Monthly Archives: June 2016

Triathlon Training Log – Week 30 (June 20)

It’s all in the details.

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Sunday Runday fun in Central Park

Focusing on executing the little things make big things happen—whether it’s in work, triathlon, or life.

General training notes: per above, this week centered on repeating workouts with the goal of executing them as precisely as possible. We’ve strung together several solid weeks of training, and on Thursday, the load hit me. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming recovery week—and then we’ll turn it back up in LAKE PLACID at the #WorkLiveTriCamp during 4th of July weekend!

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Practice makes perfect so we repeated last week’s push-pull workout (three minutes at 102 percent, then two minutes at 90 percent). This time, the challenge was keeping the harder effort at 102 and not bumping it up to 105. It was also really cool because the efforts at 90 percent felt like recovery. We’re dialing it in!

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park (and p.m. sports massage)

Expanding on the tempo work from the past few weeks, the main set called for 3×2 miles at tempo effort with 3-4 minutes of easy running between each. The first two felt great, but the third one was a struggle.

That evening, I had an appointment with my friend for another “highlighting” session, a.k.a. she finds the areas that need attention and works her magic. I had a lot of hot spots the last time I went, and I was really happy that was not the case this time around.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Every week, this brick feels better and better. Following the normal VO2 max ride, Earl instructed me to hit Central Park and throw in two, 2.5-minute pickups during what would normally be an easy run. So I touched the fire to see if it was hot. I was pleased with how I was able to better control the pace and pick up the effort from easy to tempo and then ease back down.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park and p.m. strength train

Woof. This run never feels great coming off a VO2 max bike and brick, and my body felt totally zapped. The 6.5 miles got done, though, as did strength training later that night.

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

There was a moderate amount of IM work mixed in to this workout, and aside from flopping around when I was supposed to be doing the butterfly, I was able to hang with my lanemates during the main set. We spent some time doing tech first, though, so I was only able to stay for about 2,500m before I had to leave for work.

Saturday – a.m. bike/swim brick

A most successful Sportz Saturday: I met a few folks at Tailwind Endurance, and we rode the 20 miles over the bridge to the Palisades Swim Club. About 20 people showed up for the kick- and tech-heavy swim workout. And then I rode the 20 miles back over the bridge with Earl. Aside from being called a “fertile young woman” by one of the new dudes who rode with us, it was an uneventful and fun morning. (On the ride over the bridge, we were talking about the Olympics, and he asked if I’d go to Rio—and that’s when he said a “fertile young woman” like me should not go. Gahhh!)

Sunday – a.m. run

A nearly perfect long run: I finally executed my Snowman Challenge intervals within five seconds of each other. (Interval one is around Central Park’s rolling lower loop for 1.7 miles; interval number two is on Harlem Hill for 1.4 miles.) Huzzah!

Have your training buddies ever made weird/obscene/kooky comments?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 29 (June 13)

Between work and life stuff, this was one roller coaster of a week.

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But that’s when I enjoy training the most—when it’s your happy place and your constant amidst the chaos.

General training notes: since we’re still a few weeks out from my next race, we’re continuing to repeat workouts and build volume. Practice makes perfect, and mentally, I really like revisiting specific sessions because it makes it easier to see and feel progress. The building volume component is important because in the short-term, there is the LAKE PLACID training trip coming up, and I fully intend to ride and swim every day. I’ll run, too, but Mirror Lake and that beautifully brutal bike course are unparalleled. In the relative long-term, my “A” race is about two months away. We’ll start fine tuning and locking things in soon enough, but it’s still too far out yet.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Pushing, pulling, and making watts: similar to last week, we completed two, 15-minute efforts. This time, though, the intervals were switched, and we spent three minutes at 102 percent and two minutes at 90 percent. I felt really good overall.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park and p.m. strength train

It’s crazy how much of a difference humidity—or lack thereof—can make. We expanded on last week’s tempo run, bumping the interval from one mile to 1.5 miles (with the same 3-4 minutes of recovery). I started at Tavern on the Green and worked my way counterclockwise and along the East Side, which meant I hit the West Side Rollers last. I definitely felt the effort there, but I was pleasantly surprised with how smooth, strong, and in control I felt overall.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

*Knock on wood* my body seems to be figuring out how to run off a VO2 max bike workout. In the saddle, we repeated last week’s VO2 “mix” intervals. (For the tri folks: set one was 2:30 at threshold, 30 seconds at VO2 max; 2 minutes at threshold, 1 minute at VO2 max; 1:30 at threshold, 1:30 at VO2 max with 1:30 recovery between. Set two: 1 minute at threshold, 1 minute at VO2 max, 30 seconds at threshold three times through. Set three: 2 minutes at VO2 max with 1 minute recovery; 1 minute at VO2 max with 2 minutes recovery; 3 minutes at VO2 max.) This time, Earl prompted me to hit the upper side of my VO2 max, so instead of shooting for 105-110 percent, I was locking in to 115-120 percent. The ride felt good—but then I needed to run. Because it was a VO2 max workout, Earl told me to simply “let the run happen,” a.k.a. don’t obsess about hitting a certain pace. I was surprised it only four minutes to so for my legs to adjust, and in the process of “letting it happen,” I worked down to my projected race pace during those 2.5 miles.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy six miles along the West Side Rollers and trails

Friday – a.m. Bearcat masters swim

I was a lost soul because my tri buds weren’t there, but it was a productive 2,600m workout nonetheless. Per usual, I was hanging on for dear life when our sets called for backstroke and breaststroke work, but that’s how you get better.

Saturday – a.m. bike

Like last week, a group of us met at Tailwind Endurance and rode over the bridge together. Once we were on the other side, Earl turned me loose and told me to hammer for 10 miles to the Palisades Swim Club. The dudes I was riding with had it made—guess who did all the work and pulled them along for those 10 miles? … although I dropped two of them … I was a little peeved when we arrived at a descent, and the guys who held on bombed the hill and left me in the dust. You made me do all the work, and then you ditch me on a downhill?! Not cool—ha! In total, I rode about 45 miles.

Sunday – a.m. run and p.m. Bearcat masters swim

“Endurance Sundays” doesn’t have quite the rang as “Sportz Saturdays,” but a lot of quality work got logged. I woke up relatively early to beat the heat and complete my 10.5-mile long run. There was a bike race going on in Central Park, and it was so difficult not to yell, “SQUAD!” every time a pack of dudes flew by. Also, cute dudes who can make watts: why are you riding away from me?! Haha!

Since I missed masters swim yesterday, I went to the pool today. I can’t remember everything we did over the course of 1.5 hours, but there was a lot of IM work. Woof.

When work gets crazy, where do you find solace?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 28 (June 6)

For better or worse, I have developed a short-term memory when it comes to races. After last Saturday’s outing at Rev3 Quassy, I gave myself 24 hours to reflect and write the race report—which was a very cathartic experience—and then it was time to let go.

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A Central Park sunrise makes the 4:30 a.m. alarm worth it.

Onto the next!

General training notes: Even though Quassy was a tough day that wasn’t my day, it was a good training day—meaning I did all three sports, but not at a high enough level of intensity to affect upcoming workouts. (To be fair, I did put forth a solid effort during the swim.) After Sunday’s indoor recovery ride, we picked right back up where training left off. My next race isn’t until July—which is also when our LAKE PLACID trip takes place—so we’re entering a volume building phase. It’s also important to note I changed my schedule this week and moved my workouts to the morning. Part of that decision was because I had commitments nearly everyday after work last week, and part of it is for pure socialization purposes. I enjoy training solo, but I also love seeing my tri buds first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to start the day!

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Back at it for some push-pull intervals: I completed two, 20-minute blocks, alternating between three-minute intervals at 90 percent and two-minute intervals at 102 percent. This was a slight increase in total elapsed time from the last night I faced this set (I did 15-minute blocks previously), and my legs felt great.

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Woohoo for a surprisingly great tempo run in the humidity! I tackled four tempo-paced miles with three minutes of easy running between each. Once at work, my boss asked how far I went. When I told him seven-ish miles, he said, “wow, you must be pretty fit right now.” And yeah—we’re getting to where we need to be.

Wednesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Hump Day brick day: I repeated the VO2 mix/max workout from a few weeks ago, although there were a few changes as far as recovery between each set went—which was a good thing because I had to run immediately after. My legs were not thrilled, but they eventually figured out what was going on about 10 minutes into the run. Fifty minutes in the saddle plus 2.5 miles on the road equals one productive morning!

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy recovery run in Central Park along the trails. I spotted my Flat Feet guys getting after it on the bike, and I probably cheered a little too loudly, but …

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

I missed these Friday morning swims! Although these workouts last 1.5 hours, I’ll only be able to swim one hour in order to make it to work on time. I was in an awkward/between lane situation—I’d be hanging on for dear life in one lane during the IM sets, but I’d be too fast in the next one down—but the coach modified the sets. In the end, I moved down a lane, but he gave me faster intervals. I logged 2,500m total and was ready for a nap and second breakfast by 10 a.m.

Saturday – a.m. hammerfest (outdoor ride, outdoor swim, outdoor ride)

A smashing good sportz Saturday! This bike-swim-bike “brick” was my coach’s idea, and it was a solid morning. We met at Tailwind and rode over the George Washington Bridge with another one of his athletes, and then Earl instructed me to hammer the 10 miles to the Palisades Swim Club. Aye, aye! By this point, I had no recollection of Saturday’s race and simply got down in aero and did my thing. It turns out riding a bike is … just like riding a bike. My coach tucked in behind me, watched me hammer, and gave me some feedback. It’s going to take a little longer to get my descending mojo back, but he said things look smooth and strong overall.

During the summer, Tailwind Endurance hosts outdoor swim sessions at the Palisades Swim Club.

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Didn’t make the photo collage this time

There are five or six lanes in the outdoor 25m pool, and since it’s about 20 miles from the city, the facility is an ideal mid-ride “break.” This was the first swim I attended, and it was also the first time Earl has seen me swim so I wanted to make a good first impression. Our group of 15 spent about 20 minutes doing tech work and 40 minutes tackling an interval pyramid. Since I do my swimming with a masters team, I’ve become used to being extremely average so it was interesting to hop in the pool with a bunch of triathletes and be the fastest one in the water (#wannabeswimmer).

Around 10 a.m., I hammered back to the city solo. There was an unrelenting headwind, but my bike and I are now friends again.

Sunday – a.m. run

There was no beating today’s heat and humidity. When I began my warm-up to Central Park shortly after 7 a.m. it was already 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, my workout contained only two solid intervals: one quality lower loop and one solid Harlem Hill loop. (Remember the Snowman Challenge? We’re doing it again.) Nine-ish miles of sweat and another workout closer to race weight, ha!

What was your best workout this week?

2016 Rev3 Quassy Recap

This past Saturday, I took on my first triathlon of the season, Rev3 Quassy. Held in Middlebury, CT and marketed as “the beast of the Northeast,” this event offers challenging Olympic- and 70.3-distance races. (The Olympic takes place on Saturday while the half-Iron occurs on Sunday.)

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Obligatory transition photo

So yes, although it was a race, my game plan for the day did not center on “racing” for a few reasons. As my season opener, this event gave me an opportunity to dust off the racing rust—and honestly, get out a few bonehead mistakes before my target race. Two, this race would be my first time truly riding my tri bike outside this season. And riding for the first time in a race environment was not ideal. Three, this race simply did not suit me; in fact, it is the worst race I could’ve done. Not to be dramatic, but basically, this was a perfect storm with the potential for plenty of things to go wrong.

From the beginning of the season when Earl and I were planning my calendar, he made it very clear Quassy would not be a “race” for me, but rather a tough training day. (And not having insurance and the ability to ride my bike outside further supported this outlook.) He developed the metaphor of a boxing match to illustrate our strategy: the hilly course would punch me hard and often. When this occurred, I was tasked with covering up, playing defense, and absorbing the blow. And then, when the opportunities presented themselves, I could punch back, go on the offensive, and make up some time. Overall, it would be an outing filled with strategic moves and countermoves. I would not be “racing” anyone else; it was me against the course.

And this time, the course totally won. Here’s how it went down.

Pre-race:

As I mentioned a few days ago, the week leading up to Quassy was not normal. Due to Memorial Day weekend, we were working on overdrive at the office, and my sister and I also spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights looking at apartments. This life stuff obviously took priority, which led to missed/abbreviated workouts and extra mental/emotion fatigue. And even though Earl and I addressed the bike situation, I was still worried about riding for the first time on a technical course. Honestly, as Friday approached, all I wanted to do was sleep. But once I met up with my Flat Feet guys, and we started talking about the race, my outlook started to change. This outing would not be an accurate reflection of my fitness. This outing would be a long and challenging grind. And by putting myself in an uncomfortable situation now, I would set myself up for success in the future.

Swim – 1,500m – 26:56 (9/28)

Due to an impenetrable fog on Lake Quassapaug, the swim start was delayed 30 minutes.

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Tailwind family photo

My thought process: ‘I hope they don’t cancel the swim! Wait, this also means I’ll be running 30 minutes later in the day, which means it will be hotter. Oh great.’

Luckily, the swim actually happened, and my wave of women 39 and under was aggressive. There was a lot more bumping, grabbing, and jockeying for position within the opening 400m than I anticipated. It was Nationals-level aggressive, but my basketball instincts kicked in. The field spread out quickly, though, and aside from that initial contact and sighting into the sun at the first turn buoy, everything went smoothly: I found my rhythm, drafted when possible, caught the Wall of Dudes who started five minutes beforehand—just another day in the open water.

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We started at the green point and ended at the red.

Even though I thought I swam a tight course, it felt like I was out there for a while, which was reflected in my slower-than-usual split. Everyone who Garmin’ed the swim had a distance between 1,650 and 1,800m, which could be due to swimming off course, but the consensus was the course was long.

Transition 1 – 1:56 (2/28)

Exiting the water is one of my favorite parts of the race, especially when your training buds and coaches line the chute. “Now your race can start!” yelled one of the Tailwind coaches.

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Fist pump

This was probably the only time I smiled during the race.

Bike – 25.7 miles – 1:34:47 (13/28)

Under normal circumstances, I love anything to do with watts—but not this time. First, the positives: in accordance with our boxing strategy, I executed relatively well. I “absorbed” the course’s punches on the climbs. I became reacquainted with my small ring and did most of my overtaking on the ascents. I rode in aero when I could. And I definitely stayed below 85 percent of my FTP per Earl’s instructions.

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Hilly, but fair:  I just could not capitalize on the downhills.

I made a few bonehead mistakes. My bike computer and power meter weren’t working properly so I rode the course “blind” and didn’t have access to total time, average power, etc. I lost a bottle within the first four miles, and luckily, I was riding with an extra. (For Olympic-distance races, I take in one bottle of nutrition, but knowing we were estimating a 1:30 bike split, I brought two bottles.) I taped my gel to the top tube of my bike, but couldn’t get it off. Basically, I made every “first race of the season” mistake possible so let’s hope I got everything out of my system.

My main shortcomings on the bike were my handling skills and simply riding with confidence. Although I paced myself on the climbs, I didn’t feel comfortable descending and truly making up that lost time. So many people passed me on the downhills. So, so many. There were a lot of technical turns too, and since I didn’t ride the course ahead of time—like a lot of my friends did—I lacked the knowledge to know when I could relax into aero and when I needed to move onto the hoods. Although I had prepared for a long ride, I did not think about what it would feel like to be riding timidly for 90 minutes and how that would affect me mentally. When you can’t execute your ace-in-the-hole discipline—and not only fail to execute, but also feel twitchy—it wears on you. Bottom line, I left a lot of time out there. And mentally, I should’ve left that experience out there too—but I carried it with me onto the run.

Transition 2 – 1:07 (7/28)

All I noticed were a lot of bikes back in their racks. That’s not a sight I’m used to.

Run – 10-K – 1:01:08 (18/28)

Grind, grind, grind. I don’t want to say the wheels came off on the run because they weren’t ever really on.

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Oh mile three …

The first two miles were downhill and flat, and there were some friendly faces out spectating, so it started off OK. Mile three was when the course had its initial “punch,” and the combination of the hill and the sun (remember we started 30 minutes later) caused my heart rate to skyrocket. Per our boxing strategy, I had to “cover up,” pump the brakes, and get my heart rate under control. Full disclosure: there was a lot of walking on the hills. In hindsight, I definitely did not need to walk as much as I did—or at all—but thanks to a mentally fatiguing bike, I could not access the headspace necessary for a strong run.

Official finish – 3:05:54 (14/28)

Yeah, three hours is a long time for me to be out there for an Olympic-distance triathlon. But after debriefing with Earl and my Flat Feet guys, here’s what I’m taking from this experience:

My swim put me in a great position to do some serious smashing on the bike. I was within two minutes of six girls ahead of me, and under normal circumstances, I can erase that deficit in the saddle.

That was the toughest and most mentally and physically challenging bike course I will face all year.

That was the toughest and most mentally and physically challenging run course I will face all year.

I left a lot of time out there. (I probably left 2-3 minutes on the swim, at least five minutes on the bike, and 8-10 on the run.) Not to be dramatic, but given the factors leading into Quassy and the race itself, this was the worst possible combination; yet even on this tough day that was not my day, I finished in the middle of the pack—which for most people is not bad, ha! Basically, if I’m able to put myself in a situation with several factors that are working against me, and I’m still able to put together an “average” outing, then hopefully this means I can totally smash a course that works in my favor. Onto the next!

Triathlon Training Log – Week 27 (May 30)

Some weeks are better than others, and this was one week that could not be over soon enough.

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Bikes and skyscrapers: what being an NYC triathlete really looks like

Don’t worry; nothing too dramatic. There was just a lot of extra life stress. And unfortunately, I carried that mental fatigue to Middlebury for Saturday’s Rev3 Quassy.

General training notes: up until this week, my training schedule has been consistent. Essentially, I can go on autopilot because I know which discipline(s) I’m working on each day, and I can complete the workouts as prescribed. This week, however, life tipped the balance and forced us to re-adjust. Memorial Day weekend pushed back what would normally be Sunday’s brick to Monday. My sister and I looked at apartments Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; I was completely exhausted on Thursday, and all I wanted to go was go home and sleep—yet I ran the Chase Corporate Challenge in Central Park. Bottom line, this triathlon lifestyle is all about training through life and fitting in workouts where you can—and being flexible when things don’t go according to plan.

Monday – p.m. brick (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park)

Well, the final brick before Quassy could’ve gone better. In the saddle, I tackled 3×12 minutes at race wattage with four minutes recovery between each set. Then it was time for a long and easy 60-minute run. The humidity made the pace feel much harder, and I could tell it would be a challenge to keep my heart rate under control. After the first time two miles, I eased off the gas big time and tried to let the run happen. I even stopped for water a few times—which I never do—because it was just so hot.

Tuesdayp.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Per my usual Tuesday night, I had a swim workout scheduled, but it got nixed in favor of going to an apartment open house. Not ideal that I didn’t get to swim the week of a race, but finding an apartment is more important than attending a masters swim workout, especially when I’m tapering.

Wednesday – a.m. easy bike in Central Park

My #WingedFootLyfe insurance finally kicked in on June 1, so I was able to ride outside! Although Rev3 Quassy would be my first legitimate outdoor ride of the season, I still met up with one of my friends for an easy spin in Central Park. This was my first time riding outdoors since August, so things were twitchy at first, but I eventually found my groove. I won’t be breaking any bike course records on Saturday (spoiler alert: I logged my slowest bike split ever), but I do feel better having completed this abbreviated ride.

Thursday – p.m. Chase Corporate Challenge

Just an easy 3.2-mile shakeout run in Central Park with 15,000 other runners. Earl had me on a tight leash, so I stayed on cruise control—which was fine because I was already bobbing and weaving around a ton of folks anyway. Although my 60-year-old boss beat me … let’s blame the taper!

Friday – off

The Flat Feet Social Club left NYC around 3:30 p.m. and arrived in Middlebury, CT around 6:30 p.m. I hoped to do a little sportz shakeout, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Saturday – Rev3 Quassy (0.9-mile swim, 25.7-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)

A tough day that wasn’t my day—but any day you can do sportz with friends is a great day. Race report coming this week.

Sunday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Based on Saturday’s outing, outdoor riding needs to become the top priority, but Mother Nature was not cooperating today. That’s one of the great benefits of having a facility like Tailwind at my disposal—I was still able to log a 60-minute recovery ride. My legs and mind definitely needed it.

How do you rebound from a tough week at work—or a tough race?

Being Tactical: Pre-Race Thoughts on Rev3 Quassy

Race week, race week: the next edition of sportz Saturday will occur at a sanctioned event, and I’m excited to swim, bike, and run at Rev3 Quassy!

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Structured training began in January, so I am itching to enter a race environment, do some sportz, and execute across the disciplines. Plus, I feel like training has been going well, but it will be beneficial to have an “official” check-in point to make sure we’re on track.

Held in Middlebury, Connecticut, “the beast of the Northeast” is known as one of—if not the—toughest courses on the race circuit. It offers both Olympic-distance and 70.3 races, and for those crazy enough, there’s a “revolution” option to race back-to-back and complete both. But tackling the modest 0.9-mile swim, 25.7-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run is more than enough for me. In fact, after the disastrous Pat Griskus Triathlon two years ago, I swore I would never do this race since these courses are so similar. Yet here we are.

As Earl and I developed my race schedule at the beginning of the season, one of our top priorities included exposing me to as many different experiences as possible—both for the build-up to Nationals this year and for my general growth as a triathlete. These mini tests would serve as opportunities to practice pacing, nutrition, etc. in challenging environments before I go to Omaha for *knock on wood* a successful smashfest across the disciplines. The “challenging environment” component is key: my tune-up races will be on hilly courses while Nationals will be flat and fast for the most part. Basically, if I can execute my race plan on rolling courses, then I should be able to lock it in on a flat course.

There’s no doubt Quassy will be the toughest race I do this year—and quite possibly ever. With that in mind, this will be a very calculated outing. This course does not play to my strengths. In fact, it’s probably one of the worst ones out there for me: it’s hilly, and at 5’10”, I am far from being a pocketfriend who can zip up those hills on the bike and run.  And that doesn’t take into consideration the weather either.

Enduring a four-plus-hour college graduation. Would not do it for anyone else, Margaret! <3

We’ve experienced an incredibly hot and humid week here with temperatures reaching the high 80s. Bottom line, facing a hilly course on a hot day is my worst case scenario, and there’s a high chance that’s what the conditions will be on Saturday. Oh, goodie.

It’s all about controlling the controllables: being smart, executing the plan, and racing the course—not the other athletes. On the bike, there will be no hammering. There will be lots of climbing, cresting hills, and managing my efforts strategically.

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Self, repeat after me: smooth, strong, controlled. Do. Not. Hammer.

Plus, due to my health insurance situation–due to my new job, I did not get insured until June 1–this ride will be my first true outdoor outing of the year. (Although I did spin out in Central Park yesterday in an effort to remember what it is like to handle a bike.) Therefore, I’m really managing my expectations for the bike. Luckily, Earl has data from my bike workouts and knows I’m fit. He’s not concerned about my performance in the saddle—he’s looking forward to seeing how I execute on the run.

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What goes up must come down …

Bottom line, this will be an incredibly solid training day. It’s going to be a grind. It’s going to be tactical. But I’m confident in my training thus far, and no matter what happens out there, the only place to go is up.