July 31, 2009

Accidents Happen

Every time I get on my bike there is a tiny thought in the back of my mind that I could crash. I've had two accidents on my bike in six years and while that's not much, the memory of both is enough to keep a healthy respect for the danger of the sport. However, I rarely think about having an accident while running. Today changed that.

I had a 15 mile run on the schedule and it was my only workout for the day. I had some work to do in the morning so I got off to a late start and it was incredibly hot and humid. I felt it right away and my pace was significantly slower than usual. I ran a full loop of Central Park and decided to do the rest on the bridle path, a dirt and gravel path that gives the legs a nice break from the pounding. I've run on this path hundreds of times. It's always really uneven, but was even more so due to all the heavy rain tearing it apart. I've seen people fall here before, but in my nine years of running, I have never fallen on any run. Today ended that streak.

About 10 miles in I tripped on a rock and went down really hard. It happened so fast I had no chance to break the fall and ended up landing on my right elbow and shoulder and sliding a bit. I just laid there for a moment and then slowly sat up. Two strangers stopped to help. I couldn't move my arm at first so I gave it a moment. I had scraped up both knees and could see they were immediately swelling. I had cuts and scrapes all the way up my right thigh and some rocks embedded in my right palm. But the worst was my elbow. It was totally torn up and dripping blood. I decided to continue my run but stopped at the nearest water fountain to rinse everything off. The pain was setting in and it was nasty. My pace slowed significantly.

I think the heat and humidity had taken their toll and I likely wasn't picking my feet up enough. I kicked a big rock and that's all it took. I struggled in my mind over whether or not I should stop, but would I stop in a race if I fell? No. Yes, this is training, but I at least had to get back to the southern part of the park where I started so I decided to run. I slowed as much as needed and paid attention to my body. I was definitely ready to stop when I hit 15 miles.

My coach adjusted my schedule for the weekend and encouraged me to focus on the positives and the things I can control. Yet it's hard not to feel a little sorry for myself. My race is in six weeks and the last thing I want is down time. Ironically I had chosen to run without my iPod in preparation for the race so I had a lot of time to think. I had this wonderful thought about how I haven't been sick at all or had any injuries during this long training process aside from a brief cold back in the very beginning.

It could have been worse and I'm thankful. I came home, had a super healthy dinner, cleaned up all the scrapes, got into my compression tights and have been icing my knees on and off. I will continue the ice tomorrow and stay off my feet as much as possible. If all goes well I'll be on my bike Sunday for the long ride I had planned and this will be a minor setback.

Distance - 15 miles
Time - 2:21:25

July 30, 2009

Sugar Free

After the latest round of evaluating my diet, my coach suggested I eliminate refined sugar since it's the last evil remaining. I had mixed feelings about this. While I don't actively seek sugar, I don't avoid it and I like sweet things. I'm also supposed to limit alcohol to one drink no more than 2-3 times per week.

Starting Monday, I buckled down and tried the new approach. I ate a lot more fruit than usual including about two cups of raspberries, a peach and a banana. I think the only refined sugar I had that day was in the tablespoon or so of salad dressing I had with lunch. Overall I didn't miss it but I did find myself thinking about it a lot. Tuesday also went well. I added some strawberries and tart cherries to the fruit mix and tried a new approach to my evening workout and dinner. Since I work a bit late I'm often ravenous during my evening workout and end up eating dinner as late as 10 or 10:30. So I had a mini dinner around 5:30, came home and biked, then had a Greek yogurt with berries after. I had way more energy during my ride than usual so it seemed to work.

Wednesday I totally fell off the wagon due to a special day at work. Our office closed for a summer service day where we all volunteered on various projects throughout the city. I spent the day at a nursing home in my neighborhood where we played games with the residents and then had a cookout. I ate a hot dog, some potato salad and regular salad. All in all not terrible, but the happy hour that followed pushed it over the edge. I drank about two weeks worth of my drinks quota and ate pretty much every food I'm not supposed to.

I tried to get back on track today but had an all day work meeting where my food options were limited so I tried to choose wisely. That is until the cookie tray came out. I'm not going to lie - I ate five cookies. Yes, five. I had a small brownie, a mini black and white cookie and some delicious, thin raspberry thing right after lunch, then another brownie and an oatmeal cookie later. It's like I had to make up for the lack of sugar over the past couple days. Later while swimming I got really nauseous and think it was due to the cookie binge. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

I likely won't be so strict in my diet long term, but I'm happy to have kicked the process food habit and definitely feel tremendously better as a result.

Running (Wednesday)
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 43:06

Swimming (Thursday)
Distance - 1,500 yards
Time - 28:39

July 28, 2009

Just a Runner? Perhaps.

I've been thinking about Sunday's race and my big accomplishment on the run and it has me wondering: despite all my efforts to be a better swimmer and cyclist, will I always be primarily a runner? It's where I have the most experience even if I wasn't any good at it until recently. I'm still just average with occasional bursts that push me above middle of the pack, but it's the one sport where I keep going out and surprising myself. I feel like I've made huge improvements this year alone and I'm excited what I'll be capable of in the future.

But I haven't referred to myself as a runner in quite some time. Now I think of myself as a triathlete, even if triathlon season is over and I'm training for a marathon. However my age group ranking from Sunday tells a different story. There were 274 women in my division. I was the 136th woman to exit the water. After a decent effort on the bike I finished 52nd, a major improvement over the swim. But on the run, I was the 16th woman to finish. I had moved up from dead center to front of the pack.

What would I be capable of if I could improve in the other two sports? I've seen slight changes on the swim, but can't expect too much given I'm still a beginner. I feel stronger and more confident on the bike, but my speed isn't increasing much. I'm becoming more efficient and it's allowing me to have a strong run after, but it's not moving me up in the rankings. Perhaps after the Ironman I can focus on increasing my bike fitness so I can start next year with a more solid base.

I started today with an easy spin on the trainer and finished the day with a pretty good swim. I hate going to the pool at night but biking in the morning allowed me to get an extra hour of sleep, something fairly priceless these days. Ironically I saw two of the usual morning people at the pool and we all talked about how we never go at night since it's so crowded, yet we were all there at the exact same time. It was indeed packed and I had to do a lot of passing and drafting, but that's actually quite good for me and helps me develop better overall skills. I shared a lane with a girl who was at the pool for the first time. She asked me if she was doing alright because she didn't want to get in my way. I had a flashback to last year and realized that while my swim times may not be off the charts, I have certainly come a long way.

Distance - 15.14 miles
Time - 1:00:00

Distance - 2,400 yards
Time - 45:40

July 27, 2009

New York City Triathlon - The Full Report

Yesterday was my final race before Ironman Wisconsin and the first triathlon I've ever repeated. It's amazing how different my experiences were and I'm not sure if it's due to changes in the race or changes in myself.

Overall I'm incredibly happy with how I did. I was aiming for a PR and had set some aggressive goals for each portion of the race. I fell slightly short of my swim goal, pretty short of my bike goal, but absolutely killed my run goal, so in the end I set a seven-minute PR. Not a bad day.


I woke up 3:30 and was planning to arrive at transition around 5 or 5:15. It started pouring rain so I decided to go as late as possible. It closed at 5:45 and I walked in at 5:35. Yes, it was a little tight, but I had prepared meticulously and felt idle time standing around in the rain would not get me off to a good start to the day so I chose to go late and make it quick. I'm glad I did. I've finally done this enough that I don't need to be there for an hour overthinking things. I got set up and started the long walk to the swim start.

The Swim

My goal for the swim was to gain even more experience dealing with contact in preparation for Wisconsin. I got to the swim start a little late due to the race start being delayed and the times all being off as a result. I had my wetsuit down to my waist and my goggles around my neck and saw that my wave was on the barge. I zipped my wetsuit as I walked onto the barge and realized I'd zipped my goggles in there. I pulled them out, put them on and jumped in the water. Last year I sat on the barge until the gun went off to avoid getting pushed into the pile of women clinging to a rope in the strong Hudson current. This year I was in the pile and it was crazy. I had my hands on a girl's back and tried to push away to no avail. We backstroked a little and went nowhere. I knew the start was going to be crowded.

The gun went off and everyone started flailing but no one was really swimming. I was right in the middle and had nowhere to go so I just started to move forward. I felt like I was climbing over a carpet of people. I wasn't being malicious or aggressive, but the Hudson was demanding we move south and the only way to get there was to break out of the crowd. It was really rough, a lot of grabbing and kicking, but I held my own and felt pretty confident. It only took a minute or so to find some space and really get moving. I could tell my HR was racing so I focused on calming it down.

Near the exit ramp my hand hit something and I realized it was the mucky silt on the bottom of the river. Either they moved the swim exit in much closer to the seawall or water levels were significantly down because this didn't happen last year. It was disgusting to say the least. I could feel silt hitting my face as the women in front of me tried to stroke through it. You can't stand up in this stuff or you'll sink to your calves so I used shallow, easy strokes until the lifeguards at the exit ramp could lift me out. Those guys may be the best volunteers in the entire race.

I thought I swam really strong but my time was slower than last week's race in the Hudson and fell short of my goal. But I was a little faster than last year and I exited the water with a smile so I can't complain.

Goal Time: 21:30
Actual Time: 22:35

2008 Time: 23:01

The Bike

This is where the race really got challenging. The course was really crowded and fairly risky due to blatant violation of rules and poor bike handling by many riders. I don't know if people were new to the sport and didn't know USAT rules or if they just didn't care, but there was a high level of drafting occurring as well as several pairs of women riding side by side chatting and blocking the course, causing faster riders to make tight and dangerous passes. A lot of people were getting bent out of shape over athletes announcing "left" or "on your left" as they passed thinking it was a nasty plea for them to move over rather than it being a courtesy to let fellow riders know they were coming by at high speed.

I've never experienced this type of attitude or disregard for rules in a race before so I was quite surprised. Athletes were slinging profanity at one another and the general tone was just negative. Before I even made it to the course, a girl wasn't paying any attention to where she was going on the way out of T1 and ended up slamming into my bike from the side, taking it down and nearly knocking me down with it. I was not pleased at all. If she had been running along side me and lost her balance or some other unavoidable occurrence it would have been one thing. But to be chatting with friends and literally not looking at anyone around her is another. When I grumbled over it she said "wow, you're in such a big hurry." Why yes, yes I was in a big hurry because last I checked it was a race and you generally run to exit T1. I shouted back as much and she called me a very colorful name. It was by far the most low class indivivual I have ever encountered in this sport.

The course was also wet and slick with large puddles in several places. A lot of riders swerved to avoid the puddles causing a few close calls. I had a couple brushes with accidents myself, one from someone swerving left without looking and another as a woman seemed to be daydreaming and almost missed the sharp left turn to take us back to transition. She sharply turned into me and I am not sure I how stayed upright.

I rode as fast as I could after a very slow start that involved actually waiting in line to mount my bike coming out of T1 and the slow navigation along the Hudson before getting on the actual course. My average was high nearly the entire ride and my HR was spot on. I felt great. My legs were a little tired from Saturday's ride but nothing serious. I thought I was on track to either meet or exceed my goal, but the end was slow just as the beginning was and by the time I finally made it to T2 I was four minutes off my goal. It was still an improvement over last year though so I'll take it. I was just pleased to have made it off the bike unscathed after the unpleasant conditions throughout much of the ride.

Goal Time: 1:22:00
Actual Time: 1:26:28

2008 Time: 1:27:31

The Run

If I were harboring any lingering disappointment over my swim and bike times, it melted away when I discovered my run time. I wasn't feeling particularly speedy and my legs were heavy so I guessed I was doing an 8.5 minute mile or so. I didn't start capturing my splits until Mile 3 and realized I was hitting a sub-8 pace. I thought perhaps the beginning was slow and I was gradually speeding up. I saw my friend Jonah around Mile 3, he was on a bike as a volunteer course marshall. He came and rode up a nasty hill with me giving me a nice diversion. I was able to chat for a bit, then lost all ability to speak, yet he continued to ride until I made it to the top. The 4-mile marker was right there and I knew if I could just suck it up for 16 more minutes I'd be done and well within my overall goal time.

My pace stayed consistent but I desperately wanted to speed it up so I picked a woman ahead of me who appeared to be running really strong and tried as hard as I could to catch her. We were in lock step for almost a mile with her about 20 yards ahead of me. But as we came into the final stretch I finally passed her. I felt incredibly strong coming into the finish and knew I had done the best I was capable of that day.

The run was my greatest improvement over last year and it was also a 10K PR for me by almost three-minutes. I was elated when I discovered this. I'm sometimes frustrated by my minimal improvements on the bike, but my coach said today that my bike endurance is paying off by allowing me to use the run fitness I'm building to fly. If being slower on the bike means having better than expected runs, I can live with that.

Goal Time: 49:00
Actual Time: 46:44
2008 Time: 50:29


This race was a final chance for me to practice transitions and go through the motions of putting together the three sports back to back. It was meant to be a fun day and it lived up to expectations. I likely will not do this race again due to the massive crowding that makes the course difficult to truly race. I think it was ideal for my first season because my goal was simply to finish and have fun. And I did. I can't do it next year anyway due to Ironman Lake Placid, so I'll revisit it in 2011 and decide then. For now it will always hold a special place in my heart since it's really where it all began and I am so happy with where it has taken me.

Total Time: 2:44:40
2008 Time: 2:51:21

July 25, 2009

The A Race

Most triathletes have many races each season, but only one "A" race, a race that is more important than all others and gets the most priority. When I ranked my schedule at the beginning of the year, my coach defined an A race as peak, B as fairly important, and C as training or fun. While I classified New Orleans as an A race, I really only have one A race this year and that's Ironman Wisconsin. I realized today that having a race that important changes everything. I'm racing tomorrow and once again, don't feel an ounce of nerves or anticipation. It's just another day and I'll get up, go out there, do it and love it.

One of the best things about having a blog is that I can go back in time and revisit my feelings and experiences. I looked at my pre-NYC Triathlon blog from last year and it seems I was pretty relaxed and excited. I had been incredibly nervous leading up to it but felt as prepared as I could be. However, I had a different sort of anticipation than this year. This year it's my last race before the big day so it truly is for fun. But beyond the fun, I do have some goals so here they are:

Swim - 21:30
Bike - 1:22:00
Run - 49:00

I think the swim and bike are doable, though I may be close, and the run will be a challenge. My 10K PR is 49:49 and that didn't include a swim and bike before it. NYC has notoriously long transitions. I spent about 10 minutes between the two last year so this year I'm aiming to cut it down to eight.

I checked in yesterday and in the strangest of occurences, I have the exact same number as last year - 1896. Here is a photo from transition last year:

Here is a photo from today:

I'm waiting to hear if friends who did the race last year ended up with the same numbers as well. Perhaps they do that for repeat racers. Or perhaps it's the strangest coincidence ever.

After check in I did a decently long workout - an eight-mile run and 4,000 yard swim. The swim made my back feel like someone beat on it, but otherwise it was good. It was at my Ironman race pace, which is generally slow, so it was easy. The run went well and that made me feel good after struggling so much last week. I think my legs have finally recovered from Rhode Island.

Today was supposed to be a 1.5 hour ride followed by a three-mile run, but I ended up riding just over 40 miles so I decided to skip the run. I rode straight to bike drop and completed the check in process so the rest of my evening can be spent relaxing and getting my gear ready for tomorrow. It should be a good day.

Running (Friday)
Distance - 8 miles
Time - 1:09:37

Swimming (Friday)
Distance - 4,000 yards
Time - 1:20:18

Biking (Saturday)
Distance - 42.77 miles
Time - 2:50:24

July 24, 2009

You Are What You Eat - Take 3

For the third time this year, I just completed another three-day food log where I captured every last bite and sip I consumed. I am still struggling with my overall weight and body fat retention and in this home stretch, I'd really like to shed a few pounds that I feel are literally weighing me down. My knees hurt after long runs and I have to think lightening the load would help a bit.

For perspective, I'll share the numbers. There aren't many women who would post their weight and body fat percentage on the Internet, but when you are an athlete, it all becomes so scientific that the idea of sharing it changes drastically. I am repeatedly asked by male athlete friends what I weigh and I never hesitate to answer and am not even tempted to change the number to seem more favorable.

I'm roughly 5'6" and as of this morning, weigh 138.2 pounds. Last season during Olympic and sprint training I weighed around 133 and got down to 131 during marathon training. I gained the usual Christmas pounds, but assumed training would take care of that. In the beginning when the volume and intensity was less traumatic, I got down to 135-136 and thought I was on my way. But my weight gradually increased as the volume of training increased and I seem to be stuck in this 138-140 pound range perpetually. Up until recently I was carrying what looked like excess body fat as well. I had a test done in late January before my training began and was at 26%. While this is "normal" for a female, it's still high and not normal for an athlete. I'm not sure where I am today, I'm guessing a little less but likely still around 25%. I use a body composition scale but it's not accurate for an actual fat reading, it's just good for day to day comparisons and especially good for tracking hydration levels. I've most certainly gained marginal muscle weight but it's a myth that you load on 5-10 pounds of muscle. That just isn't how it goes. And I definitely battle fluid retention due to tissue inflammation on a daily basis. My comp scale will sometimes reflect a 4-6% spike in my fluid levels and I tend to be up a pound or two on those days.

That said, I have noticed a little less body fat in the past month or so. I'm happy with that, but still feel I have a long way to go to being the healthy, lean athlete I want to be. The fluctuations are also mind boggling. I went out with friends on Friday and had a few beers, some wine and a lobster roll for dinner. Hardly a binge by any means, but it was enough to drive my weight up to 142 over the weekend. I have a pretty clean diet overall after much work and sacrifice this year. I've given up so many things that I enjoy and a lot of things I never should have enjoyed and I definitely feel better for it, but if I can't indulge occasionally I'll go crazy.

So I logged the three days and got feedback from my coach this morning. He commended me for the work I've done on my diet since April, I have really come a long way. The only things he suggested at this point were to eliminate all processed sugar except for before, during or after workouts, and limit my drinking to one drink no more than 2-3 times per week. I hate to hear it, but it makes sense and I am willing to do it for the next six weeks if it means I can get to the swim start feeling healthier and stronger than I do now.

July 21, 2009

HHH Photos

A little delayed, but nevertheless I finally have the official photos from Horribly Hilly Hundreds. They charge a small fortune for these things so there is always a brief period where I consider just screen grabbing them and living with "proof" splashed across my face, or actually fueling the economy and buying them. They got two shots of me and it was a very memorable day so I decided to buy them.

At the finish:

With my friend Robert, who made those final hills not so hellish:

After a lovely rest day on Monday I got back to training today, but unfortunately had to cut both workouts short due to life. I was supposed to swim 300 x 4-5 depending on time and since I was short on time, I decided to do 2,100 continuous instead. A long continuous swim is always a good thing so I'm glad I did it. My pace was super easy and I literally could have continued all day.

I had bike intervals on tap for the evening but didn't get home until almost 8:30 and was starving so it did not go well. I was planning 10' x 6 with a 10-minute warm up and 5-minute cooldown. I made it through the warm up, 10' x 4 and the cool down before I was literally on the verge of passing out. I ended up having dinner at 10 p.m. and feeling much better afterward. I could have continued, but sometimes I wonder what the value is in pushing when you are most certainly not at full capacity.

Sleep has been lacking this week but I'm doing my best. I have another race this weekend which means I'm super busy at work! Such is life.

Distance - 2,100 yards
Time - 42:12

Biking (trainer intervals)
Distance - 13.42 miles
Time - 57:00

July 19, 2009

Ironman Rhode Island 70.3 - The Full Report

There is so much to say about this race, which is why it has taken me a week to post this report. How I would feel and perform were a complete mystery since I had maintained a heavy training load and didn't taper. My legs were tired, my body was tired and my heart wasn't in it. I struggled to want to be there so desperately and it wasn't until the final days before the race that I finally started to get excited. Arriving in Providence made it all come together.

This race required one of my earliest wake-ups yet. The alarm went off at 2:25 after about 4.25 hours of sleep. While my sleep was short, it was really good so I actually felt ok. I don't know how to describe how I feel on race morning. It's not nervous or anxious, it's not worried, it's not excited. It's sort of numb. I know there is an incredible day ahead of me that will be filled with valuable experiences, a variety of emotions, pain and joy. But I never think too much about what is about to happen because you cannot predict or control race day, you just have to let it unfold.

I toasted my english muffin and had some coffee before getting dressed and checking out of my room. I met my friend Jonah in the lobby at 3:20 so we could walk over to the shuttle buses together. They departed promptly at 4. We chatted the entire drive, 56 miles to Narragansett, where we would swim and then begin our ride back to Providence. When we got off the bus the first thing I noticed was the sound of the ocean. An overnight storm had soaked our transition area and done a number on the swim course. Apparently most of the buoys had been misplaced and some seemed to have drifted away. It was misty, windy, dark and cold. Very surreal. There wasn't much to do since we had already set up T2 downtown so I took my bike to the techs to have the tires filled. I figured I'd let someone else do the work for once.

I killed time by chatting with Jonah, making a couple trips to the porta potty, talking to the girls racked around me and looking for friends as they continued to arrive. They made an announcement the race would be delayed due to the swim course being scattered around the ocean. I started to worry they would cancel the swim, but instead they allowed people to skip it if they were uncomfortable with the conditions. It was cold so I got into my wetsuit to stay warm and headed to the beach. I ran into my friend Mat who's also doing Ironman Wisconsin. Eventually I decided to get in and test out the water. It was rough and I knew the swim would be a major challenge, but I was looking forward to it. I didn't let it get to me.

The Swim

My goal for the swim was:

Swim with confidence by positioning myself 2/3 of the way back in the pack, focusing on moving in a straight line rather than weaving to avoid others and draft when the opportunity is there.

We had a running start from the beach so I had to rethink my positioning. My wave was pretty big since they lumped together the 30-34 and 35-39 females and we had a lot of room to spread out along the shore. I chose to take a spot in the second row about five people from where the buoy line would be. The cannon went off and we started to run through the waves. It was hard to get out to a point to be able to swim and it was crowded, but I dove in and went for it. I took a lot of contact and kept moving. I was amazed by how well I was handling the chop, which was so rough near the shore it was lifting me up and dropping me back in the water. A guy from the wave before ours turned around and got out. But I was out there doing it and it felt great.

I swam really hard and strong the entire first half and may have been moving faster than normal due to my effort to battle the chop. There also seemed to be a current pulling out that gave us a boost. I reached the first turn buoy in 18 minutes. As I made the lateral swim to the next buoy line I heard a lot of noise and realized a woman right next to me was signaling for help and a kayaker was on his way. I've never seen that happen in a race, it was very disorienting.

The swim back in was harder for me, maybe due to the current or fatigue. But I kept going and didn't let the other swimmers slow me down. I was really proud of how I handled myself. This would never have been me one year ago. Before I knew it I was at the exit and running to transition. I glanced at my watch and couldn't believe it - 38:55.

The Bike

I was pretty quick in T1 and on my way on the bike. My goal was:

Stay on my nutrition plan regardless of course challenges/distractions and practice passing through the bottle exchanges without stopping or getting in the way of other riders.

This was an incredible ride for me. I feel like my hard work last month in Lake Placid and Wisconsin paid off. I covered 19.08 miles in the first hour, but my average dropped in the second hour due to the hills, which I felt I tackled really strongly. I felt good in the final hour and my average was 18 until the twisty, turny, potholey, railroad track filled final stretch. My legs felt great, my energy level was consistent and I felt like this was the strongest ride I've done this season.

I followed an HR strategy I had tucked under the rubber band on my aero bottle, and was relatively on track nutrition wise. In the past I've underhydrated or underfueled, but I actually overdrank in this race. I killed the entire aero bottle in 30 minutes and it's supposed to last an hour. It was also cool and overcast so I wasn't sweating. I had to pee so badly I thought I might burst. I wondered if the time had come for me to finally give in and pee on the bike, but then I thought about sitting in the car for six hours, unshowered with my bike in the backseat and I held it. It was truly miserable but I felt like I had to. Clearly I'm going to have to figure out what to do in Wisconsin because I cannot ride in that level of discomfort for twice the time and there is no way I'm wasting precious time in a porta potty line.

I was pretty excited when I saw my time at the dismount line - 3:08:17.

The Run

The run had to wait until I made that much-needed pit stop. Thankfully the porta potties were right next to my transition spot, but I still lost at least two minutes. My goal for the run was:

Don’t be afraid to push a bit harder on the run, focusing on not going out too fast, but also not falling into a slower pace than I’m capable of due to race day discomfort.

I was aiming to maintain an 8:40-8:50 pace and see if I could hold it. If it was too difficult I planned to slow down and go for a negative split instead. I felt strong at the start and walked the "hell hill" on Angel Street due to advice from those who had done the race before. This hill was basically straight up and lasted for a good half mile. It was unreal. It hit around Mile 2 and 7 and hurt even walking.

The only downside of the run was my constant battle with side stitches. I had to press really hard on the point of pain while trying to breathe deeply, all while maintaining a consistent pace. I started skipping aid stations thinking liquid might be the culprit. I also had a mysterious shooting pain in my left foot around Mile 9 that almost took me down. I debated stopping for a stretch but decided to limp through it and thankfully it passed. My plantar fascias are always threatening to ruin my day so I was a little concerned.

But otherwise this run was uneventful and good. I kept waiting to run out of steam or have the hideous pain set in but it didn't happen. I was enjoying the course and the crowds and having the best race I could have asked for. There was a long stretch where they posted signs made by athletes' friends and family just like they do in the Ironman races. It was really touching to read what the race meant to so many people. For every person out there competing there were several others just as invested in it and just as hopeful for the outcome.

At the turnaround I realized I was on track for a sub 6-hour finish and was overcome with emotion. I didn't want to screw it up so I stayed conservative until the 11 mile mark, then I gave it my all. Even if I lapsed into a super slow pace I'd still make it. I had more energy than I did at Mile 1 and passed a lot of people in the final stretch. I felt like I was floating. The finish wasn't as grand as New Orleans but it was still very powerful. My run was 1:55:11, better than some stand alone half marathons I've done.

With this finish, 5:50:17, I killed my previous half Ironman time by 26 minutes, a huge personal record and an unbelievable day. I was so overjoyed I could barely breathe and all I could think about was Ironman Wisconsin. I'm ready.

Back to Life

Thankfully it seems my legs have decided to revive themselves, but the day did not start out very promising. My alarm went off at 5:30 - just what I want on a Sunday morning. I proceeded to hit snooze until 6 and finally dragged myself from bed. My resting heart rate was super low so that was a good sign, but then I put my feet on the floor and it was all downhill from there. I could barely walk, I was hobbling around like a 90-year old thanks to plantar fascias so tight I'm surprised my feet were still flat. My hips hurt, my quads hurt, everything hurt. Great. I stretched my calves while I made coffee and then stretched again before getting dressed. I ended up delaying my ride significantly while I stretched and waited to see if my legs were going to be functional. I felt a little sad and depressed and slipped back into my negative hole of "why the heck to I bother doing this???" But I pulled myself out and left, ready to tackle a 65 mile ride and 3 mile run.

I took the train to Washington Heights and started my ride on the George Washington Bridge since I vowed to never ride to or from there again after the bee swarm/Corvette/skateboard incident. The first hour went incredibly well. My legs started to loosen up and I traveled nearly 18 miles. I was feeling great. I stopped for a Gatorade and a cookie - ok, the cookie just happened, it's not like I planned it - and kept going. It got really challenging the further north I got. The traffic was getting really heavy, there was no shoulder for a long stretch and the cars didn't seem pleased by my presence. Then I saw a sign that a bridge was out so I had to take a detour. I hate riding in unfamiliar places so I lost a little steam. Plus I swear every road I traveled was uphill. My average dipped to 15 for the next hour. Yay. At my turnaround point a deer got spooked by me passing and looked like it might dart out in front of me. I let out a little yelp and had horrifying thoughts of slamming into a massive animal going 20 mph, but thankfully he froze and gave me enough time to pass by. Considering my big crash last year was caused by a dead deer it would have been terribly ironic to have another deer-related accident.

After navigating the traffic I picked up speed and held a really high average the rest of the ride. I was feeling good. I had about an hour in between the ride and my run due to the subway ride and really didn't feel like doing it. But then I got out there and realized my legs finally decided to show up for the party and the run was fantastic. I did the first mile in 8:01, the second in 7:46 and the third in 7:32. I felt strong, comfortable and happy. This morning made me question why I do this, then this run brought me back to reality and reminded me why I do.

Distance - 66.64 miles
Time - 4:11:15

Distance - 3 miles
Time - 23:21

July 18, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

I've been mostly absent from the blog this week and have yet to post my IMRI race report. My hiatus has been due to a few things. I was really wiped from the race and any free time I had was spent resting or sleeping. I also took advantage of the lighter training load and caught up with friends. I've been out of town pretty much nonstop for the last five weeks so it was long overdue.

Since my last post I've had some ups and downs in training. On Thursday I ran for the first time since the race, just a short four-miler on the treadmill. My legs felt amazing and I had tons of energy. It made me feel like my recovery was going well. But then I had bike intervals on Friday and just could not get into it mentally or physically. I couldn't get my HR into the target range and my legs were pretty lifeless. Plus I was bored out of my mind and just couldn't find the motivation to try harder.

Today started with a great swim race in the Hudson River, a 1,500 meter point to point swim to get people ready for next week's New York City Triathlon. I hated getting up early after being out late with friends, but once I saw the river I was pretty energized. I love open water swimming and getting into the Hudson is always pretty interesting. I didn't give the swimmers around me a single thought and feel I swam even more confidently than last week. The only drawback of these races is that a majority of the field are swimmers vs. triathletes and they tend to kick really hard. I prefer triathletes who just let their legs trail behind them in the water. The current wasn't as strong as I was hoping for, but it gave me a very nice boost nonetheless and I averaged 1:19/100 yards, something I could never do on my own.

I ended up taking a long nap and being lazy all day, pushing my long run to late afternoon. It was misery from the first step from a combination of my late night, dehydration and the heat and humidity. The miles crawled by so slowly I felt like I'd never finish. I enjoyed having to stop at intersections so I could get a short rest. I thought about quitting a hundred times but somehow managed to keep going. I know not every run can be good and I've had some really amazing ones this year, but it's hard to keep something like this from making me doubt my ability to do well in the Ironman. I just need to stay positive and keep moving forward. Hopefully tomorrow's training will go well and this will be a distant memory.

Running (Thursday)
Distance - 4 miles
Time - 33:38

Biking (Friday)
Distance - 19.82 miles
Time - 1:20:00

Swimming (Saturday)
Distance - 1,500 meters
Time - 21:29

Running (Saturday)
Distance - 14 miles
Time - 2:06:33

July 15, 2009

Fast is Relative

Ok, I'm still not ready to post the full Ironman Rhode Island 70.3 report and it was partially postponed by getting a look at my race photos today. They aren't great, and nowhere near the volume of IMNO 70.3, but my finisher photo might be the best I've ever had so I'd like to include it. I'll have to wait for the full resolution shot to know for sure.

So in the meantime, I had an incredible session in the pool this morning considering how beat I am. I hit snooze three times, which normally would mean it's too late to get my workout in. But I dragged myself out of bed and out the door fast enough to get it done and I'm so glad I did.

Today's workout was all about speed, something I rarely experience in the water. I started with 25 x 8 sprint, literally going all out as fast as I could. I was so proud of my 23-second splits and realized my sprint is someone else's easy swim. How do they do that?

Next I did 300 x 5 anaerobic aiming for 5:12-5:45 per interval. I did the first two around 5:05 and could barely breathe, but was so proud. I slowed for the third and kept it steady for the fourth and fifth. I wrapped it up with 200 x 2 anaerobic.

For all the times I felt swimming wasn't a real workout, this made up for it. It was hard. I was sweating. I was red. I was breathless. And I realize it may have been easy for someone else, but for me, coming from where I've come from, it was pretty amazing.

I had a friend over for dinner and actually cooked, I felt sort of human for a moment. I might start to like these rest periods.

Distance - 2,200 yards
Time - 37:55

July 14, 2009


I'm still planning to post all the details from Sunday's race but am simply too tired to do so tonight. After 10 hours of sleep Sunday night I woke up still feeling tired in that heavy, fatigued sort of way. I had to return my rental car and walk about .75 miles home and my legs felt really good. I was thinking I'd run all sorts of errands, clean my apartment, maybe get a massage, but once I got home and planted myself on the couch, I had no desire to go anywhere or do anything. I just rested and I can't remember the last time I did that.

My legs stiffened up as the day went on so I did some stretching and took the rolling pin to them. A friend recommended it as an alternative to The Stick and it felt surprisingly good. It applies a different sort of pressure, not quite as intense as The Stick and more spread out. I figured I won't be baking pies anytime soon so this gives my rolling pin new life as a tri training tool.

I started some recovery training today as part of a four day recovery block. It started with rest yesterday, continued with an easy swim and easy bike today, another short swim tomorrow and a short run on Thursday. Then I will jump back into semi-normal training on Friday before hitting it hard again this weekend. I was dead tired after seven hours of sleep but dragged my sleepy self to the pool. I was late so I had to cut the swim short, but I really didn't care. I felt so slow and heavy, like I was swimming through jello. My pace was slow even though it felt like a moderate effort. It got me thinking about how trashed I'm going to feel after the Ironman. People talk about how they go to run three miles and can barely make it. I'm not looking forward to that.

The bike isn't even worth talking about. It is so hard to go from a 70.3 race to the trainer. When I got on the bike and saw the race time still on my computer and looked at the gear I was in, it took me back to Sunday and made me feel sad. I can't wait to race again. Ironman Wisconsin needs to just get here already!

Distance - 1,800 yards
Time - 35:52

Distance - 10.66 miles
Time - 45:00

July 12, 2009

Beyond Expectations

I raced Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island today and could not have asked for a more perfect experience and outcome. Everything I wanted to accomplish happened and I felt strong and confident from beginning to end. I wasn't aiming for a time goal as noted in my earlier post this week, but I ended up setting a massive PR of 26 minutes with a 5:50:17 finish.

I was up at 2:25 a.m., on a bus at 4, in transition at 4:30 and started racing around 6:45 due to a weather delay (more on that in tomorrow's report). After finishing I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid '10, retrieved my gear and got on the road around 3:30 and arrived home 6 hours later. I'm beyond beat and will share more about the race tomorrow. I should sleep like a baby tonight!

Distance - 1.2 miles
Time - 38:55

T1 - 3:33

Distance - 56 miles
Time - 3:08:17

T2 - 4:21

Distance - 13.1 miles
Time - 1:55:11

July 11, 2009


Today was busy, as most pre-race days are. I got about seven hours of sleep and got to the expo right when it was scheduled to open so I could buy some tubes and odds and ends. Of course it didn't open on time so I stood around drinking coffee and chatting with other athletes. I took my bike out for a quick spin to be sure everything was put back together properly, then met up with a new friend who is also doing Ironman Wisconsin. We went to T2 bag drop and then had a huge lunch. I had to laugh over our attire - I was in a tri top, running shorts, compression sleeves and sandals and he was wearing a regular shirt and shorts, but also compression sleeves. Luckily we weren't the only ones, that's the beauty of race weekend.

The drive out to bike drop took forever with the beach traffic. I racked my bike, scouted the run from the swim exit and located some friends' bikes. I walked down to the water to have a look. It was pretty windy and the water was rough. The buoy line was out and there were a handful of swimmers out for a practice swim. I brought my suit just in case I was inspired, but it was late and I didn't feel nervous about the water so I decided to get back on the road to Providence.

I'm pretty excited for tomorrow and have absolutely no idea what the day will bring. On one hand I'm way more trained and prepared than I was for New Orleans, but on the other hand I'm way more beat up so it all depends on how my body decides to feel tomorrow. All I know for sure is I'm happy to be here, happy to feel the race energy and I'll most definitely walk away better prepared for the big day.

July 10, 2009

Welcome to Providence

I got on the road an hour later than planned because I decided getting seven hours of sleep was necessary and worth the small sacrifice. I paid for it with over five hours in the car crawling along with beach traffic, but I made it to Providence and race weekend has begun.

My check-in was blissfully line-free and I spent a bit of time burning a hole in my wallet at the expo. I found the Wigwam socks that I'm so head-over-heels in love with but only have one pair, so I bought six more. My TYR Nest Pro goggles were there so I grabbed a pale blue pair to wear indoors or on cloudy days. And any good expo trip wouldn't be complete without some sort of new compression garment. I bought the Zoot calf sleeves and they are amazing. I've been using the 2XU sleeves since last September and love them, but the Zoots felt so much better. The seams are more comfortable and the level of compression is much stronger. I can't decide if I will race in them on Sunday. They would be time consuming to put on in T2 and I'm not sure I want to wear them on the bike. Decisions, decisions.

I went for a short run and used it to scout local restaurants and get a peek at the course. I was humming along and saw a super steep hill ahead. I wondered if it was "the hill" that everyone talks about in this race and toyed with the idea of running it. I got to the bottom and stopped. It was steep. Really steep. And long. I decided I had two chances to enjoy the hill on Sunday so I turned and continue on a flatter stretch. After the run I walked to the finish line and got a look at the empty T2, all set up and waiting for our bikes. It was the first time I felt that incredible pre-race feeling that is almost indescribable. Now that I'm here, I can't wait.

I decided to have dinner in Federal Hill, a little neighborhood near my hotel. I was tired and wanted to go somewhere close and quick. I picked an Italian place I'd run by earlier and grabbed a seat at the bar. As soon as I sat down, the woman next to me asked if I was in town for the Ironman. I said yes and asked if she was as well. She said no, that she had guessed because of my jacket. I realized I've turned into that person who wears running gear like it's regular clothing. I was in my beloved Sugoi Firewall jacket, something I never leave home without. As we started to chat, she turned out to be an avid cyclist and one of the most interesting dinner companions I could have asked for. I never got her name even though we shared a meal and countless stories, but it was really great to cross paths with her.

I'm planning a good night's sleep tonight and then a busy day of race preparation tomorrow. I have to drive to Narragansett to drop off my bike and hopefully get in a practice swim while there. Then I need to get back to Providence and check in my bike-to-run transition bag. I've never done a race with separate transitions so it should be interesting. I may spend some time at the pool or I may just nap and relax. I'm hoping it will be a day filled with rest, something I desperately need to get ready for Sunday.

Distance - 2.35 miles
Time - 20:03

July 9, 2009


While reluctantly packing late tonight it finally hit me - the elusive, race day excitement is slowly setting in. Packing up my wetsuit was the catalyst. Maybe it's because I don't get to do much open water swimming, or because the last place I wore it was in Wisconsin during that incredible training week. Or maybe it just reminded me how special triathlons are and why I chose to do them.

I had an incredibly busy day and late night so I missed my swim and a chance to see some friends. I still have to finish packing and want to hit the road no later than 10 a.m. tomorrow so there is much to do. But at least now I'll be fueled by pre-race energy that will hopefully take me through the weekend.

I'll be in Wave 7 starting at 6:25 a.m. on Sunday. With a little luck, I'll be finished before 1:00 and will be waiting in line to sign up for Ironman Lake Placid 2010. Fingers crossed.

Distance - 17.21 miles
Time - 1:05:27

July 8, 2009

Little by Little

After sharing my feelings about this weekend's race and posting yesterdays blog, I got a lot of great advice and support from friends and fellow triathletes, then had a good conversation with my coach that helped re-ground me and shift my mindset to a better place. He reminded me that I was in the middle of doing something that many people would find impossible and how hard it is to manage with an already busy life. It's easy to get tired or lose focus.

So while I'm still not feeling the typical pre-race excitement, I'm feeling good about my choice to race and the opportunity to gain race experience before the Ironman. I'm also looking forward to relaxing a bit and clearing my mind. I've been moving at warp speed for a month and need a moment to breathe.

My fellow blogger James asked in a comment on my Race Planning post what my goals are for Sunday so I figured I'd share them. They may seem unusual to some because they aren't anchored in speed or finish times, but rather in the experience I hope to walk away with.
  1. Swim with confidence by positioning myself 2/3 of the way back in the pack, focusing on moving in a straight line rather than weaving to avoid others and draft when the opportunity is there.
  2. Stay on my nutrition plan regardless of course challenges/distractions and practice passing through the bottle exchanges without stopping or getting in the way of other riders.
  3. Don’t be afraid to push a bit harder on the run, focusing on not going out too fast, but also not falling into a slower pace than I’m capable of due to race day discomfort.
When I look at these goals, I'm reminded that I've only done four triathlons. I have so much to learn and now is the time. I have a secondary goal to do as well as I did in New Orleans but there are many factors in play. I'm not tapering so I'll be racing fatigued and this course is also more challenging, particularly the run, so I may be slower by default. On the flip side I have significant training and fitness gains on my side so who knows, I might get lucky and have a great day. As long as I achieve my experience goals I'll be happy.

I started today with an eight mile run in Prospect Park. I aimed to keep the RPE steady and low and maintain a consistent, moderate pace. It went well and felt comfortable, I'm hoping I can hit a similar pace on Sunday.

After work I did an anaerobic swim workout. I was kind of tired and decided to skip the warm up and go right into the first set. I had 600 x 3 in my mind, but due to bad math ended up stopping at 550. When I looked at my watch I thought something was off so checked my schedule and realized I was supposed to do 300 x 6, not 600 x 3. No wonder it was so hard! I hit my target pace on each interval and felt good. It sparked a glimmer of excitement for Sunday's swim. Little by little I'm hoping the excitement will continue to build and launch me into full race mode.

Distance - 8 miles
Time - 1:10:07

Distance - 1,750 yards
Time - 30:56

July 7, 2009

Remembering Why

I've found in this sport it's important to remember what motivated me to sign up for an event or take on a new challenge. It's easy to get swept away in the day to day of training and preparation and then find myself wondering what inspired me in the first place. For a huge goal like Ironman, the motivation remains crystal clear. I can still remember exactly what it felt like sitting on the couch in February 2008, watching Kona and realizing I wanted the Ironman experience. I remember wondering if it was possible for a 33 year-old to learn how to swim after never having taken a swim lesson before. I wondered if I could run a marathon after moving my body 114.4 miles. So figuring out what I was really made of, proving to myself that an ordinary, non-athletic person could achieve something extraordinary with hard work, that became my driver.

But here I am just five days from my next race, Ironman Rhode Island 70.3, and I'm struggling to find that motivation. I remember being on a high after New Orleans and craving another experience, but I'm not sure I really thought about why this race would be a good idea for me. I think the timing is unfortunate, it's coming at the end of a pretty exciting four-week training block in Lake Placid, Wisconsin and DC, all of which broke my training monotony and challenged me in new ways. Because of the travel and distractions, I hadn't even bothered to think about the race until my coach asked me to outline my goals. In doing so, I realized I am approaching it very differently from New Orleans. New Orleans was about the accomplishment of completing my first half Ironman and about meeting goals for each leg of the race. But Rhode Island is a practice race, a dry run of some key race day elements I may not get the chance to test again until the big day.

Perhaps that has drained some of the fun out of it. Or perhaps I'm just so Wisconsin focused at this point that everything else is secondary. Regardless, I'm sure once I arrive and find myself in the midst of race weekend excitement that some of it will rub off on me. And hopefully, if I'm lucky, I'll re-discover my motivation and have a positive and rewarding race experience.

Today's training was bike intervals while watching the Tour de France on DVR. There is nothing better to make an otherwise boring trainer ride something I actually look forward to.

Distance - 17.06 miles
Time - 1:10:10

July 6, 2009

Race Planning

You hear a lot about strategy and preparation being key for a successful race. I have a half Ironman coming up this weekend so my coach asked me to think about my goals for each portion - pre-race, swim, T1, bike, T2, run and post-race. I was surprised by how hard this was for me because even though I think a lot about my races beforehand, I rarely set specific goals. Even after I sent him my thoughts he challenged me to be even more specific and actionable. I've narrowed it down to three very clear goals and will be interested to see how that affects my mindset on Sunday.

On a similar topic, someone from the Lake Placid training camp shared this article with us recently. For my fellow Ironmen-in-training, I thought you might find it helpful.

4 Race-Day Keys to Mastering 140.6 Miles
By Patrick McCrann and Rich Strauss
Endurance Nation

The average long-distance triathlete has a problem: too much talk about training, not enough talk about how to actually race.

With up to a year to focus on the big day, most triathletes fall into the trap of managing their day-to-day training and lose sight of the big-picture elements that will ultimately determine their race-day results. This article outlines the critical principles that will help you create race-day success.

Race Day Is About Execution, not Fitness

All you've done through your six to nine months of training is to build a fitness vehicle. Success or failure on race day is dependent on your ability to drive that vehicle effectively for 140.6 miles.

As Ironman athletes ourselves, former one-on-one coaches, and now the leaders of a team of over 400 triathletes, we have managed and observed many thousands of turns at the "wheel." We have distilled these lessons from long-distance racing into Four Keys, and have honed them in the pre-race talks we have delivered at every Ironman in the U.S. since 2004.

The Four Keys of Long-Distance Triathlon

1. Execution

It bears repeating: Race day is about execution, not fitness. We measure good execution by your ability to run well off the bike. There is no such thing as a good bike followed by a poor run. The simple fact is that the difference between a "slow" and a "fast" bike on race day is only about 15 minutes. If you've made the mistake of riding too slowly, you now have 26.2 miles of running to fix that mistake.

But if you have made the mistake of riding too fast, that mistake now has 26.2 miles to express itself. And it will, usually to the tune of walking 18- to 20-minute miles for 8, 10, 14 miles as opposed to just continuing to run. Now you are going backwards through the field to the tune of hours!

2. The Line

Everyone will reach a Line on the last leg where continuing to run at the same pace, or just continuing to run at all, will become very, very difficult. Your focus on Execution above is critical to help create conditions for success at the Line. Success at this point it defined as not slowing down.

3. The Box

Your method of executing and creating conditions for success at the Line is to use your Box. The space inside this Box is defined by what you can control. Nutrition, for instance, is inside the Box because you can control when, how, and how much you eat. Weather and other athletes, on the other hand, are outside of the Box since you can't manipulate these factors, only adapt to them.

4. The One Thing

As your race day continues, you will eventually hit the Line. It's at this point that your body begins to debate, very loudly, with the mind. Unless you have a very clearly defined goal or compelling reason why you must continue, your body wins and your day will start...to get...very...long. Keep this goal or motivation in mind and use it as a lifeline that will bring you to the finish.

Yes, it really is that simple. But what about all that other stuff, you ask?

The heart rate, pace, power, nutrition, aero bottle, race wheel, carbon widget stuff that you are likely geeking about in that online forum? In our experience, you can have all the fitness you want, all the training knowledge you can possibly cram in your head, all the latest gear on your bike, but if you don't have your mind right about the Four Keys you are in serious risk of not realizing your potential on race day.

July 5, 2009

Swim. Bike. Fun.

The last few days have been a much-needed summer vacation. I’ve been able to get good training in while also catching up on sleep and having some fun. My volume was pretty low due to the lack of biking this week, but it gave me a chance to do some good long swims and a couple long runs.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:


Friday was a long swim and semi-long run. I went to a local pool with my sister and had the choice between indoor and outdoor. I really wanted to swim in the outdoor pool but didn’t bring sunscreen and feared what would happen to my back after an hour spent face down in the water so I had to swim inside. The doors were open and the wall was glass blocks so at least it was bright, unlike my basement pool in NYC. I did 500 anaerobic followed by 1,000 x 3 at Ironman race pace. It definitely got a little boring, but I was feeling pretty good.

After a lunch break I headed out for a 10-mile run in Rock Creek park. I had a little company early on. This was a really nice run. The scenery is unbeatable and it was a beautiful day. This was the first time my legs have felt fresh since the big training week in Wisconsin.

Distance – 3,500 yards
Time – 1:08:12

Distance – 10 miles
Time – 1:25:20


I had a short bike interval session followed by another long swim. This time I decided to swim outside and came armed with waterproof SPF. I have never swam in an outdoor pool before and what a difference it makes. Just being able to see the sun and feel the wind made it so much more enjoyable. I did the same workout as Friday, but it felt completely different. As much as I was enjoying it I was feeling the tension in my shoulders from the previous swim. I don’t think I’ve done back to back long swims before. It was a reminder that my shoulder is still recovering.

The July 4th celebration was a good time indeed. We ate incredibly good food and drank way too much, but that’s what holidays are for. It was a hefty dose of fun at a time I really needed it. I also realized it’s really the last chance for celebration of that sort. I have a half Ironman next weekend, a week of recovery and my biggest build phase yet. After that I’ll be in taper and focused on nothing more than the race.

Distance – 18.67 miles
Time – 1:00:00

Distance – 3,600 yards
Time – 1:12:10


Today was my long run, actually the longest I’ve done yet this year. I ran 15 miles from Silver Spring, to the White House, around the White House and back again. I kept the pace rather conservative, on the easier end of my aerobic range. The final five miles were scheduled to be a bit slower, which worked well since it was mostly uphill. I was hurting by the end, but felt the pace was manageable. I’m hoping I can hit a similar pace next week at the race.

I’ve been working on my race day strategy with my coach and thinking about what I really want to accomplish. This race kind of snuck up on me and since I’m not tapering, it doesn’t really feel like it’s happening sometimes. But I’m excited and I’m looking forward to another race experience and the chance to see a few friends. There is nothing better than race weekends.

Distance – 15 miles
Time – 2:14:29

July 3, 2009

All or Nothing

I came to a realization this week. When it comes to my training and the accompanying motivation, I tend to have an all or nothing mentality. I'm ridiculously driven during the hardest times and will move heaven and earth to fit the training in. But when my schedule is lighter, I slip into my old pattern of laziness and feel as though every activity is forced. After missing two workouts this week, I emailed my coach letting him know what had happened. I didn't miss them because I was tired, sore or feeling physically off, I missed them because my schedule was challenging and I didn't try hard enough to fit everything in. He quickly revised the remainder of my week and included more intensity in my key workouts. A similar approach has worked well for me in the past. The volume will be the same but I'll have a chance to work a little harder and feel more challenged. I'm looking forward to it.

I opted to do the missed bike workout yesterday instead of running since I won't have access to my bike until next week. It was an interval session with 4 x 12 minutes at Olympic race intensity, alternating between 65-75 rpm on one, then 90+ on the next doing two of each. This was so much more enjoyable that just pedaling away for an hour. It was also a relief to have my bike back in working order after the trip.

I arrived in DC last night for a long weekend with my sister and her husband. While I'll be doing a decent training load over the next few days, I won't have to do anything else except relax and have fun so I'm hoping it will snap me back into "I love training" mode. If nothing else, I will get more sleep and have a good time.

Biking (Wednesday)
Distance - 17.68 miles
Time - 1:15:00

July 1, 2009

The Ironman Balancing Act

It's truly amazing how quickly I went from my best week ever to barely getting by. Such is the delicate balancing act that Ironman training makes your life. Some days you are energized and driven and will let nothing get in the way of training. Other days you find yourself searching for excuses to let some training slip or get an extra hour of sleep.

Coming back to New York has temporarily crushed the motivation I built up in Lake Placid and Madison. I think it's perfectly normal, it's like coming back from a great vacation and finding home so ordinary and uninspiring. I wasn't on vacation, but I was in training fantasy land for three weekends making the Ironman the biggest priority in my life for a bit. But now that I'm home I have work, commuting, errands and other responsibilities competing for attention and I'm forced to make choices.

Monday was rest and Tuesday got off to a good start with a solid swim before work. The evening plan was to have the bike mechanic get my bike back together, then do the ride on my schedule. But I worked late, the bike mechanic couldn't make it and my motivation slipped away. When I found out friends were getting together, some that I haven't seen for months, the lure of training evaporated and I opted to do something social instead. I don't regret it. I got to spend time with a friend who moved to LA back in January and others I haven't seen in weeks. In the scheme of my life, that's more important than an hour on the bike.

But I should have known this bump in the road would spiral into a training disaster. I was too tired to get up super early this morning so I slept until 6:30, leaving only time for the shorter run originally scheduled for tomorrow. I barely had time to fit it in. I hoped to make up the bike tonight but by the time I got home and the mechanic was finished it was 9:45. Motivation gone.

I've now missed a bike and swim this week. I'm thinking of doing the bike tomorrow since I'm heading out of town again and won't have access to my bike until next week. If I make up the bike, I'll still be out a swim and run. Will it really matter in the end? Probably not, but it eats away at me nonetheless so I'm hoping to stay on track the rest of the week.

Swimming (Tuesday)
Distance - 3,000 yards
Time - 58:06

Running (Wednesday)
Distance - 5 miles
Time - 43:50


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