January 31, 2010

Race Day Decisions

A couple months ago I decided to skip Eagleman Ironman 70.3. This was a hard decision since the race is my birthday weekend and because I only have four races on the calendar this season. But it felt like the right thing to do for my training. I still had New Orleans 70.3 and my two Ironmans. But this weekend I came to the conclusion that New Orleans just isn't meant to be. I did this race last year and loved every bit of the experience so I was looking forward to doing it again. However, the logistics took a complicated turn when Tribike Transport was dropped by the race director. I had an unpleasant bike shipping experience last year that I have no intention of repeating so I had some thinking to do. I figured all possible travel scenarios and all were incredibly expensive and an incredible pain in the ass so I had to ask myself how badly I wanted to do this race.

During all of this I realized something - the races just don't mean as much to me this year. I've always loved the training, but last year I was really longing for more races to break up the monotony. This year, because I chose very aggressive goals, I kept the calendar light and while it has gotten even lighter, I'm still ok with that. All I really want is to feel fully recovered, healthy and strong. I want to be able to do the training and make it to the start line injury free, regardless of which races I choose to do.

I'll decide this week for sure, but I think New Orleans will be out so I'll consider bringing Eagleman back in. In the meantime, I made some non-race decisions. I booked a long weekend in Lake Placid for Memorial Day and decided to take a short, solo vacation in March when things settle down after the Olympics project I'm working on. I'll be in Vancouver for 15 days and that's bound to take a toll on me. I'm looking into hiking in Death Valley to clear my mind and renew the soul a bit.

After a short run, I had drinks tonight with some fellow Lake Placid racers from my tri club. It felt good to talk about the race, training and the upcoming season and for the first time since I started training this winter, I felt really excited. 2010 should be a really good year.

January 30, 2010

In Sickness and in Health

The only thing worse than trying to balance a busy life with a busy training schedule is trying to do it while sick. I had another marathon work day Tuesday and started to feel under the weather. I managed to swim but only had time for half the planned workout. I figured I'd make up for it on Wednesday. But then Wednesday I felt like a truck ran me over. I gutted out a 20-minute bike to warm up followed by a 40-minute run and then it all went downhill. I've been struggling to just get by since.

After two days off training, tons of sleep and copious amounts of Nyquil I'm starting to feel semi-human again. I did some super easy trainer riding just to get moving again. I felt weak and tired but it was something. I'm hoping I'll be good as new after a couple more days of rest.

January 26, 2010

All Geared Up

As shared in recent posts, I've added some new things to my activity roster to keep winter, and my continuing recovery, fun and interesting. I purchased a pair of snow shoes, which of course means the temperature jumped into the 60s and all evidence of snow has vanished. But before the snow made a hasty departure, I quickly stopped by my new favorite outdoor clothing retailer Ibex to browse for some essentials to accompany the shoes.

The most urgent item on my list was a good pair of softshell pants for both snowy and chilly hiking. I had grabbed a heavy, fleece-lined pair at the local EMS but also wanted something lighter for layering in varying weather conditions. I ordered the Ibex Tuck Pant, a sports bra and underwear, and a great bike jersey (ok, the bike jersey has nothing to do with hiking but I simply had to have it). Being that Ibex is all top-0f-the-line merino, you can imagine the top-0f-the-line price tag that accompanied my order. You can also then imagine my surprise when I received a special invitation just days later to shop at 40% off prior to the big winter sale.

At first I got a little worked up over the money I could have saved, then composed a polite email requesting a credit. I've dealt with Ibex a lot and they are always incredibly helpful so I decided to follow it up with a quick call. The woman asked if I was Kristin and said I was next on her list to take care of. She was getting ready to provide me with the credit and even applied it to another recent order I hadn't even asked about. It's rare to find a company that treats customers so well and so personally. On top of it, the gear I've gotten thus far is the best I've ever bought. I'm hooked.

My schedule continues to be mass chaos but I'm fitting my training in bit by bit. I managed a very brief amount of pool time today figuring something was better than nothing, and when work dies down for the evening, I'll get on the bike and watch some episodes of Lost. The mental benefit should be even greater than the physical benefit after a stressful day.

January 25, 2010

Born to Run

This isn't another review of the ever-popular book all athletes seem to be reading. Instead this is about a realization I had while running the other day. First of all, it still feels incredible to say "while I was running" after my long and difficult hiatus from the sport. But beyond that, my slow and gradual return has been far more positive than ever anticipated. My injury was a huge blow in an otherwise charmed year and it made me question every step I had taken along the way. I feared my return to running would be plagued by worry and doubt, constantly questioning aches and pains and dreading a repeat injury. Sure I had some doubtful moments in the beginning, but I realized the most prominent feeling I have while running is joy.

I was never an athlete, but 11 years ago something compelled me to give it a try. And almost immediately something compelled me to complete a marathon. During that 11 years I embarked on a personal and athletic journey that ultimately made me an Ironman. It's all so much more than I ever dreamed possible and running made it happen.

Over the past couple years, my running has improved tremendously. I'm no Paula Radcliff but I achieved my first sub four-hour marathon and felt I was only a year or two from a BQ when my injury struck. I feel most natural running compared to the other two sports and feel most at ease laced into my sneakers. I have no doubt I'll fight my way back. It may be another year or two but I'll get that BQ and realize another dream.

Most importantly, I have nothing to fear and look forward to the road ahead.

January 24, 2010


This past week has been a blur. It started rather sanely and quickly morphed into something unrecognizable. The short holiday week, while incredibly lovely, came back to bite me as the week went on. We had pushed my Monday rest to mid-week to take advantage of the day off so I ended up taking it on Tuesday due to an 8am start at work. But then Wednesday blew up and was rest as well leaving me feeling defeated and tired by Thursday. So I did what I could and salvaged what was left of the week with an early morning run and lofty plans to bike that evening. That ended up not happening. My work day ended Thursday at 2am after 16 straight hours.

Remarkably I ended up logging nearly 10 hours of training despite all the scheduling debacles. I started things out on the right foot with Sunday's long hike and some quality bike and swim time on Monday. After Thursday's run, I followed it with a bike and run Friday and a short bike and hike on Saturday. My running is progressing beautifully so I'd like to dedicate a separate post to an update on that this week. It feels incredible.

The hike yesterday was great. It wasn't anywhere near the intensity of last week, but was a nice stroll in the woods on a beautiful day with friends. After the stress and exhaustion of the week it was exactly what I needed. We followed it up with wine by the fire and a really great meal. My days of being able to relax like that on a Saturday are numbered so I'm thankful to be able to enjoy them. After New Orleans I'll be kicking things into really high gear until July. I'm looking forward to it.

January 18, 2010

The Great Outdoors

Over the past few days I've spent a great deal of time outside enjoying two extremes of winter weather. It started on Friday when the temperature soared into the upper 40s, allowing me to do my first outdoor ride since November. I didn't do anything overly special, just went to Prospect Park for several loops to enjoy feeling the wind and sun on my face. Normally I'm bored to tears in the park, but on Friday my mind was totally at ease and the time flew by.

The weather was even more beautiful on Saturday but I had my Computrainer class and felt I should go. I work harder in that class than I ever will on my own so it was worth the sacrifice. After the class I made up for it with another short outdoor ride. It's a gift to be outside on a bike the second week of January. I squeezed in a final ride today before the temperature drops and rain comes.

But yesterday was all about enjoying more traditional winter conditions with a hike in Minnewaska Park near New Paltz. I've never hiked in the snow so it was a fun, new experience. We recently bought snowshoes but unfortunately the warm weather made the conditions less than ideal so they will have to wait for another time. We hiked four hours total, mostly on trails around Lake Awosting. The elevation was minimal so it was a good introduction to snow hiking and easy on my feet. It's very similar to walking in sand so it's more challenging than a regular hike, but they held up well and despite some moments of being chilly, I loved every moment of it. The snow started to fall toward the end and it looked magical. We get so caught up in complaining about winter weather that we so often miss the positives. Winter can certainly get old, especially when you're on your hundredth trainer ride, but finding a new way to enjoy it has me actually looking forward to snow. I need to use those new snowshoes after all.

January 13, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

Sometimes I feel like a broken record. Over the past year I've found myself 0n more than one occasion expressing the woes of being busy and missing training. Sometimes I think it's justified. There are days I have personal or work obligations that take all the time I have, or some days I don't feel well. I'm human. But other times I wonder if I use the conflicts as an excuse. Do I take what might be minor challenges and make them into something bigger? Maybe, or maybe not. Maybe I obsess over it too much as many triathletes seem to. This is definitely my hobby, something that brings me joy and gives me purpose, so I should just enjoy it for what it is, right? Instead I feel monumentally guilty for not squeezing it into my already packed schedule. That's both a blessing and a curse.

After keeping things afloat during a challenging week last week, the wheels came off this week. I had an early morning meeting yesterday that made a swim rather unappealing so I planned to do it after work. But when I walked out the door 12 hours later I was exhausted and a swim was the last thing on my mind. Then this morning I felt like a truck had run me over in the night so another workout was missed. I regrouped with a bike session tonight but it certainly wasn't my finest. It was better than nothing.

My work has been beyond busy. I can't get into details, but I'm preparing for a little sporting event in Canada next month and it's by far the most consuming thing I've ever worked on. The reward should be pretty tremendous though so for the next several weeks it has to be my focus. Life can't be all about triathlon after all... at least not all the time.

January 9, 2010

A Few Obsessions

With Week 2 almost in the books, I've spent a bit of time appreciating some of the things that make this sport more enjoyable. Some of my obsessions are new while others are tried and true. Here are some recent favorites:

Chocolate Peppermint Stick Luna Bar

Yum. Yum. Yum. I limit my bar consumption in general, but sometimes they are a pre-workout snack in a pinch and I've always preferred Luna. The Caramel Brownie was heaven over the summer, made even tastier when warmed up in my jersey pocket. Then I discovered the Cookies and Cream and thought it couldn't be beat. But Luna proved me wrong with the Peppermint Stick. It's like crushed up Girl Scout Thin Mints conveniently shaped into a bar. I am fully stocked up on these at all times now. Run, don't walk, to the nearest store and try one.


All triathletes love gear and technical clothing, including me. Now I love it even more since discovering Ibex. Nearly everything is made from really fine merino wool and comfortable doesn't begin to describe it. I started with a sweater "borrowed" from my boyfriend and now am in love with my new hat and gloves. I've also recently gotten a sweater of my own. Next up, soft shell snow pants for winter hiking. Can't wait.


Ok, while I don't have one of my own, I took my first of four classes today and loved it. I've been dreaming of a Computrainer for quite some time but haven't convinced myself it's worth the price. I may be a little more convinced now, but will continue to torture myself for another year before taking the plunge. I tend to get a little lazy on the trainer but that was not the case today. I rode harder than I have since last summer and also covered more distance and time than I have since November. It felt great to get in a good indoor workout without the boredom I usually face. I wish I could do it more than once a week, but for now, that will have to do.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The week went well given how exhausting it was both personally and at work. I found ways to fit training into a busy schedule and it finally feels natural again. Rather than viewing it as optional I'm starting to feel obligated, which is a good thing. I missed a swim and the one I did was atrocious so clearly I need to be more committed to the pool. But all in all it was another good week.

Workout Summary:

Swim - 1,600.00 Yd, 31m 19s
Bike - 70.67 Mi, 4h 25m 55s
Run - 5.39 Mi, 50m 39s

January 6, 2010

24 Hours

It's amazing how fast things can change. One minute I was celebrating a success at work with co-workers and the next I was dashing out the door to a hospital to be with a friend who's husband was seriously ill. An infection had spread and caused significant damage to his heart requiring major surgery to repair it. I won't get into the details, as I rarely do on personal matters, but suffice it to say that some moments in life put things into sharp perspective. I spent a great deal of time in 2009 re-connecting with friends and starting new friendships. I felt I had grossly neglected this aspect of my life and wanted to change it. This friend has always been incredibly important to me, but I let geography and life throw numerous roadblocks in our path and I regret that. I was reminded over the past 24 hours just how precious life, and the people you love, are. I spent the better part of this time at the hospital doing whatever I could and there is nowhere else I would have wanted to be. The day ended positively but there is a long way to go.

This sheds light on something weighing heavily on my mind. In 2009 I was able to sharply focus on the Ironman and my personal goals, prioritizing it above all else. But since the race things have changed. I'm dating someone I enjoy spending time with and don't want to sacrifice that time for training. I have friends I'm not willing to alienate for the sake of another swim or trainer session. I'm busier at work and my focus is needed. Training for an Ironman is the hardest part of doing an Ironman and balancing it with a life is a nonstop challenge. I had plenty of challenges in 2009 but 2010 will be monumentally more difficult. And I'm training for two races this time. It seems daunting, but I feel pretty calm about it. Every day I continue to grow as an athlete and a person and I feel I can do it. I'm hoping it will be an even more rewarding experience as a result.

January 4, 2010

Not So Bad Start

Week one is in the books and it wasn't so bad. I was aiming primarily for consistency and as a secondary goal I was hoping to nail all the workouts even if the days were mixed around a bit. I achieved a fair amount of consistency and only missed a couple workouts so overall, it was a good start.

My run/walking has been progressing rather nicely. I did my weekly long one on New Year's Day and for the first time, it was totally pain and pressure free. It was a great way to start the year. I spent a lot of time on the bike and made it to the pool once (I know, room for improvement) and did a couple shorter runs. I am just scratching the surface but it feels good to be back with a new goal.

Speaking of goals, I need to buckle down on the weight loss and fast. The holidays really did some damage this year, which isn't much of a surprise based on the seemingly endless string of parties, truffle dinners, chocolates, more parties and copious amounts of fabulous wine. I'm not going to complain, I enjoyed every decadent moment gaining those pounds, but alas it's training season again so it's time to be healthier. At least five days a week...


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