Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Long run

It was very good - not actually blissful, in fact a bit of a slog (I was cold and slightly underfueled), but really very enjoyable throughout.

I slightly miscalculated my course - I wanted to do ten miles, but realized that the way I'd sorted things out I was going to be doing more like 12 if I really ran all the way home. As the Antarctic simulation had become increasingly realistic by that point, I decided to listen to the voice of reason and take the subway home from 86th St.!

Good hills, good steady slow pace (maybe 1:48 for 10 miles?), slightly chilly legs (those tights were fine in Philadelphia, but I was running rather faster there - and now that I think about it, I had the RaceReady shorts over 'em, too - either I need to layer, or I should get a warmer pair).

Today it was actually quite snowy and in the mid-20s, but there wasn't anything much accumulating underfoot, so I resisted the temptation to break out the YakTrax, which have arrived and are tantalizing me in their wintry glory...

My new running jacket is utterly glorious! I had much pondering in the Patagonia store the other day deciding how best to spend my gift card on an outer layer suited to Antarctic running, and I chose this. It is my new favorite item of clothing!

The crazy thing is that I am only ten weeks out from a marathon!

Happy New Year!


What are my triaspirational goals for 2009? Hmmm....

Continue to become a better and faster runner.

Become a considerably better swimmer, including integrating flip turns into my regular daily swimming!

25+ run miles/week; 10,000 swim yards/week.

Become a calmer and more confident and road-worthy cyclist. (I am hoping that the NYCC's C-SIG course will help in this regard - also, of course, it would be helpful if I would ever actually ride my bike!)

Find a core and/or strength-training routine or class that works for me (yoga or pilates would fall into this category), and do it at least twice a week.

Do the same two triathlons I did last year, and improve my times in both (that will not be hard, especially for the Florida race!).

Take some minutes off my marathon time in New York in November (I did 4:17 in Philadelphia, on what is a slightly easier course - sub-4:10 might be a good goal?), and finish the Antarctica marathon in March feeling cheerful and strong!

Stop eating cake and ice-cream as often as I have done in the last three months! (Or else start running 40 miles/week on a very consistent basis...)

Enjoy myself training and racing, that is the most important one...

It makes training make sense to have some serious goal races, but I think I like it better when I stay more flexible about what other racing I'll do - the half-marathon Grand Prix is a fantastic notion (five half-marathons over the calendar year, one in each of the five boroughs of New York!) but in fact caused me some grief (I enjoyed the Bronx race very much, but I was coming down with a cold when I ran the Manhattan one ,and the Brooklyn one, due to rescheduling, took place only two weeks before the Florida 70.3, which was inconvenient for all sorts of reasons), and I had to give up after the first three when that hamstring injury in September made it clear that running the Queens race that weekend would be distinctly inadvisable. They don't announce the dates for the races especially far in advance, so if you travel quite a bit and have some other races to work around it can turn out to be a considerable source of stress.

And I would like to do more open-water races, but they are very weather-dependent, so there is no point feeling disappointed when they do not happen!

I do not feel it was a year in which I made any great improvements, but I think that has to do with the nature of retrospection rather than true lack of progress.

I was far less nutritionally responsible in 2008 than in 2007, but on the other hand the mental-health costs of being very obsessive and stringent on the food front seem to me to outweigh that eating style's benefits to physical health. I wish it were easy for me to weigh about 15 pounds less than I do right now, but that is not the body type I have, and the honest fact of the matter is that almost every female of my acquaintance who is not incredibly thin privately believes that she should weigh 10-15 pounds less than she does - and if her weight drops, the notional ideal weight drops with it!

I do know that I made considerable progress on a number of counts (I did my first triathlon and my first marathon, I found a real team to swim with!), even if there is nothing so dramatic and striking as there was in the fall of 2007 (namely, a half-marathon PR of 1:54, learning to swim butterfly and having the adult swimmer's amazing pleasure of learning for the first time what it feels like to swim a real honest-to-god 100 IM!).

I have particularly enjoyed the camaraderie of training with friends real-life and virtual, including readers here who comment and e-mail - thanks in particular to my lovely New York running partners, to various family members who supported me during the Philadelphia marathon, to the coaches and trainers and teachers who made things fun and (last but definitely not least!) to Wendy and Brent for incredibly generous and high-quality advice and support in these endeavors (and indeed in life in general)!

Happy New Year! Here's to a great year of triaspirationality, in whatever forms it takes - really it does not have to involve triathlon, it is just a question of learning and yearning and stretching and striving to do things that you would not have thought possible...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday swim

I have been feeling slightly out of sorts and over-eaten and under-exercised all week, including far less run mileage than I had hoped, so it was good to go to a real TNYA swim practice this evening. It was the first time I've made it to a practice at John Jay - I swam in the slow lane, thinking I had better err on the side of caution.

It was kind of nice for a change to be the clearly strongest swimmer, and able to hold intervals with lots of rest - good for the swimming morale. But next time I go there I will slot in near the back of the next lane over!

I was having reminiscences of the first time I went to that pool. It was almost two years ago, in early January 2007, and it was not for swimming but for the late and much lamented Doug Stern's deep-water running class - I was recovering from a stress fracture, and had swum probably once in the previous fifteen years (and been so traumatized that one time by a lifeguard brusquely telling me to move to the slow lane that I never went back!), but as soon as I met Doug I realized that he was the swimming teacher I most wanted to have! It was a strange and sad time - my friend Helen had just been killed, I could hardly think about anything else, and in fact Doug would be dead by June of that year too, of a very fast-moving and lethal cancer. But swimming is all good...

Let me see if I can reconstruct all the details of practice. I love swimming for 90 minutes instead of 60! I have been starved of swimming this week, I have not swum since last Tuesday, it was very good to get back in the pool.

(Everyone was absurdly making holiday-related excuses for why they were swimming slowly, getting out early, etc.! It was almost deserted by 9 o'clock!)

Warmup: 200 free, 150 kick, 200 IM, 150 pull (should have been 200 of each, but lane congestion and an eye on the clock meant I trimmed some bits off)

4 x 50 kick on 1:30
6 x 50 stroke on 1:15 (I did 3 fly, 3 back)
6 x 50 free on 1:15

3 x 150 free on 3:45

3 x (100 free as 75 fast, 25 easy on 2:30; 150 free as 100 fast, 50 easy on 4:00)

2 x (3 x 25 stroke hard on :40, 50 stroke easy on 1:30). I did fly - I got a bit of stroke coaching, too...

50 easy back, 50 easy free

3000 yards total - very good! I had a lot of rest, too.

I would prefer to be swimming 3000-yard workouts, not 2100-2400, but there is not quite time in the hour - it wouldn't be bad if I stayed in the pool after practice on a Tuesday or Thursday evening and just did some easy freestyle drill to build up the yardage. Lane swim starts directly after practice...

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Oliver Twist diet

"Please, sir, I want some more."

No run today - I needed my daylight hours for grumpiness-inducing novel-related procrastination-that-will-incipiently-be-work! I will swim tomorrow evening, but I am hoping I might be able to run in the afternoon also - that is a good incentive to get some real work done...

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I have recently started using the Buckeye Outdoors training log - I wanted a nice online one, and I figured that whatever Shirley had was pretty sure to be the best that was out there! I've been logging workouts for a couple years now, but more like on tiny scraps of paper and miscellaneous here-and-there-type places.

For 2009, though, I will have a complete log that adds up all the numbers for me!

Run goal: 25+ miles/week; 1250+ for year's total

Swim goal (this is more ambitious, may need adjustment downwards): 10,000 yards/week; 500,000+ yards for year's total

Bike: as much as possible!

Saturday run

It was a lazy person's six-mile run in Riverside Park rather than the projected 10-miler in Central Park - I realized that I am knackered, and that I had better scale it down if I wanted even to get out the door! I felt very good after a slow couple miles' start, though - the second half felt like a pretty good clip.

It is curiously warm outside (upper 40s), and so foggy that in places you could hardly see more than about twenty feet...

I am going to wait to do a longer run on Wednesday, and think of the last week plus next couple weeks as 2 x 10 days rather than 3 x 7 as far as the long run goes - I realize that travel days cannot honestly be counted as rest.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday activities

It was a great yoga class yesterday - a lot of breathing and relaxation exercises, but very good coverage on all the other stuff you would want to do also - really we were at it for a couple hours. Lovely! If only MimiRock taught yoga in New York, I would do it every week...

And then I have had a very good run just now too. Down Midvale Avenue from my mother's house and along the river (same as the last bit of the Phila. marathon course - good memories!) past a couple bridges up to one that a map tells me is called the Columbia Bridge. A beautiful day for a run - sunny, clear, barely windy at all and probably up as high as the mid-40s.

Around the turnaround point I became uncomfortably aware that I was having stomach issues, and that I did not even have a wad of tissues or a folded-up paper towel in my pocket, let alone knowledge of a toilet along the course - but I had passed a couple porta-potties in a parking lot half a mile or so back, and when I arrived there on the way back it was my great piece of holiday good fortune to find one that was unlocked, only mildly but not excessively squalid (winter weather is better for these things!) and fully stocked with toilet paper.

The last bit back up Midvale Avenue to McMichael Park is am amazingly good training hill - it is almost a mile long, and quite steep! If I were going to be here for some more days, I would do some hill repeats...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday run

It was a great one, too - I love running in the rain, and it has warmed up to the upper 30s, so no longer insanely slippery underfoot (very slushy in parts, though).

I multitasked - I ran over to Central Park and down to Tavern on the Green, then left the park and made a very brief stop to do some last-minute Xmas shopping at 67th and Columbus.

(It was a gift card; it fit in my pocket!)

Up Broadway for a few blocks, then along 72nd St. to Riverside Park and home through the park - closer to 7 miles than to 6, I think, all told...

Holiday treats: I am going to have a morning run tomorrow at my mother's house, plus yoga in Philadelphia later this evening - a very special yoga class taught by yoga/surfing guru and punk rock heroine extraordinaire Mimirock!

[ED. Check out her song "New York"!]

Best holiday wishes!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday swim practice

Felt particularly mentally and physically beneficial, too. The CU gym is now closed for two weeks, but TNYA has a relatively humane holiday schedule; I will try and go to the Friday-evening workout at John Jay later this week. I can always sneak up to Riverbank, too, if I really want a swim - but I am thinking I need to start building up some run miles in any case!

I had a lane to myself for most of the practice, which is strange but in its way enjoyable. Serious stuff for the first two-thirds of practice, then some goofy stuff at the end for the holiday! Very enjoyable.

Warmup: 300 free, 75 kick-drill-swim (I did back, would have then followed up with other 3 strokes but time was up)

4 x 150 on 3:35 as fly, back, breast by 50

5 x 150 free descending (3:15, 3:05, 2:55, 2:45, 2:35)

50 easy back


2 x 100 as 25 scull on back, 25 water-polo-style, 25 long dog paddle, 25 3 strokes on front, 3 strokes on back

2 x 100 as 25 fly pull/flutter kick, 25 backstroke/whip kick, 25 breast pull/flutter, 25 free pull/dolphin

200 easy swim


2375 total

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday swim

Just a short and easy one...

100 free
100 back
100 free
100 breast (some dolphin, last 25 mostly free - lane snarl-up!)
200 IM drill
100 back
100 fly drill

4 x 50 fly-back on 1:30
100 back
100 free
100 back

1300 yards total

Sunday run

Not quite the Antarctic conditions I was imagining - in fact by the time I got out the door, it was sunny and clear and in the low to mid-30s. Every path I ran on had been shoveled! Fiendishly slippery, though, so in that sense it was good practice - runners in the park were warning each other about especially icy stretches, which though heart-warming in a minor way was not especially useful, as almost everything was icy!

(Really I should have gone off-road and ran up and down hills of snow, but I had my mind's eye on the early sunset and wanted to get home in good time - I must see if I can take some advantage of the snow that is still piled all over the place, though. I wore my waterproof socks, only did not quite have the fortitude to step deliberately in puddles - I must take them out again later in the week and really do some puddle-stomping to see how effective they are...)

c. 7.5 - 8 miles (very slow, due to slipperiness - 90+ minutes of highly aerobic exercise!)


Antarctica training tips from Jenny Hadfield! And I am happy to say it is the perfect day for an Antarctic training run - mid-30s, snowstorm debris slushily underfoot, raining (or perhaps it is "wintry mix"?!?). But I must get some work done first...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Breaststroke clinic!

Very good, too - we did some of those pullouts at the end, if I practice them a bit more I think I have actually got the hang of it. A lot of different drills (breaststroke pull with pull buoy, whip kick with and without pull buoy, etc.); only minor cloud on horizon was that I realized pretty quickly that I have twanged some hip-adductor-type muscle that meant I needed to sub in dolphin for whip kick, but it was still a very useful session.

c. 1800 yards

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday run

My beautiful new Mizuno trail running shoes arrived yesterday - and when I realized a snowstorm was in the cards for today, though I had not intended to run I got the gleam in my eye...


Just 3 miles easy. Very lovely, too - the shoes are great, and it was a winter wonderland in Riverside Park - altogether empty but for some sledders!

Some good hail pellets in the face on the way back north along the river - I felt I was really logging suitable training...

"It never stops"

Interesting article on African runners in New York. (Via The Final Sprint.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The internet at last complies with my wishes...

Thursday swim practice


Hmmmm, either it was easier than usual or else I am becoming a better swimmer. (Possibly both?)

(Back and shoulders v. sore from boot camp the other day - but in a good way...)

Warmup (curtailed): 200 free, 200 back

12 x 75 on 2:15

First 6 fly-back-breast; second 6 freestyle as swim-kick-swim

5 x 50 breast on 1:15

8 x 100 free on 2:25 with last 25 kick

5 x 50 choice on 1:00 (I did fly, back, breast, free, free)

2300 yards total

Insomniac's guide to winter training

In my spare time I have been making up a beautiful training schedule for the next fifteen weeks...

I have been trying to use my brain and really take advantage of what I learned from marathon training this fall!

Things I have learned #1: SKIP WORKOUTS WHEN NECESSARY.

Trying to hew very close to a schedule in the face of overloaded work obligations or unexpected changes of travel plans leads to injury or illness. I had a hamstring pull that was a very direct consequences of not making allowances for the stress of travel and trying to make up miles I'd missed; ditto on November's bad cold, I would not have been so likely to get that sick if I hadn't been running around maniacally doing a million work-related & other things the weekend I also did my 20+-mile run and got ready to leave town for a week.

This round of marathon training only has three long runs - in the pattern 12, 16, 14, 18, 14, 20. The 20-miler is pretty much fixed, it has to happen that weekend - but if something unexpectedly stressful intervenes, I could do a bit of switching around on the 16 and the 18 as needed (like do 12, 14, 16, 14, 18, 20 instead, or take some extra days recovery and wait till the following Wednesday for the long one and move to a decimal rather than week-based schedule) - I will try and attend to my body and its needs...

Things I have learned #2: SLEEP SITUATION IS NOT HELPING TRAINING - but there might be things I could do about it.

Last year I was really having truly awful insomnia, like where you think you are going to die from lack of sleep! Now I am back on my regular familiar sleeplessness, which is to say that it is a constant ongoing problem but not something that seems like it's going to tip me over the edge.

But I think that during this next stint of training, it would behoove me to try a new approach. And I hereby resolve that the only thing, this next three months, that is going to make me set my alarm to get up early is an actual honest-to-god my-own-priorities-say-it's-important work-type obligation, i.e. writing. (Or, of course, an early morning plane trip or work meeting or what have you.)

But no morning runs that cost me sleep, because it is not worth it. I am going to try and reclaim those earlier morning hours for last-ditch sleep, because I think that the extra hour and a half you can get if you fall back asleep around 6:45 and stay in bed till 8:15 is the thing that I need more of in my life. I will do my long runs - indeed, I will do all of my runs - later in the day.

Constraints on this round of training are various.

Most important: I have a book manuscript due Feb. 2! I will have to see how it goes with the next weeks of work - it may be that I just about scramble together to make the deadline, or it may be that some more or less dramatic deadline adjustment is called for (I devoutly hope NOT!). But this is more important than the training (triaspirational heresy!), and I will certainly pull back for a week or two if I need to in order to polish it off...

I'm visiting Brent from Jan. 1-12 (2 travel days; preference for swimming over running while there).

CU pool is closed from this coming Tuesday till after New Year's; but there are a couple TNYA workouts I can go to at John Jay post-Xmas, so I should be able to get the necessary swim fix.

School starts Jan. 20, so my prime writing time is the first three weeks of January before I'm teaching.

The Florida 70.3 race is going to creep up on me if I am not careful (mid-May), so it makes sense to start using the trainer now for some cross-training. All-round endurance training seems apter for Antarctica than high run mileage. That's partly because of the nature of the course, but it's also true that though I would love it if I could settle in to a schedule where I regularly ran about 35 miles/week, I think that at this stage, everything above 30 or so raises the chance of injury.

Book-writing needs mean that for this next little while I should try and do double workouts rather than two separate workouts whenever possible, and keep mornings free and clear for my own writing (easier said than done, especially once school starts).

I am hoping for quite a bit of snow, so that I can do some of my long runs in adverse conditions - but I am going to keep them really slow, I think that I did my fall ones at too fast a pace. I don't know that it makes a huge difference at the level I am at, but certainly it's more stress on the body than doing a highly aerobic one, so I will revert to the older plan (Hadd-style!) of low-HR long runs.

I have registered for an intersession voluntary phys. ed. class at CU, one that comes recommended by a friend of mine and that is directly adjacent to the Tuesday-Thursday TNYA blocks (a pilates-based core sculpt class that should be very much to the point without being excessively intense), but will wait to decide about things for the semester till I see (a) how I like this particular class and (b) how my semester is shaping up, when/whether the book is finished, etc. etc.

Hmmm, regrettably the dodgy internet connection I'm using is not going to let me upload the scanned picture! Ah well - you will just have to trust me when I say that it is a thing of beauty - or at any rate a thing of considerable complexity that I have pored over for a number of hours?!?


Bliss! I went at a very easy pace (I have lost all speed - though I did have a nice fast downhill stretch at the end...), first down to 96th St. and then north along the greenway up to the GW Bridge.

8 miles easy

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday treat

A very nice treat - Triathlete L. (Wednesday-evening fellow runner) invited me to come with her to the boot camp class at her nice gym at Chelsea Piers, a place I often run past but have never been inside.

Buckets of sweat dripped off me during the class - it was a good one, and reminded me that I need some structured workouts like that if I am not going to be working out with M., I literally have not done a single strength/core workout since my last session with him a month ago, I just do not have the inclination - will find a class nearby that I can opt into, even if it is not super-wonderfully good.

Then we swam about 1000 yards, very nice also: cannot now remember exactly what, but call it 2 x (100 free, 100 back), 100 breast, 50 fly drill-stroke, 50 free, 8 x 50 hard stroke down recovery free back (I did 2 of each stroke in IM order, including the free at the end though it is not exactly allowed in the terminology!).

Then we had mini-burgers, fried calamari and a beer, plus good conversation - so it really was a treat in the less Triaspirational sense also!

Tuesday run

6 miles easy


It is always a relief to me, after a couple weeks in which I've run so little, to learn that I still can run!

The lack of mileage has been on my mind because of an unexpected and thrilling change of plan re: spring racing. I am still only with the most sporadic and phasing-in-and-out borrowed wireless internet at home (thanks, E.!), so I will not write the lavish blog post to which my temperament naturally inclines me - but I am in fact going to run my next marathon on March 10 - and it is this one!

Brent has had a longstanding plan to run this race with his friend JK, who moves in an amazing travel vortex of unprecedented proportions - and I am going to join them! It is the trip of a lifetime!

More TK on training thoughts. Basically it is an endurance event, and cross-training will be more important than high run mileage per se - I am hoping it will snow a lot in NYC this winter so that I can go and do some really arduous and snowy and slow training runs on the challenging cross-country course in Van Cortlandt Park! But I need to be back on decent base miles as of this week - if I leave it much longer, it starts being rash not to build up again from much lower mileage...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday swim

I was fairly desperate to run earlier, only I had a common-sense assessment of my condition when I got home from the office & realized that instead I would be better off eating and sleeping! Slept for two hours, which was imprudent but necessary - felt very groggy when I got up, definitely in no condition to run, but I did make it over to the gym for a short swim (I must take advantage of the pool being deserted due to finals and open only for one more week before the holidays).

(I should remind myself, though, too, that a short run is often an option too - I should have more 3- and 4-mile runs when I am too tired or underfueled for it to be sensible to head out for a longer one.)

All easy, except for the fly! It was very refreshing, too - I am glad I got myself over there.

100 swim
100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, swim
100 swim
100 thumbs and salute freestyle drill
50 free
100 breast
50 free
100 back
50 free
2 x 75 stroke as kick, drill, swim by 25 (first one fly, second one back)
100 free

1000 yards total

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday swim

I am slightly mentally desperate for a run, but in the end I rejected both windows of opportunity today (early morning, mid-afternoon) - the imperative to keep on unpacking was stronger! And moving seems to disrupt mealtimes in a most dreadful way - I was too underfueled to go out in the afternoon, I had to eat instead - and my legs and feet are very sore and tired from all of this, so perhaps it was for the best.

I literally only have two boxes left to unpack (though the study is in some disarray, and all of this has been partly managed by dint of moving a ton of more or less unsorted stuff - probably 40 boxes' worth - to my real office, where I am very happy to let it sit boxed up for some more weeks). My mother and J. arrived in mid-morning and gave me some very solid practical help (and did various kinds of shopping!), but the moral assistance was of even more use - I did a lot more unpacking yesterday than I would have if I didn't know that my mother would have to do it for me today otherwise!

Only a half an hour to swim just now, but it was well worth it. I think this was it, might not be quite right:

200 free

100 back

100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, swim

100 free concentrating on technique

100 fly drill as right-arm, left-arm, full stroke, 3 on each side

100 back

100 free

100 breast

100 free

100 IM

100 free

50 back

1250 yards total

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday swim

I have moved to my new apartment, and am even about 70% unpacked (and looking forward to the box-free lifestyle in my near future!) - only with the significant though temporary drawback that there is no internet connection yet!

And there will not be one until CUIT comes to install an Ethernet box, which easily could take ten days - only with the timing of the holidays, if it does not happen this week, I am thinking it might not happen till January...

I have to fill out a form that goes through the building super to the relevant party, but rather than leaving it in his hands I think I may get the form signed and see if I can deliver it myself and plead with the CUIT people about particularly pressing internet needs - not only blog-related, but my students generally count on me responding near-instantaneously to any e-mail, and it is finals week!

Laconic posting for immediate future...

Anyway, I made it out from Boxland for a nice forty-minute swim before the pool closed for the night.

Warmup: 4 x 125 as 75 free, 25 back, 25 breast (I like this warmup because it is easy to keep track of where one is in it based on what end of the pool one finds oneself at!)

100 back, 100 free, 100 fly drill, 100 free

2 x (100 IM, 100 free)

7 x 50 IM transitions set (which I am going to abbreviate with the nice blocky capital letter pairs, because they remind me of WWII-era cryptography and also because their style is like a pair of shoes by Dansko that I have recently had to dispose of): FL-FL, FL-BK, BK-BK, BK-BR, BR-BR, BR-FR, FR-FR

50 back cooldown

1700 yards total

More reflections on my year in swimming when I am not standing up at a library terminal with the chaos and clamor of finals week around me. On the bright side, though the library is very crowded, the pool was near-empty!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thurday run

I was determined to get out there - it was not what would conventionally be called a nice day (40 degrees F, rainy, windy), but it was a very nice day for a run...

6 miles easy (I was very cold and wet by the time I got home, but exhilarated!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday swim

Blissful, too. Something about the lane traffic pattern made it more suitable to swim mostly freestyle-type stuff, at an easy effort level, but I really enjoyed it....

Warmup: 6 x (75 free + 25 stroke in IM order)

2 x (100 back, 100 free)

3 x (100 freestyle drill, 100 swim), with a hundred each of catch-up, thumbs-and-salute, finger-drag, and concentrating on technique during swim

3 x 50 fly on 1:30

50 easy back swim-down

1800 yards total

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday swim

No time to go to practice earlier, and then my evening somehow slipped away from me in a most mysterious way, so that as I was getting into the pool I could see I only had twenty-five minutes before closing time. Hmmmm, in a strange way, though, it is a guarantee of a very enjoyable swim - I feel starved for exercise, though!

Warmup: 3 x 200 free + 50 stroke (fly drill, back, breast)

100 back

100 free

2 x 50 fly on 1:30

50 back cooldown

1100 yards total

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday yoga

I had a yen to go to the last yoga class of the semester, of which I have missed every single one but the first (I had that hamstring injury, and then once it was pretty much better I was close enough to marathon time that I didn't want to add in something hard on the legs - also I often seem to be traveling on a Sunday, so it was not as convenient as I imagined).

Very good, too!

Part of my resolution for 2009 is to do more of the meditative/mental-health-type end of exercise - yoga for sure, but I also read a rather delightful kung-fu novel that made me thing I really should sign up for the kung fu class, I do not want to fight anybody but I think it would be interesting from a mind-over-matter standpoint...

Yoga teacher handed us each a yoga CD and instruction sheet, so I might try some at home over the holidays - she rightly says that 20 minutes a day (10 in the morning, 10 in the evening) is better than an hour once a week.

Sunday run

Thank goodness, too - because a week without running is clearly not a good week! Ughh, I have given myself insane allergies via book-packing activities - books are the dustiest things in the world. I was thinking about trying for a longer one, but I saw reason - factors included (a) conviction that allergies + long runs + stress = respiratory infection (b) desire not to carry water bottle (c) million moving-related things to do this afternoon.

6 miles easy, but hard enough to break a good sweat. Especially in the really windy stretches, it is like doing battle out there; I love it!

I have to face the fact that exercise is not my priority over the next month or so.

(ARGHHHHHHHHH! Why can I not just live in a monastic cell where all I do is write and train and read books and then periodically teach a class or two?!?)

My real training does not start up again till mid-February, when I will start actually training for the Florida 70.3 race in May. Will have a bike focus since that is by far my weakest thing.

The new semester starts Jan. 21 or so, and my novel manuscript is due Feb. 2 - I am going to do my damnedest to meet that deadline, anyway, which means as much writing as possible needs to be done before I start teaching again.


Next 10+ days: pack, move, unpack; finish up semester's teaching, grading and other miscellaneous duties; swim as much as possible, run at least every couple days but don't fret about mileage; fit in a core workout or two if I have 20 minutes to spare

Dec. 24-31: DIG IN ON NOVEL-WRITING; survive holidays and EVIL POOL CLOSURE; swim when possible at Riverbank or other TNYA workouts elsewhere, but don't fret about lack of swimming; run quite a bit; venture out on the bike if it is not too cold?

Jan. 1-11: probable tropical island paradise interlude of MANIACAL NOVEL-WRITING, some running and a lot of swimming in the sea...

Jan. 12-20: FURTHER MANIACAL NOVEL-WRITING; daily exercise for purposes of sanity and physical fitness, but subordinated to writing needs

And there is no point worrying about the end of January now - I will reassess where I am with the novel and make plans accordingly. I foresee a couple weeks of getting up at 5am for early-morning writing/editing sessions before I refocus for school-related stuff.

Now I must go and shower and eat and return some more library books!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Thirty-year running streak! Full story at the Wall Street Journal - well worth a read, click through if you have any obsessive tendencies....

Hmmmm, I shouldn't go to the John Jay swim workout tomorrow morning (I was thinking about jogging down there and then heading into the pool - musing on logistics of this arrangement, which I think might suit me well for the spring semester). I should have a real run instead - I have not run since last Saturday, that is much too long, very non-streak-like - but I cannot go out now, it is too late - I should go to bed in the near future!

Perhaps no run this evening

but I see there are some more photos up from last weekend's race - that is possibly the best-documented race I have ever run! Finish line photos (less bucolic than the ones I posted a few days ago, but at least I look like I am running faster here - I had a good kick at the end - also, Brent's friend JK is visible as a spectator - in the gray sweatshirt!). And some blurrier pre-race ones if you can be bothered to clear those search results and click through to the pre-race photo set and search for bib 628 (I cannot get the site to let me to have two different photo-set links): I definitely look half-asleep!

Blissful Saturday swim practice

Very, very enjoyable, definitely the best thing that has happened to me all week.

- We got into the pool 20 minutes early - usually it is a very tight hour, more like 57 minutes, even for the weekend workout, which does not leave enough time for proper warmup and long workout.

- I am exercise-starved! My legs deserved a proper recovery week after the excesses of late November, and I gave it to 'em, but that does not mean I have to like it. I felt mildly out of sorts all week, cannot disentangle cause and effect on that one. But the end-of-semester schedule is very crazy, too, so I had only short and mostly pretty easy swims this week, no running at all. (I will have a real run later this afternoon or tomorrow morning, depending on various other factors related to my impending move round the corner.)

- It was mostly freestyle! With suitably paced lane-mates, though it got a bit chaotic at several points (causing the other woman in the lane to utter the immortal and irritable words "Boys don't pay attention to the clock!").

- But really I just love real swim practice, and I must try and go to one of the 90-minute ones on a more regular basis- a one-hour swim is not enough!

- NB my fly fitness is showing the benefits of even just a couple weeks of actually working on it - remarkable...

10 minutes stretching (there is usually a 30-minute dryland session before this workout, only we cut it short to get into the pool early)

A different coach from usual, I suppose it is stimulating to switch it up in terms of the coachly imagination - people's minds tend to run in a similar way even when they are composing different workouts, I like the regular coach very much but this was a nice change also.

Warmup: 200 free easy, 200 stroke easy (I did 100 back, 100 fly drill-swim by 25), 200 free medium, plus 100 as 50 back, 50 free to fill in extra bit of time

Set #1: 16 x 50 free in sets of 4 descending: first set on 1:15, then 1:10, 1:05, 1:00. Nice to concentrate on the different "gears" in that kind of a freestyle set, though it is still too much of a mental challenge for me to track my actual times when we're switching around the intervals on irregular numbers...

Set #2: 5 x 200 free with 50 kick moving from first to fourth position in set (last one all swim hard)

Set #3: 6 x 100 choice; first 3 as 75 hard 25 easy, second 3 as 75 build, 5 seconds rest, then sprint the last 25 all out. I did all IM except for the last, when I decided after 25 fly and 25 back that really I should do the last 50 all fly - it was fun! (I should have done all of the last 3 as 100s of fly, but I thought I would save some energy for notional run later on!)

50 back cooldown

That was a very, very enjoyable workout indeed. 3150 yards total - more than I usually do, I like it, I want to do one like that every week!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday quiet evening swim

Pleasant short swim, marred only by minor indigestion from an overly large lunch! I shared the lane with a couple very sensible swimmers, when several more wayward ones made their way in I figured it was time to get out...

Hundreds: free, back, free, back, breast, free, back, free, breast, free, back, IM

1200 yards total

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Action shots

From John Roemer IV's very good photo set from the NCR trail marathon relay last weekend (and Jeanne Larrison's photo set gives a very nice feel for the event, though I could not pick out any pictures of people I recognize!):

Thursday swim

Yesterday was a write-off - I contemplated and rejected two different swim options based on subjective state of being utterly knackered, and in the end was in bed at 7pm, whereupon I slept for 12 hours. I cannot say I feel well-rested today, but definitely more human...

A good swim this morning. I skipped the long middle part of the workout (it was a distance more appropriate for fast collegiate swimmers than for regular grown-up ones!), but did all the rest of it, plus an extra hundred at the end. Very nice, too...

300 warmup (100 free, 50 kick, 100 free, 50 drill - I did catch-up)

8 x 100 as 75 build + 25 sprint with hard kick, 15 seconds rest (I did these on 2:05 - I tried the first couple on 2:00, but it wasn't quite enough rest)

5 x 100 as 100 free, 25 stroke 75 free, 50 stroke 50 free, 75 stroke 25 free, 100 stroke on 5-10 seconds rest (I boldly did FLY!)

300 easy swim down - I did 100 back, 100 IM with fly drill, 100 back

1900 yards total

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday swim

Just a short one - I am scrambling to get to a massive pile of papers that need commenting upon, and it is one of those days that will go on pretty much forever (including the evening work obligation that knocked out swim practice and made me have to swim in the am in the first place - high irk factor! - and it's going to happen again on Thursday, I fear!).

Along these lines:

100 free

100 back

100 free

100 IM drill

100 back as 50 drill, 50 stroke

100 fly as 50 drill, 50 stroke

100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, swim

2 x (100 free, 100 IM)

100 back

Concentrating especially on form during freestyle bits. I think that I still am tending to breathe a little too late in the stroke on the right side - it is a bit of a chicken and egg question, do I breathe too late because I stiffen my neck and lift it up out of the water (it should remain in neutral position, the body should rotate along its long axis rather than the neck poking up) or do I lift up my neck partly because I breathe too late - but at any rate a clear way to begin correcting it is by concentrating on breathing at the earliest possible moment...

1200 yards total

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday swim

Very pleasant swim this morning - I really miss it when I cannot swim for a few days, I think it is the single activity that has the most immediately physically beneficial effects...

400 warmup (2 x 100 free, 100 back, concentrating on long smooth strokes)

400 IM

300 free as 50 easy, 50 fast (descending on the fast ones)

200 fly drill-swim by 25

100 free easy

200 fly with drill on lengths 5 and 7 of 8 (building up to doing the full thing!)

50 easy back

1650 yards total

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trail relay

Just a short post, since I have been having pleasant but tiring Thanksgiving travels and am now fairly knackered & need to regroup for school tomorrow. I had a truly beautiful run yesterday at the Northern Central Trail Marathon Two-Person Relay in Maryland.

It was the perfect day for a run; though it was very chilly first thing in the morning, temperatures hit forty or so by mid-morning and it was beautifully clear and still and sunny. There were a couple miles in the middle where my thigh muscles were utterly protesting (and I have slightly made them a promise - a provisional non-binding promise?!? - that I will not ask them again to run a half-marathon, even a flat one at a very easy pace, so soon after a future marathon - I did not even time myself on my watch, it was really just for fun) - but I would not have missed it, it was a delightful day.

Such bucolic and beautiful scenery - I do not have pictures of the course, though I will post another one if I can link somewhere that does justice to the loveliness of the setting (it is rather like the Wissahickon near where I grew up in Philadelphia, only more southern and farm-countryish, very soft and green), but I offer up one of me and Brent and Brent's friend Jim (John, not pictured, is taking the photograph!) in the elementary school near the race start (the second runner on each relay team goes on a bus to the halfway point and takes over from there - it is also an option to do the full marathon):

Thanks to John and family for organization, transportation and general hospitality!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday run

4 miles easy. Very nice, too - it is the perfect day for a run, sunny and clear and still.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Race pictures

Link is here. Not a great selection, but these are both pretty good (the technology is annoying, they are low-resolution unless you home in on a bit, and I am not sure they are going to come through non-blurry here -proprietary technology!):

NB the sweaty hair at the back of my neck was frozen into spikes because of the low temperature!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lunchtime swim

A very nice one, too. Quite a few people there, but more orderly than the evening ones. That time slot does not usually work well for me, but it might be that I should reconsider based on my spring-semester schedule...

Can't guarantee this is exactly what I did, but along these lines:

600 warmup: 100 free, 50 breast, 50 free, 100 back, 100 fly drill, 100 back, 100 free

8 x 50 fly-free at leisurely pace, with 10-15 seconds rest

100 back

100 free

Henning's IM transitions set: 7 x 50 as fly, fly-back, back, back-breast, breast, breast-free, free

Wouldn't have minded doing some more, but a couple more guys were getting into the lane just then and I figured it was time to stop and get some lunch! I am going to make sure to do quite a bit of fly in coming weeks - if I am swimming a short one on my own, it is both nice in itself & really the most effective aerobic cross-training in the world for running!

c. 1550 yards total


High irk factor in the Davidsonian heart this morning - I went over to 8:30 morning swim only to learn that there are no voluntary phys. ed. classes today, i.e. no lane swim! I was wearing my bathing suit under my clothes, and planned to shower at the pool afterwards, but instead I came home and had a proper shower here. I will try for the midday open lane swim hours, I think; the gym closes at 7 for Thanksgiving, so there's no evening lane swim.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday swim practice

Very enjoyable, too, though it passed quickly and in internal chaos - we had a substitute coach filling in, and the intervals were honestly just too fast for our lane, except for one brave fellow leading, who kept on lapping the rest of us in a slightly disorienting way! I am putting in the times, but I cannot say whether I really was making them or not, it was too confusing!

Missed the warmup altogether - a bit late getting there, then heel-dragging on side of pool.

Then (the notion was fast freestyle and recovery stroke):

100 IM on 2:20

2 x 100 free on 1:35 (skipped a 50, that is too fast for me!)

2 x 50 as BK-BR, BR-FR on 2:00

1 x 200 free on 3:10

2 x 50 as before on 2:00

1 x 300 free on 4:30

2 x 50 as before

2 x 150 free on 2:20 (skipped a 50 again on the second one)

2 x 50 as before

2 x 75 free on 1:20

1 x 100 easy

2 x 50 fast kick

4 x 50 hypoxic free (smooth easy strokes): first 2, breathe 2x each 25, second 2 breathe 1x each 25

Very pleasant lane company, we were all in a good mood! It was over almost before I knew it, that was a short swim; I was craving a swim yesterday, but the pool was closed for a meet, and in fact we are coming up on the evil season of pool closures, I will have to steel myself for not as much swimming as I like...

1950 yards total (yes, that's short, I must get there earlier from now on!)

Monday, November 24, 2008


Just took the data from the marathon website and worked out the 5K splits (spurred by coach observing that I had not slowed down nearly as much as I might have!).

5K 28:20
10K 28:14
15K 29:35
20K 29:11
25K 30:19
30K 31:58
35K 33:30
40K 31:56

Race map is annoyingly in miles rather than kilometers, and I am too lazy to sort it out, but I can say subjectively that I walked a couple short steep hills in Manayunk (figured it was not worth letting the HR go up) and felt least good (not terrible, but not great) at the 20-mile turnaround point which comes at the end of Main Street Manayunk, I am not surprised that my slowest chunk was the 30-35K stretch - it was actually all good from there, I felt strong in the last six miles.

That sort of 10:15 mile pace I had in the 35K-40K stretch (I think I was running very steadily, I didn't walk at all during the race other than through slippery aid stations and a couple short late hills) is very comfortable for me to maintain for a long time...

Must get back to WORK, marathon musings are distracting me from my real responsibilities!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Further sartorial postscript

It is one of the great mysteries of life why clothes and clothes shopping have always been two of my least favorite things - in my ideal world, everyone would just wear a navy-blue Orwellian boiler suit and have very short unisex hair and there would be no variety and I would not ever worry about such things - but ever since I have been running, I am at the drop of a hat ready to go to a running store and buy a new thing to wear! It does not apply to fitness-related clothing more generally, and in fact I will give the New York ladies among my readership a good tip - the fluorescent lights in the changing rooms at Paragon Sports are so awful that if you go there to try on bathing suits, it will take very great fortitude for you to ever appear naked again in front of anybody under any circumstances!

Sartorial postscript

I inadvertently provoked curiosity among the wardrobe-attentive!

It was some combination of practical good sense and insane last-minute only-a-new-thing-can-fix-the-problem money-spending, but I went yesterday morning to the running store at the Time Warner Center and bought a pair of these (I do not usually run in the tights style, I prefer regular running pants with legs - I have large calves and ankles, and the 2 pairs of tights I had previously both have tapered legs and ankle zippers which dig into the leg!) - and I wore the tights under the RaceReady fitness shorts.

I also had gloves, a hat and a jacket; the gloves came on and off at various points (they are very good ones, lightweight with a sort of windproof mitten cover that you can pull over for extra warmth, and they clip together so that one is less likely to lose them - but I am too lazy to get up and look at the brand and find a link), the hat was only on my head at the start and thereafter in the jacket pocket, and the jacket itself was tied round my waist - Coach Mindy said I could drop it off with her at mile 8, but I thought I would be wise to keep it with me in case I wanted it.

(Coach Mindy was on the course in three separate spots cheering me on - she had another runner there too, who was hoping for a BQ time after finding counterproductive seeding/crowding in Berlin earlier this fall - she was at mile 8, mile 14 and the finish, it was very nice!)

I had a long-sleeved shirt on, but no extra layers - I was pretty warm most of the time, too.

(The jacket was a less strictly necessary part of the purchase, but I somehow did not have the right thing, i.e. a soft medium-warm zippered jacket - I only had a windproof one that chafes at the neck and somehow never turned into a favorite clothing item and then over-the-head fleece-type things that are too inconvenient to get on and off and too bulky to tie comfortably round the waist in a race. Also, and very impractically, fashion outweighed common sense - I bought it in black, because I did not like the other two colors, but this will mean I cannot wear it for dusk or evening running because of the safety issue!)

(And in a typical lesson that one should not look after the fact of purchase for things on the internet - but really the thing was that I needed it that day! - it was this, and though it really is extremely nice it has already been marked down at the Nike website (I paid full price at the running store), plus they have it in several colors that were not at the store & that seem to me - unlike marina and mulberry, the two options they had on hand other than black! - entirely acceptable!)

I need to calm down and go to sleep, because I have a lot of work to do in the early AM due to frittering away my time running and blogging!

Marathon #1

I am in utter heaven - I am a marathoner!

It is not my temperament to do the suspenseful build-up and big reveal, so I will just say up front that I ran quite a bit slower than I had hoped/imagined, but in what I would describe as a good way rather than a bad way! 4:17:03 - an honorable and strong time for me, and I do not honestly think I could have run a lot faster, though obviously my pacing was very uneven and cost me quite a bit of time.

I feel extremely cheerful - exhilarated, really! - and unnaturally energetic!

(The splits on my watch seem slightly useless - I've taken a quick look, and clearly I was pressing the button erratically! But perhaps a general account is more interesting and relevant anyway?)

My "nothing ventured, nothing gained" goal was 4:00, and I ran the first twelve miles with the pace group. So that is fairly disastrous "positive splits" - just to explain for the non-marathoner, even or slight "negative splits" (i.e. first half a hair slower than the second half) have been consistently shown to yield best marathon times across the whole range of speeds - I was a minute per mile slower for the second half, more aptly described as 30 seconds per mile slower for miles 12-18 and into the 10:00s rather than the 9:00s for the last six or eight miles.

It was interesting - I had not really thought through the extent to which a pace leader will often be going as much as 30-40 seconds faster than goal pace in order to keep the splits unrelentingly even (i.e. a congested water station needs to be compensated for by some fast running), and I was worried throughout the first half (though I was running pretty well) that I was working too hard.

I also always willfully forget the extent to which HR will be higher in a race situation than during training - I should really be running in the 150s for at least the first third to half of the marathon, but I was in the 160s right away (average HR according to the watch was 164, which is certainly too high)...

At the mile 12 water station, it was incredibly slippery - with temperatures below freezing and water thrown onto the ground in a very thin layer, I walked through out of fear of slipping (the volunteers were recommending this precaution), and felt a fit of anxiety as I saw the pace leader's balloons disappear ahead of me.

It seemed suddenly totally clear, though, that I had really been working too hard already, and that though I could probably hold with him for another 4-5 miles, I was going to risk walking the whole last part of the race if I did so. So I slowed down and ran at a pace that seemed comfortable, and decided just not to pay any attention to time.

It was increasingly slow - I felt the cost of the pacing error for sure. My legs and body were fully fine, and indeed my digestive system was fine also so it was not the more disastrous form of pacing error, but my huffing and puffing system was simply not up to the job!

I ran very steadily and strongly throughout, though, and I really enjoyed pretty much every minute of it!

(Felt a bit queasy in final miles - not actually sick to the stomach, not even really feeling nauseous, but the combination of lactate buildup and too many gels always takes me a bit this way - it was the only negative physical symptom I experienced, I didn't have even any slight twinge of muscle cramp or pain or anything - legs really felt strong, though sore/tired by the end! But I was bursting with energy afterwards, and I didn't get super-cold at any point either, this was good...)

Beautiful day for a run, can I just say?!? Crisp, clear, sunny, relatively windless other than a few stretches - in the 20s for most of the race, I think, but blissful nonetheless!

So, in sum:

With what I know now (but I didn't know it beforehand!), I should have run with the 4:15 pace group. I am pretty certain I could have picked up the pace for the last 4-5 miles and gained a couple minutes, so there's a clear scenario where I could have pulled off a 4:12.

If the pace teams had been on 10-minute rather than 15-minute intervals, it is conceivably possible that I could have run 4:10 - it's funny, at various points this fall I found myself idly thinking (even as I resolved to aim for the alluring sub-4:00) that it was quite possible that 4:08 is my maximum achievable marathon time at current levels of fitness and experience, and I think that that really would have been the utter perfect-day outside limit for this race, but with 4:10-4:12 more likely.

In short, 4:17:03 is a highly honorable result for me!

I have surprised myself over the last few years by being a considerably better runner than I would ever have expected r imagined, but in fact I am not inherently super-fleet of foot - my strengths as a runner are physical and mental stamina and a good work ethic, not sheer zippiness, if you know what I'm saying. And in fact for a female marathoner to go sub-4:00 on a first attempt almost certainly requires either native zippiness or a considerably longer athletic history than I possess.

I overheard a rather funny conversation on the way home on the train - the girl sitting behind me was altogether elated at having qualified for Boston. As I covertly listened (I did congratulate her before we all got off the train in NY, it was benevolent eavesdropping!), it emerged (I do not know how old she was, probably in the youngest age group though - so probable female BQ time in that case is 3:40) that she had run eleven marathons in order to reach that time.

I am the kind of person who likes very much to have a five-year plan! Even when I was a little kid I always had one - and so I can try for 4:10 in the New York Marathon next year, and sub-4:00 somewhere faster the year after, and in fact I am now 37 which means that my Boston qualifying time is the slightly unattainable-seeming 3:45, but once I reach the 40-44 age group it is 3:50, and I am pretty strongly thinking that this is something I could pull off - now that really would be something worth working towards!

Friday, November 21, 2008


I will do a "goals for 2009" post at the end of the year, but I think I am going to be swimming a lot next year & that (I have been consulting with Wendy about this!) I should really resolve to swim in at least one meet, even if it seems very daunting! I had a revelation that really some slow swimmers swim in meets also, and that I could pick some long-distance events that are not especially popular - I have my eye on the 200 fly!

Baby-sized run

Two miles only, very easy!

Have been pestering everyone with questions about shorts versus long pants - I wore a pair of tights just now, and honestly, I am a bit too warm even after a couple miles with temperatures in the mid-30s, I think I should assume I'll stick with the shorts unless the forecast the night before puts it solidly in the 20s rather than the 30s. Will bring 3 different long-pant/tights options just so I can continue making myself crazy trying to decide.

(On the bright side, with no bicycle and no wetsuit involved, preparations for this race seem like a piece of cake - simplicity itself!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Race tracking info

This link should work. Site registration required, unfortunately. My bib number is 4859 but I think it is not needed.

Thursday swim

I did a bit of the workout, then switched over to a quiet spot elsewhere in the pool for some flip turn work with the coach (the others who were supposed to be learning were not there!), then back in the lane for the last bit of workout. Strangely hard work practicing those turns, much more tiring in a way than having a real swim - that said, I feel slightly underexercised now, but I think that I am meant to feel this way because of tapering! Will do my last 2-mile run tomorrow am, there was no sensible place to squeeze it in today...

Warmup (truncated): 150 free

First set: 12 x 50: 2 of each stroke in IM order as kick-swim by 50, then 4 x 50 free (swim) (I think we were on 1:15?)


Segued back in at 2 x 100 free on 2:00

6 x 50 free on :55

50 back easy swim down

I will count that c. 1800, I think - only 1300 proper swim, but I should get some credit for the floundering turns?!? ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday run

I felt lazy and tired before going out, but it was very nice once I got out there - wintry, windy, just coming up on dusk as I got home...

3.5 miles

Wednesday swim

Very relaxing, too - I really enjoyed that. I can't say I feel well rested, but I did get what I would call an adequate night's sleep last night, so that is a step forward - I have been sleeping very badly the last week and a half or so.

I am full of yearning and striving plans for improving my swimming - it is my goal to learn to swim the 200 fly!

(That's just a random thought unrelated to what I actually just swam this morning.)

No coach or workout in evidence, so I took it pretty easy and did a lot of freestyle drill. I really felt the benefits, too - I was watching the last bit of the women's team practice on Saturday as they finished up before the TNYA swim, and they were swimming "long and smooth," it was fairly amazing to watch - I had a good bit of that feel myself, though I am sure to an outside observer it would have looked no such thing!

100 free
100 back
100 right arm, left arm, catch-up, swim
100 back
100 thumbs and salute
100 breast (I cannot always be skimping on breast just because I like back better!)
100 as 25 "floppy paws," 25 swim
100 back
100 finger-drag
100 back

4 x 75 IM no free on 2:00

1 x 200 IM

2 x 50 free hard on 1:00

1 x 50 back easy

1 x 50 free easy

1700 yards total

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday run and swim

I am in a world of frazzle - I am sort of simultaneously shoveling plastic forkfuls of pasta (mildly disgusting, in which I have just spotted a stray hair, ugh!) into my mouth, writing this blog post and trying to figure out what I am doing in the editing workshop I have to run at 8 o'clock! (21 minutes from now?!?)

(Hmmm, I think I will just throw away the rest of this pasta and get something else later....)

2 miles on indoor track, c. 8:45 pace

Nice swim workout! I was splitting a lane with friend H., who has succumbed to the lure of TNYA - she was getting some coaching, so not doing the full workout, but it was good company anyway. Harder mental effort to stay on the intervals when I'm swimming alone like this - I could not hold the interval for the 75s at the beginning, I was more like on 1:50 (for 10 seconds rest).

50 warmup (curtailed!)

8 x 75 IM no free on 1:40

6 x 150 free on 3:00 (this gave me a sense of accomplishment, I had very steady pacing)

6 x 100 on 2:45 as 2 x (75 fly, 25 back; 75 back, 25 breast; 75 breast, 25 free)

5 x 50 free on 1:00

2400 yards total

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday swim

Bit late getting there - have not been sleeping well, could not get out of bed this morning...

Warmup: 2 x 150 free + 75 stroke choice as kick-drill-swim (I did the first back, the second fly) [450]

5 x 200 as 200 free, 150 free + 50 stroke, 100 free + 100 stroke, 50 free + 150 stroke, 200 stroke (I did back) [1000]

2 x 75 stroke as 50 drill, 25 swim (I did fly)

25 free sprint

2 x 50 kick (I did kick on back)

25 free sprint [300]

1750 yards total

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday run and week 17 recap

6 nice easy fastish blustery wintry miles (52:57, 8:50 pace).

Lungs still sore, but rest of body benefiting from effects of taper. Almost came to a complete standstill as I ran into a great gust of wind around mile 2 - fallen leaves blizzarding - a cyclist passed me and turned around to say hello, I was very happy to behold the smiling face of Triathlete L.! She had been out riding for about four very windy hours already, she said she was ready to be home - I guess she still had about ten more miles back to Brooklyn...

On an unrelated note, I regret to report that in the last couple weeks, I have completely given in to the temptation to blow my nose on my sleeve, setting a bad example to small children everywhere.

Week 17 total: 16.5 miles

This time next week the race will be over. I've only got three little mini-runs for this week (3 miles, 2 miles, 2 miles and I suppose I'll run just for 10 minutes or so the day beforehand?), so this was my last real actual run pre-marathon.

I've had several small setbacks in training (the hamstring injury in September, the illness last week), but on the whole it has gone very much as it's supposed to, with fairly noticeable increases in speed, stamina and endurance. I don't know that I have a secret weapon, but if I do, it's that I often run on hills but am doing a fairly flat race; and that the time I put in swimming makes up for the relatively low run mileage. I wish I could have had a couple more really long ones, and in general I would like to run higher mileage in 2009, but I have enjoyed the training a great deal and am pleased with how it's gone.

I took the plunge and signed up for the 4:00 pace team - I think it is worth a stab at it, it may be that this is just too ambitious at current levels of fitness and experience, but there is no way of knowing unless I try! And I have promised myself in advance that I will take whatever comes my way without excessive self-criticism or post-race dissection - if I finish half an hour slower than that, or more, and find the last six miles utterly horrible, it will be my own responsibility and the time will still be well within the bounds of respectability - because, really, finishing a marathon at all is highly respectable! The splits will be informative, at any rate...

(The race site promises some form of athlete tracking, but with no details as yet.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday swim practice

I had an ambitious but unrealistic plan to run and swim this morning, thwarted by the fact that I am a bad sleeper and (not unrelated) a recidivist alarm-snoozer and also by the need to eat breakfast and caffeinate pre-exercise.

On the bright side, I went to the pre-swim stretching session as well as the swim workout, and it seemed quite beneficial - more stretching and yoga-type stuff over the winter, that's what I think...

(I have been to a grand total of one yoga class all semester! That hamstring injury made it seem inadvisable for a while, and now that it's pretty much better I don't want to switch anything up so close to marathon time, so I have just let it go...)

Very good swim today. My technique felt poor, due to insufficient recent swimming; I noticed myself bending my neck to breathe in a way that I have worked very hard over the past six months to eradicate. Still with a lot of lung gunk, and generally rather knackered after a long week. But I enjoyed it very much, and the last long part of the set was a fairly easy endurance set - I could have gone on a lot longer, pity it's not a 90-minute workout!

Warmup (curtailed): 300 as free-fly drill by 25; 50 (would have been 200) back-breast by 25

3 x 200 free on 4:00 (I led on this - fun, but I had to work very hard, there was a fast guy right behind me! We came in pretty solidly around 3:30-3:32, that was good)

2 x 200 IM on 4:30

15 x 100 free on 2:00, with 1:00 extra rest after the first eight

2850 yards total (is that possible? Oh, I guess 'cause it was a mostly freestyle set we swam a couple hundred more yards than usual).

Good news: Coach Conrad is going to do a mini-flip turn clinic at Thursday's practice!

Friday, November 14, 2008

In which I am crestfallen

I asked for a pool locker key, and the attendant gently informed me that there is no lane swim this evening because of a meet. I have obtained a schedule of this winter's meets to try and preempt future disappointments of this sort...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The voice of reason

The trouble is that by upbringing and temperament, I am strongly inclined to ignore the voice of reason when it tells me to skip a workout. But no swimming for me this evening - I was actually on the very steps of the gym when I checked in on how I was feeling...

I realized that I have been criminally tired all week, that I have had a slight headache all day (possibly related to never having quite gotten around to eating a real meal as opposed to snacks) and that my lungs are still only at 80%. And that I already exercised for an hour and a half this morning.

So I turned away and went straight to my local sushi restaurant and had salad and sushi, which immediately relieved the headache. Then I bought a slice of carrot cake at the West Side Market (it has been a guilty recent revelation that that grocery store sells pre-packaged individual slices of cake - I cannot explain to the non-runner the extent to which marathon training has given me an appetite for cake, it is ridiculous!) which I am now going to eat as I read a detective novel and have a quiet evening at home!

(I can have a quiet swim tomorrow evening, I think, and I will go the TNYA workout on Saturday at 11 - I have missed most of the Saturday CU ones due to Saturday long runs, but I am only running six on Saturday morning, so there will be plenty of time to do both.)

Thursday run/gym

c. 3.5 miles easy, plus one hour of solid workout with M. My last one for a while! It was mostly very good, but I began to feel quite queasy at the end - I think it was an underfueling problem, I ate a modest breakfast at 7 (I had to do one work thing that I couldn't face finishing last night) but it ran out about ten minutes before the end of my session...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday run

4 miles easy, 34:16, c. 8:30 pace, avg HR 152

Very nice, too - beautiful afternoon for a run, I was getting home just as the sun set...

Strange to set out deliberately for such a short run! The pod has not yet resurfaced from my strewn possessions, so I do not have precise distances.

Wednesday swim

OK, now I feel like I'm back in the groove of regular life.

(Still haven't had time to unpack from my trip, though! That is what I will do shortly - Monday and Tuesday are utterly chaotic this semester, but the rest of the week is less overwhelming.)

Lungs still v. gummed up with junk, but I am a little better each day, and I am also starting to get that interesting taper-y feeling where the muscles in my arms and legs seem to be springing with excess energy - they want me to give them something challenging to do, they are antsy!

Warmup: 300 choice (I did 100 free, 100 IM drill, 100 IM)

3 x 500

1: 4 x 100 free, 25 fly

2: (this was a "super 500" exercise, but I wanted to keep effort levels moderate, so I subbed in something that made sense with the rest of the set) 4 x 75 free, 50 breast

3: 4 x 75 free, 50 back

Then there was still enough time for something else, so Coach Henning gave me a little set that brought a smile to my face: IM transitions...

7 x 50: fly, fly-back, back, back-breast, breast, breast-free, free


2150 yards total

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday run and swim

As is often the case during the semester, I didn't get up early enough, and yet I still got up far too early if you count it by total rest!

I was determined to run and swim this morning - I won't be able to swim later, and I have really been missing it. Compressed morning schedule, though, meant it made more sense to run on the indoor track at the gym (my lungs are still very congested and sore, so it may have been wise in any case - it's a beautiful day outside, but brisk).


3 miles c. 9:00 pace

Swim (all at fairly easy effort level - not sure I am remembering this exactly, it was impromptu!):

Warmup: 100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 100 breast, 100 free, 100 fly drill, 100 free, 100 IM

100 back, 100 free, 100 IM, 100 free, 6 x 50 as 25 stroke 25 free (2 of each stroke), 2 x 100 reverse IM

50 easy swim down

1750 yards total

Now to caffeinate and prepare for class...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mildly disastrous week 16 recap

Well, I meant to gut it out for a 10-12-mile treadmill run, but in fact I am still with lung & head congestion enough that I called it quits after 6 miles. (Dreadfully hot and disgustingly slow, as usual!)

Week 16 has been a wash - literally! On the bright side, it was the first week of a three-week taper, so it is not the worst timing to have had an awful cold. I am glad I got in my last long run last weekend (although that run is also clearly the straw that broke the back of my immune system).

On the bright side, I saw a particularly prosperous rooster strutting around the parking lot in front of World Gym!

Week 16 recap: a meager 11 miles total, plus one masters swim. Talk about tapering...

Friday, November 7, 2008


Well, I still have a slightly dire cold, but exercise is in any case contraindicated - because we are about to be hit by Hurricane Paloma...

No swimming in the sea!

And I will have to wait and see, based on illness and power/hurricane situation, what I can do about the 10-12 mile run that is my weekend marathon training obligation. It will probably just have to be skipped - if things are more or less back to normal by Sunday morning, I could probably just do a short one outside in the am, my cold will hopefully be mostly better by then, or gut it out on the treadmill if the gym reopens...

My flight back to NY is late Sunday afternoon, and I am hoping that transportation will be back on schedule by then. In the meantime I have attended my first hurricane preparedness meeting, where I gathered authenticating details for future thriller-writing purposes...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Brief update

I am having a very nice trip, but I have a cold and it is torrentially raining, with forecast of a tropical depression and thunderstorms through the weekend! The cold (illness, not weather - still v. warm, just rainy!) is well-timed for my taper, though - it will be OK if I do very little exercise this week, and it should ensure that I will not have a cold the actual week of the marathon....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday run

Just a short one - hmmmm, good for tapering purposes that this is a warm/humid or treadmillish week, eh? .5 mile jog over to gym, 4 slow and warm treadmill miles (bad for my morale, but I am sure it is still worth doing), .5 jog home - count it as 5 miles total. I think I will try and do my other runs while I'm here outside rather than on the treadmill - it is fairly rainy here this week, I like running in the rain and as long as the sun is not beating down it can probably be arranged even if I do not get up at the crack of dawn...

A guest race report from Training Partner L.!

A rare treat today for Triaspirational readers. On Sunday morning, I was on a plane to Grand Cayman, but two of my most cherished training partners were running the New York Marathon. The first thing I did when I got here was get online to check their splits - C. had just finished (in 3:46 - slower than he intended, but a great time, eh?!?), and I watched the numbers with bated breath as L. ran her last few painful-looking miles. Now she has written a race report for me to post on-blog!

L. isn't Triathlete L., who I've been running with recently on Wednesday afternoons. L. is rather my first great training partner and running companion - we started running seriously around the same time, a bit more than two years ago, and it has been a great shared adventure ever since. L. used to live about half a block away from where I do, so we could run together very regularly (we run at very similar speeds) - alas, she moved to Chinatown, at the very opposite end of Manhattan, so it does not happen so often these days.

Here is what she has to say about the New York Marathon, her first, which she finished in just under 4:30...

I didn't know that they played "New York, New York" at the start of the New York Marathon. I knew there was a cannon, and I suppose I shouldn't've been surprised--the New York Road Runners always play some sort of inspirational song at the start of a race, usually some appalling 90's dance number. I have a sentimental attachment to "New York, New York." When I was at Oxford it became, for a while, the song that was played at the end of every Drama Society party, and there would be a huge, boozy, circular kick-line of drunken British aspiring thespians, only some of whom had ever been to New York, and only some of whom would actually go on to pursue careers in entertainment. I'm pretty sure the girl who started the trend is a lawyer now. At any rate, the song is about big and potentially misguided ambition, which makes it perfect for undergraduates, and for the marathon, but actually really wrong for the Yankees, who play it at the end of every game, and who, in doing so, have been steadily ruining it for me since I moved here.

So after the start, after the cannon-launcher made a speech about how the previous cannon-launcher had died over the past year, and after he launched the cannon and we were supposed to start running they started playing "New York, New York" and I started crying. So many people! All doing the same kind of stupid thing! In New York, New York! So I spent the first 1/4 mile kind of overwhelmed and teary and trudging up the Verrazano Bridge. I thought I could run maybe a 4:15 kind of time, and set out to do so. I had a pace bracelet and everything. And my first mile was right on target! But that was going up the bridge. Going down the bridge I was 45 seconds too fast, and each of the next four or five miles were also too fast. I tried to slow down, but it was all just too exciting. I was wearing a t-shirt that said "OBAMAthoner" and had a (possibly backwards? it looked much better in the mirror than it did looking at it) drawing of the Candidate. When we came off the bridge I happened to be running next to a girl who had an "I Heart Obama" t-shirt on and a soldier in fatigues yelled at us "I LOVE OBAMA, TOO!"

The t-shirt was very popular throughout Brooklyn. But by the time I got to Fort Greene (mile 8-9 or so,) where people were perhaps the most vocal in their support of Obama, it was pretty clear that the Yes We Can atmosphere (and my own basic lack of self-control) had lead me to run way too fast for the first part of the race. While I was not yet in the World of Pain that Training Partner C had predicted, I could see it over the horizon. I had a hunch that I'd find it in Queens. And, indeed, Queens was fairly rotten. They gave out small banana sections there, which was encouraging, and they blasted "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" from the speakers as we started up the Queensboro Bridge, but it's a miserable neighborhood, and we were starting to be miserable marathoners. The bridge itself was predictably steep, and eerily quiet. You could hear the traffic overhead (we were on the lower level), and the footsteps of everyone around you. A lot of people walked. I didn't. That may have been a mistake.

Back in Manhattan I grabbed a tongue depressor of Vaseline from the med tent (my left armpit had begun to chafe, as had, it turned out, my lower back, but there aren't as many nerves down there and I didn't find out about that till much later.) They're generous with the Vaseline--more than a tablespoon per stick, and it gets everywhere. At this point we were on First Avenue, which is meant to be exciting, because it's long and straight and there are lots of people there. I thought it was just awful, for exactly those reasons. I need surprises, like hills and turns and variation in crowd noise to keep myself going. I started hurting in earnest, and I got tunnel vision, and I missed seeing my family at 98th street (though apparently my mother saw me and she says I looked awful.) By the time I got to the Bronx I was in terrible shape. There was no way I was going to finish in under 4:15. Hell, I might not finish in under 5 hours. I had to do stretches of agonized walking. I lacked the coordination to drink Gatorade and run at the same time, but starting running again after walking to drink the Gatorade was brutal.

But, the Obama t-shirt really helped! People kept saying "Obamathoner, Yes You Can!" at me really aggressively till I started running again. I did see my family at 98th & 5th, and managed to yell out to them "This is horrible! Never do this!" My brother jumped out and ran next to me for a block, and my uncle jumped out into the street with the sign my father had made. In Central Park things got bad again, though, with more limping and cringing, and more encouragement from Obama supporters, and I struggled through it in that fashion until suddenly at the half-mile-to-go mark I felt like I could run the rest of it pretty quickly. I think I ran that part *very* quickly, sprinting even. I passed hundreds of people and came in just under 4:30.

Then I was in agonizing, generalized pain going through the first few stages of the recovery area--medals, foil thing, and, most distressingly, person-who-comes-to-tape-your-foil-thing-closed, which I didn't expect and didn't understand. All I knew is that this woman was walking straight at me with a piece of tape pointed at my chest. I wanted to fight her off, but I would've had to drop the foil thing to do so, so she taped me shut and said "So you can use your hands now!" and I understood finally and felt like a fool. Then bags of food, then about a mile of very very slow walking in line to get bags and then get out of the park. Amazingly, by the time that was over I wasn't really in pain anymore and I could kind of walk. Turns out you really do need to keep walking for 20 minutes, no matter how awful it feels.

So thank you, NYRR, for putting us into that human cattle-chute, and thank you, Frank Sinatra, and thank you, Supporters of Barack Obama! (And thank you Jenny, for the spiffy running shorts.) Congratulations to Training Partner C for finishing a good deal faster than Sarah Palin, and I hope everyone voted today.

Thanks to L. for her account of the race, and congratulations to both L. and C. on finishing their first marathons on Sunday! (The first of many, I am thinking...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday swim

Too tired to write much, but it was very pleasant! Not sure this is quite right, but along these lines:

c. 250 warmup

6 x 100 as 50 easy, 50 hard on 2:10

5 x 100 as 25 head up, 25 catch-up, 50 swim

5 x 100 as 25 no breathing, 75 swim

bit of cooldown

c. 2000 yards total

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Long run #15

I was in a scramble of lateness all day - I had to drop off the cat at the catsitter, pick up my computer from my office, purchase ice for projected ice-bath and write and upload a letter of recommendation before I could set out for my long run, and it was all catch-up thereafter. I arrived at the pool about ten minutes early for my 3pm lesson only to learn that the pool was closed today!

Normally I would be very disappointed, but in fact it was for the best - mental and physical acuity not at their best post-long run! So I had a nice if brief chat with I. and got a ride back down along Riverside Drive in the family minivan, seated between 2 very lively baby twins in car seats - they were pretty pleased that there was someone to pay attention to them!

My run this morning was excellent. I was a bit nervous about it, because it was my one and only 20-miler - it really needed to go well! But it was the most idyllic morning (in fact it is now in the 60s, but it was sunny and mid-50s for most of my run), I got an adequate amount of rest the last two nights and it really could not have gone better. I am sorry my schedule didn't have 3 20-milers, this seems to me desirable, but there was nothing to be done about it.

(Hmmm, my HR monitor is acting up, that is the one thing that could have gone better! I am not giving HR avg for the last miles, because the numbers are in the high 160s and 170s and that just wasn't right - it was giving me those numbers as I ran, but if I paused the clock it immediately gave me a HR more in line with my subjective impressions, i.e. top half of the 150s or bottom 160s rather than mid-170s which, trust me, I would know if I was in! Not sure what to do about this - I assume the avg HR the device gives me for the whole run is also incorrectly high, but it actually may be more in line with reality.)

So I ran south through my bit of the park and then onto Cherry Walk, which you can follow up to the greenway link and all the way to the base of George Washington Bridge. Then I turned around and went all the way down to Chambers Street, then back up to 116th. It was very good all the way - I was aiming for 9:30 miles for first two-thirds of the run, and round about marathon pace (9:08) for the last third, and I actually really had to hold myself back for the last part - I naturally wanted to fall in more like around 8:45 or 8:50. So this was a very heartening and confidence-building run, very nice indeed. I did take some short breaks (a couple bathroom visits, a couple slightly extended water-and-gel-consuming breaks), and turned the clock off for those, so it is not exactly marathon conditions, but good nonetheless.

21.2 miles - 3:18:38 - avg pace 9:22 - avg HR 159

1 9:50 (144)
2 9:24 (150)
3 9:28 (150)
4 9:11 (153)
5 9:40 (158)
6 9:18 (158)
7 9:28 (158)
8 9:08 (151)
9 9:20 (152)
10 9:32 (150)
11 9:26 (151)
12 9:30 (150)
13 9:12 (157)
14 ?
15 ? (recording glitch - split up into bits!)
16 9:02
17 9:01
18 9:04
19 9:00
20 9:04
21 9:18 (includes brief but steep hill!)

I felt strong when I finished - I was glad to stop, but I could have kept running 9-minute miles for some more miles if someone had given me a significant incentive to do so!

Total week #15 miles: 41

Now - TAPER!

I will stop blogging now and go and use the hour the canceled swim lesson has bought me to get the work stuff I need to bring with me on my trip in order! I have an important work dinner this evening downtown, which will unavoidably keep me out till 10:30 or 11, so I need to seize the moment...

Next up: Pirates Week!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A royal flush

Portable toilets at the New York City Marathon (the story is by John Branch):
Gathering and placing 2,250 portable toilets for a one-day event — and then removing them almost immediately — is a daunting task. The marathon represents the third-largest annual assemblage of portable toilets in the country, behind the Rose Bowl college football game and parade and the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. Placed side by side, the 4-foot-wide toilets would stretch 1.7 miles.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday swim practice

Hmmm, overly long day, though full of good things. Just back from the theatre - good play! - only it is not sensible to wait to eat afterwards. I had a protein bar and an apple on the subway downtown to tide me over, but it proved insufficient...

Warmup (abbreviated): 200 free (skipped 200 IM drill-swim for goodish reason that I was explaining to another fellow in the lane - he did ask me, I was not just being bossy! - what the common drills are for the different strokes! I like it that I have now found a swim team where people think it is funny and useful that I am an explainer)

6 x 50 free on 1:00

4 x 25, 50, 75 (can't remember intervals: :40, 1:15, 1:40?) for fly, back, breast, choice non-free (I did back - had to skip last 50 of fly due to complete huffing and puffing system overload - led to a revelation later in practice that if I do fly and the folks ahead of me are doing free, I am fatally trying to keep up with them, whereas I can get a very nice comfortable fly going if I am behind a fastish breaststroker on a choice segment - I guess if everyone is doing the same choice non-free, you are sent off as back, fly, breast, from fastest to slowest, but if everyone is mixing it up it does not make sense to reshuffle and it is good for the form to practice it this way... to the longtime swimmers reading, this will all seem obvious, but it is quite eye-opening and novel and interesting to me!)

12 x 100 free (first six on 2:00, next four on 1:55, last two on 1:50)

5 x 50 choice non-free - free by 25 (I did 3 fly and 2 back - I think we were on 1:05)

2500 yards total

Thursday gym

A good workout, though not quite according to plan - I got over there ten minutes early, as always, to warm up, and M. said he was running 5-10 minutes late. And just as we were about to get properly started at ten past, another lady turned up - really she was supposed to come at 11, but she had got the time wrong (and was quite late, if it had really been a 10am appt. - self-sabotage!).

I decided that in the interest of increasing the sum total of workout hours in the world, clearly she should take the appointment! So I did about 45 minutes on my own, it was very good, and then headed home to get on with the real-work part of the day.

It would have been the last of ten sessions that I'd prepaid a couple months ago, so I am not, actually, sorry to have saved it for later, because I think this will be the last one I have for a while. I still do not have details on the apartment situation, but it is almost certain that I will move before the end of the calendar year to an apartment that costs enough more than the one I'm in now that there is clear need for Triaspirational austerity measures. No more trainer sessions, and no more individual swimming lessons! I'll have my last one with I. this Saturday and tell her that I cannot squeeze in any more.

Both things have been, I think, a justifiable extravagance - working out with a trainer was a crucial part, for me, of making the transition from overweight unfit insane workaholic smoker to thoroughly triaspirational exercise fiend, and a once-a-week session is a very nice and easy (but expensive) way of staying on track. I think it will be clear to readers of this blog, though, that I am in fact capable of staying on track on my own! And the swimming lessons were essential last year, because in fact if you genuinely never learned and do not know the non-free strokes, there are pretty much no group/affordable ways to learn them properly - there are adult learn-to-swim classes that are for people who really can't swim at all, and there are freestyle classes (especially with the growing popularity of triathlon) where you can improve freestyle technique, but if you honestly do not know how to do breaststroke or butterfly or whatever and you want to learn, you almost have to go to the one-on-one teaching, which of course (this being NY) is wildly extravagant.

That said, a really wonderful swim teacher like I. (or Jim Bolster, who I had a couple amazing lessons with in the spring) is worth her weight in gold!

My goals for this week's lesson: some work on freestyle breathing and the back end of the freestyle pull; some work on the arm/pull of the butterfly, especially the back part of the pull and the arms flying back over to the front.

Thursday run

It was 6:50 and pitch black outside and thirty-six degrees and as I went downstairs in the elevator to head out to meet H. at 110th and Riverside, I could only think - H. and I are crazy....

(And then - it was dark, I was not wearing my glasses because my prescription sunglasses are what I always run in and it seems absurd to wear them in the dark! - but really the problem is my poor sense of direction - I sort of ran past our meeting spot, and then I ran up and down sort of 'lost' and kept on checking cross-street street signs - argggghhhhh! In an alternate universe, I have a fully functional sense of direction - in this one, I cannot explain it to someone who does not have this, but I honestly look around me and I cannot at all tell where I am, it is partly due to moderate short-sightedness but really the problem is more that it all looks very strange and just like everything else!)

Anyway, a very delightful run - it is beautiful running along the river as the sun comes up, and it really wasn't cold at all - not much of a wind.

5.3 miles, 46:36, 8:47 pace (avg HR 158)