the Philly Half, and I was pleasantly surprised with how everything felt.

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy six miles along the West Side Highway. The hay is in the barn. Next stop: Philly!

How often do you roll/tweak your ankles, hamstrings, etc.? I’ve gone a while without anything happening to my ankles so I guess I was overdue!

Training Log – Weeks of Oct. 19 – Nov. 2 (Weeks 42-44)

I’m back! These past three weeks have been crazy, chaotic, and intense thanks to a 50,000-plus person race called the NYC Marathon. In total, we produced 34 events in 32 days, including 10 events during marathon week. This data, of course, does not include the “optional” parties our vendors threw at night after said events. Somehow on little sleep and three cups of coffee daily (I usually stick to two), I survived—and I somehow managed to log my workouts too. Since I have three weeks of training to talk about, I’ll employ a list-style recap.


Central Park fall bliss

Week of Oct. 19

Workouts logged: five

Total miles: 31.15


… that time we hosted a course preview, and more than 700 people came.

Key takeaways: Even though I’m riding only once each week, the bike is starting to feel more natural. Granted, I’m not making as many watts as a should be, but my cadence is on point. Thanks to a Thursday evening work event, I opted to sleep in and skip what has become my normal November Project workout. And I also chose more rest because I had back-to-back long runs on the docket: Saturday, we hosted our annual Last Ten Run, which takes runners through the final 10 miles of the NYC Marathon. So I ran that on Saturday and then did my official long run of 12 miles Sunday.

Week of Oct. 26

Workouts logged: five

Total miles: 13.86


Ultra-marathoner Dean Karnazes showed up to a group run. Just another day.

Key takeaways: Thanks to events every night, I really cut myself some slack on the workout front. Everything got logged during the week, but the not-enough-sleep/extra booze combo did not lead to workouts that felt great. My total mileage was down because I did not complete a long run; usually, I run long on Sundays, but that simply was not happening with the marathon.

Week of Nov. 2

Workouts logged: six

Total miles: 26.42


Nothing but bliss

Whew, back to a normal workweek and normal workouts. It took me a few days to rest and catch up on sleep, but by Thursday, my runs felt a-OK again. Coach Pat has me tapering a bit for the Philly Half in a few weeks, so my long run was only eight miles. (Wow, does this mean I’m a runner now? Ha!) Everything clicked, and I hope things feel similar on race day.

How are things going with you—training, life, etc.?

Training Log – Weeks of Oct. 5 and 12 (Weeks 40 and 41)

Greetings! Despite not existing on social media for the past two weeks, I am in fact alive. There’s a race taking place here in a couple weeks—have you heard of the TCS NYC Marathon?—so we’re firing on all cylinders.


Marathon season has sprung!

No complaints, though. I’d rather be busy than bored.

General training notes: As I enter my busy season at work, training has become less of a priority, but everything is still getting done. Interestingly enough, running now feels more natural to me than biking. Wowza.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training

Steady five miler on the West Side Highway, plus some corework and upper-body strength training. That evening, we had a fun work event/full-fledged tech session with Nike, so I ran a little there too.


A fair amount of “hydrating” occurred

Wednesdaya.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance off

Full disclosure: after the previous night’s “workout,” a 5:30 a.m. CompuTrainer ride was not happening. Cheers to the off-season!

Thursday – a.m. run

I repeated last Thursday’s tempo run (10-minute warm-up with 10 minutes “on” and 10 minutes easy times five) and felt great.

Friday – a.m. November Project workout

Traveled to Queens for a jumping jack, pushup, and burpee-filled workout. As per usual, tt was tough, but this strength training stuff is exactly what I need to be doing during the off-season.

Saturday – a.m. run

Long, easy nine miler along the West Side Highway and through Central Park

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy four miler along the West Side Highway

Total miles: 25.12

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run

Steady five miles along the West Side Highway

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

I am so out of cycling shape it isn’t funny. I did an Ironman taper workout with two Maryland-bound athletes and struggled to hit my endurance numbers. And my FTP efforts felt like VO2 max intervals. Honestly, it was frustrating, but the bike is not a priority now, and I’m confident I’m on the right path as far as allocating training time to the run.

Thursday – a.m. run

Guess what’s back: speedwork! I was kind of excited to take on Coach Pat’s 4x1000m workout—and it was brutal. For the most part, I’ve been running easy with one steady run, so I’ve “forgotten” what it’s like to push and go fast.

Friday – a.m. November Project workout

I road my road bike to the workout (sidebar: I forgot how much I love my roadie.), and we did a playing card workout. Red cards equated to crunches, and black ones meant pushups—and aces meant burpees. My group of five went through the 52 cards in 40 minutes or so.

Saturday – a.m. run and strength training

I wore my grassroots (November Project) gear during this four miler, and the highlight was easily when the fellow NP human yelled, “F%&$ YEAH!” as we passed each other.

Sunday – a.m. run

Amazingly blissful 10 miler on the West Side Highway and Central Park. This running stuff, guys—it’s pretty great.

Total miles: 25.68

I’m off the grid until Nov. 3, but tell me: how are things? How’s training going?

Training Log – Week of Sept. 28 (Week 39)

It’s tough to believe at this time last week, I arrived back in New York City from Colorado.


Not the mountains, but the park is pretty. And about that recap. It’s coming … ?

General training notes: Nothing too noteworthy to report. Running continues to feel better and better (shout out to Coach Pat!), and sadly, my “real person” playtime has ended as we enter the crazy, chaotic marathon season at work. No complaints, though—being busy is good!

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run

Uneventful and steady five miles along the West Side Highway followed up with corework and upper-body strength training

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

As my first ride in weeks, I did not have high expectations, but I still felt unsettled after a brutal FTP-focused workout. “Be confident in your direction, not your performance,” advised Earl. And as always, he’s right. In order to focus on the run, the bike had to be pushed to the backburner.

Thursday – a.m. run

I loved this tempo run: ten-minute warm-up with 10 minutes “on” and 10 minutes easy times five. Breaking up the tempo work, well, worked from a mental standpoint: ‘It’s just 10 minutes. I’ve got this.’ I logged approximately 7.09 miles plus an untimed mile cooldown. (Does running eight miles mid-week make me a real runner? Ha!)

Friday – a.m. November Project workout

I had a blast at the 5280 NP workout … and it’s the off-season … so why not? This workout contained two parts: for part one, we partnered up, and while one person ran up a hill, the other held a plank. (And you kept rotating and changing out.) For part two, one partner alternated between five pushups and five dips, and the other ran down a hill and alternated between lunges and bear crawls. Here’s what blew my mind: part one was great (yaya for corework!), but my legs were toast for part two. I’m talking “VO2 max work on the bike” toast—all from running up hills and doing lunges. You bet I’ll be back!

Saturday – a.m. run

We held our annual Four Jacks run in preparation for the New York City Marathon, and I paced one of the groups for four miles. (The entire run spanned 20.)

Sunday – a.m. run

Absolutely blissful long run. Everything clicked, and I felt like I was flying, and it was awesome.

Total miles: 24.09

How’s your training going?


Training Log – Week of Sept. 21 (Week 38)

The mountains called.


And I answered.

I’ve been in Colorado the past week, spending a few days in Denver for work and a handful in Colorado Springs for fun. I’m honestly shocked I didn’t “accidentally” miss my flight yesterday.

General training notes: Going into this trip, I knew my weekly mileage would fall short of what I’ve been logging, but I was totally OK with that. My coworkers and I got in two trail runs, plus a November Project workout, and I did a ton of hiking and exploring in Colorado Springs. So even though my officially mileage was much lower, I came back to NYC feeling extremely sore from my off-road adventures—ha!

Monday – off

Travel to Denver

Tuesday – a.m. run

Tough and gorgeous 3.7-mile sunrise trail run at Red Rocks. I planned to buy trail shoes while in Denver, but didn’t have them for the outing … and it’s highly possible I wiped out. On the bright side, my road rash made for some great conversation with the higher-ups; they were definitely impressed and won’t forget who I am!

Wednesday – a.m. November Project “5280” (Denver) workout

Are you surprised? The NYC tribe has exploded in popularity, but my rigid triathlon training has made it tough to attend. (Based on my normal schedule, I’d have to sacrifice a swim or bike workout to sweat with the NP folks.) But since swimming and riding weren’t options in Denver, I went with three coworkers, two of whom are avid NPers in NYC. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. We started the workout with 100 pushups and leg throws, and then did a playing card workout for about 30 minutes: each colored card from the deck determined if you did pushups, mountain climbers, or sprints.

Thursday – a.m. run

Woof: even tougher 4.9-mile trail run at Green Mountain. The altitude and hilly terrain proved to be a tough combination to overcome, but it was the perfect way to start our final day in Denver.

Friday – hiking/exploring in Colorado Springs

I hiked the Manitou Incline, which spans only one mile, but gains more than 2,000 feet of elevation.


Like all my CO workouts, this climb was super challenging. (I didn’t time myself, but I’m guessing it took 30-45 minutes to get to the top.) On the bright side, I was able to keep up with some Air Force students who were doing the climb as part of their training. Then, I went to Garden of the Gods and wandered around for about an hour.

Saturday – hiking/exploring

After my inaugural full-blown camping experience in Fairplay, we explored the Breckenridge area, which included a hike through the Lilly Pad Lake Trail.


Sunday – off

Traveled back to NYC

How do you stay active during work trips/vacations?

Training Log – Week of Sept. 14 (Week 37)

Like last week, I said “yes” to a lot of real-person things like going out to dinner and taking advantage of happy hour—and I’m exhausted. It’s funny now triathlon endurance doesn’t translate to real life!


Saturday night cannoli at the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy

Even so, all of Coach Pat’s run workouts were completed. It’s all about consistency.

General training notes: Knock on wood, running is feeling good these days. (Sidebar: is this what happens when you focus on only one sport?) Almost every outing reminds me of how I felt leading up to the Philly Half last year, which is a good sign. However, I’m definitely going to manage expectations as the races approaches. A PR would be awesome, but that’s not the short- or long-term goal.

 Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

I wore a shirt (read: not a tank top) for this steady five miler along the West Side Highway. Fall, is that you?

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Let’s say I spent more time trying to change my tube and fiddling with my trainer tire than actually riding. (Note to self: get to the bike shop ASAP.) When all was said and done, I spent about 30 minutes riding easy.

 Thursday – a.m. run

My friend hosted a dinner party the previous night (#sayyestolife), and I was feeling a little sluggish after multiple glasses of white wine. My legs loosened up after the first mile, though, and I ran another four with some pickups sprinkled in.

Friday – a.m. swim with the Bearcat masters

The first thing to note about this workout is my #wannabeswimmer cluelessness. When I trained with a tri team, we always used pull buoys for sculling, so when I grabbed one this morning for our 100m set, I got some funny looks. Apparently that’s not what real swimmers do. Lesson learned. Second, there was a ton of IM work, and since I don’t have a race coming up, I didn’t have a valid excuse to forgo the butterfly. I was ready for a nap after that 3,400m practice.

Saturday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy four miler with strength training and corework

Sunday – a.m. run

Eight miles to and through Central Park. I started out slightly fast so I focused on easing off the gas a bit and maintaining proper form. There was also a tune-up 18 milers happening, and its electric energy totally made my run.  I also felt like a slacker for shutting it down at eight when those folks had 10 more miler to run. (But I am not running the New York City Marathon so …)

Total miles: 22

What’s your current favorite workout?

Playing the Game: 2015 Off-Season Goals – Part I

My 2015 triathlon season came to an official close about a month ago after the Cazenovia Triathlon, and since then, I’ve spent some time reflecting on what went well and what I can improve from now until January.


And this is where I write an insightful caption on refocusing my run training.

The biggest change between 2014 and 2015 centered on my training structure. For the past two seasons, I trained with a team. Since I was relatively new to the sport, it was beneficial to have coaches leading workouts and to train alongside more experienced athletes on a regular basis. Although the atmosphere helped me improve tremendously from 2013 to 2014, the model became unsustainable as my training outlook shifted; that’s when I broke off and enlisted Coach Pat to do my run programming. And ultimately, when the 2015 season started, I developed a solid triathlon arsenal and put together a “piecemeal” approach: I swam with the Bearcat masters; I biked with power and periodized workouts at Tailwind Endurance; I ran under Coach Pat’s expertise. Overall, this training approach led to all-around progress and some decent race results so this structure will stay in place for 2016. (There is an important update regarding my triathlon arsenal that I’ll share once everything is solidified.)


And this is where I write an insightful caption on taking a bird’s-eye view of my training and keeping the big picture in mind.

All right, discipline by discipline—let’s go in race order.

From day one, my swim has been a relative strength. Honestly, I’m still not sure how that happened because I did not compete in high school or college, but I’m grateful for all those summers my Mom shuffled me to swimming lessons. However, since I do not have the sheer amount of experience swimmers-turned-triathletes boast, I thought my swim had come close to reaching its potential. Sure, I could devote a few months to a swimming block, but those training hours would yield a relatively small return on investment compared to what they could do for the bike or run.

Enter: Bearcat masters.

Joining a swimming team totally took me out of my comfort zone, and logging laps with these folks from February through August helped me become faster and hone my technique. I still consider myself a #wannabeswimmer, but I throw down flip-turns, do all the strokes, and dive off the blocks—and most importantly, I can hold my own during practices.


C’s get degrees, right? I’m also fairly sure I was tapering that week.

I’m only a few weeks into the triathlon off-season, but I can already tell it will be much more productive from a swimming standpoint: last year, I went about three months without getting in the water; this year, I lasted 19 days. From now until January, I’ll hit the pool once each week for recovery/cross-training/maintenance purposes.

Time for my favorite: let’s talk watts.


Solo smashfest = the BEST

It’s no secret the bike is my ace in the hole, and becoming a Tailwind groupie further helped me develop wattage manufacturing skills. Although the saddle is where I spent the majority of my in-season training hours, the bike will take a backseat during the off-season. Like the swim, I’ll ride once each week for recovery/cross-training/maintenance purposes. (I may potentially ride outdoors on the weekend, but I haven’t been outside since my last race.) Once January rolls around, the intensity and volume will increase.

That leaves the run.

Here’s what worked: enlisting an expert and handing off the reins; logging 15-20 miles per week, which was a huge increase from my 2014 average weekly mileage; doing my run training solo, which gave me some great headspace and helped me fall in love with it again.


Lakeside love

From a physical standpoint, everything running-related improved: my easy pace is about 45 seconds faster than it was last year; my cadence and turnover is getting better; I’m lighter and leaner than I was at this point last year (and that’s another post entirely too). Despite logging miles, nailing workouts, and priming my engine to do work, I failed to address the mental aspect of racing.

Hindsight is 20-20, and there proved to be a reoccurring theme during races: I’d lay down a decent swim-bike combo, start the run feeling strong, but eventually get caught and become mentally dejected. At first, I was able to justify it. During SoBe I got run down within the last mile and lost the top spot in my age group by a few seconds. It stung: ‘But a second-place showing is still a great day.’ However, the same thing happened when the stakes were higher at Kingston: I got caught within the last quarter mile and lost the third place female overall slot. Again, that one hurt—‘but fourth female overall? Not a bad day.’ So you can see how I downplayed this problem. During workouts, I executed and hit paces; after both SoBe and Kingston, I knew my run splits were not indicative of my level of fitness. And plus, I was caught in the final stretch of these races, so I was able to get away with an expletive-laced dialogue in my head, but hang on and finish the race.


Yes, I know Spiderman doesn’t have a cape. I exercised some creative liberty during spirit week’s Superhero Tuesday.

Big-time events—whether it’s high school basketball sectionals or USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships—promise to highlight strengths and weaknesses. In Milwaukee, the competition was tough, especially in my new age group, and my work would be cut out for me; even if I laid down a solid swim and smoked the bike, I would still get run down. (Spoiler alert: I can’t run a 40-minute 10-K off the bike.) Anyway, my mental stoicism and positivity was totally controllable, but every time a girl passed me, I’d come out of my headspace. There would be a few curse words followed by a variation of, ‘she looks so fast/smooth/tiny.’ And then I’d struggle to dial back in. Those 6.2 miles were mentally draining.

In triathlon and in life, you can only control the controllables. I can’t control the humidity level or heat index or number of pocket-friends on the course, but I can 100 percent control my mind.


Spotted pre-race in Milwaukee. I should’ve heeded this advice.

As one of my coaches said, to race at the level I want to race at, I need to play the game: when a competitor catches me on the run during a race, I need to have to the stamina, confidence, and mental resolve to hop on her shoulder, put the pressure back on her, and challenge her to sustain the pace. This means I will be running all the miles this off-season under Coach Pat’s guidance, and we’ll also work on my mental game.

The “goal race” will be the Philadelphia Half on Nov. 22. Simply having an event on the calendar gives my training more purpose. However, even though I hope to PR, we won’t be doing a ton of 13.1-specific work because I’ll stick to short-course triathlons next year. Most likely, it will be a fun long run.

In terms of my mental game, Coach Pat recommended Running Within. I’m almost halfway through, I’m already implementing some of the strategies and visualization techniques—and it’s working.

This post is longer than I anticipated, so I’ll wrap it up here for now. Basically, the overall goals of this off-season include to safely ramping up my mileage, gaining more physical/mental experience on the run, and entering the 2016 season lighter, leaner, and fitter than last year.