Sunday, January 31, 2010

One-hour swim 2010

I am not going to write a lengthy screed, as I have a pronounced headache - it came on just as I started swimming (some combination of poor goggle placement and sinus irritation from pool chemicals?) and though it receded for an hour after I was finished, it came back and has not yet been dispelled by ibuprofen!

- I haven't been swimming much over the last 2 months, not entirely by my own choice

- I had low expectations and was slightly dreading it

- but TNYA is a lovely team, and the vibe in the place was incredibly positive when I got there - I began to contemplate the prospect of the one-hour swim with a bit more enjoyment

- I forgot to take an antihistamine this morning

- I also forgot to bring a towel!

- Here was my report on last year's event

- Last year I was aiming for a pace of 2:00/100 yards, and pulled off something just a bit faster than that, around 3100 yards total

- I knew I would swim more slowly this year - it was dispiriting but that's the reality of it, and I was having a hard enough time doing those 50s on 1:00 the other day in practice that I knew I had no hope of making last year's time

- I am writing a lengthy screed despite my disclaimer!

- I did flip turns for every single turn but 1 (where I was trying to clear my airways of phlegm and needed the open turn to do it above water!)

- That is an accomplishment

- Really the whole thing is an accomplishment - I remember when I started swimming 3 years ago that it seemed extraordinary to me the first time I swam for 10 minutes without taking a rest at the wall

- But I only swam c. 2950 yards

- Liz, who was counting for me (and who swam a highly respectable c. 3300!), observes that I come up very early out of the water after my flip turns, well before the flags, and that in fact at this stage they may still be costing me speed

- I will work on push-offs with flip turns and not popping up so quickly

- My goggles had water in them and my head really was aching, but it was otherwise a surprisingly enjoyable swim - I note that it was mentally much easier than last year, or at least it seemed to go by much more quickly, and that the fairly extensive distance swimming I did last year really has had a beneficial effect

- So, nothing of triumph in my feelings, but it is a nice way to spend a couple hours on a (very cold) Sunday in January...

The three charities TNYA's supporting this year are the AIDS Service Center NYC, Immigration Equality and the Trident Swim Foundation - go here if you'd like to make a tax-deductible donation.

The whole week was one of tiredness and headaches and frazzle, so I am going to try and reset mentally tonight and get off to a good start tomorrow with a block of training and work time that will make me feel cheerier - this museum thing I'm involved with is a very cool thing, but I thoroughly underrated how tiring I would find it - I have to write and see if I can do fewer shifts this coming week...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday workout & musings

Spinervals 14.0 (Totally Time Trial) - 90 mins.

(I prefer the Mental Toughness for a 90-minute workout, but the DVD for that one has a glitch that makes it freeze and I have to skip about 20 minutes of it - I should see if I can get a new copy, or else just use the one I have and fill in the missing bit of workout)

Then I went over to the Columbia gym for a short swim - it was not, fortunately, excessively crowded.

Hmmm, what was it?

2 x 100 free

Free drill:

100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, free
50 free
100 finger-drag
50 free
100 thumbs-and-salute
50 free
100 6-3-6
50 free

100 fly drill as right-arm, left-arm, 3-3-3, full stroke
50 free
100 back
50 free
100 breast
50 free

1250 yards total

I have been full of discontent with myself this week, but my rational evaluation is that it's unreasonable - I've only been home for five days, and it's too soon for me to have gotten into a good routine, given that I'm working with a totally different set of factors than usual.

I only got back late Saturday night, and since then I've done two rehearsals for this piece I'm involved with at the Guggenheim, and have realized that it's truthfully going to be very tiring (rather demanding 4-hour shifts, plus an hour each way transportation); I've had a slew of doctor's appointments (on the bright side, I've now got a Flovent inhaler in addition to the albuterol, and it's made my lungs feel normal for the first time in what in retrospect must be several months - I was having trouble with wheezing on long runs in November, and my lungs were very sore and wheezy during and after the marathon); I spent about 7 hours last night doing an elaborate iPod restoration and recovery project, and all is now well again...

(Work IT guy inadvertently deleted iTunes library from my laptop & also did something that made it impossible to reinstall iTunes - and then the evils of the proprietary software are such that one can't just copy the iPod Touch contents back onto the computer, there needs to be an elaborate workaround - but I strongly recommend the PD+ Rescue package - it was idiot-proof, I executed steps and achieved the promised results. Now I am no longer in the nerve-racking situation of having my entire music library on one fragile device - I didn't even use it for my January treadmill runs because I couldn't risk busting it! I am wondering about getting some sort of backup - I think the Shuffle is too much less versatile than a regular iPod to be worth buying, though I am still slightly tempted, but it is probably worth getting an iPod nano and using it for gym workouts.)

Things also look very busy through the weekend - two Guggenheim shifts, a couple out-of-town friends and family members to see, the one-hour swim on Sunday.

In other words, it's kind of a hive of activity round here, and it is not surprising that I haven't exercised as much as I'd have liked or done any of 'my' work - really I need to scale my expectations dramatically down in general, or else I will never beat my insomnia!

On which note, I have been doing a pretty mediocre job hewing to the sleep protocol, but even so, it's helped a lot in terms of falling asleep and sleeping a bit more soundly (of course, sabbatical is helpful too). The huge stumbling block right now - the thing that has given me cause for much self-reproach this week! - is my inability to get up in the morning. This morning I snoozed my alarm for two hours! The trouble is that I am so groggy at that time of day that I basically have no willpower - I need to set up some kind of structure that will get me up and out.

It worked well in Cayman earlier this month to do an hour or two of exercise pretty much first thing in the morning right after I got up, and I'm trying to figure out what would be a good version of that here. Running in theory is good, but I find it especially hard to get up and out for unless I'm meeting someone. I'm thinking that what might make more sense would be to do 30 minutes on the spin bike and then 30-40 minutes of core and moderate strength stuff...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday swim practice

It was very enjoyable - I was dreading it beforehand, I am swimming very slowly due to neglect of the sport, but in fact the lane composition and the nature of the workout made it more than tolerable. I have to take advantage of TNYA practices while I am in NY this winter and spring, it pushes me in a way that swimming on my own does not!

Warmup (curtailed) 50 free, 50 back, 50 breast

8 x 50 on 1:15 as fly-back, back-breast, breast-free, free-fly x 2

Not sure I have intervals quite right for these - we were assigned :55 for the 50s, but lane consensus (ease of counting, ease of swimming) tipped us to 1:00, which is more realistic for me!

250 free on 4:40
5 x 50 free on 1:00
50 seconds rest

200 free on 3:50
4 x 50 free on 1:00
40 seconds rest

150 free on 2:50
3 x 50 free on 1:00
30 seconds rest

100 free on 1:55
2 x 50 free on 1:00
20 seconds rest

Then 8 x 50 on 1:10 (IM order x 2)

50 easy back cooldown

2400 yards total

I am going to swim a bit slower in the one-hour swim this year than last year, I fear - flip turns might make me a little faster, but both general and swim-specific fitness are weaker this year than last, alas (no regular two-hour runs in my recent past!). But I will just have to live with it...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday swim/run

Chelsea Piers is a temple of bliss!

I had a tentative plan to meet up with Lauren for spin (if I got there in time) and run - I did get there in time, but it's been on my mind that I haven't swum nearly enough to prepare for the one-hour swim this Sunday, so I swam instead of spun; after that we had a very nice 3 miles or so round the indoor track and some sushi at Chelsea Market.

I think we'll try and spin and run on the three Mondays coming up, building the run up by ten minutes each time so that three weeks from now we're doing an hour spin and then an hour easy run...

Warmup: 100 free, 100 fly drill (RA, LA, 3-3-3, full stroke), 100 free, 100 breast drill-swim by 25, 100 free, 100 back drill-swim by 25

3 x (4 x 50 alternating drill, free) (catch-up, fists, front scull)

6 x 100 on 2:30 (odds free, evens IM)

200 free*

400 kick as 2 x (2 x (50 flutter, 25 whip) + 50 dolphin)

2400 yards total

*NB this was going to be 3 x 200 but the mental tedium was getting to me after the first one! On a happier note, I fully remember how to do flip turns - I was afraid I might have forgotten by not doing them for some weeks, but I guess it is one of those things that once you've learned, you are able to reproduce on a later occasion...

3 miles run

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sea swim!

35 mins. - call it 1650?

I saw a sea turtle AND a sting ray with attendant fish...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday run/core

Entirely satisfactory morning workout session. I am increasingly certain that the only way to make the sleep regimen work is basically to have at least an hour of exercise first thing in the morning soon after I get up...

5 slow warm treadmill miles
45 mins. core strength class (+LB)

I have to start doing faster treadmill miles - the proportions between heat buildup and effort on the treadmill are just very different than they are in the world, I kept it very slow and my HR was only around 140 for most of this run but I was dripping with sweat and completely red in the face and overheated from about 3 minutes in - my heartrate would be easily 15bpm higher than that during a comfortable, not excessively effort-heavy outdoor run on a day of moderate temperature.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday spin/strength

I did not swim first thing in the am - I needed to organize my stuff and move it all out of the spare room pending arrival of other visitors, and it took rather longer than I thought! Hmmm, I see I am procrastinating on swimming, it is not good...

Had a good time at the 12:15 spin class. Was mildly thwarted before - after a few minutes on treadmill, it was very clear that this exercise-induced asthma or whatever it is has not cleared up nearly as much as I would like, and I did not have the inhaler with me. My regular annual physical is on Monday in any case, so I will consult doc about it then - I fear there is nothing to be done but take inhaler puffs before running and in a more general sense wait for it to go away. I did some lower-body strength training instead, and I was fine for the spin class - it's running that really trips the switch on the wheezing...

1 mile jog
20 min. lower-body strength training
50 mins. spin

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Grind it out!"

I am back in the saddle - had a very good workout with Coach Troy, Spinervals 14.0 (Totally Time Trial). Then had a very brief swim - really I had better call it a dip! - in the sea. Incipient calf cramp and obsessive longings for the other half of the bottle of Gatorade I mixed up after the bike workout & drank as though it were the nectar of the gods persuaded me to cut it short and come back inside to rehydrate and clean up. It was good, though - and tomorrow morning I'll swim first thing in the am while I am still fresh...

90 mins. spin
200 yards swim

Tuesday minor mishaps

I miscalculated all of my exercise this morning!

Forgot that core strength class starts at 8:30 rather than 8:45 (this may have been lizard brain rationalization to stay in bed extra 10 mins.), realized just as I was about to leave and figured I'd go to 9am spin class instead - only spin class is at 9:30.

So I did half an hour of core stuff on my own and sauntered into the spin class at 9:25, only to find that all the bikes were already taken!

Walked back to the condo and set up spin bike here to do a Spinervals workout, only by this point I was distracted by (a) hunger and (b) news of Cayman earthquake. I wouldn't have known anything had happened, though in retrospect there was a moment of rumbling while I was at the gym that I assumed was the result of some overambitious lifter dropping a heavy weight bar to the floor!

I am now eating a turkey sandwich, will shower & spin/swim later...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday gym

"Group Power" class at World Gym. Not bad, though really one would be better off with either a regular strength session on the gym floor or a high-intensity boot-camp-type class - the weights in a body-sculpt-style class like this are never really heavy enough, nor does the heartrate go super-high. That said, it is still well worthwhile; it's a decent class, and showing up for a class takes all the willpower out of it...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sea swim!

Just 30 minutes, I figure I'll ease into some longer ones later in the week - very nice, too. Water is brisk at first but perfect temperature for swimming. Saw a huge sting ray and stopped for a minute to watch its cartilaginous flaps ripple on the sea floor - several smallish fish in attendance as per usual...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday longish run

That was good - I actually think that despite how little I have exercised over the last six weeks, my run fitness is better now than it was in August. (Residual effects of marathon training, plus I did try and do at least a couple 90-min. runs in December; and from April to July I wasn't doing a lot of running, it was subordinate to other triathlon priorities.)

90 mins. easy (but warm!), with main irk factor being that as I was watching television, I kept on accidentally knocking out the safety plug (must have happened about six times - I should run further back on the treadmill if I am going to watch TV)...

8.5 miles

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday yoga

Went to the "Group Centergy" class at World Gym - not bad, sort of a yoga-pilates hybrid to music - really I prefer a classic yoga class, but this will do. (There is also a new yoga studio nearby - I picked up a schedule the other day and might try out a class there next week.)

I was going to do an upper-body workout also, but didn't really have time - and also it dawned on me that if I am hoping to swim quite a bit over next few days, it would be silly to blow out arms/back/shoulders on a hard strength workout!

Next week I will do the "group power" (body sculpt/strength training) class on Monday, core strength class on Tuesday, core strength + upper body on Thursday and "centergy" on Friday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brief swim

Nice (chilly!) little swim in the condo pool - I will swim in the sea tomorrow, I think.

2 x (4L free, 2L breast)

2 x (3L as right-arm fly, left-arm fly, full stroke)

4L as right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, free

2 x 2L free drill-swim (fists, finger-drag)

Then I took a dunk in the hot tub!

Call it 1000 yards

Thursday run/core

That was a very enjoyable morning at the gym - now I really feel I am back in the groove of things...

When I get up in the morning I am always in the natural course of things incredibly groggy, compounded this morning by the fact of being amazingly sore from the lunges I did the other day! So when I got to the gym, I warmed up for 10 mins. on the bike to get some blood flowing in the leg muscles - to tell the truth, I was not at all sure I could run...

However, once I was on the treadmill, I jogged a very easy mile to warm up and it felt fine. Then I did 10 x (90 seconds @ 8:00 pace, 90 seconds recovery walk).

Imagine my horror as I realized that the Thursday incarnation of the core strength class incorporates squats, lunges and other lower-body stuff! However it was a very good class - I like this as a Tuesday-Thursday Cayman routine...

It has been uncharacteristically cool here, to the point of rendering the thought of swimming slightly chilly, but temperatures are back up today, so I will make it my priority to get into the pool for a drill-intensive workout this afternoon. (And a sea swim tomorrow, perhaps!)

My top priority from now until May, I have decided, is 3xweek strength training. Have to make swimming a priority for next couple weeks as I'm doing that one-hour swim on the 31st and I have swum a grand total of six times in the last six weeks, it will be absolutely horrible if I don't get back in the water in the next couple days.

One-hour swim notwithstanding, my only real priority for these winter and spring months, other than strength-training, is CYCLING. When I get back to New York it is going to be all about the bike...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday TOB

Very nice midday spin class at the gym. I haven't been exercising enough period, but I really let the bike drop away completely over the last month - time to get back on that as a priority...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back on track redux

The last six weeks have been exceptionally unpropitious to exercise! But I hereby announce (is it hubris?) that I think I am back on track.

(A more self-disciplined person than I would have been able to exercise on our Florida vacation, but as it was, all spare hours saw me so sleepy and cold that I could not imagine spending them anywhere other than under the covers!)

I was in good shape at the end of November, but truly have exercised very little since then, not through lack of desire - on the basis of this morning's workout, I will guess that I have maintained some base fitness and should be able to get back into shape pretty quickly, though I am prepared for swimming to feel like a completely alien activity for the next couple of weeks...

Got a ride over to World Gym from Brent, then did a good half-hour on the treadmill: 10 mins. very easy (5.2mph, 11:30/mi.), 10 x (1:00 @ 8:00/mi. [7.5mph], 1:00 easy). 3 miles total - I didn't want to overdo it, so I kept the recovery speed very slow, but I think interval training will be the way to speed up regaining fitness.

Half an hour of lower body, then the 45-minute core strength class.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday swim

A lovely funny little swim now in Brent's condo pool. I grumpily had to admit to myself last week that the doctor was right in saying two weeks off from swimming were needed for that incision to heal, it felt unpleasant on Thursday but today the situation is thoroughly back to normal. A beautifully cool day here, too - Davidsonian weather!

Warmup: 2L-4L-6L-4L-2L

4L breast

4L fly as right-arm, left-arm, 3-3-3, full stroke

2 x 4L freestyle drill-stroke by 50 (catch-up, thumbs-salute)

Kick with board: 3 x 4L flutter, 2L other (I did whip, dolphin, whip)

50L total - let's call it 1500 yards

Tuesday cardio/core

My lungs are still giving me trouble when I try and do anything cardiovascular - I think I will get some cough suppressant-type syrup and see if it will give me a night or two of un- or less-interrupted sleep. But I feel good after getting in some exercise - the core class wasn't half bad.

We're going to Florida from Thursday to Monday, so exercise for those days will be a bit dodgy - if I can get up early enough, I'll try out the 6:15am strength class at the gym tomorrow. One or two swims and one or two short runs should also be able to be squeezed in before we leave - I am in the home stretch on the overdue Shakespeare essay, if I can't send it by the end of the day today it will at any rate be done tomorrow. Which will be a huge weight off my mind!

.5hr. elliptical, .25hr. stationary bike, .75hr. core strength class

Monday, January 4, 2010

Short Monday run

About ten minutes into it, my lungs had become very tight and I realized I had forgotten to take a couple puffs of albuterol before starting - I have an inhaler due to the regular visitation of precisely this sort of bronchial ailment, but as I don't use it on a regular basis, I usually don't think of it until it is too late to do anything about it!

However, it was certainly better than the other day, which is encouraging.

3 miles

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Ugh, I am still WORKOUT-IMPAIRED - my short swim the other day made me see why the doctor initially said two weeks of no swimming post-surgery (not painful, but it is impossible to keep the wretched incision area dry, it seems mildly disgusting!), and I am figuring I will wait till Monday for a proper swim, that will be almost two weeks.

(It is mentally painful, as what I was imagining myself doing for these weeks in January was working out for about five hours a day in utter bliss! And instead clearly I am going to have to take things pretty easy for another week or so...)

We went to World Gym for a long treadmill run, and after about 10 minutes it was clear to me that the very tight and constricted nature of my airways made running contraindicated; otherwise, though, I felt pretty much OK, so I raised the incline and lowered the speed for an hour total of moderately strenuous uphill walking (avg HR 140, so it is honestly very similar to an easy run, only easier on the lungs).

Then I made up the rest of the 90 minutes with a very nice 30-minute core workout.

I am taking advantage of the stomach ailment situation of earlier this week to go off caffeine for a while - I have had a caffeine withdrawal headache for the last few days, but it was quickly dispelled by the session at the gym.

I don't think that caffeine is the clincher, but I am a lifelong terrible sleeper who fell over the edge of some truly precipitous insomnia ledge about 3 years ago - I have masked it over the last few years by relying pretty heavily on sleeping pills that give me the ability to mimic a normal sleeper while leaving me feel regularly slightly hungover, but I am determined to go off them, they really are no good!

I've had a few sessions with a cognitive-behavioral therapist to figure out how to get started on a new sleep regimen (it is this sort of thing), and I'm now about to plunge into the first (evil but promising) stage: it involves a sort of controlled sleep deprivation that is designed to improve sleep efficiency.

What this means for now is I have an allotment of 6 hours in bed, I count back from when I want to get up - but there are some very strict rules (things like always getting back up out of bed and going into another room to do some non-stimulating activity like reading a book - i.e. no nighttime internet!).

So if I am getting up at 7, I can't go to bed before 1, even if I feel sleepy - notionally this means that when I do go to bed at 1 I fall asleep pretty quickly, at least after a few weeks of lots of nights of massive tossing and turning!

I think it will be difficult to hew to, even transitionally, but that sabbatical is the ideal time to try it. And I might as well have a month or two without caffeine also in case that has been making even a minor contribution to difficulty falling and staying asleep...

(The plan for the next three weeks is to sleep midnight to 6.)

So that, really, is the most serious project for January, unglamorous as it may be. There is no training priority that is as important as sorting out this sleep business.

I have been thinking a lot, though, about how to have a good training year while enjoying myself and not burning out.

The gist of it (I enjoy making charts, but I think I do better with a more casual and improvisatory plan - I get too hung up on completing every last workout when they are in boxes that can be checked off!) involves breaking the year up into chunks based on where I am and what else I am doing.

The big goal race is IMWI on September 12. (THIS IS SO EXCITING!) I'm doing the Harryman Half on May 22, and basically thinking of it as a long training day, so I need my aerobic conditioning and endurance fueling to be strong enough by that point that that's sensible (I can scale down to the Olympic distance if I have any reservations, but it would be more useful for training purposes for me to do the swim and bike and walk the run than to race the shorter distance at faster speeds, so I think I will indeed be doing the longer distance).

But I won't start my official Ironman training until after that, as this seems to me the most sensible way to avoid burnout. I'll use a somewhat modified version of Gale Bernhardt's Thirteen Weeks to a Sub-13:00 Ironman plan (NB I am not going to be able to go sub-13:00 on my first outing, I have no particular speed in any single discipline and even going barely sub-14:00 would take everything going magically smoothly in training and on race day, but it is a great plan nonetheless); there are actually sixteen weeks between the Harryman Half and IMWI, so that gives me a nice bit of wiggle room to repeat a big training week if it doesn't come off the first time and have a bit of leeway for travel and other misadventures.

I'm in Cayman until Jan. 23; current constraints (aside from health) are no rectangular 25-yard pool access, no bicycle; but I can swim in the sea and do stroke work in Brent's condo pool, I have a spin bike at the condo and spin classes at World Gym, it is not so hot at this time of year that I can't run outside if I can make myself get up early (or do it in the early evening, though this is not always so convenient). So this is block A of training.

My two absolute priorities from now until May are (1) strength training 3x week (aiming for a racing weight in September of 140, and knowledge that it will be difficult to lose weight over the summer with a large volume of aerobic training) and (2) improve fitness and confidence on the bike.

In fact, as I have probably said before, I know that my existing swimming and running skills and fitness are fully up to the demands of basic Ironman racing; it's the bike where I really don't have the experience, and that will be my biggest training focus this entire year.

I'll have my real bicycle here for the summer, but I couldn't quite persuade myself it was worth the trouble of bringing it down for a relatively short trip, especially as the traffic right around where Brent lives is hairy enough that I am leery of getting out on the roads unless at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning - I'm on the lookout for a second bike that I could keep here - until I find that, though, lots of Spinervals for me...