Tag Archives: 12th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon

Hopkins Vineyard Sprint Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, I completed the Hopkins Vineyard Sprint Triathlon (0.5-mile swim, 10-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run) as my final tune-up event before Nationals. My coach said I should get a sense of my “top-end speed,” and my teammates said there would be a wine tasting afterward. Sign me up! In all seriousness, though, I wanted to make sure what happened at Stamford wasn’t a fluke—as in my training is going in the direction it should.

Overall, this race functioned as a solid training day: I logged a quality open-water swim, I put forth a solid effort on the bike, and I hurt on the run. This race also confirmed what I suspected: In Milwaukee, I need to work the swim-bike and simply hang on for the run.

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But any race that results in an overall podium finish is a good race.

Swim – 0.5 mi. – 17:36

Although the Lake Waramaug swim was advertised as half a mile, Garmin data (not mine) measured the course as 0.7 mi. That’s totally fine by me; the longer the swim, the better. Anyway, this was the smartest, most tactically sound swim I’ve logged in a race setting. Out of the gate, I found myself in the lead pack and settled into a solid-ish effort; I was working, but not taking in water like I did at Griskus. I actually drafted effectively and felt good. And like during most swims, I hit Wall upon Wall of Dudes from the earlier waves. I exited the water in the five spot and immediately heard my coach yelling at me from the sidelines: “Everyone is in front of you! GOOOO!” So heading into transition, I thought I had a lot of ground to make up. But that wasn’t the case.

Transition 1 – 1:11

As I stripped my wetsuit and threw on my bike gear, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing came over to brief me: I was fifth out of the water with the third and fourth girls still in transition. I left T1 ahead of them, moving up to third female overall. I love passing people in transition!

Bike – 10 miles – 28:18

Aside from two hills—one being long and the second being steep—the bike course wasn’t too challenging. The hills actually worked to my advantage: I was playing leapfrog with the girl in second place, but was able to attack the first hill and create a gap. Is that how you race tactically?

Transition 2 – 0:35

As I changed gear again, my teammate relayed updated information: the girl in first place just left transition, and I could catch her. And my coach was out on the course waiting for me. Oh good.

Run – 3.1 miles – 26:25

Hands down, this was the toughest and probably 5-K I’ve ever run. The opening 1.5 miles contained a steep hill (steeper than Escape to the Palisades) while the closing half mile or so went off road and through a vineyard. Anyway, coming out of T2, my legs did not feel up to par. And to sum up the run in one sentence, I could see the first place female the entire time, but could not close the gap. Even when I reached my coach and got a peptalk, I could not attack the hill and reel her in.

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Official finishing time – 1:14:01 and 3rd female overall

A woman from the last wave completed the course the fastest, so she took first, the girl I couldn’t run down took second, and I finished third.

So what did I learn? An Olympic-distance race plays to my strengths because I need a longer swim and definitely a longer bike; ten miles of saddle time does not give me enough real estate to make serious moves. A hilly bike works to my advantage; a hilly run does not.

And overall, like I experienced during Griskus and Stamford, some days you feel junky, some days you feel invincible, and sometimes, you’re somewhere in between. Saturday was an in-between day. But that invincible day where the stars align doesn’t come around often. But I’m chasing it—and hopefully I’ll catch it on Aug. 9.

23

At approximately 8:41 a.m. this morning, I turned 23 years old.

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Holy cow—talk about old!

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Ballet days throwback.  My grandparents included this photo in the above birthday card–aren’t they sweet?

It seems like yesterday I was playing high school basketball, then hanging out at CampHoho going to college.  Where has the time gone?

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In all honest, though, 22 treated me very well.

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I rang in my second year of official adulthood with plenty of homemade cupcakes and Pinot Grigio.

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I ran my first relay race, the Seneca7, with some awesome Writing and Rhetoric teammates.

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What?!  Who doesn’t like pondering grammar?

I had so much fun fully embracing the sweetness of senior spring—after completing my Honors project, of course.

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I survived my first wine tour.

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I graduated?!

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I decided to give blogging and triathloning a shot.

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I volunteered at the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman—and watched MB kick some serious butt!

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I partied through ran the Boilermaker 15-K with Sara.

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I bonded with Zelda at the Grapehound Wine Tour.

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I finished my first triathlon—and was instantly hooked!

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I completed my second and third swim-bike-run events.

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I moved to New York City, survived Hurricane Sandy, and found a big-girl internship.

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I explored Brooklyn with Gabby and Connie.

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I spent lots of quality time with my family during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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I officially started training with Full Throttle Endurance.

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I trigeeked out and met Craig Alexander.

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Twenty-two was pretty sweet, but 23, I’m ready for you—let’s do it!

My 2012 Running and Triathloning Recap

Happy last day of 2012, friends!  How are you spending the last 24 16 hours (and counting) of this year?  Will you set resolutions for 2013?  Even though I’m not one to set goals when the clock strikes midnight (you don’t have to wait for a new year, month, or week to make a change), I do like reviewing what happened this year–on the running and triathloning fronts, of course.  Seeing which races and distances proved successful—and which turned into struggle fests—I can better make my 2013 training schedule and race calendar.  This post has been circulating the running, triathloning, and healthy living blogs recently—and a big thanks to Miss Zippy for conceptualizing this idea—so with the new year only hours away, it’s time to reflect on 2012.

Best race experience?

Running:  The Seneca7 (during pre-Fitness and Frozen Grapes days). (The Boilermaker 15-K was a close number two!)

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This seven-person relay race around Seneca Lake promised everything—running (three legs and double-digit mileage for the day), eating (the swag bags contained nut butter and chocolate!), and lots of laughing.  At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know everyone on Team Run-On Sentences, but there’s nothing like running 77.7 miles to bond people.

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It was literally one of the best days ever, and four of the original Run-On members are looking to get a team together for 2013; I’ll keep you posted!

Triathloning:  Cazenovia Triathlon.

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It was my first triathlon in my hometown—I got to swim in “my” lake, bike on “my” hills, and run on “my” roads—and my family showed up in full force!

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Even though I completed brick workouts in the weeks leading up to the event, doing a true triathlon ignited a passion in me that I thought died during collegiate basketball.  After I crossed the finish line, I was totally hooked; deciding to give this triathlon thing a “tri” (sorry, couldn’t help myself) was a huge turning point for me, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in 2013.

Worst race experience?

Running:  Tromptown Run (half-marathon).  In hindsight, training for my first triathlon and half-marathon simultaneously wasn’t the best idea.  Doing my first multisport event provided enough of a challenge (not to mention a learning curve!) that I could’ve done without increasing my mileage; if I hadn’t spent so much time running, I could’ve worked more on my swim and bike.  Anyway, this race itself proved to be my toughest run (mentally) of the year.  On the bright side, I can only improve, and looking forward (wayyy forward), I know I can and have run 13.1 miles … for when I train for a half-Ironman.

Triathloning:  Honestly, I didn’t have a disappointing triathlon (thanks to low expectations—ha!), but the swim portion of the DeRuyter Lake Triathlon ended up being especially brutal.  Wind and choppy water equated to my slowest swim split of the season.

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Again, that just means there’s room for improvement.

Best piece of new gear?

Running:  Mizuno Wave Elixirs.

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I’ve been an ASICS girl for the longest time, but I’m really glad I switched over; these sneaks feel so light!

Triathloning:  As a swim-bike-run rookie, I had to get all the necessary gear—tops and shorts, wetsuit, bike, everything.  Today, especially during the winter, I’m grateful for my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer.

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If I didn’t have this apparatus, I wouldn’t be riding regularly.

Best running/triathloning advice you received?

Running:  “Run the mile you’re in.” (I think I read it in Runner’s World.) While running, it’s easy to get caught up the distance or time remaining.  During the summer, heading out for a 10-mile run seemed daunting, so I’d break it up into smaller chunks.  Sometimes, I could handle running five and then another five, or maybe eight plus two, but there would be those days that making it to the next mailbox was the goal.

Triathloning:  A lot of running advice translates to triathloning—don’t try anything new on race day, always have several (“A,” “B,” and “C”) goals and races, etc.  Overall, though, I’m still learning so much about the sport, and my cousin MB has been great putting up with all my questions and offering tips.  Most recently, she told me about her general fueling strategy on the bike.

Most inspirational runner/triathlete?

Runner:  How can I pick one runner?!  Everyone has overcome obstacles, challenged themselves, and pushed past their limits, which sounds inspirational to me.

Triathlete:  Again, same thing. (Although I do have a total soft spot for Craig Alexander now.) Each triathlete has a story to tell, and each has a unique journey that lead them to the swim start.  Inspirational people are everywhere; you just have to look.  I’ll freely admit to tearing up while watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona–crossing the finish line means much more than swimming, biking, and running.  And after being inspired by these athletes, how can you not want to do it too?

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

Challenging myself, going outside my comfort zone, and ultimately making a lifestyle change.

Running/triathloning ups?

Tackling new distances—like my first 10-Kvolunteering at the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse and with New York Runners in Support of Staten Island, and finishing my first sprint triathlon.

Running/triathloning downs?

Where I was mentally during my half-marathon; and honestly, the end of the triathlon season bummed me out.  In terms of confidence, I hit a turning point during my third tri, and I felt like I was starting to somewhat figure out what I was doing.  That’s off-season motivation, though!

Surprise of the year?

The fact that I started triathloning—and having people call me a triathlete.  I still can’t wrap my head around it sometimes!  If you told me one year ago—when I was a wee college senior—that I would be swimming, biking, and running after graduation, I probably would’ve looked at you in complete disbelief and had a good laugh.  Now, though, it seems like such a logical transition, and I can’t picture myself not triathloning.

Let’s hear about your 2012:  favorite race?  Best piece of new gear?  Surprise of the year?

Skinnyman Triathlon Recap

First, I want to thank you for your well wishes as I prepared for the triathlon and established my goals.  It’s great to know I have a digital support system—you rock!

With clear skies and moderate temperatures, Saturday saw perfect weather for the Skinnyman Triathlon, a sprint-distance race held in Skaneateles, NY.

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In true type-A fashion, I woke up at 3 a.m., left my house at 4:45 a.m., and arrived in Skaneateles at 5:20 a.m., 10 whole minutes before Clift Park—the transition hub—officially opened.  Since I took care of prerace logistics—registering online and getting my packet at Syracuse Bicycle—my race-day checklist was short and sweet:  set up my transition area, get body marked, and pick up my timing chip.

Even though I was excited for the triathlon anyway, I was pumped Amanda, one of my friends from college, was doing the race, too.

HWS represent!  Amanda swims for the Herons, so she doesn’t need a wetsuit; it’s only fair for those of us who don’t have gills.

It was so nice to hangout with her; I love seeing familiar faces on race-day.  Donna, who teaches spinning at the Colleges, was there and one of my former AAU basketball teammate’s dad.  Even though she wasn’t racing—she’s training for the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Vegas, no big deal—MB sent me some good luck texts.  It felt like she knew I was beginning to get nervous because she timed the messages perfectly; I’m very lucky and grateful to have her for support and last-minute words of wisdom.

Swim – 800 yards (16:50)

The triathlon began at 7:30 a.m., and my purple swim cap signified a fourth-wave, 7:45 a.m. start for women 39 and younger.

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I’m somewhere in the purple pack.

While standing in my corral, I was surprised to see so many women comprised the wave; I knew it would be larger than the Cazenovia Triathlon novice swim, and even at CNY Triathlon Club training, each wave caps at 30-50 people.  After the first group took off, our wave entered the water and waited 15 minutes for our starting horn.  Within my wave, I positioned myself closer to the front (than to the back), but in hindsight, I didn’t select a strategic spot; boxed in from the get-go, I had a difficult time finding open space. (I should’ve positioned myself as far right or far left as possible; that way, I would’ve had no one next to me on one side, or at the very least, a little more space.) Here’s what the opening 300 yards were like.

Dramatic?  Yes.  Accurate?  Well, sort of—lots of pulling, grabbing, and jabbing.  In related news, I experienced a triathlon rite of passage:  I received my first kick to the face.  If I learned one lesson from playing basketball, it’s to embrace contact.  In a weird way, it felt like I was on an underwater court, and my athleticism took over; I found myself jockeying for positioning, too.

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Because this opening surge was crowded and slow moving, I relied on the breaststroke; it was easier and required less energy than sighting every stroke.  After turning right at the first buoy, the swimmers dispersed and the pace picked up.  It was frustrating that it took at least 300 yards for me to get going, but that’s the nature of the OWS.  And, it’s also my own fault for not selecting a smarter starting spot.  Lesson learned.

Luckily, the swim exit went much smoother than it did during the Cazenovia Triathlon.  Even with a slippery, algae-covered concrete ramp, there was a handrail and plenty of volunteers to help with the first few precarious steps.  After cautiously walking up the ramp and stairs, it was game on.

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Transition 1 (1:27)

Goggles off, cap off, unzip wetsuit, stay standing; sunglasses on, clip on helmet, put on socks, slide into cycling shoes, grab bike, go. (This T1 time was an improvement from Caz, too; it’s all about progress.)

Bike – 11 miles (39:55)

Because I rode the updated course Thursday, I knew which sections contained climbs and which areas had straightaways.  Even though I stumbled a bit when it came time to clip in, I recovered quickly and found a pace bunny; I maintained contact for four or five miles before she dropped me. (Hey, she had one of those aerodynamic and super speedy tribikes.) Overall, I did a good job of executing my race plan—refraining from attacking the inclines, capitalizing on downhills, and hydrating accordingly—and for the final two miles or so, I backed off the pace, downshifted, let my legs “spin out,” and started thinking about the run.

Transition 2 (1:11)

Another triathlon rite of passage:  Sprinting to your transition spot and finding another bike there.  I was in disbelief; did someone really take my spot?  I had a word-vomit moment (Mean Girls, anyone?) and yelled, “Wait, what is going on?”  The outburst seemed to help; I quickly placed my bike in between two others and prepped for the run.  Even with this frazzle, I improved my T2 time.  Again, progress.

Run – 3 miles (26:48)

Not going to sugarcoat it—the run was rough.  The “jello-leg feeling” hit hard, so I shortened my stride and increased my turnover with the hope of alleviating lactic acid build-up.  As I climbed the first hill, I located a pace bunny and refused to let her drop me.  There was a short plateau before another incline, so I coasted a bit, and when it came time to tackle the second hill, I reminded myself I had been here before—remember the Sullivan Street climb during the Cazenovia Triathlon?—and I had run through it.  The route then took a right-hand turn, a flat straight shot to the turnaround spot.  During this segment, I ran with a woman who had just given birth, like, six weeks ago—crazy, right? (That will probably be me one day.) Since my legs felt OK, I pushed the pace, knowing there was a downhill coming.  A left-hand turn took the course through a cul-de-sac, which contained another decline and then a climb.  The downhill was great, and as I approached the final hill, I shortened my stride and backed off the gas. (In hindsight, probably a bit too much.) Get to the top of the hill, I told myself.  And then it’s time to lay down the hammer.  Back on the main drag, I cruised down the first hill, but realized my calves weren’t too happy. (On the bright side, it was the only time I thought about them during the entire race; guess the compression sleeves worked.) At the plateau, I began to make my move and was ready to leave it all on the course. (Or, as MB advised via text, don’t get passed during the last 100m, ha!) Somehow, I found another gear, silenced the voice that said I was tired, and ran.  I picked off a few runners, and as soon as I saw the blowup arc, my finishing kick—well—kicked in.  Surging ahead and passing more people, I wound up in a sprint-off to the finish a la Nicola Spirig/Lisa Norden.

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She boxed me out!

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So peeved, but still finishing strong.

Because the Skinnyman distances were shorter than those of Caz, it’s no surprise I set a new sprint triathlon PR—1:26:11.  It’s always rewarding to set new personal bests—even though I’m looking at this race as a “super sprint,” so it will have an asterisk in my mind—but I’m even more satisfied with how natural everything felt.  Well, as natural as doing a triathlon can be.  Granted it’s still far from being second nature, but I made a race plan, established my goals, and executed everything OK.  I’m not ready for the season to end, and I still want to improve my time from the Cazenovia Triathlon.  I’ll have to do something about this …

My Goals for the Skinnyman Triathlon

Hiya, everyone!  Happy Saturday!  As you’re reading this post, I’m either swimming, biking, running, or recovering from the Skinnyman Triathlon.

Even though I’m still new to the triathlon world, I set some tangible goals for today’s race.  When I did the Cazenovia Triathlon at the beginning of the month, my main objectives included racing within myself and having fun; it was my first official swim-bike-run event after all.  With one triathlon under my (race) belt, I set the bar a bit higher.  Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish today.

Swim

Use the 800 yards as a warm-up; do not attack it aggressively.

Use the freestyle for its entirety, except for circling buoys.

Stay mentally engaged; get into “the zone” and review my race plan.

Transition 1 (T1)

Jog to transition (i.e. don’t walk).

Stay standing (I sat down during the Cazenovia Triathlon), move quickly and efficiently.

Bike

Follow this mantra:  “Set yourself up for a good run.”

Shift into my “second gear” and maintain an ideal cadence (90 RMP).

Stay hydrated. (I didn’t drink any water during the bike last time.)

Ride smart:  climb (do not attack) hills efficiently; attack downhills; pass who I can, but don’t get passed on straightaways.

Transition 2 (T2)

Rerack bike quickly. (Again, this didn’t go so well during the Cazenovia Triathlon.)

Stay standing while taking off and putting on gear.

Start running ASAP.

Run

Stay mentally strong and positive.

Run efficiently (i.e. shorten stride on the hills).

Run semi-aggressively—find a pace bunny, maintain contact, and eventually pass.  Try not to get passed at any point.

Execute a finishing kick and leave it all on the course.

On a somewhat related note, I found this graphic floating around the web.

Have a great day!

Take What The Defense Gives You, Continued

Hi, everyone!  How’s your Monday going so far?  Remember last week when I took what the defense gave me, which resulted in some delicious Wegmans sushi?  Well, I did it again this afternoon.

My mom had this coupon for Lord & Taylor, and I couldn’t stand by and watch it expire.  And since I’ve been in the market for a new iPhone case, and I figured this discount could be put to good use; sure enough, I found a winner.

As soon as I spotted this Michael Kors case, it was a done deal.  And speaking of deals, this was a total steal. (Wow, I need to stop rhyming.) With the $30 coupon plus an additional discount from using an L&T credit card, the case cost only four bucks.  Nice!  To celebrate, I wandered over to Starbucks and ordered a tall iced coffee with soy milk.

(The barista was also wicked cute.  He said he liked my Starbucks card!)

Time to rewind to this morning.

Workouts – Swimming and Biking

Unlike last week, I followed today’s WIDDIU workout plan.  First up was a 35-minute open-water swim. (Thanks for spotting me, Mom!) After a quick break to dry off, I hopped on my bike and rode the Cazenovia Triathlon sprint course.  I’m not sure if it’s in my head, but the climb up Hoffman Road—the incline that contained a time trial during the actual triathlon—seemed easier today, and so did the ride overall; maybe it’s because I’ve ridden the route more as of recently.  Either way, today’s swim-bike semi-brick was pretty efficient.

Breakfast

I couldn’t decide what I wanted for my morning meal, so I made a mill pack.

Two scrambled eggs with Tabasco and S&P, some cantaloupe with plain Greek yogurt (don’t worry, Katie—it’s local, not from Indiana!), and a slice of whole-wheat toast with PB.

Lunch

After getting home from the mall, I threw together a salad that included greens, carrots, celery, strawberries, turkey, and red peppers.

I also ate an unpictured peach for dessert.

PS – Check out this article about the Cazenovia Triathlon—a certain someone was interviewed!

What I Learned From Doing My First Triathlon

Making the decision to join the triathlon world was one of the scariest and most rewarding choices I’ve ever made.  Prior to starting this adventure in June, I had been thinking about giving it a “tri” for a while:  I interviewed my cousin MaryBeth—an accomplished runner and super legit triathlete—for my Honors project, and she said I’d be a great triathlete and would pick up the sport without a problem; one of my spinning instructors at college, Donna, wondered if I had given any thought to doing a triathlon because I’m a good runner and strong spinner; a few of my college friends completed sprint tris, as well as a handful of healthy living bloggers I follow, so it seemed like everyone in the healthy living community was talking about triathlons.  Plus, I figured since I would be spending the summer at home, I might as well do something worthwhile with my time. (Hello, blogging and triathloning!) Learning about the sport and training for my first swim-bike-run event has been a challenging and rewarding fitness adventure, and here’s what I’ve discovered from completing my first triathlon.

Every triathlete needs a mentor, and it takes a community to develop a triathlete.

At the beginning, joining the triathlon world seemed like a daunting decision.  Aside from the general progression of the swim-bike-run event, I knew zilch about the sport.  Enter MB; she answered all my newbie questions, made workout suggestions, and helped me dress for triathlon success.

She was also the one who suggested I join the CNY Triathlon Club.  When attended my first CNY Tri Club training series, I thought I would be in over my head; everyone looked so experienced, and I was just a newbie.  However, every club member I met was friendly, encouraging, and more than willing to help and offer advice.

And now, I see familiar faces every Wednesday night, and everyone wants to hear how each other’s training and racing are going.  It’s crazy to think that until six months ago, I had no idea this community existed.

Once you’re part of the community, keep an eye out for smaller niche groups.

In addition to the CNY triathlon community at large, I’ve discovered smaller niche groups for each tri segment.  There are master swim classes at the YMCA and other fitness centers, plus swimming gurus who run triathlon-specific workshops and one-on-one seminars (similar to the one the Fleet Feet Learn to Tri coaches facilitated).  In terms of biking, I’ve taken advantage of Syracuse Bicycle’s Women on Wheels rides, which helped make cycling less daunting.  Plus, attending these meet-ups let me ask questions and practice proper techniques in a safe (i.e. not racing or riding solo) environment.  CNY is also a hotbed for running, so there are a ton of groups, including the Syracuse Chargers, that hold public workouts.  Just like the greater tri community, these smaller groups welcome triathletes of all ages and abilities.

Don’t forget about digital communities; they’re just as important.

Not to get all academic, but our 21st century technology has made the world seem smaller while digital writing and new media have revolutionized how we interact.  Case in point:  Ten years ago, I was never a click, text, tweet, or Facebook post away from talking with fellow triathletes; now, in 2012, it’s simply to stay connected.  The CNY Triathlon Club has an email subscription list and its own Facebook group, and both of these features keep members up-to-date and allow them to instantly interact with each other.  This blog (thanks for reading!) and my Twitter account (@CarrieStevens25) makes connecting with tri addicts across the globe possible; it’s comforting to know I can post a question to any of my social networks and receive an answer within minutes, even seconds.

Pay it forward.

Triathletes are a special breed.  Every workout has a specific purpose, and our lifestyle revolves around the sport. (More on this later.) Because a common interest—or borderline obsession!—bonds us, moral support comes standard, and it’s great to pay it forward.  At CNY Tri Club training events, plenty of people passed me while biking and running, but almost everyone said “good job!” or “keep up the good work!”  And during Sunday’s triathlon, I found myself automatically encouraging another triathlete on the run as I passed him; I remembered how much I appreciated verbal support, so I paid it forward.

Everyone—and every body—is capable of completing a triathlon.

By volunteering at the Syracuse Ironman 70.3, attending the Fleet Feet OWS clinic, and going to the Iron Girl Chalk Talk at Syracuse Bicycle, I saw triathletes of all shapes and sizes.

This proves anyone—and literally every body—can complete a swim-bike-run event; you just need to train.

Each triathlete started off as a newbie, and there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

Even though I was intimidated during my first few trips to Jamesville Beach, I reminded myself that each triathlete used to be in my newbie shoes, so everything I was feeling—uncertainty, inadequacy, lack of experience—was normal.

I knew practicing and asking questions would remedy these feelings, and even after completing my first triathlon, I’m still seeking advice from more experienced triathletes.  There’s so much to learn!

Practice makes almost-perfect, but watching is helpful, too.

You need to practice any skill to get good at it, but it’s also worthwhile to take a step back and observe.  By volunteering at the Syracuse Ironman 70.3 and watching the men’s and women’s Olympic triathlons, I noticed what worked and what didn’t.

Triathloning isn’t just a sport; it’s a lifestyle.

After deciding to train for a sprint triathlon, my lifestyle has undergone a small shift.  I’ve always maintained a healthy lifestyle, and triathloning has only intensified it:  My summer days revolve around workouts, races, and rest days; I wake up early to train and go to bed at a reasonable hour; I watch what I eat and follow a “food is fuel” approach in the weeks leading up to a race; my social networks (both in-person and digital) have expanded to include fellow triathletes, biking gurus, and knowledgeable mentors.  Basically, almost every decision I make—both those related to trishorts and ones that aren’t exclusive to Bodyglide and the like—needs to answer this question:  “How is this helping me become a better triathlete?”

Having the support of your family and friends is invaluable.

Training for a sprint swim-bike-run event falls on the initial tip of the triathlon iceberg—can you imagine preparing for an intermediate-/Olympic distance or half- and full-Ironman?—and I needed my support system.  Even though they thought completing a triathlon was nuts, my parents still supported my goal and bought me a road bike as a college graduation present.  My extended family thought my decision was nuts, too, but they always asked about my training; my aunt event road the Cazenovia Triathlon bike course with me.

As race-day approached, my mom spotted me countless times when I practiced open-water swimming.  When I made plans to Skype with my friends from college, they were understanding about my 9-9:30 p.m. bedtime. (And they also refrained my calling me after they consumed adult beverages during the wee hours of the morning because I “actually needed to sleep because I was training.”) And on race-day, my family came out in full force to cheer me; heck, they even made me a sign!

Although trying at times (pun unintended), this triathlon journey is definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.  I’m totally hooked, and I can’t wait for my next race on Sept. 1!

What fitness journey have you embarked on recently?  Was it smooth sailing, or did you experience a learning curve?  What did you learn from the experience?

I’m Hooked—It’s Time to Train for the Next Triathlon

When I decided to join the triathlon world, I’ll admit I was nervous.  Aside from the bare basics—you swim, then bike, then run—but I had no idea how to swim in open water, how to ride a road bike, and how to run after completing two other sports.  This summer, I immersed myself in the triathlon community, and thanks to knowledgeable mentors and friendly triathletes, I learned about the three disciplines, trained accordingly, and completed my first swim-bike-run event.

A mere three hours after finishing the Cazenovia Triathlon, I registered for another one—I’m doing the SkinnyMan Triathlon on Sept. 1!

With distances similar to Sunday’s event—800-yd. swim (slightly shorter than 800m), 14-mile bike, and 3.0-mile run—this Skaneateles, NY-based race sounds like an ideal second tri.  Fellow triathletes say the bike course is gorgeous, and the run route goes through a residential neighborhood, so there’s lots of fan support.  I’m excited!

Cazenovia Triathlon Results Reviewed

Before creating my next triathlon training plan, I studied the official results, reviewed my old workout schedule, discovered how the two relate.

Swim – Although the OWS concerned me the most, I did OK (18:43) on Sunday.  Based on my lap swims at the YMCA and open-water ones at home, I estimated 20 minutes for 800m, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finished in less time. (I was surprised to learn I placed second in my [female 20-25] age group.)

Bike – Ironically, I spent the least amount of time training for the bike when it’s the longest part—both in terms of distance and time—of a triathlon. (More on this later.) Prior to Sunday, I rode the course once, so I knew it would take me about an hour.  Even though it was a hilly route, my time (54:15) was unsettling.

Run – This was my first post-half-marathon run—unless you count two walk/jogs with Zelda—I had no idea what to expect.  Also, this was only my third bike-run brick.  Even with these factors in mind, as a runner, I was still frustrated with my time (28:20).

Transitions

Overall, T1 went relatively smoothly (1:58), but T2 (1:36) lacked efficiency, especially since it’s supposed to be much quicker than T1.

SkinnyMan Triathlon Training Goals

So, with these observations in mind, here are my SkinnyMan training goals.

Swim – My swim time was a pleasant surprise, but since I still feel the least comfortable in the water, I’m going to keep hitting the pool three days a week, in addition to doing at least one OWS per week.  The major change I’m going to make is swimming for time rather than distance.  This means I’ll swim for 30, 35, 40, or 45 minutes instead of stopping when I reach a certain distance.  I still plan to keep track of how far I swim during the allotted time, though.

Bike – Looking back at my training schedule, I noticed biking got pushed to the backburner.  I focused on my half-marathon training, and I also spent a lot of time swimming because it’s my Achilles’ heal; something had to give, which ended up being biking.  It’s funny I spent the least amount of time on the saddle because the bike portion of a triathlon.  Now that I’m cognizant of this deficit, my goal is to ride at least three times each week, and four outings would be ideal.

Run – The key to a successful triathlon run is being able to maintain an ideal cadence on tired legs.  From a pure running standpoint, this means increasing the number of weekly speedwork sessions and tempo runs.  Although my half-marathon training plan included one tempo run each week, it lacked consistent track workouts.  Lacing up my sneakers is far from a chore, so I’d like to run four or five days a week and cycle between track work and tempo runs, plus maybe one long-/low-key run per week.

Transitions and Bricks – It’s common for triathletes to set up a makeshift transition area in their living room or backyard and practice putting on and taking off gear, so this is an idea to consider.  In terms of brick workouts, I completed a lot of multisport days in preparation for the Cazenovia Triathlon, but very few progressed in actual tri order.  Looking forward, I would like to complete at least two swim-bike and bike-run bricks each week (which would also give me an opportunity to practice transitions).

Let the training begin!

12th Annual Cazenovia Triathlon Recap

Oh my gosh—I had so much fun completing my first swim-bike-run event, the Cazenovia Triathlon!

Even though I took care of race-day preparations the afternoon before, I still had a 4 a.m. wakeup call.  After eating one bowl of Kashi oatmeal (my go-to prerace breakfast), drinking two cups of coffee, and chugging plenty of water, I headed to Lakeland Park, the triathlon hoopla site.

Transition opened at 6:30 a.m., and I made sure to arrive on time; I didn’t know if race numbers would designate which bike rack to use—this is usually the case at bigger triathlons—so I wanted to get there early to ensure I could select a strategic spot if placements were unassigned.  There were no assigned racks, but there were two designated areas—one for intermediate/Olympic-distance competitors and another for sprint, relay, and aquabike participants.  Within my assigned location, I identified a prominent landmark I could easily spot while running into transition (the flagpole), and then I picked a rack with an available spot on the edge and set up shop.

Next it was time to track down my chip and get body marked!

Since I volunteered at the Syracuse Ironman 70.3 as a body-marker, I was prepared to be marked all over.  My race number also went on my hands and arms, while my race age (22) and distance (“s” for sprint) went on my calves.

On the way back to transition, I double-checked my start time. (Intermediate times were listed on the other side.)

When I registered for this triathlon in June, I had zero OWS experience, so when I was given the option of swimming in the “novice wave,” I happily selected it, hence my green cap.  I didn’t realize this until the end of the triathlon, but because I swam with the novice wave, I competed in that category (4th wave women), not in my technical age group (female 20-25).  (If I hadn’t signed up for the novice wave, I would’ve been with the blue caps.)

Swim

Although the swim concerned me the most, it actually went OK.  My fellow green capers were very friendly, which set the tone for the morning—it was all about having fun.

(Thanks for taking pictures, Mom, Aunt Julie, and Uncle Shaun!)

As soon as I walked into the water, I struggled to walk, let alone stand; the bottom of the lake was incredibly rocky, which is very different from the sandy shores at Jamesville Beach.

(I’m on the far right in the Zoot wetsuit.)

During the two-minute, one-minute, and 30-second countdowns, I visualized myself swimming and reminded myself I’ve done this before.  When the sounding horn signaled the start, I was immediately grateful to have OWS experience thanks to the CNY Triathlon Club training series; I was kicked, jabbed, and grabbed, but I was ready for it.

Choosing to swim with the novice wave was a safe, conservative decision, but next time, I’ll definitely swim with my age group.  I’m not a strong swimmer, but being in the green-cap wave proved to be a little slow going.  No one started aggressively or created space, which made the first 200m or so very cramped; I actually did the approach stroke for the first minute just so I could find some free space.  Once I made it to the first buoy, swimmers spaced out, and I even passed blue- and purple-capped swimmers.  As I turned, I settled into a rhythm and made an effort to appreciate the swim:  there were gorgeous skies, calm and warm water (72 degrees Fahrenheit, so wetsuit legal), not to mention I was doing my first triathlon!  For the majority of the swim, I paced off another woman, which helped me stick with the freestyle and refrain from restoring to the breast- or sidestroke.

The swim exit threw me for the loop, though.  As I neared the shore, I reminded myself to swim until I couldn’t anymore, so I stood up as soon as my hands hit rocks.  Even though I was about five feet from the exit ramp, I had to gingerly maneuver around sharp and slippery stones.

At the very least, this gave me a few seconds to catch my breath.

Once I got to the concrete ramp, I started jogging toward transition.

Transition 1

Overall, my T1 was relatively efficient—wetsuit off, sunglasses and helmet on, dry feet, socks on, cycling shoes on, grab bike, go.

Bike

Thank God I completed this 14-mile loop before. (Thanks for riding with me, Aunt Julie!) Holy hills!  After about a one-mile “warm-up,” the course took a right-hand turn onto Hoffman Hill, known for its unforgiving incline.

Following the lead of the Tour de France, this hill contained its own time trial, or a race within a race.  There were two rubber “carpets”—one at the bottom of the hill and another at the top—each triathlete rode over, which activated a separate chip timing system.  Unfortunately, I was passing someone at the beginning of the hill, and since he was riding on the far left of the timing pad, I missed activating my starting time.

After this time trial, the course featured rolling hills, plus another killer climb up East Lake Road.  During this stretch, a lot of riders walked their bikes up the hill.  I really appreciated the inspiration chalk quotations that were written on the road. (They reminded me of the ones on the Fleet Feet RUNapoolza course.) I couldn’t read “you look good when you sweat!” without smiling.

USA Triathlon does not allow drafting while biking, and about five miles from transition, another triathlete and I played a legal game of cat and mouse; we took turns passing each other over and over, and this mini-competition helped me maintain an ideal cadence and finish the bike portion strong.

Transition 2

T2 lacked T1’s level of efficiency.  I had some trouble re-racking my bike, and I remained stationary while putting on my visor and race belt.

Run

Since this was my first run after my half-marathon, I had low expectations.  Right out of transition, the course contained a hill.  Thanks to the encouraging volunteers, I was able to power through to the top, but I eased off the gas for the next quarter mile; I needed to conserve my energy for the climb up Sullivan Street.

I know I talk a lot about my calves giving me trouble, but the cramps I experienced yesterday were unquestionably the worst ever. (Maybe it’s time to invest in compression sleeves?) This hill and I have a long history thanks to a handful of local races, and it’s tough every time.  I dialed back even more, reminding myself that it would be smooth sailing once I made it to the top.  After the incline leveled off, I grabbed some water and focused on settling into a comfortable pace until I hit the 1.5-mile turnaround; then my second wind kicked in, and I started picking people off.  With about half a mile to go, I shifted into my “comfortably hard” tempo run pace; I wanted to leave everything on the course.  About a quarter of a mile away from the final turn, a side-cramp slammed me out of nowhere, and I could feel myself losing steam.  Luckily, I saw and heard my family, and their signs, noisemakers, and cheering gave me an extra push.

As I made the final turn and ran downhill, I couldn’t stop smiling.  I was doing it—I did the swim, I did the bike, and I was doing the run; I was doing my first triathlon and finishing strong!

(source)

And now, I’m totally hooked.

My official time was 1:44:52, which was good enough for a first-place finish in my 4th wave female division!  Here’s an interesting fact:  Had I competed in my normal age group (female 20-25, and not signed up for the novice swim wave), I would’ve placed third. (The woman who took first in the division was the second or third overall finisher; MB got first!) Within the next few days, I’m going to spend some time studying my times and assessing how to train for my next triathlon (post coming soon!).

In conclusion, I can count the best days of my life on one hand:  Doing the Seneca7, going on my HWS senior wine tour, and completing my first triathlon.  I’ve learned so much about the sport and its community (I should probably write a post about that, too), and I cannot wait to do another one!