Monthly Archives: August 2016

Triathlon Training Log – Week 39 (August 22)

Well, that’s it. My 2016 triathlon season is officially in the books.

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Nice view up here. Wonder what it is like a little bit higher …

Thanks to the Olympics, I accumulated a few comp days at work, which let me come home for a long weekend, spend some time with the fam, and do the 16th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon.

General training notes: Since I was still recovering from work—and because I had the local yokel sprint on Sunday—we kept training light this week. Nothing hard, nothing strenuous: just enough to keep the body moving and the legs fresh.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run

After disembarking the early morning bandwagon pre-Nationals, I struggled to hop back aboard this week. I did three loops of the Reservoir in Central Park that were peppered with fartleks, plus one mile at projected local yokel pace for a total of seven.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy-ish 70-minute ride with lots of cadence drills

Thursday – a.m. run

This four miler was a total slog, but on the bright side, I saw a few friends in Central Park.

Friday – off

Travel home

Saturday – shake-out run and tech ride

Easy 10-minute jog, and I rode my bike up and down the driveway a few times to make sure everything felt OK. My front brakes were rubbing, so I paid a quick visit to Syracuse Bicycle for an adjustment (and to see my people).

Sunday – 16th Cazenovia Triathlon (800m swim, 14-mile bike, 5-K run)

My final race of the 2016 was a sweet one: I cracked the overall female podium for the sprint! That means a lot because this was the first tri I did four years ago, and it’s super motivating to see the progress I’ve made. Race report to come!

What’s new with you? How did your workouts go?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 38 (August 14)

The “A” race is done. The Olympics are done. I can finally breathe!

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When you have to work weekends for the Olympics, you get the park to yourself for the most part.

… and start scheming for the off-season.

General training notes: following Omaha, this week was all about recovering, and honestly, simply making it through the week. We’ve been firing on all cylinders with the Olympics and have worked nearly three weeks straight so we squeezed in the workouts where we could.

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy hour-long spin to flush out the legs

Tuesday – p.m. run

Easy and oh-so-humid run along the Reservoir focusing on form and not running like a basketball player

Wednesday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

I only had time for a 50-minute ride after work, and my set included four intervals that served as “zone checkers”: endurance, tempo, sweet spot, and VO2 max. This was the first workout post-Nationals with some quality intervals, and I felt great.

Thursday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Gotta love it when what would normal be IM day ends up being freestyle day. A packed pool meant we stuck to shorter intervals—lots of 25s, 50s, and 75s—and since it was our last practice of the season, we ended the hour-long workout by doing cannonballs off the blocks.

Friday – off

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

Quick hour ride and 20-minute run before heading into work and watching Gwen make history and win the gold medal in triathlon. (She is one of our athletes at work.) Getting paid to #fangirl and handle digital communications is the best.

Sunday – a.m. run

With Meb running the marathon, I did six miles before work, went into the office for more #fangirling, and then ran two miles home.

Did you watch the Olympics?

2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Recap

Last weekend, I took on my “A” race of the season, USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

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Unlike the past three years in which Olympic-distance race took place in Milwaukee, the event occurred in Omaha, Nebraska this time around. (Typically, the race site rotates every two years, but Milwaukee did a phenomenal job, which is one of the reasons they hosted for a third year.) It was impossible not to draw comparisons between the two cities and to say Omaha differed from Milwaukee would be a huge understatement. I don’t want to spent this entire post ranting about sub-par race logistics, but:

-It’s not ideal when hotels are located three miles from the race site, and there are only two school buses shuttling 2,000-plus folks back and forth between the properties, which took about 15-20 minutes without traffic. (Allegedly, four buses were running on race morning, but the bus dropped us off one mile from transition.  Again, not ideal.) Although three miles is not far, it was not a walkable route, and this was a race where a rental car would have been warranted I think.

-It’s not ideal when the bike pick-up location is situated half a mile from the race site. (It’s also not ideal when you’re a bonehead and leave your pedals in your hotel room, thus forcing yourself to walk back to the shuttle drop-off site, take the bus back to your hotel, etc.  The pedal incident was totally my own fault, but this process that would’ve taken all of 30 minutes in Milwaukee—walking back to the hotel, grabbing the pedals, heading back to the race site—ended up taking two-plus hours in Omaha.)

-It’s not ideal when the race starts 30 minutes late. (For me, this meant my F 25-29 wave didn’t jump into Carter Lake until it was nearly 10 a.m.) However, I did get to hang out with Victoria for three hours …

-It’s not ideal when there are no mile markers on the run.  It’s also not ideal when there is no ice left on the run, and the temperature is closing in on 90 degrees. (Full disclosure: I had ice on the run.  A few of my friends did not.)

It’s all about perspective: Omaha has a lot of room for improvement for next year’s event.

Anyway.

Before the race, Earl and I met to review the plan, and we knew it was not going to be a fast day:  non-wetsuit swim, plus long runs in transitions 1 and 2 and a hot, exposed (read: unshaded) run. Due to these factors—and the fact that it was a new race—we did not establish time goals.  Rather, he gave me mental cues for each leg of the race that centered on execution; these reminders helped keep me in the moment, and I knew if I executed, then I would put myself in a position to have a great day.  And even though it was not a PR outing, I was satisfied with how it went overall.

Swim – 27:32 (54/119)

Mental cue: draw a straight line down the bottom of the lake (in an effort to help me pull and finish my stroke)

With water temperatures clocking in at 80-plus degrees weeks before the race, I did not bring my wetsuit to Omaha, but I did invest in a swimskin. It gave me a little buoyancy, but as its name implies, it’s much thinner than a neoprene wetsuit.  I was really glad I had it for this 1500m outing though.

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Although the water was murky—I couldn’t see my hands while I was swimming—it was a fairly easy course to navigate.  After the second turn buoy, though, it felt like there was a current.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense for a lake swim, but during the second half, I struggled to stay on course.  I felt smooth and strong, but it also felt like I was out there for a while.  But again, given the no-wetsuit aspect, I knew it would be a slower swim. (I’m usually two-three minutes faster.)

Transition 1 – 2:20 (64/119)

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The run from the swim exit to transition to the bike mount area was on the long side—probably around a quarter of a mile.

Bike – 1:14:47 (36/119)

Mental cue: smooth, strong, controlled

It’s time to talk watts.  I rode the route twice on the CompuTrainer beforehand, and the course knowledge helped tremendously: I knew where the two hills and the handful of gradual climbs were located.

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It was heating up when I got on the bike—upwards of 80 degrees Fahrenheit—but I felt good and moved through the field quickly.  This was a big-time hammerfest!

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There were a few turns, though, which took away from hammering, and I also got caught up in a game of leapfrog in the opening miles.  In hindsight, this would’ve been a great place to lay down a surge, get into open space, and continue to ride my own race. I definitely lost some time getting sucked into that game.  At the turnaround, I started to push more and took advantage of the tailwind on the way back to transition.

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Cornfields. Everywhere.

Transition 2 – (56/119)

Again, there was a longer run from the bike dismount line to my personal transition area, and then a long run to the run exit.

Run – 54:38 (59/119)

Mental cue: let the “belt buckle” pull you through (forward lean, engaged abs, and not running upright like a basketball player)

With temperatures nearing 85 degrees Fahrenheit and not a cloud in the sky, I mentally prepared to settle in and grind out this hot run.

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The out-and-back course took competitors on a highway and to the TD Ameritrade Stadium, and although it was flat, it was also completely exposed, a.k.a. no shade.

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Grinding it out on the warning track. Do I look like a basketball player? (Rhetorical question)

There were also no mile markers, which would’ve been preferable.

I positive split the run big time, but the huge personal victory was my mental game:  there were no breakdowns, no slip-up, and no wheels coming off.  Of course, there were a few mini-battles I had to work though, but I was able to overcome the negativity before it led to anything really detrimental. This was absolutely huge because the run is where things tend to go south real fast.  So even though this split is not indicative of my fitness, I am pleased with how I hung in there mentally.

Sidebar: I’ve never seen so much walking at an Olympic-distance race, including Quassy. It was total carnage out there. Around mile four, one girl in my age group was passed out on the side of the road and receiving oxygen from medics. That was scary.

Finish – 2:41:19 (44/119)

When I crossed the finish line, I knew it was nowhere near a PR, but I was satisfied:  I executed across the disciplines, and I remained mentally tough.  Earl always reminds me to “focus on the feeling and don’t become emotionally attached to the numbers,” and although I want the numbers to improve, I felt strong and confident in my ability out there.  In fact, this is the first race I’ve done in my four years triathloning in which I was totally, completely mentally in it—and that makes me excited for the future.  It’s a process, and we’re getting to where we need to be while enjoying the journey.

Triathlon Training Log – Weeks 36 (August 1) and 37 (August 8)

And just like that, the “A” race has come and gone.

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Not pictured: cornfields. Cornfields everywhere.

I spent a total of 30 hours in Omaha, Nebraska this weekend doing some swimming, biking, and running with 2,000 other triathletes—including the one and only Victoria! We had three-plus hours to wait between transition closing and our respective swim waves starting at USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, so it was nice to hang out and talk about watts, amongst other things. The race itself was an interesting experience. All things considered, I had a relatively good day, but Omaha has a lot of work to do in order to even come close to how efficiently Milwaukee hosted and produced this race. More to come in the race report!

Anyway, I didn’t post last week’s training log because we’ve been firing on all cylinders at work with the Olympics. We have 68 athletes competing—they’ve already won 13 medals—and they are keeping us busy in terms of digital communications.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

There’s no better way to kick off the training week than with a ride on your race course. The Nationals bike course was available for download online, so we synced it up with the CompuTrainer software. The good news: it’s incredibly hammerfest friendly. The bad news: I don’t know how hard I’ll be able to hammer after swimming in water that’s 85*F.

Tuesday – p.m. run in Central Park

We played around with my rest/recovery this week, so what would normally be a morning workout turned into an evening run. Based on the fact that I slept 10 hours, I definitely needed the extra rest! After work, I did my 6x800s at race pace in the park, and although it was packed, it *was not* humid, which was amazing. Hitting and holding my pace—while not running like a basketball player—felt much easier without the extra moisture in the air. I was happy with how I executed, but I know Omaha will be hot and humid, a.k.a. not these conditions at all.

Wednesday – p.m. brick/ “Groundhog” workout (CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance and run on the treadmill)

Putting the finishing touching on the fitness with a final race simulation workout: 3x (10 minutes on the bike at 95 percent and 8 minutes on the treadmill at race pace). This went so much better than it did last week! Being able to execute confirmed the hay is in the barn—at Nationals, it will come down to how well I manage the heat.

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Another round of 6x800s with descending rest for a total of 5.5 miles. Since the water temperature in Omaha is hovering around 85*F, I ordered a Blueseventy PZ4XT swimskin and tested it out at masters. Wiggling into it was quite the process, but I definitely felt a difference in terms of body position/buoyancy and hydrodynamic.

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Hammered the Omaha course and then went to work

Sundayp.m. swim and run home

I was at work all weekend due to the Olympics, which meant my normal masters swim wasn’t going to happen. My coworker gave me a guest pass to Equinox so I could swim on my own after work, but the pool was closed. Womp, womp. So I did an easy three-mile run home.

Monday – off (with p.m. sports massage)

Recovering and resting was the number one priority this week. I stayed up late Sunday night because we had swimmers competing, so I knew a morning workout wasn’t going to happen. After work, though, I got my usual pre-race sports massage.

Tuesday – p.m. run

Well, this could’ve felt a lot better. I had 4x800m on the docket, and even though I executed and hit the pace, I felt not-so-great. I’m sure this was due to a combination of not getting enough sleep, being mentally stressed/fatigued from work, and eating a piece of chocolate cake beforehand. (What? How else would you celebrate one of your athletes getting a silver medal?)

Wednesday – p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy 45-minute ride to flush out the legs

Thursday – p.m. run

I was supposed to fly to Omaha after work, but my flight—and all flights out to Omaha—was cancelled. I needed to blow off some steam, so once I was back in the city, I ran a few easy miles with Tailwind folks.

Friday – travel

Travel day, part deux. Once I finally made it to Omaha around 1:30 p.m., I spent the rest of the day going to packet pick-up, getting my bike, and bringing it to transition. In theory, this process shouldn’t have taken long. However, the race site was a few miles from my hotel, and the bike pick-up spot was about a half mile from transition. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but the school bus shuttles the race provided (that took folks from their hotel to the race site) were not running as often as they should have. I have a lot to say regarding the logistics of this race, but that’s another post.

Saturday – USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

It was not a fast race, but I am satisfied with how it went. I almost cracked the top third of my age group, but I had a mentally strong day overall—including hanging tough and staying focused during a hot run.

Sunday – travel

Caught a super early flight back to NYC, and I’ve spent the day recuperating and mentally preparing for the next two weeks at work. Covering the Olympics is a serious endurance event.

What have I missed? How are your workouts going?

Volunteering for the Challenged Athletes Foundation at the New York City Triathlon

I’m no stranger to volunteering. From Syracuse 70.3 to countless stints at Ironman Lake Placid, I’ve embraced the spirit of giving back to triathlon. After all, it’s given me so much, brought some phenomenal people into my life, and ultimately shaped who I am; the least I can do is peel off wetsuits and manage transition bags for a few hours. A few weeks ago, though, I had an unparalleled experience when I volunteered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) at the New York City Triathlon.

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Although several friends are involved with CAF and other likeminded non-profit organizations like Achilles, I had yet to volunteer for this type of group. The week of the race, my duties were routine:  I emailed my athlete, exchanged phone numbers, and answered a few questions he had about traveling from the airport to his hotel. Some of my responsibilities centered on these logistical uncertainties—how to get from the hotel to transition, how early to leave the hotel on race morning, etc.—and since I sort of did the race in 2013, I was able to answer course-specific questions.

This is where “standard” volunteer duties ended and paratriathlete handler responsibilities began.

On Saturday, the day before the race, we met at the mandatory briefing, which was held in Midtown Manhattan. There was a separate presentation for paratriathletes and their handlers, and I did my best to absorb as much information as possible: the classifications, the scoring system, etc. We also reviewed rules and identified appropriate instances and protocol for an athlete asking for help, and we continued this conversation as we brought our athlete’s bikes to transition to Riverside Park.

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Racing chair on the left (for the run) and handcycle on the right (for the bike)

There are several areas on the NYC Triathlon course that are not ideal for paratriathletes.  Luckily, since both my fellow handler and I had done this race, we were able to pinpoint a few problematic points, and in some cases, we were able to scope them out. When our athlete arrived at these spots during the race itself, he had to clearly ask for assistance (i.e. “May I please have some help here?”) so he would not get DQ’ed for receiving unsolicited help. Anyway, after getting his handcycle and chair situated in transition, we talked through our race-day plan once more and agreed to meet the following morning at 5:30 a.m.

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A unique aspect of the NYC Triathlon includes its transition setup: there are two (yellow and red) that run along the Hudson River, and your transition color dictates your swim wave. The yellow transition contained pro males and females, plus elite age groupers, all females, and a handful of dudes. After the final wave of the yellow transition was released into the Hudson, there was a 20-minute break, and then the paratriathletes were released at 7 a.m., which meant these folks had clear water. My fellow handler and I helped our athlete down the ramp to the swim start, and he simply exited his chair, and then we hightailed it 0.9 miles south to the swim exit and waited.

Now, I’ve worked swim exits many times. And yes, I am a total endurance sap who cries during every Ironman Lake Placid video. But I was on the verge of tears at the swim exit.

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Watching these strong, capable, absolutely relentless individuals swim 1K was incredibly humbling and inspiring. All too often, we get caught up in the data, paces, and accolades we chase while pursuing the perfect race. We worry about minutia: which goggles to wear, which ring to be in on a hill, when to take a gel. We analyze metrics. We obsess over those 15 seconds we lost in transition. And we take it for granted.

I’ve taken race experiences for granted. But seeing my athlete navigate this race in his chair—pushing him up the steel swim ramp exit, lifting him in his chair up four steps into transition, helping him back into his chair after he fell due to pockets of sand in transition—instilled a new sense of gratitude in me.  It also made me quite anxious. He entrusted me with parts of his race, and I wanted him to have the best day possible. This responsibility stressed me out—volunteering in this capacity allowed me to have a direct impact—but it gave me a greater emotional connection to his experience. And ultimately, this higher investment led to a greater “reward.”

If you have the opportunity to volunteer for one of these organizations, do not pass it up.