Tag Archives: biking in Central Park

Tough Love

Approximately 1.75 laps into this morning’s team bike ride in Central Park, I got dropped.  I hung tight with the all-girl “racing team” group during the first 6.2-mile loop, but as we powered up Harlem Hill for the second time, a gap began to emerge.  I couldn’t find the next gear (both figuratively and somewhat literally), and even though I fought to maintain contact, the distance slowly grew until two of the three girls were out of sight.

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Too bad the snazzy red grip tape didn’t help.

This was the first time I’ve been dropped, and it stinks.  A lot.  Defeat, frustration, inadequacy.  Yes, it’s a cycling/triathloning rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it any better.

Prior to getting dropped, I received feedback and lots of tough love from one of my coaches.  As the ladies and I took turns pulling or leading the pace line, he yelled and told me to get off the hoods and use the drops. (This lower position helps the rider conserve energy and be more aerodynamic.)

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Throwback from the DeRuyter Lake Triathlon–this is hood riding.  The drops are the white, lower sections on the handlebars.

I hesitated before holding the drops—recent wipe out, anyone?—and even though I eventually got there, he totally called me out:  “You’re afraid of your drops!”  Afraid?  Meh.  Anxious?  Yeah.  Hey, I’m a biking newbie.  But it ended up being fine.  During this part of practice, he also barked at helped me with shifting and general technique, but I was on my own once the group separated at Harlem Hill.

After completing the third loop solo, I pulled over at our group’s meet-up spot, and my coach and I developed a rough game plan.  Bottom line:  I need to spend more time in the saddle.  The best way to improve as a cyclist is to ride, so that’s what needs to happen.  Based on my Nautica South Beach results, I knew my bike needed work, but what I haven’t totally accepted until recently is it’s where I have the most room for improvement (read:  this is where I need to improve).  Yes, I want to get better across the disciplines, but as of now, the bike has turned into my new triathlon “Achilles heel.”  Point blank, our group rides in Central Park prove to be the most challenging, and I feel the least confident in the saddle, which is mainly due to inexperience.  And most triathletes will tell you the race is won on the bike, so if I want to put myself in a position to do well in August, then I need to make logging miles a high, high priority.  And for what it’s worth, I tried playing the newbie card—which is true because I’ve been riding for less than one year—but my coach didn’t buy it.  His response?  “When you’re on the podium, you’re no longer a beginner.”  He had more nice things to say, but we don’t need to go into that … moving on …

So what’s the plan?  Since Montauk is only 10 days away (yaya!), I’m not changing anything for the time being.  Afterward, though, my coach recommended removing my aerobars for the group rides in Central Park, which will make it easier to use my drops (aka he’ll force me to use my drops).  Then for weekend riding, I should reattach the aerobars and practice.

And just so this post isn’t all about biking …

Breakfast

Post-ride, I inhaled this bowl of overnight oats that included banana, frozen blueberries, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, old-fashioned oats, chia seeds, and cinnamon.

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It hit the spot, but I’ll definitely need a snack before work.

How do you handle tough love?

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of May 26

Hiya, friends!  How’s your Memorial Day Weekend been so far?  After yesterday’s swim, I went straight to work.  We weren’t super busy (thanks a lot, rain), but two of my teammates stopped in during my shift, which helped the day pass quickly.  Luckily, the weather shaped up today, so I rode in Central Park with some teammates.

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I had my bike tuned up at Zen Bikes yesterday, and the guys regripped my handlebars—love the pop of red!  And in semi-related news, t-minus 12 days until Mighty Montauk!  Coming off recovery week, I feel fresh, energized, and ready to attack this week’s workouts.  Chelsea Piers is operating under holiday hours tomorrow, so we won’t have official team practice, but I made plans to meet up with my running buddy to tackle Central Park’s hills.  I’m coming for you, Montauk!  Here’s this week’s edition of Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run; a.m. strength train

Tuesday – a.m. bike with FTE

Wednesday – a.m. brick workout with FTE—indoor cycle and run off the bike

Thursday – off

Friday – a.m. swim with FTE; a.m. run and strength train

Saturday – a.m. swim with FTE

Sunday – a.m. (long) bike

How did your workouts go this week?  Do you usually take a rest day during the week or weekend?

Currently

Happy Tuesday, friends!  I have a busy day ahead of me—a long shift at the running store and shoe class tonight—so let’s keep it simple with a survey.  Sound like a plan?

Current Book(s):  Aside from my pre-bedtime magazine reading that includes Triathlete and LAVA magazines (#trigeek), I’m also working my way through Savor:  Mindful Eating, Mindful Life for book club!

runners-world-triathlete-magazine-savor-book-club

Most nights, I get through one chapter before falling asleep.

Current Music:  My most recent workouts have been sans music, but here three of my favorite high-energy jams.

“Can’t Hold Us” by Mackelmore

“My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” by Fall Out Boy

“Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch

Current Guilty Pleasure:  My Paleo chocolate chip banana bread.

paleo-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

It may have disappeared in less than four days.  Just sayin’.

Current Nail Color:  No polish right now, but you better believe my nails will be red for the Mighty Montauk Triathlon!

Current Drink:  Water.  So exciting, I know.  My second cup of coffee will happen momentarily, though.

Current Food:  Post-ride (during which I got “called up” to ride with the ladies on the “racing team!”), I ate my standard spinach and egg white breakfast sandwich.  However, four Central Park loops (about 24 miles) means breakfast number two is only a matter of time.  It’s super humid today, so a smoothie sounds perfect.

Current Favorite Show:  Well, you know I’m obsessed with Dan Stevens, and I’m always down for some Downton Abbey.

the-heiress-broadway-dan-stevens

I also get sucked into Say Yes To The Dress and Sex and the City marathons.

Current Needs/Wish List/Indulgence:  I’m combining these three because they’re connected.  Since I only have one team cycling kit, I need another; therefore, it’s been on my wish list.  And the online team store reopened, and even though this may not qualify as a typical indulgence, I treated myself to some new pink gear.

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I even opted for the (unpictured) bib shorts—who would’ve thought?  Ha!

Current Blessing:  My supportive and loving (and goofy!) family.

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Hopefully they will visit again soon!

Current Outfit:  One thing I love about working at a running store?  A laid-back dress code.  I usually wear jeans and a race or JackRabbit t-shirt.  And sneakers of course.

Current Excitement:  My big-girl promotion still makes me giddy (I have my first conference call today–ahhh!), and I’m also counting down the days until Montauk.  Only 17 days until race day!

Please play along in the comments!

My First Wipe Out

A rainy day in New York City (and a day off from work at JackRabbit Sports) calls for baking and napping.

paleo-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

I made a loaf of Paleo chocolate chip banana bread and enjoyed a brief siesta this afternoon.  After a late night JRab shoe biomechanics class and an early morning brick workout, I needed a nap.

So switching gears a bit, remember way back when I blogged about my Chinese horoscope?  Remember the injury projection and how I predicted a bike wipe out?

horse-injuries

Well, it happened yesterday morning.

Our bike session in Central Park started off great.  My coach led one pace line and told me to take the front spot on the other—progress!  Anyway, as we made our way through the park, he told me to try moving into aero.  Riding this way makes me nervous, and honestly, I haven’t been able to hold this position on the road yet.

bike-fit-after

Being in aero while my bike’s hooked up to an indoor trainer is fine.  On the road, though, I can place only one arm on the aerobars; when I try to shift the other, things feel unstable, and I always chicken out.  But he’s my coach, and I trust him, so I gave it a shot, slowing moving my right hand and arm from the handlebars to the aerobars.

When I made the adjustment on the left, my bike drifted that way, and I panicked and overcompensated:  I steered too far to the right, which caused my bike and my coach’s bike to collide.  He’s an experienced cyclist, so he rode through it, but I went down and took another teammate with me.

Thankfully, everyone is fine.  I’m a little cut up on my knee (I’ll spare you pictures), but nothing serious.  The actual wipe out didn’t hurt, but I felt really bad:  My rookieness caused practice to stop and created an unsafe environment.

Even though I felt so frustrated and defeated, I got back in the saddle and finished the ride.  I wasn’t in a great place mentality, and my coach definitely noticed and gave me a pep talk.  My teammates were great too, checking in throughout the day and making sure I was feeling OK.

On the bright side, I couldn’t have asked for a better (?) first wipe out.  After all, I was riding with my coach and teammates, so I wasn’t alone, and we were in a familiar location.  Plus, no one was seriously injured.  And it’s the nature of the sport too.  As my Twitter buddy Chris so eloquently says:

first-biking-wipe-out-twitter

How do you pick yourself up after you’ve been knocked down?

2013 Race Calendar Updates

Happy Hump Day, friends!  It’s an absolutely gorgeous day in New York City today—plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures.  Dare I say spring has finally arrived?  But this favorable weather doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy warm beverages, right?

city-bakery-hot-chocolate

Say hello to the city’s best hot chocolate.  I met Jen at The City Bakery this morning for a super-secret brainstorming meeting.  We have an exciting announcement to share tomorrow!

And in unrelated news, I officially added two more races to my calendar:  the Stamford KIC It Triathlon on June 30, another Olympic-distance event.

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And the USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Yikes!  Honestly, it still feels somewhat surreal, but signing up confirmed the facts:  It’s real, it’s happening, and I’m determined to show up on race day prepared to the best of my abilities.  I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, which was further confirmed when our official Race of Truth times were released.  Five groups were formed based on the results of the six-mile time trial in Central Park (group one being the fastest riders, group two the next fastest, etc.), and yours truly will be riding in group four.  You have to start somewhere, right?

When it’s warm outside, do you stick with cold beverages?  Or will you still order warm drinks?

Race of Truth

Good morning, everyone!  TGIF!  Any fun plans for the weekend?  I head to Boston today for the MuckFest MS Mud Run, which takes place tomorrow.  I’m so excited!

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[source]

Also, thanks for the positive comments on yesterday’s post.  Now that the USAT Age Group Nationals has a spot on my race calendar, it changes my outlook and training goals this season; as my “A-plus” race, I will train with the intention of peaking in August.  Obviously, I want to do work at my other events, too, but doing well at this race will be my primary goal.  My coach and I exchanged a few emails yesterday, and moving forward, I need to get my act together and get my butt on my bike—and improve my run off the bike too.  My swim seems to be at a good spot (even though it will always be a work in progress), but I can and need to make some serious gains in terms of my bike and run.

And that process started this morning.

Remember Trial By Fire, the swim-run event?  This morning, Full Throttle Endurance invaded Central Park at 5:30 a.m. for another competitive training session–Race of Truth. (Yes, that’s the name.  When I first saw the email, I started laughing hysterically—these names kill me, ha!) Since spring is hopefully here to stay, we’ll have organized team rides outside at least two days a week; during these outings, we’ll ride in groups of eight, and everyone in each pack should be about the same speed.  To determine the pace groups, we had a one-loop (about six miles) time trial in Central Park, and the coaches will use the finishing times to form training groups.  Because everyone rides the same course, we can’t argue with the times—hence the name Race of Truth.

Anyway, my time trial went OK.  My bike computer didn’t work, so I essentially rode the course blind in terms of distance, time, and speed. (The tech fail was totally my fault. Wednesday night, one of my teammates hosted a tire-changing clinic at her apartment, and after plenty of hor d’oeuvres and glasses of Prosecco, we got around to figuring out how to fix flats.  I brought my front tire to her apartment, and in total newbie fashion, I put it back on the wrong way, so my bike computer’s sensor didn’t work obviously.) One of the coaches said anything sub-20 minutes was acceptable, and I think my unofficial time was 19:XX; good starting point with lots of room for improvement.

Breakfast

Hey, it’s not a breakfast sandwich (only because I’m out of spinach)!

4:26-breakfast-protein-oatmeal

Instant oats, plus protein powder, one mashed banana, and plenty of peanut butter.  Hopefully this keeps me full on the train.

Have a great weekend, friends, and talk to you Sunday!

My First Ride in Central Park

As I mentioned yesterday, Sunday morning marked my first time biking in Central Park.  If you’ve been reading for a while, then you may remember my last outdoor ride occurred on the West Side Highway in October, and I’ve been pedaling away on my indoor bike trainer for the past five months.

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I absolutely love my CycleOps Fluid2.  It’s perfect for doing intervals and spending time in my saddle (as opposed to one on a spin bike), but I was pumped to ride outside—even if the temperature hovered around freezing.

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Yeah, I totally questioned my sanity at this point.  But then I remembered my teammates were riding outside too, so it must be OK.

Before making my 2013 outdoor debut, I had to invest in cold-weather cycling gear.  Yes, I’m from Central New York; no, cold temperatures don’t bother me.  But if it’s around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’re riding outside at a moderate pace, then you will need to bundle up.  And as a biking newbie, I have the bare minimum when it comes to apparel:  two jerseys and three pairs of shorts. (According to my coaches, our Full Throttle Endurance cycling and racing kits arrive next week!) Last week, Andrew sent an email that included the gear we’ll need until May, which included items like gloves, bike shoe covers, and fleece-lined cycling pants and jackets.

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Since I have some vintage Under Armour tops and bottoms from my high school field-hockey days, I didn’t need to buy bottoms and tops.  And a while back, I ordered a Headsweats snowflake performance beanie, which I wore under my helmet.  Basically, the only items I needed to purchase included heavy-duty gloves and a warm jacket.  So after Saturday’s swim and brunch, one of my teammates and I hit up Paragon Sports to build our biking wardrobes.

cold-weather-cycling-gear-collage

Neon’s in this season, right?

Dressed for outdoor cycling success, I headed to Central Park yesterday morning for a beginner ride.  Again, I’ve been biking for about 10 months, so I’m still a noob, and Andrew said that people with less than two years of experience should attend this session.  It took me about 15 minutes to arrive at our meeting spot, and as I traveled uptown (in a green bike lane, so don’t worry, Mom!), my muscle memory took over, and it didn’t seem like my last outdoor ride happened five months ago.

For the first 15 minutes, Andrew briefly went over biking basics like shifting, breaking, signaling, and turning.  This portion served as a review for me—but it’s always good to hear this information again—but I did learn an important turning technique:  you should look ahead to where you want your bike to go, not where it is headed immediately. (I guess more mistakes and crashes happen when rides look immediately in front when turning.) Andrew also addressed riding in a pace group, and before long, we were off!

Seven triathletes comprised our group, including one advanced rider who lead us through the first loop of Central Park while Andrew coached.  This was my first time riding in a true pace group, and during the entire ride, I kept thinking about Syracuse Bicycle’s Women on Wheels rides and how lucky I was to be able to essentially learn to ride in a safe and welcoming environment.  My cycling technique and experience are limited, but I was so grateful to have basic knowledge and skills I learned from these meetups.

Anyway, back to group riding.

Andrew circulated this link last week and told us to study what the pros do.  In essence, he wanted our front tire as close as possible to the (back) tire in front of us, a technique known as drafting.  Although this type of riding isn’t legal in USAT-sanctioned events, it’s effective in group rides because it’s safer, allows riders to share the workload, and makes it possible for riders to hold higher paces.  From this first outing, I learned two important aspects of group riding:  never break hard (coasting and feathering the breaks should be options one and two before full-out breaking) and trust the rider in front of you.  Honestly, the idea of riding so close together was a little unnerving, but I didn’t let myself get nervous—as soon as you do, you’re done.  And besides, I trusted my teammate in front of me, so I kept my eyes locked on his back tire.

So the ride went smoothly until the five-minute mark.  There was a crash (not me, don’t worry, Mom!), but thankfully everyone was OK.  As we looped around Central Park, my teammates and I took turns holding the line and setting the pace, and we also practiced signaling and did some hill work too.

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Professional triathlete Meredith Kessler doing work on the hills of the Ironman Melbourne bike course, aka what I want to look like.

I definitely held my own out there!  A few minutes into the ride, Andrew rode up next to me and said I was strong enough to push a bigger gear; I made the necessary adjustment and immediately felt much smoother and more efficient.  I also may have received an earful for pushing the pace too much when I was out in front—whoops! (But I guess that means my indoor trainer rides have paid off, right?) After the first 6.2-mile loop, the girls in our group got dropped, but I “broed out” and rode with the guys—that’s how you improve!  There were obviously points during the ride that were tough, but for the most part, I felt fresh, strong, and composed, especially when we climbed hills.  I even caught myself beaming several times because I was so happy to be riding outside with my teammates.

Around 8:40 a.m., Central Park started to get crowded (there was actually a duathlon and bike race in progress), so Andrew said our official team ride was over, but I ended up doing another loop with two teammates.  Yes, my toes were numb, but it was 100 percent worth it.

What are some of your cold-weather workout gear must-haves?

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of March 24

How can it be Sunday?  This weekend flew by!  My Saturday started off with my normal Full Throttle Endurance swim session and brunch at my teammate’s apartment, and then one of my teammates and I went shopping for cold-weather cycling gear—and this morning, I rode in Central Park for the first time!

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Had to post the awkward selfie.  Unpictured are my heavy-duty gloves, Under Armour pants underneath my cycling shorts, and two pairs of socks.  Yes, my toes still froze.

I didn’t crash like my Chinese horoscope predicted, and I didn’t get dropped—woohoo!

After today’s ride (detailed post will go live tomorrow), I feel much better about tackling 19 miles (after a half-mile ocean swim and before a four-mile run) in 13 days.  Yep, less than two weeks until my first race of the season.  This past week, my emotions have been all over the place—excited, nervous, anxious, you name it.  It’s great to know my teammates feel the same way, and we’ve been really good about reeling in each other when someone gets too stressed.  Obviously, we talk about this upcoming race quite a bit, and during the next two weeks, I will make a conscious effort to focus on aspects I can control:  my training, my recovery, and my fueling/nutrition.  Yes, there are things that worry me:  how will I handle the heat and humidity?  Should I buy a sleeveless wetsuit (aka my current obsession concern)?  Do I need to fuel during the run?  There’s something to be said for addressing these thoughts, but constantly thinking about these race-day conditions isn’t productive.  My mantra until the 7th?  Control the controllables.

Let’s Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run with Full Throttle Endurance (FTE) and strength train

Tuesday – a.m. bike (outside with FTE or inside on trainer) and strength train

Wednesday – a.m. indoor cycling with FTE; a.m. run off the bike

Thursday – off

Friday – a.m. swim

Saturday – a.m. swim and a.m. run

Sunday – off/easy run

How do you deal with pre-race jitters?