Monthly Archives: July 2015

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 20 (Week 29)

This sign can only mean one thing.

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Another trip to Placid Paradise for the iconic Ironman Lake Placid weekend!

General training notes: With a certain “A” race inching closer and closer (*cough* #Hammerfest2015 *cough*), this week served as my final high-intensity training span, which was perfectly timed with a trip to Lake Placid. I really got after it up there on all fronts and was happy with how the weekend played out—in terms of workouts and Ironman happening. No, I did not sign up. I’m not touching that distance for another 10 years.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

So Coach Pat’s 3×2-mile repeats did not go as planned. I cranked out the first set and struggled to hold the prescribed pace, and although I started the second set, I could not finish it. My legs felt dead and totally zapped of any energy.

Wednesday – a.m. run

No humidity means no problem! Easy five miles that felt much better than yesterday’s outing.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim IN MIRROR LAKE

VO2 max build pyramid: one-minute, two-minute intervals, etc. all the way to five minutes (with equal rest) and then back down again. After an uneventful drive to Lake Placid, I hopped in Mirror Lake for one loop of the swim course.

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!  But this training day helped demystify the distance a bit …

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!

Saturday – a.m. bike; p.m. swim

Logged another loop of the course with a friend in the morning at a leisurely pace and hit up Mirror Lake again that afternoon for 1.2 miles.

Sunday – off

But I did have a full day on my feet volunteering and cheering at Ironman Lake Placid. Full recap coming soon!

What did you do this weekend?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 13 (Week 28)

Another week of putting in work and locking and loading for Nationals.

speedwork-outside-saucony-kinvaras-garmin

T-minus three weeks until #Hammerfest2015!

General training notes: Physically, this was the toughest week of training I’ve logged in a while. Let’s review: I came off a Saturday race; I did speedwork for the first time in months; and I bricked. Now is absolutely the time to ramp up the intensity before Nationals, and my body definitely noticed.

Monday – off

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

In an effort to squeeze out the last bit of speed before Nationals, Coach Pat assigned 10x600s. I was able to hang for the most part on repeats 1-8, but nine and 10 were tough. After work, I met up with the Bearcats for 2,400m.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

Even though this was a “normal” bike-run brick, it was still tough: 10 minutes of alternating threshold and tempo efforts; three minutes easy; eight minutes of alternating threshold and tempo efforts; four, one-minute intervals at VO2 max; then five minutes at race wattage. Woof. Then I ran three miles at 10-K race pace. Another woof.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Thanks to doing speedwork and bricking, my legs were already pretty dunzo, but I was able to crank out 5×1-min. efforts at VO2 max, 3×5-min. efforts at VO2 max, and another 5×1-min. at VO2 max.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters and p.m. run

Four-thousand meters with build efforts and an afternoon long run in Central Park.

Saturday – a.m. bike

One of my watt-making work friends and I planned to ride, but unfortunately, thunderstorms and torrential downpours ruined those plans. Sigh. To the indoor trainer I went for 1.5 hours—because those watts don’t make themselves.

Sunday – a.m. run

Since my wave starts at 8:55 a.m. at Nationals, I waited until 9 a.m. to run so my body can get used to doing work in the heat. It’s a process, and I was to log 3.5 decent miles during my 50-minute outing. Hey, that’s half a mile more than last week’s race. I’ll make sure to log one run per week in the heat until Milwaukee.

Have you experimented with heat training?

2015 HITS Kingston Triathlon Recap

This past Saturday, I completed the HITS Kingston Triathlon, my second swim-bike-run race of the season and my first Olympic-distance one.  It was a pretty good outing.

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The Tailwind crew

Originally, I was supposed to do Stamford a few weeks ago, but my bike crash altered those plans. Shortly after going to Lake Placid for training camp, I started searching for another pre-Nationals tune-up, and one of my Tailwind friends mentioned this race. Not only was it a short two-hour drive north, but it was also one month out from the Big Milwaukee Dance, and it was a more challenging (read: hilly) course. He also has a house about 20 minutes away. Sign me up!

Even though the HITS Series produces races nationwide, its Kingston inaugural event felt very much like a yokel local race. Combined, the sprint, Olympic, half-Iron, and full-Iron distances saw maybe 300 people, and the race director told us at the athlete briefing only 85 folks registered for the Olympic. (Also, the Iron Cowboy was there!) Therefore, it was small field, but that didn’t affect my race plan: work the swim, push the bike, and see how long I could hold it together on the run. My coaches gave me the go-ahead to redline the bike and ride at 85-95 percent, which made me excited in a twisted, sadistic way only endurance athletes would understand. Why? Well, I needed to see what kind of split I could throw down prior to Nationals. And two, the only reason it would make sense to hold back on the bike would be to run fast off it. Thanks to my bike crash recovery and lack of speedwork, I did not have the top-end speed that would warrant being conservative in the saddle. Basically, I was physically and mentally prepared to blow up on the run. (Spoiler: I did.)

Swim – 1,500m – 26:39 (2/6 AG and 5th female OA)

A two-loop route, this course’s challenges included the mass start and the Hudson River’s current. Let’s start with the mass start.

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Only a handful of races I’ve done had mass starts—most notably Nationals—but even then, it’s a mass age-group start. At Kingston, there were a ton of burley dudes to deal with. Even though I’m a relatively strong swimmer, I situated myself conservatively because I didn’t want to get pummeled. So much for that. Hands down, this was the most aggressive swim start I’ve experienced—so much kicking, punching, and grabbing. At the turnaround buoy, one dude grabbed my shoulder and shoved me underwater! (“That’s some real ITU s***!” my friend told me after.) Luckily, my basketball instincts kicked in, and I was able to hold my own. Unfortunately, the Wall of Aggressive Dudes never relented because the 70.3 and 140.6 guys started beforehand; just as I’d swim away from one pack, there’d be another surge.

Second, we had to contend with the current not once, but twice. Gotta love loop courses! Initially, I didn’t think it would be strong, but I swam far, far left my first loop because the current pushed me toward the shore. My timing chip also came off during this portion, so I spent 30 seconds fumbling around and treading water trying to put it back on.

Overall, this was not a great swim, but it was effective from a tune-up perspective. Sure, the split was slower than I would’ve liked, but more importantly, it reminded me what it’s like to be in an aggressive open-water environment—and I was able to hang tough and stay mentally sound.

Transition 1 – 1:30 (1/6 AG and 5th female OA)

My transitions weren’t efficient at South Beach, so I focused on moving through these sections quickly. Case in point: I came out of the water with another girl, stayed on her shoulder as we ran into T1, and beat her out on the bike.

Bike – 40-K – 1:18:00 (1/6 AG and 3rd female OA)

As outlined in my race goals, I planned to redline the bike and ride hard miles. Although I was physically prepared to enter the pain cave, this ride ended up being much more mentally demanding than I anticipated.

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Elevation profile (also #LetsTalkWatts)

I saw only four people on the ride: two girls who I passed, and two dudes who passed me. This meant I was riding completely solo without anyone in sight. The super fast dudes were ahead of me, and I figured I was in the top five for women. A few times, I even wondered if I was still on course because there were no signs, volunteers, or fellow athletes.  That’s when it dawned on me:  I am racing myself. This was a great opportunity to dial in and execute, but I had to work harder to stay mentally engaged and not ease off the gas just because no one else was around.

Focus on the feeling. Focus on the feeling. I don’t have a power meter, but I’ve spent enough time at FTP to know what it feels like, and I was there. I also focused on pushing a bigger gear and maintaining 90 RPMs as opposed to downshifting and spinning at 93-95 RPMs, which I do by default.

Overall, I felt strong, and I also felt like I was out there a long time. This is a decent split (and the woman who had the fastest bike and won the race is a pro so …), but I was not planning to spend 78 minutes at FTP; I was actually hoping for 70. Did this extra pain cave time affect my run? Probably.

Transition 2 – 0:50 (1/6 AG and 3rd female OA)

Get in, drop stuff, and get out.

hits-kingston-t2

Not sure what my tri shorts are doing, but …

While running, I fumbled with my watch and failed to press “start” at the right time, so I knew the distance would be off.

Run – 10-K – 53:10 (4/6 AG and 13th female OA)

So … there’s not much to say. It was a double, out-and-back course with each loop spanning about 1.5 miles.

2015-hits-kingston-run-map

In theory, this structure would make it easier to divide the run into mini sections, but in reality, I was again left to my own metal devices.

hits-kingston-run

Where is everyone?!

The first loop was relatively OK. My splits were where they needed to be, and I spotted two blazing fast women making moves and heading back while I went to this turnaround. This meant I was the third female overall. And when I started running back, I didn’t see another women for a long, long time. I am racing myself, and it’s my race to lose.

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Watts?  Where?!  Not totally sure what I’m doing here.

However, I knew if I executed the bike right—and rode at FTP for an hour-plus—then I would eventually cook on the run. It was simply a question of when it would happen: mile two, mile three … I really hoped I could make it to mile four, but the halfway point was where things started to go downhill. It was hot. My heart rate was jacked up. It felt like I was working much harder to hold my splits. I made the rookie mistake of drinking too much water, and my stomach was sloshing. Bottom line, I went into survival mode for the final three miles. There were cones set up on the ride of the road that I used to keep myself in it mentally. OK, make it to that cone. Good. Now get to that one.

hits-kingston-finish

And as the story of my triathlon career thus far goes, I yet again got run down in the final stretch. With less than a quarter mile left, the woman who eventually took third overall passed me, and I couldn’t answer. Some days you have it, and some days you don’t.

hits-kingston-finish2

Official finishing time – 2:40:11 (1st AG and 4th female overall)

All and all, this was a productive outing. I reconfirmed I can handle aggressive swims. I also reconfirmed I can, in fact, “grind it out” at 90 RPMs on the bike. I proved I cannot ride at FTP for 78 minutes and expect to hit and hold my target 10-K race pace after. And I learned you sometimes need to race yourself.

Time to lock it in. Next stop: Milwaukee!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 6 (Week 27)

So I did a little swimming, biking, and running in Kingston yesterday.

2015-hits-kingston-age-group-award

It was a decent day.

General training notes: Woohoo for an under the radar race week! I registered for the HITS Kingston Olympic distance race a few weeks ago, but kept this event on the DL. (Full race report coming soon, but I placed first in my age group and fourth female overall—and missed the overall podium by 20 seconds.) My coaches knew, of course, so we adjusted workouts accordingly.

Monday – off

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

Thanks to the humidity, I bagged my planned five-mile tempo run for an easy one. Just have to be flexible sometimes, right? During my evening swim, the normal lane was totally nuts. There were two dudes trying to set the pace on the front, but they couldn’t make the intervals and kept stopping between 50s. There was a mini Wall of Dudes holding the wall. C’mon, guys—move! The 2,800m still got logged, though.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Race wattage workout: 3×6 minutes with four minutes at race wattage and two minutes above race wattage. I didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t supposed to feel great.

Thursday – a.m. run

Another humid and easy five miler

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy 1,700m to stay loose and get the blood flowing

Saturday – HITS Kingston Triathlon

Fifteen-hundred meters of swimming, 40-K of biking, and 10-K of running in two hours and forty minutes. Far from my fastest, but it was a solid tune-up for Nationals, and I learned a lot on the course. And any day you make it on the podium is a good day.

Sunday – a.m. bike

Easy 20-ish miles around the city with one of my work friends to spin out my legs and jumpstart the recovery process

How did your workouts go this week?

Getting Perspective in Lake Placid

About a month ago (yikes, I should’ve published this sooner), I packed as many synthetic socks, PowerBar gels, and Smashfestqueen cycling kits as possible into my backpack, vacated the Big Apple, and retreated north to Lake Placid for a triathlon training camp with the awesome Work Live Tri folks.

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Wheels up.  Lake Placid, here we come!

As a kid, I attended basketball, softball, and field-hockey camps during the summer, but I had yet to go off the grid and escape to this type of atmosphere as an adult. And I was so excited! Spending quality time swimming, biking, and running in paradise helped me regroup post-bike crash, refocus my tri training, and ultimately rediscover my motivation—in terms of triathlon and life.

Lake Placid will always be my happy place.

Long before I heard of triathlon, my high school basketball team traveled to this area of the Adirondacks for a holiday tournament. Unfortunately we didn’t win, but we made memories that we still talk about today—like that time we broke the hotel bed. My family has also made the trek up for a few daytrips, so my first impressions of Placid centered on quality time with friends and loved ones.

Fast-forward a few years to when I discovered the swim-bike-run world—and Ironman.

In 2013, I experienced this epic race weekend for the first time. They say if you watch an Ironman in-person, you’ll have one of two reactions: it’s either “yes, I am so doing this one day!” or “I will absolutely never do this, ever.” Training, volunteering, and spectating lit my 140.6 flame; even though I couldn’t (and still can’t) wrap my head around the 2.4-mi. swim, 112-mi. bike, and 26.2-mi. run, I knew then and there Lake Placid would be my Ironman. The atmosphere during race week was unlike anything I had witnessed, which says a lot coming from me as a former collegiate athlete. And training amongst trees, rivers, and mountains was also unlike anything I had experienced. Paradise had officially been found.

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View from my room:  home is where the lake is.

In 2014, I became even more familiar with Ironman training and Lake Placid itself when I functioned as a full-fledged Sherpa/emotional guardian. Everything that happened last year—watching the training, seeing the sacrifices, and becoming invested in the journey—highlighted just how inspiring it is to do an Ironman. And actually being there on race day—volunteering as a wetsuit peeler, getting swept up in the emotions, and celebrating the accomplishment—further solidified my desire to tackle Lake Placid one day.

Thanks to these memories, I could not wait for training camp.

The environment motivates me.

My bike crash resulted in some serious training funk, and I hoped retreating to my happy place would restore my spirits. And did it ever.

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Almost too beautiful to be real

Training camp centered on long-course athletes doing Lake Placid and Ironman Mont Tremblant, so I knew most, if not all, of my workouts would be logged solo. Aside from the first ride, I basically did my own thing and embraced the headspace.

Swimming in Mirror Lake and cycling through blink-and-you-miss-them towns was absolute bliss. Lately, I’ve been feeling uninspired by the NYC training grind, so I appreciated the sunshine, the clear skies, the mountains, and the breathtaking rivers even more. Finding inspiration in your surroundings is powerful: this is how training should be. This is why I love it.

The journey motivates me—and the feeling motivates me.

Each time I wiggled into my wetsuit and jumped into Mirror Lake, I found my groove quickly. Residual bike crash/rib flare-ups simply did not make themselves known. For the first time since wiping out, I felt natural in the water. I can’t believe it feels this easy—and this blissful. When I swim for distance, my mind wanders and eventually finds a zen space; and as I made my way to the other side of the lake, I felt grateful: to have the body and health that allow me to swim; to have supportive and genuine people in my life; and to physically be in such a gorgeous and peaceful place. Then I remembered where I was—physically, mentally, and emotionally—this time last year, and I was humbled by how much I’ve grown.

Each time I pumped up my tires and buckled my helmet, I felt excited and inspired to ride; these feelings have been missing since my crash. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect mentally during these solo rides, but Placid lifted whatever post-crash barrier was holding me back. I just rode and reacted to the course. I felt “at one” with the bike. My mojo returned!

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Signs of a successful smashfest.  Picture this setup on ten different bikes.

I didn’t think about the crash, but I spent a lot of time reflecting on last year’s training. For whatever reason, I was lucky enough where everything fell into place pretty perfectly. Although I knew it during the season, I didn’t truly realize how rare it is. It never happens like that. While out there on the course, I discovered an even greater sense of appreciation for last year, especially since transition has defined my training this year.

Basically, each time I thought about where I was at this point last year—in terms of training, work, and life—I felt incredibly humbled, grateful, and motivated. Even though I try to focus on the feeling during training, I definitely fell victim to the numbers game: chasing swim splits, becoming obsessed with power wattages, wanting faster run paces. If you’re looking to compete, this is part of the sport, but the trip to Placid reminded me I simply love the lifestyle: swimming, biking, and running. And really, that’s what it’s all about.

Teams and training groups have different vibes.

For the past two years, I logged essentially all of my triathlon training with a team, but I broke off and am currently doing my own thing. Because I have diversified my “triathlon arsenal”—it now includes folks from a masters swim team and my CompuTrainer studio—I’ve gotten to know, learn from, and train with new people, which has been beneficial for both my triathlon and “real” lives. And going to Lake Placid with a new-to-me group was an eye-opening experience. Prior to the long weekend, I knew only the coach and one other woman, but everyone welcomed me into the tribe with open arms. I’ve trained and become friendly with a lot of people in the triathlon community here over the years, and the Work Live Tri folks were absolutely top-notch individuals. (On a related note, this trip made me realize my old team dynamics/dysfunction is not normal, but that’s neither here nor there.)

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Also not normal:  having Podium Legs at your disposal.  I used them so frequently there was an inside joke about going through withdrawal.  I sort of did.

“There is comfort in that grind. I get solace and a sense of self out of that, but that’s not my life right now. And I’m OK with that. I’ve been nudged to do this kind of stuff, and I’m happy to do it, and I love it.” –Rich Roll

Overall, Placid reminded me that triathlon is about the journey, the progress, and the relentlessness to be better. “Unplugging” from power and swimming by feel highlighted how much I love this sport at its core. Although racing provides an opportunity to tangibly track progress, I don’t need to compete.

Aware of this front-of-mind perspective, I thought about Rich Roll’s recent podcast with Josh LaJaunie, specifically the abovementioned quotation. A lot of Rich’s ideas resonate with me, and when I listened to this statement, I felt like he had a birds eye view of everything that’s going on in my life. (Sidebar: Rich, will you be my life coach?) Even if I don’t have a race coming up, I’ll always find a strong sense of self when I swim, bike, and run, and it will always be an aspect of my lifestyle.

I say this because there’s an opportunity at work (#vagueblogging), and I want to immerse myself in it 150 percent. What’s on the horizon is reinvigorating my work life and giving me a strong sense of self and purpose. And honestly, I haven’t felt this excited and focused since … the only instance that comes close is Honors Week during college.

That’s not to say racing doesn’t matter any more, obviously. I definitely associate triathlon with who I am. But now, my #workflow also comprises my best, most authentic self (#fangirl).

“Congratulations, you’re a human being. It’s not going to be perfect.” –Rich Roll

In mid-June, Rich came to one of our stores for a social run and book signing, and he also hosted an informal Q-and-A session. As a self-professed fangirl, I took notes, and this quotation hit home.

Life brought a lot of changes this year—tri life, work life, and actual life—and coming off a nearly perfect 2014 training cycle, these transitions seemed even bumpier. My swimming, biking, and running essentially took a one-eighty, and although there were some who did not support this change, I know my current regiment is exactly what I need to be doing.

We’re still in the midst of a lot of work changes too. It’s cliché, but the focus and dedication that leads to solid swimming, biking, and running also sets up success at the office. All I can do is keep showing up, giving it my all, and trusting the process. Of course it will feel challenging and uncomfortable and maybe even impossible at points, but just like training, it’s about focusing on the task at hand and knowing the struggle is where the personal growth happens.

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 29 (Week 26)

Although far too short, my Fourth of July weekend in good ole Upstate was filled with delicious food, quality family time, and a handful of good workouts.

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And now, I’m sitting on the train en route to NYC. Wahhhh.

General training notes: It’s all about progress, and I continue to feel better, fitter, and stronger each week. My swim and bike feel pretty on point right now, and I’m having more of those moments on the run where everything lines up and feels effortless. (I associate those instances with last year’s Philly Half training because running simply felt awesome.) My only shortcoming this week was getting in the water once. Full disclosure: I brought home my wetsuit for the 4th of July weekend, but never made it into the water. Family time always takes precedence.

Monday – off

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

The speed is coming back! Six miles along the West Side Highway with pickups sprinkled in, plus a ton of corework and some upper body strength training. After work (and again, fueled with an afternoon iced coffee), I met up with the Bearcat masters for an 8 p.m. workout. Worlds collided because my old coworker/work friend who originally got me to join the team was coaching the swim. I heckled him a little bit (that’s how I show I care), but I was honestly more concerned about making the 12x100m intervals. Brutal. Twenty-six hundred meters total, though.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run at Finish Line PT)

For my first “fun” bike-run-bike-run-bike-run brick in a while, this workout went really well. I was able to hit and hold my projected race wattage for the 10-minute blocks in the saddle, and I was also able to negative split each of my mile runs on the treadmill. And I saw Abby in action, which totally made my morning!

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

It blows my mind how bike adjustments can positively affect power numbers. Even though this was a tough workout—FTP sets, plus VO2 max one-minute and two-minute blocks—I was consistently hitting wattages that were 10-20 watts higher than normal.

Friday – a.m. run

Long and relaxing nine miles and change around my hometown lake. The highlight of the run was easily running into my high school basketball coach during the final mile. Surprisingly, he did not yell at me to finish strong, but he did tell me to pick up the pace. Some things never change!

Saturday – a.m. run (Cazenovia 4th of July Foot Races 5-K)

Coach Pat told me to see how my legs felt after the first mile and go from there, and I was pleasantly surprised how easily I was able to lock into a decent pace and cruise along. Due to not doing speedwork for a month or so, I did not have the top-end speed/leg strength/turnover to go “into the red,” but I was able to run slightly faster than my projected off-the-bike pace. Overall, though, it was a good, confidence-boosting run; I finished feeling fresh and strong (23:30) and secured 3rd place in my age group. Gotta love the local yokel races!

Sunday – a.m. run

Thanks to Independence Day debauchery—my aunts brought an industrial-sized Margaritator, and my grandma made creampuffs—this run was not great. Unsurprisingly, I felt like I consumed too may margaritas and creampuffs and watermelon cookies and s’mores. When things didn’t improve after three miles, I shut it down. You win some, you lose some.

What did you do for the holiday weekend?