Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday yoga

Mildly dissatisfying yoga class, only then it all came good in the last fifteen or twenty minutes--I feel they must cunningly plan it this way, it is very annoying.

We got started fifteen minutes late, which always annoys me--I am excessively punctual!--a substitute teacher, she was good but we were working on very micro-type stuff which led me to muse distractingly for a stint in the middle about how I was feeling as though I was going to an art class every week where I was presented with a huge appealing blank tract of paper and then given a very fine black pen and told that I could only draw in one inch-square chunk of the thing. But indeed then when we got at the very end of the class to triangle pose I could see that these tiny adjustments having to do with opening up the back and rotating the thigh (there was way too much of this work with the feet, opening up the toes and seeing how it makes a certain line of muscle spring into life along the calf, I am not good with this stuff!) had made me see more about the pose than I have all these times before.

I'm not sure quite what to do about this yoga discontentment. Partly I'm missing my old teacher, his style exactly suited me; partly, I think, I'm simply not doing it enough to really get as much as I can out of it. (And I am not really tempted to do it more, both because I'm more attracted to other stuff and because I think it is actually very intense and I still blame my stress fracture last year on--other than my own personality, which is really what should be held accountable!--excessive yoga as much as excessive ramp-up in run distance. Either one by itself would probably have been fine, but together--and with lowish-calorie diet--it was fatal...)

These yoga teachers want you to have (oh, dear, I am more irritable than I realized about this) a 'practice' at home (this word always lurkingly annoys me with its pretensions, it's just not me...); I wonder if this is at all feasible? I can't say I feel inspired. Hmmm, will muse on this--my cyclist friend R. is very persuasive on the subject of yoga being indispensable for cyclists, and I do not think substituting a second gym session instead of yoga is really the same thing. Maybe I just need to start going back down to the Iyengar Association for a class or two and see if I can find who the best teacher for me will be now that my favorite couple of 'em are both gone...

(Also my yoga mat has been converted to mat-underneath-bicycle-trainer.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday run

Marred only by mild indigestion--nothing serious (result, I think, of an overly large late-afternoon snack--these days when I swim early, I am kind of starving all day, only it makes it awkward to time meals with the evening run). Weather more or less hospitable--it's still in the mid-50s, perhaps a tad humid. They haven't yet turned off the water fountains in the park, but it's sure to happen any day now, must start carrying fuel belt I think...

Just under 6 miles with S., at a pleasant clip. 9:05 average pace, 7:53 max, HR average 153. Mile splits: 9:29, 9:24, 8:58, 8:52, 9:00 and not-quite-finished last mile. Felt pretty good other than the stomach stuff--I think I'm definitely at a point now where on a flat run I can do nine-minute miles quite comfortably, the Central Park course is relatively hilly so that pace feels moderately effortful. I do like running, it's so enjoyable...

NB: It is not psychologically feasible to do 8 miles on Tuesday evenings. 6 is more realistic, especially as that more or less conforms to the full loop; doing figure-8 type runs, you can add in an extra mile or so pretty easily, but more than that involves covering the same ground more than once and it is simply not sensible. So six it is, and I will make sure to find a couple spots in the week for a really short little 2-3 mile run, on treadmill if necessary--doing a couple TM miles after the Monday-morning gym workout for instance would seem to be sensible.

On ignoring instructions

I am feeling rather guilty now post-swim (it was a very decent one, quite enjoyable) for luring my lanemate down the primrose path, as it were, of ignoring the point of the workout instructions. S. and I had lane 8 to ourselves, so there was no need to integrate ourselves into lane 7.

And the thing is (this will sound self-promoting, but it is just the truth of the matter) it has already dawned on me that even quite good swimmers seem to look at the trees rather than the forest when it comes to workouts. The other day (oh dear, I feel like I'm elementary school again) there was a mistake in the workout as it was written up on the board in Monday-night swimming--there was a 400 where there should have been a 600--it was clear from the progression that this was what the coach had meant, and so I said so (making myself very popular, needless to say!)--but I was taken aback that nobody else noticed it, it was kind of jumping off the board at me....

(This is why I am a professor rather than an athlete...)

So: warmup (as it is often is) 100 free, 100 stroke, 50 kick till 6:15. S. very kindly swam alongside me for a couple lengths of practicing butterfly, one arm only. I did not get a chance to regain the feel of it thoroughly. Resolutions: Wednesday-evening technique swim; steep myself mentally in that stroke; be patient.

Main workout: I can't remember the exact intervals, but the point of them was like this (we didn't do it though!):

2 x 100 on 1:50
2 x 50 on 1:15
2 x 100 on 1:55
2 x 50 on 1:10
2 x 100 on 2:00
2 x 50 on 1:05
2 x 100 on 2:05
2 x 50 on 1:00

So this is a classic interval workout, swimmer's incarnation--the reason I have just easily recalled it now (I think our intervals for the 100s probably gave more rest than this, say starting on 2:00--I am guessing, though, these times would be what I should probably do in the spirit of the workout--I am still very vague on times) is because it seems very clear. As you move through the set, you can keep your 100s even but get more rest on them, and meanwhile it's a strong descending set for those pairs of 50s, with less rest if you keep the pace steady.

But nobody comes and explains the rationale or anything in the non-Thursday sessions, it's just up to you to decide what to do...

And in the next lane over they were deciding to do some stroke for the 50s and not all free, and for my purposes this seemed a very good idea. I did some fly and back on the first couple, and then did all the rest of the 50s as breast, which is starting to feel pretty good (I was paying attention this morning to what I. was telling me the other day about keeping elbows together in the arm recovery part of the stroke, that is very sensible). And we didn't really pay attention to the clock--but we did have time to do a couple extra rounds, so that with warmup I guess total yardage was probably around 2000. Hard to get a lot more than that in this crunched-in hour workout where the gym only opens at 6 (they let the swimmers in a few minutes early, but there's no point getting there way early) and then real team practice starts at 7 sharp...

And I did explain to S. afterwards what we missed and promise that we will do it properly the next time, because it is actually rather what she wants (her technique is quite lovely, she is a very good swimmer, but she's not enthusiastic about distance and wants to improve speed and conditioning--you see why this was slightly evil of me, really it is the workout she most will benefit from!).

But I strongly feel that I am currently in a spot where my conditioning is considerably ahead of my technique. I fear this is true even on free--I know I've got a lot of improvement that should be coming in next six months or so if I just keep working on it--and it's massively true on the other strokes, so it seems a pity when I had an all-free workout last night to have another one this morning...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday-night swimming

A good workout this evening, with lots of very valuable technique stuff, only I am feeling a bit mournful because I forgot how to swim that butterfly again!

I pretty much knew it would happen--there was simply no way I could get in to do some quiet practice time, pool hours and real-life obligations made it impossible--and when I tried a couple lengths at the end of the session this evening I was back on that old wrong timing, and with no time to try and work it out, they were shutting up shop....

Hmmm, it is rapidly becoming my fantasy to live in a building with a swimming pool (like my hero Wayne Koestenbaum, who swims every morning and does some number of pushups I can't remember--the same number as his age?), then I could go and practice technique on a whim in the middle of the night when I can't sleep...

OK, the workout details are now a blur, but let us see if I can somewhat reconstruct 'em.

(I decadently took a taxi home again, it is $10 as opposed to $2 for the subway but it often seems well worth it, it's literally only 6-7 minutes to 116th and Amsterdam and then a few minutes' walk home, whereas the subway is 35, and I don't get home till 10:15, and it's no good. I already resolved a few weeks ago that if I am going to take the subway home, I have to bring something to eat while I wait, otherwise it's over an hour after the end of the workout--too long, too late! The time is worth $8 to me!)

Warmup: 300 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick with fins

(Hmmm, I am not at all sure this account is going to be correct--maybe I'm leaving something out? But it is good for the swimming brain to make the effort to reconstruct, otherwise I will never learn this stuff...)

First set: 12 technique-type 50s of various types, in each case drill on the way down and swim on the way back. The usual stuff: kick on sides, opposite-side breathe integrated into side kicking, long doggie paddle for good catch, sculling (evil sculling! however this evening it really was giving me a good feel for the water).

Second set: 8 x 75 with pull buoy on 1:40, breathing every x number of strokes as follows (the number count is for each 25 of the 75)

1 and 2: 3 3 3
3 and 4: 5 5 5
5 and 6: 3 5 7
7 and 8: 7 5 3

(NB good for me to practice bilateral breathing with a pull buoy, I must make time for this on my own also, that is the way I am going to get comfortable with breathing on the wretched left side. But it actually was quite good this evening.)

Third set: 4 x 150, first 100 pull and then 50 swim, concentrating on keeping legs virtually immobile and having a long slow powerful pull (10 seconds rest)

And finally (it should have been sprint 25s but only one out of the four pace clocks was working so we had to be starting always at one end) a rather nice little set to finish (I did not work hard enough this evening, it was funny! I do not know what's up, I think I've just been swimming more than most of the other people there do during the rest of the week & my conditioning is improving disproportionately):

8 x 50 on 1:10 - on each 25, take 10 sprint-type strokes then swim easy the rest of the length. Strangely relaxing, slo-mo in a delightful way! The end of this Monday-night workout is always where everyone else is knackered and I want to do a lot more work still! It was plenty of rest, too; but 1:05 would have been perhaps a bit too fast for the purpose of the drill, so there you go...

And I was proud of myself because I assessed the situation early and made a proactive move that kind of saved the workout. There are five lanes, I've been in lane 4 these many months now with two rather ideal lanemates. I am slightly the fastest, certainly the most enthusiastic, and we swim very well together. But they are both doing the marathon this weekend and haven't been in evidence for some weeks--meanwhile there is a fellow who is rather trying to swim with (and slower than he thinks--also he is the fellow who wears fins on a non-fin set and keeps on bumping into toes without understanding why he might be doing something annoying!) who came in with us a few weeks ago and caused a great deal of stress and inconvenience! And today it was just me and him in lane 4, and I steeled myself and popped under into lane 3. We were sparsely populated, so a few others shifted around a bit and I was just sharing that lane with one other woman who seemed in fact to swim pretty much exactly the same speed as I do, maybe a bit slower since I felt we were not doing any very challenging sets today, really I can swim a lot faster than that! So this is good. I will stay in that lane, I think, until my two good lanemates are back, but they will not be next week since it is the day after the marathon.

(And I think we may have sorted out the CU morning lane issues too, by a similar move--but this may be a bit rocky still for a few weeks, I must wait and see...)

Too bad I actually have, you know, an interesting and demanding job that I rather love, really all I want to do right now is learn how to swim properly! I think there is a possible Wednesday-evening window where I might go and practice a bit of stuff--the morning workout is good for building fitness and comfort level on breast and back because they are already more or less functional, but the fly bits are always sort of over before I have even minimally got the hang of it, and really the thing is also easier for now with fins! All right, I will make a point of it, either Wednesday early AM or more plausibly evening at Teacher's College, it must happen so that I am in good train for my lesson on Saturday...


Well, I am feeling exuberantly cheerful this morning after a rather hilariously enjoyable session with M. at the gym. It was a good workout in itself, rather all the things I most like to do & feel are beneficial (will give details below, but first must find a site somewhere with pictures--in general I am firmly of the I-would-rather-have-the-thousand-words school of thought, but when it comes to abdominal exercises there is no point me floundering around inarticulately with useless words)--but really it was more interesting than usual because M. is on the cusp of completing a long-awaited goal and is making an exercise video! So we were going through the routine he wants to use and consulting about potential pitfalls and modifications...

(M. is a quite lovely and unusually well-qualified trainer--he's contemplating going back to school to become a physical therapist--but in the meantime he does quite a bit of acting, singing and modeling as well as the fitness stuff. And I cannot resist providing a link--I am such an inveterate Googler--that I find mildly hilarious & that gives quite the wrong impression of what our sessions must be like!--oh, wait, it no longer exists--at any rate, a very funny modeling portfolio, just as well it's not there anymore I think...)

(Ever since I first met him more than a year ago he's been talking about getting some kind of thing going where he'd do these fitness videos and make a deal with Verizon and people would have them on their phones--this is still preliminary, he will produce it himself and a friend will direct--somewhere between a demo and something for actual distribution, I think they'll sell 'em but really it's for making pitches to someone who might do a big-budget version.)

(We had a very funny conversation last week about what he's going to wear for the video, he's really excited!)

Now, let me see if I can actually reproduce this workout in detail--the broad outlines are clear, but I may miss a few things...

(I am doing no good with picture searches this morning, I will just have to describe them instead...)

First group of exercises (3 times through):

60 seconds plyometrics-style running-in-place-with-high knees (last 15 seconds fast)
15 pushups with "kick-backs" (between pushups jump feet forward and then back again)
60 seconds plank
15 cobra
15 sort-of-crunches with medicine ball (these are where you start out lying flat on your back with the ball in your hands, come up while raising straight legs up, then lower everything back down--feet don't touch the floor, they just kind of lever up and down)
15 "toe-touches" (start flat, come up and touch toes, raise straight legs up as close to horizontal as you can manage and slowly lower torso and legs together back down to the ground)
15 of another ab thing where you come up with your arms out to the side as you bend your legs and pull them up also, then flatten back down--your shoulder-blades never hit the floor, nor do your legs

Next set (3x):

15 "quadruped" (which always makes me think of eighteenth-century natural history! you know, you're on all fours and you raise arm-and-leg-on-the-diagonal in alternation)
15 lunges with medicine ball/upper body twist

Next set (3x):

15 squats with medicine ball raise while squatting
15 plie squats holding medicine ball
15 regular calf raise (also with medicine ball--in fact the medicine ball is going to be M.'s "gimmick" for the video--or perhaps trademark is a more polite word!--so we had some funny parts where we were trying to see if it could be integrated--hmmm...)
15 calf raise with toes turned in

Next set (3x--the only times we have 2x are if we're doing a full-body workout and rather pressed for timme):

Hmmm, here's where I can't remember what we did! But it was 3-4 more of these rather evil abs exercises that are very delightfully good for you...

Final set (3x also obviously...):

30 seconds side plank / 15 side crunch (on each side)

I was sorry it was over!

[Ed. I found the link! Here it is--and if the DVD's ready in time, I am going to get lots of copies for Xmas presents for the people I know who might be interested!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I had a time constraint which meant I had to scale down the workout slightly (no 60-60!), but I had a very pleasing bike-run session in the middle of the day.

I did 45 minutes on the bike trainer, nothing intense. (Average HR 129, max HR 146.) Mostly just spinning--but I did some single-foot pedaling drills and also five minutes of riding what I might call comfortably hard.

Then I went more or less straight out for a run. Nothing intense, slowish to begin and then speeding up a bit as I went on: 3.4 miles, 9:22 average pace, 7:13 max (it's noticeable to me that my, say, finish-line type pace i.e. bit of speed at end has gotten at least thirty seconds faster than it was at the beginning of August when I was first looking at pace--probably more due to weather improvement than to running improvement, but still...).

It's been occurring to me recently that I should remember how in January and February I could only swim for about half an hour and though it seemed a lot of trouble to go and get changed etc. just for that little a time, it was necessary. If I can't fit in long bike sessions, it's still worth fitting in short ones--even thirty minutes, if it's part of a workout with something else, but certainly a forty-five-minute session though rather small is better than nothing.

We got training schedules this week via the CU triathlon club--indeed (strange!) the volume of training I'm doing pretty much already suits me for the most advanced plan, which seems crazy to me! Crazy but true. I'm kind of already set in my ways on the swim and run portions, swimming in particular just kind of has to be what it is; but the bike part is a useful set of guidelines, something for me to try and hew to, plus knowing I've got that indoor tri in mid-December is a bit of a goad.

This is a month of base, with the bike on three days (Wed.-Fri.-Sun.), with 60 and 30 minutes each consistently on Wednesday and Friday and then a long one building up on Sunday, starting at 120 minutes, working up through 135 to 150 to 180 and back down to 90 for a recovery week following. I don't think I'm prepared for my long ones to be quite that long yet--more for psychological than physiological reasons!--but the mid-week structure seems to me sensible, and those days fall out rather as I'm imagining anyway. Try and do 45-60 minutes after yoga on Wednesday if I don't have work obligations, try and do half an hour on Friday morning following CU swim. (If, that is, I ever end up going to the Friday workout! The need for sleep rather means I am going to be skipping it quite often, so I must think about how to handle the bike-related implications.)

One more thing: a product review! Becca was inquiring as to the nature of the device that gives me pace information, and though I e-mailed her separately I thought others might be mildly interested.

It's a Polar Foot Pod plus RS-200 wrist monitor, and I really love it.

I am of course really too lazy to write a proper product review, but here are my minor thoughts.

A lot of triathletes prefer to use a Garmin, and certainly that is an intriguing device--probably better for extensive multi-sport use. For running, on the other hand, this one seems much the best.

(Coach Mindy swears by it--that's why I have one! She is a big Polar fan--when she was still in the fashion industry, she designed the first sports bra with an integrated HR monitor strip...)

It uses inertial technology rather than GPS, so that pace data is--well, not instantaneous, but very responsive to change, within a few seconds at least. (In Central Park there are apparently lots of places where the GPS signal fades & the Garmin becomes less useful.)

(You can use it for cycling and swimming also, BTW; and I believe there is actually a bike thing you can get to integrate pace data, not sure about this.)

It's particularly good for holding yourself to a slowish training pace. I also find it psychologically indispensable for runs in strange places--if you're doing an out-and-back of some sort, you can actually (if you are a person with a sense of direction, you probably have clearer guesses about these things, but I am wholly oblivious) know how far you've come and also how long it will realistically take you to get back, which makes it much easier to concentrate on the actual run and can save you a lot of worry of the "Hmmm, I feel I have never seen this before in my life, have I come too far?"-type second-guessing that racks the sense-of-directionless person with anxiety...

I did feel at first that the data was a bit less full than I was expecting (obviously it will not give you what the Garmin does, elevation, which again some people might find important for tracking HR); but this is partly because I have it set on a one-mile auto-lap function. If I used a shorter auto-lap or else just used the lap button myself, I certainly could be getting much more detailed HR and speed data, so this is more of a user shortcoming than a device failure.

The one thing that seems to me incredibly annoying is the technology for transmitting data to the computer. I believe a different model has infrared, and that would seem to me better--this is marketed partly on the appeal of wireless technology, but it's a SonicLink thing that requires a microphone and seems singularly prone to failure--I often have to try four or five times before the data is transmitted properly, though in every respect of storage etc. the device really seems to me excellent.

In sum: strongly recommended.

Race results

NOT my own, I hasten to add--I finally got eight hours sleep, that was good...--but I am delighted to report that in the five-mile Poland Spring race this morning, training partner S. ran 39:04 (7:48 pace) and training partner C. ran 38:45 (7:45 pace)! Woo-hoo! Congratulations on good work!


(jet lag, too many activities for a constitutional recluse, general exhaustion--forgive incoherence) BUT I must just take a few minutes before bed to observe that I had the most wonderful BREAKTHROUGH butterfly lesson today. It was like a miracle...

On Friday night I was seriously pondering that stroke, I was glad I went to practice my dolphin kick but despite helpful suggestions I was still feeling a bit stymied! (Good thing I don't have twenty-four-hour pool access or I'd have been back over there again to act on a commenter's suggestion...)

I am a terrible over-thinker, it is my vice--so I spent more than an hour late Friday night just pondering that stroke and thinking about how it might work and realizing I was missing a few crucial pieces...

But the lesson this afternoon was amazing. We did a bit of work on the breaststroke first, it's in decent train though (mostly just working some more on pull, with paddles and without, to get the feel and think about where you get the most power--esp. working on fixing problem of not keeping arms in front of shoulders), then switched over to fly. Broke it down into pieces, did quite a few things separately and then amazingly at the end I finally totally got it.

I was doing it exactly the wrong way around--I knew I didn't have it, but I couldn't seem to work out when to breathe.

And then it all came clear!

I find rhythm really helpful for thinking about this stuff, I was laughing afterwards at myself on the subway for being (unfortunately in this case) more the child of a music teacher than of a swimming teacher (I was thinking of my brothers' friend Mike Simons who always fondly reminisces when he stops by our family holiday gatherings on various features of our mother's avowedly quite wonderful elementary-school music teaching, including the famous ta ta ti-ti ta exercises and also her rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" which I must say that my brothers and I find somewhat embarrassing--sorry, mom!). B/c the thing that finally mentally let me get it went kind of like this....

First there were some intellectual realizations...

There is no reason to waste energy on kicking when you are not in a streamlined position...

It is a two-kick stroke cycle, but the two kicks are not evenly spaced...

And then came the more useful music-student-ish point...

I could see from I.'s vertical dryland demonstration that really the time signature is something more complicated like I am guessing 5/3, but my rudimentary version will do for now...

Think of it as a 3/4 time signature:

KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover / KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover / KICK-and-plunge pull kick-and-recover

And suddenly it was totally working...

I had to go downtown afterwards on the subway and I was basically in a butterfly-related dream, unfortunately to the extent that I actually missed my stop! (Also I think several people were sneaking glances because I was slightly swaying back and forth trying to really remember the rhythm--however I was more or less oblivious, really I was immersed!) I must consolidate before Tuesday-morning practice, I think all the pool hours tomorrow conflict with existing obligations but I must at least sneak half an hour during the lunchtime swim hours on Monday at the gym to go and do this again, I am still slightly mesmerized by it but it only REALLY gets consolidated in the water...

(NB also worth mentioning is that the upside of having only done 5 instead of 10 miles this morning on the run was that I certainly had considerably more mental acuity than I would have otherwise, I felt like I was learning twice as fast as I sometimes do, the afternoon swim lesson clearly benefits...)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rainy Saturday morning run

Ah well, I was thwarted of my long one, which is a pity insofar as a long run is clearly one of the great pleasures in life, but it was unavoidable. We set out to do 10, but C. was only doing 4 in any case because he's racing tomorrow and L. was overcome with congestion that made it advisable for us to call it at 5 and go and get breakfast instead. As Wendy says, people are more important than practice!

Two good things, aside from the enjoyable conversation throughout the run and the meal: we knew around mile 3.5 that we were going to quit after the first upper loop, so I treated myself to a fast last mile or so, very enjoyable (the settings I've got in the device don't give me super-detailed pace info, since I have it set on an auto-lap function that gives me data per mile, but the lap-end pace at 4 was 8:34 and at the end was 8:13, and max pace was 7:41--it is just a glimmer for now, but I did have a nice little glimpse of an attainable future in which I will definitely be able to run a 5-mile race at 8-minute pace and a half-marathon at 8:30 pace--really I think I should be able to get to 8 minutes as a half-marathon race pace, but that will be contingent on various things, including the relative commitment to running versus triathlon--it may be I never really get that fast, not sure about this); and because I only did just under 5 this morning, I can have a workout tomorrow morning that is EXACTLY what I most want and need, namely an hour on the bike trainer followed immediately by an hour run at an easy pace. This will be very good!

4.7 miles, 9:40 average pace

Friday, October 26, 2007


A good forty-five-minute session just now in the Teachers College pool, which is funny and small and just mildly squalid but also rather magical & the perfect place to go and practice something. (Here was my small love letter to the Teachers College pool in February; scroll down to the bottom of the post.)

I did 200 or so free to warm up, and then a few lengths of breast, but various muscles reminded me that I had a heavy-duty workout yesterday evening (my hip flexors are squeaky!) and that with a long run tomorrow morning perhaps it was not the right evening to work on breast. So it was all fly-related stuff: a lot of dolphin kick with fins, some dolphin kick with various incarnations of drill arms, some stabs at the full thing with fins (I must go and watch some videos online, I need to figure out the timing thing still) and some stabs at the kick with no fins which show me that I still do not really understand how to do the kick reliably, the fins amplify the aspect of it that's working in a very helpful way but I think my midsection does not understand the movement.

I must just go and practice these things as often as I can, it's a bit silly but this is the way to learn hard things. Turns I will also need to learn in this way, it's not sensible to work on them in a real practice. I will just snatch an hour wherever I can to go and fit this in, if I even reliably did it once a week it would be good--Friday evening's often a good time for it...

A workout and an epiphany

The workout: a very good hour at the gym with M. Just regular, but enjoyable--and we're back on the evil plyometrics, this is good, some pretty tame jump squats for now but it will be more intense soon--they really are evil anyway--as is that running-in-place-with-knees-up-to-your-chest activity...

And I did two miles on the treadmill afterwards, it having been gradually dawning on me that (a) I am not happy with just running the two days I have been consistently able to manage real long(ish) ones, Tuesday and Saturday but (b) I do not have the empty space for other "real" ones. I seem to have been hearing from a number of different people recently about run frequency as a way of increasing volume, and I think squeezing in a couple (I wish the noun was "brace"!) of treadmill miles here and there will be a good way to go. Took em slow, was already pretty tired...

And then I went out to a play which I barely got to in the nick of time, and exhaustion kind of hit me as I slumped down in my seat waiting for it to start. I was sort of hell-bent on going to the Friday morning swim workout, I really would like to do all three morning ones in the week, but the combination of jet lag and four hours sleep last night plus not enough sleep all week was making me (really) eye the floor and wonder what would happen if I just lay down there to take a nap. Then I started mentally running the numbers. 8-11 for the play, 11-12 for dinner (which really it is not right to opt out of, not sociable!), half an hour cab home, say 1:15 absolute earliest time to be asleep and 5:30 as rising time for swim workout.

There was no possible sense in which it could be considered a good idea for me to do the morning swim workout.

Now I am going to go to bed and sleep for a very long time, at least ten hours if possible.

The thing is I still feel incredibly guilty! And I was thinking during the intermission at the theatre about the fact that about 90% of the time it is very good that I am extremely determined and with a good work ethic, but the other 10% is problematic. And the memory that came to me, though it's vague now, was of a fifth-grade camping trip.

It was a three- or four-day camping trip and there was a tradition in this class of there being a competition for who could walk backwards for the longest time--not the longest time in a row, just not walking forwards at all. (I am so tired I am not explaining this clearly!) So there was an official start point where everyone began walking backwards (i.e. doing all their walking backwards), and we all kept it up for a little while but of course pretty quickly people got tired of it. So by a couple hours later there aren't very many people still doing it--but I am of course grimly determined to walk backwards for the entire trip as necessary so as to make sure I am the longest holdout. Well, you can imagine the result of this. All the walking and hiking and other stuff you have to do on a trip like this was all horribly endured by me walking backwards. It came down to me and one other guy (I could not at all tell you who that fellow was, though I am sure at the time it seemed significant), we had both gone on days longer than everyone else, neither one of us would give up--I was desperate to stop, really, walking backwards was by this point so awful that it was making me want to burst into tears, only I was damned if I was going to be the first one to stop! And in the end I forgot, I think I either got out of bed in the morning or got up out of a chair and walked forwards and was disqualified, and was of course greatly relieved.

(But you see the general drift of this...)

The real clincher, and the thing that makes me feel not quite as guilty, is that it matters to me to have a good run on Saturday morning, and I will not if I do not sleep adequately tonight, so there it is.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Life is good

Goodness, that Thursday-morning swim puts me in a ridiculously good mood! I am making an iron-clad commitment to always get to the Thursday ones, these particular workouts make me very happy...

(It is especially striking because I was in the depths of sleeplessness-erodes-quality-of-life dolefulness last night--I got back from a sad event around 11, wretchedly tired, proceeded to hang around till 12:30 not going to bed, despairingly watched the clock tip to 1:15, 1:20--getting dangerously near the evil sub-four-hour mark. And it seemed as though nothing would ever be good again... However I guess I finally got off to sleep around 1:30, got up at 5:30, so that's four, not good really but what can you do? It is funny--the two novels I've written are quite different in many respects--but they've got a few funny commonalities--for one thing they are both set over the course of about 8-10 weeks in June and July, clearly I am so much on the academic schedule that this is the only window where I can really imagine out-of-the-ordinary things happening--and for another my two female protagonists are both helplessly in the grip of exactly my own insomnia!)

But I need more lessons on butterfly! I will have to have another butterfly one this Saturday, and then perhaps split the next Saturday one half breast half back for tuneup purposes... I want to be a better swimmer!

Anyway, the workout. (I think we have successfully colonized lane 7, for all practical purposes.)

Warmup: 250 free, 250 in 50s back-free-back-free-back, 250 in 50s breast-free-breast-free-breast

Main set:

24 x 50, in four sets of six

1 x 50 fly, 2 x 50 back, 3 x 50 breast
1 x 50 back, 2 x 50 breast, 3 x 50 free
1 x 50 breast, 2 x 50 free, 3 x 50 fly
1 x 50 free, 2 x 50 fly, 3 x 50 breast

(We were still finishing that as he gave the last set, which I didn't quite catch as we decided to finish out our main one--but it was basically, oh, 3 150s or 200s on descending rest intervals. Instead we just did a couple easy lengths of free to swim down. More important for me right now to work on strokes...)

The thing is that this sounds complicated only it has the most lovely elegance! You're just moving through the cycle of the strokes in the order they come in IM, and it's so clean and clear and logical--not to say you can't mess up, I did an extra 50 back for some reason (I have enthusiasm for that stroke!) at one point--but I just love it, I love the way swimming is elegant and mildly intellectual.

I was having thoughts strongly along these lines during a workout a couple weeks ago also--it is the kind of thing someone can explain to you but really you have to see it for yourself. I will have to fumble for the words, the terminology is not really to hand yet--but I was doing one of these sets that this coach likes where you start "on the top" (with clock at :00) because it's easier to keep track and then you're doing a sort of descending set--say on intervals of 2:00, 1:55, 1:50, something like that, with 4 at one interval and then 3 at the next and so forth descending. But it just hit me in that lovely way that, say, a science experiment might bring home some essential truth in physics class--that the pace clock is really telling you things, that if your attention lapses for instance and you suddenly can't remember which interval you're now on or how many repeats you've done the clock is sort of bursting to remind you of where you are, if only you will pay attention to what it has to say--it is like being on an archeological dig, you can excavate the recent history of your swim from it and let it tell you what you must do next...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday evening run

Hmmm, not sure how to categorize this one--mentally tough? Ritual grumble: it is October 23, in New York, it's 8:38pm and it is still 74 degrees with 68% humidity! Accordingly it was one of those slow and just slightly horrible runs with very high perceived effort throughout, though the pace was dishearteningly slow.

However I suppose on a brighter note a run like this is (a) good mental training and (b) good because not hard on the legs. (Noticeably springy-feeling legs, not having worked out with trainer or had Monday-night swimming yesterday...)

6.12 miles, 9:40 average pace, 151 average HR (but it went up a few beats with every mile--155, 157, 159 for last three, though we were not really going much faster...)

I took a nap this afternoon for an hour, it was not very enjoyable either as it wasone of those ones where you're so close to the surface you don't really feel like you're asleep. As far as I could tell, I spent the entire time in the grip of a tiring dream which involved me having found a running route on a map in a strange city that seemed just the right length, a loop round a park that was going to give me a ten-mile run, only then when I actually started doing it it was only one little city block and I just had to keep going round and round...

[ED. And I forgot--my favorite part...--two very bushy and prosperous-looking raccoons trotting across the road, one after another, in the east 90s--wildlife! Actually it really wasn't a terrible run, parts of it quite decent, only S. and I were both just moaning about the weather the whole time!]

Morning swim edition: the good, the bad and the ugly

Hmmm, I was irrationally convinced that jet lag would let me pop out of bed with huge alertness at 5am, but somehow it didn't happen: I was snoozing the alarm(s) (I have used a pair of clocks ever since one missed morning workout with the trainer a couple years ago, clearly I am capable of turning it off in my sleep, I am the furthest possible thing from a natural early riser) and then with horror suddenly and blearily noticed it was 5:37 and I was in danger of genuinely oversleeping.

So it wasn't the best swim workout ever, but it wasn't bad. H. and I switched into the next-over lane and I think we've really just got to stay there, there are too many others using the slow lane for just noodling around and not doing the workout. These morning ones are just kind of rushed, so it wasn't anything huge--let's see if I can remember...

(Not really using the clock, just appropriately brief rest intervals.)

Warmup: 200 free, 100 stroke (breast), 50 kick, then free till 6:15.

#1: 200 free, 200 stroke (back), 200 free

#2: 12 x 50, 2 free and 2 stroke (mostly back, a bit of breast)

I am sorry to say that I got out five minutes early and only had time to do ten rather than twelve. I was feeling increasingly queasy--no time to eat anything before I left the apartment, which usually is fine but I think jet lag throws it off. That means really I only did about 1500 yards, not very much, but on the other hand I was more in need of a gentle reintroduction than anything dramatic. So I came home and ate breakfast.

I think I can stick in this lane, my free is just the right speed for it, but it means that I really do need to find the time elsewhere for practicing the other strokes--I can't practice the fly stuff at all in this context, too stressful; breast is pretty slow, must just keep working steadily on that; form on back is vulnerable to the slight anxiety of swimming in a lane with others, too, both in terms of speed and in terms of logistics (esp. how to deal with turns). I should just dedicate myself to this, that's the fact of the matter, that's what I want to do--only of course really it is also appropriate to have, like, a life where I actually spend time now and then hanging out with people in the evenings--NOT in a swimming pool or running clothes or whatever...

Monday, October 22, 2007


Jackrabbit Sports has announced details for this winter's indoor triathlon series. I'm going to do this one on December 16. All indoors, with a generous fixed transition time: swim ten minutes in the pool, bike thirty minutes on a spin bike, run twenty minutes on a treadmill, see how far you can go. This will be good practice for me, and will also get me going on the bike training thing with some actual immediate short-term incentive (I'm going to sit down with that schedule tomorrow and work things out so as to incorporate more swim-bike or bike-run paired workouts)...

Dublin run

I'm insanely jet-lagged all of a sudden--when I got home this afternoon around 2:45 (having only slept four hours last night in any case due to insomnia, and after a long day of traveling), I was all bursting with energy & thought I would go and do a skills swim this evening (I am never going to learn how to do that dolphin kick reliably unless I practice it a lot more than I've been doing!), but it suddenly dawned on me around 5:20 as I sat in a classroom for an Important Work-Related Activity that this was quite simply direly inadvisable. Some catch-up blogging, some student e-mails, some SLEEP!

I have taken an annoyingly large number of days off, but it was unavoidable. And I did have my nice run on Sunday morning in Dublin. It seems low-minded to provide statistics, really I was soaking up the atmosphere, but I did 9.2 miles, average HR 142, average pace 10:00. Very enjoyable run indeed, really leisurely, only marred by the fact of extreme hunger starting around mile 3, my stomach was actually growling--it is difficult to eat at all the right things while traveling!

Back on proper track tomorrow, I think... 6am swim tomorrow, 7pm seven- to eight-mile run with the Aspirational Sub-2:00 Club...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

No posts till Tuesday

I'm off to Dublin for a conference--I had fully intended to do a great bike-run workout this afternoon, but of course pressing work obligations (rightly) consumed every moment. It is a pity, it would have been my first ever swim-bike-run day! However I should be able to have one sometime in the next few weeks, I think...

It's a whirlwind trip, and the hotel I'm staying at doesn't seem to have a fitness center, so my one definite workout that I must not miss is an eight- to ten-mile run on Sunday morning. (Ten preferred, but once I get lost I stop running and start walking and feel like I am going to cry, so I will make generous allowances as needed!)

I will bring bathing suit & cap & goggles just in case I can find a pool somewhere, but I'm not optimistic, partly just because I don't have any free time to speak of till Sunday and things in Dublin definitely seem to be closed that day. I wish I could say that I thought I would get enough sleep that these could count as good rest days, but it is unrealistic! Ah well, I will be tired but raring to go when I get back--have a great weekend, everyone...

Those who have known me

for a long time really will just be looking at me in horror & thinking my brain has been taken over by an alien--but can I just say that swimming really early in the morning is a ridiculously good way to start the day?!? Mmmmm...

A good one this morning, definitely, though perhaps more in the "good for me" than "wonderfully good" mode--on the other hand these workouts where we do a lot of strokes make me just ecstatic on the lengths of free, I definitely had that nice taffy-like feel for lots of 'em.

Warmup: 2 x 250 (was meant to be 3, but we were a bit late getting started) - can't seem now to reproduce exactly details, but it was basically 25 fly 50 back 75 breast with free interspersed

Main set: 3 x 250

#1: 25 fly, 100 free, 25 fly, 100 free
#2: 50 back, 75 free, 50 back, 75 free
#3: 75 breast, 50 free, 75 breast, 50 free

And then the final set (this was my reward for slogging through that breaststroke which I do very badly and slowly):

10 x 100 with pull buoy (after the other one this is like magic!)

1-4 on 2:05
5-7 on 2:00
8-9 on 1:55
10 on 1:50

The coach commented after the first one that he should bump me up a lane, and unfortunately it is true that this interval really was too long for the point of the set--I was having more rest time than I needed. The lane-bumping is a dilemma, though--what I really need is to get much better on the other strokes, and it's better for me to be in the slower lane as far as practicing goes--if I'm in the faster, I fear I'll end up just doing free instead of breast, say, on something like that last one, so that I'm not holding up everyone else in the lane. Maybe it's just a question of being flexible and switching things around, going into the faster lane for the free set and switching back for the other--or at least thinking about different days in different lanes.

I've got a work trip this weekend that will almost certainly mean no swimming, but when I get back I'm going to contemplate my schedule. I want a lot more swimming right now, it's kind of going to be swimming focus round here! But I must keep on making an effort to find biking time even if it still seems totally half-assed...

(One more on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand: it's a pity that this workout is only one hour, and that it's hard to get started right at 6--but it is psychologically much less hard to get myself over there for what I know will be kind of a 58-minute workout than a one-hour-plus workout, so perhaps it's for the best...)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday yoga

A good class this afternoon (mostly backbends, plus a few miscellaneous other things); I think this teacher is excellent, though perhaps a bit more of a doer and less of an explainer (I like the explainers--but on the other hand she's an excellent show-er, it doesn't have to be in words).

I find myself slightly underenthused on yoga recently, not sure what to do about this. Maybe it's just that I haven't been doing it enough. But I also feel that I lack some quality that the really devoted yoga-doers have: it is very good, I like it very much, and yet it does not have me mentally in thrall the way swimming and running do. I think that both yoga and gym-type working out really ask you to be interested in your body almost as an aesthetic object--in the symmetries and proportions of the muscles--not regardless of function, of course, but in a configuration where form and function are intimately related in a way that feels to me a bit self-regarding. The other stuff does not seem quite so solipsistic--perhaps just because you are literally moving forward!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thoughts on pacing

Re: yesterday's timed 400s. (There really must have been three of them, by the way--because I'm pretty certain I did two swimming alongside the guy in the adjacent lane, and then one at the end by myself.)

So the coach said to me for the last one, in kind of advance commiseration if I didn't make my time, that it would be harder without someone to swim next to. And psychologically this is surely true, it's fun swimming alongside (either splitting lane or in adjacent ones) someone at very similar speed, good boost to keep things snappy and kick hard off the wall and stuff...

But I actually went a few seconds faster for the last one, and when I thought about it afterwards it seemed to me--I have no idea, I am just not experienced enough and do not know the fellow well enough to ask him about his subjective impression (all I know is that he didn't want to do the last one--but it may have been for a more respectable reason than laziness!)--that I was definitely the one setting the pace for the first two. We were slightly neck and neck, but my neck was always a bit further ahead, and by the end I was maybe a third of a length ahead. But it's not exactly the who's in front so much as just my strong feeling that I was in charge of our mutual pacing, and that if I had pushed a little harder I probably could have dropped him, but that there was no sign coming from his end that he had any urge to do the same to me!

Now, there must be times when each person feels, for instance, that the other is leading on pace. I know I have runs like this sometimes, where I think I'm trying to keep up with the other person and they think they're trying to keep up with me and we escalate! But in my experience of swimming it does not work quite so much like that--however I do not know whether that is by virtue of the nature of swimming, or the stage of swimming experience I'm at, or the fact of swimming lengths in a pool instead of just moving continuously forward in one line...

Tuesday run

A very decent one, though I had cause to reflect that lack of sleep translates directly into a high level of perceived effort--I just felt like I was working pretty hard the whole time. Not in a bad way, it was a quite enjoyable run, but the pace we were at didn't really justify me feeling so hard-working.

7.1 miles in Central Park--the twisty-turny figure-eight version. And I swear I would have missed several of the turns if I'd been doing it by myself. It looks different in the dark!

9:22 average pace, 152 average HR.

Mile splits with HR (effort level was more even than times suggest, we slowed down for hills):

9:33 (142)
9:30 (150)
9:21 (153)
9:02 (152)
9:38 (152)
9:07 (155)
8:44 (157)

And a bit at the end...

(That S. is just a faster runner than I am!)

Hip muscles fairly stiff before starting, from yesterday's workout; can't feel 'em now, though. I think tomorrow I should just do yoga, no attempt at trainer ride--get some sleep, let my body process yesterday's and today's stuff! The thing is that I have a huge mental appetite for training, and I am fairly sturdy and energetic physically--but I must not overdo it, training works better if you leave it a bit of time to sink in.

While the coffee brews

I will just take this quick chance to say that (rather contrary to expectation) I had a quite lovely swim this morning! It really is totally unpredictable...

I got to bed last night around midnight, but sleep proved altogether beyond my grasp for some time. At 1:30 I was looking dispiritedly at the clock and considering my 3:40 rule: namely, that anything less than about 3 hours and 35 minutes sleep does not prepare one for a fully functioning day (don't get me wrong, I don't recommend that on a daily basis, it's just that I feel it's the absolute acceptable minimum--a lesson learned in college, of course--less than that and you are nodding off all day in a way that is altogether beyond conscious control...). If I have to get up at 5:30, that means that the window is rapidly closing for it to be OK to go to the workout without compromising the rest of the day's work. Fortunately I must have fallen asleep about ten minutes later...

Kind of a great workout!

Warmup for 10 minutes or so just doing 100 free, 50 kick, 100 free, 50 drill. Then two sets:

5 x 200 (on 4:00)

#1: 200 cruise
#2: 50 steady (i.e. comfortably hard), 150 cruise
#3: 100 steady, 100 cruise
#4: 150 steady, 50 cruise
#5: 200 steady

This was good--my arms felt a bit tired at the beginning (no discomfort whatsoever in the shoulders, just a bit of soreness in the biceps--I think this is from the workout yesterday morning as well as from those hard 400s last night), but quickly felt as springy and strong as you hope they will! My time on the first one was 3:48 or so, not very fast, but on #5 I got down to 3:33 so that I think is quite acceptable.

The second set had one disappointment at the beginning, but was on the whole v. sensible and useful. Similar principles, different content:

5 x 100 (on 2:10)

#1: 25 stroke (i.e. of choice), 75 free
#2: 50 stroke, 50 free
#3: 75 stroke, 25 free
#4: 100 stroke
#5: 100 free

We decided to go through the order of the strokes in IM--so as to only have to do 25 butterfly, really!--but unfortunately (this was the one disappointment) I realized a quarter of the way down the pool that (a) it was too quick to expect myself to switch over into that mode which I have not yet fully grasped and (b) really I can only do dolphin kick properly with fins on. But the back was fine, and the breast was adequate; I did back for my 100, because it's so much like free it is just better for me than the other, though I have not yet at all conceptualized what you need to do for efficient turns & such.


I guess I really do have to go and get a Teachers College pool membership again and practice strokes in the evenings. Last week's morning workouts had a lot of IM, but today not so much; I can't count on it, and anyway I really need to be working slowly and with no lane pressure on the nuts and bolts, and with fins as needed.

The other thing I need is a bathrobe!

(But J., I know you are going to read this and have a lovely lightbulb light up above your head that it will be a good present--I am going to go and order one online today though so it will come in time for next week's swimming.)

(However, any recommendations on bathrobes that I can purchase online will be gratefully accepted in comments or by e-mail!)

And some (what's the word--sort of a compromise between wicking and water-resistant!) gear I can wear over my bathing suit once it gets colder. Laziness (and the fact that the gym's literally one and a half blocks away) means that I prefer for this AM one just go over with bathing suit already on, with sort of waterproof shorts and fleece--then I just put 'em on again afterwards over the wet bathing suit and go home to shower and change. But I need a bathrobe because I have to have at least one coffee (and some blogging...) before showering. And is there not some kind of a, like, warm sack-like water-resistant swimmer's garment that you can get into for walking around outside in the winter with wet bathing suit under it?!?

(And I take this opportunity to note a garment of great engineering genius that is on sale at Patagonia for an absurdly reasonable price--I ordered one to check it out, but it's so good that I then ordered five more--I'm not kidding--it's great--like a sort of chastity belt for the upper half, it really works for running and it's kind of a top also, so that in a heat emergency you could take off your shirt without feeling too scrupulous...)

[ED. Oh, that link does not take you to a specific garment, but I really feel I must evangelically recommmend it: it's the Women's Active Sports Top C/D... only $18.40 which if you have never bought a sports bra is a ridiculously good bargain!]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday-night swimming

I felt unbelievably tired and uncomfortable and just generally kind of out of it in the early evening, and it took longer than usual to get in the swing of things at the workout: a lot of people weren't there (marathon training conflicts, I expect, mostly, plus regular days-getting-shorter tiredness), so I was swimming in a lane by myself, disconcerting in its own right. But in the end it was a great workout, I am glad I didn't flake out on it. Here are the rough outlines, anyway:

Warmup: 200 easy swim, 200 25 swim and flip turn and 25 kick on back

Annoying drill set that you hate while you're doing it but can bizarrely feel benefiting your stroke for the rest of the evening:

12 x 50

In sets of 4, 25 drill and 25 swim back: (1) long doggie paddle (alternating four strokes each on left then on right); (2) opposite side breathe (I have done this before, but always forget-it literally involves breathing on the opposite side from your stroke, most disconcerting, you have to kind of heave yourself up and over the water); (3) reverse catch-up (with a delay in the stroke, only with one arm front and one arm back--I like this one, I find it enjoyable); (4) finger drill and salute (my least favorite, horrible, drag finger up along side--also known as thumbsies--and then have side of forefinger slide like a salute along the forehead).

Then the main set, which was a killer but finally gave me an immense sense of accomplishment. I am not sure I'm getting it quite right as I describe it now--and to my chagrin it was one of the ones where the grown-up lanes have a harder version that involves 600s instead of 400s! I want to be in the grown-up lanes! BUT it went pretty much like this, with ample rest between bits so as to help goal of holding pace:

4 x 100 (on 2:00 for me and the similar-paced guy in the lane next to me--maybe we were doing 1:45, or a second or two faster--with goal of holding the pace)

(Hmmm, I sort of feel like there was another 400 in here--there was, wasn't there? I think I did three, not two--can't remember, though...)

2 x 200 (on 4:30, aiming to get 3:30 on each, which we did)

1 x 400 (aiming for 7:20--would be too fast to try and get the other--I think I was at 7:17 or 7:18)

8 x 50, two sets of four descending (slightly messed this up, the interval we started on was too short, had to slow it down a bit)

And then one final 400, trying to hit 7:20 again. I did this one on my own, the fellow next to me couldn't quite face it, so I consider it a mild triumph that I did 7:15. That is a hard swim, and it reminded me that when I first started Doug's level I swim clinic in March I could not have swum 400 yards without stopping.

A quick look in my exercise log in fact tells me that when I went to the first clinic on 3/8 (I started swimming in January, doggedly swam 4-5 times a week and had a few lessons but basically--I am not exaggerating, this is how it works--was a WORSE swimmer after the lessons, because it messed up a basic but functional stroke in the super-flat 1970s what-I-learned-when-I-was-six style in aid of moving towards a better one with body rotation and all mod. cons.), Doug gave us the test of swimming continuously for 10 minutes and seeing how many lengths we could do.

(The notes are rather comical, I give an exact transcription: "Swim good - just 10 mins actual swimming (time test - 18 lengths? def. stopped a bunch of times to rest) - breathless but felt great. this is a good thing to do - these guys are for real...")

(It was true!)

So that's 18 lengths of a 20-yard pool: call it 340 yards, in 10 minutes.

Six weeks later, on the last meeting of the level I clinic (4/30), I say "Dramatic improvement on conditioning/distance - can't remember details but it's good - 25 lengths in 10 mins., no stopping this time!" So that's 500 yards in 10 minutes. (Times in the shorter pool are better because you're fastest when kicking off the wall.)

But the times kind of don't even explain it, I am just an infinitely better swimmer now than I was then.

(I am telling myself this to try and fend off self-critical impulses, I am finding it demoralizing being so much the slowest swimmer--well, me and the guy in the other lane--and really there is only five seconds difference on intervals from one lane to the next, it is not different universes of swimming--only I am impatient to keep on working and get a lot better! Arghhh!!! I must get better!)

I will confess that afterwards I took a taxi home--it takes about 7 minutes as opposed to more than half an hour on the train, it is decadent but for once it seemed worth it. And now I must go and do another hour or so of work to get ready for tomorrow. The tricky thing about Monday-night swimming is that I don't really get home till just before 10, but tomorrow morning's swim workout starts at 6, and I must be out the door by 5:50! So--more thoughts on swimming anon...

Gym workout

Excellent workout this morning with M. at the gym. Seems like the first one for a long time where I wasn't constrained in some way (tapering for a race, recovering from a race, sick, etc. etc.); good full-body workout, nothing special but just generally kinda enjoyable.

I don't like it that I'm down to only one strength-training session per week. Two is better, and three is ideal. But one strength and one yoga is a sensible compromise during the school year, and really my highest priority right now is to build in more bike time. Really, for the rest of the semester I should just reconcile myself to once a week...

(But in December and January I am going to have a massive six- to eight-week surge of working out, back off endurance stuff and move to three sessions per week at the gym and more high-intensity cardio in the other hours of the week and do one final stab at losing ten more pounds--it's not really the weight loss per se, though I do think that my running will benefit if I can do it, it will be more sensible to focus on body composition. I really do not have the urge to post my weight for everyone on the internet to read, but suffice it to say that I feel I'm currently in a position where I fit into smaller clothes than I ever would have imagined--like size 6 or even 4 sometimes, and S or XS in the brands I would be likely to buy, i.e. Nike running clothes or Patagonia or Eileen Fisher--it is true that I mostly shop at stores where the sizes run fairly large, though--but that I still weigh a surprisingly large number of pounds. Yes, it's true, a lot of it's muscle--but still...)

Really of course I wish I was training about 15 hours a week! I don't have the time during the school year, but I think I should be able to build up to those kind of hours this summer. I would say I've been exercising about 10 hours a week for the last couple years (from nothing before that!), some weeks even a bit more... The fact is it's not just not having the time--I can always make time for something I care about. It's more that you have to give your body time to adapt to new regimens. So I should just think of it as biding my time--I need to train to be able to train for the Ironman...

I am increasingly feeling like if I get the chance to do a half-iron distance race next summer (ideally in early to mid-August), I should take it. I don't want to rush anything and injure myself. But the trouble with waiting and preparing and over-preparing is that your expectations become higher and higher. I'd kind of like to do one next summer where I'd put in the hours training, sure, but where I was still just approaching it, like, "Let's see what this feels like!" And not worrying so much about times and stuff. Hmmm, we will see--but I think it probably could be done...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bike trainer ride!

Hmmm, it may have dawned on the reader that there's not really much of a narrative round here. The training week is a repetitive thing, it is more or less the same, week in and week out!

(I like that about it...)

There may be some mild story building up--I'm mulling over paces and contemplating whether I might aim for 1:56 at the half-marathon in Philadelphia in November, a bit of suspense there as to whether I can pull this off...--but it's not much of a story--it's going to be ages before I can do an actual triathlon! (Though Jackrabbit sponsors a couple indoor ones over the winter, and I'm so there...)

One of the most repetitive (and I fear tedious, though comical) aspects of the non-story has been the cloud of rationalization and procrastination surrounding bicycle-related activities! So I am happy to report a positive development on that front. I just did a real honest-to-god sixty-minute trainer ride!

(I thought I would do ninety minutes, but after about ten I realized I had not sufficiently conceptualized the purpose of the ride to justify the expenditure of will-power that would be required for an extra thirty, and that sixty would be just fine.)

For next time, I will take a look at the various training volumes I've got lying around and actually figure out a workout. Today, I was just concentrating on how it feels and trying to get it right. I did a few drills (clipping out on one side and just pedaling with the other foot, five on each side), counted some cadence (for some reason the bike computer is working otherwise but is not giving cadence, must sort of poke around and see if I can fix that, that's almost the most useful thing on these stationary rides), broke out a sweat. I got a fan that works well, and it's actually a good chance to listen to some music, which I do not seem to do often enough...

This feels like a very minor moral victory...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Swimming lesson

A very-much-to-the-point swimming lesson focusing on the components of butterfly...

The teacher really is great, but I am still feeling rather obtuse on this stroke!

On the bright side, that dolphin kick seems totally obtainable now, whereas a month ago I did not understand at all how it works or how to reliably produce it. So that is good. I like it...

On the other hand, I still do not seem to understand at all the timing of the stroke, the relationship between arms and head and breathing is mysterious. I did catch glimpses and glimmers of it, but only as through a glass very darkly--I will just hope to catch a few more glimpses soon...

I won't have a lesson next week, unfortunately; it will be two weeks. I must make sure to practice in the meantime. It will come clearer, it must come clearer!

Blissful Saturday morning run

ABSOLUTELY BLISSFUL. I forgot how pleasant it is to run while not dripping with sweat and panting to get adequate amounts of oxygen from damp air that makes lungs feel like disgusting sponges... Low 50s, bright and sunny and clear, absolute bliss.

(The New York-style steam heat came on last night for the first time, in a faint way--that sound of hissing! The pleasant slight smell of scorching, like ironing! Mmmm....)

10.2 miles, 10:00 pace average, 142 HR average. Perfect. (Well, it could be even slower and with lower HR, but this was a very good stab at it, and it felt great.)

And now I am going to indulge myself with an excessively rambling set of training-related musings...

First of all I read an amazingly good training-related document this week, courtesy of Brent: Hadd's Approach to Distance Training (that's an HTML file, but you can get it as a Word document which is more convenient--click the first link here).

Quite a bit of this is never going to be relevant to me. I'm never going to be doing that kind of mileage, so I will never for instance have the very tight spread (think of it as a "clock face") between mile PR (at twelve o'clock) and pace in 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon falling at fifteen-second intervals around the clock.

(I'm making up these paces to illustrate, I do not have a timed mile of this sort and I have obviously not yet done a marathon, but let's say my current mile PR might fall at 7:30 but my current marathon pace would be 9:30 to be on the safe side, 9:15 at absolute best I think--so closer to a two-minute spread. The 10K-HM spread is closer to what he recommends, but still probably more like 20 seconds than fifteen, or maybe more.)

But there is a quite wonderful section where he describes a training season, following time out from injury, where impatience led him to do his long runs too fast, and he found himself uncomfortable at even a slower-than-usual pace on the really long ones--very illuminating. And the thing I've most immediately taken away from it is the recommendation of a 50bpm spread between max HR and the HR for long runs.

This is an immensely useful rule of thumb, it seems to me. (It comes in context of some very generally useful observations on lactate threshold and running speed for training purposes--well worth a look. The point of this rule is that this is what's most beneficial in terms of capillarization and mitochondria-energy systems for endurance running.)

The top HR that came up on my monitor at last weekend's HM was 188; I haven't done more systematic testing (I want to, but I keep on flaking out on it!), but let's say a max of 190. Possibly a few beats higher, but that's probably about right.

So we're talking 140 (or a bit lower) as the HR for long runs.

Now, this has been virtually unobtainable due to heat and humidity and hilliness. The only runs this summer where I successfully maintained a sub-140 HR (i.e. higher 130s) was with my friend R. Combination of factors: 6am run; flat run along Hudson rather than Central Park; his comfortable pace is currently closer to 12:00 than 11:00 so I let him set pace and followed lead. I've been doing low-HR-aware thinking this last 10 weeks or so, but given New York summer temperatures and, as I say, hilliness of the long run terrain, the rule of thumb there (in addition to trying to follow pace recommendations vis-a-vis Daniels' Running Formula) was "keep Jenny's HR monitor below 150." And even this grew increasingly challenging in the later part of the run, due to cardiac drift.

But today's perfect weather made everything come clear! We were aiming for 10:00 pace--this is at the faster end of Daniels' long run pace, but he gives marathon pace (say 9:30 in my case) as an alternate possibility for long runs, and I figure 10:00 is pretty reasonable. A couple weeks ago, due to weather, my HR on this would have hovered in high 140s and tipped over pretty quickly into mid-150s. But now it's cool and no longer humid, the HRs are just right. In the middle of mile 7, I looked at my monitor and saw it was right at 140, and indeed other than the couple hillier stretches where it did go up again, the average HR really was just right.


So here are details, why not actually paste in the whole chart from the Polar set-up:

(NB I never set the max HR or anything, so the percentages given are not necessarily accurate, but it gives the idea. I must get on the ball about this and sort out some detailed numbers and training zones...)[ED. Hmmm--I must see if I can find some way to get clearer definition on that paste-in, the numbers are pretty much unreadable...]

Friday, October 12, 2007

Morning swim

A morning swim workout which I cannot at all reproduce, except that it included 3 x 100 IM which I made a brave stab at...

(Lane tension this morning--yesterday was bliss in comparison--on Monday night there was lane tension also in the usually delightful lane I swim in, one new person introduced himself and one regular was absent and it threw everything off.)

Resolution: though I really would like to swim all three CU morning workouts, I should think seriously about feeling free to skip the Friday one when I haven't had enough sleep that week. I didn't get home last night till 11:30, finally fell asleep around 1 but woke up pretty much every hour and was mildly horrified when 5:30 arrived and it really was time to get up.

I really wanted to go today, and it was good, I got in some more backstroke practice that I'll be very glad of at my lesson tomorrow. And because of the hiatus, I haven't been swimming as much as I'd like--and I'll miss some next week because of a work-related weekend trip.

But in terms of my Saturday morning long run, it will do not good if I am always or often only sleeping four hours on Thursday night. I will see how this goes--I would love to get my sleep on a better schedule, but it's tricky, a lifetime of late-night habits and troublesome insomnia makes it seem an almost insurmountable challenge...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday morning swim

And it was lovely, too. The first day of the new session, and I was having mild dread yesterday at the prospect of newness and extreme early rising--but now I feel I am over the newness/dread bit, I hope at least, and will just look forward to it. It is a great thing!

(But the come-home-and-bike idea is totally unrealistic--I don't really walk in the door till around 7:25, we were having pleasant and useful swimming-related chat in the locker-room--and I can't do it at the expense of things I need to finish for morning lecture. Ritual grumble: I requested a 10:35 rather than 9:10 lecture slot for exactly the reason of morning exercise, plus the students are more awake at that hour. I was given that slot. Then in mid-August I learned there was no available classroom and the class got moved an hour and half earlier.... Yes, yes, I know, I lead an unbelievably and decadently professorial life--but still, it would have been so much more convenient!)

Swimming makes me feel I can do anything, though...

Warmup: 650. But what were they?!? Arghh, seems a long time ago now! 50 double-arm back, 100 catch-up, 200 something IM-related, 300 swim.

First set: 10 x 50, stroke count drill. Two sets of five: start with regular swim, hold same time but reduce stroke count by one each 50. (So: 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, then repeat from top.) I did the first 50 in 50 seconds or so, the coach gave us (kindly!) a 1:10 interval rather than 1:00, but I think I started too fast--I was finding it hard to reduce strokes without sacrificing speed, whereas I remember the last time I tried something like this and didn't worry so much about time, I did a much better job with the counts. I don't think this is terrible, probably I just aimed more ambitiously this time, but I could have gone a couple seconds slower that first time out.

Then a main set that is exactly what I need but what is very challenging, esp. as I still do not understand butterfly to speak of! (I am not sure this was what I. was planning for our Saturday lesson, but I must get her to give me the nuts and bolts on Saturday, I need it right away!) 10 x 100 IM, alternating drill IM and regular. The drill for butterfly is dolphin kick with three strokes on each side, back is three right three left three regular, breast is one pull and two kicks, free is catch-up. We got up to the end of number 8, and then it was time to stop. But I think it was pretty good that I could even do it at all, though my dolphin kick is extremely erratic! I think if I work hard I will be able to do a proper IM 100 by Xmas...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yoga, rationalization

A good yoga class, though the forward bends we were working on for most of the class make me feel painfully untalented: tight hamstrings and calves are not an asset... Fortunately we ended with some shoulder-stands which are much more my kind of thing, so I walked out with better morale than I would have had about twenty-five minutes earlier.

Then I got home and had bicycle-related rationalization and did not do my bike trainer ride! (E-mail and internet-related business/time-wasting; not well-fueled enough to exercise; have to go to Fancy Function 6-8 and could not face having to shower first.) Really I just didn't quite want to, that's the fact of the matter. OK--had planned 3 treadmill miles at gym after 6-7am swim tomorrow, but I hereby promise myself that I will instead come home and do at least 35 minutes on the trainer. I teach at 9, so there should be plenty of time, even for necessary coffee-ingestion post-workout...

(I must ride at least once before my lesson on Saturday, it's my swimming teacher's trainer on loan and I must be able to tell her I am making good use of it! In fact if I did half an hour also on Friday after swimming, that would be good too...)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tuesday evening run

Hmmm--a rather enjoyable run this evening in the park, only not what I planned! Was sort of imagining 8 slow, but it turned into six and a bit fastish instead--it was just me and S., that guy is just a faster runner than I am!

(I suppose there are five of us right now who I'm e-mailing with run details, B. the slowest, then me and L., then S., then C. But L. and I do the most consistent training, and I do the most cross-training which gives me good endurance--also that's just what I'm suited to, I think, that longer stuff. I had a sudden hilariously horrible vision around mile 4 tonight--in fact now I look at the mile splits it was indeed just where we got rather faster--of what will happen if I do a run just with S. and C., I really will have to swallow my pride and just drop behind, it will be fatal to try and keep up!)

Mile splits: 9:52, 9:25, 9:32, 9:04, 8:56, 8:44 and another quarter mile cooldown.

The fact is that I don't mind being bossy when there are at least two other people, it makes me feel like the Team Leader and it seems on the whole beneficent, but it is not cool to play the tyrant in a group of two and be constantly dictating pace!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Monday-night swimming

A great workout this evening, despite the fact (as always) that I dragged my feet on the way over--despite the fact that I am about a hundred times more a night person than a morning person, 7:45pm in midtown is psychologically rough, it comes after the early-evening lull...

I cannot reproduce all elements, but here's a stab at it:

Warmup: 300 yards (50 swim, 50 kick)

8 x 50 practicing flip turn at end

8 x 75, breathing every 2 strokes on the first 25, every 4 on the second and every 6 on the third (or 3, 5, 7 for bilateral breathers--I decided this was not the moment for me to practice, but I must start working more consistently on this)

4 x 200 pull (25 long, 25 2 long strokes 2 fast strokes, 25 "long strong turnover," 25 fast strong turnover, then repeat cycle for second hundred)

Hmmm, after the third 200 I was slightly regretting the upper-body focus in my gym workout this morning...

(I may have left something out, can't quite remember...)

And then a rather amazing final set, I liked this one (though again on the last few I was thinking that it felt a bit too much like the raspy hyperventilatey breathing of the last 800 meters of the half-marathon on Saturday, these fast sets have been lovely for the last six weeks because I've been doing most of my running pretty slowly, this evening I thought "hmmm, perhaps my body would like a little bit of a rest, like it's a good thing I'm not swimming again tomorrow morning..."--though right now my legs feel bizarrely springy and energetic again!):

4 x 75, on intervals of 1:45, 1:40, 1:35, then repeat two more times (with a minute of rest between each set)

I liked this one, this is how we are going to improve the speed on our timed 500s I believe. It's not that hard for me to hit and hold, say, 1:20 or even more like 1:18 for the 75. But by numbers 7 and 8, and then again with 11 and 12, your lungs are really desperate for more oxygen! An interesting sensation, I perversely enjoy it...

It is 10:12 at night and it's still 82 degrees. This weather is making me very unhappy--where's fall?!?

On trying new things

I had a good workout with the trainer this morning. I walked over to the gym, after a very restless night of sleep, feeling as if it was inconceivable that I could do any kind of workout (stiff quads from that race!), but in fact it was quite pleasurable, once we worked out the appropriate limitations (nothing super-high-heart-rate-inducing, minimal lower-body involvement). Moderate, appealing, sensible. But still good for the muscles...

I had a longstanding and long-overdue obligation to visit a friend with a new baby downtown, and today for various reasons being the first day I could honorably acquit myself of it I took the opportunity to drop off the injured bicycle en route. (Go and take a look, BTW, at her hilarious cartoons about the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding.)

The first panel of the second strip: It is always lovely to see M. in any case. But we had an especially good bit of conversation about something we share, which is a reluctance to try new things. Some people are adventurous about trying new stuff; M. and I both build up imaginary obstacles, obsess about them, etc. but then discover once we actually make ourselves do the actual dreaded thing that it is not so bad.

M.'s latest series of things to do with this all concerns the baby: baths, pumping milk, etc. etc.

Mine, of course, are bicycle-related!

So on the one hand this was a good conversation because it reminded me how much lower the stakes are with a bicycle than with a baby...

But on the other hand it also reminded me that I do usually like things quite well once I've actually got over the hump of newness, and today's bicycle-related activities are a case in point. Really my job is just to do whatever it takes to make myself feel warmly towards this machine! And I did actually feel a modest sense of accomplishment, though a ten-year-old child could probably have done the same thing with less worries (assuming a credit card in hand...).

To wit: I took my bicycle on the subway to the store, I explained what I needed, I came back in two hours and the problem was solved! They checked the cables and made necessary adjustments, they showed me that somehow accidentally I had actually torn out the whole valve (I must be more careful, I still do not quite see how this happened) and did not charge me for fixing it.

(That is not to say I did not spend quite a lot of money, because I did. Two spare tubes, a handlebar mirror which they installed for me, a bottle of lube for the chain and a backpack: $142.21...)

It would make a funny triathlete blog just to chronicle, sort of a-la-Bridget Jones calorie/alcohol unit counts, the money spent each week on the sport... But nobody would want to do it because it is so outrageously and shamingly spendthrift!

I told you this would sound only like a very modest accomplishment, so modest as to be almost negligible, but for me it actually seems like a great psychological step forward to think (a) I might break something on my bike and (b) all I have to do if that happens, or even if I think that has happened, is to take it to the store where I bought it or the local bike shop in walking distance where my friend R. introduced me to the expert mechanic and get someone to fix it for me for a modest sum!

Later this week I am going to go and see if I can purchase cycling shoes that will take cleats but do not have such slippery soles, I feel certain that with a pair that weren't so skittery I wouldn't be so nervous. But the only thing that matters for now is that I should do whatever it takes to kind of fall in love with that nice little bicycle...

(In January it was all, like, will I have to walk through the corridors and stairwells of the Dodge Fitness Center in a bathing suit and towel to get to the swimming pool? Am I supposed to wear flip-flops when I take a shower at the gym? How do I know which lane to swim in? It took modest courage to actually investigate the horrible bathing-suit-in-corridor notion deeply enough to realize what a more experienced person would have guessed, which is that there is another women's locker room immediately adjacent to the pool...)

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Oh dear, I am fairly certain I have broken the Presta valve on my rear tire.

Narrative of events:

Contemplate extreme hunger, think about eating something, then realize if I do not do bike trainer ride now it's not happening.

Change into bike clothes, including socks.

Switch skewers, get bike into trainer.

Grab pump to get tire pressure up.

Belatedly realize I have not quite done something right (I still find those valves confusing in any case!) and that tire has now completely deflated.

Tinker with valve, on assumption that I am doing something wrong.

Think about how it is a bad idea to undertake a workout when already very underfueled-feeling, resist impulse to burst into tears at continued inability to fix problem!

Check out road bike repair manual.

(Resolve to take tires on and off at some near opportunity and get over bicycle maintenance fears. It always seems as though it will be impossible to put things back together, I do not have a strong urge to take things apart, could never have been a scientist!)

Examine valve on front wheel.

Reexamine valve on back wheel.

Check things on internet.

Conclude: I have broken the valve, though I should look again in the morning in daylight and when well-fed. BUT there is no reason to freak out. (Even if I have made a mistake and it is NOT broken, there is no shame in not really understanding bicycles.) I need to take it in to the store where I bought it for the brake cable check, I never did that soon after I first bought it but now I did that long ride it is a good time to take it in. And I will throw myself on their mercy re: this wretched valve.

ARGHHH! Bicycles...

Now I am going to eat something which will restore my mental capacities I hope...

Training schedule for next six weeks

I think I'm going to do one more round of training-to-race rather than moving into base training mode. I'm running the half-marathon on the same day as the Philadelphia marathon on 11/18 [ED.: I am not running both races, that was unfortunate phrasing! It's HELD on the same day as the full marathon...], and because it's a flat course and the temperature's likely to be more moderate I think I've got a good chance of beating my time for this last one, definitely of making my 1:58 goal (barring injury in intervening weeks) and maybe even of hitting 1:56--something to aim for, anyway, coming in the 1:56es...

(I don't feel at all burned out--the half-marathon doesn't require serious recovery time--so I don't think it's a mistake to extend the season in this way?)

So here's my weekly training pattern for the next six weeks. I've got a work trip to Dublin that will give me kind of an enforced weekend off--I've just e-mailed the hotel to ask whether they have reciprocal pool or gym arrangements anywhere, these European hotels are much less likely to have fitness centers than even more modest American establishments and I think it's not likely. I'm flying on a Thursday night overnight and then back again Monday, so really my task for the weekend should be to do one ten-mile run and not worry about anything else, this is a realistic plan.

Mon.: AM personal training session, PM John Jay swim
Tues.: AM CU swim workout, PM run 8 (slow)
Wed.: PM yoga, bike trainer session at home
Thurs.: AM CU swim plus 3 treadmill miles at gym (tempo)
Fri.: CU swim
Sat.: AM run 10 or 12 (slow); PM swim lesson
Sun.: longish bike ride, plus optional technique swim at the Teacher's College pool to work on non-free strokes

This is only two weekly bike sessions, but I'm really focusing heavily on swimming and maintaining or slightly improving run fitness, so I'll wait to add the third bike session till after the half-marathon in November. I'm not taking an actual rest day, so I think for now it's important to keep Friday morning as only one hour of swimming and nothing else, which gives me a full twenty-four hours off before the Saturday run--that, though, is where I think I can add a good bike session once I'm done with the road race season...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Race report

A rather absurdly full and rambling report on the half-marathon at the main blog.

The only other thing I have to add: I have to strive to be less self-critical. Really I am very pleased with my time for this race--sub-2:00 mattered to me, and I made it with time to spare (1:59:07). But I can't stop thinking about how much faster I should be able to run! This is absurd. I have had a lifetime of being a terrible, terrible athlete. I was always pretty much the worst at everything--unfit, untalented, uninterested. It is amazing that I am now solidly middle-of-the-pack, though the trick is to think of this as an incitement to further work rather than a way of letting myself off easily.

I think I could get to (as it were) the front of the middle if I keep working!

But it is also a bit of a triumph, in a way it wouldn't be for someone with a long history of athleticism, to have made it this far. So that my race results today put me as 1680 out of 3720 overall, and 521 out of 1719 among the women only. This is highly respectable. I think that the people who do triathlons are probably all round fitter than the people who do NYRR races, it will be sensible for me to aim at hitting right in the middle of the women's results--I would think this is about where I will fall once I get the cycling thing more under control, and practice some transitions. And I will strive to improve on that, but not in a self-scourging kind of way!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pre-race swim

I ended up taking yesterday off; a favorite person of mine was in town for a brief visit, and as Wendy says, people we care about matter more than workouts...

So I thought it better not to run today, but I couldn't bear the idea of not having at least a little swim, so I just had it and it was a good thing, I think. (Maybe it will make me sleep better?)

I did a slightly pointless but enjoyable set of 2 x 500 pull, to save my legs (it occurred to me near the end of this that I could have used this opportunity to practice breathing on the side I do not like, or at least bilaterally--next time...). Then I did 100 breast and 100 back, but I could not see how to do more breast without using up leg muscle I need for tomorrow and the back was a hazard to the other people in the lane--unusually, it was not so much a case of me having lane rage as the haplessness of the others making them a danger to themselves, it is not a good idea to stop for a rest right at the end of the lane when someone is charging up to you on their back! Arghh...

(The workout I missed yesterday was going to be two treadmill miles and then half an hour easy swim, with 2 x 100 each of breast and back. For some reason--taper?--I was totally obsessing all day Wed. and Thurs. re: what to wear and how to organize it so as to do it most economically--would I be coming from this talk, or from some other event, and what did I need to have in my bag and what could I wear underneath work-suitable garb? If I wore the two-piece triathlon bathing suit that I never wear as underwear, could I run with that and then just strip off outside layers for swim? But I did not get a chance to practice any of it, though I did have many reflections on bathing suits--I am too lazy to link to them all--but my main observation is that I have bought a number of suits that turned out to be fairly useless--for instance no point having a triathlon 2-piece suit with a bikini-type bottom because when am I going to be riding my bike in a race with what are basically just underpants on?!? And also that Tyr suits are much nicer than Speedo, but that one of the kinds of Tyr suit is much preferable to the other, but the categories were not conceptually clear to me till AFTER I had ordered several of the wrong kind online. And also that much as I prefer doing ALL shopping online, it is not really a good idea for bathing suits. I think it is that the diamondback is preferable to the maxback--looking at the pictures, you might think it would be the other way round, but the one with the narrow straps and straight-across top gives much better support in the chest area than the one with fuller shoulder-and-chest area coverage.)

Taper is annoying! I'm really looking forward to this half-marathon tomorrow (report will follow on the other blog, I'll link here though), but I wish I'd been able to swim more this week. The CU morning swim was on hiatus, so I wasn't missing actual workouts, but I have a lesson tomorrow afternoon and it's pitiful how little I've practiced. And yoga class on Wednesday was very useful but hardly in the spirit of taper either, various muscles were incredibly sore yesterday and I can still feel 'em today!

(We were working very hard on one quite precise thing, for about forty minutes, and at the end various muscles were just trembling with tiredness--it's really the only thing I do that pushes this hard, even a strenuous gym workout does not produce quite the same feeling. Basically after doing some triangle pose in various ways we were working on Warrior II in order to get the right feel in the buttock and thigh--we "angled" it, which involves putting the front foot right at the front of the mat and keeping the other where it would usually be and then REALLY and intensively concentrating on getting the flesh of the buttock to pull down and the proper roll of the thigh outward--sounds minor but it's totally intense...)