April 30, 2009
I had another 7 a.m. start at work today so my training had to be at night. Luckily this is a rest week so it's all fairly light and easy. I was totally drained but forced myself to get to the pool and do my last swim of the month, an easy aerobic effort. The pool was freezing cold again but blissfully empty. This just wasn't a great swim for me. I felt really sloppy and slow and generally off balance. This happens from time to time so it wasn't a huge surprise, especially given how I feel.
I have to work tomorrow so my schedule is tight. I'll be up super early for my short brick and will most certainly miss sleeping in. I guess that will have to wait until Saturday.
Distance - 1,700 yards
Time - 34:18
April 29, 2009
It's days like today that make my priorities clear. I skipped my evening plans, worked a long day and came home and got on the bike. I barely even had to struggle with myself to make it happen. I just knew I had to do it and accepted it. This is another rest week so if there were ever a time to skip a workout, now is it. But I can't let myself fall into that trap, otherwise I'll skip workouts when it's more critical.
I did an easy hour on the bike and used the time to clear my head and catch up on some DVR. I'm glad I did it. It makes me feel like I've put a little more distance between my lazy former self and the self I want to be.
Time - 60:00
April 28, 2009
I was up early this morning for a pre-work run. The plan called for 45 minutes at aerobic pace, which combined with the perfect weather, made this one of the nicest runs I've had in a long time. Being in the park on a weekday morning before starting work also made me feel like I was taking back time for myself. As much as I love and miss sleeping in, I love having three or more hours of "me" time before an inevitably long work day.
Speaking of long days, I'm still struggling with the balance and control aspects and imagine I will right up to race day. My entire schedule got turned upside down today and I will have to be creative to make everything fit. It will be difficult, but I'll get it done and hopefully continue to enjoy it in the process.
Distance - 5.04 miles
Time - 45:00
April 27, 2009
I had a short swim on the schedule today instead of my usual Monday rest day. I decided to spare myself an early morning wake up and did the swim after work. I got to the pool right at 7 p.m. immediately as a class ended. Apparently everyone else had the same idea. The pool was packed so I joined two swimmers in the medium lane. I did a short warm up and when I got back to the wall, the guy in the lane next to me asked if I did New Orleans since I was wearing the swim cap. It turns out he did it as well and is training for Ironman Couer d'Alene. We exchanged info for possible training rides. You can never know too many triathletes.
The swim felt really nice and easy. I did four sets of 250 and a short cool down. The biggest challenge was navigating around Mr. Kickboard in my lane. It's fine to do kicking drills, but doing 30 minutes of them in the medium lane when the pool is packed is just rude. I had to stop and stand up at one point.
The rest of this week is fairly light and easy. I think it's a good way to move into the next 20 weeks of training. I'm excited about what's to come.
Distance - 1.200 yards
Time - 23:20
April 26, 2009
After my longest training day this year, I had to get up and run 10 miles, and then do bike intervals on the trainer. I slept like a rock, that heavy, deep sleep you only get after a really long ride. That's the one thing I always loved about biking. But it made me want to continue sleeping like a rock rather than getting up to run. I had some oatmeal, a coffee and some water and headed out. It was already 82 degrees and the temperature was rising to a record high. I was reduced to a pool of sweat just minutes in and was literally drenched by the time I reached Prospect Park. I paid close attention to my pacing today since this has been a challenge for me. The first five miles were supposed to be aerobic range and the second five at Ironman race pace. My aerobic pace is slower so I tried to be as conservative as possible. The long hill leading up the park helped. After mile five I picked up the pace and ended up quite a bit faster than my IMRP. I swore I wouldn't do that on this run, but I was amazed that my legs could even do it after yesterday's training. There was a long uphill around miles seven and eight that made me suffer and a short uphill at the end that I felt I may need to crawl. I was truly exhuasted, but truly happy.
A friend in the sport has a saying on her training log: "Someday my body will not be able to do this. Today is not that day." I think about this a lot. There were times in the past my body couldn't do this and I know there will be times in the future. So even though I was tired and my legs felt heavy, I knew I could do this and that fills me with a level of satisfaction that is unexplainable. It makes me thankful.
I decided to put some time between the run and the bike to hydrate, rest and eat. I had a bagel immediately when I finished and ate again while running errands in the neighborhood. As I passed a bar on my block I saw a couple friends inside and decided to say hello. It was the usual West Village crew only they were hanging out in Brooklyn, enjoying the summer-like day. I joined for one beer and a quick visit, a nice little surprise in the midst of a busy training day.
I eventually found the motivation to get on the bike. I had an anaerobic interval workout, which felt really hard given everything else I'd done this weekend. I had to really work for it and don't think I've ever sweated that much on the trainer. So with that I wrapped up my biggest training weekend yet. I worked really hard, but I also really enjoyed it. You can't beat that.
Distance - 10 miles
Time - 1:29:10
Time - 50:00
April 25, 2009
I wanted to capture the good things and not so good things about this ride. Overall it was really great. I felt it was a big step for me in a positive direction and the sheer pleasure of being out on a nice day on a bike can't be beat.
- I handled my bike incredibly well in crowds and NYC traffic on the way to the bridge. I'm barely nervous riding on the streets anymore.
- Once over the bridge I rode stronger than I ever have on this route. My speed was consistently between 18-23mph except on some hills.
- I reached a maximum speed of 36mph on a long downhill and did the entire thing in aero without keeping a hand free for the break. I actually enjoyed it and wasn't freaking out for once.
- I had to swerve and brake to avoid a massive pothole and ended up in a decent sideways skid that could have easily taken me down but I was able to control it, and in aero no less. Even just a month ago I would have wiped out for sure.
- I rode "humiliation hill" for the first time on my Cervelo and felt it was actually easier than on the road bike. I had to put it in the small chain ring, but I didn't feel like I was going to die like I have in the past.
- I rode in aero about 98% of the 36-mile out and back from the bridge.
- My temper and attitude while riding through NYC and crowds is atrocious. I have very little tolerance for people who put others in danger, whether it be pedestrians, other cyclists or cars. I'm disgusted by how the bike lanes are disregarded and by how people behave in the crowded parks. I will have to start riding super early to avoid this. Or take an anger management course.
- I struggled with nutrition largely because it was nearly impossible to drink anything in the first 14-mile city stretch. I was never in aero and was in heavy traffic so reaching for my other bottle was difficult. I made up for it later, but have to find a balance.
- A crazy headwind started just in time for the harder hills. I'm not sure what I hate more, wind or hills. It's a toss up.
- I had to spend 28 miles out of aero which led to some serious discomfort. I lost the feeling in my right palm and pinkie for the rest of the day, my back and shoulder were hurting and words can't begin to describe the literal pain in the ass this was as well.
- Speaking of pain in the ass, I'm not sure this bike saddle is going to make the Ironman journey with me. It's great for shorter rides and mostly fine when in aero, but it's excruciating when the conditions aren't right. By mile 40 I was wishing I could ride standing up. I need to find one that works better for me and have a feeling it will be an expensive trial and error mission.
- The entire ride home was beyond frustrating and annoying. Some idiot on the park path rode right in front of me, causing me to slam on the brakes and attempt to clip out to avoid a crash. I got one foot out and the other just in time, but my left pedal ended up embedding in my calf, leaving a huge red mark and immediately swelling. I have a lot of running ahead this weekend so I was not happy.
I finished just in time to make it to a friend's place for dinner before we all headed to another friend's place for a party. I may have spent all day training, but I saved enough energy to enjoy the evening with friends.
Distance - 67.64 miles
Time - 4:39:36
Distance - 5.11 miles
Time - 45:46
April 24, 2009
Today I was back in the pool only this was an easy aerobic swim. It should have been quick and relatively relaxing and it was at first for the most part. It wasn't crowded but we all had to share a lane. I joined the only one with a single swimmer, a swimmer I could tell had limited ability to keep herself on one side of the lane. But what can you do? I knew I'd have to keep an eye on her.
Every pass was a close call. I practically had to swim under the divider to avoid contact. Then as I approached the wall, I turned to my left to breathe and when I turned back I was nailed in the head by her foot as she did the sloppiest breastroke I've ever seen, literally kicking across the entire lane. And it wasn't just her foot. She was wearing fins so it was a huge piece of plastic. I finally stopped and said something, which wasn't received well. I was near the end of a set and just skipped the rest interval so I wouldn't have to stop at the wall with her. I got out of the lane as soon as possible.
The swim itself was fine, albeit slower than I was aiming for due to all he hassle. I felt a little off balance at times, but overall pretty good. It's almost as though every other swim goes really well for me. That means Monday should be a great day.
Distance - 2,000 yards
Time - 39:01
April 22, 2009
There are a lot of surprises in my training, some good and some not so good. But today was a good surprise. I did a five-minute easy warm up and immediately started the intervals, two minutes anaerobic eight times with a one-minute rest interval in between. I usually walk my rest intervals and when I last did this workout, I had a really hard time surviving the two-minute intervals. Today the intervals felt good. My anaerobic range is 7:14-8:00/mile so I started at 7:41 and gradually sped it up to 7:18 on my last one. And instead of walking, I did my rest intervals at a 10:00 pace. After the intervals I ran another 15 minutes aerobic to make this a 45-minute session.
Weeks like this with small improvements are really great. It makes me feel like the work I'm doing is paying off, even if it's slow and frustrating at times. I'm starting to think it's because of the rest week and the lower volume, which I've complained endlessly about, but know it has a purpose. Hopefully the rest of the week will be as good.
Distance - 5:27
Time - 45:00
April 21, 2009
These little breakthroughs remind me of just how far I've come. I looked back at my blog archives from the first weeks I was swimming, back in May 2008. It would take me 30 minutes to cover 400 yards or less because I literally had to catch my breath after every length. I remember stopping at the wall once and fighting back tears. It was frustrating and humbling, and hard to accept I may never get it even though I wanted it so badly. Less than one year later I've finished my first half Ironman and am training for an Ironman. I couldn't be happier.
Distance - 1,800 yards
Time - 31:24
April 19, 2009
I wasn't up terribly late, but I definitely had more drinks than I should have and I didn't drink any water the entire night. This led to a not-so-fun Sunday morning and I had a relatively big training day on the schedule. I knew attempting the workouts while still feeling poorly would be a waste of time so I focused on getting rehydrated and eating enough to feel somewhat back to normal. It was 3 p.m. before I felt ready to go.
I did my first long run since the race and despite the "conditions," it went pretty well. I forgot to stretch after yesterday's workout so my legs were tight, but I was surprised they felt as good as they did. I got off to a good start, hit a wall about halfway through and had a stronger finish. The hardest part was finding enough ground to put together eight miles in the neighborhood without going to Prospect Park. I simply wasn't in the mood and I'm also tired of Brooklyn Heights so I ventured back to Red Hook. But Red Hook is only about two miles away so I had to do a lot of looping through the streets to build up the mileage. When my long runs are back to 12 plus miles I'll do them in Central Park.
Immediately after finishing the run I did an interval session on the trainer. The intervals themselves only took 30 minutes, but my coach said I could increase the time up to 1.5 hours if I had the flexibility. I made it to 45 minutes and just felt the need to be done. I did a five-minute cooldown and called it a day.
I know I'm getting to a point in my schedule where drinks on a Saturday night with friends will be a thing of the past so I don't regret my decision. I'll be MIA for most of June, July and August and literally non-existent until after September 13. I might as well enjoy these last moments before the training totally takes over.
Distance - 8 miles
Time - 1:10:20
Time - 50:00
April 18, 2009
I rode from Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. I had a little trouble figuring out the approach, but once on the bridge it was incredible. There is a bike-only path and the views are amazing. After that it was just madness all the way to Central Park. I battled lower Manhattan traffic and the sea of humanity on the Hudson River path.
The park was crazy too so it limited what I could do on this ride. It was over an hour before I was able to get into aero and I couldn't stay in for long. There were just too many obstacles, too much braking. But I made the most of it. I was happy to have my bike back, happy to be outside and happy to feel as comfortable as I did. Little by little I'm getting over the fear and regaining my confidence.
To avoid more slow city riding I decided to finish the ride in the park and take the train back to Brooklyn. I had a short ride from the train and immediately headed out for my run. I went to Red Hook and used the run to check out the neighborhood. It was so much fun. There is this great spot along the water with incredible views of the Verrazano Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. After 11 years in New York City, finding things that are new and surprising is rare.
The run felt really good. My legs weren't heavy or tired and I kept a good pace. It was faster than what my schedule called for, but it felt ok and I was careful not to push too hard. It's so great to be training again.
Distance - 34.7 miles
Time - 2:18:10
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 33:04
April 17, 2009
Every so often, the pool is rather cloudy. I'm slightly disturbed by this because I know there is a decent amount of water intake happening when I swim. After several minutes I also noticed a flowery taste in the water that eventually made my throat burn. WTF??? I can only hope it was some sort of super chlorine treatment. Otherwise, it's just nasty.
The swim was easy, 300 yards x 5 in my aerobic range with 15-30 second rest intervals. I did an extra 500 for warm up and drills since I'm still trying to master the right side breathing thing. It's not going well. I must look like I'm having a seizure or on the verge of drowning. I did some single-arm body roll drills and even that was awful. I ended up inhaling water and feeling like I was a few inches below the surface at all times. Thank god the pool was empty.
After the swim I picked up my bike and have never been happier to see an inanimate object in my life. I cannot wait for tomorrow's ride. I'm finally looking forward to biking again.
In closing, here is a photo of my friend Beth and I from Tuesday night. Beth and I met through Beginner Triathlete and she lives near Philly. I paced her for her first half marathon back in January and she was in town on business this week. We'll be running the Brooklyn Half Marathon together in May as well. Something to look forward to!
Distance - 2,000 yards
Time - 38:29
I literally screamed I was so happy. My bike shop looked it over and everything seems to be fine. I begged a little and turned on the charm to convince them to let me pick it up today. The mechanic is putting it back together and I can get it after 5:30. I cannot wait. It ruins any hopes for Friday night plans but I don't care. Assuming all goes well I can do my brick outside tomorrow and enjoy this burst of beautiful weather we're having.
My motivation has suddenly returned.
April 16, 2009
After a late night last night I decided to sleep a little later this morning and do my bike workout tonight. I hadn't looked at my schedule so I was thinking it would be something fun with intervals that would make the time go by. But I was horribly disappointed to see it was a steady, slow ride and over an hour in total. Fun. I think what's worse is that I have to do the exact same workout again next week.
My New Orleans bike drama continues. I called the shop for a tracking number and the guy swore my bike had not yet been shipped. I was fuming. I was told on Monday it would go out right away, yet they had no record of it. It will be four weeks this Sunday since I dropped my bike off for shipping. That is beyond ridiculous. The guy's excuse was that they had hundreds of bikes to deal with. Were they surprised by this? Did they not realize they had signed on to be the official bike shop of a race with 3,000 participants? After much back and forth they realized one of the mechanics had taken my bike to the UPS Store on Monday after speaking with me so it should allegedly arrive tomorrow. I'm not going to hold my breath.
I got a lot of recommendations the other day for TriBike Transport. TriBike chose not to do New Orleans because it was an inaugural race. I even called closer to the race to see if they had changed their minds but no luck. I'll use TriBike for IMWI and I think I'll take my bike on the plane for Horribly Hilly Hundreds. It will be hard for me to manage it in transit, but I think I can do it. Anything to avoid another disaster like this is worth it to me.
Time - 1:10:00
April 15, 2009
- The shred of social life I'm desperately trying to keep.
- Sleep. There just aren't enough hours in the day.
- Nutrition. On more than one occasion this month I either had cereal for dinner because I got home so late or just skipped a meal altogether. And before everyone lectures me, I'm well aware of how critical nutrition is in IM training. I carry around all sorts of assorted healthy things and try very hard, but when you're away from home 15 hours a day it can be difficult, especially with late nights. I'll do my best.
Today was a busy one. I had a lot of meetings and still had to get my tax payment in the mail due to my ridiculous procrastination. One of my meetings was after work over drinks so my training had to wait. I paced myself and hydrated, but was feeling pretty sleepy when I finally wrapped it up and headed to the gym. I was on a treadmill by 8:30 p.m. and found myself wondering what I was doing there.
I had a new run workout that consisted of two anaerobic intervals (7:14-8:00 pace) surrounded by roughly 30 minutes aerobic (8:56-10:08 pace). After a slowish five-minute warm-up, I did 14 minutes aerobic before jumping into the intervals. The first went ok and I was able to stay between 7:22-7:35, but was never happier to have a rest interval arrive. I was hungry, dehydrated and severely regretting the Pinot Noir. The next interval was slower at a 7:45 pace, I just couldn't push any harder tonight. I wrapped it up with another 17 minutes aerobic. I was thrilled to be done.
By the time I got home it was 10:15 p.m. and I was exhausted. These weren't the most ideal training circumstances, but they could be worse so I'm just thankful I got it done. I really need to re-think my schedule before my next big build phase or I'm going to be a very tired girl.
Time - 50:00
April 14, 2009
I thought I'd take some of the easy time to experiment with breathing on the right. I breathe only on the left and as discovered in , this is not great for courses with the shore to the right and a face full of waves to the left. I've been wanting to learn bilateral breathing since I started swimming and figured now was as good a time as ever. If only it were that simple. I attempted it for a total of 50 yards before scrapping that plan. I ended up with a mouthful of pool water, shoulder pain and a bruised ego. I must have looked ridiculous.
This was only a minor setback. I know I can learn. I essentially taught myself to swim last summer and learned with one arm after my crash so how hard can this be? I'll give it another try soon, perhaps at 5 a.m. when I'm the only one in the pool and only after watching 20 YouTube videos.
Distance - 2,000 yards
Time - 19:27 (1,000 easy); 16:58 (1,000 anaerobic)
April 13, 2009
It took several minutes but we seem to have smoothed things out. They identified my bike and said they would pack it up and ship it out tomorrow. They seemed to understand my predicament and took pity on me. Either that or they just wanted to ensure I don't call back again. With a little luck I can pick it up by Friday and take it out for a ride. We're supposed to have semi-warm weather, which could mean the end of trainer season for me.
Today was another rest day and while I'm anxious to get back into the swing of things, I had to get my taxes done and catch up with other aspects of my life. Plus I'm still a bit tired so I think the rest will pay off in the end. I'll find out this week when I see how my body responds to starting up again.
April 12, 2009
- May 19: Wall Street Run (5k) - aiming for PR (sub-24:00)
- May 23: Lady Liberty Swim (1.3 miles) New York (TBD)
- May 30: Brooklyn Half Marathon - aiming for PR (sub-1:50:00)
- June 7: New York Women's Mini (10k) - aiming for PR (sub-49:00)
- June 20: Horribly Hilly Hundreds (100k, cycling) Wisconsin
- July 12: Ironman Rhode Island 70.3 (half Ironman) Rhode Island
- July 18: Stars & Stripes Aquathon (1.5k swim, 5k run) New York
- July 26: New York City Triathlon (olympic)
- Sept 4: Governor's Island Swim (2 miles) New York
- Sept 13: Ironman Wisconsin
- Oct 4: Army 10-Miler Washington, DC
- Nov 1: New York City Marathon
April 11, 2009
It was already raining pretty hard when I got on the train in Brooklyn but the optimistic side of me (yes, I have an optimistic side) said maybe it would let up or stop altogether. Only it didn't stop, instead it rained harder and harder and the temperature seemed to be dropping as well. It was allegedly 49 degrees, but it felt like it was in the mid-30s. Just waiting in line for registration had me feeling chilled to the bone and my hands went numb. Finally, about 10 minutes before the race began, I started to wonder if it was wise for me to be there. I've been really run down all week and barely got any sleep due to my work schedule. Yesterday I was so exhausted I felt feverish. The last thing I can afford right now is to get sick again.
So after standing in the mud and pouring rain for 40 minutes, I decided not to do the race. One of my gym locations is right by the park so I decided to go there and run on the treadmill instead where I could at least be dry and warm. I wished my friend luck and took off. I felt bad about bagging the race, but at the end of the day it just wasn't important enough to risk a setback later. If the sole purpose was fun, the purpose was gone.
This was my first run since the HIM and it felt incredible. My legs weren't fatigued at all and I was able to push a pace much faster than expected. But I reminded myself to take it easy and stopped at 5 miles so I had time for stretching and foam rolling.
Just as I finished, my friend finished as well so we met back up and had a huge breakfast. I spent the rest of the day taking it easy and even took a long nap, something I never do. I guess my body still needs more rest before I'll be fully recovered.
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:05
April 10, 2009
I am really excited. July will be a solid race month for me and a good test of what I'm capable of from a mental standpoint. New Orleans was such a great experience so I'm hoping to replicate it and perhaps even step up my performance a little. I have a lot to look forward to.
Today was another light recovery day and I actually don't mind. I woke up feeling sick, I think my allergies kicked in overnight. I've had a sluggish, feverish feeling all day I can't seem to shake. I'm planning to call it a night early so I can finally sleep. I've been operating on fumes this week and it's taking a toll. In order to sustain the level of training I'll be doing this summer I have to figure out how to get more sleep.
I should have a New Orleans slideshow up by the end of the weekend. In the meantime, here's another new photo taken after the race at a bar on with some new friends I met the day before the race. They befriended me at a restaurant at lunch, invited me to join them, took me to bike drop and for a test ride, drove me back and invited me to dinner. They made my race experience even better. I always say the people in this sport are hands down the coolest people you'll ever meet. This is a great example.
Time - 50:00
April 9, 2009
Anyone who knows me knows I don't allow myself to burn. I walk on the shady side of the street, sit under an umbrella at the beach and slather myself in SPF for my training. So I was really disappointed in how badly I burned during the race. I applied sunblock before the swim and in both transitions, but with the wind blowing and my skin being perpetually wet, it didn't seem to stick. My back was so fried I haven't been able to wear a bra since the race. And then tonight when I took off my shirt the inside was coated with my peeling skin (gross, I know). Not good. Clearly I'm going to need to work on my SPF strategy before I'm heavily into the warm weather training. I've been considering trying De Soto Cool Wings and now think it may be necessary. I'm at high risk for skin cancer and can't afford too many mishaps like this.
This week is worse than taper. I am 100% pain free so in my mind, I'm recovered. However, I know I'm not really recovered and there's a reason for my ridiculously light training load but it's really hard to accept. I biked 30 minutes the other day, literally not enough to break a sweat. I swam 1,200 yards today and barely felt like I did anything. I get to bike an hour tomorrow but in a very low HR zone. I'm supposed to rest and sleep in this weekend and run a bit. I may cheat and do a 10K I'm signed up for and just do it at a slower pace. I am dying to move. Dying to sweat. Dying to be tired from training and not from lack of activity. It's amazing how different I feel.
In the spirit of posting pictures from New Orleans, I thought I'd share one from my post-race recovery period. Before I left town, I stopped by Huge Ass Beers To Go and picked up a 32-ounce Abita Amber. Because I went for the fancy, local brew, I had to pay $7.50 as opposed to the $5.00 advertised for typical, domestic swill. It was chilly outside so chugging a cold 32-ounce beer on Bourbon Street wasn't easy, but it sure did make me feel better.
Distance - 1,200 yards
Time - 23:40
April 8, 2009
I kicked my recovery into high gear today with a long massage and reflexology. My shoulder is even worse than before so I need to do everything possible to get it rehabbed and back to normal. I don't want it to be a limitation this entire season.
I also did a super short bike today, just 30 minutes to get my legs moving, and will be back in the pool tomorrow. While it's nice to rest, I'm looking forward to training again.
Time - 30:00
April 7, 2009
I woke up at 4:40 a.m. Was it already time to race? I immediately dressed in my tri suit and sat down to have an English muffin with peanut butter and some coffee. I was in a hotel so the muffin was untoasted and the coffee black so it was functional rather than enjoyable. I had a bit of water and immediately started on the Gatorade. My coach told me to sip it all morning until 15 minutes prior to the race start. Yum. Gatorade at 5 a.m. Good stuff. I headed out of the hotel at 5:15 to catch the 5:30 bus to transition. I was feeling decently rested and calm, a good way to be on race morning.
Race Warm Up:
After setting up transition, I took a barefoot walk a mile and change to the swim start. There had been buses available, but I had a lot of extra time and thought the walk would relax me. I ended up walking alongside a guy named Chuck who has been doing triathlons for 20 years. I really hope that is me someday. Toward the end of my walk, the start gun went off and the pro field swam by. Just knowing athletes such as Chris McCormack and Natascha Badmann were in there was a thrill. I got into my wetsuit, finished my Gatorade and entered the start corral. I was expecting the wave of nerves to take over but it never happened. I was feeling good.
There wasn't an opportunity for a warm up so I got in when they sent my wave out, let some water in the suit, did a few strokes to check the goggles, then positioned myself at the very back along the buoy line. I still don’t have the confidence to be amongst the other swimmers at the start. I lose a few minutes doing this, but for now it’s worth it to avoid the masses.
The water was incredibly smooth and a bit chillier than Friday, but very comfortable. I was surprised by how quickly I settled in. My stroke felt strong, I had positive thoughts in my head and I was passing some of the women who started ahead of me. If it weren’t for my atrocious navigation skills I could have done so much better with the same amount of effort. Even though this swim was point to point, I ended up veering far to the left and swimming right along the buoy line, but sometimes overshooting it a bit. I almost slammed into a kayak or two.
I felt like I was out there alone for most of this swim. There was a lot of space that allowed for each swimmer to find a nice, clear patch of water. I loved that. I think it’s partly why I was so comfortable. There was minimal contact with the other swimmers that mostly involved a bump or foot grab here and there. I only took one hard blow and it was squarely in my left shoulder/bicep as luck would have it. My arm had already started to hurt by that time, about 20 minutes in, so it wasn’t that much of a setback.
I reached this point where I felt I could swim indefinitely. While my time ended up being slower than hoped, this was by far the best open water swim I've ever had. It was anxiety free and I wasn’t wishing for it to end and that counts for a lot.
This was a great ride for me. It was my first race since my accident and my longest outdoor ride on my tri bike. I didn’t feel as timid as expected and was able to maintain a decent pace for much of it. I paced myself with heart rate as a measure and was trying to stay below 139 bpm at all times. This was easy at first and I was even able to get up to 23 mph at times, but as the wind picked up, it required more effort to generate speed. At first I hoped the wind was just in one direction and we’d escape it when we turned, but it seemed to be blowing regardless of which way we were headed. And it got stronger and gustier as the ride went on. At times I couldn't get above 14 mph in my easiest gear and my heart rate kept edging above 140. By the end of the ride my legs were burning and I was dying to get off the bike. I worried how this would impact my run.
The other issue on the bike was nutrition. I had a plan that required 94 ounces of Gatorade Endurance and 3-4 gels. I was carrying 57 ounces of Gatorade with me and planned to pick up the remaining two bottles on the course. The first bottle exchange was too soon so I passed it. I was just about out of fluids as I approached the second exchange so I planned to get my first Gatorade, only as I slowed to grab one I realized they only had water. I skipped it thinking I’d stop at the next. I arrived to find out they also only had water and I was parched by this point so I slowed down and grabbed a bottle. It’s important to note I did this without stopping and without crashing my bike! I dumped it in my aero bottle and moved on. I decided to increase my gel intake since it appeared there would be no Gatorade in my future. It would turn out I wouldn’t get anymore water either.
Regardless of the minor challenges, this was a really outstanding ride for me. I beat my goal of 3:30 with a split of 3:16:12 and I actually enjoyed it. The course was entirely closed to traffic, even a bit along an interstate. That made it an incredibly unique experience.
I was worried going into the run since I was dehydrated and my legs felt trashed from battling the wind. I was definitely experiencing more discomfort than in my brick training as well, but was still able to cover the first mile in about 8 minutes. This was faster than my plan so I backed it off and settled into a solid, consistent pace right around 9:00/mile. I waited 5 minutes before attempting to refuel to give my body a chance to adjust to the change. I grabbed a Gatorade at every aid station and concentrated on slow sipping. But everything I drank sloshed around in my stomach like it wasn’t able to absorb. It took a full mile or two in some cases to get that to go away. It was frustrating and caused perpetual stitches. I slowed the sipping, skipped a station or two and concentrating on deep breathing to deal with it.
While running a thought kept entering my mind: How the heck am I going to do double this distance??? I tried to ignore the discomfort and think about the fun aspects of the race and how proud I was just to be there. One year ago I was unable to complete even one leg of this race let alone the entire thing put together. I didn't even know how to swim. That just goes to show how far I’ve come in a short time.
I'd say mile 10 is where I started to wish for the end. Lying in the shade seemed like a lovely idea and my legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds. It was around that point that I passed a bagpiper and he started to play. That’s pretty cool, but don’t they play bagpipes at funerals?
A few blocks before entering the French Quarter, a spectator asked the athletes behind me what we got for finishing. One of them said "satisfaction." People who don't do this or understand it will never know the value of that satisfaction. It sometimes feels like an odd way to have fun on a Sunday - getting up at the crack o' stupid and putting your body through extreme physical and mental effort - but I couldn't imagine my life any other way.
The sound of the crowd got louder and louder and a race official said we had just 800 meters to go. I turned the corner onto Decatur Street and instantly got chills. The finish chute was long and narrow and the spectators were several people deep. It was an unbelievable experience to be running through the French market toward such a spectacular finish. I was pretty emotional and had to hold my breath for a moment to keep from hyperventilating. This was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
Swim – 46:44
T1 – 6:17
Bike – 3:16:12
T2 – 5:41
Run – 2:01:58
Total – 6:16:50
April 6, 2009
Today was the perfect recovery day in New Orleans. I slept like a rock and woke up early so I headed out for a stroll around the French Quarter while the area was still largely asleep. It was peaceful and beautiful, unlike during the day and night when it's mobbed by idiots frequenting places like this:
(Ok, I'll admit I was tempted to buy a Huge Ass Beer after the race...)
I went to Cafe du Monde and waited in the 15-minute line for cafe au lait and beignets, their specialty since 1862. I stood in line with a fellow IMNO racer so we shared race stories while waiting. I enjoyed my New Orleans treats in Jackson Square just steps from where I finished the race less than 24 hours ago. It's amazing how different it all looks just one day later.
I spent an hour just walking around the Quarter to keep my legs loose and fight off stiffness and pain since I woke up feeling surprisingly good. It was a chilly day, about 50 this morning with a high of 60 in the afternoon and windy. I think I prefer yesterday's weather for a race.
I rewarded my efforts with a shrimp po boy and fries at lunch, followed by a second round of cafe au lait and beignets. I'm making up for all the pasta I had to eat in lieu of good cajun food over the past few days. I'll likely follow that up with a hurricane or two and more cajun food tonight to round out my New Orleans recovery.
April 5, 2009
Today I beat that goal with a 6:16:50 finish and better than that, I loved every minute of it. I had a fear-free swim that was almost relaxing, a solid effort on the bike without being too timid and an unbelievable run.
I'll write a full post about it tomorrow, but for now, as they say in New Orleans, it's time to laissez les bon temps roulez after being good and preparing for the race all weekend. I've earned it!
Distance - 1.2 miles
Time - 46:44
Distance - 56 miles
Time - 3:16:12
Distance - 13.1
Time - 2:01:57
April 4, 2009
Regardless, I'm not going to stress over it. There are a million things I can do to make my race a better one and there isn't a single thing I can do to control the weather. But you may find me crossing my fingers today and wishing, just a bit, for some luck.
I'm off for a short, easy run before having a reunion with my bike. I'll take it for a little spin, then drop it in transition and call it a day.
April 3, 2009
Because of the levee, you can't see the lake as you drive along it. When it first came into sight, I immediately felt nauseous. The water was really choppy from storms here in the past week and I had no desire to get in. We got into our wetsuits and walked to the waterfront and just stood there. It took awhile for me to get in and give it a try. My chest felt constricted right away, that typical open water panic feeling I felt last summer when I first started swimming. But after just a few minutes of treading it went away. So I swam a few strokes to see how it felt.
All in all I'd say I'll be fine. My shoulder really hurt and unfortunately I breathe to the left and it's a point-to-point swim with the seawall on the right, but I know I can do it if I just relax and don't worry about the time. It may not be easy and it may not be fast, but I'll get it done. And then hopefully I'll conquer my fears on the bike and have a good run. That would be the ultimate turning point.
Swimming (Lake Pontchartrain)
Time - 20:00
I'll be in New Orleans shortly and with luck, in Lake Ponchartrain by 3pm. I'm a little nervous about my first open water swim being two days before my biggest race yet. Plus there have been storms in New Orleans so the already filthy lake is rumored to be at it's filthiest. I'm wishing I'd brought a dose of Cipro with me, but instead I'll have a couple drinks tonight to kill off the bacteria. That seems like a more fun plan anyway.
The post was titled "Frustration" and part of it said,
"I'm frustrated by my inability to get things done. I'm frustrated that I let my schedule totally cancel out training. I'm frustrated that my shoulder hurts after two months of being fine. I'm frustrated that I'm frustrated."
Being that frustrated finally helped bring an end to it. A good friend shared this quote with me that night:
"Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity"
I figured if that was true, I was in for the opportunity of a lifetime. So I made Thursday one of the most productive days I've ever had. I balanced a busy work day (working remotely) with a short bike, really great run, tons of packing, running errands, cleaning my apartment and getting some work done on my shoulder. it appears I've done something to my bicep tendon. It won't keep me from racing but may slow my swim (even slower than my normal slow) and make it painful. But I can tolerate pain.
I didn't get much sleep the last couple days, only 4.5 hours last night, but adopting a more positive outlook and regaining that control I'd lost has made me feel remarkably better. I'm on the plane now and on my way. I'm hoping for a nice nap when we take off. I can finally relax because it's all out of my hands now.
Time - 30:00
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 42:21