Monthly Archives: December 2014

My 2014 Running and Triathloning Recap

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends! Can you believe it’s that time again? Wowza, 2014 flew by. But before saying goodbye to this bittersweet year, I want to reflect on some awesome, pivotal, and memorable swimming, biking, and running moments.

Best race experience

Given the number of triathlons I did in 2014, this surprised me: The Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

jackrabbit-usq-philadelphia

Pre-race cold temperatures and throwaway clothes. Good times with good friends.

Not only was it the actual race-day experience—feeling invincible for 12.5 miles, seeing a bunch of funny signs and cute spectators, hanging out with friends and family during the weekend—but it was also the pre-race preparation. I’ve talked about my running progression, but Coach Pat really dialed in the plan; I crushed key workouts, felt prepared, and simply exuded calm confidence. Above all, everything lined up on race day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. And now I want to go 1:45 (let’s be real, 1:40), which speaks volumes: I want to run more and faster miles!

Best swim

Total no-brainer: swimming in Mirror Lake during Ironman Lake Placid weekend.

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The course, the atmosphere, everything that comprises Placid is magical. Being there always ends up being a highpoint of the triathlon season and overall year, and I’m already looking forward to going back for another Sherpa stint in 2015.

Best bike

Rather than wax and wane about nearly perfect training rides, I’ll simply say my bike split at Nationals best exemplifies progress: In 2013, I logged a 1:17; in 2014, I rode a 1:10. That’s seven minutes shaved off.

cannondale-slice-5-105-womens-nationals

I have no pictures of me doing work on the Slice. Womp, womp.

And yes, some of that time can be attributed to equipment upgrades (tri bike, race wheels, aero helmet), but most is sheer improvement. To me, that’s what this sport is all about.

Best run

Aside from the abovementioned 12.5 miles of bliss, one that sticks out is the 10-K I ran off the bike in Stamford.

stamford-kic-it-triathlon-run2

Hot outta T-2!

That’s my standalone and off-the-bike 10-K PR, and more importantly, I felt comfortably uncomfortable the entire time—and felt in control. I’ve also had some great training runs—both steady where I’ve pushed the pace a bit and long where I’ve chilled out—but that 6.2 miles off the bike is what I’ll be chasing in 2015: the split (I want to go faster!) and the feeling.

Best piece of new gear

Since I actually raced on it this year—my Slice! Yes, it’s all about the engine in endurance sports, but the tri bike set-up has been a game changer. I’ve been able to ride stronger and faster, plus run better off the bike. Now about that power meter …

Best piece of running/triathloning advice you received

Nothing newsworthy: trust your training, trust the process, listen to your body. But these messages resonated with me this year thanks to knowledgeable coaches (looking at you, Coach Pat!) and trustworthy teammates.

Most inspirational runner

I’m totally pulling the sap card: I train and work with some phenomenal people who also happen to run, and they inspire me to keep pushing, keep improving, and keep striving for that perfect race.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Memorable, nearly perfect.

2014-west-side-highway-nyc

In terms of training and racing, I really couldn’t have asked for a better year. Sure, I powered through some not-so-great showings, but for the most part, I’m happy with how the cards fell. On the non-triathlon front, it was a challenging, yet rewarding year (#vagueblogging #sorryimnotsorry), and bottom line, I’m amped for 2015.

What is your best, most memorable moment from 2014?

Training Log – Week of Dec. 22 (Week 50)

Leisurely mornings are officially over.

2014-christmas-morning-by-the-tree

I’ve spent the past week at home, working remotely, running last-minute Christmas errands, and hanging out with my family. This is the longest I’ve been back in the Syracuse area since college, and it’s been absolute bliss. Even though I had a long to-do list basically every day, my time at home seemed relatively leisurely—probably because I didn’t have to cram everything into a three-day time frame.

2014-christmas-on-the-lake

Until next year, Christmas bliss. It’s back to the Big Apple—and back to reality.

General training notes: This was far from a stellar training week. Whether it was leaving my foam roller in NYC, wearing the same pair of shoes all week (which I never do), or yolo-ing on holiday treats and booze, my legs felt absolutely trashed. The runs got logged, but I didn’t feel strong during any of them; I struggled to hit paces and turn over my legs during easy runs. It’s been a while since I’ve had a tougher week of workouts, and with any sport, it’s a question of “when,” not “if.” And that’s OK. I’ll take a series of not-so-great workouts for quality family time any day.

Monday – a.m. run and strength training

Easy four miles on snowy trails, plus upper-body strength training and corework

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim

No true speedwork this week, but Coach Pat made sure I wouldn’t slack off: five miles with two-minute pickups every four minutes sandwiched between a 10-min. warm-up and cool-down. And what was the CNY weather like you ask? Mild. I’m talking 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But then there was freezing rain so … never a dull moment. That afternoon, I hit the local college pool for 1,500 yards. The two highpoints included an oldster telling me I would’ve made an excellent rower and seeing a local swimming/triathlon super legit athlete do his thing in the water.

Wednesday – a.m. swim

Another easy-ish swim in my local yokel pool: 1,900 yards, and I actually swam 300 yards straight. It wasn’t pretty, and this was a kick-in-the-pants reminder I need to ramp up my swim volume and endurance.

Thursday – a.m. run

The fact I ran seven miles on Christmas morning in 40-degree weather … with basically no snow … am I really in Upstate New York?

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. run

Easy four miles before getting coffee with my cousin and seeing Hairspray with family

Sunday – off

Do you find it more difficult to maintain your workout routine during the holidays?

Training Log – Week of Dec. 15 (Week 49)

Woof, what a week: doin’ work at work and trying not to get sick. The work got done, and aside from the coughing and snot-rocketing early in the week (TMI?), I think the worst is over. Now it’s time to (semi-) relax and enjoy the holidays!

5th-annual-fun-and-sexy-run

And run down 5th Avenue and sing Christmas carols and raise fun and sexy awareness for our 5th Annual Fun and Sexy Run. Search #JP2014 on Facebook and Instagram for some gems. You’re welcome.

General training notes: I didn’t feel so great at the beginning of the week, but things have slowly turned around. When I’m sick, I sometimes back off a bit, but since I’m home for the next week, I really wanted to log a solid series of workouts. As I type this Sunday afternoon, I’m still not 100 percent, but it’s nothing to lose sleep over.

Monday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

One easy mile with BoMF and four “official” ones. Post-work swim during which one coach accused me of “secret training.” Hey, it isn’t secret if you saw me!

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training

Coach Pat had me do a real “runner’s” workout: 4×1000. Who knew 1000s existed? Even though I hit the splits, I couldn’t believe how gassed (cardio-wise) I felt after the third and fourth repeat. He did say my lungs would hurt before my legs, but still … I don’t know how I wound up in the red, but it hurt in a good way.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Still entering the VO2 paincave in an effort to up my FTP. We built, we maintained, we recovered, we pushed the VO2 max envelop … it hurt, but there were a lot of watts.

Thursday – a.m. run and strength training

Easy, accidentally too fast seven miles, plus some corework and fun stuff with Therabands.

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

No nonsense erg mode workout: after warming up for 10 minutes, we faced 11 intervals—120 percent VO2 max for two minutes, two minutes recovery. The final three were brutal, and on the bright side, the coach thinks I’ll be able to race at 250 watts come August. Holy junk!

Saturday – off

Sunday – a.m. run and strength training

Worst run I’ve had in a while. My legs felt heavy, and I couldn’t settle into a rhythm; my splits varied by about a minute. I felt incredibly frustrated—so afterward, I lifted some heavy things and carefully set them back down.

Do your workouts change when you’re sick? How do you know when to back off or push through?

Training Log – Week of Dec. 8 (Week 48)

Anyone else need a weekend to recover from this weekend? It’s the holiday (party) season, which meant making the rounds Friday and Saturday night.

2014-christmas-party-wine-holder

Wine bottle holder becomes an ornament

Hey, gotta give the people what they want, right?

General training notes: Hmm, “weird” would be the word to describe this week. The workouts got done, but I felt off the entire time; my head didn’t seem to be in it, and I was definitely going through the motions.

Monday – a.m. run

Four “unofficial” miles with BoMF and four “official ones”

Tuesday – a.m. run

So much #FireOnTheTrack: 12×400 with one-minute rest. Two teammates did these with me, and it was awesome to have them help hold me accountable. It was also nice to see progress: During the season, the three of us were about the same speed; during this workout, my splits were faster, and I felt less gassed overall. After work, I mindlessly spun out for 20 minutes.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Surprise, surprise: lots of VO2 max efforts. In the saddle, leg strength—not stamina—is proving to be my limiter now, which means it’s time to start ramping up the bike volume.

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

“Long run” of 6.5 miles, plus corework and pushups. Hit the pool after work for a 1,300-yd. recovery swim.

Saturday – a.m. swim and strength train

I’ll take it as a good sign the masters swim team asked me to join their workout. But I’m still rocking the #wannabeswimmer status and sticking to short, 2,000-yd. swims. Lots of corework and fun with Therabands after.

Sunday – a.m. run

For the record, drinking red wine and straightening my hair may become my new MO—because this run was awesome! (Maybe curls provide too much drag?) I settled into a pace slightly faster than steady for 45 minutes, but it felt sustainable. I also feel like my stride is opening up and becoming longer. Does that make sense, runners?

Do you have any unconventional methods (like straightening your hair the night before for holiday parties) that make your workouts that much better?

Training Log – Week of Dec. 1 (Week 47)

Let’s call it like it is: I spent the weekend catching up on life—running for errands, shopping for groceries, etc.—and binge-watching House of Cards. In my defense, it was raining Saturday, which meant the weather was ideal for cleaning and getting sucked into a Netflix-original series. I regret nothing.

house-of-cards-someecards

Full disclosure:  I have watched it before.

General training notes: This week marked a new running block. Basically my mileage has been lower the past few weeks. However, as the month progresses, it will increase gradually. Case in point: my long run spanned six miles (usually 10), and my steady run lasted 40 minutes (usually 45). And as I mentioned yesterday, my swimming and biking will start to ramp up as well and finding mileage/volume “sweet spots” will be a trial and error process.

Monday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

Five “unofficial” miles with BoMF and four “official” easy ones. In what is becoming a normal occurrence, I swam after work: 1,200 with some tech and solid 100s. For whatever reason, the pool’s water level was extremely low, which make for some interesting flipturns (forever #wannabeswimmer).

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. bike

Serious #FireOnTheTrack: 4×1200. And I hit my splits and didn’t feel like I was totally going to die. (Does that mean I didn’t push enough?) A teammate hopped in for some 400s and 800s, and she definitely held me accountable for the final 400. In total, the workout ended up being 5.5 miles with a warm-up and cool down. I did some light upper-body stuff after. And since Syracuse had a game, I spun out on my indoor trainer.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Back on the bike! Lots of increasing, VO2 max intervals—think VO2 max, then 20 watts above VO2 max, then 20 watts about that.

Thursday – a.m. run and corework

Six easy miles followed by my first game of pick-up basketball in four years (one word: exhausting) and corework with a few teammates.

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Who knew straightening my hair and drinking white wine 12 hours before a CompuTrainer class would actually lead to a good ride? The 75-minute erg workout included intervals of various lengths and intensities, and although they were supposed to be based on FTP wattages, mine felt more like a “sweet spot,” aka I need to test and get new numbers.

Saturday – a.m. swim and strength train

Who goes to the gym on a Saturday? Apparently quite a few of my Full Throttle Endurance teammates, which was obviously news to me because I never go there on the weekend. Anyway, I swam 1,600 yards and did some pre-brunch upper-body strength training and corework.

Sunday – a.m. run and corework

Incredible 40-minute steady run, plus plenty of planks

What’s the last show you’ve binge-watched on Netflix? (Looking for some recommendations here because we know it will only take a few days to rewatch House of Cards.)

My Thoughts on Running

Seeing as how I’ve been running all the (pain- and injury-free) miles this off-season, I finally gathered my thoughts and wrote about running all the (pain- and injury-free) miles. I’m always game to talk watts, but let’s talk … splits? Miles? Paces? Hey, I’m still learning.

white-thanksgiving-2014

From Thanksgiving: A slow and snowy run back home.  On the bright side, the dicey conditions ensured I ran easy.

When my triathlon season ended in August, I took about a week off before I started making off-season moves. Hey, it’s the off-season not the soft season. Anyway, as I briefly mentioned in my Philadelphia Half-Marathon recap, I needed to tackle my run head-on. During the season, it was all about minimizing this Achilles heel—laying down a solid swim-bike combo so a blazing-fast run wouldn’t be necessary. But still, my run wasn’t where it needed to be, which became evident at Nationals. And I “age up” next year, which means stiffer competition—which also means a faster run is necessary.

Plus, not only did I need to shave off time, but I also needed to reformulate how I thought about the run. Biking became my favorite (watts, watts, watts!), and running suffered. I dreaded it, and my mentally further fueled this bias: ‘Why run when you can bike? … It’s fun to go fast! … you have to set yourself up on the bike, so I should bike more …’ You get the picture.

Aside from running more (than 12 miles a week, which is so low it’s not even funny), I had no idea how to structure my run-specific training. Sure, logging more miles was step one, but in terms of speedwork, tempo runs, those types of crucial sessions, I was totally lost. Obviously, it became clear improvement would go hand-in-hand with a coach, so I enlisted Patrick Hammond (the Great). We’re friends and coworkers, and he started Educated Running. Not to mention he has triathlon experience and wins races. Sign me up!

london-bridging

Some coworkers “London Bridging” out of the store before Philly.  You can’t hear the cheering, but trust me–it was awesome.

Overall, since becoming an Educated Runner, every aspect of my run has improved: how I run, how I view the run, and how I think during the run. Every run has a purpose, and I’m getting better at executing workouts. This proved especially tough when I first started working with Coach Pat in September; as we built my base, I wanted to run faster than prescribed—but I trusted the process. This is common sense, but I’ve learned to take the easy days easy, and I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable on the tough days. After all, that’s where the magic happens. Along these lines, recovery and injury-prevention have an increased focus: I do dynamic stretches, I foam roll, and I get monthly sports massages. I’m a runner now!

Above all, I run with purpose. I look forward to running. I stay mentally focused—which has been huge. Running more means more experience working through those “character-building” outings and ultimately becoming strong enough to limit the mental breakdowns.

Triathlon training starts next month, which will shake things up a bit: Official team workouts will resume, but I will continue working with Coach Pat. I’ve improved so much during the past few months so it would be crazy to change that part of the equation. Honestly, I’m not totally sure how my workouts will be structured (read: balanced) in 2015; my current bike volume needs to increase, and I will be running more than 12 miles per week. And for the time being, I think swimming twice a week will be OK.

Bottom line, 2015 will be the year of the run—and hopefully, I can find the illusive balance to execute a solid bike-run combo in Milwaukee.

To paraphrase the words of Haruki Murakami, what do you think about when you think about running?