Monthly Archives: February 2015

NYRR Al Gordon 4 Mile Recap

On Saturday morning, I hopped aboard the Brooklyn-bound subway for a little four miler in Prospect Park.

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Mangled bib … from running so fast?

Even though I wanted to do well, this race served as a training check-in point. Throughout the past six months, I’ve been working with Coach Pat to get my run dialed in, and for the past four months or so, I’ve been doing legitimate speed workouts. And yes, I did the Philadelphia Half-Marathon in November, but the Al Gordon 4 Mile event is clearly more in-line with the distances I’ll be covering as a short-course triathlete this season.

Shorter means faster, and when Coach Pat passed along the race pacing plan, I freaked out at first: ‘Coach Pat, you want me to go fast!’ But we talked it through and identified some key facts: training has gone extremely well, I’m developing at a great rate, etc. Above all, I trust Coach Pat. He’s not going to steer me in the wrong direction, and if he lays out an aggressive goal with seemingly fast-for-me splits, then he clearly believes in me—and I trust his plan. Plus, this was an exciting opportunity to see how much I’ve improved and see how precisely I could execute.

The race itself was a blur for the most part. Miles one and two (7:38 and 7:27) came and went pretty quickly, and even though both were a few seconds slower than the targeted splits, I remained calm. My brain remained “off” for the entire race, and shortly after mile two, everything clicked: it felt like a second wave of energy surged through my body. Muscle memory took over, and my legs began turning over even faster. ‘Smooth and strong. Smooth and strong.’ Cardiowise, the pace felt effortless. And when I looked down at my watch and saw 6:57 (mile three was 7:07), I could not believe it. ‘Just wait until Coach Pat hears about this!’ I tried not to become emotionally attached to the number and focused on the feeling instead: I was excited, I was happy, and I was grinning like a moron. ‘I LOVE RUNNING! THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!’ I felt like I was flying, and from miles two to 3.5, I caught that elusive, invincible feeling. And it was awesome.

I rode that high until mile 3.5 when my legs started screaming. That lactic acid buildup burned, and even though I associated this good type of pain with speedwork, I’m still building the leg strength and mental race game to work through it. (I know how to process it on the bike, which is because I have more experience on the bike. And Coach Pat says more VO2 max workouts will help too.) So I rode the pain train for the last half-mile, and my pace slowed, but I still eked out a 30:17.

So what am I thinking overall? I’m satisfied. I executed pretty well and posted a decent time. And I had so much fun. Above all, this outing gives me confidence heading into triathlon season. My opening miles felt incredibly sustainable, so hopefully this translates to solid miles off the bike.

What’s your favorite distance to race?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 16 (Week 7)

Nothing super new to report over here.

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Just another cold, snowy week.

General training notes: As everyone knows (and experienced most likely), this was a cold, cold week. Freezing temperatures and tons of snow by NYC standards added a wrinkle to my running workouts, but everything still got done.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. run

Originally, I planned to run before hitting the bike, but the “feels like” temperature notched in at negative 17 degrees Fahrenheit, so I opted to stay inside and work for an hour. (Nothing like firing off work emails at 5 a.m.!) At Tailwind, 3×10-min. blocks comprised our ride with varying sweet spot and threshold intervals.

Even though it was President’s Day, I ended up going into work, but I was able to sneak away that afternoon for an easy 4.5 miler. For the first time in a while, I ran with a friend (Coach Pat gave me the a-OK) and remembered how much fun it is to run with other people.

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

Three cheers for my first hill workout! Coach Pat assigned 10 Cat Hill repeats this week. The first five were a little dicey. The roads hadn’t been plowed, so I slowed my pace to be cautious. Thankfully, a snowplow came through, so repeats six-10 were locked in.

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Snowy hill repeats for breakfast, mmmm

At Masters, well, let’s say playtime is over. I moved up a lane, which means I’m officially in the middle of the masters pack. We started with a 6×75 kick set, which should’ve been a warning sign. By some miracle, I hung on for dear life and completed 9×100: repeats one-three were 50 hard, 50 easy; four-six were 75 hard, 25 easy; and seven-nine were 100 hard. Total distance was 2,550m.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

The power hour workout seemed unintimidating, but it ended up being a real leg-buster: We faced two blocks (15 and 12 minutes), which contained various tempo, threshold, and VO2 max intervals. The goal was to change our output by changing our cadence first (for example, I didn’t shift when building from tempo to threshold), then add gear (but I did for threshold to VO2 max). Overall, I’ve been feeling really good on the bike, so hopefully this translates to a solid power test in two weeks.

Thursday – a.m. run; p.m. swim

Pretty OK long run in Central Park. My legs took forever to loosen up (it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit), but once I got to mile six, it was smooth sailing.

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Keep doing you, Central Park.

After work, I went to the pool for an easy 2,100 yards. I modified Tuesday’s masters swim workout by doing some tech work, pulling for 6×100, and then swimming easy for 50.

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

In hopes of having a solid showing Saturday, I took it easy at Tailwind. While the rest of the athletes tackled a bunch of VO2 max intervals on erg mode, I spun out and hung out at my sweet spot. My legs felt pretty fresh.

SaturdayNYRR Al Gordon 4 Miler; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

I haven’t decided if I’ll write a full-fledged recap of the Al Gordon 4 Miler, but it went pretty well. Coach Pat mapped out an aggressive race plan, and my initial reaction was, “Coach Pat, that’s fast!” After talking it through, I realized if everything lined up, I could execute and run that fast (for me); but if I didn’t hit the target time, Coach Pat said it was important not to feel discouraged because we are still building speed for the tri season, we were not targeting this event as an “A” race, etc. Anyway, my official time was 30:17 (wahhh, 7:35 min./mi., who am I?!), which was about 45 seconds slower than our projected time. But I threw down a 7:07 in there, and it gives me confidence for running off the bike in a few short months.

After recovering at brunch with butternut squash soup, blueberry muffins, and a bunch of waffles, I logged 3,400m with Bearcat Masters. We did a ton of IM stuff, so I seeded myself in one of the slower lanes. But there were some positives: I got to lead the lane; I got called a distance swimmer; and the coach said I could’ve made the intervals of the lane above me.

Sunday – off

Did the cold weather affect your workout plans this week?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 9 (Week 6)

It seems like I say this all the time … but how can February be more than halfway over?

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Social media planning, V-Day cookies, Triathlete magazine … this is my #workflow.

Slow the heck down, 2015!

General training notes: Overall, this was a wacky week. I planned to do the Cherry Tree 10 Miler on Sunday, but it was cancelled due to projected cold temperatures and sustained winds. And since this would’ve been a solid progression run, Coach Pat had me back off Tuesday’s speedwork, Thursday’s long run (obviously), and Saturday’s usual masters swim. (And Wednesday also became a rest day.) Basically, this ended up being an easier week.

Monday – a.m. run and CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 4.5 miles on the West Side Highway with freezing rain before heading to Tailwind for a threshold power hour ride: 4×7-minute efforts. To make it interesting, we added gear and decreased cadence from minutes 3-4 to simulate hill climbing. Even though my ideal RPM is 90-93, I’m becoming comfortable and efficient “grinding it out” at 80-85 when necessary.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

As outlined above, Coach Pat gave me an easier speed workout: 7×500 at tempo pace. I had to make a conscious effort to slow down in order to execute the prescribed splits, and yeah, it was tough—but I reminded myself Sunday would be the real workout, and that’s when I’d get to push the pace (relatively speaking anyway). I had some fun with weights, Therabands, and corework after.

At Bearcat Masters, shorter sets—lots of 25m sprints, 50m kicks, and 75-100m at race pace—comprised our 2,450m workout. And I learned a new drill (sailboat) and even got to lead one of the sets! Even though I’ll rock the #wannabeswimmer status for a while, I do plan to move up a lane next week. I’ve had the chance to get my fins wet (ha!), see the format of workouts, and determine the average pace of the lane. (OK, so I honestly don’t know how fast I’ve been swimming, especially since I’m used to putting everything in terms of yards, but I do know it hasn’t been super challenging for me to make our intervals.)

Wednesday – off

Originally, I planned to do a power hour ride at Tailwind, but it was cancelled. (They’re in the process of moving/expanding.) However, given Sunday’s race, this ended up being a good day to rest.

Thursday – a.m. run

Five easy and uneventful miles on the West Side Highway

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Let’s keep it short and sweet: “You executed pretty damn perfectly,” the coach told me afterward. BOOM. We rode a 16-mile course with varying hill lengths and gradients with the goal of holding VO2 max on the hills and recovering on the flats.

Saturday – a.m. swim with Full Throttle Endurance and strength train

Even though I’m one of the slower ones at Bearcat practices, it’s still crazy for me to think I’m the fastest at these triathlete swims. Being in charge of the fast lane is a nice confidence boost—and it comes with added responsibility of pacing and keeping the lane on track—but I would much rather be challenged as the caboose at masters. In total, I logged 3,000 yards and then spent about 40 minutes doing strength training and corework.

SundayCherry Tree 10 Miler a.m. run

Womp, womp—I was so pumped for the Cherry Tree 10 Miler! Yes, because there were post-race brunch plans, but more so because I wanted to execute Coach Pat’s pace plan. Unfortunately, the race for the hardcore threatened to be too hardcore, but I still got my 10 miles done.

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You never let me down, Central Park.

It’s all about layering, folks!

Have you ever signed up for a race or event that was eventually cancelled?

My 2015 Triathlon/Race Schedule (So Far)

All right folks—let’s talk watts races. It’s no secret I’m a type-A person, and needless to say, my 2015 race schedule has been solidified for quite some time. I’ll be repeating a handful of favorite tris, and after talking with Coach Pat, I even registered for a few road races. As you’ll see, this calendar goes through August. I’d love to do another run-focused block and target a few fall half-marathons, but that will depend on how the tri season goes and how I’m feeling mid-August (hence the “so far” part of the title).

NYRR Al Gordon 4 Miler

Date: Saturday, Feb. 21

Distance: 4 miles

Priority: Uhhh

I finally, finally bit the bullet and became a member of New York Road Runners. (File this under “things that happen when you work at a running store.”) At first glance, this seems like a weird pick: four miles (as opposed to the more standard 5- and 10-K distance) in Brooklyn. But, I chose it strategically. At the South Beach Triathlon (see below), I’ll do the classic distance, which contains a four-mile run. Obviously the conditions will be different, but I want to use this race as an opportunity to see what I can piece together on a hilly-ish course. At the very least, it will give me a ballpark time to shoot for in SoBe.

NYRR 10-K Spring Melt Down

Date: Sunday, March 29

Distance: 10-K

Priority: Uhhh

Like the four miler, this 10-K will serve as a training check-in point; seeing how fast I can go will not only be a confidence boost, but it will also be a good gauge of what I can run off the bike as the tri racing season progresses.

South Beach Triathlon

Date: Sunday, April 19

Distance: Classic—0.5-mile ocean swim, 19-mile bike, 4-mile run

Priority: “C” race

I mean, obviously. Thanks to this race, I find myself excited to start training in January. Plus, this will also be the first tri where I race in my new age group (25-29), so I’m mentally prepared to be a small fish in a big pond and to get my butt handed to me. Goals may change come April, but right now, SoBe will serve as a training check-in point, specifically in terms of my bike and run fitness. I’d love to crush this course—smoke the bike and unload on the run—but we’ll see how training progresses. Plus, no one is trying to peak in April.

Mighty Montauk Triathlon

Date: Saturday, June 13

Distance: Olympic (1-mi. swim, 22-mi. bike, 6.2-mi. run)

Priority: “B” race

Mighty Montauk got nixed last year for Pat Griskus, a race I have no desire to ever do again (much like the NYC Tri). Anyway, I’m hoping to round up a group of teammates and turn this into a long weekend. And like SoBe, this will be another training check-in point in which running a solid 6.2 miles off a hilly bike will be the primary goal.

Stamford KIC It Triathlon

Date: Sunday, June 28

Distance: Olympic

Priority: “B” race

Again, this is a definite “duh.” I’ve done this race the past two years for a slew of reasons: it’s extremely organized and well-run; it’s only 45 minutes or so outside of the city; and it has the best volunteers and post-race food. I mean, there was iced coffee last year. Most likely, this will be my final tune-up before the Big Dance in August, so executing a solid, all-around race will be the goal.

USAT Age Group Nationals – Milwaukee

Date: Saturday, Aug. 8

Distance: Olympic

Priority: “A” race

Third time’s the charm! I cannot wait to take on this course with another year of training and experience. The unofficial motto is #Hammerfest2015. (Thanks, Victoria!) It’s a long way off, so no concrete goals have been made yet—except for going faster than last year, of course.

Cazenovia Triathlon

Date: Sunday, Aug. 23

Distance: Sprint—0.5-mi. swim, 14-mi. bike, 3.1-mi. run

Priority: “C” race

Unexpected, yes. Totally psyched, also yes. If you’ve been reading a while, then you may remember this was my first triathlon ever, a.k.a. the race that started it all. The past two years, it overlapped with Nationals, but not this time. I’m pumped to return to my hometown and take on the same course with three years of structured training. To me, this sport centers on relentless progress forward, and I cannot wait to see the improvement across the disciplines.

I also signed up for the Prospect Park Cherry Tree 10 Miler (Feb. 15) as a long run; Coach Pat says we’ll make it a “fun workout.” Other races on the radar include Rock the River 5-K (May 3), the bike-run-bike training day I’ve done for the past two years and Hopkins Vineyard Triathlon (July 18), which will be tough to swing because it’s the day before the NYC Triathlon. And after tri season ends, I’ll definitely do the Philadelphia Half (Nov. 22) again, and a few friends also signed up for the Wineglass Half (Oct. 4), so that’s on the table too.

Let’s do it big in 2015!

What does your race schedule look like so far?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Feb. 2 (Week 5)

Well, it’s officially official: I “aged up” this week.

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Back in the day, I wore “25” for field-hockey, basketball, and softball; it’s my lucky number, and it feels pretty good so far!

General training notes: Overall, this ended up being an extremely solid training week. My swimming motivation has finally returned. (Big news: read below!) Cycling in general has started to feel like it is second nature again. And Coach Pat has the run dialed in. As far as training groups go, I’m in the middle of a transition. More on that in a minute.

Monday – a.m. run and CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

I tried to run outside, but the sidewalks packed way too much slush, so I retreated to the ‘mill for 4.5 easy miles. At Tailwind, we did a bunch of sweet spot and VO2 max efforts of varying times and cadence prescriptions. Slowly but surely, my cycling legs are returning.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

At first glance, Coach Pat’s speedwork didn’t look too bad: 3×400, 1 mile, 2×400. I executed the 400s according to plan, but started the mile too aggressively. I was able to hold the pace through 800, but I could feel myself tanking on the third and fourth lap. We talked afterward about execution, mental toughness, and how to stay positive even when the pace plan goes out the window. Bottom line, I have it on the bike—because I have more experience on the bike. When the pain sets in, I know how to process it; I know it’s normal and sustainable. I’m not quite there with the run yet.

And yes, you read that correctly: I survived my first masters swim workout! One of my work friends swims with Baruch College’s Bearcat Masters team, and he’s been on me for a while to join. (And other trusted individuals have said if I want to continue improving on the swim, then registering for a masters program is the next step.) I finally put on my big-girl pants, emailed the head coach (with the subject line/disclaimer “triathlete at masters swim”), and held my own in the water—in the second-slowest lane. (More detailed post coming soon.) Talk about humbling. But, it was the best swim workout I’ve ever done, and endorphin surges kept me from falling asleep that night. Needless to say, I’m officially a U.S. Masters Swimming member—and an official member of the Bearcats Masters team (but probably still a #wannabeswimmer).

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Another humbling workout. During this hill, FTP-focused ride, I wanted to maintain a lower cadence (around 80 RPM) because it felt smoother, and I felt more powerful. But after the first two intervals (0.25 and 0.5 mi. with three-percent grades), the coach wanted to me switch to the small ring, increase my cadence (to my normal 93-95 RPMs), and generate the same amount of power. The science behind it makes sense: higher cadence equals less lactic acid build-up, which in turn should lead to a better run. I didn’t like this approach because my heart rate got jacked up, and I didn’t feel strong—but I did maintain my power output, so that was good.

Thursday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

Effortless nine-mile run in Central Park …

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Which was a perfect way to turn 25!

And in honor of my quarter-century birthday, I swam 2,500 yards after work.

Friday – a.m. brick workout (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance, run on Finish Line PT treadmill)

Friday Funday saw my first brick of the 2015 campaign—and it went well! One of the Tailwind coaches suggested I start doing these bike-then-immediately-run workouts, and as per Coach Pat’s advice, I completed 45 minutes of VO2 max intervals on the bike and then hopped on the treadmill for two solid miles. Overall it was a huge confidence boost: the bike workout was tough, and I held a respectable pace on the run—and it felt sustainable. Sure, my legs were a bit confused, but it’s great to know my engine is getting primed to do work.

Saturday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Steady, 45-minute run—which felt amazing because I didn’t swim beforehand. Then I lifted some heavy things and set them back down. After brunch, I went to my second Bearcat Masters swim where I survived 4×200 IM (although I had to ask the actual swimmers the IM progression) and practiced diving! (The coach says I’ll be ready to go off the blocks next week!) This practice totally took me out of my comfort zone, but that’s how improvement happens. In total, we logged 3,200 meters/3,500 yards, which is most likely my longest swim ever.

Sunday – off

As you may have noticed, there is no mention of training with my team. I don’t want to discuss this decision in-depth, but I will say my training philosophy has changed throughout the past few months. And bottom line, where I am now (physically, mentally, etc.) does not match up with where the team is right now. I will still attend team races and race for the team, but I’ll be following a “piecemeal” approach to training: swimming with the (Bearcat Masters) swimmers, biking with my buddies at Tailwind, and running under Coach Pat’s guidance.

How have your strengths/weaknesses changed over the years?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of Jan. 26 (Week 4)

Woah there, 2015. I need you to slow down.

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How can it be February already?

General training notes: As the fourth week of official training, this span would normally be a recovery week. And aside from Tuesday’s speedwork and Friday’s CompuTrainer class, my workouts didn’t demand an incredible amount of volume or intensity. I even saw my go-to sports massage person for a painful, but much needed flush-out. Gotta jumpstart the recovery process because I’m not going to be 24 forever!

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. run

Adding an extra power hour CompuTrainer class worked well last week, and I need to ramp up the biking volume anyway, so another opportunity to make watts it is. The workout itself wasn’t incredibly taxing—just another over-gear/strength-building ride—but I still sweat buckets. Pending Winter Storm Juno derailed my plans to run easy outside, but I hit the ‘mill after work for an easy 4.5 miles while listening to the #RRP.

Tuesday – p.m. run

“Winter Storm Juno” shut down the entire city, so I enjoyed a leisurely morning, went out to lunch with some friends, and finally made it to the gym around 4 p.m. Note to self: Do not attempt to do speedwork during the afternoon. Coach Pat’s 5x1000s were tough; repeats one, two, and three were on pace, but I fizzled out on the fourth and fifth. Womp, womp. But that’s how you get better.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Thanks to the strength/over gear work we’ve been doing at Tailwind, I’m starting to not totally hate maintaining a slow-for-me cadence. Earl mapped out our gear progression (75-80-85-90-95 RPMs) with the goal of increasing every 30 seconds for the first interval, increasing every minute for the second, and every 1:30 for the third. And then we did every minute and every 30 seconds again. Funny enough, the more comfortable I become “mashing” (at 75-85 RPMs), the stronger I feel when I finally get to the 90-95 RPM blocks.

Thursday – a.m. run and p.m. swim

Nine-mile long-run in Central Park

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And since we were celebrating Art Night at work, I was able to sneak away during the afternoon for a short and sweet 1,000 yards in the pool.

Friday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

It was so unfortunate erg mode wasn’t working properly (can you sense my sarcasm?), so we did a VO2-focused workout instead: 4×3 minutes @ VO2 max with three minutes rest; 4×2 minutes @ VO2 max+ with 3 minutes rest. A new-to-me-instructor (who was awesome) coached the workout, and he really got me to focus on building through the efforts. Basically, if you paced this workout right, your final VO2 max average should be the same or slightly greater than your first one (because you didn’t go out too hard). Don’t worry; I’m not obsessing over the numbers—but it was awesome to see my final averages and how they matched up to what I was feeling.

Saturday – a.m. swim with Full Throttle Endurance, run, and strength train

Another solid Saturday Funday that saw 2,250 yards in the pool, 45 minutes steady on the treadmill, plus some weights and basketball. And homemade brunch.

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And bacon.

Sunday – off

Overall, I’m happy with how this first official month of training has progressed. As far as the swim goes, I’m making moves to remotivate myself (#vagueblogging), which basically means I’ll be in the water with different folks. Getting my cycling legs back has been a touch-and-go process, but I’m finally feeling “at one” with the bike again. And the run has gone extremely well; it’s becoming easier to shut off my brain, find the rhythm, and just run. Above all, I’m having fun (which I never say, but is always the case), and I’m excited to carry this momentum into February!

How has your first month of January fitness/workouts/training progressed?