Monthly Archives: December 2015

My 2015 Running and Triathloning Recap

So long, 2015! I have mixed feelings saying goodbye to this year. It felt like a roller coaster ride right out of the gate, and almost immediately, there were some big triathlon and work changes. The highs were high, and the lows were low—and I was always on my toes. I did a lot of learning, growing, contemplating, and of course, swimming, biking, and running. Let’s take an easy, zone two jog down memory lane.

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Christmas Eve lakeside bliss

Best race experience

Several factors comprise an awesome race experience. Of course, there’s the training—dedicating yourself to the process and doing everything in your power to prepare for a successful outing—but there’s also the traveling, hanging out with friends, and soaking in the overall race atmosphere. In 2015, I didn’t complete an event that rose above the others as the pinnacle of racing. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure. But I enjoyed every race.

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Post-trail run in Denver. This is why people wear trail shoes.

When I went to South Beach in April, I had a blast hanging out with friends before and after the hotter-than-hot classic-distance event (a.k.a. eating all the food). At Kingston in July, I had fun getting to know my Tailwind Endurance buddies more and executing a decent race given the weather. At Nationals in August, I loved trying on “autopilot” and doing me. A few weeks later, I returned home and did the same course that served as my first triathlon ever, which was a neat way to look back and see my progress. And at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon in November, I proved to myself I am a mentally strong runner who can execute 13.67 solid miles.

Best swim

Swimming and I have an interesting relationship. Simply going to the pool for a workout requires so much logistical coordination: getting my cap, goggles, swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops together; walking the 17 minutes to the facility; jumping in the freezing water and attempting to warm up. It’s a wonder I manage to swim at all! (Full disclosure: I still haven’t been in the water since September.) But I never struggle to swim when I’m in Lake Placid.

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Swimming in Mirror Lake is therapeutic. During these mile outings, my mind wanders. I reflect on the past year or so—the last time I was in Placid is usually the baseline—and what was going on in my life then. I love getting this headspace. Hitting paces and making intervals are the last things on my mind.

But as far as those lung-busting swims go, the best one I had during a race was at Nationals. Not only did I lay down a respectable split, but I also knew within a 15-second ballpark what my time was. (Related: I plan to start swimming again next week.)

Best bike

Thinking back to the time I spent in the saddle, a few things jump out: starting my training early at Tailwind Endurance; sustaining a crash (and concussion); recovering from said crash physically and mentally; logging blissful rides in Placid; and executing a decent 40-K at Nationals. The happiest miles I rode definitely occurred in Placid, but I can’t discount the comeback process.

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Everyone loves a good #TrainerSelfie, especially when it showcases a black eye.

I vividly remember my first outdoor ride post-crash, and even though I was a bit twitchy, the outing restored my confidence.

Best run

I didn’t run to my potential off the bike this year; I never found that effortless, invincible feeling, and I failed to execute strong, mentally sound miles. But that’s OK. These “close, but no cigar” experiences helped me fully devote myself to Philadelphia Half-Marathon training.

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… and refocus my run training

The goal was to run strong and bring home a PR, and this running block catapulted my 2016 triathlon training. And during the race itself, I felt smooth, strong, and confident in my ability to execute.

Best piece of new gear

Santa delivered: hello, power meter!

quarq-riken-power-meter

Watts, watts, WATTS!

Obviously, I haven’t used it yet, but this tool will revolutionize my racing. I’ll be able to see how many watts I make!

Best piece of running/triathloning advice you received

This year will go down as the year of the bike crash, and as I mentioned previously, it really forced me to let go and trust the process.

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Head down and getting to work

The crash affected me mentally too, and as I recuperated and approached my races, Earl gave me some sound advice: “Confidence is a choice. You need to choose to be confident.”

Most inspirational runner

Like last year, I continue to train and work with some stellar humans who also run—and they run fast, far, and a lot.

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

Challenging, humbling, and memorable

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#2015bestnine

Thanks for following along this year–bring it on, 2016!

Triathlon Training Log – Base Building, Week Four (Dec. 21)

For the first time since the 1920s, CNY saw a green Christmas.

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Lakeside bliss

Being home for the holidays sans snow was strange. We tried (and failed) to cut down a Christmas tree. Granted, we had an artificial one set up already, but still. And can we talk about how warm it was? I wore shorts for each of my three runs, and sure, it rained a bit, but now snow. Totally unprecedented.

General training notes: I spent nine days at home, so Earl structured this week as a recovery period. Although I could’ve brought my bike home and rode outside (it was 67 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Eve!), my wheels stayed in NYC, and I focused on running and strength training—and baking cookies with Grandma. #priorities

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run

Easy 45-minute run in the rain

Wednesday – a.m. strength train

There’s a college in my hometown, so I went to its fitness center for my full-body strength training workout. (I usually swim when I’m home, but I’m still avoiding the pool for another month.) Anyway, this was my first time in a legitimate weight room (vs. gym or fitness facility) in a long time. And although I love getting stronger and getting after it, I did not miss the creepers. My earbuds may be in, but I can still see you trolling around, dude.

Thursday – a.m. run

Earl programmed a six-mile hill run, but I had time for only four. When Christmas cookie baking, frosting, and arranging calls …

2015-christmas-cookies

Just a “modest 1,000 cookies.” Direct quotation, folks.

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. strength train

Abbreviated session at home because the fitness center was closed

Sunday – a.m. run

Sub-par planning and a late sunrise led to a shorter run—but a handful of miles are better than none.

All right. Back to the grind …

What did you do for the holidays?

Triathlon Training Log – Base Building, Week Three (Dec. 13)

It’s the most RUN-derful time of the year …

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Full disclosure: this tree was up well before Thanksgiving, which is a cardinal Christmas sin in my opinion. But the sacrifices you make for friends …

General training notes: Nothing too interesting to report as my third week of triathlon base building comes to a close. This span saw a few more harder efforts on the bike, but we’re still keeping things super easy on the run. Since the workouts themselves aren’t challenging, I’ve been focusing on the little things: making each pedal stroke as perfect as possible; running smooth and strong; thinking about how strength training exercises directly translate to power while cycling and running. To paraphrase John Wooden, doing these little things right will make big things happen.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Huzzah for zone three! This ride’s main set was a 35-minute effort in which I could go up to 88 percent.

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy 60-minute run, plus full-body strength training

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Watts, watts, WATTS: I completed my first power test in nine months, and all things considered, it went OK.

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During the 20-minute time trial effort, I executed my build precisely (a.k.a making more watts every five minutes), but I started off too conservatively; this resulted in a lower FTP than I hoped, but it’s December. There is plenty of time to get that value up. For those who love watts like me, my FTP is 20 watts lower than it was when I peaked in August.

Thursday – a.m. strength train; p.m. run

Full-body strength training in the morning and then a six-mile hilly run in Central Park after work

Friday – off … but p.m. run with friends

Our 6th Annual Joe Paulik Fun and Sexy Run was a smashing success.

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In case you were blinded by my whiteness, I am the pale-looking one on the far right.

We almost got arrested! Every year, we wear as little clothing as possible, run to a bunch of tourist sites like the Central Park ice skating rink and Rockefeller Christmas Tree, sing Christmas carols, and spread holiday cheer. It was a balmy 40*F this year, so the whole half-naked element wasn’t as much of a big deal, but let’s just say when the girls took off shirts, we became a lot more popular.

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Still back to basics: two-hour endurance ride in the saddle. There were a few FTP builds sprinkled in, though, and we finished the workout with a few sustained threshold efforts.

Sunday – a.m. run

Blissful long run at home around the lake—in shorts.

2015-december-lakeside-long-run

It looks like we’ll have a green Christmas, but I can’t be mad about this lakeside view.

What are your plans for the holidays?

Triathlon Training Log – Base Building, Weeks One (Nov. 30) and Two (Dec. 7)

I could make a joke about this phase of training being all about (building the) base. But I identify with Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess more:

zone-2-workout

‘What is a zone two workout?’ The discovery process has proven slow, but beneficial.

General training notes: Structured 2016 triathlon training began last week (aw YEAH!), and for the next eight weeks—well, six now—it’s all about going back to basics. In this case, “basics” means easy, low intensity sessions. Enter: zone two workouts. As a short-course triathlete, I haven’t spent a lot of time training in this less-than-75-percent zone so it’s been a challenge to dial it back. During the past two weeks, I’ve become more disciplined on the bike and run; even though it still gets under my skin a little when I get passed while running, I remind myself it’s a process. It’s December. I don’t want to go fast now; I need to go fast in August.

As I mentioned previously, Earl has been appointed to the head of “Carrie’s triathlon arsenal,” and he has me running and biking three days a week, plus I’ve been strength training twice a week. And the best news? I don’t have to swim until February. Huzzah! Anyway, here’s what my week looks like:

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Easy, 45-minute tempo/zone two ride (including warm-up, drills, and cool down, this equates to 1.5 hours or so in the saddle)

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Easy, hour-long run plus a new strength training routine. It feels great to be lifting on a regular basis again, but it’s an endurance lift (low weight and high reps) so it’s a new concept. Most exercises are similar to the ones I used to do during basketball, but today, we aren’t going for explosiveness.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Quality 45-minute ride with some sweet spot efforts (again, with warm-up, drills, and cool down, it’s 1.5 hours) or another tempo/zone two ride.

Thursday – a.m. run and strength train

Six-mile hill run, plus strength training. Since I work uptown, I’ve been doing this workout in Central Park after work. (I do the strength training in the morning because I want to socialize with coworkers when I get back and not do pushups and squats.)

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Easy, two-hour ride. We’ve been doing relatively hilly courses to keep it interesting, and the inclines make it even more challenging to stay in zone two. Case in point: we usually make these rides “competitions” to see who can execute the most precisely and spend the most time in zone two, and the long-course folks always win. Last Saturday, we were on a course for 45 minutes, and I was proud of myself for staying in zone two for 37 minutes—meanwhile, the long-course folks logged 43 minutes. But it’s all about progress: part of this week’s workout included a 40-minute zone two competition, and I stayed in there for 38 minutes. (Unfortunately, I still didn’t win.)

Sunday – a.m. run

Running continues to feel fluid, although it’s important to note I’ve been instructed to run much slower: one minute per mile, actually. During these longer runs, I’ve also been getting hungry. My energy levels are fine—again, since I’m running slower, I feel like I can run forever—my I tend to get hungry around the 80-minute mark.

In summary, I’m pumped to be training again, and even though the base building stuff can be boring, it’s an integral part of laying the groundwork for a solid season.