Monthly Archives: December 2016

My 2016 Running and Triathloning Recap

As the final day of 2016 get crossed off in our planner (just me?), it’s time to recap the year in multisport.

Tailwind family photo at Rev3 Quassy; finishing the run at HITS Hudson Valley; hammering at Nationals in Omaha.

I’ve done this survey a few times, and I enjoy looking back on progress and highlights.

Best race experience

Comparing a triathlon to a swim meet is like setting an apple and an orange side by side: both are sweet, but you probably favor one over the other. (I’ll go for the apple every time.) I had a blast this year diversifying my race portfolio—triathlons, relay races, and swim meets—and while each event posed a unique set of challenges, I found joy through competing in everything.

NYC in Geneva, NY

Even with the apple and the orange comparison, one race experience was the sweetest:  the Seneca7. The present collided with the past when my NYC runner friends traveled to my college stomping grounds for a 77.7-mile relay around Seneca Lake, and we had the best time. The race itself was extremely well organized, the volunteers were friendly; race directors Jeff and Jackie and their entire team simply produce top-notch events. It should come as no surprise that we’re going back to Geneva in 2017.

Best swim

Because I avoided the pool after the 2015 season, swimming and I got off to a slow start in 2016; it took a few months to rediscover my connection with the water. Therefore, it makes sense that my best outing was at the end of the season at the Cazenovia Triathlon in August. In the sprint-distance race, I was the first female out of the water, and the distinction felt even sweeter because I actually raced a girl in the closing 200m.

Bolting to T1

I also did two swim meets in 2016, and while the individual medley (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle) is challenging me big time, I now find even more comfort in the freestyle. Er, comfort with being uncomfortable. I swam a solid 200m free during October’s Bearcat Invitational. It wasn’t fast enough for an AG top three, but I was happy with how I executed: starting strong, building the effort throughout, and nearly eking out a heat win. Training for and competing at swim meets has been a refreshing change, and I’m pumped to continue diving off the blocks in 2017.

Best bike

Thanks to my lack of health insurance from February through May, I didn’t ride my bike outdoors until June. Aside from a leisurely morning spin, my first true outing of the year was at a race: Rev3 Quassy. That showing rattled me, and it took time to become friends with my bike again. Things improved as the season progressed, and I nailed workouts indoors and felt strong outside, but that elusive, perfectly executed ride never happened during a race.

Combating the bonk with some sugar

However, when I think of biking in 2016, I remember those brutally beautiful outings in Lake Placid during WorkLiveTri Camp.

Best run

The run will always be a work in progress, and it reached a turning point toward the end of the season. (Noticing a theme?) I had a good showing on the trails at July’s HITS Hudson Valley, and although my split at Nationals was not what I trained for, I ran a mentally sound 10-K in hot and humid conditions.

Locked in

That combination would’ve led to a meltdown—definitely figuratively, potentially literally a la NYC Triathlon—for the “old” me, but it did not happen in Omaha. I did not hit the wall or go into a dark place. Heck, I was passing people! The split will take care of itself, but this process of maturing mentally makes me excited for 2017 and beyond.

Best piece of new gear

Aside from a swimskin for Nationals, I didn’t make any exciting new gear purchases this year—just the normal goggles, running shoes, etc.

Best piece of running/triathloning advice you received

Trust the process. This is one of my coach’s fundamental philosophies, and my mindset has slowly shifted over the past year. With prior training groups, the immediate results—going faster now, getting on podiums now—were paramount but now, I’ve found joy in journey: what can I do today to become a better version of myself—tomorrow, three years from now, five years from now, etc.?

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

“Foundational” and groundbreaking

What are some of your highlights from 2016?

Triathlon Training Log – Off-Season, Week 16 (Dec. 19)

To everyone who celebrated, I hope you had a memorable Christmas surrounded by loved ones.

Surrounded by Grandma’s cookies

My days at home flew by—I took the train Upstate on Thursday and am heading back to NYC today—and it never seems like enough time.

General training notes: this was another good week of being a triathlete again, meaning I swam, biked, and ran. In fact my cycling and running mileage were nearly the same. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a not-so-good one, but I’m enjoying being back in the saddle. Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll slowly build this base and most likely bump up my rides to twice per week by the end of January.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Back on the bike and feeling great! This 75-minute ride centered on technique and speed skills—think single-leg drills, spin-ups, etc.—and I felt more powerful and comfortable than last week. For what it’s worth, I’m also feeling less “frisky” in the words of my coach. Everyone else had permission to bump up the tempo blocks to threshold, but since this was my second ride in three months, I was instructed to stay at 75 percent—which, surprisingly, I was perfectly fine with. Am I finally maturing as an endurance athlete? Ha!

Tuesday – a.m. run

My final 2016 outing with my run bud—so bittersweet! We braved the elements and logged 6.5 miles in 24-degree weather.

Wednesday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

How swimmers celebrate Christmas

HY-POXIC FIVE: the morning group of Bearcats tackled a 12 days of Christmas swim that included 12x50s broken up in a variety of ways: straight freestyle, 25 drill, 25 swims; 25 butterfly, 25 freestyle; etc. At the end of the 12, we swam 200m straight, and then did the 12×50 once again. It was a lot of fun!

Thursday – off (travel home)

Friday – a.m. swim

For once, my hometown’s pool was open while I was home. Huzzah! I drove over first thing and tackled a 3,600m set my coach wrote titled “Christmas Toys,” which appropriately contained a lot of fun with fins, paddles, and pull buoys.

Saturday – a.m. run

Long and easy 10 miles around the lake

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy five-mile shake-out at home

Where did you go for the holidays?

2016 Metropolitan Short-Course Championships Recap

This wannabe swimmer once again reported for duty: two weekends ago, I competed at my second meet, the Metropolitan Short-Course Meters Championships. Held at Asphalt Green (AG) on the Upper East Side, the meet sounds intimidating, but with about 100 swimmers—25 of whom were Bearcat teammates—it was an ideal size for a “Sunday night practice.” That’s how I viewed it anyway, especially since my team didn’t taper. Rested or not, my goals remained the same: gain more racing experience by soaking in the details, getting some quality starts off the blocks, and posting good-for-me times. Overall, it was a fun and successful evening in the water: I learned a lot and set new PRs across my events.

Waaaah! Still can’t believe that’s me.

After surviving my first meet in October, I outlined areas of success and identified opportunities for growth. First, I realized it may be a good idea to be more discerning about which events I swim. It turns out most folks opt for one, two, or maybe three events, but not four like I did. This time around, however, I still registered for four events—50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m IM, and 200m IM—but I at least looked at the schedule of events and determined I’d have “enough” time between each. (At my first meet, there were a handful of quick turnarounds.) I’m definitely still figuring out what constitutes “enough” time though: my closest swims were about 15 minutes apart, which seemed fine; however, one of my teammates was stressed because it wasn’t enough. Bottom line, when I swim targeted meets—like Harvard in March—I will do only one or maybe two events per day. This outing was all about gaining experience, so if I was a little flat for my later events, then so be it.

Second, I did a better job warming up and cooling down overall. Before the meet began, I swam at least 1000m with some drill and tech work, and I also dove off the blocks four or five times. Figuring out my nutrition plan was also important, but it actually didn’t play as big of a role as I anticipated. I ate carbs all day—cinnamon raisin bagel for breakfast, sweet potatoes with kale and black beans for lunch, and a bowl of oatmeal with a banana around 3:30 p.m.—and felt fueled for the 5 p.m. start time. During the meet itself, I drank my electrolyte mix to thirst and felt fine (read: not hungry like last time).

The essentials, but I did not eat the bananas.

Aside from swimming faster than last time, my primary goal was to become better at controlling my adrenaline and navigating my emotions. This world of competitive swimming is so new, but I felt much more calm, composed, and confident. I knew how to read the heat sheets. I’m in the process of developing a warm-up and warm-down routine, plus an “at the blocks” ritual. I had an idea of how painful each event would be. Thanks to my super small amount of experience, the atmosphere was less foreign—still nerve-wrecking, but comfortably uncomfortable.

I’ve recently started a meditation process—that’s another post entirely—and one principle that has resonated with me is the willingness to allow our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to come and go. Rather than fight them, let them flow. So as I waited for my individual events, I let myself feel the excitement, the nervousness, the anxiousness, the happiness. As I stepped onto the blocks, I quieted my mind and visualized my race: I saw myself diving cleanly into the water (with my goggles staying on) and executing perfect stroke after perfect stroke. I imagined how each flip-turn would feel—catapulting off the wall and dolphin kicking for momentum—and where the lactic acid burn would surface first. As I adjusted my goggles—fiddling with the lenses and ensuring they suctioned to just the right spot—the world vanished.

It was just me and the water.

Results:

50m free – 33.80 (seed 34.32)

1st place AG

100m free – 1:11.73 (seed 1:14.89)

2nd place AG

100 IM – around 1:33 (seed 1:37)

3rd place AG

200 IM – 3:24.72 (seed 3:40)

2nd place AG

When’s your next race?

Triathlon Training Log – Off-Season, Week 15 (Dec. 12)

As quickly as it arrived, the snow melted.

Upper West Side winter wonderland

The ground was covered in powder yesterday, yet most of it is currently slush. I even wore shorts on my run today!

General training notes: guess who’s back on her bike! This week marked my first ride since the Cazenovia Triathlon back in August, and it felt so great to return. I missed my Tailwind people. Other than that, it was another uneventful week of swimming and running.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

I’m baaaack! I made my triumphant return to the saddle for 75 minutes of drills and tempo work. On the bright side, the engine is good—but I could definitely feel the absence of biking in my legs even though we lowered my FTP by 30 watts. We will get it back soon enough.

Tuesday – a.m. run

Easy 5.5 miles in Central Park

Wednesday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Following Sunday’s swim meet, the masters coaches think it’s time for me to move up a lane, so for the next couple practices, I’ve been tasked with watching my splits and dialing in how I feel. We logged 3000m this kick-heavy practice, and I led my “normal” lane.

Thursday – a.m. run

My legs felt trashed from Wednesday’s kick-heavy practice, so I was thankful for my run bud. There’s no way I would’ve done the entire loop of Central Park without him.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

So. Much. Kicking. Part of our warm-up included a 4×100 IM kick set, and I logged about 3000m total before work.

Saturday – a.m. run with Achilles NYC

This upcoming triathlon season, I plan to make it a priority to give back to the sport, and since a lot of my friends volunteer with Achilles, I attended my first run to see what it’s all about. A non-profit, Achilles has chapters and members in more than 65 locations throughout the U.S. and abroad. The organization aims to provide athletes with disabilities a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Even in the freezing rain, Achilles hosted its holiday reindeer run, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people came. Along with three other volunteers, I ran with about four miles with one of the Achilles athletes. The group meets Tuesday evenings for workouts as well, and I plan to make it part of my routine.

Sunday – a.m. run

Worlds collided for today’s long run: one of my swimming friends joined my running bud and me for 10 miles in Central Park. It was a balmy 52 degrees, and the miles flew by!

Have your workouts been affected by winter weather?

Triathlon Training Log – Off-Season, Week 14 (Dec. 5)

We’ve reached that time of the year when our calendars explode: holiday parties, dinner with friends, and social obligations in general.

Merry and bright—and “lit” as the kids would say.

As I type this post on Sunday morning, my heart is full because I’ve spent a lot of time with friends this week, but I’m also exhausted—and there are two more weeks of this! That’s a good problem to have, though.

General training notes: even though I completed all of my workouts, I definitely felt fatigued this week. I had commitments four nights—plus plans on Saturday night and today’s swim meet—so it was tough to turn around, wake up early, and run or swim. Working out keeps me balanced, though, especially this time of year.

Monday – a.m. run

Rain, rain … do whatever you want because I’ll run anyway. I kicked off the week with 5.75 easy miles in Central Park.

Tuesday – a.m. run

Two lower loops in Central Park for a total of four miles

Wednesday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Lots of choice (butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke) during this 3200m practice. Two things stood out: first, when a set called for 25m butterfly, I felt comfortably uncomfortable (like I could do more?); second, I got to lead my lane during the fast freestyle set (300m, 4×25, 200m, 4×25, etc.).

Thursday – a.m. run

Since both my long-run bud and I are racing this weekend—he did a 15-K in Central Park, and I’m doing that swim meet—we decided to meet mid-week for an easy five miler.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

One final quality swim before Sunday’s meet—and it went well, whew! We focused on freestyle during this practice and logged close to 3000m. It’s crazy to think a 3000m practice now seems short. That’s great progress for this wannabe swimmer!

Saturday – p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy 2500m to get the blood flowing and stay loose

Sunday – Metropolitan Short-Course Meters Championships

This meet doesn’t start until 5pm tonight, and I’m mentally preparing to go deep into the hurt locker for my 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m IM, and 200m IM. A successful outing would be one with no bellyflops, no goggles coming off, and no last-place finishes—and hopefully my 50m and 100m free will be faster than they were at October’s meet.

How do you stay balanced during the holidays?

Triathlon Training Log – Off-Season, Week 13 (Nov. 28)

After a holiday weekend, it’s always tough to get back on a schedule.

2016-december-dawn-patrol-central-park

December dawn patrol has begun.

It was kind of a weird workweek, too.  Some days flew by while others seemed never-ending.

General training notes: aside from a missed swim workout on Wednesday, this was another great week logging meters and miles. I’m really enjoying this relatively unstructured training, but it is time to start easing back into an official plan: my coach and I met this week for a summit meeting of sorts to talk about 2017 and beyond. We’re in the process of building a two-year plan, and I’m really excited! (Post coming soon!) Right now, I will say my hard start date for 2017 is Jan. 1.

Monday – a.m. run

My favorite route: an easy 5.5 miles with two loops around the Reservoir

Tuesday – a.m. run

Another easy 5.5 miles—in shorts and a t-shirt.

Wednesdaya.m. swim with Bearcat masters off

When life happens, all you can do is accept and adjust. So when I woke up for swim practice and discovered I was locked in my apartment, all I could do was read my book. (I finished Belgravia. It’s written by the guy who did Downton Abbey. So good!) We were eventually sprung … just not in time for a 6 a.m. swim practice, ha.

Thursday – a.m. run

December dawn patrol in shorts and a tank top.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Woohoo for Friday Flyday: lots of IM work during this 4000m practice, and I stayed for the entire 1.5 hours without being late to work.  Success!

Saturday – a.m. run; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

A few Tailwind buds and I met in Central Park for a short run and hot chocolate. Since I haven’t been on my bike since August, it’s been a while since I’ve seen everyone, and it was great to hang out and catch up. (I will be back on my bike in two weeks.)

2016-december-hot-chocolate-run

Tailwind Endurance in now Tailwind Indulgence … until the off-season is over at least. Coach Keane did a get job setting the pace!

Later that afternoon, I conquered my first-ever “test set” at masters practice: 5×200. The protocol was to swim the first 200 all-out and try to stay within three seconds for each subsequent one. We had a packed lane and failed to put ourselves in the right order, so I got stuck behind a few folks and felt like I was just cruising during the 200s. (For the actual swimmers, my splits were all around 3:00-3:02.) For added fun, we did three starts off the blocks in preparation for next Sunday’s meet—ekkkk!

Sunday – a.m. run

Perfect fall … er … day for a long run. One of my training buds and I met up for eight easy miles in Central Park. My legs did not feel great—most likely due to back-to-back 4000m swim practices—but it was a beautiful day, and we had a great time chatting away.

What are your goals for December?