Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday long run

A recovery week, so I 'only' had to do 14 miles...

Straight out and back down the West Side to Chambers St. Very strong through about mile 12, though internally grumbling about the relative heat and humidity of the day (not actually raining, but about seventy degrees and with very high humidity - I was covered with sweat almost instantly!); stopped for a bathroom break due to stomach troubles, and definitely didn't quite bounce back after. I stopped my watch at 2:20 and walked the last little bit home, I was feeling slightly sick to my stomach (disgusting smell of ginkgos didn't help!) - I think it is still pretty close to 14 in any case. I would say I was at 10:00 pace for most of the run, but noticeable faded for final few.

Main goal: mindfulness about gait. I think that I have retained some benefit from the work I did on Wednesday, it was interesting to think about it at any rate.

14 miles, 2:20, avg HR 151, max HR 160

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday swim/yoga

This morning began relatively inauspiciously, with a dentist appointment at 8am and a long meeting that took up the whole morning and that has nothing immediately to do with any of what I think of as my real work! But after that, the day turned into a sort of lovely reward for the very insane weeks I have had since the beginning of the fall semester:

- my agent took me out for a beautiful lunch at the Gramercy Tavern (and since I know a few of you will like to hear it - we shared the calamari-and-carrot-salad appetizer, I then had the roast chicken with parsnip puree and brussels sprouts and a most glorious dessert, a blueberry corn parfait made up of corn ice-cream, blueberry compote, caramel popcorn and whipped cream with a light touch of pepper - and yes, there were petits fours also, and a cappuccino of deliciousness - the food there really is exceptional!)

- I told her about my two new book projects, and she likes 'em both and has lots of good ideas about ways of organizing and pitching them

- during the twenty minutes I had to kill before meeting her, I picked up several threaded CO2 cartridges, a new tube and a warm pair of winter cycling gloves at Sid's Bikes

- after lunch, I found myself only a few blocks from Paragon Sports, so I stopped in to pick up a couple clothing items that I have been obsessed with acquiring - amazingly, there was a 15% markdown on all running clothing (these Falke clothes are pricey, but the quality is truly exceptional - and chafe-free unless under the most chafe-hospitable circumstances!)

- I had a useful conversation, too, with a knowledgeable fellow in the shoe department, since I fear that yesterday's gait analysis is yet again going to prompt a change of shoe - I really love these Mizuno Wave Elixir ones I've been using for the past year or so, as they're super-lightweight and comfortable, but I think they do not give enough support - I had a pair of the Wave Nirvana last year, liked them reasonably well but they are very stiff and structured in comparison - that may have been better for my knees, though, which have been giving me more trouble this year than last. The shoe fellow pointed out that there are also two 'interim' shoes, i.e. that the Wave Elixir and the Wave Nirvana are at the two ends of the stability spectrum and that I might well like to switch to one of the other two options that are more supportive than the Elixir but not quite as structured as the Nirvana - namely, the Inspire or the (I am having a hard time remembering the exact names!) the Alchemy - alas, I am well-stocked up on Elixirs, I have 2 pairs in circulation in NY and a back-up pair in Cayman in case luggage goes astray. I can't remember now whether he was particularly recommending the Inspire or the Alchemy, but I suspect the former - something to ponder...

- I walked over to Chelsea Piers - it was the most beautiful day today, in contrast to yesterday's utter rainy drear! - and sat and read Jef Mallett's Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete for an hour while I digested my lunch (it is very good, I think I am going to try and land an author interview for the blog!) - I believe that cafe is going to become my home away from home, in fact I think that my best shot at finishing the set of paper comments that has hitherto eluded me this week will be to take the pile of 'em down there and sit there and write comments until I am done!

- then I had a lovely swim as follows: 50-100-150-200-200-150-100-50 warmup, then 500 flutter kick with every fifth lap alternating whip or dolphin for variety, then 2 x 100 drill (right arm, left arm, full catch-up, stroke), then 3 x 50 descending (1:00, :55, :50), then 2 x 75 fly as kick-drill-swim, then 50 easy back: 2050 yards total

- then I met up with Lauren (who is running the NYC marathon on Thursday - wish her luck! - and so is Leah, who I am pretty sure is going to have a magical day out there) for the excellent Thursday evening yoga class - I think I need to make this a regular part of my training week, with the suspicion that of all forms of exercise (with the possible exception of swimming) yoga is the one that is most likely to improve my mental as well as my physical health!

- and finally, after coming home on the subway, I deposited a large check that represents the second-to-last installment of the money for the novel I just finished (it will be published in fall 2010)

That is what I call a good day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday frazzle

I had an amazingly good run assessment/technique session with A. at Chelsea Piers. Again, the video is a hugely useful tool - especially on the treadmill, it is very easy to see how much my ankles roll and the way the knees then buckle to compensate - I have a lot of work to do!

We then did a bunch of drills on the track, with some more video - a drill where you lean up on the wall and do "fast feet," a couple other drills to get the feel for 'pushing' off the ground (leaning against trainer who is walking slowly backwards; trainer standing behind and using stretch bands to exert force) and then some actual 'running' - only in a drill format. Hands crossed on chest for the first half of the 50 meters, then dropping to sides (but keeping arms relatively still and hands high/contained - I have a tendency to swing much too far back); eyes on the ground about 5 feet in front, so as to keep body leaning forward; and striking with FOREFOOT (I mistyped "heel" in first version of this, sorry!) and really pushing off, as though one is pushing the ground away. Some noticeable improvements by the time we did the last video at the end, though I can see it is the sort of thing it's difficult to work on on one's own.

(Hmmm, really it is possible that I am almost as inefficient a runner as I am a swimmer! Certainly in both cases whatever speed I get is much more from the fact that I'm reasonably fit and that I'm willing to work hard than because of any particular biomechanical advantages.)

Other cues: stay "low to the ground" (but without hunching/crouching/folding at the waist); light fast steps.

(I will log it as 2 miles)

I have been having truly epically high stress levels this week - nothing out of the ordinary, I think it's always like this at this point in the semester, but it's been well beyond acceptable levels for the last couple days. Last night and this morning in particular, I really was on the verge of totally losing it! It was amazing what strongly beneficial effects this session had on my mental health - after about 20 minutes, I realized that the previous five hours of insane stressing-out had completely escaped my mind, I was fully concentrating on foot placement and neuromuscular questions about running!

This coach is very good - it's really exceeded my expectations. Training sessions with him are too expensive (these are free, as part of my membership package) to be more than the occasional luxury, but I think that I will have to ask my mother for the 3-session package for my Xmas present...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday run

It's a recovery week, and I couldn't fall asleep last night till very late, so I made a more sensible decision than usual and ran short!

Nicely rainy and cool outside (C. was tempted to cancel, but fortunately by the time he emailed, I knew J. would already have left the house, so it was not an option) - in any case I like running in the rain.

We decided to do a couple times round the top loop rather than doing the entire circuit - I left C. and J. to do a third one and jogged home on my own.

1 mile there and back, plus 2 x hilly Harlem Hill loop (1.42 mi. each)

2.84 miles, 24:55 (8:46 pace), avg HR 164, max HR 174

I need to enlist these guys to do a couple speed/tempo workouts with me as the last bit of my marathon training! Hmmm, might be time to actually sit down and make a list of the 4-5 consciously chosen things I'd like to fit in over the next couple weeks - I'm five weeks out from the race, that's crazy.

- Will do the interval training run class at Chelsea Piers on Monday 11/2, with C. and J. as guests

- Will figure on running 8 (1 warmup, 6 hard-effort, 1 cooldown) on Tuesdays the 10th and 17th with C. and J.

Some higher-speed mile repeats would be good, and I should make a couple of my own shorter runs 3 x the Harlem Hill loop, it's very good cardiovascular training...

5 miles

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Short Sunday swim

I feel I have been neglecting my swimming!

Rather unproductive work day - I read several hundred pages of Proust and wrote comments on ten essays, but that is only a drop in the bucket of what must be done by tomorrow afternoon - I figured a short evening swim was in order...

I really want to work on the drill stuff that A. gave me - it seems practical. My swimming is pretty strong, but I think there's a lot of room for improvement in the near future - I should be able to swim quite a bit faster, I am not an efficient swimmer at all currently. I do have an ambitious Ironman swim goal - 1:30 - I will need to get quite a bit faster for that to be realistic, but I think it is attainable with work. It is a nice round number!

100 free
100 right arm, left arm, catch-up
100 free
100 as 50 catch-up, 50 swim
100 free
100 as 50 finger-drag, 50 swim
100 free
100 as fists, swim by 25
100 free
100 6-3-6 (kick on sides with one stroke between)

Then a kick set with board: 600 kick as 100 flutter, 50 non-flutter (2 x whip, 2 x dolphin)

1600 yards total

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday run/yoga

It seems like a very long day (started with a dentist appointment at 8!), but I guess I packed a lot in, and I certainly had a very blissful evening, as it turned out.

I ran down to Chelsea Piers in the late afternoon (it was in the mid-70s, it is t-shirt weather again here!) with a change of clothes rolled up in a tiny bundle in the waist-style Camelbak (you take out the 'bladder' and it has a surprising amount of storage space - it is something along the lines of this one, though not exactly like it, as opposed to the backpack-type one I use for cycling).

Met up with Triathlete L. at what turned out to be a VERY good yoga class - I gave up on yoga because the teachers I liked at the Columbia gym left and the other local yoga place just wasn't that suited to me, but this teacher was excellent, the class is exactly what I like.

(But my muscles are going to be VERY sore - I am slightly regretting the fact that really I cannot move my long run from Saturday to Friday, because I think that delayed-onset muscle soreness is REALLY going to have kicked in when I wake up on Saturday morning!)

5 miles
1.25hr. yoga

And then we went and had was was truly the most delicious pizza ever - we were both so hungry by that point that ANY pizza would have been delicious, but this truly was exceptional! Co. Pizzeria, handily located more or less en route from gym to subway; L.'s had something like fresh spinach and pecorino romano and something else delicious; mine had "speck" ham, gorgonzola, figs, almonds and grapes. BOTH UTTERLY DELICIOUS!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interlude of bliss!

Well, I don't know how the whole business of bike-riding downtown on a freezing cold day in the middle of the winter is going to sit with me, but I think I can say in the meantime that my Chelsea Piers membership has brought BLISS INTO MY LIFE! I wrote my lecture first thing in the AM, then had a LOVELY INTERLUDE midday - rode my bike downtown (it's back into the mid-60s here), swam on my own for half an hour or so and then had an actually quite wonderful half-hour swim session with the assistant triathlon coach there.

It was quite different than what I'd do with JB - in fact it reminded me very strongly of Doug Stern's approach. It is a streamlining of approach that is well-suited to the triathlete's needs, doesn't focus so much on underlying principles and fundamentals but on a more down-and-dirty what's-wrong-with-the-stroke bit, plus drills and immediate video feedback!

The video is invaluable - it is unbelievable how straight my left arm is when I swim, and how little body rotation I have if I'm not paying attention. So I think it was an extremely useful session.

We did something like 100 swim, 4 x 50 right arm, left arm, 4 x 50 kick on side/1 stroke/kick on other side, 4 x 50 catch-up, 2 x 50 swim (cannot remember exact details), looking after each length at the video and then concentrating on mental cues (high elbow, good catch). Did a bit of dryland work with some cords on really getting the position of the forearm right so that you get a good catch and pull. My strengths: I am pretty relaxed in the water, decent body position, etc. Weaknesses: flat stroke, little rotation, very little kick. He recommends doing some kick sets with board, which I think is a very good idea, I like those and yet I rarely do them!

(Before that, I guess I swam 200-150-100-50 free to warm up and practice good flip turns - definitely if I let the breath out more slowly, I do not find myself with unpleasant empty-lung feeling as I surface, then 100 fly drill-swim, then 3 x 25 fly/75 free, then 50 back, 50 free.)

I get two more free sessions with this fellow as part of my membership package - we are going to do a run technique session next week and another swim one the week after!

1800 yards total, plus 9 miles bike

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday run

A highly satisfactory run with J. and C. We met at the foot of Harlem Hill and did the loop in the opposite direction from last week - a beautiful day for a run, sunny and mid-50s (most unlike my blustery Sunday one!).

All three of us were more than usually fatigued, and around mile 4 we stopped for a drink of water and agreed to take it easier for the last few miles.

Total time: 54:58 (6.1 miles, 9:00 pace, still very respectable!)

avg HR 163, max HR 171

+ 1 mile each way to and from park

8 miles total

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am laughing - I finally picked up today at the library my copy of Jan Olbrecht's The Science of Winning: Planning, Periodizing and Optimizing Swim Training - a recommendation from Chuckie V.

(As a book and information fiend, I find a post like that one ABSOLUTELY GALVANIZING - I've got some good reading ahead - the Maglischo volume looks absolutely amazing, I've only had time to dip in but it's pretty staggering - and how come I didn't already have a copy of The Lore of Running?!?)

Anyway, the Olbrecht book is quite hard to track down, but I requested it through interlibrary loan and am amused but not surprised to note that the library that provided it for me was Indiana!

And as I read that for IM swimmers in the base training period, "it is recommended to improve the aerobic capacity in each stroke and to avoid medley sets," with the suggestion that the coach should "select one, or at most two strokes for his main sets," I suddenly remembered that I forgot to log some IM in my previous post!

Short and sweet Monday swim

I teach till 8 on Mondays this semester, and though I have in some previous weeks taken a chunk out of the middle of the day to go and swim at Chelsea Piers, I think it will be increasingly impractical over the rest of the fall - too busy! But I was set on having a short (local) swim after class...

(Otherwise I will forget how to swim! Definitely not enough swimming or running this past week!)

100 free, 50 back, 100 free, 50 breast, 100 free, 100 fly drill


(Really this should be 3 x through, once for each non-free stroke! On varying intervals depending on other folks in lane, but with plenty of rest - 2:50, mostly.)

100 fly
75 fly, 25 free
50 fly, 50 free
25 fly, 75 free
100 free

1000 (fairly strenuous) yards total

Tomorrow I will run in the morning with C. and J. and go to TNYA practice in the evening; Wednesday midday I have my appointment at Chelsea Piers for swim stroke consultation.

(Gotta figure out when I can fit in more Spinervals - this weekend has more flexibility than I have had for some time, but of course there is always a huge mound of work to be done also. I think I will do my long run on Saturday - a friend's 40th birthday party is happening in Brooklyn on Saturday night, and I am thinking it will be a suitable night to drink champagne and stay out late, better to get the run done first!)

[ED. Not THAT short! Forgot to log 3 x 100 IM on 2:15, after warmup and before fly set.]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long run

Just a quick post before I go and take the LONG HOT SHOWER OF MY DREAMS...

I had a stimulating but unusually taxing work week, and when I got home around 11pm on Friday night it was clear to me that I'd better move the long run to Sunday from Saturday. In the event, I couldn't even get it together to do a short workout yesterday - I just spent the day hanging around my apartment feeling shatteringly exhausted! Got some better sleep last night, and in fact fell BACK asleep in the late morning for 2 more hours (it is the hazard of reading Henry James in bed!). Around 2:30, realized that even in my groggy semi-waking state I had better get myself out the door shortly - there is little leeway in a marathon training schedule, I really needed to do a 16-mile run this weekend...

It is WINTER in NY! I actually almost cut the run short around mile 3 - I was staggering up Cherry Walk along the river towards 125th St., and the wind was so strong that I felt I was hardly moving forward. Almost worse than the physical arduousness was the auditory assault - IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY LOUD, in a way I find very tiring.

Anyway, I slogged it out and did the full 16. Almost the whole time I was running north (which includes the last 4 miles as well as much of the first 5-6 miles) I was basically fighting an incredibly strong wind. It was certainly a very slow run - on the bright side, though, I think my fitness is pretty good right now, in spite of not having put the run miles on my legs that I would have liked.

c. 16 miles, 2:57:04 (c. 11-minute miles), avg HR 141

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Snack sausages

Via BoingBoing, an amazing illustration of what it really means when we say that an item of food has X number of calories!
Meat blowtorch.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday run


I was feeling AWFUL that I hadn't run since Saturday - on Tuesday, I was debilitated for about 14 hours by the most insanely acute pool-chemical-irritation eye-and-nose-streaming, it was OUT OF CONTROL, I used up every tissue and paper towel in the house and had to go and buy two more boxes, one of which I carried around with me to the rest of my work commitments (causing swine-flu-type flinching-away from various folks I encountered!) - and on both Tuesday and Wednesday, though there was a brief early-evening window where I could have run, the fact that the heating doesn't come on till Oct. 20 in the building that houses my office meant that when I got home I was so cold that I had to either take a hot bath (Tuesday) or drink hot tea (Wednesday) - couldn't face going back out. Probably this was also fatigue-related.

Today, though, I had a 12:30 date with C. and J. at the foot of Harlem Hill; it is rainy and 40 degrees, we had the park VIRTUALLY TO OURSELVES, it is lovely! They are faster runners than I, so it is a real luxury running with them - I can hold a suitable pace when there's peer pressure, but would not have the mental fortitude to run that fast on my own!

1 mile jog over, then the 6-mile loop; I figured I had then earned the right to walk the mile home rather than running it!

(Cold weather, perhaps, had left my quads in particular feeling very stiff.)

Nice, too, that I then bumped into several training friends at the corner of 110th and Amsterdam: first of all, cycling buddy R., who says he will ride with me in the spring and summer next year; and then H., who says that her legs are now recovered enough from IMKY that we can go for an easy run sometime soon!

I will have to go back and look at speed and HR data from last year's hard-effort park loops, but I was pleased with the time - I felt very strong, I was working pretty hard but I think the pacing was excellent and clearly my fitness levels are similar to or better than where I was this time last year (I've been running fewer miles, so I was a bit worried, but the general endurance work adds up).

1 mile warmup

6.1 mile loop (52:48 total; avg HR 163, max HR 181; avg pace 8:40)

It is quite hilly, so I think that would translate to more like 8:25 on a flat course. It is an appropriate tempo training pace for me.

I am keeping an open mind about marathon time goals - as I said, I am not convinced (I don't have enough data!) that I will be able to make my sub-4:00 goal, but I will have a clear spread of goals: 4:16 attainable goal (my time from last year, which I feel certain I can match if things go as they ought); 4:08 challenging goal; sub-4:00 dream goal. And then just see how I feel on the day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Far, far better bike away

David Byrne on cycling in Manhattan.

Tuesday swim clinic

When my alarm went off at 6am I was grumbling to myself...

Why did I sign up for this swim clinic?!? I don't go to sleep early enough to do 7am clinics in midtown!

Had thought I would ride my bike there, but in fact, though I had thought things through enough to bring the heavy chain lock back from the bike cage at Chelsea Piers, I had not FULLY thought it through - my nice bike does have lights, but the bike I can lock up on a public bike rack does NOT - so I took a taxi down and subway home...


WELL worth my while - that's an understatement.

TNYA offers a couple different kinds of clinics - I think the Saturday ones would have been invaluable for me when I was really learning the basics of the strokes, but for me now, they're not quite worth it - it's a big group, so not a lot of individual stroke feedback, and an hour travel time each way on Saturday afternoons adds up to not quite worth the trouble.

The smaller-group clinics that Stefan Bill does for the team, though, are a different story altogether. (He also coaches at SBR, but we are lucky that he has an affiliation with TNYA!) I went to the fly one in the spring, and it was fantastic. This one was a backstroke clinic for advanced beginners, and it was absolutely superb.

(In the lessons I just had with JB, back was the one stroke we didn't work on at all - it wasn't a priority, and it is relatively speaking stronger than my other non-free strokes - so I was especially pleased to have the chance.)

A lot of drill work - kicking on stomach with arms floating forward, then pulling one to side and kicking on side, concentrating on keeping one arm forward and extended and neck position neutral/relaxed. Successful of further kicking exercises on stomach, then switching to back; including a LOT of lengths with cup of water balancing on forehead and focusing on various cues! It was super-enjoyable; cues include thinking of arms extending along "railroad tracks" (my tendency is to be a bit narrow and also too close to the surface - legacy of flat 1970s-style swimming I learned as a kid!), rotating from hips, etc. It is surprising how easy it is to keep the cup balanced. Also, a useful concentration on keeping the stroke easy and flowing - don't let hand pause before recovery part of the stroke, keep the bottom arm moving and coming up.

Anyway, it was very good. Warmed up first with 200 free and 150 IM drill-swim by 25 (no free), prob. kicked and swam about 1200 more after that.

SB is possibly doing a fly or breast clinic next month, so I will certainly do whichever of those he is offering - hoping it will be breast, which is at this point really clearly my weakest stroke!

[ED. Put this up accidentally at the wrong blog! Now corrected. What I forgot to write before: SB has that gift which I think is the single most essential thing for a good swim coach, namely ability to see and assess instantly the particular weaknesses of a given swimmer's stroke and give a "fix" in terms of mental cues, drills, etc.; as each swimmer comes in he is giving verbal feedback of a quite specific sort, it is clearly second nature! The bigger-group clinics can't offer this kind of attention...]

1550 yards total

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday swim

I am glad I had a proper swim first, because the fitness assessment (free as part of new gym membership) I had at noon was a bit of a bust! Some mildly interesting bits (it is a Polar system of this sort) - but BECAUSE I swam first, my heartrate was already elevated - and I know from many years of doctor's-office visits that my blood pressure is always elevated due to nerves the first time round, at the doc they have to take it 2-3 times to let it settle back down - so that data is not especially useful.

I was OFF THE CHARTS on the bicep strength rating - literally! It is true, I am fairly strong; but I came in on the 98th percentile, and the fellow administering the test rightly looked at the number of lbs. pressure with skepticism and said he had never seen anybody, including a man, score so high, and that he was worried the equipment wasn't working properly! (On my printout, it says 208 lbs on a scale that gives a ranking of "Excellent" to anything over 73 pounds, so I am sure he is correct!)

We did all the bodyfat caliper stuff and measurements of different body parts, only somehow in the wad of pages I got as my printout, none of that stuff seemed to have gotten saved, which is honestly the only really useful part, if one were planning on retesting later on!

On the bright side, I was also close to top percentile on situps and pushups - the pushups, disappointingly, were KNEE pushups only (they have to stick with the test's metrics!), but I did 44, which considering I have not done any for many a week is not bad; 50 situps in a minute, also not at all bad.

Anyway, more to the point, very nice swim! I note that flip turns make swimming freestyle much less enjoyable/more like hard work than usual, and that it is nice to mix it up a little with some stroke bits to give myself a break from the hypoxia!

100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 100 breast, 100 free, 100 fly drill-swim

12 x 50 stroke-free by 25 on 1:15 (4 back, 4 breast, 4 fly)

500 "sliding IM" on 2:10 (25 fly, 75 free; 25 free, 25 back, 50 free; 50 free, 25 breast, 25 free; 100 free; 100 IM), plus 100 easy back cooldown

1800 yards total (+ 9 miles bike)

Now I have to get on with my REAL day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday long run

This morning we took advantage of Coach Mindy's Running Center supported long run; Brent and I were both having recovery weeks on our respective schedules, so we each just ran 12 (Coach Mindy described Brent as a "speed demon," and he certainly had a good fast run!).

I enjoyed my run a great deal, but am sorry to say that I'm definitely at higher HR on that pace than I might have hoped - this, however, is not the consequence of any kind of setback or "bad day" phenomenon, I just ended up having other priorities for this training season and this LIFE season. So I am reconciled, and I will keep my goals for the late November marathon responsive to how things go in coming weeks - sub-4:00 would be wonderful, but something like 4:08 would be great too, I will keep an open mind (my time last year in Philadelphia was 4:16, so I am aiming to take some minutes off that).

12 miles, 1:58:54 (avg pace 9:55, avg HR 161, max HR 173)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Brief Thursday run

Just did three very easy miles on the treadmill - it was clear after 1 mile that I was mentally fatigued and would not do a whole hour!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Midday swim

Had an altogether blissful midday interlude at Chelsea Piers. It was very rainy and blustery when I got up, I worried that perhaps my plan to ride my bike down there was unrealistic; it turned into a most beautiful (but incredibly windy!!!) day, so biking seemed fine, but as I topped up the air in the tires on my 'real' bike, I mysteriously made the back tire flat! ARGHHHHH! Fortunately I have this other 'cheap' bike, so I pumped THOSE tires and rode it instead - it is so windy that it is difficult to stay in a straight line!

Only had time for a short swim, because I wanted to try the abs class at noon (verdict: not bad, not as good as the evening boot camp class but on the other hand also beneficially much less intense - a half-hour core class of that sort is a nice accompaniment to a swim or bike - unfortunately my teaching schedule is not really compatible this semester with the midday spin classes, but that's the other thing I'm eager to check out).

It really is the most beautiful pool, especially on a sunny day! I had a lane to myself, and experimented with 3 new pairs of goggles - one much superior to other two, so I will order another pair of those ones and throw my old ones away, they have been incipiently leaky for some time, and now ACTUALLY leaky!

3 x 100 free, 50 drill-swim stroke (back, breast, fly)

50 back

100 IM

100 back

50 breast

250 free concentrating on swimming long and easy with non-taxing smooth turns

1000 yards total

30 mins. core (concentrating on obliques)

(I decided that the bike ride there and back should get logged in training miles, as an incentive in cold weather! Will call it 9 - can revisit this later if it seems to introduce ambiguity into training records...)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Post #1000

at Triaspirational, which only says that I am too prolific!

1. Lauren has processed data in a spreadsheet and informs me that out of the women racing the half, I was 55/82 on the swim, 35/82 on the bike and 46/82 on the run, for a position of 45/82 overall. I think it is hard to explain to those who are either naturally hugely athletically gifted or with a lifetime of athletic experience behind them, but this is a HUGE THING for me, I was always the worst at everything in gym class, overweight and unfit for many a year of adult life (and smoked about a gazillion cigarettes over the years), I cannot believe that it has been possible for me to become a SOLIDLY MIDDLE-OF-THE-PACK TRIATHLETE!

2. It was mile 2 of the run course, and I was uncomfortably realizing that I really needed to empty my bowels! JMD to aid station volunteer: "Are there porta-potties on the course?" Volunteer, giving JMD kindly and pitying look: "There are no porta-potties - it is the woods!" It was indeed the woods...

3. The notion of iron-distance racing thoroughly has me in thrall!!!!

4. And in fact if I really try and explain the lure of triathlon, it is sort of like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table! When I was a child, I was often reading Arthurian-type stories and fantasizing about being a knight.

5. Or a hero in an ancient Greek tale or a Norse myth.

6. Triathlon is kind of like that!

7. I am going to have a great time training this coming year.

8. It is all about the bike! Exact current or very similar swim and run fitness to what I have now, plus consistent cycling and suitable volume (mix of indoor and outdoor) and self-controlled race pacing, will put me in a strong position to shoot for a sub-14:00 Ironman. Dream goal sub-14:00, realistic goal 14:00-15:00, basic goal to finish within the cut-off.

9. A sub-7:00 half is required to qualify for the Survival of the Shawagunks (a notion for 2011).

10. I sent my novel to the editor on Friday around 6pm, and Brent is coming on Wednesday - LIFE IS GOOD!

Bassman half-iron, October 4, 2009

Thanks for the pictures to Lauren - (I have suppressed the less flattering ones) - but more seriously, thanks to Lauren for being an incredibly generous and supportive cycling mentor!

Her willingness to turn a blind eye to my cycling neuroses and give me a safe and enjoyable environment to ride in (including a number of car trips to New Jersey to spare me the GWB) was incredibly generous, especially since she is herself a blazingly fast cyclist (21.1mph pace in the half yesterday!).

Lauren - THANK YOU!

(And thanks to Brent for getting that spin bike for the condo - really all my current bike fitness is due to Lauren, Brent and Coach Troy!)

Yawn or smile?

The finish:

The best PB&J sandwich I ever ate in my life!

Bassman half analysis

Race results are up. I was finisher 167 out of 228 finishers (240 started) - that is not QUITE middle of the pack (Brent has a generous definition of "middle of the pack" whereby one does not need to be at the 50th percentile, just within the middle third!), but definitely getting up there...

Finisher 167
38 F
Bib 371
Swim place: 177
Swim time: 46:20
Swim pace: 2:17
T1: 4:57
Bike place: 164
Bike time (course is 58 not 56 miles): 3:20:45
Bike pace: 17.3mph
T2: 3:28
Run place: 155
Run time: 2:24:39
Run pace: 10:58

Total time: 6:40:06

I am very pleased, actually even more so now that I really contemplate the numbers. Enough so that I sort of don't quite believe it is true! But in fact, yes, I clearly paced my race reasonably well (or at least better than some others), because I moved up more than 10 places on the bike and almost 10 more on the run. This is very good!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A quick post

(for once in my life I might leave it till tomorrow to write the COPIOUS AND EXTRAVAGANT POST that I was mulling over as I ran...)

I had a wonderful day. I finished in 6:40 (watch splits are all a bit messed up, so I think I will wait for official results to be posted to ponder details) - I walked through the water stations, but I really did 'run' (jog!) the whole of the run (my main goal, other than the time goal alluded to below and the desire to enjoy myself on the bike), and felt very strong on the swim and the bike also. It was a beautiful course, hardly any traffic on the roads, and also the most GLORIOUS day out there - mid-60s, sunny, no humidity...

(It will sound like a very slow time to the fast among you, but my goal was to finish in a time beginning with a 6 rather than an 8 or a 7! I have done the Florida 70.3 twice, can't remember exact details but they were both very slow, something like 8:15 and 7:50; the first time was my first ever triathlon and I was an absolute bundle of nerves re: cycling, the second time was better but I was still undertrained, and in any case that course just doesn't play to my strengths, as the run is UNBELIEVABLY HOT in a way that makes me have to WALK rather than RUN! It was important to me to do a half this year where I really was at least mostly running, and I have now successfully executed that part of the plan.)

(And I am now confident that if I choose to commit the training hours, there can definitely be a sub-6:00 half-ironman in my future...)

(p.s. This WAS the short version! More TK...)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday swim practice

Really I knew I just wanted a medium-length easy swim, but the irk issues at non-practice evening lane swim are so severe that I figured I'd better just go to practice! Very uncharacteristically, I skipped a bunch of stuff - I just didn't have it in me to do the workout today, due to some ineffable combination of fatigue, stress, flip-turn-related hypoxia and indigestion from lunch!

(Usually I get sushi lunch at that place, but it was 1:30 by the time I actually had time to eat, and by that point I was ravenous and figured I'd better eat something more substantial to remain fueled for later work and working out - I thought the beef satay would be "plain," but instead it was drenched in a slightly disgusting and moderately indigestible peanut sauce!)

That said, it was an enjoyable swim - I felt strong in the water, and I was glad to have a solid swim workout. If I have time, I'll probably just run for half an hour first thing in the morning tomorrow - massive amounts of work still to do before the end of the day tomorrow, needless to say...

Warmup: 200 free, 150 choice kick-swim by 25 (back, breast, fly)

6 x 100 IM on 2:10, first 3 regular, second 3 reverse (I note that really my IM must have gotten a lot stronger since this time last year, since I can now very easily swim that interval, which I am sure I could not then)

Then the set on which I flaked! In theory it was 3 x (200 moderate on 4:00, 4 x 50 descending on :55, :50, :50, :45) - in fact, after the first two fifties I pretty much gave up on doing any really fast intervals! I think I instead did something as follows (swimming easy/moderate on the 200s with flip turns added does not leave me in a good position to swim hard 50s following, even with the rest I get before they start!):

200 on 4:00
2 x 50 on :55, :50

several mins. HARD GASPING

200 on 4:00

2 x 50 on 1:00 (free, breast)


200 on 4:00

2 x 50 on 1:00


The last bit was in theory 25 fast, 25 easy on :20, :50, but really it was clear to me I would not do that! I just swam some cooldown 50s (I was uncharacteristically FREEZING by this point, it is all that hanging around at the wall, it is not good!) and then got out. Call it 5 x 50 on 1:00 (breast, back, free, fly, free).

2100 yards total (?)

Then I went to my old apartment building - early in September I ordered a new lycra suit (I prefer polyester for pool swimming, both for durability and for support, but I think lycra is less likely to chafe on a long swim) to replace an identical previous one that has gone nascently transparent in the CHEST area (not good) plus 3 pairs of goggles (2 corrective/distance, 1 similar to what I have already - these ones are perfect only the seal is giving out and they are verging on leaky).

Was eagerly looking out for them pre-Little Red Lighthouse, disappointed not to get 'em in time to use new goggles in particular (old suit is still usable) - finally realized it had taken WEEKS, checked website yesterday, package had supposedly been delivered - sent irked rant/email to company - then double-checked order, and realized I had accidentally sent it to my old apartment! I am surprised the credit card went through with an obsolete billing address...

At any rate, I am now happily united with the package...

And now, regretfully, BACK TO WORK!

(But first, perhaps some dinner? I have gone straight from indigestion to needing to refuel, it is ridiculous!)

Race reporting

Further thoughts from Wendy on the Little Red Lighthouse Swim - with a picture of us all looking rather freezingly cold afterwards, but with the Actual Lighthouse in view!