Monthly Archives: March 2016

2016 NYRR Spring Classic 10-K Recap

This past Sunday, I ran my first race of 2016:  NYRR’s Spring Classic 10-K.  Normally, I wouldn’t pay to run in Central Park, but the entry fee was only $10. (It was open only to NYRR members, and there weren’t t-shirts, medals, etc. ) And that’s a cheap pricetag for quality racing experience. Also, Earl and Coach Pat wanted a check-in race to gauge my running fitness.

2016-central-park-nyc-reservoir

No photos during the race, of course–I snapped this one as I cooled down.

Of course, I wanted a strong showing, but Earl and Coach Pat made it very clear the main objective was executing the race plan and running on feel (i.e. not shooting for a PR).  With this in mind, we decided that although I would turn on my Garmin to capture data, I would not look at my watch during the race.  Running is extremely mental for me.  Although I’m becoming fitter, faster, and stronger, seeing certain values (read: anything in the sevens) intimidates me and makes me second guess whether I can sustain the pace.  And as we determined from my splits below, thank GAWD I didn’t look at my watch.

Mile #1 – 7:56 – “Let it happen”

The opening mile contained Harlem Hill, so we figured this would be my slowest mile of the race.  I didn’t complete a long enough warm-up, so I was still finding my rhythm here, and I was pleasantly surprised how smooth I felt while climbing the hill.  Thanks to my Sunday Snowman Challenge, I’ve run Harlem Hill frequently so I knew how to pace it:  I broke it up into three sections and gradually increased the effort as I neared the top.  “Let [the first mile] happen,” Earl advised.  “It was going to be what it’s going to be.”

Mile #2 – 7:43 and mile #3 – 7:32 – “Let the course do the work.”

A few days before the race, Earl and I talked strategy, and he said it was important to let the course do the work.  That meant absorbing the “punches” on the uphills and making the necessary cadence adjustments and then smoothing out the effort on the downhills.  My mantra during these two miles along the West Side Rollers was “let the course do the work” and “smooth, strong, and controlled.”  If I had seen my splits during these two miles, especially the 7:32, I would’ve freaked out and eased off the gas—I didn’t and continued to run on feel.

Mile #4 – 7:58

With Cat Hill coming up, I ran the little hill conservatively.  This was also the point in the race the lactic acid started to make itself known in my legs.

Mile #5 – 8:07 – “Hang on”

Dun, dun, duuuun: Cat Hill.  Like Harlem Hill, I broke it into three sections, but struggled to find the next gear as I neared the top.  In hindsight, this was the race’s TKO punch.  My legs felt dunzo, and although “hang on” was not the most positive mindset, that’s exactly what I was doing.

Mile #6 – 7:45 – “I’m dragging.”

Again, I’m really glad I did not look at my watch.  My legs felt heavy, and I felt like I was running through molasses; it felt like a 9:00 min./mi. pace.  It’s important to run your own race, but around this time, I listened to the people alongside of me; they were totally gassed.  I was still breathing easily.  And that’s been the story of my running life—feeling the burn in my legs and not my lungs.

Last bit – 2:04

As per usual, I was feeling a lot of feelings when I finished.  I was surprised with my average pace because it felt like I was running 7:40-7:45 throughout—which, if you take out the Cat Hill mile, is exactly what happened.  It also gives me confidence to know that when I thought I was “dragging” I was actually fine and running a 7:45. It comes down to dialing in my mental game and trusting myself. As Earl said post-race, becoming a better racer physically is the easy part—the challenge is getting your mind to catch up.

How do you power through tough workouts and races?

 

Triathlon Training Log – Week 17 (March 21)

Another Sunday and another week of training complete. This month is flying by!

2016-nyac-main-dining-room-view

I’m digging the #WingedFootLyfe views.

General training notes: the main takeaway from this week was reminding myself what it’s like to run on less-than-fresh legs. I had a killer bike workout Monday and carried the fatigue through the week. Swimming could’ve helped the recovery process, but it didn’t happen because (a) Rich Roll was in NYC Tuesday night, and I obviously had to #fangirl, and (2) the pool was closed for Easter weekend. And speaking of Easter weekend, I did a race simulation workout in Central Park on Saturday, so we tailored lead-up sessions accordingly.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Long warm-up and then a monster 15×1 minute at VO2 max set with one-minute recovery between efforts. (For the bike/tri nerds, yes, this was a Sufferfest workout.) We alternated between natural, high, and low cadence to ensure we hit all the main muscles.

Tuesday – a.m. run; p.m. swim

Six-ish miles of progressive cruise intervals: 4×8 minutes at Ironman, marathon, half-marathon, and 10-K efforts with two minutes recovery between. No strength training due to Saturday’s race; no swimming due to Rich Roll.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Loved this workout: after a long warm-up, we tackled two, 15-minute sets. Since I was racing, my builds were one zone lower. First, I built from tempo (seven minutes) to sweet spot (eight minutes); the second time around, I went from sweet spot (five minutes) to threshold (10 minutes).

Thursday – p.m. run

Thanks to Wednesday margarita night with friends, I pushed my fartlek run from morning to evening. I’ve struggled with this set in the past, but I was able to lock in my paces and smoothly transition from my “on” efforts to my “off” ones. I sensed some fatigue in my legs from Monday’s intervals, but the workout went well overall.

Friday – a.m. run

Easy, three-mile shakeout to keep the legs fresh. My legs still didn’t feel totally recovered from Monday’s workout, but thanks to even more foam rolling time, they loosened up as the day progressed. (I also decided to stay off my feet and not use my standing desk at work, ha!)

SaturdayNYRR Central Park Spring Classic 10-K

Surprise—my first race simulation of 2015! I was under strict instructions to run this race without looking at my watch (but turn on my watch for the data), and all things considered, it went OK. Not a PR day, but we confirmed my run training is on track. Recap coming later this week. (Official time was 48:59.)

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

From the Church of the Long Ride, I spent two hours in the saddle alternating between Ironman and half-Ironman efforts. And thankfully, there were a few FTP blocks thrown in.

What are your plans for Easter?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 16 (March 14)

I survived week one of #WingedFootLyfe—huzzah!

2016-nyac-winged-foot-lyfe

Cute and crazy cruel shoes. The back of my heels were a bloody mess.

And because this was such an important week life-wise (I’ve got a post drafted so don’t worry), training took a backseat.

General training notes: weeks like these make me appreciate having a coach who’s in charge of my triathlon life—and who’s smarter than me. If left to my own devices, I would’ve approached swimming, biking, and running normally. My work life is changing, so keeping training the same makes sense, right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. I discounted the mental energy required to learn new policies, procedures, and standards, meet new people, figure out where everything is located … luckily, Earl did not. So, yes, I basically collapsed after work every day, and luckily none of my workouts were too taxing. Recovery weeks have their time and place.

Monday – off

Coach-ordered rest day—and first day of #WingedFootLyfe!

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

Finally nailed this tempo run: one minute “on,” one minute off, up to three minutes with 10 minutes of easy running between sets. (I cycled through twice.) This was the first time I not only hit and held legitimate tempo paces, but I also felt smooth and strong—and the pace felt sustainable. I also did my strength training routine for the first time in a few weeks. However, my after-work swim didn’t happen. I felt physically exhausted from a quality morning workout, and I was mentally wiped out from surviving day two.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Easy riding: two, 18-minute sets in zone two, plus a few VO2 max sprints because I was a good athlete and followed orders.

Thursday – a.m. run and strength training

Easy 50-minute run along the West Side Highway, plus upper body strength training; my legs were toast from the sprints.

Friday – off

I had an optional ride programmed, but told myself if I naturally woke up in time, then I would go—but I did not. Earl was glad I took the extra rest, and I was even more motivated to get after it during the weekend.

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

First up was the blissful two-hour ride. We warmed up for the first hour, which included a sweet spot gear pyramid: during the four-minute set, we’d add one gear each minute with the goal of staying around 88-92 percent. In order to execute properly, that meant starting in a light gear and keeping the cadence high. We did it four times, and I loved it. For the second hour, we rode a course, and the grade dictated the effort: the flats (less than one percent) were zone two; hills up to three percent were zone three; and anything steeper was zone four.

Even though most of the masters team was competing at a meet, there were a few of us who took on the 4,100m practice. The Russian coach was in charge so there was a ton of IM work. We also dove off the blocks a few times, and on one of them, my goggles came off. I slowed down to adjust them, but he yelled, “keep swimming! It isn’t acid!” I was dying!

Sunday – a.m. run

After cheering for some friends running the NYC Half, I completed my long run that included the lower loop/Harlem Hill challenge. I ran the long way up to Central Park—I didn’t want to go anywhere near Times Square—and logged nearly 12 miles for the day. Sweet!

How did your workouts/races go?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 15 (March 7)

I spent a solid amount of time this week cross-training, a.k.a. shopping for adult clothes.

2016-corporate-wardrobe

Leslie Knope’s goofiness + Claire Underwood’s fierceness = Carrie, a reluctant adult

My new gig starts tomorrow (gah!), so my sister and I shopped ‘till we dropped from Wednesday through Saturday. You would think swimming, biking, and running endurance would translate, but it does not.

General training notes: All in all, this was another mixed bag training week. It started in Sanibel and ended in New York City, and my body felt the heat and extra travel. Luckily, my recovery week starts Monday, and it’s the first time this season I feel like I actually need it.

Monday – a.m. swim

Back to my “office” for an easy 2,250-yard workout.

2016-sanibel-rec-center-swimming

Unpictured: freckles/tan lines

It was actually the same one I did last Wednesday, and it was rewarding to feel a difference in terms of smoothness.

Tuesday – a.m. run

All right, pros to this fartlek workout: it was the same one from last week, so I knew what I was facing; I felt smoother and more in control of the paces. Cons: it was super hot (around 80*F), so I tacked on some extra rest intervals; and due to poor planning, I had time to do the ladder (2-4-6-4-2 minutes) once before heading to the airport. Overall, it was a mixed bag, but it gives me confidence to know I can hit and hold the prescribed pace in hot conditions—because that’s what Omaha will probably be like in August.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Back in the saddle! I made my triumphant return with a 3×10-minute zone two set: for the first block, we alternated between high gear/low cadence (75 RPMs) and natural cadence every minute; the second set was straight natural cadence; and the third was high gear/low cadence and natural cadence every two minutes.

Thursday – a.m. run

Another cruise interval workout: eight minutes at Ironman effort, marathon pace, half-marathon pace, and 10-K pace with two minutes recovery between. Intervals one, two, and three were fine, but I struggled to maintain an even pace for my 10-K effort.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

A lot of my masters buds swam Harvard this weekend (er, the 2016 New England LMSC Short Course Championship), so this was a taper swim that contained mostly short (25 to 100m) efforts. I also nailed three dives off the blocks! After 4,000m, though, I was dragging for the rest of the day; swimming takes it out of me.

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Like most two-hour rides, this workout contained two hour-long blocks. First, we tackled a longer warm-up with single-leg and high cadence drills, plus some over/under efforts. (“Over” meaning more than 100 percent and “under” 85 percent; we alternated between these two for 10 minutes.) The opening main block included four, four-minute intervals: three minutes at tempo (75-85 percent) and one minute at VO2 max (105-120 percent). I was sore from Friday’s swim and didn’t know how long I’d last, but it ended up being fine. For the second hour, we rode the Ironman Germany course and alternated between 10 minutes at tempo, five minutes at sweet spot, and five minutes at threshold.

Sunday – a.m. run

This was my second time taking on Earl’s snowman challenge and trying to match my lower loop and Harlem Hill loop times. (For those unfamiliar with Central Park, the lower loop is relatively flat and fast and a bit longer than the Harlem Hill lap.) I settled in to my tempo pace for the lower loop and ran the 1.7 miles faster than I did two weeks ago. And in an effort to match the total time, I ran the 1.39-mile Harlem Hill loop about 15 seconds slower than my previous time. Although my times were closer, they didn’t match up exactly. On the bright side, though, I felt much more confident and in control of this workout, and I was happy with how sustainable my tempo pace felt.

How is it mid-March already?! Has spring sprung yet?

Back To Reality—Whatever That Is

Whether it’s a job or a vacation, good things eventually end. My last day of work was one week ago (wow!), and my quality Sanibel time has run its course too; I head back to New York City today.

2016-sanibel-beach-zelda

My best beach bud

It was nice to enjoy a true vacation. My old workplace had a liberal working remotely policy, and it proved to have its pluses and minuses. On the pro side, I travelled to Lake Placid twice in 2015, plus I went home for the 4th of July weekend and for a local yokel race. And earlier this year when I headed south to Florida for some quality family time, I didn’t have to worry about missing anything important—because I was expected to be contributing on conference calls, checking email, and responding to our social channels regularly. But therein lies the downside: I couldn’t unplug, disconnect, and go off the grid; I couldn’t recharge my own battery.

2016-sanibel-rec-center-swimming

For headspace, just add water. (Also, who am I?!)

My coworkers and I joked if I turned off my phone, there was a good chance the Internet would implode. Of course, that’s not totally true. I could leave my phone or laptop untouched for a few hours. But whether I was racing, training, or vacationing, I was still posting content, responding to customers, and making sure our brand didn’t cease to exist in the digital space. Flexibility comes with responsibility.

So this time around—with no work/social media constraints—I got to be as digitally active or inactive as I wanted. Full disclosure: I did not go an entire day without checking my personal platforms, but I dialed back my usage considerably. And when I did use—do I sound like an addict?—it was on my own terms. I uploaded plenty of photos to the ‘Gram of Zelda, and I had a blast chronicling my days on Snapchat. (I’m kind of ridiculous; follow me at carriestevens25 if you feel inclined.) This is a crazy concept, but I used social media for pleasure.

2016-sanibel-beach-selfie-with-zelda

<3 <3 <3

And as I ready to board my flight, it’s finally starting to hit me: I’m going back to reality—but my old one is over. I’m not going to roll in to the Bullpen (the nickname for my old office) on my own sweet time tomorrow. (Anytime between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. was acceptable.). I’m not going to immediately ask my old Work Husband, “what did I miss?” and then immediately start discussing the Downton Abbey series finale. I’m not going to climb a flight of stairs up to the store and ask sales associates about their training and weekend races. I’m not going to take a field trip to one of the East Side stores and catch up with the store manager and eat too many homemade cookies.

2016-birthday-cookies

A delicious birthday throwback

I’m not going to be seeded shoes. I’m not going to have a generous discount. I’m not going to wear running apparel to work.

2016-street-art-nyc

Direct, but true

I’m not going to be living #TheRabbitLife.

I have yet to develop a snappy name for my new worklife—maybe #WingedLife or #ClubLyfe—but it starts Monday. Aside from a desktop computer, an office with windows, and a strict dress code (related: who wants to teach me how to walk in heels?), I’m not sure what will constitute my new normal. And I’m sure it will take several months to figure it out. In the mean time, I’m trying to see the beauty in uncertain intricacies of the job, the culture, and the institution. It’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop. It’s a blank document that offers the potential to write, curate, and connect. It’s a fresh start, it’s a new gig—and although there are some uncertainties, it’s certainly exciting.

Triathlon Training Log – Week 14 (Feb. 29)

Greetings from Sanibel, FL!

2016-sanibel-fl-march-panorama

Tuesday was my last day of work, so I hopped on a plane and headed south. I arrived Wednesday afternoon, and it’s been such a nice vacation—and a true vacation too because I haven’t had to check email, respond to tweets, or post on Instagram unless it was for personal use.

General training notes: This week was a mixed bag. Swimming is feeling great—finally!—and I only rode once this week. Plus, the weather has had more of an effect on my run workouts than I would like. Everything is getting logged, though, and this span is really about relaxing and enjoying Florida and family time before I head back to NYC and dial back in—both to training and to my new job.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer workout at Tailwind Endurance

Back to the Three Bears, a.k.a. low cadence/strength work in the saddle. This workout goes by fast—each block lasts only 3:30, and we repeat it four times—and it’s one of those where you don’t feel like you did a lot of work. But then you try to walk up the stairs at work …

Tuesday – a.m. run

We still haven’t introduced true speedwork yet, but we are starting to program some more challenging fartlek runs. I faced a 2-4-6-4-2 progression at my projected 5-K pace with three minutes recovery between each effort. The first time around, my legs felt stiff—totally my own fault for wearing shorts when it was windy and 37*F—and the pace was all over the place. Luckily, I had to repeat the set, and the second time, I was able to hit and hold the prescribed pace a little more easily. Overall, I didn’t feel great about this workout, but chances are, we’ll do it again next week.

Wednesday – p.m. swim

I’m baaaaaack!

2016-sanibel-fl-rec-center-outdoor-swimming-pool

My office for the week

Since I’m here for nearly one week, Earl and I decided an unofficial/self-imposed swim camp would be a great idea. Look at that outdoor pool and try to not be excited. This was a light, 2,250-yard workout with some body position drills and a 10×100 main set.

Thursday – a.m. run

Cruise intervals with eight minutes at Ironman, marathon, half-marathon, and 10-K efforts. Two minutes rest between. I started this workout too late in the day; it was 67*F when I began and 77*F when I finished, so the final set was tough.

Friday – a.m. swim and strength train

Easy, 2,250-yard swim with my new buds

2016-sanibel-fl-rec-center-squad-goals

#SquadGoals

Lots of body position work and lots of Pitbull and Rihanna

Saturday – a.m. swim

Blissful endurance swim with a main set of 3×1000 yards. Initially, I was concerned about keeping track of all those laps, but I played around with breathing—switching from left-side only to right-side only to bilateral—to keep it interesting and engaging.

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy six miles in the heat

When you’re on vacation, what’s your favorite type of workout to do?

The Next Step

Generally, I don’t blog a lot about work. My day-to-day revolves around niche topics—shoe updates, nutrition tips, and upcoming events, races, and activations. I could talk about the adidas PureBoost X, a shoe designed for women. (Ironically, the shoe isn’t made in my size.) I could mention new gel flavors that GU released. I could gush about the Los Angeles U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. (I loved seeing Shalane and Amy rocking visors, a.k.a. the unofficial triathlete uniform.) One thing I will announce, though, is yesterday was my last day in the run-specialty world.

jackrabbit-nycm-cheer-zone

*Sigh* the good ole rabbit times

Unless you follow news in this industry, you may not know the roller coaster of this past year. And I chose not to discuss that topic here. I had no idea what the future would bring, so I didn’t want to publically comment on what was happening or speculate on what could happen. Plus, the news didn’t affect me initially—the same could not be said for coworkers in sales—so it wouldn’t be totally fair for me to voice my two cents. But, in summary, our locally owned and operated specialty shop was acquired by a larger conglomerate, and its portfolio contains more than 70 stores nationwide. Over the next few years, the goal is to rebrand all doors as one entity, and the company chose the NYC market as its first relaunch site.

2015-nyc-marathon-jackrabbit-thundersticks

The new Rabbit Life

The wheels slowly turned, and our NYC team worked tirelessly to unveil the new brand as the New York City Marathon approached in November. The month leading up to the race (and the day after) was crazy, chaotic, and unrelenting. That’s par for the course when it’s your busy season, and we executed some great campaigns, did some impactful stuff in the digital space, and introduced the city and the industry to the new face of run-specialty.

jrab-7

And the new face of the Bullpen?  Antonio, our stoic mannequin.  FYI, this is our Western Wednesday getup for spirit week.  We obviously won.

What followed? Post-race blues. You know when you throw yourself into training, devote yourself to the process, and work hard to make sure you are set up for success on race day? You know when race day comes, and you execute and get it done? You know the high you experience as soon as you cross the finish line? You know the thoughts that creep into your head shortly thereafter: ‘what’s next?’ That’s a question I asked myself every day after the marathon. And I struggled to find an answer.

west-side-highway-running-artsy-blurry

Can I get some clarity, please?

At first, I put my head down and continued to work. Marathon month felt like an “A” race, and this series of emotions is normal after a big event. However, every other time I’ve experienced these feelings—whether I was racing or working—I had been able to refocus, identify the next goal, and work toward it. This time, though, the process felt different. Upcoming projects were easy to pinpoint, but I couldn’t throw myself into it. I made an effort to be present and embrace the process (#MostAuthenticSelf #RichRollfangirl), but it didn’t click. Things had changed. I had changed.

new-sunglasses-selfie

Peace out!

It was time to move on.

IMG_3844

Swimming, biking, running, moving … and remembering that time I was a triathlon model

Throughout the next few months, I updated my resume, poked around LinkedIn, and went on several interviews. I didn’t need to leave right away so I had the luxury of time: to find a position that made me excited and gave me a good feeling. (And, of course, would pay me well and challenge me and help me grow as a human.)

freds-restaurant-nyc

Doggies always give me a good feeling. Now to find a job that makes me feel the same …

As my job search progressed, it became clear one institution would most likely make an offer—which, in turn, meant I needed to be OK with leaving my current position. Mentally, I was ready to leave the actual work. It didn’t stimulate me anymore, and I felt unfulfilled. But the hard part would be saying goodbye to folks I worked alongside.

jrab-10

Our holiday card. Antonio is not impressed.

I am fully aware JackRabbit Sports/JackRabbit was/is not a normal workplace. A lot of my best friends here in NYC came from JRab when I started nearly three years ago. And after the acquisition, I grew close to a handful of my “new” coworkers who became mentors and friends. And through it all, my Work Husband has been a permanent fixture. He has been my person, and there’s no doubt I would’ve lasted as long as I have without him.

jrab-collage

Some of the best humans I have ever met

But the magic doesn’t happen in your comfort zone. It’s impossible to grow without facing challenges. And if it scares you, then it’s a good thing.

In a few weeks, I’ll continue my career at New York Athletic Club (NYAC) as their social media manager/assistant editor–and I am pumped!