Tag Archives: open-water swimming

Triathlon Training Log – Week 31 (June 27)

I’m back in NYC, but my heart is in LP.

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Placid paradise

Along with my arms, legs, and entire body. We had a monster training weekend at #WorkLiveTriCamp!

General training notes: ah, a recovery week. With #WorkLiveTriCamp scheduled for the weekend, we stuck to easy workouts during the week. My body definitely needed the rest. Although now I feel like I need a few days to recover from camp! (And there will be a more detailed post on Lake Placid.)

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run in Central Park

Easy 45-minute run along the trails

Wednesday – a.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Recovery ride with a handful of intervals that focused on cadence

Thursday – a.m. run in Central Park

A few weeks ago, I did Cat Hill repeats as a recovery run; this time, I did 800s around the lower loop. I really enjoyed this workout, and my legs felt much fresher and looser afterward.

Friday – p.m. swim in MIRROR LAKE

My car left for Lake Placid shortly before 8 a.m., and we arrived around 1 p.m. Since we couldn’t get into the rental house until 3 p.m., we hit Mirror Lake for a 1.2-mile loop of the Ironman Lake Placid swim course. It felt great to be back even though the water was the roughest and choppiest its been in the three years I’ve been going there. Another car of campers arrived around 4 p.m., and I somehow got talked into swimming a second loop of the course. (Slash, it sounded like a great idea after two adult beverages.) This time, it was raining, but we had the lake to ourselves.

Saturday – a.m. brick; p.m. swim

The training day started off slowly due to rain and wind in the forecast, but around 11:30 a.m. the skies looked clear enough to ride. Under normal circumstances, I’d ride the normal bike course, but since it had been raining throughout the night and morning, our coaches advised everyone to skip the seven-mile descent into Keene, which can be unnerving even during ideal conditions. Instead, I ended up riding the run course, heading out Wilmington, and then coming back to Lake Placid. (Once I turned around, my route followed the “normal” bike course.) It was incredibly windy, and the 30-mile ride took a lot longer than anticipated, but it was absolutely beautiful.

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Forever chasing that cataclysmic bliss

Back in Lake Placid, I swapped out my bike gear for running shoes and headed down to Mirror Lake to log two loops. Per Earl’s instructions, the first loop was easy, and it was during the second loop I had permission to work down to my off-the-bike pace. During my 5.5 miles, I saw a few training buds from the house getting after it too.

I closed out the day with another 1.2-mile swim in Mirror Lake. The focus of this workout was to work on drafting and swimming in a pack, but I was in an awkward place: not quite fast enough to swim with the pros and actual swimmers who were at camp and too fast to swim with everyone else. Earl put me in a group with three other people, and I unintentionally dropped them when it was my turn to swim from the back of the pace line to the front.

Sunday – a.m. brick; p.m. swim

This was a monster training day: I rode the same route as the day before, but kept backtracking from Wilmington into Jay and eventually Keene before turning around and heading back to Lake Placid. There were four of us who started the ride, but about halfway through, the group splintered to just Earl and me. Granted, this 53-mile outing was my longest one of the season, but hands down, this was my toughest ride in Placid to date. The wind was absolutely unrelenting. When we were about 12 miles from the house, we made a quick stop at a gas station, and that’s when I called in the reserves: Coca-Cola.

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Gimme energy. Gimme watts. Gimme another pair of legs.

Even with the boost from this endurance athlete’s elixir of life, the rest of the ride home was a total slog. I still don’t know how I pulled myself together to run three miles off the bike, but it got done.

After a pizza and Coke break (#metabolicallyefficient), I headed down to the lake with a few other folks for an easy swim. After this training day, I have even more admiration for long-course folks. I told one of the coaches I questioned a lot out on the bike ride, and he said, “welcome to long-course racing.”

When you need an energy boost during a workout, what’s your go-to option?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 20 (Week 29)

This sign can only mean one thing.

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Another trip to Placid Paradise for the iconic Ironman Lake Placid weekend!

General training notes: With a certain “A” race inching closer and closer (*cough* #Hammerfest2015 *cough*), this week served as my final high-intensity training span, which was perfectly timed with a trip to Lake Placid. I really got after it up there on all fronts and was happy with how the weekend played out—in terms of workouts and Ironman happening. No, I did not sign up. I’m not touching that distance for another 10 years.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

So Coach Pat’s 3×2-mile repeats did not go as planned. I cranked out the first set and struggled to hold the prescribed pace, and although I started the second set, I could not finish it. My legs felt dead and totally zapped of any energy.

Wednesday – a.m. run

No humidity means no problem! Easy five miles that felt much better than yesterday’s outing.

Thursday – a.m. CompuTrainer class at Tailwind Endurance; p.m. swim IN MIRROR LAKE

VO2 max build pyramid: one-minute, two-minute intervals, etc. all the way to five minutes (with equal rest) and then back down again. After an uneventful drive to Lake Placid, I hopped in Mirror Lake for one loop of the swim course.

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!  But this training day helped demystify the distance a bit …

Friday – a.m. bike; p.m. run and swim

This will forever be known as the day I nearly and inadvertently did a 70.3: early and solo 56-mile ride on the bike course; nine easy miles on the run course; and 1.2 miles in Mirror Lake. Even though it was fun and challenging, I still think long-course folks are crazy!

Saturday – a.m. bike; p.m. swim

Logged another loop of the course with a friend in the morning at a leisurely pace and hit up Mirror Lake again that afternoon for 1.2 miles.

Sunday – off

But I did have a full day on my feet volunteering and cheering at Ironman Lake Placid. Full recap coming soon!

What did you do this weekend?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of June 8 (Week 23)

Lake Placid is paradise.

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And I’m missing it already.

General training notes: It’s no news I’ve been in a triathlon funk since my bike crash, and spending some quality time in Placid helped me refocus and reignite my training. I’m working on a Placid-specific post, but unsurprisingly, the swimming, biking, and running there was perfect. And I was there with a great group of people too, which made the weekend even more memorable.

Monday – off

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength training; p.m. CompuTrainer ride at Tailwind Endurance

Easy five miles with race-paced pick-ups, plus corework and upper body strength training. After work, I rode for an hour at Tailwind on the Ironman Mont Tremblant course because I like hills and pain.

Wednesday – a.m. run

Uneventful and steady 55-minute run outside

Thursday – a.m. long run; p.m. open-water swim IN LAKE PLACID

Eight-mile long run and 1.6-mile open water swim in MIRROR LAKE

Friday – a.m. brick (one loop of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course and one loop around Mirror Lake); p.m. open-water swim

The Placid bike course is incredibly gorgeous and humbling. I was perfectly content to spin out and chat with folks as I re-familiarized myself with the route. We ended up cutting out part of the entire 56-mile loop (local readers, we turned left in Wilmington instead of continuing straight), but still ended the outing with a solid 43.3 miles. I did a short two-mile run after. My legs weren’t too happy, but I was running around Mirror Lake, which made the discomfort totally worth it. Later that afternoon, I hit the water for 1.6 miles.

Saturday – a.m. bike; p.m. open-water swim

As the underachieving short-course triathlete at #WorkLiveTriCAMP, I did another 43.3 miles on the Ironman course while the crazy long-course folks did a full two loops. (However, I did pull my weight by going into town and getting pizza.) And I hit the water again that afternoon for 1.6 miles.

Sunday – a.m. bike

One final solo and blissful ride on the course. Even though I wasn’t biking with target speeds in mind, it was interesting to see how much time I shaved off during the weekend. Friday was more of a social ride, and during this outing I averaged 19 mph—and I was just cruising. Definitely makes me wonder what I could do if I were training for a 70.3 or full …

How do you reenergize your workouts when you’re in a funk?

Triathlon Training Log – Week of July 21 (Week 28)

I have returned from the paradise and magical place that is Lake Placid.

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My weekend centered on volunteering, cheering, and being the Sherpa of the year for my five teammates who took on this historical Ironman. I’ll probably write a post once I catch up on life, but it was a memorable, emotional roller coaster kind of weekend. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, though, and my teammates made me so proud.

General training notes: Not too much to say this week. I frontloaded my workouts because I knew serious training probably wouldn’t happen during the weekend. Everything got logged even with a severe case of sympathy taper crazies.

Monday – a.m. swim and run

Even though I logged a killer 78-mile ride the day before, I wanted to carry the momentum through the week. This combo proved to be tough—3,250 yards in the pool and seven miles outside—but I got it done.

Tuesday – a.m. bike

Originally, I planned to brick, but my legs still felt trashed from the weekend. Instead, I spun out for 24 miles.

Wednesday – a.m. bike

Hello, aero helmet!

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#InstaFame

One of the perks of being on a team includes getting hand-me-down gear. And I was totally “that triathlete” riding in Central Park and wearing an aero helmet. Hey, I have to test it before Nationals. And I’ll be “that triathlete” again this week because I have to try my borrowed race wheels too!

Thursday – a.m. run

Since I skipped Tuesday’s speedwork to bike, I settled into the paincave on the dreadmill and logged a threshold run. The intervals themselves weren’t incredibly fast; it was the “recovery” at 7:47 min./mi. that got me. I somehow survived the six miles.

Friday – p.m. swim

YES, MIRROR LAKE!

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It defines paradise—and you can’t beat swimming 1.2 miles in paradise.

Saturday – p.m. run

Seriously, is this real life?

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Six steady miles on the Ironman Lake Placid run course.

Sunday – spent the day volunteering, spectating, and being a sherpa for Ironman Lake Placid

And no, I did not sign up for next year’s race.  Ask me again in 10 years–ha!

Ironman Lake Placid 2013 – The Workouts

Hiya, friends!  As promised, here’s the first of a few recaps from my trip to Lake Placid this past weekend.

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One of my teammates completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run, and another volunteered and spectated with me.  The three of us made the five-hour drive from New York City to Lake Placid Thursday morning, and we agreed heading up earlier would be better; this was confirmed when my soon-to-be Ironman teammate whizzed through paperwork, packet pick up, weigh in, etc. once we arrived.  More on that in a later post.  Here’s what my workouts looked like:

Thursday – Rest/pack/assemble bike rack.  My teammate who wasn’t racing and I must’ve been quite the sight: two girls sprawled out on a side street trying to put together a bike rack.  We eventually figured it out, though!

Friday – One loop of the swim course (1.2 miles) in Mirror Lake and 50 minutes on the run course.

Oh my gosh.  Words cannot begin to describe how much I loved these workouts.

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Want to know why it’s called Mirror Lake?  Because you can always see the bottom.  This swim was the farthest one I’ve officially completed in open water, and I soaked it all in; the calm water, the shining sun, and the breathtaking scenery when I sighted (which wasn’t that often because the buoys are attached to a silver wire that lines the bottom of the lake, so as long as you follow the wire, you’ll stay on course).

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Prior to this trip, I knew Lake Placid would be my first Ironman (in about 10 years maybe, ha!), and after the swim, there was no question.

Afterward, I headed out for a 50-minute run on part of the marathon course.  Again, oh my gosh:  running with mountains in the distance and under a clear blue sky—can you ask for anything better?  I probably looked like the biggest goon ever because I couldn’t stop smiling!  Like the swim, it was incredibly therapeutic and reconfirmed my desire to do this race.

Saturday – One loop of the bike course (~56 miles).

This Lake Placid long weekend resulted in two personal distance records:  my longest OWS and my farthest bike ride yet—about 56 miles thanks to one loop of the Ironman bike course. (There are a few lollypop turns, but my teammate and I didn’t do all of them; we guessed our total mileage was in the 50-54 ballpark.)

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Going into this ride, my teammate and I decided to do it for fun, so we wouldn’t push the pace, we’d take breaks when needed, etc.

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Ride fueled by PowerBar, ha!

We also planned to chalk the course, so we knew we’d be stopping at least four times.

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My teammate’s nickname is “Double D” or “DD” for short.

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Goofing off, ha!

Although the swim and run tempted me to sign up for the 2014 race, the bike proved to be a reality check.  Overall, it’s the discipline where I have the most room for improvement, and this course cannot be taken lightly—it’s tough, it’s hilly, and the wind can play a huge factor.  For any Ironman race, if you don’t respect the course and the distance, you’ll pay for it, and if you don’t pace the Lake Placid bike portion the right way, then you’ll definitely blow up later.  Even though I enjoyed the ride, it’s safe to say at this point, I’m not ready mentally or physically to make the jump to long-course events, which is totally OK.

Sunday – Rest/volunteer/spectate.

Detailed post to come, but wow, what an incredibly inspiring day!  My teammate finished in 12 hours and 11 minutes, which is an impressive time for his first Ironman and for this course.

Monday – One loop of the swim course with some easy/solid intervals.

I had to get back in the water one last time.  Even though I enjoyed Friday’s swim, this outing meant so much more after seeing the race.  Yeah, Ironman Lake Placid will definitely happen one day.

After watching or volunteering for a race, have you been tempted to sign up?

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of July 7

Friends, hello!  After a great 4th of July weekend at home, I’m now back in New York City.

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And to think this Wegmans caffeinated goodness almost didn’t make it through airport security. (And yes, sushi happened for lunch.  Obviously.)

It was really nice to escape for a few days, and unfortunately, I didn’t get to hit up a ton of my favorite Syracuse spots like Target, King David’s, and Syracuse Bicycle.  Oh well—at least there’s Labor Day weekend, maybe?

Even though I was home without access to my bike, I still completed most of my planned workouts.  Here’s what I did this past week:

Monday – rest

After doing Stamford (and drinking way too many gin and tonics to celebrate), my coach said athletes who raced should take the day off.  No complaints!

Tuesday – a.m. bike with Full Throttle Endurance and strength train

Since it’s getting lighter earlier now, our outdoor team rides have been bumped back 15 minutes.  Woohoo for extra sleep!  Anyway, two tempo loops with our pace groups were on the docket, and then I rode another easy one with a teammate.  Plus some full-body strength training for good measure.

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

Whew, this main spin set kicked my butt.  Basically, we started off riding five minutes at 75 percent (of our maximum heart rate), then four minutes at 80 percent, three minutes at 85 percent, etc., all the way up to one minute at 95 percent.  And then we repeated the ladder.  Needless to say, the run off the bike was short (a little more than two miles).

Thursday4th of July Foot Races (5-K)

This is the “race” I briefly wrote about yesterday:  one mile warm up and most of a 5-K course at tempo race.

mizuno-wave-sayonara-cazenovia-fourth-of-july-foot-races

In hindsight, I probably should’ve done a cool down mile or two.

Friday – a.m. run and open-water swim

After a five-mile “recovery” run, I hit the lake for some open-water swimming.

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For 20-ish minutes, I focused on sighting and swimming steady/solid intervals.

Saturday – a.m. speedwork

My coach said to do Monday’s prescribed speed workout on Saturday, so I ventured to my old stomping grounds for some quality track time.

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Back at my old stomping grounds for lots of 800m’s, plus a handful of 200m sprints for good measure.

Sunday – a.m. open-water swim

Another 30 minutes in the open water to practice sighting, plus some steady/solid intervals.

And guess what—it’s race week! (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot recently.) I can’t believe the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon is this Sunday.  It seems like such a long time ago that I threw in my name, played the waiting game, and found out I got a spot.  This week, the team will be tapering, which means shorter workouts with no intensity sets and zero strength training.  This also means I need to mentally prepare for the taper crazies.  Here’s the “game time” version 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 with FTE

Tuesday – a.m. bike with FTE

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

Thursday – a.m. easy run

Friday – a.m. swim with FTE

Saturday – off

Sunday – 13th Annual Aquaphor New York City Triathlon

How did you stay active during this past weekend?

Home For The 4th (and 5th) of July

Hiya, friends!  I hope your long holiday weekend is going great so far!  On Wednesday, I hopped on a flight home to Syracuse, and I’ve been fully enjoying Central New York.

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A little different than New York City, right?

My first stop after the airport was Wegmans.  Obviously.

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I have yet to find sushi that even comes close to this in NYC.

While home, I needed to complete a tempo run, so I signed up for my hometown’s 4th of July 5-K.

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I debated whether or not I should write a race recap, but honestly, there isn’t too much to say.  I did a quick warm-up mile on the high school track, and excluding two big hills at mile one and two-ish where my pace creeped up to 8:1X, I hit and held my tempo pace.  Official finishing time was 23:36 (7:36), which I’ll take for not “racing.”  Shortly after, I took Zelda for a “recovery jog.”

7:4-4th-of-july-walk-zelda

Good news—the Mizuno Wave Sayonaras can withstand both road racing and greyhound walking!

Anyway, later that afternoon, my entire family—aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents—came over for 4th of July festivities.

7:4-4th-of-july-fruit-salad

My uncle’s girlfriend’s mother made this patriotic fruit salad, and I had to try really, really hard not to put away the entire spread.  The fruit was delicious, but it was the dip that proved to be my demise: fluff and cream cheese.  Yum!

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Other shenanigans ensued.

And yesterday, I completed a five-mile recovery run before hitting the pool.  I mean LAKE!

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Words cannot begin to describe how much I missed open-water swimming here.

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My 20-minute “workout” consisted of a 10-minute warm up and 10-minutes of intervals.  I swam steady to a predetermined point, then swam hard back, and repeated this cycle.  My mom and dad spotted me, and this was the first time since last year they’ve seen me swim, bike, or run—and they were floored.  They said I looked like a completely different swimmer.  Woohoo for progress!

The rest of my day consisted of napping outside and trying not to get sunburned.

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My extended family eventually visited for round two of festivities.  No pictures, but I will say we polished off a bottle of limoncello and citrus-flavored vodka.

How did you celebrate the 4th of July?

Mighty Montauk Triathlon Recap

On Saturday, I completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon, the Mighty Montauk.

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Held in Montauk, NY, this 1-mile swim, 22-mile bike, and 6.2-mile run featured tough race conditions thanks to Tropical Storm Andrea, which pounded the area with rain the day before.  The unrelenting precipitation made parts of the course challenging—and don’t even get me started on the standing water in transition—but I still had a lot of fun.

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Red nails and red swim cap—and I didn’t even plan this matching!

As outlined in my race calendar, I didn’t “race” Mighty Montauk because it was my first Olympic, but I did establish a few training goals.  I drafted this post the week before the race, but never published it; and this actually works out better because final finishing times are available online, but splits are not (i.e. exact times for the swim, transition 1, bike, etc.).

Goal:  Get experience in my new wetsuit.

Thanks to my big-girl job, I’m eligible for generous discounts off products we carry in store, which includes Blueseventy wetsuits.  Even though I have a wetsuit from last season, I needed to upgrade, so I ordered the Helix.

blueseventy-helix-wetsuit

I won’t bore you with its characteristics, but it’s the best Blueseventy suit on the market:  the lower body provides buoyancy, and the upper-body contains thin, 1.5-mm neoprene, which ensures flexibility in the water.

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Basically, it feels like a sleeveless wetsuit.

Result:  Success!

The suit arrived Wednesday, just in time for a pool test swim on Thursday morning.  I only did 500 yards, but immediately loved it.  I felt faster and more streamlined, yet totally forgot I was wearing a suit because the upper body is so flexible.

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And on race day, I had a pretty good swim.  Lake Montauk’s temperature notched 50ish degrees Fahrenheit, and even though it took me half a mile to “warm up” (that phrase being relative, ha!), I felt strong, calm, and totally relaxed in the open water.

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[source]

It was a bit choppy and windy, but nothing compared to South Beach or last year’s DeRuyter Triathlon.  I didn’t push the pace, and overall, I definitely like the one-mile distance of an Olympic more than the half-mile of a sprint.

Rough time estimate: somewhere in the 35-37-min. ballpark.

Goal:  Push—aka don’t be complacent—on the bike.

Based on the SoBe results and recent happenings, I have the most room for improvement on the bike.  With another two months of training under my (race) belt, which includes an expedition to New Jersey and group rides in Central Park, I hope to feel more confident come race day.

Result:  Meh.

So remember that tropical storm?  Its residual effects—think heavy winds and a partially flooded course—made the bike tough.  The course itself wasn’t too technical or challenging, but the wind and water combination made it touch-and-go.

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[source]

Cruising into transition 2.  Clearly, I cannot wait to get out of the saddle!

(My “favorite” part of the course was the turnaround point that had one foot of standing water.  Good times.) Even our coaches commented on the unfavorable conditions.  On the bright side, only two women passed me, both of whom had tri bikes.

Rough time estimate:  The last time I checked my bike computer, it read 1:01, so one-hour plus.

Goal:  Develop a nutrition strategy.

Even though this will be the longest tri I’ve done to-date, I don’t plan to do anything different in terms of nutrition.  After all, nothing new on race day, right?  I’ve fine-tuned my pre-race eating plan and hydration strategy, and I hope this combo can adequately fuel me for a 10-K run.  Both my coach and a few knowledgeable triathletes advised skipping the gel on the bike/during the run.  I won’t #trigeek out and go into the nitty-gritty science, but basically it will take energy to digest those calories, and during a short-course event, I want that energy to be spent on swimming, biking, and running.

Result:  Success!

I followed my tried-and-true plan—GU Espresso Love 15 minutes before the swim start and one bottle of PowerBar Perform on the bike per hour—and didn’t feel my energy levels plummet on the run.  In fact, I completed the 10-K without taking any of the on-course water, Gatorade, etc.

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“Hydrating” off the bike at the post-race party.

Goal:  Execute the pace plan—aka be disciplined—on the run.

So South Beach was a classic example of making a game plan and then totally throwing it out the window.  Luckily, that run spanned four miles, so I hung on and finished somewhat strong, but ignoring the pace plan won’t be OK during an Olympic-distance event.  My coach gave me a target pace I should hit and hold for the run, and the toughest part will be being disciplined coming off the bike.  I’ve also talked to my coach and teammates about the course itself, so I know what to expect at each mile.  Miles four and five head downhill and then up hill through cul-de-sacs, which means I need to capitalize on the declines to make up for time lost on the inclines.

Result:  Semi-success!

Aside from my first quarter-mile off the bike that was too fast, I executed the plan pretty well.  I settled into cruise control for miles one, two, and three, and there was surprisingly little discomfort.  It was tempting to push the pace, but I alternated between telling myself “discipline” and “shorter, shorter, quicker, quicker.”  There was some discomfort that ebbed and flowed during miles four and five, and luckily, one of my male teammates caught up to me (his swim wave was five minutes after mine) and pulled me up the hill—like he literally reached back and grabbed my hand in an attempt to pull me up!  I saw only four or five teammates on the run, but it was still great to cheer on each other.  As I neared the top of the hill, one of my female teammates who was making her way down told me that’s where the mile-five maker was located, and the last one-plus mile was a downhill stretch to the finish line.  Thanks to her tip, I settled into my tempo pace for the final mile.

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[source]

Rough time estimate:  50:XX.  I didn’t stop my Garmin exactly when I crossed the finish line, and it also measured the course as 6.4 miles.

Official finishing time:  2:33:00.5—first in my age group (18-24) and 12th in women overall!

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No medal or actual podium this time, but this t-shirt is much more practical.

Given the circumstances, I’m happy with how this race played out.

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[source]

(Some of) the best teammates a girl could ask for.

Overall, I definitely could’ve pushed more during each leg, and I still have a lot of work to do in terms of the bike.  Honestly, I finished each discipline feeling way too comfortable, but since this was my first Olympic-distance race, I wanted to leave enough gas in the tank.  I’ve also decided I prefer this distance to the sprint; at the halfway point for the swim, bike, and especially the run, I was glad there was more ground to cover.

Let the training and countdown for Stamford (19 days!) continue!

Nautica South Beach Triathlon Recap

This weekend, my triathlon racing season officially began with the Nautica South Beach Triathlon in Miami, FL.  About 70 Full Throttle Endurance (FTE) triathletes made the trip, and our team did very well overall; we had people on the podium for almost every age group.

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As I wrote a few days ago, this event proved to be the toughest swim-bike-run I’ve completed so far (both mentally and physically), but it felt absolutely incredible to push through the pain and put my training to the test.  Even though this triathlon was a “C” race for me (meaning I didn’t “race,” but rather trained through it), I pinpointed specific weaknesses that need to be improved before my first Olympic-distance triathlon—the Mighty Montauk—in June.

Let’s talk about the expo briefly first.  After flying south Saturday morning with one of my teammates, we checked into our hotel, met up more teammates, and headed to the expo to get our race packets.

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A race expo on the beach?  No complaints here!

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Not a ton of pictures to share, but in my defense, we stayed for only 20 minutes or so; the vendors weren’t that impressive, and we didn’t want to be standing in the sun mere hours before the race.  Other than going to the expo, we didn’t do anything eventful Saturday except relaxing, eating an early dinner, and going to bed early.

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At this point, I should also mention most of my teammates arrived in Miami Thursday or Friday, and the FTE coaches held open-water swim and bike-course clinics Saturday morning while I was in transit.  I can play the “what if” game all day, but I really think had I attended those sessions, my swim and bike would’ve gone much more smoothly.  Oh well—train, race, and learn.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t sleep well Saturday night (does anyone actually sleep the night before a race?), and I woke up before my 4:10 a.m. alarm and felt calm, confident, and ready to do work.  If you’ve talked to me during the past few weeks, then you know this race had me amped up and stressed out.  So many aspects of this event made me uneasy—my first ocean swim, my third bike ride outside of the year, my first time competing in heat and humidity, etc.—but I mellowed out the week before the race; by Wednesday, my doubts vanished, and my mindset shifted from “how will I cope?” to “I can’t wait to put everything together.”  Also, my triathlon support system that includes my coaches, teammates, and mentors were invaluable.  So overall, race week was an emotional roller coaster, but I trusted my training, respected the taper, and felt totally dialed in Sunday morning.

Transition opened at 5:30 a.m., and my teammates and I arrived around 5:40 a.m.  Unlike the other three triathlons I’ve done where triathletes choose their spot in transition, this event had assigned bike racks based on bib numbers because there were so many people competing—more than 3,000!  Since I got there early, I set up my gear on my assigned rack (each triathlete chose their own spot on their assigned rack) near a tree with a huge branch that seemed to point to my spot; I knew this would be a perfect landmark.

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The pre-race meeting took place on the beach, and this is when I realized the swim would be tough:  Even though the water temperature registered at 73 degrees Fahrenheit (much cooler than the anticipated 78), the ocean was extremely choppy thanks to the wind.  We’re talking whitecap, 15-foot wave choppy.  Our coaches gave us some last-minute tips, and most importantly our head coach Scott said this is exactly why SoBe was a “C” race for us—as New York City triathletes, we can’t train for these conditions; we can’t train in 35-degree weather and race when it’s 75 degrees.

Swim – 0.5 miles (16:31, 1/17; “secret” goal – sub-20 minutes)

First, I’d like to say I had the most interesting swim wave ever:  females 18-24 (my age group) and Clydesdales 200-224 and 225+. (For the non-triathletes, larger individuals compete in the male Clydesdale and female Athena divisions, so basically I was chilling with a bunch of dudes who looked like football players.) Moving on.

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At the swim start, I positioned myself far to the left with the hope of getting more clean water.  This strategy would most likely lead to swimming a longer distance overall, but I would expend less energy without having to deal with the positioning chaos.

Prior to race day, one aspect of the swim I obsessed over included my wetsuit selection.  Past SoBe water temperatures notched 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is still wetsuit legal, but my coaches highly suggested buying a sleeveless suit. (I’m still wearing my full-sleeved Zoot that I bought last summer.) Even though a sleeveless model would prevent overheating, the general rule of thumb is to wear a full-sleeved one as long as you can tolerate it because literature suggests it will make you faster and more efficient.  Since I’ve had a full-sleeved since day one, I’m used to it, and plus, I need all the help I can get when it comes to the swim.

Anyway, this ocean swim was definitely the toughest time I’ve ever had in open water.  My first ten strokes or so felt good, but then the unrelenting waves hit.  They tossed me around like I was in a washing machine.  At one point, I looked up and saw a 20-foot wave and had no idea what to do.  This spurred a mental freak-out, but to keep myself in the race, I broke the swim into smaller sections and tried to banish the negative thoughts:  get to the first buoy.  Find your rhythm, focus on your breathing, engage your abs.  Get to the second buoy.  Once I eventually made it to the second buoy, I had calmed down, but I anticipated a 20-minute-plus split; it must’ve taken me five minutes to get to the first buoy alone.  I forged ahead, though, and settled into my comfortable pace.  A little more than halfway through, I passed hunter green caps, or people who started one wave (five minutes) before me.  OK, maybe not all is lost.

Transition 1 (2:36 2/17)

Coming out of the water, I couldn’t stop beaming—I made it!

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In the zone—get me to my bike!

The run from the swim finish to my bike in transition was on the long side, and it was tough trudging through sand.  Once I finally made it to my bike, I looked around and took inventory; nearly all bikes on my rack from my swim wave were still there.  Even though I wasn’t “racing,” I realized I was one of the lead girls out of the water. (It wasn’t until after the race that I learned I was the first in my age group out.) But as I experienced firsthand, the race isn’t won in the swim.

Bike – 19 miles (1:02:49, 4/17; “secret” goal – one hour)

Going into this triathlon, the bike portion gave me the most anxiety:  prior to Sunday, I had completed only two rides outside, plus I’m still getting used to my new saddle and riding in aero doesn’t feel totally comfortable yet.  My bike plan was simple:  start in aero, and if it feels too uncomfortable, then ride normally; and pass as many people as possible as Andrew said.

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The bike course was an out-and-back route, and it wasn’t too hilly or technically, but it did contain a few climbs at causeways.  It was also windy at points, but never unbearable.  Anyway, I started in aero, but it didn’t feel right.  At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I made the game-time decision to ride the 19 miles “normally.” (After the race, Scott said there was a problem with my stem, and my bike was unsafe to ride.  Yikes!  Probably why aero didn’t feel right!)

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Broing out and riding with the boys–story of my life.

Overall, the bike progressed OK.  I felt strong and put forth a solid effort, but I wasn’t hammering.  However, shortly after the turnaround, a 24-year-old on a tri bike blew past me. (Race ages are written on each triathlete’s calf, so you know exactly who is in your age group.) She made a decisive move and totally left me in the dust.  She also ended up winning my age group.

Transition 2 (1:55, 2/17)

Total and complete blur.

Run – 4 miles (32:59, 2/17 for 8:15 min./mi.; “secret” goal – 32 minutes)

Like the bike, the run route was an out-and-back along the boardwalk that paralleled the beach.

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OK, so long story short, I did not execute my run game plan.  In fact, I basically did the exact opposite.  The original plan?  Settle into my comfortable 8 min./mi. pace for mile one and two, then assess the situation and try to negative split the run if I felt strong.

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So what actually happened?  I felt very fresh and strong coming off the bike, so I immediately shifted into my tempo pace and started picking people off.  Miles one and two clocked in at 7:45 and 7:50, and I had a feeling maintaining (forget negative splitting) would be difficult, but I told myself I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

I faced that bridge at mile 2.5.

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This is what pain looks like.

That’s when the wheels started to fall off.

For the first time ever, I developed a cramp on my right side, my quads began to hurt (usually my calves begin to scream at mile two, so prepare for this discomfort), and my pace slowed big time.

Like the swim, I set mini-goals to keep myself moving forward:  Catch that guy.  Make your move.  Shorter, shorter, quicker, quicker.

There was a lot of pain.

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The final 1.5 miles were the probably the toughest I’ve ever run, and I owe my teammates and the FTE cheer squad big time for pulling me through.  Every time FTE triathletes passed each other, we exchanged high-fives and words of encouragement.  There were also a ton of FTE supporters along the course—including athletes who finished already—so even though I was running solo, I was never really alone.

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So.  Much.  Pain.  Running form totally falling apart too.

Before the finishing shoot, the course turned off the boardwalk and onto the sand, which I totally forgot about:  Son of a nutcracker! (Not exactly what I was thinking, but my grandma reads my blog, so I have to keep the language PG—ha!) The sand eventually led to a mat, and I saw two of my teammates who started cheering like crazy.  I was so happy to see them!

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I smiled, gave them high-fives, and finished strong.

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Finishing time – 1:56:52 (2/17; “secret” goal – sub-two hours)

My emotions were all over the place as soon as I crossed the finish line.

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I experienced an endorphin high for sure, but my first reaction was disappointment; I wasn’t happy with how the race at all, especially my run.

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One of my teammates and I compared race reports, and we agreed we did OK on the bike, but our runs didn’t go as well as we hoped.  We both experienced side cramps too, a first for both of us.  Anyway, we hung out at the finish for a bit and cheered for our teammates.  My age-group results weren’t immediately posted, so I used a teammate’s phone to check my splits, which is when I found out about my second place age-group finish.

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Obviously, this news was awesome!

One reason why I waited to post this recap was because I wanted to talk to my coaches first.  There was a member party at Chelsea Piers Tuesday night, and I had a long talk with Andrew and Scott about the race.  I expressed my concerns about the bike—looking at the data, I finished fourth in my age group, so it appeared to be my weakest event.  However, Scott said point blank my time reflects equipment, not stamina/endurance:  if I had been riding a tri bike, the end results would’ve been different.  He also said I have one of the heaviest (read:  least aerodynamic) bikes on the team, and I need to upgrade to a triathlon bike ASAP.  Until I do, he said I can’t get mad when people pass me—ha!  This insight makes me feel better because I know now it’s a question of equipment, not an inadequate engine issue.

Overall, though, Nautica SoBe was such a fun race–I had so much fun with my teammates, and I can’t wait to go back next year!

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of March 31

Happy Easter, friends!

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I hope you get to spend the day with friends, family and loved ones.

My trip home to Syracuse was short and sw-EAT:  yesterday morning, I met up with MB and one of her running buddies (another Ironwoman nonetheless) for an easy 45-minute run before I grabbed breakfast with two of my cousins.  Then, my aunt and I went to Syracuse Bicycle and Fleet Feet to do some MuckFest mud run shopping.  At Syracuse Bicycle, I stocked up on cycling socks, water bottles, and even bought a pair of toe covers and a black Patagonia vest. (Hey, it was on sale.) The shop was recently renovated, and it’s very impressive.  Yesterday afternoon, my family watched the Syracuse-Marquette game, and the Orange won—Final Four, here we come!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Marquette vs Syracuse

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We enjoyed a sinfully delicious Easter breakfast this morning before we headed to my aunt and uncle’s house for Easter “dinner”—and then I hopped on a train and am currently en route back to New York City.

So now that it’s officially Sunday, you know what that means:  It’s race week!

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This time next week, I will hopefully have completed my first triathlon of the season—and will be celebrating accordingly with my teammates!  Race week, race week!

As you know, I didn’t blog about my workouts at home, but my final push before the taper went well:  on Friday, I had a solid swim that included a 15-minute time trial.  My wetsuit was quite the topic of conversation, and the old ladies at the local pool loved me! (And some of them knew me when I was little.  Oh, small towns.) That afternoon, I completed the best tempo run I’ve had thus far.  Not only did I hold paces below my designated splits (don’t yell at me, coach!), but I also felt strong mentally.  This was the first tempo run I completed solo this training cycle, and it was a huge confidence builder—I proved to myself that I can push harder and hold a faster pace than I thought possible.  Disclaimer:  The tempo run occurred in the cold (roughly 34 degrees Fahrenheit), which is basically the exact opposite of what Miami’s weather conditions will be like.  Here’s to hoping powering through snow and hail (no joke!) will help me be mentally tough come race day.

And as previously mentioned, I met up with MB and her running buddy on Saturday.  They had 10 miles on the docket, so I tagged along for 45-minutes or slightly more than five miles.  Thanks for a run fun, ladies—and for not dropping me!

Overall, I couldn’t have ended this week on a better note workout-wise, so I will do my best to embrace the taper so I’m locked, loaded, and ready to do work.

Time for 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)

Tuesday – a.m. bike (outside with team)

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

Thursday – a.m. swim with FTE

Friday – easy a.m. swim/run or off

Saturday – easy open-water swim and bike with FTE

SundayNautica South Beach Triathlon (0.5-mi. open-water swim, 19-mi. bike, 4-mi. run)

How was your Easter?