Monthly Archives: September 2015

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

The mountains called.

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And I answered.

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

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

Monday – off

Travel to Denver

Tuesday – a.m. run

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

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

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

Thursday – a.m. run

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

Friday – hiking/exploring in Colorado Springs

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

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

Saturday – hiking/exploring

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

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Sunday – off

Traveled back to NYC

How do you stay active during work trips/vacations?

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

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

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Saturday night cannoli at the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy

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

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

 Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

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

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

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

 Thursday – a.m. run

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

Friday – a.m. swim with the Bearcat masters

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

Saturday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy four miler with strength training and corework

Sunday – a.m. run

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

Total miles: 22

What’s your current favorite workout?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enter: Bearcat masters.

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

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

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

Time for my favorite: let’s talk watts.

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Solo smashfest = the BEST

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

That leaves the run.

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

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Lakeside love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training Log – Week of Sept. 7 (Week 36)

Another successful week of off-season training.

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Wait, what training were you talking about?

General training notes: I’m a few weeks into the off-season, and it’s going well so far. Physically, my run seems to be coming together. Most of my outings feel pretty good, and my body simply doesn’t feel as tired as it was during the season. Mentally, it’s been awesome to only “worry” about one sport; taking a break from rigid swim-bike-run training has given me an opportunity to be a real person as you can see from the photo above. This playtime won’t last forever so I’m making the most of it while I can!

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy five miles on the West Side Highway, plus push-ups and corework

Wednesdaya.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance off

I went to the Yankees game for my uncle’s birthday. Proper celebrations ensued, and there was no way a 5:30 a.m. ride was happening. Cheers to the off-season life!

Thursday – a.m. run

Loved this workout: four miles total with miles one and two easy, mile three at 10-K race pace, and mile four easy. Even though it was only one mile, this interval reaffirmed I do have some top-end speed—it’s just a matter of tapping into it. And again, it was only one mile, but I felt smooth and strong. Overall, my runs are starting to feel similar to how I felt in the lead-up to the Philly Half last year. Woohoo!

Friday – a.m. swim with the Bearcat masters

Well, on the bright side, I went only 19 days instead of three months without swimming this off-season … so progress? My expectations were low, and I managed to not drown and log 3,000m.

Saturday – a.m. run and strength train

Another easy four miles, plus plenty of corework and upper-body strength training.

Sunday – a.m. run

Blissful seven miles up to and through Central Park. Knock on wood:  Things feel really good.

Tracking my weekly mileage would make sense, right? Total miles: 20

How’s your training coming along?

Seventy-Two Hours in Utah

Two weeks ago, I took advantage of the triathlon off-season, headed to Utah, and spent some quality time exploring outdoors.

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Mormon mobile license plate!

One of my best friends was invited to a (Mormon) wedding, and when he asked if I wanted to go, I immediately said yes. Since it was the off-season, I wouldn’t have to worry about logging workouts (a.k.a. trying to find a pool and going days without biking), and to be honest, Utah would not be a place I’d seek out on my own. Colorado, absolutely. Wyoming, sure. But Utah? Without a legitimate reason to go, I don’t know if I would have ended up there—but I’m really glad I did.

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Who knew?

I made an effort to unplug during those three days, so there was not a lot of ‘Gramming, but here are a few highlights:

Enjoying plate after plate of delicious food

You read my blog. You know I’m going to mention food. At first glance, Salt Lake City doesn’t appear to be a foodie paradise, but thanks to some recommendations, my friend and I had some seriously tasty meals. We went to Ogie’s Café and Penny Ann’s Café for breakfast and ate some pre-flight $3 tacos at Taqueria El Rey De Oros. The best meal, though, was lunch at Blue Poblano.

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Located in downtown Salt Lake, this Mexican restaurant specializes in farm-to-table fare and sources only local ingredients. (Unfortunately, they had no liquor license.) We enjoyed pre-wedding nachos and portbello mushroom vegetarian tacos. This was definitely the best Mexican I’ve had in a while—and I eat it about once a week in NYC.

Wandering around the area

Salt Lake City is known as an LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) hotbed to say the least, and two Mormon-centric sites we visited included the Gilgal Garden and Salt Lake City Temple.

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Containing 12 sculptures and more than 70 engraved stones, the garden was conceptualized by Thomas Child. He hoped it would inspire visitors to ponder “the unsolved mysteries of life.”

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Before our return flight, we spent some time walking around the Salt Lake City Temple Square.

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The atmosphere felt like a well-manicured college campus.

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I also felt somewhat out of place without a small child.

Exploring Utah Olympic Park

Hitting up the Olympic Park was non-negotiable, and we spent three hours exploring the museum, taking goofy pictures, and getting a tour.

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We really shouldn’t be left to our own devices.

Even though the Summer Games are my jam, it was still neat to see the facilities and learn more about the 2002 Winter Games.

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Our tour guide said Salt Lake plans to throw its name into the hat to host the Winter Olympics again, but since it costs $10 million (!!) to be considered, they are focusing on updating the park for the next year or so.

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Not real life

Hiking at Zion National Park

The highpoint of the trip was hiking at Zion National Park, specifically taking on the 5.4-mile “strenuous” Angel’s Landing loop.

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Obligatory

The park guide said this hike would take 4-5 hours, but even though we did it in three, we did not have enough time to do The Narrows. (We originally planned to do both.) Next time!

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This photo basically sums up the day at Zion: I’d walk a little bit and then stop for a few minutes to take in my surroundings.

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Interestingly enough, there’s a half-marathon here in March … any takers? (I’m looking at you, Natalie!)

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All in all, Utah ended up being a fun trip and a great “hoo-rah” because we’ll be firing on all cylinders at work with the New York City Marathon approaching.

Have you been to Utah? Has a trip or vacation surprised you?

Training Log – Week of Aug. 31 (Week 35)

So I’m back in New York City and missing the mountains.

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The recap is coming. It’s been a busy week playing catch up on life (and sleep.)

General training notes: I’ve fully transitioned from triathlon training to off-season/run-specific training, and for the next few weeks, my workouts will be uneventful; mileage will slowly increase as will run frequency. Plus, I have a weeklong work trip coming up in a few weeks, so Coach Pat and I decided to keep things easy until that passes. Fingers crossed, these next weeks will be uneventful base building.

Monday – off

Took a redeye home from Utah and was barely able to function at work. Luckily, Coach Pat programmed a rest day, and I was in bed by 7:30 p.m. #highmaintenancesleeper

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Coach Pat’s plan called for five steady miles, but as soon as I stepped outside, the humidity changed my workout. Even though I ran easy, I felt totally zapped of any energy by the final mile and had to work to finish strong. After, I spent about 20 minutes doing corework and upper-body strength training.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

The parts of this workout I actually did went pretty well—five minutes at tempo, four minutes at sweet spot, and 5×30 seconds at FTP with 30 seconds rest, then repeat the cycle four times—but I somehow managed to get two flats. I did not get a single one during races and outdoor rides, so maybe this was payback?

Thursday – a.m. run and strength train

Slugged through this four-mile run. C’mon, humidity!

Fridaya.m. swim off

Moving forward, I will keep these swims on the schedule. This week, though, the pool was still closed.

Saturday – a.m. run and strength train

Four miles that actually felt easy because there was no humidity—huzzah! Followed it up with some corework and upper-body strength training

Sunday – a.m. run

At seven miles, my long run of the week went great thanks to *knock on wood* no humidity. (“Long” is relative, by the way. I feel somewhat inadequate seeing marathoners’ 20-plus-mile outings.) Have we seen the last of it?

Has fall weather arrived yet?