August 4, 2013

Where I'm At

It's hard to believe August is already here. My blog has been on a hiatus, but my training definitely has not. When I last posted, I was just getting back on track and had Ironman 70.3 Syracuse fast approaching. A lot has happened since then, including a pretty miraculous recovery that has allowed me to have one of my best seasons ever. Here are some highlights:

Syracuse 70.3

I signed up two weeks before the race and competed 31 days after my release from the hospital. I was definitely not at my best, but I executed the race exactly as planned despite some of the toughest racing conditions I've ever experienced. It was 90+ degrees, heavy humidity and the run course had several hills that were difficult to even walk up.

Syracuse bike course

Vermont Training Camp

A couple days after Syracuse I went to Vermont for a training camp in the Green Mountains where I was able to ride 235 miles with more than 20,000 feet climbing over 3 of the gaps. We did Appalachian - one of the harder gaps - twice in one ride. It was some of the most incredible cycling I've ever done and definitely contributed to some huge fitness gains. Plus I got to catch up with some good friends.
Top of App Gap with my friend Dan

We did a fair amount of open water swimming as well and one simple tip shared by my friend Dan, who is also a coach, improved my swim by 20 seconds per 100. I've been swimming for 5 years, but have never improved until now. 

Post-swim fun at Blueberry Lake

High Volume Heat Wave
Two weeks ago we had 8 straight days of record-breaking heat and humidity in NYC. Of course this was timed right when my volume was going through the roof so I suffered through 18 hours of training in 100 degree weather. I was waking up as early as 4am to attempt to beat the heat but it was 85 by 5am and in the 90s by 9am. I had some big accomplishments that week on the bike and swim and logged a solid 16.8 mile long run that was only about 45 seconds slower per mile than my usual. The highlight of the week was the Governor's Island Swim, a 2-mile race around Governor's Island in the NY Harbor. I swam my best ever time in choppy water without a wetsuit.
Huge swim PR
First Peak Week
Last week I did my fist peak week of the schedule, a week my coach called "super compensation" since I did maximum volume on both the bike and run. I'll have additional peaks in the coming weeks, but each will focus separately on the run and bike. The key workouts went very well, especially my long run.

Yet another Garmin shot...

I was fatigued for some of the shorter workouts after this run, but bounced back for a huge ride last weekend to Bear Mountain, where we rode up to the summit twice. We hit a total of 115 miles with 9,000 feet climbing.

Ironman Wisconsin Recon
And finally, this past week I had a chance to do some training on the IMWI course in Madison. I booked a trip for family reasons and decided to bring my bike for course recon. I haven't been on the course since 2011 and I was terribly out of shape then so I wanted to see just how far my fitness has come and how much good it will do me on race day. Things could not have gone better. On Thursday I did a half course ride at slightly harder than target race effort and totally nailed it. I completed the loop in 2:17, way faster than anything I've done in the past, and the half in 3:06. My race goal is 6:15 so I am right on track. I followed it up with a really strong run off the bike, much faster than race pace.

I did some running and two swims on the course - one short and one 2 miler. Again, right on my goal pace.

But the highlight of the week was my full course ride yesterday. I rode conservatively and managed to negative split the loops and the out and back. I felt strong the entire time and finished slightly faster than my PR in 2010, but slower than my target pace this year. With a few more weeks of training and taper, I'm confident I can reach my goal.

At mile 96 of 110 with my friend Phil

June 14, 2013

Hospitalization, Trauma and Recovery

Warning: this is a long post, but my illness was a long and difficult ordeal. It's been quiet around here, and with good reason. After my last post I suffered a relapse and ended up back in the ER on Sunday, May 19, only this time I was admitted to the hospital. Initial blood work showed I had a white cell count of 36,000 - normal is 5-10,000 - indicating an infection rather than the earlier suspected virus.

I woke up at 6am that Sunday with a fever of 105.2. I spent hours in bed covered in ice packs, drinking tons of cold liquids, praying the cocktail of Tylenol and Advil would kick in. It was too early to call anyone and it was a Sunday - I knew I'd never reach my doctor. I was able to keep my temperature in the mid 103s, but something more was wrong. After trying my doctor, his answering service, his back up doctor, and his answering service, I made the decision to start an antibiotic that had been prescribed to me "just in case" earlier in the week. I took just one pill. That one pill plus my incredibly high white count managed to blow any chance of having conclusive blood cultures so they never identified the source of my infection.

The other issue was my strange set of symptoms, or lack thereof. I exhibited some of the symptoms of meningitis, but not all. So they did a lumbar puncture to rule it out. It wasn't a pleasant experience.

I had symptoms of pneumonia, yet my chest x-ray was clear. I had abdominal pain, but no digestive issues. I had severe head and neck pain, but my head CT was normal. I had back and flank pain, but my kidneys looked fine in a CAT scan. The only thing we were able to confirm was the myriad of illness I definitely didn't have. I was diagnosed with Sepsis of unknown origin, which is a widespread infectious and inflammatory state. Many people who get Sepsis have major organ failure and some die from complications. Luckily I'm healthy and my body is strong, so test after test showed I was fine aside from the infection.

By Monday morning my fever had broken and my white count dropped to 25,000. I was responding to broad spectrum IV antibiotics. They continued to do more tests and I felt like a human pin cushion, but still no answers. By Tuesday my white count dropped to 10,000 and by Wednesday it was 8,900. My fever never returned and the antibiotics were doing their job. My infectious diseases specialist decided to transition me to an oral antibiotic, monitor me, and hopefully release me if I continued to improve. I was finally released Wednesday night, May 22.

The aftermath of the experience and recovery were more difficult than I imagined, which I why I haven't posted an update. I spent the first 10 days in constant fear of a relapse and felt emotional over the whole experience. I was still very tired and needed a lot of rest. I was suffering from severe and debilitating tension headaches that required a hardcore prescription to even function. I had a flight booked to see my sister in DC over Memorial Day weekend but I was too sick to fly so I cancelled last minute, bought a train ticket and slept all the way to DC. I needed to be with family and it turned out to be better than any drug prescribed.

I started light training five days after my release, and eased into a semi-normal schedule the following week. Each day I felt stronger and was so thankful to be active again. I started going out, seeing friends and catching up on life. I got back on my bike and rode 92 miles despite the nearly three-week hiatus. I've had multiple follow-up tests, and the final results came back today: I couldn't be healthier.

I will never know what caused my illness and I have to be ok with that. The only thing I know for sure is that I will never take my health for granted. I went from riding 137 miles in a weekend to barely being able to walk across a room. I lost 10 pounds in seven days (not such a bad thing actually!) and was in some level of pain for more than 21 days. But now... now I feel better than ever and have put this behind me. I have some huge training weeks coming up and a half Ironman next weekend. I'm back on track.

May 15, 2013

Deathly Ill

Just as my training was ramping up and feeling good I hit a major bump in the road. Last Thursday's long run was misery. I just felt off. Afterward I was in terrible pain and could have slept the rest of the day.

Then I woke up Friday with a fever of 102.5. By 8am it was in the mid 103s and by 1pm it was 104.5. I checked into the ER at 3:25 and wouldn't return home until midnight, and only because I demanded to leave and signed out AMA. After numerous physical exams, blood and urine cultures, a chest X-ray and an abdominal CT, which involved drinking a liter of the most foul tasting solution on earth, there were still no answers and I still had a fever.

This went on all of Saturday and Sunday, although with a lower fever threshold each day. Monday marked major improvement, but still no recovery. I had additional blood tests yesterday and more exams, but no diagnosis. Then today, on day six of my mystery illness, I finally feel "normal." I haven't had a fever (yet) and am not taking any ibuprofen or Tylenol. I don't have any lingering body aches or pains. I have a decent energy level and mental clarity.

I hope this is the end and I hope the beginning of my wellness is just around the bend. I'm so anxious to move. I don't need to go out guns blazing and dive back into training, but I've seen enough of my couch and bed to last a lifetime. Fingers crossed.

May 2, 2013

Train Like Somebody's Watching

I always race far better than I train. There are many reasons, of course, including fitness gains from prolonged training, stored energy from taper and race day adrenaline, but there is also another reason: people are watching me. They are waiting for me at designated spots with estimated times, or tracking me online. Knowing this makes me pedal a little harder and keep running when I'd really love to walk.

I have logged some pretty epic training over the years for my four Ironmans, but I definitely don't put the same level of energy into most solo workouts. I recently hired a personal trainer for this reason and I've accomplished more in four weeks with him than I did in six months on my own because he stands there and makes me do the hard work.

Last weekend I joined a friend late in his long ride and halfway through my short ride. He is so much faster than I that I wondered if I'd even be able to keep up, but I gave it a try regardless. It was only my fourth outdoor ride of the season and my first longer ride in weeks due to travel. I had to ride near my max HR for over an hour to even keep him within sight, but I managed to do it. Could I have done the same on my own? Not likely. But if I could, just think how much better my races would be.

For this reason, I recently switched to a local coach after having a remote coach for three seasons. My coaching is private, but I will have access to group training if I want and he monitors my weekly progress on Training Peaks so I feel far more accountable. He also happens to be my personal trainer, so I have two hours of one-on-one time to chat about goals, plans and progress while I'm being tortured.

It's still early, but I'm feeling good about the season and can't wait to see what's ahead for me.

April 25, 2013

Traveling and Training, or Lack Thereof

In the past 14 days, I spent nine of those days traveling - first to St. John, then to London. Neither of these were quick jaunts and each involved a full day of travel on each end. It may seem like poor planning or general torture, but it was worth it.

As most athletes know, training during travel is difficult. Luckily I'm early enough in my season that a couple missed weekends won't hurt tremendously, but it still took a toll. St. John didn't allow for much at all aside from swimming. Running was difficult due to the small size of the island, steep grade on just about every street and scorching heat and humidity. I ran once, about 40 minutes, and otherwise did lots of snorkeling and a little swimming.

London should have been easier, but jet lag and an overload of pints actually made it harder. At least in London I was on my feet all day, every day, often logging five plus miles. I also did one good run in Hyde Park to justify filling a quarter of my suitcase with running clothes.

Now that I'm back I feel pretty beat up. The sunburn from St. John has finally healed and the stiffness in my legs from the London flight is subsiding, but I'm suffering from jet lag and I've caught a cold. I likely taxed my immune system way too much and am now paying the price. Luckily it's a "neck up" cold so I'm attempting to stick to my normal training schedule.

The key will be getting back out on the bike as soon as possible. It's the area I'm lacking in the most due to the miserable spring we're having in the Northeast. But that's no excuse. It's time to step up the miles and get ready for my first tri of the season just six weeks away. In the meantime, I'll reflect on my trips and the fun I had, and look forward to the next. I love travel too much to give it up because of training. Life is about finding balance.

April 18, 2013

Weekend in Paradise

Enjoy French wine with this fine selection.

Last weekend I went to St. John with two of my best friends. They were married on the island a year ago and graciously invited me to crash their anniversary trip. It was amazing. Since it's one of the most beautiful places I've been, I thought pictures would do a much better job than words.

Upgrade! Nice way to start.

Finally arrived. It's a long journey, but well worth it.

We had this amazing view from our deck.

Dolled up for dinner...

Typical sunset...

The lovebirds

Chris making the famous Painkiller drink!

View from a little hike to Ram's Head

Blue cobblestone beach

Sugar mill ruins

Tons of snorkeling... Look closely for the sea turtle at the bottom!

My daily view

Sadly on the ferry back to St. Thomas for the journey home

But just a few more Painkillers at the airport!

There was eating, drinking, swimming, snorkeling, laughing, laying on the beach, and even a little bit of running. Aside from being too short, it was the perfect weekend.

April 15, 2013

April 10, 2013

Losses and Gains

It seems spring has finally arrived in New York and I'm loving every sunny minute of it. Tuesday's forecast demanded another outdoor ride.

It feels great to bike again. After consecutive years of logging thousands of miles in the saddle, I dropped to just over 1,000 in 2012 and didn't ride at all after summer. I spent countless hours doing intervals this winter on the trainer and it has definitely eased the transition back to the road. After just two rides I feel stronger and I'm anxious for more.

I'm also improving with my personal trainer. After a few sessions I feel slightly stronger and a lot less sore. We'll be doing two hours a week for at least six weeks, then will evaluate how to move forward.

And finally, my losses this season are something to celebrate. A full year out of the sport really took a toll overall, including some not-so-surprising weight gain. When I started training in January, I immediately lost around three pounds, but then hovered at the same weight with no improvements. So six weeks ago I started taking it far more seriously and the results have been great. I've lost six more pounds and about three inches off my frame. Five more pounds will put me at my typical Ironman race weight, but typical just isn't good enough for me this year so I'll aim to lose five more beyond that. Seeing this reminder pop up on my computer this morning was a good motivator.

I'm off to St. John tomorrow! Open water swimming, running, snorkeling, cocktails, the beach and two of the most amazing friends you could ask for. I can't wait.

April 7, 2013

Opening Day, Personal Trainer, Hill Repeats and Wine School

Fine wines and a wide selection of spirits also.

I had such a phenomenal week. It kicked off with the launch of our new company, Zipz, at Citi Field opening day. This was our first customer!

Then I finally pulled the trigger on hiring a personal trainer. I want to make serious fitness gains and just can't seem to do it on my own. I did a session with Travis last fall and loved it, but wasn't sure I wanted to make the commitment. After two workouts I am thrilled with my decision. I can barely get out of bed or dress myself, but I love it.

The weather remains challenging, but today I decided to HTFU and get outside on the bike. I'm fairly sure the last time I rode outdoors was August last year, so it was a huge step. And it involved the customary stop for espresso and muffins.

The ride was incredible. Just over 51 miles and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing, including two rounds of hill repeats on a one-mile climb. I never do repeats even though I should, and I loved it. I battled a 20mph headwind all the way back to the city and still loved it.

Next up is my new wine class, starting tomorrow. Taking a class, regardless of what it is about, is always great. Since graduating from college I've had very limited classroom experiences aside from a long stretch of Spanish classes and a short stretch of Italian classes, neither of which resulted in me being bi-lingual.

Wine has been a hobby of mine for quite some time. I started exploring it in my 20s and fell in love with it in my 30s, and spent the past few years really delving in and ultimately led me to my new job. I know a lot, but have wanted to formalize it more for quite some time so I signed up for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) intermediate level course and start tomorrow.

On top of that, I logged a very solid 12-hour week of training and I'm off to St. John in just a matter of days. Life is really, really good.

April 4, 2013

It Finally Clicked

I've struggled on and off all year with consistency. I've been training since December 31 and have had many ups and downs, definitely some fitness gains, but still didn't feel like I was training for an Ironman. Then last week, something finally clicked and I stopped making excuses. After another spotty week I decided to at least commit to completing my long run and brick before the weekend was over.

I wasn't ready to ride Saturday even though the weather was good, so I did my long run and really loved it. Unfortunately, I still wasn't ready to ride Sunday. My bike has been in the basement for months, covered in dust and spiders. The weather was a bit bleak, which wasn't motivation to dust off the bike, kill the spiders and bundle up. Yet I had a 40 mile ride and 3 mile run to tackle. So I decided to HTFU and do it indoors, albeit with a creative twist.

My longest trainer ride to date was 60 miles. I was forced to do it while training for an early-season half Ironman when a blizzard struck. Forty seemed much more tolerable, but still slightly dreadful, so I decided to break it up into a triple brick. I did:
  • One hour bike, 10 minute run
  • One hour bike, 10 minute run
  • Thirty-four minute bike, remainder of the run
My neighbors surely think I'm crazy since I dashed in and out in running clothes every hour for three hours.

This week has been spot on. I have nailed every workout and started working with a personal trainer. I've been plagued by injuries resulting from weakness and imbalance, and feel like I have no trouble gaining endurance, but I struggle with strength. I hope strengthening my body will improve my performance overall and ultimately keep me injury free. After just one session, I'm in so much pain that simple tasks feel monumental... and I love it. I feel like I'm making a positive, necessary change. 

March 27, 2013

Mom Surprise, Russell Crowe and 24 Courses

My sister and her husband gave me a nice surprise: a ticket to DC for a weekend escape. I took the usual Friday 3pm flight that lands just in time to take the Metro to Veritas, a wine bar in Dupont Circle where we traditionally start our DC weekend fun. As I approached the bar I could see my sister and her husband in the window, but the other half of the table was out of sight. I walked into the bar and rounded the corner and realized there was a third person with them - my mom. She had flown in from Wisconsin the night before to surprise me, and surprised I was.

And to top it off, they were giving away free Les Mis coasters, which for me meant free Russel Crowe coasters (or Russell Crowesters, if you prefer).

I enjoyed my coasters so much I tweeted about them and Russell Crowe himself retweeted me. It was certainly a social media highlight for me.

Saturday I awoke with a tiny hangover, but battled it at the Equinox in Bethesda, justifying my exhorbitant monthly membership cost. I picked up some heavy things, did a massive number of squats and lunges, and hit the salt water pool that other members of the gym seemed to know nothing about. It was empty and glorious. Then we were off for a drink with a view with a former client and now friend of mine that I keep bumping into during our travels!

But the highlight of the weekend was dinner Saturday night at Rogue 24. There were a couple options for dining, but we went for the full monty and 24 courses. It was worth the four-hour investment of time and relatively large investment of cash. I knew words would fail me in describing it, especially days later, so here is a little photo montage of our "Journey," as they call it on the menu. If you're in DC and you want an unforgettable dining experience, go to Rogue 24. You will not regret it. And better yet, invite me to go with you.

Even though I thought I could not ingest another morsel, we managed to rally on Sunday with a chilly-weather BBQ with my dear friend Keely. I haven't seen her since our incredible adventure in Egypt, and I got to meet her absolutely darling daughter.

We had a final dinner on Sunday to toast our incredible weekend and start the sad process of goodbyes. I made New York my home 15 years ago and have loved it, but not a day goes by I don't miss my family. Weekends like this are absolutely priceless.

March 18, 2013

Operation SJ, Update and Race Calendar

View our extensive kosher wine inventory.

Wow, I've been busy. It's time for an update on my Operation St. John progress, finishing another training block, and my race calendar slowly, but surely, coming together.

Operation St. John has been a success thus far. I did a full two weeks without drinking and while I missed having wine in the evenings, it really wasn't as hard as I anticipated. We even went out a few times and managed to eat oysters without a crisp white wine! I continue to clean up my eating and the result is five pounds lost in three weeks. It feels like a healthy progression and my clothes fit better, so I'm thrilled. I'm also thrilled to be able to enjoy wine again in moderation.

My training has progressed, but is about to start feeling more real. I had my most consistent block yet this past month with only a handful of missed workouts. My running is very strong and seems to get better every time. After four challenging, injury-laden years it feels good to be on the upswing. My cycling has all been indoors, focusing on hard intervals. I love it. I can definitely feel an increase in my fitness. We won't talk about my swimming.

My race calendar is coming together. I finally pulled the trigger on the Rev3 half in Quassy, which I hear is brutally hilly, which is somehow appealing to me. It's what I call Type 2 Fun - it's not fun when you're actually doing it, but it's fun when you look back on it. I know a lot of great people racing and am hoping it will give me a kick in the butt to start training more seriously. June is not that far away.

Lastly, I had a chance to meet "The Man" himself, six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott at the Tri-Mania NYC expo*. He was so friendly, humble and normal it's hard to believe he's such a legend. I was slightly embarrassed to talk about the sport with him as if we were peers!

*Tri-Mania NYC Summit and Expo was a client

March 2, 2013

Operation St. John - It's On

Two of my favorite people in the world got married last April on St. John and decided to spend their first anniversary there as well.

I was thoroughly touched when they invited me to join them, but also thoroughly horrified over the thought of being in a swimsuit in 7 weeks. When one does almost nothing active for 15 months AND eats and drinks like a king, it takes a toll.

Drastic measures had to be taken. Here's what I did:
  • Stopped drinking. I know, it's shocking. I had a big, fun night out in DC Saturday with many wines and that was it. Aside from one pre-planned allowance of wine Thursday I've been a teetotaler. My nightly glass(es) of wine have been replaced by seltzer or plain water.
  • Stopped skipping my workouts. Again, shocking. I even went to the pool. I had to move a few workouts due to schedule, but overall have adopted a no excuses mentality.
  • Stopped eating sugar. Aside from some dark chocolate covered almonds and a bit of a stress binge on dark chocolate chips yesterday, I've been sugar free.
  • Greatly minimized my consumption of grains. I love wheat. I know I shouldn't eat it, but I do. But this week I only had 1.5 whole wheat English muffins, some panko crumbs and a small serving of egg pasta from Piedmont. Oh, and I did have some biscuits during a business meeting, but trust me, they were worth every flaky, carby calorie.
The week isn't over, but I already look and feel better. I'm less bloated and down about 3 pounds. I really don't feel like I've given anything up and being super busy helps. The teetotaling plan was originally through March 8, but I may extend it. I have a business trip to Sonoma on the 10th so I'm sure I'll have a glass or two then, but will continue to limit overall consumption and keep following the above plan. With a little luck I'll be down 10 (or more) pounds before I visit this glorious place.

February 23, 2013

Back to Pool

I finally did it. I finally dragged my reluctant self to the pool for a swim. It may not sound like much of a feat, but when you consider I only swam 23 times in 2012, it's significant.

When I learned to swim in 2008 it was an incredible journey. I was tackling one of life's big to-dos and paving the way to doing my first Ironman in 2009. It was exciting, new and challenging. I went to the pool five days a week and loved it. Even while training for my first Ironman, I chose to swim four days a week instead of the three prescribed by my coach. But over time, my love of swimming waned and it became a chore. Now I can barely stand the thought of it.

Six of the months of 2012 were swim-free, and the other six were spotty at best. I only swam three times to prepare for the Celebration Sprint in June, and only two times to prepare for Steelhead. I knew I was strong enough to get through the races and didn't care if my times were slower.

But now as I stage a comeback from total burnout and tackle my fifth Ironman, I'd like to do it right, which means getting back to consistent swimming. I only went once in January and skipped the first half of February, so this week's solo swim was my fresh start. I'm aiming to do the twice-weekly swims my coach has laid out - nothing more, nothing less.

So how was my first swim in months? It was as expected - a little awkward, definitely slow and surprisingly tiring. But it wasn't awful and because I have a flexible schedule, I was able to go just before 9am and have the pool to myself. Now I just need to do it again and again, until it feels like part of my normal routine.

A lot of triathletes don't enjoy swimming. Is it your favorite or least favorite of the three sports?

February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey Sundays

Buy wine online at Wine Chateau.

Sunday is usually my rest day, plus it's farmer's market day and generally an all-around "me day." I sleep in, have breakfast or brunch out, go to the market, do my other food shopping, run errands, get a manicure, visit with friends. It's always a pretty fabulous day. But when Downton Abbey season three began, Sundays went up a notch. We drank wine, had great food and watched Downton. Does it get any better?

Some menu highlights have included 40 cloves of garlic and a chicken, salmon with shallots and grapefruit, and grass-fed beef chili and cornbread. Last night, for the final Downton Abbey Sunday this year, I braised a pork shank in white wine. The shank was from my favorite local pork purveyor, Flying Pigs Farm and the recipe incredibly simple, yet the outcome so divine.

The shank is rubbed with a mixture of crushed garlic, fresh minced rosemary and olive oil, then placed in a dutch oven with butter and a mixture of carrots, onion and celery. I used some beautiful yellow carrots from the farmers market.

After slightly browning, the temp is lowered, wine is added, and three magical hours later you have the most incredible pork you could imagine.

The wine line-up paired beautifully: Joel Gott Pinot Gris 2010 for braising and sipping; Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2007 with the pork. 

The meal was outstanding. The finale of Downton Abbey, however, was not. I'm still in denial. I'm also in denial that Downton Abbey Sundays will have to wait until January 2014. In the meantime, I'll continue my other Sunday MyDay traditions.

On the training front, things continue to progress after a major stress, exhaustion, work, life-change setback. Thankfully after missing most workouts for two weeks, I had a structured rest week and nailed almost all of it. It's still a juggling act, but as I phase off my consulting work, more time is freed up for training. I also have a new motivation - more to come on that this week!

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? What did you think about the finale?

February 14, 2013

She's a Maniac

I haven't exactly been consistent the past year and a half and I've paid for it with loss of fitness. I run a lot slower, I can't remember the last time I biked outside and let's not even discuss swimming. So, if I can't do quality for now, I decided to go for quantity.

The cancellation of the NYC Marathon left me with a choice - take the guaranteed entry and pay yet again to do the race, or take a refund for 2012 and lose an entry I'd already paid for at least three times due to deferments. The reason I've postponed it so much is the timing. It's just months after Ironman Wisconsin and I'm usually burned out or barely jogging by November. But this year, I decided to do both. And if I were going to do two marathons in two months, why not three?

I've always wanted to qualify for Marathon Maniacs and decided 2012 is the year to try. When registration opens Tuesday, I'll sign up for the Chicago Marathon, which will make three marathons in 57 days, enough to qualify for the Bronze Maniac level.

I may not have a full race schedule yet, but at least I have a big goal. I'll do Ironman Wisconsin September 8, Chicago Marathon October 13 and New York City Marathon November 3. And on November 4 I may be hobbling, but with a really huge sense of accomplishment and my very own Marathon Maniac number.

February 7, 2013

Excuses and a New Job!

Once again, I've dropped off the face of the blog earth, but I swear for good reasons. I was easing back into life as an Ironman-in-training, and finding it pretty hard to give up the 9 hours of sleep I'd become accustomed to. Actually, I still am. But that wasn't the reason for my silence.

First, my beloved Macbook failed me. Think about how much you rely on your computer, then multiply that by 10 - that's how I felt. As a freelancer, my entire existence lives in that little, metal box. It took me a week of working with a huge black strip up the middle of the screen for me to find 5 days I could part with my prized possession. During it's absence, I had to work on a Dell... I have nothing against PC people, but I do not work well on one. I stuck to absolutely critical tasks only, like doing my work, and did everything else on my iPhone. Blogging from the iPhone sucks.

Then, I was hit with the stomach virus circulating around the city. It hit fast and hard, and ruined an entire weekend. Plus an entire week of training. While my computer was broken.

But the best reason of all to drop off the face of the earth - I accepted a new job! I wasn't technically looking for something full-time, but was offered a chance to join the executive team of a start up. It's in the wine business and I get to help shape a brand from scratch. Did I mention it's in the wine business!? It was perfect for me so I accepted and started the same day the offer was made. In the meantime, I still have clients so I've been keeping that work going, starting a phase-off and tackling my new role simultaneously. I've never been happier, but I've also never been more exhausted. In a couple weeks it will start to settle into a more normal pace.

So there we have it. My list of pretty good excuses for not training and not writing. But I've restarted the training and my computer is fixed, so no more excuses. Plus there will be a lot to share as I embark on this new adventure. I'm definitely looking forward to the journey.

January 9, 2013

How Much Time Does it Really Take to Train for an Ironman?

Once again I've been quiet for a week and it's because I've been tired. Not necessarily from the 6 hours I spent training (because we all know if I hadn't surfed the couch for a year, 6 hours would be a piece of cake), but from the overwhelming re-introduction to the life of an Ironman.

I'm talking about the little things that don't end up on your training log: packing up bags, planning and making special meals, packing up said meals for on-the-go access, studying your training plan, learning new workouts, laundry, walking to and from the gym 1.3 miles away, setting up the trainer, taking down the trainer, more laundry, foam rolling, stretching, soaking in Epsom salts (ok, maybe that's just me)... you get the point. For that 6 hours of training I had at least another 3 hours of "other stuff" that made it feel like so much more.

When I was a pre-burnout training machine I didn't notice these things as much. I was so used to being tired and stretched thin that it felt normal. Now that I'm accustomed to 9 hours of sleep and leisurely morning coffee it's rather shocking. Luckily I have a flexible work schedule so once I get back into a rhythm I know it will be easier.

On the training front, let's just say it's going to take some time. I am the definition of "letting yourself go" and can't expect to leap up from the ashes and suddenly be a long-distance triathlete again. I have 20 pounds to lose and a lot of fitness to regain, and I'm going to have to fight for every last bit. I haven't started swimming yet, for obvious reasons if you know me at all, but I did 3 solid bike workouts, 3 runs and 2 strength training sessions. I'm determined to keep up the strength even though I felt as though I'd been beaten with hammers from head to toe. In the long run I'll be thankful for it.

January 1, 2013

2012 in Review: The Year of 0.0

I barely blogged in 2012 for so many reasons. I was burned out and lost on the athletic front, so I withdrew from Ironman Mont Tremblant and declared 2012 as my year of 0.0. While I was taking the year off, I still attempted to maintain a base level of activity and participate in some races for fun.

Rock n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon, with Chrissie Wellington!

Celebrating Heroes Sprint, with my sister and her husband (his first triathlon!)
Steelhead 70.3 Relay (swim & run), racing where I grew up 

 Rock n' Roll Brooklyn 10k, part of my epic marathon week

Army 10 Miler, an annual tradition

NY Runners for Staten Island volunteering when NYC Marathon was canceled

So while it wasn't technically a year of 0.0, the obligation of training and racing was lifted and everything I did was strictly for fun. I raced for joy, not a good performance. I trained for the marathon because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. And when it was canceled, I immediately shifted my energy to helping Sandy-affected New Yorkers. It felt good to do what my heart told me to do.

A year off has taken a toll on my fitness and I'm starting the new season with an extra 15 pounds to lose, which is never easy. But taking a year off was the right decision and I don't regret it for a moment. It has allowed me to miss the sport and actually look forward to the discipline of training again. This year will be the year of my 5th Ironman and with new focus and new goals, you may be hearing a bit more from me. Happy New Year!


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