Monthly Archives: June 2014

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 23 (Week 25)

Hello, hello!

jackrabbit-watts

#WorkFlow #LetsTalkWatts

General training notes: Woof. My back-to-back races caught up with me, and fatigue plus humidity made for some tough bike and run workouts. And it’s not that bad yet. Anyway, this combo led to a lackluster training week; at times, it felt like I was just going through the motions. However, there are several factors at play: aside from fatigue and humidity, my work schedule has changed, so I’m getting used to new hours, and I’ve also “checked out” a little bit because I’m going home for the 4th of July. ‘Tis life, right?

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

Yeah, this was an aggressive first workout post-race, but it went OK. My legs felt stiff during the bike, but loosened up by the run. Thankfully, it was a short brick—36 biking miles and 1.7 running miles. Don’t know if I could’ve handled anything longer.

Wednesday – a.m. swim; p.m. Anyone Can Win 5-K

Coming off Sunday’s race and Tuesday’s brick, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the pool, but my body fared pretty well. There weren’t a ton of hard efforts, and it felt great to get in the water. And that night, JackRabbit hosted its annual Anyone Can Win 5-K in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It’s a prediction race, so you predict your time and try to run it—without watches, music, etc. I worked and ran, and it was a lot of fun!

jackrabbit-anyone-can-win-5-k-union-square

Yeah, Union Square represent!

It was during this run where I noticed the humidity affecting me; it felt like I was running so much faster and working harder than my chip time indicated. But I should cut myself some slack as my body acclimates.

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

Tough, tough swim. Our main set took the form of a 3×300 that included steady swimming, solid pulling, and race pace 50s. I planned to run five steady miles after, but my legs were shot from the night before, and the humidity was killer, so I did four easy instead.

Friday – a.m. bike

Two words: girl down. We had a smaller group in Central Park, so the entire team completed the warm-up loop together before my coach split us into pace groups. My all-girl group cranked the pace and did three solid loops—and I somehow ended up pulling on a bunch of hills. And when one of the coaches yells at you to push—“Hit 22 going up this hill, Carrie! ”—it’s not like you’re going to ease up and spin out. So yeah, it was an aggressive ride. Including the commute to and from the park, plus warm-up and cool-down loops, I did 52 miles. Very solid for a weekday.

Saturday – a.m. bike

Triathlon life doesn’t get much better than escaping the city, soaking in the sun, and spending time on the bike. One my teammates and I met early to log 40 miles that included hill repeats and solid aero efforts. Since we’re about the same speed (she’s the one I “rode with” during Griskus and Stamford), we took turns pulling on the way back to the city and held a decent pace. Good ride!

Sunday – a.m. run

In an effort to beat the humidity, I hit the West Side Highway for a 7.35-mile run. It felt tough at first, but I was able to work the negative split and get down to my off-the-bike pace for the final mile before cooling down. Success!

All right. Time to buckle down—three days until I go home!

What are your plans for the 4th of July?

2014 Stamford KIC It Triathlon Recap

Two races in two weekends? And two team titles? Done and done!

full-throttle-endurance-stamford-kic-it-triathlon-team-champions

Our fearless coaching staff

On Sunday, Full Throttle Endurance sent 60 athletes to race the Stamford KIC It Triathlon. It’s a small, local race the team does every year, so I was excited to see how much I’ve improved. Plus, I wanted to do another Olympic-distance tri before Nationals in August. And I’d be lying if I said I did not want redemption after Griskus last weekend.

Although the swim and bike courses stayed the same, the race organizers changed the run route and created a sprint-distance race. From a team perspective, this addition worked to our benefit: We were able to “distribute” our athletes so we didn’t have five FTE people racing each other for three podium spots.

Anyway, two aspects that drew me to triathlon included making personal progress and chasing the “perfect” race. Yes, “perfect” isn’t totally realistic, but rather the idea of putting together a race that is as close to perfect as possible. And as any athlete knows, it’s rare when everything lines up and you have a stellar performance.

On Sunday, I came pretty darn close: I raced hard, raced smart, and above all, had so much fun.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-age-group-champion

In summary, this race made me feel happy, proud, and satisfied.  Which almost never happens, by the way.

Swim – 0.9 mi. – 25:36

Held in the Long Island Sound, the swim course remained the same from last year.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-swim-course

Overall, I wanted to learn from my race experience last weekend; this meant being honest with myself and saying I pushed too hard on the swim because it negatively affected my bike and run. Although I can swim a low-24 (maybe faster?), I decided to dial back. It’s all about energy allocation, and if pacing the swim better (read: slower) leads to a better bike and run, then that’s what needs to happen.

Anyway, I felt good during the swim. Good, not great. The lead pack of women dropped me after 100 yards or so, and instead of freaking out—ah, hop on their feet and draft!—I stayed composed, settled into a rhythm, and stuck to my plan. Like last year, I really enjoyed the swim and came out of the water feeling strong.

Last year’s time – 25:10

Transition 1 – 2:12

Since I didn’t crank the swim, I hit the sand running to start making up time. Other than struggling to take off my wetsuit because of the big timing chip, nothing too eventful happened.

Last year’s time – 2:36

Bike – 24.8 miles – 1:17:09

Pre-race, I had mixed feelings about the bike. Yes, I had done it before knew what to expect; it would be hilly, but not as grueling as Griskus. But after feeling absolutely awful last weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect—but my body was ready to rock.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-bike-elevation

Like last week, I planned to ride aggressively and race on feel. Even though I’m relatively new to this sport and still learning how to allocate energy across the disciplines, I have a good idea of how I should feel in the saddle. Basically, this meant pushing when I felt good and backing off when I didn’t.

Anyway, like Griskus, one of my teammates and I rode together. (She’s a little faster than me in the water, but I caught up to her on the bike.) We didn’t draft, but there is an advantage to racing with a training partner. We’re about the same speed, so I knew I could stick with her, and she kept me focused and pushed me too.

Bottom line, I did not want to get off the bike and was happy with how it went.

Last year’s time – 1:25:38

Transition 2 – 0:44

Total blur—get in and get out.

Last year’s time – 1:13

Run – 6.2 miles – 46:42

Like the bike strategy, I planned to run on feel. My Garmin came out of T2 with me, but I only wanted to see distance covered. Plus, my coach gave me a rough time goal—sub-47 would be awesome, he said—but I didn’t want to stress myself out with splits.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run-elevation

Coming off the bike, I wasn’t sure how the run would shake out. My calves tightened up immediately, but that’s normal. Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to really run off the bike! Also, it takes me about one or two miles to settle in and get my running legs under me, and the course worked to my advantage; the opening mile was totally flat.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run2

As I gain more experience racing, it has become easier to turn off my brain and just run. There were a couple of climbs—around miles 1.5 and 5—but I stuck to my plan of running by feel. My second wind kicked in around mile 3.5, and I couldn’t believe how great I felt, so I started pushing a little more. And the run route reminded me of home, so both my body and mind felt right.

About 400m from the finish line, I spotted one of my teammates and coaches who were cheering and running people in. They did the same thing at Griskus, and I was not in a good place physically then—but it was the complete opposite this time: I gave them a thumbs up and starting smiling. “Carrie, stop smiling! There are still people to pass!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I picked them off and finished strong.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run

Last year’s time (different run course) – 50:23

Official finishing time – 2:32:25

Last year’s time – 2:45:02

I could not stop smiling after crossing the finish line. I was actually happy and completely elated. (And did I seriously run 7:30s off a hilly bike? What the what?!)

As a type-A person, I immediately think about what could’ve been done better, but there was absolutely none of that on Sunday. Honestly, the only two races where I’ve experienced the same high included my first race and South Beach last year. And it was this feeling that got me hooked.

Yes, age group awards are always great, but I’m concerned with times and how I felt: My splits were solid (excluding the two or three seeded elites, I was the sixth female overall), and I felt good while putting forth the effort required to hit those times.

Two takeaways from this outing: First, I cannot believe how different I felt during Griskus and during this race. My training and tapering were the same, but it really just boils down to how you feel on race day. And two, I need to trust myself and continue racing by feel. If I had seen my pace running off the bike, I absolutely would’ve dialed back; I would’ve eased off the gas because in my mind, I can’t hold that pace—but clearly I can. I mean, I did hold that pace. Also, I’m pretty sure this is my 10-K PR—standalone and off the bike.

Overall, I really needed a solid race, and this gives me confidence for Nationals.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 16 (Week 24)

Hi, hi! What a whirlwind day: I just got back from the Stamford KIC It Triathlon where Full Throttle Endurance did serious work and took home the team title. I had a pretty good race too!

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-age-group-win-2014

Full report to come later this week, but for now, I’ll say as horrible as I felt during Griskus, that’s how great I felt today. I’m really happy with how it went!

General training notes: This was my first time racing back-to-back weekends, which posed an interesting series of events. Since Griskus left a lot to be desired, I bounced back and recovered quickly. It’s interesting because both my coach and more experienced teammates said I could do absolutely nothing this week and still have a solid race on Sunday—but obviously, I can’t sit around and not train for seven days. So overall, this week ended up being a light training/taper week. I’ve become somewhat notorious on my team for not shutting down workouts during these easier weeks, so I got an earful from a lot of folks.

Monday – a.m. swim

For “racing” two days prior, I felt good during this swim. The workout incorporated a lot of pulling and race-pace efforts, and the only time I noticed fatigue was when fins came into the picture. Since I ran easy the day before, my coach said not to run again. (And I listened!)

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

This taper-friendly workout went OK. My coach broke us into groups to ride two steady loops in Central Park. Then we ran 1.7 miles off the bike and then hopped back in the saddle for a cool-down. It’s possible I ran too fast, but I felt good. And my biggest goal coming off the bike is dialing into my pace and cadence immediately; I’m not at the point yet where I can increase my speed and negative split this run, so I need to set the tone early—because I will slow down.

Wednesday – a.m. run and swim

Geez, this tapering stuff is not fun: just an easy four-miler on the West Side Highway and 1,500 yards in the pool. Is it time to race yet?!

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

I couldn’t have asked for a better last swim pre-Stamford. The main set called for 7x100s, and my lane did them on 1:35. (I came in between 1:16-1:20. #wannabeswimmer) And since my coach doesn’t trust me to run easy, I logged three miles on the dreadmill.

Friday – a.m. bike

Yes, I planned to rest Friday, but when I woke up feeling good, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to ride. Don’t worry: I stayed in my small ring and spun out—for 40 miles. Probably shouldn’t have gone so far, but it was such a nice morning!

Saturday – a.m. easy run

Just two dreadmill miles to shake out the legs.

Sunday – Navigators Stamford KIC It Triathlon (0.9-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

Time to celebrate!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Here’s the Thing

Hello, friends! Are you bored with all the race talk? Don’t worry; after Stamford on Sunday, there are no more triathlons on the schedule until August. (Although my coach wants me to do a sprint in July, but that’s neither here nor there.)

pat-griskus-triathlon-finish

[source]

Dammit, heel strike!  Coach Pat, this is why I need you!

Even though the past few weeks have been tough, life is going pretty well right now. Here’s the thing:

Let’s talk training first. It’s still going strong. By the way, thanks for putting up with my previous posts where I talked about all my feelings. This training cycle has been mentally challenging, which affects my mood outside of swimming, biking, and running. Thankfully, the next block spans about one and a half months, so I can dial in, put my head down, and focus on putting together the best race possible at Nationals.

My work schedule changes next week—which is bittersweet. Since starting at JackRabbit Sports last year (wow!), I’ve worked Monday-Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, which gave me Thursday and Sunday off. At first, I liked having a day off mid-week; running errands and catching up on life seemed easier when all of NYC wasn’t doing the same thing. However, as I’ve started expanding on my community outreach position, it’s become clear a “normal” schedule would be more effective. Ninety-percent of my job happens during regular hours—expos, races, and other events comprise the other 10 percent—so it makes sense that I work Monday-Friday. Hello, 9a-5p world! (Er, probably more like 10a-6p, but you know what I mean.)

This also means I need more real clothes. Yes, it’s a casual, non-corporate environment—I mean, I work in the basement—but I will need to pull myself together and put forth a decent 75-80 percent effort most days. But my (swimming) shoulders and (cycling) legs make it extremely difficult to find clothes that fit. And being on the tall side further complicates this quest. Blahhh.

I’m SO excited to go home for the 4th of July! I booked my tickets—Central New York, here I come! I haven’t been home since Christmas, so I can’t wait to see my family. The only downside is my Slice can’t make the trip too; taking it on the train during a holiday weekend would be an absolute nightmare. Guess that means I’ll do all the open-water swimming and running instead, including a 5-K my Dad and I do every year. Should be fun!

That’s all I’ve got today. What’s going on in your life?

Pat Griskus Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, Full Throttle Endurance raced the Pat Griskus Triathlon, an Olympic-distance event (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run) that served as USA Triathlon’s Northeast Regional Club Championships. And we took home the team crown!

full-throttle-endurance-usa-triathlon-northeast-regional-team-champions

Woohoo!

Situated in Connecticut’s Quassy Amusement Park (tri/local folks: it basically takes place on the Rev3 Quassy course), this race boasted a gorgeous swim—and brutally hilly bike and run courses.

They say you learn more from a loss than a win; and by extension, you learn more from a tough race than a cake walk. No, I didn’t “lose” this race—I actually finished second in my age group—but this outing challenged me and ended up being a beneficial learning experience. And that’s what this sport is all about: training, racing, and learning.

Swim – one mile – 27:29

So remember my “swim solid” pre-race goal? I actually accomplished this objective. The calm water and wetsuit-legal conditions (temperature measured 69 degrees Fahrenheit) made for a smooth, fast swim. And there were folks who complained about the diamond-shaped course, but thankfully, I had no problems sighting and swimming a relatively straight line.

Anyway, as a smaller race with about 350 athletes, the waves included several divisions: men 39 and under; women 39 and under; men 40 and older; women 40 and older; Clydesdale, Athena, aquabike, and relay. My wave started third, and I seeded myself near the front of the pack. It was a land-start, so we began on the beach and charged into the water. I had no issues finding clean water and settling into a rhythm. Hands down, I had a great swim. I felt smooth and strong, and even though I dialed into a “solid” pace, I stayed out of the red.

During the swim, I noticed how much water I was taking in. I made two mental notes, actually, but I didn’t think it would be an issue. In hindsight, this should’ve prompted me to back off the pace and focus on breathing, but since I felt good, I maintained my speed.

Bike – 25 miles – 1:25:07

As I hit the mount line and started pedaling, I immediately noticed my both stomach and legs felt awful. Throwing up seemed inevitable, and my legs refused to turn over. It was going to be a long, long ride.

Overall, the course was brutal. Absolutely brutal. The hills made the route challenging, but I definitely underestimated the false flats. Basically, there were constant climbs, which made it difficult to get comfortable and settle into a rhythm.

pat-griskus-bike-course-elevation-profile

For the first five miles, I worked with one of my teammates; we took turns on the front (no drafting, don’t worry!), but my body was not having it. I hoped the stomach and leg issues would vanish as I warmed up, but if anything, both progressively got worse. At this point, I abandoned my coach’s advice to “go for it on the bike” and decided to ride based on feel—which essentially meant spinning for 20 miles and trying not vomit. Eventually, I caught another teammate, and he pulled me through the course. We rode together (again, no drafting, promise!), and he cheered, sang songs, and above all, helped me keep my head in an OK place. Around mile 15, I forced myself to take a gel; my stomach improved slightly, but my legs still felt horrible.

Bottom line, this was the toughest bike course I’ve ever completed, and even though I wanted to unload and see what I could do, Saturday was not my day; some days you have it, and some days you don’t. Also, after talking with some more experienced triathletes, the consensus was I should’ve pulled over, purged my system of the gross lake water, and continued riding. Race and learn, right?

Transition 2 – 0:57

As I neared T2, I started thinking about my game plan for the run. Since I felt like junk on the bike, I decided to settle into the run and see how things progressed. Again, instead of aiming for specific splits, I would run on feel.

Run – 6.2 miles – 49:25

The run was a two-loop out-and-back course—net downhill on the way out, uphill on the way back. Luckily, it contained a ton of shade. As I started the run, my legs felt OK—probably because I spun for 25 miles!—but my stomach still felt uneasy. This was a frustrating situation because endurance-wise, I was good to push, but my stomach said no way. Begrudgingly, I “mailed in” the run and settled into a steady pace.

pat-griskus-run

Some days you’re on, and some day’s you’re off. You hope the off days don’t coincide with races, but that’s the nature of the sport.

And since I was cruising on the run, I made an effort to do the little things right: staying positive, maintaining my form, and above all, cheering for my teammates. It wasn’t my day, so the least I could do was help everyone else.

Official finishing time – 2:44:56

So, what did I learn?

Cranking the swim resulted in increased water intake. I should’ve made adjustments either in terms of speed or breathing.

Biking 25 hilly miles with a distressed stomach is no bueno. And sticking to your nutrition plan is important. I had to force myself to take in fluids and probably didn’t drink as much as I should have. And it’s gross, but I should’ve thrown up.

Listening to your body and revaluating goals mid-race is OK. This was the main takeaway. I would’ve loved to hammer the bike, but my stomach and legs were not up to par.

On the bright side, I have a shot at redemption this weekend at the Stamford KIC It Triathlon—game on!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 9 (Week 23)

Another race with Full Throttle Endurance is in the books!

full-throttle-endurance-usa-triathlon-northeast-regional-team-champions

We did the Pat Griskus Triathlon yesterday, an Olympic-distance event (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run) in Middlebury, CT. And we captured the USA Triathlon Northeast Regional Club/Team Championship!

Spoiler alert: It was a brutal race, but I took second place in my age group.

General training notes: Overall, I had a good pre-race week. Good, not great. Taper crazies arrived Thursday morning, and I also altered my race week workout schedule. Typically, I do nothing two days before a race and do something light the day before. However, I took my rest day 24 hours before the race (on Friday). This did not work. Looking forward, I will return to my normal schedule before Stamford this Sunday.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Since this was the last hard swim before Griskus, I dusted off the ol’ Helix and wiggled into it for the 2,850-yd. set. Wow, I love that wetsuit! Even though it was monsooning outside, I logged an easy five miles; it takes a lot—a lot—to make me run indoors.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Tuesday failed on the taper front. My workout called for three steady Central Park loops, and I may have done five—for a total of 50 miles. Whoops. But it’s not like I cranked the pace; it was a steady ride.

Wednesday – a.m. bike and swim

After talking with my coach, we decided biking and swimming would be better than running and swimming—because he’s not concerned about my run come Saturday. (We’ll see.) This was another easy, three-loop ride. I started out in charge of a group of dudes, and even though I communicated constantly (“is the pace OK? Everyone feeling good?”), they said I wasn’t going steady on the hills. So I pulled off the front and told two other guys to take the lead—and one of them just started hammering. Really, guys? So I removed myself from the chaos and rode with my coach. Since it was a shorter ride, there was time to hit the pool, so I logged 1,100 yards with 3×300 at race pace. It felt good!

Thursday – a.m. swim and run

So. This was an interesting day. I woke up with a full case of taper crazies and couldn’t totally shake them even when I hopped in the water. Speaking of the pool, my coach bumped me up a lane. Yes, during taper. And yes, I “swam” (a.k.a. hung on for dear life) with fast lane number one. #Wannabeswimmer moving up in the world! Although, if I’m being honest, I was pretty aggravated. Obviously, I worked a lot harder in that lane, which would be fine under normal circumstances, but not ideal for tapering. My coach totally knew it, too: “Carrie, I know you’re pissed, but work! Just work and stay on their feet!” Long story short, my 4x200s were above race pace. Anyway. Then my coach said he didn’t trust me to run easy outside, so he banished me to the treadmill for three easy miles. And then I shut everything down; the hay is in the barn. At least I hope there’s some in there.

Friday – off

Saturday – Pat Griskus Triathlon (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run)

I did not have a good race, but I learned a lot.  Recap should go live Monday or Tuesday.

Sunday – easy/recovery run

Nothing interesting to report: just an easy 5.5-mile run. I left my Garmin at home, listened to some chill tunes, and reflected on yesterday’s race. I was able to work through what happened at Griskus, and it dawned on me it was similar to having a tough basketball game—failing to make easy shots, playing sloppy on defense, etc. And I know how I was able to bounce back from those types of games, so I know what needs to happen now. Overall, I felt much better mentally and physically once I returned home.

How do you bounce back from a tough race?

Goals for Pat Griskus Triathlon

Here we are: race week! It’s been about two months since my last triathlon, and even though there have been some episodes of taper crazies, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m doing my best to trust the process and trust my training.  And I’m excited to see how strong of an Olympic-distance outing (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run) I can string together.

triathlon-gear-bathroom

Your bathroom doesn’t look like transition? Oh.

Before South Beach, I outlined race goals. Instead of focusing on splits—swimming sub-15 minutes, biking sub-1-hr., running sub-32-minutes—I identified specific objectives that could be achieved independent of time. Because I haven’t trained and/or raced on the Pat Griskus course, and because I haven’t raced an Olympic-distance event since Nationals in August, my coach did not give me concrete time goals. Yes, there are still expectations, and with the hope of having a strong performance, I’ve established some goals for Saturday.

Swim solid

Thus far in my triathlon career, there hasn’t been a swim where I’ve laid it all out there and cranked it. Like really cranked it. And honestly, it’s been OK. But based on this season’s training (and #wannabeswimmer status), I can capitalize in the water. It just comes down to dialing into my solid/race pace; swimming steady won’t suffice anymore.

Bike “like a dude”

During Sunday’s ride, my coach told me I looked strong and “biked like a dude.” Before going all feminist on him, I asked what that statement meant. And apparently, it equates to not wussing out and getting dropped. Neither of which happened, by the way.

pat-griskus-bike-course-elevation-profile

So brutal. And even though it’s hilly, I’ll race on my Slice.

And it can’t happen here either.

Looking back on SoBe, I rode too conservatively; there was a lot of cruising and not enough stinging. Saturday will be different, though. It’s all about being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Run smart

I mean, duh. Let’s establish a few factors: it’s a two-loop course that promises to be hot and hilly. And even though my run has been slowly improving, it isn’t where I’d like it to be. My fitness is decent, but I don’t know how everything will feel coming off an incredibly hilly bike. The key to these 6.2 miles will be working the negative split—dialing into my pace, then speeding up and trying to hang on.

All right—let’s do it!

Do you set race goals?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 2 (Week 22)

Bizarre. That’s the word that most accurately describes this week. Everything—and everyone—at work and training seemed out of sync. And honestly, I don’t remember the last time I felt this off for a longer (i.e. more than one day) stretch of time. If you read my most recent post, then you know all about it.

cannondale-slice-5-105-ride-river-road

When in doubt, pedal it out.

Moving on.

General training notes: Even though I felt drunk/delirious during 85 percent of this week’s workouts, I nailed key sessions, followed my coach’s instructions, and overall gained confidence going into Pat Griskus. This was by no means a taper week, but that’s what it felt like mentally. Maybe the taper crazies are out of my system so I won’t be a total headcase next week?

Monday – a.m. swim and run

As I mentioned, I felt out of sorts during the swim—like a combination of being drunk/delirious—and I took in a ton of water. A lot of my teammates expressed similar feelings. Anyway, the run after went much better; I dialed into my steady pace, listened to music, and enjoyed the sunny morning.

Tuesday – a.m. brick (bike and run)

Another Tuesday, another outdoor brick. We were instructed to ride easy, complete two Harlem Hill repeats, and run steady off the bike. The pace was frustrating because I wanted to push, but I trust my coach and the process and know there’s a reason he wanted the ride to be easy. The hill repeats ended up being solid efforts, and I even did one standing—and chicked so many dudes, ha! The run went well, too. My coach said to focus on the negative split, so I started off steady and progressed to what will hopefully be my 10-K-off-the-bike-pace. It felt good, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold that pace for 6.2 miles. I guess we’ll see next weekend!

Wednesday – a.m. run and swim

I knew this tempo run would be killer—4×8 minutes at tempo/4 minutes at steady—and it was one of those key workouts I needed to execute. Again, I felt lethargic/inebriated, but everything clicked after the warm-up mile; I hit and held a pace on the fast-end of my tempo range, which gives me confidence for next weekend. Yes, running off the bike is totally different, but if I can make it hurt (check) and be comfortable with being uncomfortable (check), then this bodes well for race day. It ended up being a long-for-me run too at 6.6 miles.

Nothing too interesting to report on the swimming front: Just 2,100 yards with some solid swimming and pulling efforts. And I’m still not the best at counting laps.

Thursday – a.m. swim and recovery run; p.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Even though my morning workouts went well, I felt so out of it—could not shake the hungover feeling. The yardage got logged (3,150), and I had a good four-mile recovery run too. Thankfully, things turned around during the power hour class at Tailwind Endurance. As usual, it was a sufferfest—12x 2 minutes at VO2 max and 2 minutes recovery on erg mode—but I felt much more like myself after the class ended.

Friday – a.m. bike

This was a fun ride: We did one warm-up loop, and then rode in a single-file pace line, and the person on the front chose when to attack, coast, etc. (No one could attack from behind the peloton.) Somehow, I ended up pulling on most of the hills, but that worked to my advantage; I’d rather hammer up hills than on flats. Totally mileage clocked in at 34.

Saturday – off

Sunday – p.m. bike

Wow, these Sunday rides have become my favorite part of the week. A few teammates and I drove to our coach’s house in Connecticut for a hilly, 40-mile ride. Since it was our last solid ride before Pat Griskus, we really cranked it. At one point, we hit a flat, five-mile section, and the five of us took turns pulling. Three cheers for broing out and not getting dropped! Oh, and my coach told me I rode like a guy, which I guess is a compliment? Ha!

How do you bounce back from feeling “off”?

Sympathy Taper Crazies

For whatever reason, I’ve felt off this past week. And it didn’t make sense.

Even though nutrition, workload, and recovery remained constant, there were bizarre feelings popping up during and after training sessions. In the water, I felt dizzy, inebriated, and basically like I had an altered state of mind. And doing flip turns didn’t exactly help. In the saddle, I felt sleepy. Extremely sleepy. Like I could take a nap during hill repeats. And on the run, I felt lethargic. My legs turned over, but it seemed like I was moving in slow motion.

These feelings followed me to work, too, and refused to relent. I’d be writing, typing an email, talking to a coworker—all normal things—when I would zone out and forget what I was doing. I tried to cover it up, but people definitely took note. After all, I’m usually a ball of energy, and folks noticed I wasn’t acting like myself.

Having off days is part of life. One of the deans at my alma mater said to always remember the highs would pass and the lows would pass. This advice became my mantra, and I kept telling myself, “I’ll be more like myself tomorrow,” but when Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday passed without improvement, I wasn’t sure what to think: What is wrong with me?

On Thursday night, I talked to one of the Full Throttle Endurance coaches and explained what had been going on. Yes, I was still bringing it to work and workouts—hey, no excuses—but clearly, I wasn’t 100 percent with it. He had an interesting insight: My next race takes place in one week (ekkk!), but several people are racing this weekend, including teammates I train alongside regularly (like people in my swim lane, in my cycling group, etc.). Perhaps I’m feeling the effects of their taper.

tapering

Ding, ding, ding!

Based on this theory, I have a self-diagnosis:  You know sympathy pains? I’ve been suffering from sympathy taper crazies.

So how come I didn’t experience these side effects last year? Since I trained with the three-day-a-week group, everyone had basically the same race schedule; this meant we would build, taper, and, you guessed it, race together. We synced up.

This season, however, people in the five-day-a-week program have different goal races (short- vs. long-course). And folks follow different training schedules too. For example, my training partners were MIA this week (due to sickness, work obligations, etc.), and when they did attend practice, they didn’t complete the entire workout—because they were tapering.

You can’t let outside factors affect training too much, but it felt weird to log laps in the pool and loops in Central Park without my “normal” people. Yes, I executed my workouts, but everything felt off. And that makes sense since I’m used to spending two-plus hours everyday with these folks, and suddenly I’m not.

Even though physically I seemed fine, it was mentally where problems arose—and those feelings only come when I’m tapering. From Monday through Friday morning, I felt extremely unsettled. Training was getting done, but since my teammates weren’t doing it all with me, it was different; it was fun, but nowhere near as much fun.  I hit a low Thursday night, but my mood slowly shifted after Friday’s ride. Yeah, I still felt off, but I experienced a sense of calmness. I knew everything would be OK and work itself out. It reminded me of the day before a race: trusting my training, remembering I’ve put in the work, and knowing everything will be fine once I get in the water.

Bottom line, my sympathy taper crazies prove I’ve become emotionally attached to Ironman Eagleman 70.3. Which is interesting since I have zero plans to tackle this distance and/or this race specifically … when I do, it will be at Syracuse 70.3. But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, even though this scares me—being so concerned about a race I’m not doing—it shows how close my teammates and I have become.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope I don’t experience back-to-back weeks of taper crazies. T-minus one week until Pat Griskus!

Have you experienced sympathy pains, stress, etc.?

I Mean …

Oomph. This has been the longest, strangest week. And it’s only Wednesday. Everything has seemed off—both at practice and at work. Are the tides changing?

Happy National Running Day!

national-running-day-jackrabbit-sports

Just being a model (again) and hamming it up at work.

If using a crockpot during the summer is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

crockpot-latin-chicken

Chicken has returned to the rotation thanks to this recipe. I made some swaps—chicken breasts instead of thighs, one can of black beans and one cup of quinoa instead of two cups of black beans, all the sweet potatoes, etc.—and I highly recommend this meal if you like Mexican/Latin flavors. So good.

Speaking of food, almond butter and jelly has been my, erm, jam. Before every bike workout, I toast a waffle and layer on this combo. I’m a little kid at heart.

… and I’m a little kid who can’t count. During swim workouts, I can keep track of laps up to 200 yards, but then all is lost. If the actual swimmers have any tips, then I’m all ears. #wannabeswimmer

Somehow, I end up in charge during workouts. Even though I got bumped up a cycling group, I’m definitely on the brink—meaning I’m the slowest and hanging on for dear life—but everyone turns to me: “Carrie, what’s the workout? Carrie, when do we attack? Carrie, should we be sitting or standing for these climbs?” It’s amusing because (1) I’m the youngest, and (2) I’m the least experienced. Yes, this happens during swim and run too, but who would’ve thought I’d be captaining my bike group? Certainly not me.

All I want is a maxi dress that actually touches the floor. I went shopping on Thursday and tried on all the clothes, but could not find one acceptable dress. You’re to blame, swimming shoulders and cycling legs.

I don’t blog about work a ton, but it’s going well. However, in recent weeks, I’ve been struggling to maintain a work/life balance. My schedule is unique (I’m off Thursdays and Sundays), which makes it tough to leave work at work, especially during the week. When I was the editor of my college’s newspaper, I trouble pressing “stop”—signing off email, taking a break from editing articles, and leaving the computer suite even though the InDesign layout wasn’t complete. I’m hardwired to work hard—if you’re going to do it, then really do it and give it 150 percent—and this is a blessing and a curse. I need to figure out how to “power down,” and I hope changing my work schedule will help.

How do you “unplug” after work?