Monthly Archives: April 2017

Triathlon Training Log – Week 15 (April 10)

For the first time in a few weeks, we are back to regularly scheduled programming.

Back in my happy place and back on dawn patrol

It’s taken a lot longer than I anticipated to recover from the Queens Marathon, and although I am trying to be patient with myself, I really want to start logging quality efforts again.

Training notes: this is the first week since the marathon that I’ve felt semi-normal/recovered. All but one of my workouts went as planned, but unfortunately, the pool was closed for general maintenance and the Easter holiday. I definitely missed the water this week. I also got a sports massage, which helped the recovery process.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

We kicked off Monday with a recovery-based 75-minute ride. My legs felt fatigued getting on the bike, but they felt better getting off.

Tuesday – a.m. brick (CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance and run in Central Park); p.m. run with Achilles

Some #2MileTuesday action with 60 minutes in the saddle and two miles off the bike.

After work, I met my Achilles buddy, and we ran together for the first time since the marathon. Central Park was a zoo—so many folks on bikes, motorized vehicles, etc.—and it was stressful guiding experience, but we completed six miles.

Wednesday – a.m. run

What was supposed to be my first workout since the marathon ended up being a recovery run. After doing a warm-up and the first interval, I could tell my legs were not in a good place. I could’ve grinded it out, but I am trying to be smarter about my training, especially since my first race isn’t until June.  I also got a much needed sports massage after work.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

We completed the same VO2 max workout from last week: 6×3 minutes at VO2 max with three minutes of rest between each interval. One of the benefits of repeating sessions is learning from the workout before and executing more precisely the next time. Last week, I found myself “hanging out” at 110 percent for each interval—I couldn’t tap into the top-end watts—but this week, I knew I could push myself. With each progressive interval, I challenged myself to start a bit higher: 105, 110, 115, 117 and finally 120 percent.

Friday – off

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

An easier-than-anticipated two-hour indoor ride. Our main set included two, 25-minute builds that started at 65 percent and progressed to 105 percent plus one final block at 90 percent that called for different cadences every three minutes. I got off the bike feeling great!

Sunday – a.m. run

Easy and sweaty loop of Central Park with my running buddy. The warm weather has arrived!

How do you adjust to working out in warmer weather?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 14 (April 3)

It always feels like the weekdays drag while the weekend flies by.

As seen after my run

This week seemed especially long since I had non-training commitments every night after work. Being busy is good, but I definitely need a few more days to recover, ha.

Training notes: my coach and I met last week for a summit meeting to recap the off-season and discuss my triathlon life. I made a lot of progress on my swim and run throughout the past few months, but I am ready to be a triathlete again and become BFFs with my bike. Because I was logging laps and running miles, I lost a lot of watts, so I have my work cut out for me—but the month of April is all about the bike.

Monday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

After a busy and high volume weekend, my legs needed this 75-munute spin-out. It took about 40 minutes for everything to loosen up, but I felt much better getting off the bike than I did getting on.

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

April is brick month at Tailwind Endurance, and we kicked off the campaign with some #2MileTuesday action: this consisted of a 75-minute threshold ride and—you guessed it—a two-mile run off the bike. This was my first run after the marathon (you know you’re a triathlete when …), and I headed to Central Park with one of my friends for a lower loop. I was pleasantly surprised how comfortable everything felt.

Wednesday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Coming off my first true brick of the season, I wasn’t sure how quickly my body would recover and turn around for a quality swim. Although this was a freestyle-based practice, there was a lot of choice stroke work, but I chose to do freestyle, ha.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Nothing showy or flashy about this workout: 6×3 minutes at VO2 max with a long warm-up and cool down.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

For whatever reason, this swim felt like a breakthrough workout. I’ve been feeling a bit down on my swimming after last weekend’s meet, but I felt so good in the water during this IM session—and not just during freestyle. Maybe this is a turning point, or maybe it’s mental, but either way, it was a great 3500m swim.

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

A most successful sports Saturday: two hours on the bike and 1.5 hours in the water. The ride consisted of a 3×20 minutes at threshold main set, and we tackled 4200m of freestyle work with lots of pulling and kicking in the pool.

Sunday – a.m. run

Since April is all about the bike, my “long run” will decrease: today, for example, I met my run bud for 5.5 miles. That’s it. My legs felt like molasses from the biking this week so I was glad there were not double digits on the schedule.

What are your goals this month?

Guiding for Achilles at the 2nd Annual Queens Marathon

On Sunday, March 26th, my Achilles buddy and I negotiated turns, avoided potholes, and dodged puddles en route to running 26.2 miles (26.8 according to my Garmin) at the NYCRUNS Queens Marathon.

Pre-race with the Achilles Queens group

Held in Corona Park and co-sponsored by the Queens Distance Runners, this event offered both a full marathon and 20-mile tune-up option and welcomed about 300 athletes.  The Achilles cohort had five athletes participating and 18 guides who ran anywhere from one to all four loops of the course.

If you’ve been reading for a while, then you may recall my renewed perspective on the 2017 triathlon season, and one of my guiding principles: service.  I want to give back to the community that has given me so much.  My experience volunteering as a handler with the Challenged Athletes Foundation during the NYC Triathlon in 2016 rejuvenated my outlook on sport, and functioning in this type of capacity is something I plan to do on a regular basis.  Several of my triathlon friends are involved with Achilles—a nonprofit that aims to enable people with disabilities to participate in mainstream running events—so getting involved was easy.  Achilles NYC hosts two workouts each week (the group meets Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Central Park), and I started attending sessions in December and gaining experience as a guide.  There is a rough guiding framework, but its execution varies from athlete to athlete.  I can only speak to my experience so this post will focus on what I do for the athlete I guide.

My Achilles buddy and I first ran together in December—he was the second person I guided, ever—and we hit it off immediately.  He’s an experienced runner and triathlete who’s tackled marathons and even completed Ironman Lake Placid, and we have a lot of mutual tri friends.  He is visually impaired and legally blind, so when we run together, we use either a tether or a race belt that we both hold.  By pulling the device, I can make adjustments to the direction he runs, and we also communicate a lot. (More on that in a bit.) Anyway, when he asked me to guide him for the Queens Marathon, I was honored and honestly shocked—I had yet to run a marathon myself!  He knew, though, and had no concerns or reservations so I said yes.

As the marathon approached, we ran together on a regular basis, usually doing six miles on Tuesday evenings and going longer on Saturday mornings.  Prior to race day, the farthest we ran together was 11 miles. (The weekend before the marathon, he did the NYC Half, which was his longest pre-26.2 outing.) For me, my coach said to think of this event as an ultra-marathon:  I would be running at a much slower pace and would be on my feet for much longer.  In addition to my normal tri training, we increased my run mileage, and I capped off at a 15-mile long run.  We knew from my training load my engine would be able to run (ha!) for close to five hours, and we also knew I would be OK muscularly.  Sure, there would be pain, but nothing debilitating.  The challenge for me, however, would be mental: being out there for a long time and staying present, focused, and engaged.

Out there: this is loop three or loop four.

At this point, I will disclose this is neither how I would’ve trained for “my marathon” nor how I would recommend training for a marathon in general.  I should also disclose there was a discrepancy in our training paces. (I did my solo long runs in the 8:40 min./mi. range, and when we ran together, we were in the 9:30 min./mi. ballpark; for the marathon, we were targeting 10:00 min./mi.) Finally, my buddy knew the training wasn’t there for a PR, so it was all about having fun and enjoying the experience.

That said, though, I didn’t know what my body would do after 15 miles. This outing would be one of the toughest things I had ever done. The buildup was far from perfect, but I put my body through some brutal workouts—power tests, race-simulation workouts, swim meets. (The 100 IM at Harvard was one of the most painful things I have ever done.) I knew there would be pain during the marathon, but I knew I could handle it.  I mentally prepared for dark patches, and to work through those times, my coach told me to remember:  “this is a gift you are giving someone else.”  Maybe it was naïve, but I knew that sentiment would carry me through the darkest of times.

There were no dark times.

Heading to the start line: almost marathon time!

As the race begun, I entered a space of intense focus.  My job was to get our team across the finish line.  Mile after mile passed, and I found myself in a state of flow.  No thinking; just doing.  Calm confidence. The looped nature of the course brought both positives and negatives. On the plus side, our Achilles team did not face new terrain after six miles, and there is something to be said for comfort in repetition—just not in terms of this course specifically.  There were tight turns, including some traffic circle-like patterns, and the road itself contained potholes and speed bumps.  Several times per loop, we had to go off-road onto the grass to avoid running through puddles.  These obstacles could’ve been disastrous, but luckily, my buddy and I communicate well:  I would announce turns, terrain changes, etc. at least 20 seconds in advance; I would audibly count down as we approached speed bumps (“Speed bump coming in three … two … one”); and I would give clear instructions on our general plan (like veering right, making a sharp left, stepping onto grass).  Basically, I was the primary guide/navigator/coach, so I was responsible for maintaining our formation, delegating jobs to our supporting guides, and making sure everyone was feeling OK throughout the race.  Our team had two guides per loop, and having that extra person was incredibly helpful.  In most cases, I had the second guide run slightly in front of us to create space and announce to fellow athletes that a blind runner was approaching.  The second guide was also tasked with running ahead to aid stations and getting hydration/nutrition needs sorted.

See the race belt? We used it as our tether during the race.

As we grinded through the later miles (my buddy hit the wall at mile 18), I found myself repeating sayings my coaches have told me over the years, and I had no reaction when we reached uncharted distances for me.  Everything after 15 miles was new, but there was no internal dialogue or narrative. Instead, it was all about making sure my athlete was doing OK:  asking if he needed nutrition, inquiring about how the pace felt, listening to his breathing pattern.  The only time the miles got “personal” was when we hit mile 25 because that was my number for basketball, a fun fact I relayed to our team.

We did it!

We crossed the finish line in 4:45:45, and the experience seems surreal.

What was the most memorable moment during your first marathon or most recent race?

Triathlon Training Log – Week 13 (March 27)

Yesterday afternoon, in addition to conquering my second swim meet in three weeks and third one ever, I enjoyed some delicious dim sum with my Bearcat teammates.

Surprisingly, not stuffed with pork, but rather a sweet, egg custard. Yum!

We pigged out big time!

Training notes: this week was all about recovering from last Sunday’s 26.2-mile adventure. (The recap is almost done, promise.) Although I was able to walk and move around fairly well on Monday, I didn’t start to feel somewhat normal until Thursday. And I learned the hard way that I cannot run a marathon and then expect to slice through the water at a swim meet.

Monday – p.m. CompuTrainer spin-out at Tailwind Endurance

After work, I went to Tailwind for an easy 30-minute spin-out and spent some quality time in the NormaTec sleeves.

Tuesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Another easy spin session at Tailwind. This time, I went before work—and saw a bunch of my triathlon buds—and made adjustments to the prescribed workout. Basically, I hung out at 70-75 percent for 70 minutes.

Wednesday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

After a week-long hiatus, I returned to the water. My legs still felt toasted from Sunday, but I hung tough for 4200m of freestyle swimming.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

A Sufferfest workout was on the docket, and while the class tackled the prescribed intervals, my coach instructed me to do the VO2 max efforts as threshold blocks. My legs felt surprisingly OK, and I was even getting a little ancy toward the end of the workout because I wanted to push more.

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Woohoo for Friday Fly Day! My body felt much better in the water, but this IM-based, butterfly-focused workout was still brutal. We logged 4000m.

Saturday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim with Bearcat Masters

Sportz Saturdays are back! The day started with a two-hour ride at Tailwind Endurance. It was a tough workout with intervals ranging from 80 to 105 percent without any true recovery. (Blocks at 70 percent were considered recovery.) I hit my numbers and survived the ride, but I have a lot of work to do in the saddle.

That afternoon, I went to the pool for a 90-minute distance freestyle swim. My favorite set of the day was the 5x200s. I love locking into that pace. We also spent some time working on starts off the blocks for the upcoming meet.

SundayNYC Parks Swim Meet

Lesson learned: I cannot except to swim fast one week after running a marathon. There were about 30 Bearcats who went to Queens for this meet, and since most of us competed at Harvard two weeks ago, expectations were low. In hindsight, I should’ve done what my teammates did and swam events I “didn’t care about” like the 50-yard breaststroke and maybe the 100-yard butterfly. Instead I swam personal worsts in the 200 and 500 freestyle and the 100 IM. Oh well. Train, race, and learn.

How long does it take you to recover from races?