Tag Archives: HITS Kingston Triathlon

My 2016 Triathlon Life: Updates and Race Schedule

All right, folks. The time has come to talk watts 2016 triathlon. The 2015 campaign seems like a distant memory, and thanks to Coach Pat, we made some solid run progress during the off-season with a focused block. And after an epic Sloth Week that coincided with Thanksgiving, I felt rested, recharged, and ready to enter my fourth official swim-bike-run season.

2016-ootd-watts

Always, always, always about watts

In my most recent triathlon-focused post, I reviewed off-season progress and identified a few factors worth noting about 2016, specifically the addition of a triathlon coach to oversee and plan my schedule. If you’ve been following along for a while, then you know I’ve become a regular at Tailwind Endurance. Almost immediately, I knew Earl would be the person to lead me through my first 70.3. (False alarm: I am not making the jump just yet.) That is absolutely still true, but I couldn’t wait another three or four years to enlist a knowledgeable coach.

Although last year’s “piecemeal” plan worked, my biggest challenge centered on balancing the three disciplines. It turns out, all those times Earl jokingly asked, “Carrie, did you do speedwork yesterday?” before a threshold ride or a brick workout, he was actually making an excellent point: key workouts were being logged, but their scheduling was not ideal. Overall, I was not giving my body adequate recovery time. Since I’m a relatively young athlete, I was able to get away with it, but it isn’t a sustainable training model, especially because I plan to keep doing triathlons as long as I can.

Another factor to consider includes my training load. First, I didn’t undergo an official base building period. As a short-course triathlete, I didn’t see spending significant time in zone two worthwhile. After all, I race in the red—so I should train there, right? But in order to truly tap into top-end speed, you need to have a solid base, and that’s something I lacked across the disciplines. Today, even though I give Earl some grief about all the zone two time, I know it’s what I need to be doing—and I trust the process.

Second, my volume across the disciplines was fairly consistent and proportional last year. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in order to make notable gains—and give my body some extra built-in recovery time—we will be implementing various swim-, bike-, and run-focused blocks during the season. This is really exciting because off-season run blocks have worked very well, so it makes sense to transfer this principle to my in-season programming.

Overall, Earl will be in charge of my triathlon life, and we’ll continue to outsource workouts (i.e. I will still swim with the Bearcat masters and run under the direction of Coach Pat). The major benefit is now I have someone responsible for planning my schedule (i.e. “Carrie, you need to ride Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and the weekday rides will be threshold-focused …”), keeping track of the data on Training Peaks (I’m a “real” triathlete now!), and ultimately guiding me through this journey for the foreseeable future.

Earl and I have talked short- and long-term goals, and although there is something alluring about the 70.3 distance, we will continue focusing on short-course races for the next few years. Thus far, the 2016 season includes two tune-up races and a LAKE PLACID training trip before I take on USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals in Omaha, which will be my “A” race.

Seneca7

Date: Sunday, April 24

Distance: 77.7 miles (split among a team of seven)

Priority: “C”

trajectory-2012-seneca7

Throwing it back to 2012: Some things never change.

Back before my corner of the blogosphere came into existence, I ran this race my senior year of college, and I also served on the race committee. This unique perspective—both planning and running the race—not only affected my career path, but it also led to one of the best days ever. Seriously, when “The Run-On Sentences” (hey, I ran with a bunch of folks from my Writing and Rhetoric department) took on those 77.7 miles, we had so much fun, and I’ve wanted to do this race again ever since. However, it usually coincides with the South Beach Triathlon, but I decided to opt out of the Miami trip this year and do the Seneca7 instead. I rounded up a bunch of my NYC runner friends, so watch out, Geneva!

Rev3 Quassy

Date: Saturday, June 4

Distance: Olympic

Priority: “B”

This is why I need a coach: because even though I’ve refused to register for this race, he told me I need to do it. And I’m a good athlete, so I’m following orders. Full disclosure: I have never completed a Rev3 event, but this course will be very similar to the disastrous Pat Griskus Triathlon during which I drank all the lake water. Rev3 puts on top-notch events, and this will be a tough and humbling outing thanks to hilly bike and run routes—and the competition will be fierce too. This will be my first official check-in, so we’ll use this race to make sure everything is on track.

Lake Placid Training Camp

Date: 4th of July weekend

lake-placid-mirror-lake-sunset

Always chasing that paradise

Placid paradise, here I come! Last year, the WorkLiveTri training camp served twofold: not only did I get some quality headspace while swimming, cycling, and running in the Adirondacks, but I also found my triathlon mojo after sustaining a bike crash. This year, this group will most likely link up with Tailwind Endurance so there will be at least 15 of us there.

HITS – Kingston

Date: Sunday, July 10

Distance: Olympic

Priority: “B”

hits-kingston-run2

Strong visor game. The run split? Not so much.

This weekend proved to be a pleasant surprise of 2015, and again, this race will serve as my final tune-up before Nationals. The bike-run combo especially will be a great opportunity to execute my Nationals race plan and ensure we’re working with accurate wattages, paces, and data.

USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Date: Saturday, Aug. 13

Distance: Olympic

Priority: “A”

USAC3123-20x30

Sometimes I run.

Like the past three years, Nationals will be the “A” race in 2016. Although I never managed to crack the Milwaukee course, I’m excited to head somewhere new (has anyone been to Omaha?) and face a new venue. As always, this will be a humbling outing, and the goal will be to execute the most perfect race possible. Concrete goals TBD.

It’s highly possible I jump in a few running race during the next few months—and maybe a training weekend trip here or there—but these tris are part of the target plan.

Which 2016 event are you looking forward to the most?

My 2015 Running and Triathloning Recap

So long, 2015! I have mixed feelings saying goodbye to this year. It felt like a roller coaster ride right out of the gate, and almost immediately, there were some big triathlon and work changes. The highs were high, and the lows were low—and I was always on my toes. I did a lot of learning, growing, contemplating, and of course, swimming, biking, and running. Let’s take an easy, zone two jog down memory lane.

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Christmas Eve lakeside bliss

Best race experience

Several factors comprise an awesome race experience. Of course, there’s the training—dedicating yourself to the process and doing everything in your power to prepare for a successful outing—but there’s also the traveling, hanging out with friends, and soaking in the overall race atmosphere. In 2015, I didn’t complete an event that rose above the others as the pinnacle of racing. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure. But I enjoyed every race.

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Post-trail run in Denver. This is why people wear trail shoes.

When I went to South Beach in April, I had a blast hanging out with friends before and after the hotter-than-hot classic-distance event (a.k.a. eating all the food). At Kingston in July, I had fun getting to know my Tailwind Endurance buddies more and executing a decent race given the weather. At Nationals in August, I loved trying on “autopilot” and doing me. A few weeks later, I returned home and did the same course that served as my first triathlon ever, which was a neat way to look back and see my progress. And at the Philadelphia Half-Marathon in November, I proved to myself I am a mentally strong runner who can execute 13.67 solid miles.

Best swim

Swimming and I have an interesting relationship. Simply going to the pool for a workout requires so much logistical coordination: getting my cap, goggles, swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops together; walking the 17 minutes to the facility; jumping in the freezing water and attempting to warm up. It’s a wonder I manage to swim at all! (Full disclosure: I still haven’t been in the water since September.) But I never struggle to swim when I’m in Lake Placid.

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Swimming in Mirror Lake is therapeutic. During these mile outings, my mind wanders. I reflect on the past year or so—the last time I was in Placid is usually the baseline—and what was going on in my life then. I love getting this headspace. Hitting paces and making intervals are the last things on my mind.

But as far as those lung-busting swims go, the best one I had during a race was at Nationals. Not only did I lay down a respectable split, but I also knew within a 15-second ballpark what my time was. (Related: I plan to start swimming again next week.)

Best bike

Thinking back to the time I spent in the saddle, a few things jump out: starting my training early at Tailwind Endurance; sustaining a crash (and concussion); recovering from said crash physically and mentally; logging blissful rides in Placid; and executing a decent 40-K at Nationals. The happiest miles I rode definitely occurred in Placid, but I can’t discount the comeback process.

2015-bike-crash-black-eye-trainer-selfie

Everyone loves a good #TrainerSelfie, especially when it showcases a black eye.

I vividly remember my first outdoor ride post-crash, and even though I was a bit twitchy, the outing restored my confidence.

Best run

I didn’t run to my potential off the bike this year; I never found that effortless, invincible feeling, and I failed to execute strong, mentally sound miles. But that’s OK. These “close, but no cigar” experiences helped me fully devote myself to Philadelphia Half-Marathon training.

west-side-highway-running-artsy-blurry

… and refocus my run training

The goal was to run strong and bring home a PR, and this running block catapulted my 2016 triathlon training. And during the race itself, I felt smooth, strong, and confident in my ability to execute.

Best piece of new gear

Santa delivered: hello, power meter!

quarq-riken-power-meter

Watts, watts, WATTS!

Obviously, I haven’t used it yet, but this tool will revolutionize my racing. I’ll be able to see how many watts I make!

Best piece of running/triathloning advice you received

This year will go down as the year of the bike crash, and as I mentioned previously, it really forced me to let go and trust the process.

5:28-tailwind-endurance-power-hour

Head down and getting to work

The crash affected me mentally too, and as I recuperated and approached my races, Earl gave me some sound advice: “Confidence is a choice. You need to choose to be confident.”

Most inspirational runner

Like last year, I continue to train and work with some stellar humans who also run—and they run fast, far, and a lot.

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

Challenging, humbling, and memorable

2015-best-nine

#2015bestnine

Thanks for following along this year–bring it on, 2016!

2015 HITS Kingston Triathlon Recap

This past Saturday, I completed the HITS Kingston Triathlon, my second swim-bike-run race of the season and my first Olympic-distance one.  It was a pretty good outing.

kingston-tri

The Tailwind crew

Originally, I was supposed to do Stamford a few weeks ago, but my bike crash altered those plans. Shortly after going to Lake Placid for training camp, I started searching for another pre-Nationals tune-up, and one of my Tailwind friends mentioned this race. Not only was it a short two-hour drive north, but it was also one month out from the Big Milwaukee Dance, and it was a more challenging (read: hilly) course. He also has a house about 20 minutes away. Sign me up!

Even though the HITS Series produces races nationwide, its Kingston inaugural event felt very much like a yokel local race. Combined, the sprint, Olympic, half-Iron, and full-Iron distances saw maybe 300 people, and the race director told us at the athlete briefing only 85 folks registered for the Olympic. (Also, the Iron Cowboy was there!) Therefore, it was small field, but that didn’t affect my race plan: work the swim, push the bike, and see how long I could hold it together on the run. My coaches gave me the go-ahead to redline the bike and ride at 85-95 percent, which made me excited in a twisted, sadistic way only endurance athletes would understand. Why? Well, I needed to see what kind of split I could throw down prior to Nationals. And two, the only reason it would make sense to hold back on the bike would be to run fast off it. Thanks to my bike crash recovery and lack of speedwork, I did not have the top-end speed that would warrant being conservative in the saddle. Basically, I was physically and mentally prepared to blow up on the run. (Spoiler: I did.)

Swim – 1,500m – 26:39 (2/6 AG and 5th female OA)

A two-loop route, this course’s challenges included the mass start and the Hudson River’s current. Let’s start with the mass start.

2015-hits-kingston-swim-map

Only a handful of races I’ve done had mass starts—most notably Nationals—but even then, it’s a mass age-group start. At Kingston, there were a ton of burley dudes to deal with. Even though I’m a relatively strong swimmer, I situated myself conservatively because I didn’t want to get pummeled. So much for that. Hands down, this was the most aggressive swim start I’ve experienced—so much kicking, punching, and grabbing. At the turnaround buoy, one dude grabbed my shoulder and shoved me underwater! (“That’s some real ITU s***!” my friend told me after.) Luckily, my basketball instincts kicked in, and I was able to hold my own. Unfortunately, the Wall of Aggressive Dudes never relented because the 70.3 and 140.6 guys started beforehand; just as I’d swim away from one pack, there’d be another surge.

Second, we had to contend with the current not once, but twice. Gotta love loop courses! Initially, I didn’t think it would be strong, but I swam far, far left my first loop because the current pushed me toward the shore. My timing chip also came off during this portion, so I spent 30 seconds fumbling around and treading water trying to put it back on.

Overall, this was not a great swim, but it was effective from a tune-up perspective. Sure, the split was slower than I would’ve liked, but more importantly, it reminded me what it’s like to be in an aggressive open-water environment—and I was able to hang tough and stay mentally sound.

Transition 1 – 1:30 (1/6 AG and 5th female OA)

My transitions weren’t efficient at South Beach, so I focused on moving through these sections quickly. Case in point: I came out of the water with another girl, stayed on her shoulder as we ran into T1, and beat her out on the bike.

Bike – 40-K – 1:18:00 (1/6 AG and 3rd female OA)

As outlined in my race goals, I planned to redline the bike and ride hard miles. Although I was physically prepared to enter the pain cave, this ride ended up being much more mentally demanding than I anticipated.

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Elevation profile (also #LetsTalkWatts)

I saw only four people on the ride: two girls who I passed, and two dudes who passed me. This meant I was riding completely solo without anyone in sight. The super fast dudes were ahead of me, and I figured I was in the top five for women. A few times, I even wondered if I was still on course because there were no signs, volunteers, or fellow athletes.  That’s when it dawned on me:  I am racing myself. This was a great opportunity to dial in and execute, but I had to work harder to stay mentally engaged and not ease off the gas just because no one else was around.

Focus on the feeling. Focus on the feeling. I don’t have a power meter, but I’ve spent enough time at FTP to know what it feels like, and I was there. I also focused on pushing a bigger gear and maintaining 90 RPMs as opposed to downshifting and spinning at 93-95 RPMs, which I do by default.

Overall, I felt strong, and I also felt like I was out there a long time. This is a decent split (and the woman who had the fastest bike and won the race is a pro so …), but I was not planning to spend 78 minutes at FTP; I was actually hoping for 70. Did this extra pain cave time affect my run? Probably.

Transition 2 – 0:50 (1/6 AG and 3rd female OA)

Get in, drop stuff, and get out.

hits-kingston-t2

Not sure what my tri shorts are doing, but …

While running, I fumbled with my watch and failed to press “start” at the right time, so I knew the distance would be off.

Run – 10-K – 53:10 (4/6 AG and 13th female OA)

So … there’s not much to say. It was a double, out-and-back course with each loop spanning about 1.5 miles.

2015-hits-kingston-run-map

In theory, this structure would make it easier to divide the run into mini sections, but in reality, I was again left to my own metal devices.

hits-kingston-run

Where is everyone?!

The first loop was relatively OK. My splits were where they needed to be, and I spotted two blazing fast women making moves and heading back while I went to this turnaround. This meant I was the third female overall. And when I started running back, I didn’t see another women for a long, long time. I am racing myself, and it’s my race to lose.

hits-kingston-run2

Watts?  Where?!  Not totally sure what I’m doing here.

However, I knew if I executed the bike right—and rode at FTP for an hour-plus—then I would eventually cook on the run. It was simply a question of when it would happen: mile two, mile three … I really hoped I could make it to mile four, but the halfway point was where things started to go downhill. It was hot. My heart rate was jacked up. It felt like I was working much harder to hold my splits. I made the rookie mistake of drinking too much water, and my stomach was sloshing. Bottom line, I went into survival mode for the final three miles. There were cones set up on the ride of the road that I used to keep myself in it mentally. OK, make it to that cone. Good. Now get to that one.

hits-kingston-finish

And as the story of my triathlon career thus far goes, I yet again got run down in the final stretch. With less than a quarter mile left, the woman who eventually took third overall passed me, and I couldn’t answer. Some days you have it, and some days you don’t.

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Official finishing time – 2:40:11 (1st AG and 4th female overall)

All and all, this was a productive outing. I reconfirmed I can handle aggressive swims. I also reconfirmed I can, in fact, “grind it out” at 90 RPMs on the bike. I proved I cannot ride at FTP for 78 minutes and expect to hit and hold my target 10-K race pace after. And I learned you sometimes need to race yourself.

Time to lock it in. Next stop: Milwaukee!

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 6 (Week 27)

So I did a little swimming, biking, and running in Kingston yesterday.

2015-hits-kingston-age-group-award

It was a decent day.

General training notes: Woohoo for an under the radar race week! I registered for the HITS Kingston Olympic distance race a few weeks ago, but kept this event on the DL. (Full race report coming soon, but I placed first in my age group and fourth female overall—and missed the overall podium by 20 seconds.) My coaches knew, of course, so we adjusted workouts accordingly.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Thanks to the humidity, I bagged my planned five-mile tempo run for an easy one. Just have to be flexible sometimes, right? During my evening swim, the normal lane was totally nuts. There were two dudes trying to set the pace on the front, but they couldn’t make the intervals and kept stopping between 50s. There was a mini Wall of Dudes holding the wall. C’mon, guys—move! The 2,800m still got logged, though.

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance

Race wattage workout: 3×6 minutes with four minutes at race wattage and two minutes above race wattage. I didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t supposed to feel great.

Thursday – a.m. run

Another humid and easy five miler

Friday – a.m. swim with Bearcat masters

Easy 1,700m to stay loose and get the blood flowing

Saturday – HITS Kingston Triathlon

Fifteen-hundred meters of swimming, 40-K of biking, and 10-K of running in two hours and forty minutes. Far from my fastest, but it was a solid tune-up for Nationals, and I learned a lot on the course. And any day you make it on the podium is a good day.

Sunday – a.m. bike

Easy 20-ish miles around the city with one of my work friends to spin out my legs and jumpstart the recovery process

How did your workouts go this week?