Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A New Blog!

Since I've reached the natural end of this blog by getting to September 27, 2009, I've decided to create a new blog that will be for my continued triathlon training.

The new blog is:

I've appreciated all the support and comments that I've gotten over the past several months and I hope that you'll follow me in my new blog!

Official Results

Well, the official results are out and I did a pretty close job with my watch and unofficial timing of the race.

Swim: 38:01 (42:12 pace)
T1: 3:37
Bike: 1:47:23 (14 MPH pace)
T2: 2:11
Run: 1:06:16 (10:41 pace)

Total: 3:37:25

I was 31 out of 57 in my age group. Had I had faster transition times, I could have probably been 28th without any other real effort (45 seconds difference).
I'm really happy with the biking pace. I was hoping for 13 MPH under good weather conditions, so to be at 14 in the rain makes me really happy. On the flip side, I was hoping for a faster run, but I'm not disappointed with the final outcome.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Got Here

So, the short story is that I got to September 27, 2009 and I survived. Actually, I more than survived, I enjoyed myself. And now for the long version ...

When I talked to Laura on Saturday night, she told me about their TNT practice session at the race site and also told me that the race had run out of bike racks so people with numbers in the 1000s and above currently didn't have a place to rack their bike. That meant both of us were without bike racks. I knew there was nothing we could do to worry about it and we'd just have to see how things went in the morning.

I managed to fall asleep pretty early on Saturday night (sometime between 9:30 and 10). I was a little upset that Drew fell asleep before I did, but I wasn't up much later than he was. I managed to sleep soundly until about 1:30. After that it was a constant waking up and falling back to sleep. Around 2:30, I woke up and just had to look outside. It hadn't been raining when I went to bed originally and I was still hoping that the weather forecasters were wrong. At 2:30 it was raining pretty steadily. After I knew it was raining, it took me a while to fall back to sleep. I just laid there for a while and thought of all the things that could go wrong with the rain, which wasn't very productive.

Finally, my alarm went off at 4:10. By that point, I was ready to get up and just start moving around. I choked down my breakfast of cinnamon-raisin bread and peanut butter as best I could. I double checked my bag for everything I would need and then just like that, it was time to head over to the race site. Drew dropped me and my bike off and said he would just wait there so that I could sit in the car instead of having to stand in the rain. I took my bike over to the rack and found out that I actually had a rack, which was good news. I tried to start setting-up, but the rain was coming down pretty steadily and I wasn't certain that I wanted to start getting stuff out of my bag any sooner than I had to.

I sent Drew a text that told him that I thought he should just go back to the hotel. I knew I'd feel better if I could just hang out in transition and I felt bad that he was just waiting in the car. A couple minutes later, I saw the bus that I knew would hold Laura and the rest of her TNT buddies arrive. I went up to the front of transition and said hi to her. The transition space was really crowded. I'm guessing that they didn't really find more bike racks magically over night and just had to try to squeeze all of us into the same number of racks. Also, I understand why they put the transition in numerical order, but I guess what I thought was silly was everyone in my transition area was also in my swim wave. Which meant that we'd all be in transition at roughly the same time, which wouldn't help with the crowding.

Finally, I had laid everything out as best I could. My best solution for the rain was to make one plastic bag of biking gear and one plastic bag of running gear and to just hope that they would stay a little bit dry. It actually did briefly stop raining while we were still setting up transition for maybe 10-15 minutes before starting up again. I almost think it would have been better if it just stayed raining.

At 6:30, everyone started heading over to the beach. As I told Laura as we were leaving transition, I knew it would sound really ridiculous, but I just didn't feel like getting my hair wet yet. We had been out in the rain for over an hour at this point, but I had either been wearing a rain coat or a poncho, so I still had dry hair. In order to keep it dry as we left transition, I put my swim caps on. There was supposed to be an athlete's meeting at 6:35, but that didn't happen.

Laura and I got into the water and were accompanied by some of her Brooklyn TNTers. We all speculated about the swimming course since no one had explained it and there clearly wasn't going to be a race meeting. We actually ended up getting into the water a couple of times before the start. Especially for me in my sleeveless wetsuit, it was a lot warmer in the water than out of it.

Finally it was 7:00 and we watched the pros start the race. I kept scanning the crowd looking for Drew and his parents. I didn't know what time they'd be back or if I'd get to see them before the race. I told myself it didn't really matter. At about 7:15, Drew found us. I just gave him the biggest hug. At that second, it was as if all my fear about doing the race disappeared. I knew he was there and would be cheering me on regardless of how I finished with the time. I guess I just needed to know that he'd be there and watching out for me.

Finally, it was time to walk over into the corral for the start of the swim. Most everyone else in our wave got into the water one last time, but Laura and I just stood on the beach and watched (that's me on the right, hands on hips).
Right before we got into the water, the guy with the megaphone shouted out some instructions. "Keep the buoys on your left. When you get to the end, the last buoy will be green. Turn around and swim back." Turns out none of those instructions were all that helpful.

And then the horn sounded and we all started running into the water. At some point while we were running in, Laura just looked at me and said, "this is ridiculous". And it really was. And then we were deep enough and started swimming. I did almost exactly what I wanted to on the swim. I just kept myself slow and steady and didn't let my race-day adrenaline get the best of me. The swim course was mostly protected by two jetties, but at some point, we had to swim past the jetty and the water got a lot rougher. I could tell almost the instant I had passed the jetty and wasn't very happy about the thought of swimming even further.

Although I had practiced a lot for nutrition before the race, the one thing that I couldn't practice was drinking a gallon of salt water along with what I had eaten for breakfast. What I will say is that the two didn't mix and I got sick during the swim. Twice. I tried not to panic about it and knew that all I could do was keep swimming and get myself out of the water. When I got to the turn-around point, it was a little confusing because there was no green buoy. But everyone else was turning, so I did too. One guy next to me said, "Well, now what do I do?". Pretty much my thought.

Swimming back in was rough, but mostly because there was a girl next to me who wouldn't stop bumping into me. I tried to speed up, I tried to hang back a little bit, but it seemed like everything I did, she did too and just kept hitting me in the head. I was surprised that it would be that far into the swim and still so congested. Once we got back into the protected area of the swim, I really just tried to bring it home stronger than I had swum on the way out. I felt like I was practically rolling onto my back to get a breath without taking on water, but it seemed to be working. I also decided that in the future, I would try to avoid salt-water triathlons at all costs. With so many races out there, it just didn't seem worth it.

The other thing that the guy with the microphone at the start didn't describe was the fact that on the way in, you had to swim in between two buoys. I noticed a lot of people going really far to keep the outside buoy on the left, but that didn't make sense to me, so at least I didn't add onto the distance of the swim too much like I saw some other people doing. Once I got pretty close to shore, I kept swimming for as long as possible. I saw some people get up and start running really far out, but I knew that swimming further would be better.

As soon as I hit the bottom with my hand, I was up and running. I remembered how tired and defeated I had felt at Staten Island after the swim and I didn't feel that way at all today. I was feeling really strong and totally looking forward to the cup of water that I knew that they would have on the run into T1 (me, in the pink cap, running).

I knew that I was going to have long transitions because of the weather and because I wanted to put on more clothes than I had before. And I accept that as part of the race-day conditions. I almost forgot to take my swim cap off before putting my bike helmet on. With the rain, I'm not sure it really would have made any difference and might have actually helped. Drew and his parents were talking to me while I was in T1 and he asked how I was doing.
My answer, "sticky." It's really hard to put on a long-sleeved shirt while you're wet and it's raining. But, finally I got it on and ran my bike over to the mounting line. I jumped on and was off for 25 miles.

The first part of the bike was just fine. I recognized the part up until where Drew and I had gotten lost on our aborted training ride a couple of weeks ago. The roads were really wet and I tried to avoid the puddles and the storm drains and whatever bumps I could. Once I got past the part where Drew and I had ridden, I knew that I was then going to be in for the two big hills. On the first one, I saw a girl walking her bike up the hill. I was thinking that didn't look so good for her. I was also really glad that wasn't me. Once I got the first hill over with, I was just anticipating Claire's Climb.

It was still a few miles away, but it felt like it was there before I knew it. The race actually tracks your time up the hill, so I'm interested to know how fast I did it. I will say that I when I looked at my MPH, it was somewhere around 5.6 or 5.8, so it certainly wasn't a fast climb. But I stayed in the saddle and just kept pedaling. There was a bag piper playing on my climb up, so that was a nice distraction from the hill and the rain. Once I hit the top of the hill, I was ecstatic. The bike was more than half-way done, the hard part was over, and it would be (mostly) downhill from here. The ride down the hill was where I hit my highest speed and I'm sure I could have gone faster had the roads been dry and I wasn't worried about my brakes being too wet to stop!

On both bike bike hills, there were lots of inspirational signs provided by the race. As I was riding past, I was thinking that I would remember most of the sayings. Of course, I only remember one: "Pain is temporary. Quitting is permanent." Although a lot of the signs were corny, there is something about that sort of encouragement that just gets you going a little bit harder than you were before. And at least it distracts you slightly from the task at hand.

My stomach still wasn't very happy on the bike. I tried to take a couple of bites of my Clif bar and I managed to get two down, but that was all I could do. I tried to drink as much as I could, especially of the Gatorade that I had brought with me in order to keep my calorie count for the day up. I was worried about not having enough left in the tank for the run, but I also knew that if I ate too much and my stomach revolted even more that I'd be more miserable, so I might as well just try to do what I could and leave it alone a little bit.

The roads were really wet and the cops and volunteers were terrific. I tried to say "thank you" as often as possible. Especially when there was a long line of cars that the police officers were holding back from crossing into the course. A lot of the volunteers offered words of encouragement, which was nice. I felt pretty bad for them standing out in the rain, but none of them looked too unhappy.

So, I'm not 100% sure that I needed to put on my long-sleeved shirt for the bike ride, but I was never sorry that I had it on. Had it been any windier, I think it would have been a necessity. The one thing I really wasn't prepared for was how wet my shoes were. The rain just poured down my legs and collected in my shoes and every stroke of the pedals just felt like I was stepping into a pool of water. Needless to say, it wasn't the most comfortable feeling.

I got done with the bike faster that I would have thought I would even under dry conditions. In fact, I apparently was lucky to even see Drew on my way into T2. He told me after the race that they thought I would be coming in about 10-20 minutes later than I did and they had just gotten there to start watching for me. I actually saw them before they saw me, probably because they weren't expecting to look for me.

The second I unclipped my left foot and set it on the ground, there was nothing I could do but laugh. My legs were complete jelly. They haven't felt like that in a long time. I think because I have been doing bricks almost every week with Terrier, they're used to riding for about half that distance and then running, but doubling the bike ride and then running was a different story. But, somehow I managed to run the rest of the way into T2.

I had another long transition because I took off my bike vest and long-sleeved shirt. I also had dry socks that I wanted to change into for the run. Then I grabbed my race belt and hat and was off on my way out of T2. Right when I was leaving T2, I saw Laura right in front of me. I yelled for her and after yelling a second time, she turned around. I ran up to her and we started the run together.

We couldn't believe that we ended up there together. We figured out after the fact that she must have finished the bike just behind me and had a shorter T2 than I did to get out just ahead of me to the run. The official results aren't posted to the internet yet, so that's our best guess, but I guess we'll know more when we get those.

I think Laura was a life-saver in that first mile. My legs were feeling tired from the bike and I hadn't quite settled into the run yet. At one point, I told her that if she wanted to run ahead of me, she should. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. After about a mile, Laura stopped running. I turned back and she told me that I had to keep running and I shouldn't stop with her. I know that if the positions were reversed, I would have told her the same thing, but my heart sank. She's been training for so long this year and has just recently been having some leg pain and I knew that was getting the best of her. A big part of me wanted to stop and encourage her along and make sure that she finished okay, but the other part of me knew that we each wanted the other to have their best race possible, and that I needed to keep running in order to do that.

Oh, and also in the first mile of running there was also this monster puddle that took up most of the road we were running on. That was the end of my dry socks. That made me less enthused about the fact that I had changed them and also the rest of the run. On the plus side, I figured that since they were already soaking wet, I might as well splash myself through future puddles just to have some fun.

Somewhere between miles 1 & 2, I saw Drew again. It was at the first water/Gatorade station on the run, and I was ready for it. I actually took these two cups, drank them, turned back around and gave Drew a quick kiss before heading out for the rest of the run...definitely some good motivation!

I followed my running plan to a T. I wanted to walk through the aid stations and run otherwise, and that's exactly what I did. There was only one brief moment where I walked. I ran uphill only to turn left for another uphill (meanwhile the volunteer was saying "it's all downhill from here" -- complete lie) and that second uphill got about a 15 second walk out of me. At the aid stations, I tried to drink as much Gatorade as possible for the calories (plus, the water tasted funny), but the Gatorade was all lime. I think maybe I'll have to try drinking that in the future when I'm training, because it's really not that good and I don't understand why they can't get another flavor.

I was also able to pick up my running about 5 times. I think I only did it for about 20 or 30 seconds each time, but it was really helpful in just giving me an extra boost and not settling into my slower rhythm the whole time. I saw Laura again between miles 4 & 5 on an out-and-back part of the course. She was walking and said her leg wasn't good. I was so proud of her for not giving up and for continuing on.

By the time I got to mile 5, all I could think about was how good I was feeling and even though I knew I was tired, I wasn't dying. I couldn't believe all the training I had done to get me to be able to accomplish this and get to the finish running. This never would have even been possible a year ago and I never would have dreamed that I'd be doing triathlons and be wanting to do more. That was what else I was thinking about on the run ... next year's races. But that's another blog post. Let's finish this race first!

Once I saw the sign for mile marker 6, there was a sharp turn into a park for the finish and the last 0.2 miles. At that point, I just started sprinting. The run through the park was not on pavement, it was on grass, which at this point had turned to mud. I did my best to not lose my footing and just run as hard as I possibly could.
And just like that, it was over! Someone handed me a medal, a towel, a water bottle, took my chip off my ankle, and then I was hugging Drew and I was done!

Drew and his parents suggested that I should get something to eat. We walked over to the tent and I picked up a piece of pizza had one bite and knew that was a really bad idea. Instead I grabbed some plain bagel and tried to munch on that for a minute or two while I settled down. It was still raining at this point and I was getting really cold. I decided that we should just go get my stuff from transition and then head home. I felt horrible for not waiting and watching Laura finish, but even though I was happy to be done and I felt great about the race, standing in the rain and the cold for one more minute was just going to make me miserable.

So, we headed back to the city and I regaled everyone with stories of the race. By the time we got back home, it had stopped raining (quite typical!) and it turned out to be a nice evening.

I did learn a few things:
1. Bring a flashlight to transition. Some of the racks were in complete dark (not under street lights) and if I had one of those, I would have been sunk without a light. Not to mention using a port-a-potty in complete darkness is something I'd rather not repeat.
2. Use body glide. I don't really like it and I feel like it just makes sand stick to you, but the weird chafing I have on my neck, collar bone and arms thinks that I should have used it.

Other than that, I had a fantastic time and was more than prepared for the race. I'm sad it's over, but I'm looking forward to next year.

Unofficial Watch Time: 3:37:27
Calories: 2843
Maximum HR: 191
Average HR: 174

I'll post the official results when they're available. I also am planning a new blog for my continued training as this one seems to have almost reached its end, so I'll keep you updated on that as well.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not According To Plan

My plan for this morning was to get up and go for a quick run. Nothing too fast or serious, just one more stretch of the legs before the race. However, after having gotten up before 5 AM yesterday and staying up until about 1 AM last night, it just wasn't happening. I tried to get up. I snoozed once, twice, five times ... okay, I'll be honest, I snoozed for an hour and 15 minutes. At that point, Drew was poking me saying that I should get out of bed. But I just couldn't do it. I was still so exhausted that the thought of getting up was just excruciating. I have justified this to myself for the following reasons: (1) I have already spent enough hours working out this week according to my overall plan and (2) being well rested going into the race is the whole point of the taper week.

I won't have a chance to squeeze in a workout this evening and it's unlikely that I'll do anything tomorrow, so I guess now the only thing left to do is to lay out my race plan. At this point, the weather is looking pretty dismal. It's supposed to start raining Saturday evening and rain right on through Sunday morning until the late afternoon. Oh, and it will most likely only be in the mid-50s in the morning during the race. We just got an e-mail from the race this morning that said: "Sunday's weather forecast is calling for a chance of showers. In the event there is inclement weather and we do get rain, the race will go on. We will take into consideration your safety first and that of the volunteers. If the weather does get too severe, we have the right to modify the race. These changes, if any, will only be altered on race morning. We are looking forward to a safe and dry race for you all!"

I am trying to be a good sport about this. I want to say that it doesn't impact me at all. Except that I know that it does. I am hoping against hope that these weather predictors are getting it wrong this time and that it'll stop raining Saturday night and won't be raining Sunday morning. But, since I know it will be cold and most likely rainy, all I can do is try to alter my plan a little bit to fit the conditions.

I want to try to get to the race on the earlier side. Transition opens at 5 and I think I'd be happy arriving around that time. I would rather set everything up and try to get out my nervous jitters at the race site. I'm also hoping that by getting there early, I can sneak into the water before-hand to get acclimated to the water temperature. Clearly, nothing about the day will be warm, so maybe it won't be such a shock in the water!

For the swim, what I want to do is just settle into a relaxed rhythm. I know that it is likely to have a lot of elbows flying, but I'm hoping that I can not pay attention to that and just keep a nice easy pace on the swim. I want to make sure I don't let the adrenaline get the best of me from the start, so I think it's going to be really important to just take it easy.

In T1, I plan on putting on a long-sleeved shirt and my biking vest in order to cut down on some of the windchill on the bike in 56 degree weather. This will actually be useful as my biking vest has bigger pockets than my tri top and this way I can carry my stuff with me more easily (nutrition, sunglasses, etc.).

For the bike, I'm hoping I can remember to drink often and make sure I'm eating. It's going to be harder for me to remember to drink if it's not hot, so I'm really going to have to make a conscious effort to do so. I also need to remember to try to hold back a little bit as I need to save something in my legs for the run. I really felt like I was holding back on Thursday at the brick, so I'm hoping to remember that and carry over some of that.

In T2, I may or may not take off the biking vest and long-sleeved shirt depending on how I'm feeling temperature wise and what the weather is currently like. If it's raining, I think I'll definitely wear a running hat to try to keep some of the rain out of my eyes.

For the run, I'm going to just take it easy and remember that while this is a race, I'm just there to do my personal best. I know that at some point during the run, probably 2-3 miles in, I'll be exhausted from the effort of the day. But I think if I can run through that, I'll be able to finish the race running. I know that I will stop and walk through the aid stations, as I think at that point I'll really need the water and I'd prefer to make sure I'm actually drinking the water instead of spilling it down my shirt (which is what would happen if I ran). I am actually thinking of trying to incorporate some pick-ups into the run, because it seems to be easier for me to go further when I can keep myself busy with the speeding up and slowing down.

All in all, I think anything under 4 hours will make me extremely happy and proud of all that I've accomplished in the past seven months. It's still crazy to me to think that I've put in all this effort and now the day is almost here. I'm sure I'll be nervous and worried until that morning when they tell us that we can either do the full triathlon or the plans will be adjusted, but I'm going to just keep hoping that I can do the race that I've been training for.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Does It Sound Wet Or Flat?

Yesterday after work I took my bike back to Toga to have them fix the bike computer. I was really glad that they were going to fix it because on the way over, nothing was working. Not the mileage, not the MPH, not the cadence ... nothing. Well, that's not true. It did still tell time accurately. I waited about a half an hour and they brought it back up and everything was in working order. Apparently one of the wires was too tight before and that's why it wasn't working. Once they re-wired and gave it some slack, it was A-OK. The only thing I'm not sure about is that they moved the location of the computer. It's fine, but I sort-of liked where it was before. I'm sure in a while I won't even really remember what it used to be like.

This morning I woke up at 2:30 to the sound of rain. I was secretly hopeful that it would keep on raining so that I could just get some more sleep. However, when my alarm went off at 4:45, it had stopped raining. I did debate whether or not to still go to the brick workout and if I had been by myself, I probably could have justified staying home, but Drew convinced me to go. I know that was the right decision, I just wasn't that excited about waking up before 5 AM.

I got to the meeting spot and it turned out that there were only 8 of us at the workout today. Not super surprising given the fact that the weather was a little bit iffy and it was also the last Terrier brick workout of the season. Even though it might have seemed like it could keep raining, the temperature was fantastic - really quite warm - which was a nice surprise.

The taper workout wasn't anything fancy - just 50 minutes on the bike spinning easy and then a 15-20 minute run. I started off on the bike riding and noticed right away that since there had been no car traffic in the park, the roads were really still pretty wet. It's not really that big of a deal to ride on a wet road, but I just hate that you get this thin layer of dirt all over you from the splashing up from the road. I also don't really like to give my bike a bath and that's usually a requirement after a day like today.

After I was 3/4 of the way done with my first loop in the park, I thought I heard a bit of an odd noise coming from my bike. I was worried that maybe I had a flat. I did think that it could just be the sound of the wet pavement that was leading me to hear all of these funny noises and not a flat, but being the worry-wort that I am (and also prone to flats!), I decided just to stop for a second and check it out. Of course, it was just my over-active imagination, but I did feel a lot better for the rest of the ride once I had stopped to see. Also, since the weather for Sunday is still looking pretty iffy, it made me feel better that I'll know what it'll sound like to ride on wet roads and I won't have to be as paranoid that every sound I hear is a flat tire.

My bike ride was 12.34 miles in 50:47 (14.58 MPH average). I really took it easy today. Every time I found myself pedaling harder up a hill, I reminded myself to ease off and not blow up my legs before the race. Which meant that I had no shame in using my granny gear to go up the Harlem Hill!

Running wasn't anything exciting. I started off a little bit slow because I really didn't want to push too hard this close to the race. I did the loop around Cherry Hill Fountain and then the lower loop of the Park. On the last quarter-mile or so of the run, I picked up the pace a little bit. I wanted to try to simulate the end of the run on Sunday and I'd like to have a little bit of gas left in the tank so that I can pick up the tempo at the end of the run and finish strong. My run was 1.86 miles in 18:01 (9:41 pace).

Calories: 574
Maximum HR: 176
Average HR: 160

Calories: 238
Maximum HR: 183
Average HR: 174

I think my plan for this week is going really well so far. I'm hoping I can get to bed early tonight to try to stockpile my sleep. I'm just guessing that I won't sleep too well Saturday night, but I'm hoping if I get up early both Friday and Saturday mornings, I'll just be too tuckered out to stay awake worrying all night long. I just have one more workout planned for tomorrow and then that's it. I'm not going to gain any fitness in the next three days, so I just have to hope that everything I've done this far was enough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's A Prime Number!

Yesterday afternoon the swim waves for Westchester came out. I found out that I'm in Wave 8 (out of 10 waves). I had been really nervous about the swim waves because I was worried that if I was in a later wave, I wouldn't have enough time to finish the bike course. Everyone, regardless of when you start, has to be off the bike course by 10:30. My wave should start around 7:24, which should be more than enough time to swim and bike by 10:30 (and even if I should get a flat tire, I think I'd still be okay).

Even though I was feeling better by the time I figured out that I should have more than enough time, I still got all panicky and sick-feeling in my tummy. I think a lot of it is the fact that I've been planning for this for over 7 months now and I cannot believe that it's almost here. I've decided that I should just embrace all these nervous jitters and hope that I can get a lot of them out of my system prior to Sunday morning. I know I'll still be nervous and anxious on that morning, but I'm hoping to be less so than I normally would have been.

Yesterday after work I went to pick up my race packet. I had found out when the swim waves were posted that I would be number 1093. Not such a bad number. It's a prime number, which I found to be quite comforting. Since my number is indivisible, it must mean that I am also indivisible and can't be too beat down by the end of the race. Turns out that 1093 is also a Wieferich prime number, and there are only two known Wieferich primes. Must mean that I'm pretty special since I really don't understand the rest of that math mumbo-jumbo.

When I was picking up my packet, they put this really awesome bracelet on all of the athletes:

It's so that we can all get into and out of transition and that non-athletes can't sneak in, but I will say that I'm not so keen on wearing this around for the next 4 days. It's hard to take myself seriously. Laura's take was more that it was a badge of honor and bragging rights, but I'm not sure I share that same sentiment.

Today I decided to take as a rest day. There was a brief period where I discussed swimming with Laura, but she decided not to trek to the city super early, which meant that I got to sleep in! I did awake with a start at 7:00 to be a little worried that it was already light outside and I wasn't already awake. I really felt like I was forgetting something this morning and then I couldn't fall back to sleep once I was up. I did, however, spend the next 45 minutes just lounging around in bed, because I figured if I wasn't going to sleep, I should at least keep resting.

My plan for the rest of the week is to do the Terrier brick tomorrow and go for a quick run on Friday and then just keep holding out hope that it doesn't rain on Sunday morning. It's looking like there is a good chance for rain, but I'm hoping that it will come in the afternoon instead of the morning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If I Don't See Smiles, You're Not Racing

This morning was my last Terrier run before the race. I can't believe it's only five days away! I got up and had a piece of toast with peanut butter before heading out. I walked about half of the way there and ran the last 0.50 miles in 5:07 (10:13 pace). When I got to the meeting spot, I hung out there for a while with the rest of the people who had shown up for practice. Spencer was about 5 minutes late, so we got a bit of a late start to the workout.

We headed over to do the strides as usual. I had thought about timing them this morning, but figured that I'd just do that next time instead. I have enough to think about right now as it is. We did all the normal strides, including skipping, high knees, butt kicks, and karaoke. Towards the end, Spencer said that we should all do the same drill as last week - the side lunges. I decided to sit that one out. Since my legs are still a little bit sore from last week, I figured that I'd be pressing my luck by doing it today also. Again, I'm not entirely sure of the time, but I'd say we did about 0.50 miles in 5 minutes.

Once we were done with the warm-up, we all ran over to the Start. For the very first time, I held my own with the group. I actually finished towards the front! Granted, I know that everyone else wasn't really pushing it, but I wasn't really either. It was maybe a little bit faster than I would have been 100% comfortable and I'm not sure how long I could have maintained that pace, but I ran the 1.25 miles in 10:04 (8:03 pace). I can't even begin to explain how excited I was not to be the last one there. I know that it doesn't really matter, but it was just a nice boost going into the race to know that I can run at a faster pace than I would on my own when there are people around.

Finally, I got my turn of doing the "easy" workout for the people who are racing this weekend instead of the regular Sprint/Olympic group workout. Spencer told us that we should really take it easy on the workout and that we should be smiling the whole time. He said that if he didn't see us smiling, we wouldn't be racing this weekend, so we better be sure to keep smiling!
The workout was 3 x 440 yards (1/4 mile) and 3 x 220 yards (1/8 mile). We would have 1:30 recovery after the 440s and 1:00 recovery after the 220s. I ended up doing the running portion of the workout (1.125 miles) in 8:33 (7:36 pace).

Today ended up being quite a speedy day for me. But, I did keep smiling the whole time. And I didn't leave feeling tired, so all in all, I think it was a good morning. Today is the first day that we can pick up our packets for the race, so I think I'll be going after work (if not at lunch) to pick it up. I'm really nervous about finding out what swim wave I'm in and I'm hoping that I'm towards the front of the race so that I don't have to worry about the bike cut-off time. I guess I'll find out later today!

Total Miles (including strides): 3.375 in 28:44 (8:30 pace)

Calories: 305
Maximum HR: 191
Average HR: 169

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Won't Fall Off

This morning I met Nicole for pilates. Laura did what was probably the smart thing and took the day off from pilates. I'm not going to lie, when my alarm went off before 5:30, all I wanted to do was roll over and keep sleeping, but as usual with most exercising, once I got there, I was glad that I had gotten up and was doing the exercising.

We started out on the reformer and did a lot of the regular exercises. Nicole had me do some arm exercises on the reformer while keeping my legs in tabletop position. By the end of that, my tummy was exhausted. She told me that she has to come up with ways to make the beginner series more challenging. I told her that she had succeeded. It's a weird thing because the arm movements she was having me to aren't that challenging, but keeping my legs up certainly was.

While we were on the reformer, we got to do my favorite pilates exercise: side splits! Seriously, I think they're so much fun. I just really wanted to go down as far as I could, but I didn't think that my abs would be able to pick me back up. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only side exercise that I had to do today. Nicole also had me do side situps. As far as I can tell, the only reason to not complain too much about these situps is the fact you get to do two really good stretches when you're done with them. Although there is generally some grumbling involved no matter what.

Once we were done on the reformer, we moved over to the chair. Nicole had me lie down on the chair on my back. The chair itself is only about 2 feet long, so it's really just my back that was supported. She had me do the ab series on the chair. Normally, on the mat or the reformer, I always dread the words "curl your head, neck, and shoulders up", but on the chair it was even worse somehow. After that, she had me do a bit of a mini roll-up. I balanced on the chair on my tailbone and had to rock back about an inch and then forward to where I started. I was a little unsteady at first, but Nicole said, "Don't worry, you won't fall off." I was sure that was then the time where I actually would fall off, but she was right. She must know a thing or two about this teaching business.

Once we were done with the chair, we finished up on the Cadillac with some leg circles and some breathing exercises. It was quite a lot of things that we did today. I still really like pilates for the fact that even though we still do a lot of the same exercises, it can be switched up, like how it was today doing the ab series on the chair instead of the mat or the reformer. Sometimes, when I'm doing the exercises, I wonder how much I'm working my abs or if I'm cheating by not scooping them as much as I should be, but Drew says he can't believe how strong my abs are now, so I must be doing something right!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

If I Could Reach

Remember earlier today when I said that I should take it easy from now on? Yeah, well, that's going to be starting tomorrow, apparently. I decided to go to the Terrier swim practice this afternoon. I was actually worried that perhaps there wouldn't be a practice since I knew a lot of Terriers were going to be competing in the War at the Shore triathlon this morning. It ended up that the coach had competed this morning and got to swim practice about 5 minutes late and there were only six of us that showed up for practice, but that also made it sort of nice and laid back.

I ended up with my own lane, which was a nice treat!
This was the workout for today:

200 free warm-up
200 kick warm-up
3 x 50 descending (on the 1:00)
3 x 50 descending (on the 1:00)
50 easy
3 x 100 descending (on the 2:10)
3 x 100 descending (on the 2:10)
50 easy
100 reaching - 19 or 20 strokes
100 reaching - 17 or 18 strokes
100 easy

The descending sets were 50 (or 100) easy, 50 medium, and 50 fast. Especially on the 100s, we really had to make sure that we weren't over-swimming the first two. Otherwise, we wouldn't really improve on our times for the last set. On the second set of 100s, Sarah said that we should all finish under 1:30. I didn't quite make it. I'm not going to lie. My arms were tired today. Although I think it was good for them to get out there and just sort of not push too hard.

The 100s reaching were done really slowly. Sarah had us do 25s and count how many strokes we took. The first 100 we were just supposed to swim normally and count. I had either 19 or 20 strokes per 25 meters. Then after the first 100 she told us to really reach and see how many strokes we could shave off. Once we all reached the wall after swimming 25 and reaching more than we did before, she laughed and said that we all did exactly what she wanted us to do. We sped up. Instead of keeping our same easy pace, we sped up and shaved a couple of strokes off. I went down to either 17 or 18 strokes per 25 meters.

The whole purpose of this exercise is that we're more likely to swim and reach further like that while we're actually racing, so we should practice swimming like that in practice so that it feels more natural while we're actually racing instead of changing our strokes. For the 100 cool-down, I definitely tried to keep an easy pace and also keep my stroke count a little bit lower. Sarah said that we should have the same cadence regardless of how fast we're going. It should be a change in effort rather than how fast we're stroking our arms. Although this is definitely something I'm going to work on, I think I'm going to save it for after the triathlon!

Today's total: 1700 Meters (1.05 miles) in approximately 52 minutes.

Calories: 506
Maximum HR: 182
Average HR: 145

Wet Practice Ride

This morning I made up for yesterday morning's laziness and got up and went for a bike ride. This wasn't really about going the distance, this was more of a test ride for Westchester and trying to figure out exactly what I'm going to wear and how it will work out for the ride. It's sort of silly to say this, but I actually got all ready for the bike ride and then I got into the shower and got wet wearing my tri gear that I plan on wearing under my wetsuit. I then put on a long sleeved shirt and my biking vest once I got out of the shower and then we headed out to the park.

My hope in doing this was to simulate the race conditions. When we left the house, the weather said it was 55 degrees outside. But, it was really sunny, which made it feel a bit warmer to me. The weather forecast for the day of the race is currently 68 degrees as a high temperature and it says "clouds and occasional sunshine." That does not sound ideal to me and in my (limited) experience, biking while wet is a little chilly.

On the ride from the apartment to the park, I thought that I had made the right decision by putting on the extra clothes. Especially any time that the wind blew. We got to the park and started on our way. My cadence monitor still isn't fixed, so I just had to go by feel and instead I kept an eye on the distance. I imagine that I'll keep it on the distance on race day even if the cadence is fixed, so I'm thinking that it's not a huge deal at the moment. It's still a bummer, but not a deal breaker.

On the first time up the Harlem Hill, I blew by Drew and beat him up the hill. I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened before - or if it has - it was maybe only one time. I still thought it was a fluke and that maybe he was just tired or he was just letting me do all the hard work today and he was just out for a joy ride. When we got back to 72nd Street, I decided that I thought that the park was getting a little too crowded for my liking and that we should cut off the very lower loop of the park that is always the worst part and just cut across 72nd and head back north.

I don't like my 2nd water bottle holder on my bike very much and I don't think I've ever actually used it while biking before. Sure, sometimes I bring two water bottles, but I generally tend to switch them while I'm stopped instead of using the second one actively while on the bike. Today I forced myself to practice with it while biking since I am fairly certain I'll be needing it at Westchester (since I certainly don't plan on stopping that day!). It actually went much better than I would have anticipated and I actually think it's harder to drop the bottle in and out when I'm standing next to it then when I'm actually on the bike. Who knew?

So, we got around to the Harlem Hill again and I beat Drew up the hill again! What in the world? I have no idea where my little legs got all their super powers today. To beat him twice in the same bike trip seemed like maybe it wasn't a fluke the first time. I don't really know what happened, but I was certainly quite proud of myself!

When we got back down to 72nd Street the second time, I asked Drew what he wanted to do. I sort of wanted to keep going, but I knew that we had a lot of stuff to get done today and that he also had to go to work. I didn't want him to be stuck at work forever, so I figured that we should just head home, which is what we did.

We reached the exit and checked our stats before hitting the real road to ride the rest of the way home. My distance said 10.99 in 43:43 (15.08 MPH average) and Drew's said 11.17 in 43:43 (15.13 MPH average). We've known for a while now that our distances never matched up. The funny thing is that I used to make fun of Drew for not riding in a straight line and for riding so much longer than I did. However, it turns out that it's my distance that isn't counting correctly. It seems like it's about 0.10 miles off for every 6 miles. Not a huge difference, but enough.

I think I'm going to be good with my outfit choice for race day. I was definitely still wet after the 11 miles today (shorts and shirt). I know that my tri top will be less likely to dry if I put these other clothes on top of it, but I'm hoping that will help keep me cool on the run. I was definitely never hot today, even with the sun shining down, so I think on race day it'll be the right choice. Of course, there is really only one way to find out.

Calories: 488
Maximum HR: 181
Average HR: 158

Oh, yeah, and my arms? Pretty tired from yesterday. I'm guessing it'll be worse tomorrow. The good news is that it'll be better by next Sunday. I just need to remember to take it easy this week!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweating Makes Me Cold

My plan for this morning was to get up really early and go for a bike ride, but that didn't happen. Instead, Drew and I spent the morning and early afternoon running errands. We then headed off to the gym. I asked him if he was going to lift weights and he said yes. I didn't really think I wanted to do any leg lifting, but I'd do some arm lifts, so he said that he would do that too.

We got to the gym and did a quick 5 minutes on the treadmill. I went 0.57 miles (8:46 pace) in my 5:00. Then we headed over to the weights. I was thinking that I wouldn't do anything too crazy because this week is supposed to be rather restful, but Drew pushed me a little harder than I really wanted to be pushed. I know in the long run, that's how to grow big muscles is to increase the weight you're lifting, but that really wasn't my goal for today.

This is what I did:

Seated Row
12 reps @ 50 lbs
12 reps @ 60 lbs
8 reps @ 70 lbs

Lat Pull Down
12 reps @ 60 lbs
8 reps @ 70 lbs
8 reps @ 70 lbs

Dumbbell Rows
3 sets of 12 reps @ 15 lbs (3 sets right arm, 3 sets left arm)

3 sets of 10 reps @ 12.5 lbs (in each hand)

6 reps @ 25 lbs (in each hand)

Somewhere around the last set of curls, I realized that I had probably done enough, if not too much. When we started doing the shrugs, I realized that it would be a really bad idea for me to keep going. That's why I only did 6 of them. I actually really wanted to keep going, but I just don't need my arms to take 3 days to recover this week. I have big plans for weightlifting starting in October, but I need to get through this triathlon first!

After I gave up on the weight lifting, we agreed we would do a half an hour of cardio. Drew went over to the Arc trainer, which isn't really something I like at all. I decided to hit the treadmill instead. I did 25 minutes running and went 2.75 miles (9:05 pace). I then walked the last 5 minutes as a cool down because I was sweating all over the place. In the 30 minutes, I went 3.05 miles (9:50 pace). Really happy with that pacing. I want to be able to walk through the aid stations on the run during the race so that I can actually drink the water instead of just having it slop down my shirt. I'm glad to know that I can definitely walk for a while and still have good pacing.

In total, with the warm-up, I did 35 minutes on the treadmill and went 3.62 miles (9:40 pace).

I only used the HR monitor on the treadmill, not during the weight lifting, but here are stats:
Calories: 406
Maximum HR: 185
Average HR: 165

After we were done with the cardio, we headed over to the stretching area. It looked like I had sweat through my shirt even more than Drew had. I didn't know I was so sweaty all the time! We only wore our t-shirts and shorts to the gym, so walking home was really cold and a reminder that when you sweat, it definitely does its job of cooling you down. The only problem was that I was working out in a warm gym, not in the cool outdoor weather!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not Quite The Distance

This morning I got up and had two pieces of bread with peanut butter for breakfast. I knew that wasn't going to be enough for the day of the triathlon, but I was really trying to see how close I could eat that and go swimming as well as to see how long it would carry me through. I wore my full race day gear, including HR monitor, tri top and shorts, wetsuit, and two swim caps. I even wore my hair the same way that I plan on wearing it on race day, to make sure it all stays put when I take my swim caps off my head.

I had wanted to get in the pool earlier than Laura, so I got to the pool at about 6:50 and got all suited up. I was thinking that I'd try to swim the whole distance of the triathlon today and since I know that the swim course seems like the hardest to actually measure, I decided I'd swim 0.94 miles if possible. Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. Instead I did a quick 200 warm-up and then started just swimming laps back and forth. I had swum half of the distance that I was aiming for today (825 yards/0.47 miles) and I stopped for a second to check the time and to press my goggles on more securely. I also must have rubbed my eye, because I bumped my contact and had to actually get out of the pool to go look in the mirror to make sure everything was okay.

I got back in and started swimming again, did one lap, and then Laura appeared. We talked for a few minutes and then we both started swimming. By this point the pool was getting really quite crowded and I think I just wasn't in the mood anymore. I had sort-of lost my rhythm. I also was getting hungry, so I clearly need to eat a lot more calories before the actual race. I'm wondering if maybe I can try to drink some calories too in the form of one of those Odwalla Protein Drinks. I ended up swimming another 425 yards (.24 miles) and then saying that I was done with the pool.

In total, these are the stats for today:
200 yards / 3:34
825 yards / 17:07
425 yards / 7:01

Total swimming: 1450 yards (0.82 miles) in 27:43 (33:38 pace).

Calories: 304
Maximum HR: 172
Average HR: 156

Holy cow! What a heart rate. I knew I was just taking it slow and easy and not trying to rush, but was I even working out? Compared to some of my running heart rates, this looks like I was sitting on the couch watching TV, not swimming. Obviously, that's not really the case, and I'm sure the adrenaline of race day will increase this, but I really want to try and stay relaxed like I was today in the water. I think I'm a much better swimmer like this than I am when I'm really pushing it as I think my form tends to lose something in the quest to swim faster and faster.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Usual, But Colder

This morning was the usual Terrier brick. It was the second to last brick of the season, which makes me both happy and sad. Happy because I am ready for a little bit of a break, but sad because I really like the brick workouts.

However, I am glad that the bricks are coming to and end because it was quite chilly out there this morning. I had laid out my clothes last night and didn't really think about the weather at the time. When I got outside on my bike, I really wasn't that happy that I was only wearing short-sleeves. The fact that I was only wearing shorts was okay, but man-oh-man did my arms get cold!

Robert wasn't at practice this morning, but he had given one of my teammates the workout. It was actually the same cadence workout we had done on September 3. Since my cadence monitor doesn't work and I could barely see it last time anyway, I just decided I would do two loops in the park.

The vast majority of the first loop I was fairly unhappy. It wasn't even really the cold, although that didn't help matters any. It was more that I'm just really tired. My legs are tired, I'm tired, and I just wasn't having fun. I even took yesterday as a rest day and I'm still tired.

By the time I got around and was starting the second loop, I was feeling a lot better. I was warmer and I was more "in the groove" than I had been on the first loop. I ate a little bit of my Clif bar on the bike, mostly just to keep practicing eating on the bike. I noticed that because it was so much cooler, I didn't really drink much on the bike. I think if the race weather is like this morning, I'll have to remind myself that even though I don't feel very thirsty, I still need to keep drinking. My total bike for today was 12.36 miles in 51:30 (14.4 MPH average).

When I got done with the bike and was changing into my running shoes, I saw that Lisa was also changing her shoes and getting ready for the run. We ran the lower loop together, which was nice to have a running buddy. I finally warmed up all the way on the run, so I felt a lot better. We were supposed to run for 20 minutes, but when we got back to where we had (almost) started from, her watch made a beeping sound and I asked if that meant we could stop. She said that it was actually that it wasn't working so well, but we stopped anyway. I don't even feel bad about stopping a few minutes early as I'm going to justify it by saying that I'm supposed to be tapering. We ran 1.68 miles in 15:11 (9:02 pace).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You'll Be Done Faster

This morning I tried out a new nutrition plan. I've been trying to figure out what to eat in a hotel room before Westchester that doesn't require a lot of extra stuff and I think I've scratched oatmeal off the list as a possibility. I normally have about a half of a Clif (or similar) bar before heading out for my workouts, but today I thought I'd try having some bread and peanut butter. I didn't make toast, as I won't have a toaster in the hotel room. I really wanted to see how it would go with running, since that seems like the most likely culprit to make my tummy a bit upset.

On my walk through the park to the Terrier group run, I was thinking that this was probably one of the last nice mornings for the run and that I really ought to start thinking about getting some warmer running gear. I noticed that there were a lot of acorns on the ground and that I'd have to remember that during the run so that I didn't slip on one and twist my ankle. That's the last thing I'd need right now.

I actually ended up jogging about the last 1/2 mile to the meeting spot. I didn't time it, but I'd guess that it was probably about 5 minutes as I was going slowly and just trying to warm up my muscles. I got to the meeting spot and there were a few people milling about. One girl came up and introduced herself and said that she was new and was trying it out for the day. She asked some questions about the club and said she felt intimidated by everyone there. I told her not to worry. They were all fast and then there was me who isn't! From what I understand, our group has a bit of a reputation of being hardcore, but I know that it's been really good for me to have a reason to get up in the morning, even if I'm not the fastest one there. And it's definitely helped me improve over the last several months, so I think it was a great investment for me personally.

Anyhow, we did our typical strides workout for about the first 15 minutes or so. We actually did a new one that involved side lunges in order to stretch out your inner thigh. I'm not sure I was so great at those and I noticed a lot of people not getting down as much as they probably should have. In total, the strides workout was about 0.6 miles. I thought after the fact that I should really time this one of these days. I know that we spend about 15 minutes doing the drills, but I'm guessing the time that I actually spend running is more like 5 minutes.

Then Spencer told us that we would be doing a harder workout today. In fact, it was one of the harder workouts of the season. My first thought was that didn't sound so good for the new girl, but they were doing some speed work with people who were racing this weekend, so I don't think she actually did the workout the rest of us did. The workout for the Sprint/Olympic group was a 4.0 mile tempo run, but with some speed work mixed in. Every 4th light post, we would have to pick up the effort until the next light post.

When we first started, I wasn't so happy because the fourth light post at the bottom of Cat Hill, which meant running even faster up the hill. That should have been a sign that from then on, most other sprints would be up hill. At first I thought that I would be likely to give up pretty quickly on the picking up the pace, but I actually found that it wasn't that bad. When someone complained when Spencer told us the workout, he simply replied, "You'll be done faster." Hard to argue with that logic.

Once I really started going, I couldn't figure out if I should count to five light posts and then start over, or if the fifth light post was actually also the first light post. I decided to go the second way, which meant that I'd have to pick up the pace more frequently. I will admit that I did cheat once. On the 102nd Street transverse, there are no light posts on the left side of the street. Since I had been using the posts on the left, it seemed like I shouldn't have to switch over and count the ones on the right, so I just ran regularly across the transverse.

So, even though I did enjoy the run this morning, I did stop twice to get a drink at a drinking fountain in the park. I wonder if the peanut butter made me a little bit thirstier than usual? Also, I went back to using the heart rate monitor today. It's a weird thing. I actually sort-of liked not wearing it for the past week or so because sometimes I get really nervous when I see that my heart is consistently beating at such a high rate. When I just go run on my own without it, I have no concept of how fast my heart is beating and I think I feel a lot better without the knowledge. However, I do really like knowing roughly how many calories I burned during the workout. Somehow that makes me feel better about eating more than one breakfast!

This morning when I looked down, it was consistently in the upper 180s and even a couple times up at 190. Then my right arm started to tingle a little bit and I thought maybe I was having a stroke. Of course, I wasn't. But I did stop and walk for a minute to get my heart rate back down and to make sure my arm was okay. It just makes me wonder if I didn't know that my heart was beating so fast, would I have been so worried?

I finished the 3.9 miles in 37:01 (9:29 pace).

I then kept running (without the pick-ups) as a bit of a cool-down to the bottom of the park. I finished 4.4 miles total in 42:16 (9:36 pace).

I think my total running, including the jog to the meeting spot and the strides was 5.50 miles in ~ 52:16 (9:30 pace).

Calories: 600
Maximum HR: 191
Average HR: 181

As a side note, the bread and peanut butter combo worked out great! Never felt icky in my tummy, but I never felt hungry either. I will be trying this out for the rest of the week with my workouts to make sure that it wasn't just a one-time deal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Missed The Turn

Top 10 Things That Could Go Wrong On A Bike Ride:

1. You could get lost
2. You could fall off your bike
3. Your bike computer might not work
4. The weather could be bad
5. Your chain could come off
6. You could run out of nutrition
7. You could feel sick
8. You could get a flat
9. Your brakes could fail
10. You could get hit by a car

Well, this morning was the Westchester training ride. I was really looking forward to the ride before-hand as Laura had told me that it was really great to have ridden the course (she did the ride about 3 weeks ago). Also, all the Westchester info says that this is a ride, not a race, and no one will be left behind.

So, this morning Drew and I woke up early to catch the train to Westchester. On the ride from the apartment to Grand Central, I almost got run over by an SUV (see #10). We were stopped at a light and an SUV had stopped at the corner. Drew said to me that I should watch out because the guy was backing up. I moved back a few feet, the guy backed up a few feet, and I thought that was that. Then I turned the other direction to look at the oncoming traffic. However, about 15 seconds later, Drew is yelling, "Stop!" because the guy is still backing up. For anyone who has ever stopped a light and kept one foot clipped in, I think you can understand that it's not the easiest thing to back-up still half clipped in, even though I was trying. Luckily, the guy either heard us or stopped in time because he missed me. I don't understand how he didn't see me the first time, but that's New York drivers for you.

We bought our train tickets, boarded the train and were on our way. It was at about this point where I just started getting really nervous. I'm not sure that it was really the training ride that was making me nervous, I'm thinking that it's more the triathlon itself, but whatever the cause, all those nerves made my stomach pretty upset (see #7).

So, we get off the train at the Rye stop along with about 20 other people. I had brought directions from the train station to the meeting point for the ride. I tried to figure out where we were, but one guy started biking and a group of us followed. After following him for a couple of minutes, he then said we weren't supposed to follow him. That didn't help. I got out my map and looked at it to see where we needed to go, but one of the other girls was asking a local, so we started following those directions instead.

I'll admit we were a bit lost (see #1). Luckily, I happened to see a sign that was facing the opposite direction that indicated that we needed to turn left to get to Rye Playland (the meeting spot). So, we followed the sign and found our way to the meeting spot.

We got there about 15-20 minutes early, so at least when we were lost, we had plenty of time to figure it out! The leaders started explaining the ride and how since there was such a big turn out (at least 100 people) we would be broken into four groups: Fast, Medium 1, Medium 2 and Social. I was a little bit torn about whether or not to go in the Medium or Social group, but in the end I decided that we should go in the second Medium group.

I really wasn't too worried because there was supposed to be a leader at the front and at the back of each group, so even if I was going slower than everyone else, I figured there would still be someone at the back with me.

So, we started out. Right away I realized that my cadence wasn't working on my bike computer (see #3). Everything else was working on the computer, so I figured I'd just go off feel. I wasn't too worried about that, even though it was a bummer. The ride started out fine. I was slower than a lot of people, which was no surprise. For about a minute I was feeling really discouraged, but then I reminded myself that this is supposed to be fun. That was all I needed. Then I decided that I would just enjoy the ride and the scenery - there are some amazing houses out there and it was fun just to look.

What I didn't enjoy, however, were the roads. I realized when I was riding along that I'm really spoiled by riding in the park all the time. The road is 90% good in the park (I'm assuming mostly because the traffic there is pretty limited) and I'm not used to all the bumps and holes in a regular road. There are definitely a lot I'll have to keep my eyes out for on the actual race day.

We had been riding for right around 8 miles and we went up a fairly long and slow hill. Laura had told me that there was a hill right around that mile, but she had made it sound a bit worse than I thought this hill was. We kept going for about another mile before the 10 or so people in our group stopped off. Turns out we had missed our turn about 2 miles before.

We all turned around and headed back down the hill to continue on the right route. On the way down, Drew yelled out "Amy! My shoe fell off!" turns out what he actually said was "my chain fell off", but I did spend a good 30 seconds wondering how in the world he managed to have his shoe fall off (see #5). Drew and I stopped and he got his chain back on in record time. Of course, everyone who knew where we were going hadn't stopped, so our only choice was to pedal like mad and try and catch up. We had almost caught them to make our left turn, but of course we then had to wait for about 5 cars to pass before were able to turn.

Needless to say, by the time we got to the next intersection, everyone was gone and we were left wondering whether or not to turn right or left. At this point we thought we had gotten lucky because three bikers came up behind us. Drew asked if they knew where to go, but it turned out that they were just out for a ride, they weren't part of the Westchester training ride. We were now officially lost (see #1).

The three bikers turned right. I knew that was the direction we had come from and at that point the best we could hope for was to try to get back to somewhere we knew. So, we turned right too.

Now, I'd like to touch on the subject of how I didn't bring directions or a map of the course with me. I'm not going to lie, I definitely thought about it, and it was fairly uncharacteristic of me to have not taken them with me. However, I think the real reason why I didn't was simply because I knew that there were supposed to be people with us at all times and that no one would be left behind. It just didn't even seem like a possibility to get lost. It's a mistake I won't be repeating. Part of the problem was also the traffic lights. Drew stopped at a red light to wait for me to catch up while everyone else rode on ahead. By that point, the group leaders were several minutes ahead of us, and we just never caught up.

From that point, it was just the two of us out for a ride. Drew says that this was the point where he started having more fun since it never mattered to him where we rode our bikes. We definitely had a couple of good hills along our new route and I happened to see one off to the right, so we turned and went up and down that hill. I figure since I missed the dreaded Claire's climb, the least I could do was practice a few more hills.

While we were out riding, Drew saw this sign, which says, "RIDERS GO BACK - You Missed The Turn". Seemed like a pretty good summary of the day!

We asked a woman in a car where the nearest town was and she said Greenwich was about 3 miles down the road. We figured we'd ride there, figure out the train schedule, and go from there. We talked about getting a snack or the possibility of extending the ride, but it seemed like the best idea would be to just go and check things out. The trains only come once an hour on Sundays and it wouldn't have been fun to have just missed a train.

We were able to find Greenwich and when we stopped to see the train schedule, we watched just a minute or two of a Soapbox Derby that was going on in town. I figured out that the next train was in 12 minutes, so it seemed like we should just go and get on the train. We hopped back on our bikes and rode the few blocks down to the train station. As soon as I got on my bike, I could tell that something was a little off. I looked at my back tire and sure enough, it was flat (see #8).

Since we were now at the train station, the only option I really saw was to get on the train and worry about the flat when I got home. Our ride was 17.32 miles and we did that in 1:22:27 (12.6 MPH average). Not the 25 mile ride I was hoping for, but it ended up being quite an adventure and we managed to have 6 of the 10 things go wrong for us, 7 if you count the fact that we got lost twice.

Here's a link to the route we took.
And this is a link to the route we were supposed to take.
The funny thing is that there are a couple points where if we had either kept going straight or turned left instead of right where we actually could have found the group. Oh well.

So, this afternoon, I had been planning on going to the Terrier swim as sort-of a make-up for those extra 8 miles of biking that I lost out on. However, I ended up spending 2 hours at Toga having them give my bike a tune-up, look at the flat, and let me know what was wrong with my bike computer. Turns out that there was very little good news. The tire itself was fraying along the seam. I can only conclude that this was a result of the flat I got on August 1. At the time, I thought that the tube had been pinched in the tire and I was surprised that the tire didn't have any damage. I think that it probably did and that it just took a while to manifest itself. Turns out that although those Armadillo tires are strong, they're not strong enough to cope with that. At least it wasn't a puncture. Then I really would have been at my wits end!

Because I had actually bought two new tires, but just hadn't gotten around to putting a new one on the front wheel, I was able to use a tire I had already bought instead of having to buy a new one, which was a nice bonus. The other bad news is about the bike computer. The reason the cadence isn't working is because there is a frayed wire. So, they have to order a new part for that in order to get it working again. At least it's not anything super serious and I can still ride my bike even though it's not working.

All in all, today was quite the adventure. I'm just glad that we didn't get too lost and that we still managed to come home laughing about the whole experience. Believe me, I'm going to try to memorize every turn for the bike before the 27th!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Does This Pool Taste Funny?

Because Laura and I hate ourselves (and each other) we agreed to meet at a pool this morning at 6:45 for an hour-long swim. Normally, this doesn't sound so bad, but the location wasn't desirable for either of us, meaning we both had to get up even earlier and travel pretty far. The only thing that was going to make the trip worthwhile was the fact that there is a hot tub there and we could sit in that for 15 minutes after our swim was over.

I took all of my swimming gear, including wetsuit with me, as I thought that Laura and I had talked about wearing our wetsuits today. While we did in fact talk about it, I apparently remembered wrong, because when she got there, she didn't have a wetsuit with her. I had brought a bathing suit with me too, so we just wore our regular suits for the swim.

Before this morning, I hadn't been swimming since I was on vacation. And I hadn't been in a pool in a month. I'm not sure that's the best way to be training for a triathlon. I was never really worried about it because I know I'm a good swimmer and with all the running and biking I've been doing, I haven't lost any cardio fitness. Still, it was a shock to have to get into a cold pool this morning. I still don't like that.

Luckily, the pool wasn't too cold and I warmed up almost right away. It was just the getting into the pool that was hard. My objective for today was just to get in and have a nice long swim. I decided that I wouldn't do a workout, but I also didn't want to be continuously swimming either, so I decided to break it up into alternating swimming and kicking. After the first few hundred, I asked Laura if the pool tasted funny to her. She said yes, which made me glad that it wasn't just that I forgot what swimming pools tasted like.

I looked up the pool on the internet to confirm that it was yards (and not meters) and found this interesting tidbit:
Our 25-yard pool is primarily used for recreational aquatics activities and is the first commercial indoor pool in New York State to be primarily disinfected by ozone. This system of purification was chosen to supplement chlorine because of ozone's extraordinary ability to effectively purify water without side effects. Ozone purifies water and air very quickly and efficiently. 3,000 times faster than chlorine. Just as nature uses ozone to protect the earth, we can use ozone to protect ourselves from microorganisms in the pool. The result is crystal clear, purified water.
So, maybe that's why the pool tasted different than a normal swimming pool?

Also, pool rule says, "Flotation devices not supplied by the Y are not permitted", which on the board at the pool included "float suits". Maybe it's good we ended up not wearing our wetsuits?

This was my workout today:
500 yards freestyle
200 yards kick
500 yards freestyle
200 yards kick
500 yards freestyle
200 yards kick
400 yards freestyle

2500 yards (1.42 miles) in 59:15

About half-way through at around the 30-minute mark, I realized that I was starving. Once I realize that I'm hungry, it's hard for me to concentrate on anything else. Laura and I had actually been talking about our plans for the day of the race and what and when we're going to eat. I obviously will need to be eating a lot more than a half of a Clif bar before hitting the water!

All in all, not too bad for my first pool swimming workout in quite some time! I keep having a little bit of doubt about my ability to actually complete an Olympic-distance triathlon in 16 days, but I also know that I've been working really hard for months now and I could do this right now if I had to. I definitely feel better about everything after having been swimming for an hour and realizing that although I'm tired from waking up so early, I'm not physically exhausted and I have a lot of stamina. I just have to keep reminding myself to go out and have fun!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This morning was the Terrier brick. Last week I couldn't believe how quickly they are coming to an end, but this morning and the cool weather, I could certainly understand why they are. Which leads me to something I'd never even thought of before - what if it's cold at Westchester? I never even considered the possibility that it might be in the 60s that day. This morning it was just about 60 for the workout and I was definitely a little cool, even while running. I was thinking that it wasn't so bad and that I wouldn't worry about Westchester other than the fact that I'll be wet on the bike & the run. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for warmer weather.

Robert gave us a couple of options for workouts today. First there was the workout for people who are racing this weekend, so I didn't really pay attention to that workout. Then, he said that we'd be working on "limiters" ... or what we think is the weakest link of the triathlon. He asked who thought their weakest link was the bike and a few people raised their hands. He said that their bike workout would be two loops in the park, but that each loop would have 3 Harlem Hill repeats, so you'd do the hill a total of 6 times. And each time you went up the hill, you'd do it in the big chain ring. Your run workout would be 20 minutes. As soon as he said the words "big chain ring" I immediately knew that there was no way I was doing the bike workout.

Then he asked who thought that the run was their weakest link. I raised my hand along with some other people. He said that for us, we'd ride our bikes for 40 minutes and then we would go and do 6 running hill repeats on Cat Hill. I wasn't the only one who didn't like the sound of either workout. Someone else made a bit of a face and Robert asked what was wrong. I said that I was thinking about saying that swimming was my weakest link. He said I should feel free to leave my bike with the watch dog and hop on into the Central Park Boating Pond. I didn't think that was so funny.

We all headed off to do our various workouts for the day. Because the days are getting shorter, it's still completely dark by the time we start riding. This morning was horrible. There is a portion of the park where the street lights go off at 5:45 AM, which means that to ride there is in complete darkness. I think that if I had been riding with my eyes closed, it would have been just about the same. All I could think about was hitting a bump or a rock or something that would throw me off my bike and then I'd break all my teeth. I don't know why, but I think about falling off my bike and breaking my teeth more than I think about breaking anything else. Probably because I imagine myself flying forward, even though when you really start to think about it, that doesn't make any sense since I'd have to be hit with enough force to unclip both of my shoes to fly off the bike and land on my face. It's probably much more likely to end up with a big bruise. But I worry about my teeth nonetheless.

My total biking time today was 41:09 and I went 9.94 miles (14.5 MPH average).

I made it back on the bike safe and sound and switched shoes and headed off for my run. I drank my entire water bottle while I was on the bike (I didn't have time to drink anything before leaving the apartment today) and I was glad that I was doing these Cat Hill repeats because there is a drinking fountain at the bottom of the hill that I knew I could use if necessary. However, I think because the weather was so cool this morning, I never really got hot, so I never needed to stop for a drink. I did the six hill repeats without complaining. Honestly, other than sighing once or twice when turning around to run back up the hill, it really wasn't that bad. We were supposed to do a slow jog down the hill as our recovery, which I definitely took advantage of.

The run was a total of 3.55 miles in 33:14 (9:21 pace).

Looking back I'm wondering if maybe I should have done the bike workout instead, but I'm not sorry with my choice and even though I didn't leave the workout super sweaty (darn you cool weather!), I was definitely still sweating!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Evening River Run

This morning I opted again to sleep in, which meant an after-work workout was in my future. I should have probably stayed late at work today, but the workout meant that I had to hurry home (especially as I really wanted to workout outside if at all possible). Of course, once I actually left work, I dawdled a little bit walking home instead of my usual half-walk/half-jog pace. I decided while I was walking home that it was just about the perfect temperature for a run, so I got home, changed clothes and headed out.

I remembered that I've been wanting to run along the Westside path again for a while. The bike path isn't as nice there as the running path and I've been wanting to go again since I actually think it's nicer than running in the park. I just like being near the water and the change in scenery.

I was sort-of running against the sun tonight. I've never been a fan of fall. I actually think anyone who says that they like fall is fatally flawed. Why would you like something that signals the start of winter? I really don't like how much shorter the days are getting. I knew I'd have to be back to my house by 7:30 in order to be home by dark. Also, as much as I like running on this Westside path, the couple of blocks from my apartment to the path are pretty desolate and not exactly where I wanted to be at dark.

Because I was short on time, I knew that this wasn't going to be a really long run, but I knew that I needed to do something today and anything would be better than nothing. I started out running at a pretty slow pace. I just wanted to like running today. I wasn't out to beat any records, just to enjoy myself. I think that I really want to try to remember that all of this is supposed to be fun -- especially the race itself. I'd rather run a little bit slower and not hate the whole thing. Seems like a good trade off.

I just followed the paths and enjoyed watching people out on kayaks on the river. I also thought about swimming in the Hudson and I wondered what would happen if I just got in and started swimming? I mean, there are no posted signs saying that you can't swim there. I don't think I would do it unsupervised, mainly because of the boat traffic in the river, but it was just something interesting to think about.

I can't be 100% sure of the mileage for today because apparently some of the paths that I ran along are newer than the satellite maps on Google Pedometer! I think that a fair estimate is 3.5 miles, which I ran in 35:43 (10:12 pace). The run on the way there was slightly longer (1.9 miles) than the run on the way back (1.6 miles) because I took an extra pathway and I ran out onto a pier on the way there and skipped it on the way back. I made it home just in time for the sun to go down. I heard a teammate talking about Westchester the other day and she said that the sun is in your eyes a good portion of the race, so it sounds like I'll have the opposite problem then. I think I need to practice running/biking with my sunglasses on more than I have been recently.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You're Asleep Standing Up

This morning I dragged myself out of bed to head off to the Terrier run. Normally I walk the entire way there as a bit of a warm-up, but this morning I literally needed to warm up myself, so I jogged the rest of the way there once I got into the park. Since I had allotted myself enough time to walk the whole way there, I was the first person to arrive and was ten minutes early. I did some stretching and people started showing up just about a minute later.

After doing some stretches, I was just standing leaning against the railing and the guy next to me looked at me and said, "You're asleep standing up." I couldn't really argue with him. I was wishing I was back in my nice warm bed and I also wasn't really paying attention to anything anyone else was saying at that point. However, his comment was enough to snap me out of it. Spencer then told us that we would have a really fun workout today (he used the word fun three times), but that we should head over to do the strides first.

We did our normal strides workout and then ran over to the Start. Spencer still didn't tell us before we left for the run over there what this so-called "fun" workout would be. A couple people commented that it probably wasn't going to be that fun since he wasn't saying anything. I had also checked the website before leaving and it wasn't posted there, so I really had no clue as to what we'd be doing.

Once we got to the start, he said that people in the Sprint/Olympic group would be running for 1:30 out and 1:30 back at 90% effort. We were supposed to make sure that we got back in the same amount of time that it took us to get there. The fun part was that because we would all be running for three minutes each time, we would all start together and all finish together, even though some people might go further distances in the three minutes. In between each interval, we would have a 2 minute rest period, where we were supposed to jog in place, but everyone pretty much walked around instead. We did 6 intervals, so it was a fairly short workout.

I certainly didn't start out as the slowest person in my group, but I ended up that way since the slower people quit at some point and didn't finish the workout. I'm glad to say that I stuck with it the whole time.

My stats for jogging to the meeting point and the run to the start is 1.9 miles in 18:10 (9:33 pace). The stats for the intervals is 2.4 miles in 18:00 (7:30 pace). Total running (not including strides): 4.3 miles in 36:10 minutes (8:24 pace). When I showed the stats to Drew, he commented that I was getting pretty fast. I told him that it's a lot easier to run faster for 3 minutes than it is for an hour or so, but I am going to say that I am pretty happy with today's effort and the results!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Super Fun Bike Ride

Yesterday I knew I wanted to go for a longer bike ride since I haven't spent a whole lot of time on the bike. I figured that the best way to do that would be to head back to New Jersey and try it again. While I was getting ready to go, I told Drew that I would really like it if he would go with me as I thought that he would have a good time and I wasn't going too far and it should still be fun. I knew he was a bit reluctant, but I also knew that once we got going, he'd end up being glad that he came.

We started out riding up the Westside bike path until 95th Street and Drew asked me if I counted those miles in my MPH average, which he didn't think was completely fair since the path itself and Riverside Park were packed with people and we were going really slow. I wasn't too concerned about the speed, I just wanted to go out and sit on my bike for a long time and make sure my rear-end was ready for the triathlon and sitting on a bike for a longer period of time.

I had been planning on trying out River Road (which meant heading south once I was across the bridge) instead of heading north on 9W like I did last time. I didn't know exactly where a good turn around point would be or what the road would be like, but I figured we'd just get there and see how it looked/how we felt. It turned out that right when we got across the bridge, there was another biker there who was also turning left and asked us if we were going to Palisades Park. We said we didn't know where we were going, but we might just follow him if that was okay. He said sure and warned us that it was a pretty steep downhill and we were off.

Oh gosh. Going downhill, I was just thinking that there was no way that I would ever be able to make it back up the hill. I couldn't believe that I had turned left and gone down this hill, it just seemed to go on forever. And then we got to the entrance and it was closed. But there was a way to carry our bikes in over some rocks, so that's what we did. I'm not sure that was the best move because we then ended up going even more downhill all the way to the Hudson River.

This link is the route we ended up taking. It actually turned out to be a really fun bike ride. When we got to the bottom there were lots of families having picnics and there was also a small concession stand. We stopped for a few minutes, walked around the park area, took some pictures, and then enjoyed Coconut FrozFruit bars before heading home.

I'm not exactly sure why I was standing in front of a large plastic bag, why I didn't notice it at the time, and I'm definitely not sure why Drew included it in the picture!

Here we are together in our bike kits. Drew is awfully matchy-matchy with his red and white bike, red and white helmet and red and white Wisconsin bike jersey (Drew also has a red and white bike pump, just in case you were curious). I'd also like to point out that while it totally looks like I'm wearing pigtails, those are actually the straps of my helmet hanging down.

While we were relaxing for a few minutes and enjoying our popsicles, the sky started turning a bit too grey for our liking and it seemed like a good idea to start the trek back up the hills and head back home. The first hill in Palisades Park wasn't fun at all. I was in the lead and I asked Drew what he was doing back there and he just said that he was going to draft off me and make me do all the work. Nice, huh? The whole time up the first hill I was just dreading the second hill back to the bridge.

However, once we started up the second hill after leaving the Park and we got to the top of it, neither of us could believe how quick it was! It felt soooooooo long going down and going up was lickety split! That's not to say that it was super easy, but it wasn't nearly as challenging as I was expecting. The ride home was pretty uneventful and it actually didn't end up raining, so we lucked out there.

Our total ride was 20.97 miles in 2:03:58, which is a 10.15 MPH average. Not great. But I don't really care. I had my rear end in the saddle for two hours, I went almost 21 miles, and I know I can do the actual race course in a shorter time while going faster. Plus, it was just such a nice treat to have a bike companion on a longer ride that none of those stats really make much of a difference. This is supposed to be a fun thing.

Today, I ended up taking the day off from cardio as is my typical Monday routine. Because of the Labor Day holiday, there wasn't any pilates, but with the two workouts on Saturday, I think it all balances out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pilates, Hummus & Running

This morning Nicole came over and we headed down to pilates together. It was my first solo pilates class in a while and it was fantastic. I really like that Laura also tends to go with me on Mondays, but this was just a nice treat to have all the attention on me (and it also meant that I didn't get to cheat at all). Nicole also did some of the exercises with me, so that was sort-of fun. We started out using one of those big exercise balls and did a whole set of exercises on that. Nicole said that she hasn't really taught those exercises before, so that was part of the class that she did with me to ensure that she was telling me to get into the right positions.

Then we did some exercises with the ball on the mat. All I can say is that the ab series with the ball is not easy! After I was done with all the ball exercises, Nicole decided that I should stay on the mat/tower instead of moving over to the reformer. We did a whole lot of exercises I'd never done before with the tower. One of them involved sitting facing away from the tower itself and pushing the bar down behind me while also stretching forward toward my toes. My back wasn't sure that it wanted to stretch like that and while it did hurt a little bit, it also was a really good stretch. I'm thinking that once all this triathlon stuff is done, I'm going to take a rest and just do lots and lots of yoga.

One of the last exercises that we did involved putting my feet up on the tower bar while in a push-up position and then doing 5 push-ups. Because the bar can move back and forth if you don't keep your core strong and your feet in place, that is not an easy thing to do!

After pilates, I spent the rest of the morning doing more stuff around the apartment with Drew. We moved the televisions around and got all of the electronics hooked up the way that we wanted them (which took a little bit longer than we thought). We then met our friend Eric for lunch (at 5:00) at Hummus Kitchen. We all had a really nice (and really filling) late lunch/early dinner. The three of us were also planning on going to see Inglourious Basterds at 8:30. Eric and Drew headed to the theater to make sure we could get tickets while I headed home to change and get ready for my run.

I will say that while my lunch was really yummy, I didn't have quite enough time between it and my run. I ran for about 1.5 miles before I started feeling pretty icky. I walked for a few minutes and then tried to keep running for as long as I could. I just kept that going for the whole run. My run plan was to go to the park and run north to the reservoir path. Then I would run almost the whole way around the path and exit on the West side and then head back down to the bottom of the park.

Although it wasn't my best personal effort, I did have a really good time. I haven't been in the park on a weekend for a workout in a really long time and I forgot how great it is for people watching. Some really interesting highlights included: a dad running with his kid in a jogging stroller while the kid was screaming bloody murder and the dad was listening to his iPod; a couple having a really intense fight; and a woman running with forearm crutches (which I found to be super inspiring, especially after the first two).

I know that I walked probably about 5 minutes of the whole time (although it wouldn't shock me if it was slightly more than that). I ended up going 4.3 miles in 42:17 (9:50 pace), which leads me to believe that while I was actually running, I was going pretty fast! I learned not to eat so close to running, although I actually knew that before, but I thought it was really important to make sure that I got a good run in this weekend. Even though it wasn't fantastic because of all the walking, the total time ended up being something that I am really happy with, so all in all, it worked out fine.

(And, as a complete aside, I totally recommend the movie! It was fantastic!!)