December 31, 2010

2010: Year in Reflection

As 2010 draws to a close, it's time to look back at goals - both met and unmet, challenges, experiences and successes. This was a year that took me from the Vancouver Winter Olympics to Napa Valley, to my first race since the injury to Ironman training, to Italy by bike and eventually the most incredible Ironman experiences I could have wished for - a 13:31 finish in Lake Placid and a 12:48 finish just 7 weeks later in Wisconsin, the ultimate comeback and a PR of more than 3 hours. It was a year that presented personal ups and downs, but each challenge was another opportunity to grow and I ended up in a good place. So how did the numbers stack up?
  • Bike: 4,094.81 miles, 268h 31m 22s
  • Run: 553.98 miles, 93h 49m 45s
  • Swim: 82,723 yards, 30h 27m 07s
I biked nearly 800 miles more than 2009, but fell short of my 5,000 mile goal. Next year. I ran 164 miles less due to injury recovery, but had two really amazing marathons. The swim? Let's just say I was at the pool less than half as much as I should have been.

I used to be obsessed with numbers but not so much anymore. I truly lived my life to the fullest in 2010 and made risky decisions for my races in order to prioritize my non-tri life. I have no regrets. 2010 was an incredibly rewarding year and I can only look forward to even bigger and better things in 2011.

Because it's so hard to put into words, here are 100 photos from some of my favorite moments in 2010.

What are your most memorable moments? Happy New Year everyone!

December 28, 2010

Winter Wonderland

How ironic is it that I'm in a place where it snows all the time, even when it's snowing nowhere else, yet we haven't seen a flake and where I'm from, where snow makes national news, they are buried in a blizzard? That has been my experience in Michigan while my home in New York has essentially been in lockdown. I'm scheduled to travel back tomorrow and I'd be lying if I said I weren't a little bit concerned. After the hell I had getting here I figure I have some good travel karma coming my way, right?

While it may not have snowed during my week here, there was a great deal of snow on the ground when I arrived. This part of the country is incredibly beautiful in the snow. It's rather idyllic and looks like how winter should be. I don't miss driving through blizzards and on sheets of ice, but I do miss experiencing winter in a way that doesn't cripple a major metropolis. Because the snow wasn't fresh, I've had a chance to run outside a lot and have enjoyed every step. Sure it's cold, but I grew up here so I'm tough (ok, I'm not, but let's pretend like I am). I snapped a few shots during today's run to capture the feeling. And I need a break occasionally. What can I say, I'm pretty beat up from the cookies, wine, ribs and other deliciousness.

Scenes From My Run

The holidays definitely made my fitness challenges even more challenging, but I managed to maintain the weight I arrived at, which isn't so bad all things considered. Beyond that I have had three great runs - 4 miles on Christmas day, 9 miles on the 26th and 5 miles today. I'm running 4 more in the morning before attempting to return to New York, and I also went to the gym and swam once. All in all, not a bad holiday break. I'm sad to leave my family, but looking forward to getting back on a schedule. How did your holiday training go?

December 26, 2010

The Delta Pilferage Report

By now you've probably guessed I had a fairly rotten travel experience with Delta this Christmas. I shared part one of the debacle in Thursday's post but opted to retain the rest of the story until after the holiday, and what shred of feel-good spirit I had, was finished. Here is a chronological timeline of events:

Thursday, December 23
  • Finally arrived in South Bend after 10 hours of travel. I was elated to be home.
  • Got to baggage claim and the bags were out in record time. I was thinking it might be the first stroke of luck I'd had all day.
  • Alas, no bag.
  • Went to the Delta counter where they informed me my bag was listed in the system as having arrived in South Bend. Yeah, not quite accurate. They agreed it was absurd that a bag with a four hour layover didn't make the flight. I got a file number and called it a night.
Friday, December 24
  • My brother picked up my sister at the airport around 11am and stopped at the Delta counter for an update. They said my bag would be on the next flight, approximately one hour.
  • My brother went back two hours later and still no bag. Now it was in Cincinnati.
  • I called Delta repeatedly and not only was my file number not in the system, no one had a clue what was going on. All flights were full and at weight capacity so my bag remained in an airport - maybe Detroit? Maybe Cincinnati? Who knew.
  • The family Christmas celebration started. I was in the same clothes as the day before and had no gifts for anyone. How festive.
Saturday, December 25
  • My cell phone rang at 7am... it was a baggage delivery person from Delta just miles away with my bag. I sprang out of bed, totally relieved.
  • I quickly checked to be sure the multiple gift cards I packed were still there. They were. I went back to sleep.
  • A few hours later I decided to unpack. This is when things went South yet again. My Garmin 405 and iPod were missing. Merry F'ing Christmas.
  • I waited a few hours for a friend to go by my apartment and see if I'd left the two items by mistake. I hadn't.
  • I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with Delta reporting a claim and was instructed to fill out a Damage/Pilferage form as soon as possible. Pilferage - such a delicate way to say "theft by our employees."
  • Most of my Christmas day was spent sitting on the phone, filling out forms, copying luggage tags, etc. Good times.
  • Delta informed me I likely won't be reimbursed since the items stolen were electronics. What exactly do they reimburse for then???
Needless to say, this experience affected my enjoyment of the holidays. I tried to keep a positive attitude but it felt like one blow after another and the fact that Delta wasn't bending over backwards to make up for it really disappointed me. There is no excuse for such epic failure during the holidays when they know they will be busier than ever. They should have been prepared.

I tried to shake it off by heading out for a run since I finally had my shoes and clothes. It definitely lifted my spirits and I got right back on track with my marathon training, including my long run today. I did 9 miles in the frigid wind and have never felt better. No pain, no fatigue and I actually enjoyed it.

It will be about 4-6 weeks before my claim is settled, but I think I know the outcome. The moral of this story is carry on when you can and lock up your luggage. You never know who is going through your personal things.

December 25, 2010

Christmas in Michigan

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! This has definitely been a challenging one for me (details of the culmination of my unpleasant Delta experience will be shared tomorrow) but the most important thing is that I'm with my family. We had a white Christmas in Michigan from past snowfall, but have yet to get new snow. I believe it's on its way. We've enjoyed seeing my 2.5 year old nephew experience all the joy of Christmas as only a child could and have enjoyed far too many incredible treats. I could barely sleep last night due to the cookie, cheese and wine overload. But since my bag finally arrive this morning I was able to go running today and earn a few more cookies.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend and forgetting about training for just a moment. We can start back up on Monday!

December 23, 2010

Bending the Rules

Today was a busy, busy holiday travel day. I got up at 7am to be sure I could fit in all that needed to be done - finish packing, pick up the laundry, buy cat food, go to the bank, finish cleaning the apartment, scoop the litter box (ugh) and fit in some sort of workout. I opted for a trainer ride and dove back into Season 5 of Lost. Good choice.

I was clicking right along on schedule and had a plan to be on the street hailing a cab by 1:00. Miraculously I was. And more miraculously a cab appeared within minutes. My lucky day... or so I thought. I was digging through my enormous bag for something and didn't notice he had missed a turn and was going the absolutely worst possible way. I immediately told him he needed to take a different street but it was too late, we were in parking lot traffic with a series of one-ways all going the wrong way. So what does he do? Just one block before the destination street he decides to turn, and we end up going right back to where we started! I was beyond furious and at this point he had wasted 20 minutes and 15 dollars. I started to suspect I wouldn't make it to the airport.

We got on the BQE and all was good, we were making decent time and there was a sliver of a chance. But that sliver crumbled when we approached LaGuardia and came to a screeching halt - accident on the Grand Central Parkway right in front of the airport. Learn to drive people!!! The 10 minute crawl to the terminal crushed my chances of making my 2:37 flight. I was exactly 3 minutes past the baggage check deadline and Delta would not budge. So I called the re-booking line while I waited in line and was given some very bad news. I would have to take another taxi home only to return at 5am for the 6am flight, which I'd also have the pleasure of paying an extra few hundred bucks for. Seriously???

But I refuse to give up so easily so I waited in line until I finally reached a real, live Delta agent. And to my good fortune, she was an angel. She immediately felt sorry for me and wanted to help. I suggested they let me go on the 2:37 and send my bag on the 4:30 since there was only one connecting flight in Detroit and it wasn't until 7:40. She brought a supervisor over to try to make it happen and luckily he felt sorry for me as well. He couldn't break the TSA rule of putting a bag on a plane without a passenger but he was willing to try to get me and my bag on the flight. He took me to the front of the security line and told me to toss out all of the liquids in my to-be-checked bag - bye bye hundreds of dollars of girly products - and take the bag to the gate where they would be waiting for me. I cut the security line and got dirty looks from fellow passengers, but sailed right through and was at the gate on time.

And then guess what? The flight was delayed an hour and they ended up gate checking just about everyone's bags for free... I'm the sucker who paid $23. But it was a small price to pay to not spend Christmas in Brooklyn alone with my cat. I'm now about 1.5 hours into my 2.5 hour layover in Detroit, sipping wine at the Vino Volo wine bar. I'm undoing yesterday's cleanse for sure, but it's the holidays and travel hell time, I can't help it. I'll be home with my family in about 3 hours.

I have a lot of running to do this week as I ease into my marathon training. I'll tackle 9 this weekend and will no doubt be thankful to be burning some holiday calories.

Happy holidays to everyone, wherever your travels and celebrations may take you!

December 22, 2010

What's Another 26.2?

A 70.3 in Southern California sounded pretty nice. I mentioned it to a friend who lives in LA. She suggests I join her for the LA Marathon. The 70.3 was sold out. And there you have it my friends, I'm now signed up to run a marathon in 88 days. I think we all know what I've been up to for the past 88 days so I've got a lot of work ahead of me. But before you think I'm impulsive, foolish, crazy (ok, maybe 2 out of 3 could apply), I did check with my coach to be sure I wouldn't be setting myself up for massive failure and injury. He's pretty conservative and he felt I could do it and actually do it well if I were committed. So I am. I started this week and will make it my primary focus for the next 3 months.

Perhaps the best thing about this is the giant push to stop being lazy. I needed it and couldn't find it with my first big race 10 months away. It has also forcing me to stop the holiday indulging. I was on very good behavior Sunday, Monday and Tuesday aside from some drinks Monday and a little chocolate in the office Tuesday. I'm down 3 pounds - 12 to go. I've also been far more consistent with the workouts.

In preparation for a long day of travel and the impending Christmas eating, I did one day of the Blueprint Cleanse's Juice 'til Dinner. I wanted to wake up Thursday feeling good and was so busy today I didn't have time to eat anyway. I'm 3/4 of the way through it and have really enjoyed it. I had a green juice this morning, a pineapple/apple/mint combo after my run, another green juice a couple hours later and a lemonade with cayenne about 30 minutes ago. Since this is only juice during the day, I have my small, raw meal to look forward to later. I also have a snack that I never consumed. I haven't felt hungry except for after my run and have enjoyed all the juices. I'll let you know how I feel at 10pm tonight.

My plan for the next several days is to enjoy the holidays in small, small portions. I'm not going to sit there munching on celery, but I'm not going to go hog wild like I have in the past either. Who's with me?

December 19, 2010

One Out of Two

I had a slightly better week, but the closest to consistency I could get was working out roughly every other day. It's an improvement over the single workout weeks I've had recently, but I clearly need to step it up tremendously as I ease into my build phase for the 2011 season (just saying 2011 season makes my stomach flip a little). I also said farewell to the holiday partying. And this time I mean it.

Monday, which I previewed in my last post, really lived up to the expectations plus some. The 6-course dinner with as many paired wines was unbelievable and the post-dinner drinks were far more fun than one should have on a Monday night. After dragging myself through Tuesday, I had two very low key nights in preparation for my annual work party on Thursday. The party was subdued, but the after party with a girlfriend made Friday a total bust. After vowing to lock myself indoors for the weekend, I was arm-twisted into going out Friday with a girlfriend I haven't seen in forever and of course dragged through Saturday.

With my team from work at the holiday party

But in the midst of the holiday revelry, I did manage to run twice, bike twice, swim once and get in one session of strength training. Not bad compared to recent weeks and I feel someone motivated to stay consistent.

I've shared my lofty weight loss goals before and the time has come to take it seriously. Not only have I made zero progress, but I gained nearly 8 pounds from my two weeks in Italy and Wisconsin. Granted I had a lot of fun gaining said weight, but as the worst week ever for nutrition approaches, I have to make choices. My Ironman schedule starts on February 1, at which point I need to be within 3 pounds of my 2011 goal race weight. Past experience has shown I can't lose weight while Ironman training so it's now or never. The journey started yesterday and I've already lost a pound. I have a feeling the 8 I gained while vacationing will come off very quickly, then the rest will be a battle. I have shorter-term goal to lose 15 pounds by mid-January and then a longer-term goal to lose another 5 by mid-February. God help me, Christmas is going to be very tough this year!

December 13, 2010

Get This Party Started

I have good news and bad news. First the good. In Friday's post, I promised to stop being lazy and I followed through. I went to Computrainer class Saturday morning and nearly had a coronary after two hours of tight competition and heavy sweating. I held a respectable third place out of 7 cyclists, not bad considering I haven't biked in 2 weeks and have barely broken a sweat doing anything else. I was also finally successful in dragging my sleepy self out of bed in the cold and mist to run this morning. It's depressing how dark it is and how long the darkness lingers. It was still barely light out when I finished but for once I didn't sleep in.

Now the bad. The holiday indulgence is little by little killing my fitness and pretty much guaranteeing I won't be fitting into my skinny jeans for awhile. Post-Italy/Wisconsin I vowed to clean up the lifestyle, but it's the holiday season and I missed people I hadn't seen in nearly 3 weeks. Thursday was a big food and drinks night for work at an overnight in Connecticut, Friday was decidely much more chill, but Saturday... Oh Saturday. It lasted into Sunday and involved visits to multiple cocktail establishments in Manhattan. It was a ridiculous amount of fun that meant Sunday was spent on the couch watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men (my new obsession).

If anyone else is struggling with the deluge of holiday eating and drinking, check out this article on how to survive as an athlete. I took the advice and took a day off. My body needed it.

My tri club's annual holiday party was last night so I spent hours talking about the upcoming season and race plans and it struck me that I have a massive year ahead. I did two Ironmans this year, but my season was over in September. My season doesn't even begin until August and I won't be done until nearly December. My training schedule will be the longest I've ever done and because of that, I don't feel guilty at all about the slacking I'm doing now. This break may be bad for my waistline but it's incredible for my spirit and I'll look back fondly at pulling an all-nighter with a girlfriend when I'm clipped in and heading out for a ride at the same hour I was leaving my final bar Sunday morning.

With that I'll leave you with a glimpse of tonight's indulgence, a 5-course pig dinner at 'Inoteca. Tis the season!

December 10, 2010

The Raw Truth

In an effort to detox a bit and hopefully feel better overall, I consumed mostly raw foods for about 2.5 days. It wasn't a true cleanse or detox since I ate some regular foods and drank a little wine on Day 2 (hey, it was a really, really bad day), but rather was a clean break from the over-indulgence of Italy and Wisconsin.

So how did it go? Overall fairly well, but if you haven't subsisted on primarily raw foods before there are some things you should know. I was expecting to feel lighter and thinner, but instead felt bloated and fatter than before. I'm attributing it to the following:
  1. A raw diet tends to make one gassy, and not gassy in the sense that no one wants to be in the room with you, gassy in the sense that you feel like someone pumped you up. My stomach looked huge at times and I had a perpetual feeling of fullness.
  2. Despite eating all those vegetables, things slow down in the 'ol bathroom department, if you know what I mean. That also makes you feel bloated.
  3. I was consuming more liquid than ever before. The 1-2 green juices coupled with massive quantities of water and herbal tea had me feeling rather full.
Despite the bloating, there were some very positive benefits, specifically:
  1. My skin looked radiant. When you're consuming that many vegetables it actually makes you look better.
  2. My energy level was better and my sleep quality improved.
  3. My junk food cravings were curbed and when I consumed a bunch of sugar yesterday at a work function, I felt pretty nasty. Hopefully this will encourage me to keep the sugar to a minimum during these next few (very difficult) weeks.
Quite surprisingly I started enjoying the green juice and plan to keep it as a staple in my diet. It's nice to get the nutrient benefits of a bag of spinach, two stalks of celery, an entire cucumber, an apple or two and a lemon in a convenient, sippable form. But would I do a full-fledged juice cleanse? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks the challenge would be great but I just don't think it's necessary. I don't buy into the whole theory of resting your system and there is no way I'd give up caffeine. But who knows, I love a good challenge so maybe it would be something good for the New Year.

In closing, I need to come clean about my complete and utter failure to conquer winter and do some sort of swim, bike or run activity daily. I've done zilch since Sunday aside from 45 minutes on the elliptical to burn some calories. It was a busy week and I'd love to say I didn't have time, but the truth is I didn't make time. I'm going to attempt to get back into the swing this weekend. Please hold me accountable.

December 7, 2010

All Juiced Up

As promised, self-imposed fat camp started today. I woke up filled with regret over the hot chocolate, peanuts, cookie and dark chocolate (really, really, really good stuff from Paris at least) I had between 9:30 and midnight last night and I found the courage to weigh myself. Seven pounds folks. In two weeks. That's not only disgusting, but I'm encroaching upon a weight I haven't been at since pre-triathlon.

My plan for the day was a lot of green juice and some salad. What is green juice, for those who are fortunate enough not to know? It's essentially any fresh juice made from green vegetables, though some people like to add a green apple, citrus, carrot or pineapple to jazz up the taste a bit. It's incredibly healthy and very good for detoxing. I tried my neighborhood juice joint but they weren't open yet... that's what I get for going to work earlier than normal. So I located a place a block from my office and ordered a delicious concoction of spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon and apple. I was salivating just thinking about it, it actually sounded good after the gluttony. If only it tasted so good. It was VERY green. Almost grasslike. Imagine griding up your salad greens with nothing fun on them and drinking them. Bingo!

It grew on me as I sipped it over the course of 30 minutes. It's not that it tasted bad, it just didn't taste very good. I was yearning for something perhaps a little tangier or zestier. When you've been living off of junk your taste buds are accustomed to that so it takes time to appreciate cleaner, more natural foods. At least this is what I tell myself.

So what else did I eat today?
  • One green apple... this seriously tasted like pure heaven

  • Big salad with arugula, raw asparagus, a few cherry tomatoes, carrots, grilled tofu and a splash of barley so I wouldn't pass out; no dressing, just a drizzle of good olive oil and tons of salt (gotta keep at least one vice)

  • Tiny packet of dry roasted peanuts (THANK YOU Delta!!!!)

  • Eight ounces chicken broth... also heaven

Clearly this isn't enough for me so tonight I will eat a small, healthy meal and tomorrow I'm amping up the raw vegetables as snacks. I'll also add another juice or two, there can't be much calorie content in there and honestly, I feel better already having pumped myself full of so much natural goodness.

Today is a non-workout day due to obligations thankfully. I'm going to aim to dive back in tomorrow!

December 6, 2010

Farewell, Madison... Hello, Fat Camp!

I'll be heading to the airport shortly to return to New York. I feel like it's been months since I've been home and am looking forward to plopping myself onto my dusty couch for a few nights. I think my cat Otis will be happy as well. These last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind... my incredible trip to Rome and a very fun, even if stressful, week with my family. All turned out well and I couldn't have asked for more.

In reflecting on Madison, I realized I consumed more crap in one week than I have in months. Here are some highlights:
  • An unbelievable burger made with short ribs and other delicious cuts of beef, fries, a shared charcuterie and cheese board and a couple glasses of wine at Graze, one of my favorite places to eat in Madison.
  • Lake perch fry at The Old Fashioned, washed down with a couple incredible Wisconsin brews and of course preceded by fried cheese curds.
  • Mini burgers, bone marrow and a decadent grilled cheese with pork belly and homemade chips, washed down with around 4 strong beers at Cooper's Tavern. Thank god I was walking that night!
  • Grilled salmon club (that means there was bacon on there), fries and a beer for lunch at the Great Dane with more cheese curds, more bone marrow and fried chicken with waffles for dinner at Graze. At least I drank heart-healthy red wine that night (aside from the pre-dinner beers I had at The Old Fashioned)!
  • Sausage gravy and biscuits (yes, I am a huge pig) with a blackberry scone for breakfast at Lazy Janes and a pulled pork burrito with various shared appies and tequila drinks at El Dorado Grill. Aye carumba!
  • Sushi from Sushi Muramoto... finally something semi-healthy!
And the verdict is.... I'm huge. I have finally reached a point where I must buckle down and start a self-imposed fat camp. Buried under my winter fluff might still be a triathlete and if I start now I may have hope of unearthing her before the offseason is really over. So beginning tomorrow it's desperate measures time. No more beer, cheese, pastries, bacon, anything fried, basically anything good. Hello vegetables. God help me.

December 5, 2010

Kristin vs. Winter

I am so not ready for winter. It's been tolerable in New York thus far and Italy was perfect - upper 50s during the day, low 40s at night. Then I arrived in Wisconsin and was shocked into the reality that winter has arrived. It's in the single digits at times and when it got up to 30 yesterday I had to put the window down in the car! Oh boy. Like years past, I'm making a vow not to let winter get the best of me and decided to start today.

I was getting a bit of cabin fever and briefly considered the treadmill or elliptical to kill some time and burn some calories (I ate a VERY large cookie after breakfast), but decided I'd suck it up again and go outside. It was 21 after all, 8 full degrees warmer than Friday's run... how bad could it be? What a difference 8 degrees makes! I didn't turn to stone while I waited for the Garmin to find a signal and I never felt like my hands might fall off. I even had to unzip my top for some ventilation.

I ran a little over 6 miles on parts of the Ironman Wisconsin run course - the Capitol loop, State Street and the path along Lake Mendota. Much of it was covered in snow and ice, particularly the stretch along Mendota, and it couldn't have looked more different than race day. As I was running I realized I'd experienced so many highs and lows along those miles, both in training and racing. For the first time I got a little excited about the upcoming season.

So in the battle between myself and winter, I am pleased to report victory - Winter: 0, Kristin: 2. Let's see if I can keep it up this month with a goal of doing at least 30 minutes of swimming, biking or running every day and NO treadmill runs. I'm allowed to ride on the trainer because I'm not that crazy, but I refuse to be driven indoors just yet by Mother Nature. Who's with me?

December 4, 2010

Cool Running and Dad Update

First an update on my dad. The surgery went well on Thursday. It was a very long day but we were all so relieved it was a success and he was in good spirits considering what he had been through. He had to stay two nights in the hospital and was sent home tonight. He still has a lot of recovering to do, but it's great to see him here and out of the hospital gown. Such a relief.

The weather has been crazy in Wisconsin. It was getting colder in New York, but not too cold to keep all my East Coast friends off their bikes today. Here, however, it's dipping into the single digits at night and warming up to a balmy mid-20s during the day. After a more than 2-week stint of zero physical activity I was starting to feel pretty dreadful and decided I would get up and go running yesterday. I went to to see the temperature: it was 12 degrees. Yes, just 12. I waited for an hour and it was 13. I despise running in temps that cold but I'd consumed a large number of cheese curds, fried fish, burgers, beer and chocolate since my arrival (and after the copious amounts of cheese, salami and pasta in Italy) and felt it was suck it up time.

So suck it up I did, and somehow managed to convince my sister to suck it up with me. We put on every piece of athletic clothing we packed and headed out. I could say "it wasn't so bad," but I'm not going to lie to you. It was horrible. The wind was biting and ripped through my layers of thermal Sugoi faster than I could say "damn, it's cold!" Warm-up schwarm-up, we had to start running immediately upon exiting the building. I kept waiting for my body temp to rise and nada. My skin was burning and my fingers went numb. Actually my toes went numb, too. I noticed my legs were heavy... was it from not running for weeks or was it from the hideous, sub-zero temps? Funny enough though I managed to enjoy being out and moving. I definitely have a drive to be active and I'm not myself when circumstances force me to take it easy.

We endured 30 minutes and retreated to the warmth of the condo. A 30-minute scorching shower helped thaw me out and about 2 hours later I was finally back to normal. Perhaps life in the Northeast has softened me up or perhaps I was never cut out for the cold Midwest temps. All I know is 30 degrees is my threshold of comfort. We awoke this morning to inches of fluffy snow that I have to admit looked very charming. I ventured out to meet friends for breakfast and decided today was as good a day as any to get back into the pool. Hopefully this will be the beginning of getting back to my normal self.

December 1, 2010

Different Priorities

I'm back in Madison where I raced my last Ironman, only this time I'm here for my family. My dad is having surgery tomorrow, a procedure called pyeloplasty to repair his kidney. My sister arrived today so we're all here together, something that doesn't happen often with our busy schedules and lives. We all have different priorities, but for now they are all the same.

Take a moment to thank the people who support you throughout your training and racing, and don't hesitate to shift your priorities when they need you. This week is for you dad, nothing but positive thoughts and energy.

November 30, 2010

Bella Roma

I'm back from my incredible journey to Italy. This was my first solo jaunt overseas so I was afraid to book an entire week thinking I might feel lonely or uncomfortable. Now that it's over I so desperately wish I had booked a week. It was by far one of the best travel experiences I've ever had and it was so rewarding in so many ways. I learned that traveling alone is anything but lonely and it allows you to expand your comfort zone tremendously. Rome may be the perfect city for solo travel as well, so I chose wisely. There is so much to share, far too much to ever capture here, and none of it involves any physical activity beyond walking miles and miles around the city in totally inappropriate footwear. Most of it involves eating decadent foods and drinking beautiful wine and cocktails. The perfect vacation.

Since I'm suffering from jet lag and am not coherent enough for a full post, I thought I'd share 10 observations and discoveries from my journey:
  1. Since the coffees are small, don't be afraid to go to two espresso bars each morning to hide the fact that you require multiple coffees to get the day started right. Just remember: no cappuccino past noon, lattes are a made-up American thing and always drink your coffee standing at the bar.
  2. When they ask you if you want cream on your gelato don't think, just say yes. Oh my god...
  3. Panini is plural, a single sandwich is a panino. Don't order like a tourist.
  4. You don't need to share a language to communicate and connect with someone. You can have a really memorable experience without a lot of words.
  5. A two-hour lunch is a great idea. A three-hour dinner is an even better idea.
  6. Visiting Italy during truffle season is magical. And I'm not talking about chocolates...
  7. Looking chic and making a good impression is key in Rome (see above comment about inappropriate footwear).
  8. Aperitivo is like happy hour on steroids and a really beautiful thing.
  9. If you have a good attitude and sense of adventure you can go anywhere and do anything and the people will be kind to you.
  10. In Rome, la vita e bella. You could do nothing except stroll around and soak it in and it would be a trip of a lifetime.
I had been to Rome once before but felt like I was seeing it for the first time. Since I didn't spend the full week I'm already plotting my return and very much looking forward to it.

November 22, 2010

Another Two

Doing two Ironmans in 2010 was incredibly rewarding. I didn't succumb to my foot injury and it proved just how far I have come from my former self who had a nasty habit of not finishing what she started. A lot of people question my blog title: how can a person who completed three Ironmans in 12 months be lazy? It's simple. We all come from somewhere and it's often not the manifestation of our current selves. We are constantly changing, trying new things, wanting to be different. And to some degree, battling a complete alter ego that could take over at any time. My alter ego is lazy. She can also be a quitter (I blame it on being a Gemini). So when I started this sport I swore I'd do it 100%.

I've spent the past month or so trying to figure out what I really want to do next season. The thought of two Ironmans was appealing, but based on timing and what was available, my choices were IMFL, IMAZ and IMCOZ. I've never had an interest in FL and while a vacation in Cozumel sounds lovely, swimming an Ironman without a wetsuit sounds about as fun as a root canal. So Arizona it was.

After toiling over the decision and being on and off the fence, I took the plunge and signed up online today. It only took 5 refreshes to get into the system and roughly 6 minutes to complete the entire process.

Why did I do it? The quote I keep on my blog kept running through my mind: "Someday my body will not be able to do this. Today is not that day." I don't know what the future holds for me, but I know this makes me happy. It defines me and keeps that alter ego at bay. The biggest challenge will be staying motivated for such a long season, beginning in February and ending in late November. But for now I'm going to truly cherish the couple months I have remaining in my offseason, and I'm going to start with a trip to Rome and Paris beginning tomorrow. Buon Viaggio!

November 17, 2010

Beer Mile Champion

Last weekend I had a typical Sunday. I was up at 7am to prep for a ride, taking advantage of what would end up being the most perfect late fall riding weather. I met up with fellow blogger Jon for our second food-centric ride, this time on my side of the state with a mid-point muffin from my favorite training fuel stop in Piermont, NY. I had my usual cinnamon chip while he explored the various croissant offerings. In addition to indulging on fantastic carbs, we put in some solid, late-season miles.

I was in a bit of a rush to get home because I had a race on the schedule at 3pm. My tri club was hosting its first Beer Mile, something I like to consider an alternative duathlon since it combines two of my favorite sports - drinking beer and running. I have always wanted to do a Beer Mile but have never heard of one happening locally. I did some "training" in the days leading up to build up my tolerance and was feeling quite prepared. Unfortunately I finished the ride late so I had to skip lunch and just have chocolate milk instead. I didn't want any solid food in my stomach in case things were to not go down so easy if you know what I'm saying.

We set up our "transition" area, complete with brown paper bags, and did a warm-up lap. Then we lined up, fingers poised to hit start on the Garmin and crack open the first beer. It's fantastic to be doing a race that starts with "On your mark, get set, drink!" Because I love numbers, I captured all of the splits - my beer drinking time and lap running time. Here is a breakdown:

Beer 1
:45 (disgusting, but I did it!)
Lap 1
1:45 (6:59/mi)
Beer 2
1:11 (is burping in public in front of guys a bad thing?)
Lap 2
1:58 (7:47/mi)
Beer 3
1:23 (going down hard now...)
Lap 3
1:58 (7:55/mi, starting to weave around a bit I think)
Beer 4
1:36 (never. drinking. beer. again...)
Lap 4
2:00 (7:30/mi, DONE! and no penalty lap!)
Total 12:40

I don't think I've chugged a beer since college so the 45-second split to start was huge for me. Sadly I was second to last with that performance so it was a good thing I was able to throw down a decent pace while not throwing up my PBR! The scene in transition was priceless. A bunch of adults slamming beers out of paper bags, burping, spilling all over ourselves and other unmentionable mishaps (one racer had a cuban sandwich shortly before the race...).

"Transition" 1, Race Start

That first lap was tough. I spent the entire time trying to figure out how I'd drink 3 more beers and keep my cookies down. I slowed considerably on Beer 2, taking a few chugs at a time peppered with breaks to commiserate with fellow racers and create some room with ladylike burping. The second lap was a little easier and I actually embraced the small escape from the dreaded beer transition. But as predicted, Beer 3 was like swallowing wet concrete. I started questioning my ability to finish and wondered, would this be my first DNF? I wasn't ready to give up so I powered through and continued on.

Lap 3 was a challenge. I think a slight buzz was setting in and I forgot to stay focused and run a straight line. I started fantasizing about collapsing in the grass. As I entered transition for Beer 4, I realized it might have been the first time in my life where I absolutely, positively, without a doubt did not want even a sip of beer. Too bad I had another 12 ounces to consume. It's hard to say what was harder: doing 2 Ironmans this season or forcing that final beer down my throat. I'm leaning toward the beer. I was elated to start Lap 4 and even enjoyed it a little despite the burning in my stomach. I could see fellow racers celebrating their accomplishments just around the corner and wanted to desperately to join them. Or puke. Or both.


Moments after finishing I learned I was the first place female. Podium!!! Finally! Of course there were only 4 females but still, I was proud. What a fantastic way to end my season.

Post-Race Recovery

Regardless of my win, I realized I will need to do some serious training to be a real contender next year. My inability to truly chug the beer really held me back so I have work to do. Unfortunately I never learned how to properly chug a beer in college so I may be faced with limitations in this sport. But if I can learn to swim and do an Ironman in one year, I'm confident I can cut my can-guzzling time down to a respectable 30 seconds. I may need to experiment with race day nutrition to find the right choice as well and the offseason seems like a great time to do it. Cheers!

November 13, 2010

Joy Miles

You hear a lot about junk miles, those extra miles we put in during the season that don't really serve a training purpose. But during the offseason I've discovered those miles are converted from junk to joy. Over the past few days I've logged a handful of run and bike miles simply for the pleasure of being outside, feeling the wind on my face and enjoying my surroundings. Pure joy. It's something we don't have the luxury of doing with big races and goals on the horizon.

I finally started running again on Wednesday after a 2.5 week break. I only went 20 minutes and I loved every moment. Then Thursday while in Toronto for business I went out and ran another 30 minutes, but this time with no Garmin and no clue of how far or how fast I was going. I ran up and down the little side streets of Yorkville, the neighborhood I was staying in, and paid no attention to pace or effort. It was such a pleasure to run just for the sake of running.

Today I met up with a friend and rode multiple loops of Prospect Park, chatting and catching up about our weekend so far. It was 60 degrees, sunny and beautiful, and we rode until we didn't feel like riding anymore. No goals, no plan, just a ride. We stopped off for coffee and muffins and chatted some more before calling it a day.

So in my confusion over scheduling and structure, I think I've discovered what I need to do - find joy. I love training for this sport or I wouldn't do it. You spend way too many hours preparing for an Ironman to feel forced or obligated. But even though I enjoy it, the need to hit miles, paces or heart rates can be a drag. So for now I'll just keep doing whatever I feel like doing and if that means going slow, stopping for muffins or just jogging to see a new place, at least I know I'll enjoy it.

November 9, 2010

Addicted to Structure

First things first. I fear there is a dark cloud hovering over me when it comes to my pursuit of this sport sometimes. Just as the Cipro ban ended, I developed a case of what seemed to be a mile stomach virus. At first I wondered if it was just backlash from the indulgence I enjoyed while being incredibly lazy for 14 days, but when the fever, aches and chills hit I could no longer deny it. I was sick. And sick I remained from roughly 4am Sunday morning to now. Tonight is the first time I feel I've turned the corner, though it's 9:25 and I'm more than ready for bed.

So suffice it to say I have not yet returned to being a triathlete or at least someone that resembles one. If I have an ounce of energy tomorrow I may give it a try. But stomach bug aside, I had a realization while dragging myself to work this morning: I thrive on structure, on being scheduled and knowing exactly what needs to be done and when. I recently posted about needing a break from coaching so I could enjoy just the opposite - a life free of obligations. But now I'm wondering if having no schedule is like a get out of jail free pass when it comes to having any sense of needing to do a workout. There are those rare individuals who can wake up in the morning, decide on a whim what to do and go do it. I'm not one of them. I'm realizing I won't do anything at all if there isn't a plan in place.

There's a chance this is just typical offseason slack, we all do it, right? But there's a chance I need a more structured approach, even if it's a structure for my unstructured time. Looking back I remember accepting a new full-time job, and a big job no less, right at the same time I started training for my first Ironman. I had been consulting quite successfully for a year and had a very flexible schedule, something you'd think would be ideal for Ironman training. But there was a fear deep down that I'd handle the training better with more structure in my life and I was right. Not only was the job perfect for me, its daily demands forced me to meticulously plan every moment of activity around it. Or rather have my coach plan it, but you get the point.

When you think about it, a lot of triathletes exhibit Type A behavior. So it's no surprise we thrive on having daily schedules that would make most people jump off a bridge. Are you one of them? Let's hear what level of scheduling works for you.

November 7, 2010

The Long Wait

As of today it's been 14 days since my last dose of Cipro and I'm ready to be active again. I had some minor aches and pains so I decided to hold off when the mandatory 10-day ban was up. Another 3 days of being lazy is nothing compared to another 4 months in a walker boot or worse.

I didn't take the 14 days entirely off. I threw caution to the wind and took advantage of beautiful fall weather with a fantastic ride in Westchester County, just north of New York City. I met up fellow blogger Jon and joined him on his Ride for the Donuts, a 50-mile loop on lovely tree-lined roads. Westchester is stunning in the fall and the leaves were just past their peak so it was worth the slight risk. But the leaves were most certainly not the highlight of the ride... the cider donuts were. I would have ridden another 50 to eat a half dozen more, they were just that good. It was a nice departure from my usual muffin ride and a great way to enjoy a perfect fall day.

I've spent the rest of the time seeing friends and enjoying free time in the city. I've been to several great restaurants and have definitely put on a few pounds as a result, but it has been worth it. I'll be back to my usual lifestyle tomorrow and will feel normal in no time.

I think the most exciting thing I did during this 14-day hiatus is book a Thanksgiving vacation. I'll be spending 4 days in Rome and 1 day in Paris on my first solo trip out of the country. I remember meeting a woman last year who had just spent a weekend in Paris alone and she said all women need to do that at some point in their lives. I went to California alone this past spring and loved it, so this should be even more exciting. One thing is for sure: I'll be taking my running shoes with me to explore the city on foot. There is nothing better way to experience a new place and work off some of the pasta and gelato at the same time.

October 29, 2010

Is Runner's World Taunting Me?

I recently unsubscribed from Runner's World in a most dramatic fashion. I somehow had been deemed a "VIP," which meant they automatically renewed and billed my subscription without asking me if I wanted it. Said renewal went unnoticed and I got a note from a collection agency... for a $10 magazine!!! Other mags do this, namely Outside, and I find it brazen and obnoxious. I had been feeling like Runner's World was lacking in compelling content and wasn't planning to renew... then I got the notice. So I called and chewed out the customer service agent, letting them know what I thought of their VIP program.

I felt liberated. If you read the magazine long enough it feels like the same topics and advice keep coming around. How much can you say about a single sport after all? Then I noticed a couple stories on the cover of the November issue that intrigued me so I grabbed a copy at the airport. The story that caught my eye the most was "The Last Great Race," a piece about Bart Yasso's final race before retiring from the sport due to chronic Lyme disease. He could barely walk, but managed to conquer the 56 brutal miles of the Comrades Marathon. I also enjoyed the article about minimalist footwear, "Is Less More?" While you aren't likely to ever see me sporting a pair of Five Fingers, I am very intrigued by the notion of going back to basics. After tearing my plantar fascia and essentially starting over, I moved from overdone stability - Asics Kayano, to significantly less shoe - Brooks Ghost, and have been happy with the results. After this latest round of recovery I plan to do one short run each week in a super-light training shoe like the Nike Free. Baby steps.

I'm not racing out to renew my subscription just yet, but thought much of the November issue was worth reading. If you have a little time on your hands like I do, I recommend you have a look.

October 27, 2010

Races of a Lifetime

My blogger buddy Jon recently posted about race bucket lists. We all have them. The races we've dreamed about doing before we leave this earth and for many of us they are the obvious ones - Kona, Boston, Alcatraz. But for others they are surprising and different. I've been amassing a list for several years and posted it as a comment to his original post. I thought I'd share it here:

Ironman Western Australia
Ironman New Zealand
Ironman South Africa
Vineman 70.3
Maraton du Medoc
Comrades (uphill year)
The Relay
Triple T
Boston Marathon
Kona, of course :)

The nature of a bucket list is that you tend to let it sit until that proverbial bucket is ready to be kicked. I've decided I want to start kicking it now, life is short after all right? My first Ironman in 2011 isn't until September. I also have a unique year approaching in 2012 that will make my usual Ironman plans somewhat difficult. So now might be the time.

I'm putting together a team for the 2011 Relay in Northern California. I don't care if I have to fill it with strangers, I will be heading out in a van on April 30 from Calistoga ready for California's longest party. And when 2012 rolls around I plan to be training for the "Up Year" of the Comrades Marathon. This might be the ultimate dream race for me, registering way higher than Kona or Boston. If I can finish this, I truly believe I can do anything.

Then in the fall I'd like to tie things up with a bow by running the 2012 Maraton du Medoc. If I survive the 20 wine tasting stops, oysters and dancing, I might do another fall marathon and declare 2012 as the year of really living. I have no doubt it would be incredibly memorable.

As for the rest of the list? I hope I have time. It's all any of us can really hope for. After all, everything we do in this sport is a gift.

October 26, 2010

An Unfortunate Encounter With Cipro

I was a bit under the weather and needed an antibiotic. My doc prescribed a quick, 3-day dose of Cipro and said I'd be good to go. I HATE antibiotics so I was pleased to hear I'd only have to take 3 pills and put it into the past. I started the course on Friday and took my final pill at brunch on Sunday, still dressed in my Army 10-Miler race clothes.

While perusing the side effects on Friday I noticed a warning of possible tendon rupture. Huh? How does an antibiotic make your tendons rupture? I figured it was one of those bizarre and super rare side effects you can ignore so we proceeded to joke about it all weekend, especially at the race. During the Army 10 I felt an odd pain in my foot and even chuckled to myself, "gee I hope my tendons aren't rupturing." But as it turns out, it's not as rare as you may think so when a doc friend advised me to be careful I reached out to my podiatrist and he agreed. He told me no running for 10 days. What!?! I just started running again!

So here I am, taking yet another running hiatus. I've had enough injuries to last me a lifetime so I don't need another. I had an incredible ride today. It was my first time outdoors in over 2 weeks and I immediately ran into one of the peloton riders so we did a loop and a half together before being overtaken by the full peloton. He encouraged me to jump in so I did, but I was feeling like I did back in the early summer when I could barely keep up. I hung on for a loop and then let them drop me, there was no way I could keep up after doing zero for a week and not being on the bike for so long. But the ride was great, I averaged nearly 19mph over 20 miles so I'm still better off than I was at the start of this season. If my tendons don't explode I should be back in business shortly. And there's always the pool...

October 24, 2010

Where in the World is Kristin?

Well friends, this may have been the longest hiatus I've taken from posting, even longer than the time I deliberately took a hiatus. I've had two of the busiest weeks imaginable, both on the work and personal fronts, so sharing updates took a backseat. Unfortunately training also joined it in the backseat this past week. Here's what I've been up to:

Week of October 11

Work, work and more work. After that magical weekend I headed into a not-so-magical week. I had a huge event Wednesday that required a huge rehearsal Tuesday and a late night Monday. I fought back by squeezing in as many workouts as possible, making me feel like I retained some level of control. I had a good run Monday morning, a little over 4 miles at an 8:47 average. I've been struggling to get my old run pace back and have been stuck at the 9-minute pace for awhile so I was happy. Tuesday was an early start and late finish so I did a quick 30 minutes on the trainer with hard intervals. Something is better than nothing right?

After surviving the event and two 14-hour days, I caught up a bit on Friday with an hour on the bike and more intervals before hitting the road for State College, PA for the Tussey Mountainback Relay. I'll do a full post on that this week, but until then, here I am with my fellow runners on "Team Dude, Where's My Van?"

Week of October 18

Nothing to see here folks. I'm not sure what happened, but nothing happened on the training front. I was very sore from the relay (surprisingly I must say) so Monday was a bust. But after the soreness wore off, I never really got back into the swing of things so I blew off the entire week and focused on social plans instead, including a 6-course pig dinner and a night at my favorite restaurant in NYC, Marea. I don't regret it, but my waistline regrets it a little.

I flew to Washington DC Thursday for a long weekend with my sister and the Army 10 Miler, one of my favorite running races. After the week of doing nothing, I was a little nervous about how I'd feel. I also had to go on antibiotics Friday and spent Saturday at a wine tasting. Add to that the fact that I have only run a handful of times since IMWI and it was a recipe for disaster. But thankfully it ended up being a beautiful day to race and I felt fantastic. I finished in 1:26:05 (unofficial), only 3 minutes slower than my first time here in 2008 and just over an 8:30 average. I'll take it.

I'll also do a post on the race this week as I go into catch-up mode. I have yet to do my Ironman Wisconsin race report so that is also slated to come shortly. Here's hoping I can stay on the wagon.

October 10, 2010

The Perfect Weekend

How often can you say you had the perfect weekend? I've had some good ones, and even a few perfect ones, but it's been awhile. Even though I was heading into this one somewhat unplanned, things fell into place and I'd say it was pretty close to perfect.

The weather was gorgeous so I biked and ran Friday, totally pain free. A friend was free and eager to join me at a new restaurant that just opened this week. A different friend was only blocks away so I met her for a drink first.

An incredible Saturday ride ended up coming together with my friend Dan. We spend five hours riding and talking, enjoying a beautiful fall day. I barely noticed the time we spent pedaling.

Today I rode again, this time solo but still really great. I was forced off my planned route due to a parade and was thoroughly proud that I used my GPS to find a new route and not end up lost in New Jersey. And then tonight while cleaning and prepping for the week, a friend stopped by to pick something up and we ended up drinking wine and chatting for a couple hours. It was far more fun than going out and totally unexpected.

I think the beauty of the offseason really hit me this weekend. We work so hard for so many months and deserve to take a break. For me the break is not a break from the sport so to say, but a break from the obligation. I want to ride my bike whether I'm training for an Ironman or not. I rode 132 miles this weekend simply because I wanted to. Yesterday we tackled 70 miles and every hill we could find... but just for fun. Today I took it easy, avoided the hills and just enjoyed the feel of riding. Because I could. Because I didn't have anything else I needed to do. What an incredible feeling.

October 8, 2010

Detox Wrap Up

Now that the end of a long week has arrived, I wanted to share the results of my detox. This wasn't an extreme approach, no special drinks or juices, no fasting, no supplements. I simply wiped my diet of sugar, refined grains, processed foods and essentially any unhealthy excess. I followed a plan consisting of three small meals with three snacks in between, all made up of vegetables (spinach, arugula, asparagus, tomatoes, edamame, red peppers, cucumber, sweet potatoes), protein (chicken breast, salmon, egg whites), fruits (apples, oranges, berries, limited bananas) and a small amount of grains (brown rice, sprouted grain bread). Each meal was between 200-400 calories and the snacks were about 150-200. Because everything was healthy, my daily calorie intake was much lower than normal, but I felt relatively satisfied.

The first two days of a change in diet like this are hard. I had a headache (mostly because I shunned coffee for two days... I don't recommend it), a hollow feeling in my stomach and was tired. But by the third day I felt incredible. I was sleeping like a rock, had a high level of energy and nailed a hard bike interval workout after a relatively low consumption day. I wasn't missing sugar at all and wasn't feeling deprived.

Weight loss was not my goal in this, but I did lose a couple pounds. I dropped nearly two almost immediately, likely from spending the better part of Monday in the loo shedding the pound or more of fluid from my previously inflammatory diet, plus I was drinking a tremendous amount of water. I then gained a pound back, and even more oddly felt a little bloated on Wednesday. But as of today, the total weight loss for the week is 1.6 pounds.

The more interesting outcome is the change in my tastes and desires. I love almond butter, but used to find it a little bland without a drizzle of honey on it. But after two days of detox, almond butter tasted pleasantly sweet, like I could truly enjoy the flavor since I wasn't eating artificially sweet things. And the biggest eye opener was yesterday. My detox ended when I went to bed Wednesday night and yesterday I ordered cupcakes for my team at work. I had a cupcake myself - a big, 700 calorie sugar bomb - and it made me feel ill. I was unable to eat for nearly four hours after, developed a headache and was nauseated the rest of the day. A week ago, that cupcake would have seemed like heaven.

I'm aiming to follow the approach about 80% of the time. I did this most of last summer and lost a great deal of body fat and felt better than ever. But while I'm an athlete, I'm also a foodie and I'm not going to restrict anything in my life 100%. Instead I'll make choices, and hopefully it all balances out in the end. Today I'm eating super cleanly in anticipation of a spectacular dinner. A friend and I are checking out Osteria Morini, a new restaurant in Soho that just opened on Monday. It should be just the right anti-detox for a perfect Friday night.

October 6, 2010

Oh, The Irony

Junk Food: The New Weight Loss Diet? - US News and World Report

As I close on Day 3 of my detox I find this article incredibly ironic. I haven't had any sugar, refined grain or processed food since Monday and even gave up coffee for a couple days. All with a goal of changing my eating habits for the better. The professor featured in this article did exactly the opposite: he went on a junk food diet to prove weight loss is simply calories in, calories out. And it worked! He lost 15 pounds eating Twinkies and other sugary snacks.

While he's not advocating we exist on Hostess products, he is making a valuable point. There is no magic to weight loss. It takes discipline, whether it's the choices we make about the foods we eat or being more aware of the amount we eat. I, for one, think it would be ideal to accomplish both.

October 5, 2010

Training For... Nothing

As the blog name implies, I am in fact lazy. I may have done three Ironmans in 12 months while juggling one of the busiest year's of my life, but deep down I have a strong desire to sleep late, eat muffins and spend my free time on the couch. This side of me took over during the last offseason and I spent the entire spring and early summer cursing my indulgent lifestyle and lack of fitness. After a somewhat miraculous comeback and huge PR in Wisconsin I was fueled with motivation and had a million offseason goals swirling through my head - improved running form, increased bike speed, Michael Phelps-like swimming, more strength training than you could dream of. I muddled through my recovery weeks hitting about 50% of the workouts and not feeling an ounce of guilt over the other 50%. That's what recovery is for. But as of Monday, the beginning of a new month, I vowed to step it up and make this offseason a valuable one.

So how has it gone? Honestly, it's been a bit of a struggle. I'm a person who is incredibly motivated by a big goal, or fear of that big goal. With my next important race almost a year away, the little voice in my head tells me to hit snooze when the alarm goes off and tells me it's ok to skip my workout after a long day.

I'm proud to say I've ignored the little voice and dragged my sleepy self out of bed in the dark, cold and rain yesterday morning to ran. Sure it was only for 25 minutes (hey, I'm still recovering) but it made me feel rather accomplished. And tonight when the voice told me to lay on the couch and watch Law & Order I instead put the bike on the trainer and banged out intervals. If I can just get into a groove, I think I will make it through this offseason in far better shape.

Does anyone else struggle with motivation this time of year?

Day two of the self-imposed detox is complete. I'll share the results once I survive the full three days.

October 3, 2010

Fall Fun Detour

I recently posted my Fall Fun schedule, a series of activities to keep me occupied during this lengthy recovery phase. The first activity happened as scheduled and actually ended up being much bigger than anticipated. But the second activity fell off the plan due to a lack of friend wanting to wallow in the mud and a sudden dip in temperatures that made wallowing in the mud sound about as fun as a root canal. Instead I rode with a new friend and it was the first ride in a very long time that was done purely for the joy of biking. It didn't matter how far we went, how long it took, what my HR was, how many carbs I consumed (cinnamon chip muffin anyone?). We just rode, and we even started at 9am instead of the 7am I'm so used to.

I had a little detour at the beginning after riding over a nail and flatting instantly. In all my years cycling this has never happened to me. I felt a little bump as I rode over it and about three seconds later I felt the disturbing feeling of my rim scraping the ground. I was on the George Washington Bridge, thankfully almost all the way across and about a half mile from a bike shop. Have you walked a half mile in cleats pushing a bike with a totally flat tire? It wasn't fun, but could have been significantly worse. We lost about an hour total and were back on the road, enjoying 50 miles on a beautiful fall day.

I'm still not fully recovered but feel I've come a long way. If the rain holds off this week I'll be attempting a Prospect Peloton ride to see where my fitness stands. If the weather lets me down I'll reluctantly get on the trainer and do the intervals. At least there won't be any nails.

I prepped my Monday detox food tonight so I can kick things off in the morning. I'm pretty excited and already feel a little better knowing I'm doing this. I got a little half-bottle of wine to toast my last toxic night and serve as a cook's helper for all the prepping. I'm aiming for Monday - Wednesday for sure, and if I feel good I'll go through Thursday. After that I'll stick to the general rules but will allow myself a little more slack, including another glass of wine. It gives me something to look forward to.

October 2, 2010

Goodbye, Recovery

Tomorrow will be exactly three weeks from Ironman Wisconsin and I couldn't feel more out of shape than I do right now. At first recovery is delightful. I enjoyed sleeping in, having a Sunday that included brunch as my big activity and having my "long" workout be 1.5 hours. But inactivity breeds inactivity and I'm starting to feel the need to get going again.

In addition to being minimally active, I've been eating and drinking everything I shouldn't. It started with my usual race-week and post-race indulgences, but it's a slippery slope and I've now turned into a sugar-craving beast and feel awful after every sweet morsel. Exhibit A to the left, an ice cream made with beer that we had as our second dessert last night. After a couple low points last week involving an entire bag of M&Ms and two Nutella pizzas I decided it was time to clean the diet back up. After all, I have that offseason goal to lose 13 pounds, which is now 14 thanks to my recent lifestyle.

I thought about doing something extreme like a juice cleanse to break the bad eating cycle, but was concerned I'd be too low energy to continue workouts. So instead I'm going back to my no sugar, no refined grains, no processed food diet and will kick it off with 3-4 days of lower calorie, extremely clean eating. Absolutely no exceptions. I'm even going to skip the coffee in an attempt to detox the system a little.

I did my first post-race run last night and it went well. It was only 20 minutes but was pain-free and my legs aren't feeling fatigued anymore. I had a good ride Wednesday and a solid interval ride in the park today as well so I think I'm ready start again. I'm hoping to re-join the Prospect Peloton next week and see if I can keep up.

September 29, 2010

Night Rider

With the days getting shorter and weather less favorable, it's getting harder and harder to ride in daylight on weekdays. If I go early in the morning it's as dark as night and by the time I get off work it's well past dusk. But tonight I flew back from a business trip and landed at 5pm so I was home, changed and clipped in by 6:27pm. Even at this early hour I was racing the daylight, but it was nice to get started with some lingering light in the sky.

It felt so great to ride after sitting in meetings and on airplanes, undoing some of the damage done by room service and lack of activity. I rode solo for about 40 minutes and then ran into a friend and rode another 45 minutes with him. By then it was incredibly dark and I could hear crickets chirping, but the park was filled with runners, walkers and cyclists. It's like we're all fighting to hang onto the last shreds of good weather and defy the end of summer. At least that's what I'm doing.

I was in trainerville on Monday due to monsoon-like rain. It was depressing to be forced to ride inside, but since I had an interval workout on the schedule it was actually tolerable. I haven't done trainer intervals in awhile and forgot just how hard they can be. After an extended warm-up I did 3x3' at 160bpm and 80-90rpm with 1' easy pedaling in between. I felt like it was an hour well spent and it made me hopeful that I'll find new and different enjoyment when the weather finally forces me inside for good.

September 25, 2010

Fall Fun Event No. 1

Today kicked off that little schedule of fun fall activities I shared the other day. When you're training for an Ironman, you rarely get to do anything on the weekends just for fun. Even a half Ironman steals away a good training day. So I'm filling my early offseason with the fun events I usually hear about others doing and wish I could do myself.

Today's event technically could have qualified for "training" if I had shunned the muffins, cookies, PB&Js and other goodies served up along the route. I rode the Escape New York metric century with my friend Jonah, but since we live in Brooklyn we rode 87 miles. On dead Ironman legs. In 87-degree heat. But since it was purely for the joy of being on the bike, it was perfect! It wasn't my finest long ride, but given how recent my race was it also wasn't so bad.

The ride started and ended by Grant's Tomb and included a ride over the George Washington Bridge (my usual weekend route), North through New Jersey and back into New York state. We followed another route through New Jersey home. Some were roads I've been on and many were new so I got to explore a little.

So how did it feel to ride 87 miles on not-so-recovered legs? I felt great at the beginning. We had a 16.7 average with a fair amount of climbing and my energy was good. But about 45 miles in I got tired. Then the leg pain started. And the lower back pain. Even my triceps hurt! I was mostly just uncomfortable in the saddle since aside from the race, I've barely put more than 2 hours in during a single ride in the last 3 weeks. But riding just for the joy of riding is something I haven't done for awhile. It didn't matter how many miles we managed to get in, what HR zone we were in, what nutrition we took in (see above) or how long it took. It was a gorgeous, hot, sunny, late September day and I spent 6 hours of it pedaling just for fun. What could be better than that?

September 22, 2010

September 21, 2010

Fall Fun

I have a hard time embracing the offseason at first, but then usually dive in so wholeheartedly I end up terribly out of shape. I'm attempting to change that this year by actually gaining something (besides a few extra pounds) during my offseason. You can't keep your Ironman fitness all year, it simply isn't possible. And you don't need it. But you can stay in great shape, and if you approach it correctly, get into even better shape. I shared my offseason goals fitness goals yesterday, so here's a look at a few fun things I've lined up to keep the mind and body from falling apart:
  • September 25 - Escape New York Metric Century. Sure it's a route I ride all the time by myself for free, but a friend is doing it so we figured it would be fun to catch up and eat all the free pastries we can stuff into ourselves. The only catch is that I'll have to pile on roughly 20 miles to and from so I may be exceeding 80 miles. Holy lactic acid...
  • October 3 - Merrell Down and Dirty Mud Run. This will only happen IF I can convince at least one other living, breathing human being to join me. I thought everyone would be dying to do it. Turns out not everyone is interested in crawling around in mud. Who knew.
  • October 16 - Tussey Mountainback 50-Mile Relay. We have a team of 7 so far and it should be a great time. I'll be running two legs, likely around 10 miles total. Piece of cake. The full day hanging out in the van with fun people is the part I'm really looking forward to.
  • October 24 - Army 10-Miler. I'll be running this with my sister and her husband at whatever pace they choose. It's a little early for me to be doing a race this long with my running hiatus, but it's annual and it's fun. Plus there's a wine tasting the day before and my sister's birthday and wedding anniversary.
  • November 7 - Prospect Park Duathlon. I've never done a du so I figured, why not?
It's a busy little schedule, but filled with the fun events you have to shun for Ironman training so I'm really looking forward to it. It should shake the post-Ironman depression/boredom and remind me of the joy of the sports. The weather couldn't be more amazing either. I just wish I could lace up my shoes and head out for a run, even if just a short one. But I'll be patient.

September 20, 2010

Seven Days Later

Seven days have passed since finishing my third Ironman. It's been a very long week, both literally and figuratively. The days creep by and are seemingly forever, most likely due to the lack of rushing around to fit in the training, errands, laundry and food shopping. But also due to the change in mental focus, I'm definitely bored already and have spent countless hours looking at 2011 races, cycling clubs, running programs, fun runs, winter gear and even cyclocross (like I really need another bike, another sport...). This is what happens when the Ironman rug is pulled out from beneath you. In another week or so I will embrace the offseason. I will love it. You can't go full throttle all year after all.

I thought I'd share a few of the realizations of this past week:
  • Setting a 41-minute PR hurts. A lot. I was in significantly more pain Monday-Wednesday than I was after the previous two Ironmans.

  • Doing two Ironmans in seven weeks also hurts. A lot. I think the general high volume load contributed to the above-mentioned pain.

  • Joint pain is so much more unpleasant than muscle pain. No amount of foam rolling and stretching helps. Thank god for Voltaren.

  • Ironically my feet are the only body parts that were ok after the race. Even my shoulders were killing me (really, really need to start going to the pool).

  • Sleep is magical. The 8-12 hours a night I've been getting have made me feel like a different person.

  • Succeeding in pushing yourself beyond a limit you thought impossible is incredible. I've always been a bit of a quitter, but not anymore. I'll never say I can't do something again.

  • Having family and friends support you is the biggest boost in the world. Some stood out there all day long and others tracked online. Ironman is a selfish endeavor so to have people actually share it with you is really wonderful.

  • You can eat and drink anything you want for one week after the race. After that you have to significantly cut back.

  • Race photos are humbling. Let's just say the "lose 13 pounds in the offseason" plan started immediately after ASI posted. And why do the photographers insist on sitting on the ground and shooting at the most unflattering angle??? Oh the humanity.

I had the chance to meet fellow blogger Ironman By Thirty (Kevin) the morning of the race. We chatted for a bit and he zipped up my wetsuit, then tracked me throughout the day. He posted about it on the blog and captured this great video at the finish (I'm about 20 seconds in). Thanks so much Kevin!

So what are my offseason goals? Aside from the 13 pounds mentioned above, I'm taking an advanced swim class to work on my form. It's time. I'm going to focus a ton on cycling, mostly intervals and speed for now, endurance later in the winter or early spring. After a hiatus, I'll ease back into running and if I can slowly build the volume with no incident, I'll get back into speed work by spring. I'm proud of the run times I achieved at IMLP and IMWI, but I'm nowhere near the runner I used to be and I want to get that back.

Besides that I want to have fun, relax with friends, sleep until the sun comes up, not look at a training schedule for awhile and read some books. On that front, this is a funny video for anyone who's done an Ironman or is thinking about it.

September 14, 2010

Post-Ironman Fog

I keep sitting down at the computer intending to post about the race, but can't seem to find the words. My mind has been in overdrive since Sunday processing the memories, the experience, the entire year. This race was quite the journey, starting back in early 2008 when I watched Kona and thought, "I'd like to do that." I had to learn to swim, get over my fear of the bike and challenge everything I thought was impossible. It continued with an incredible year of training and an incredible injury with a very bittersweet finish to my first Ironman. It culminated with a two-Ironman summer and two unbelievable PRs. I couldn't be more happy.

My friend Chris pointed out something really amazing today. I passed approximately 600 people on the bike, and then around 600 more on the run. They say you get the race you trained for and I believe I did. I did not put the time and effort into the swim and I paid dearly. I trained very hard for the bike and had an incredible ride. And I fought the good fight to be able to run at all this year and pushed my body to the safest limits I could, but in the end it took more heart than fitness to run the marathon I did. I was so proud of what I accomplished on the run.

I've been sleeping a lot, wearing compression 24/7 and enjoying down time with my family. We had a beautiful celebratory dinner last night at my favorite Madison restaurant, took a long walk by the lake today and did a nice little recovery swim. My sister and her husband headed back to DC so I had a final dinner with my mom and dad tonight. I'm feeling a little sad that it's over, it meant so much to share this experience with my entire family so I'm already looking forward to 2011. Once I clear my head and collect my thoughts I'll get my race report posted and share some of the hundreds and hundreds of pictures from the week. It's pretty nice having a professional photographer in your support crew!

September 12, 2010

Third Time's The Charm

What a day. Since I'm too exhausted to write, I'll leave it with this: I set a 41-minute PR today at my second Ironman in 7 weeks. It didn't come easy. The day was hard every step of the way and at times I didn't think I had it in me. But I had great support and a deep personal drive to make it happen. When I started being coached 21 months ago, I wrote goals for this sport, and my pie in the sky goal was to do my first Ironman in under 13 hours. It wasn't my first and the road here felt long at times, but I did it. Third time Ironman in 12:48:28.

September 11, 2010

Go Time

The bike is checked, the bags are packed, the carbs are loaded and the compression tights are on. Today was a good pre-race day:

Signing up for Ironman Wisconsin 2011

A nice brunch with the family

Dropping off the bike and gear

Early bird special dinner

I feel calm and at peace with the choices I made this season. I'll be competing in my third Ironman in 12 months tomorrow, which is more than I ever dreamed possible. I'm looking forward to the challenges, the triumphs, the smiles, the tears and the joy. It should be a great experience.

September 10, 2010

Things You Shouldn't Do At An Ironman

There are great benefits of not being nervous and worked up over a race, but there are also some drawbacks. I went straight from the airport to registration yesterday in an effort to save time and avoid the stress of Friday check-in. I did it all in record time. I even pre-paid for my race photos to shave more precious minutes from my obligations on Monday. I was feeling rather clever, rather proud of myself. That is until right before dinner I realized I didn't have my race packet. Yep, I'd lost it. I must have put it down while pre-paying for the photos or perhaps while buying yet another cow-spotted jersey. Who knows. But it begs the question - who loses an Ironman race packet??? It didn't even phase me. I went to dinner and figured I'd deal with it in the morning. I found it immediately this morning on the Solutions table with this note on it.

After a short swim and lunch with a friend, I spent the day relaxing. I felt a little under the weather and hope it's just from having a busy week and my body letting go of the stress. I took my parents to the Athlete's Dinner tonight, and while it's the same old same old as every other race, I really enjoyed it and was glad to have the chance to share it with them. My sister and her husband - who also happens to be a professional photographer, which is lucky for me!! - arrive tonight and then Team Lazy Marathoner will be complete!


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