Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It is ridiculous to have a day of such mood swings - I got a piece of good work-related news this morning that put me into a state of mild elation, and was very much looking forward to a long run with Lauren this afternoon (it has finally stopped raining), only it was ironically just at the moment, around mile 2, when she commented (we were talking about orthotics and laser cleat alignment) that I had recently seemed impervious to injury that I had to allow as how a groin muscle was at that very moment giving me considerable discomfort!

I think I must have tweaked it at the end of last week while doing whip kick in the pool - have had a few twinges from it over last few days - it may have contributed to my failure to run yesterday - I was hoping the discomfort would go away once I warmed up, but as we hit the north end of the park (roughly the 3.5 mile mark?) it was clearly only getting more painful, to point of affecting my gait. So I regretfully called it quits and walked home. Quite sore even walking, which is not good, but I don't think it's sore enough to be an actual muscle tear, just one of these inconvenient and uncomfortable minors tweaks. Ugh!

What I really would like to do is ride to Chelsea Piers and swim instead, but I think it will be foolhardy - more sensible to take a hot shower, do some stretching and take the rest of the day off from exercise. I can go back to the library and write some more pages, that will take the edge off the pain of long run deprivation?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010



2. Last night I fell into bed at 9pm with all my clothes on and without brushing my teeth and proceeded to sleep for nearly 14 hours.

3. Getting up close to 11 meant that I needed to prioritize work over exercise for midday, thereby writing off the swim class I've been curious to try out at Chelsea Piers. (I will try and get there on Thursday.)

4. I got a good amount of work done at the library in the afternoon, so that's a plus.

5. But I was seriously heel-dragging as the time to get out for a run came upon me - I haven't been running nearly enough - I got my stuff on and headed downstairs, with little vim and vigor...

6. ... and after half a mile, I hit a puddle so deep, so impassable that I stopped and came home again! That is pitiful, I can't remember the last time I stopped running when I was actually out there about to do it - I can't even really blame it on the rain, because though it is certainly quite chilly and rainy it is perfectly reasonable running weather, ponding aside. But I just looked at that puddle and didn't have it in me to go on!

7. I guess I will do a trainer ride later.

8. Since clearly I am on a nocturnal schedule - it is idiotic that I didn't make myself get up earlier this morning, I woke briefly at 7 and 9 but rainy darkness outside made bed seem unleavable. Now I won't be able to go to sleep again until a very late hour!

9. Page-writing has to come before exercise - so if I want to go to midday spin class tomorrow, I have to get up by 8:30...

10. To add insult to injury, I am wearing my very uncomfortable cold-weather compression tights, which means that I cannot even really just lounge around in my running garb, I will have to change again!

Monday, March 29, 2010


I don't know why I'm blogging so copiously today (fatigue?) - but have seen reason, if I am too tired to write pages (which I am), I am also too tired to go to a high-intensity running workout, it is a recipe for injury - I will go home instead and see if I can't get warm and dry for the first time all day!

(NB forgot to say earlier that when I went to change from spin to swim gear, I realized that I had forgot to put my bathing suit in my swim bag! Fortunately I was wearing tri shorts, and my sports bra was deemed acceptable pool wear by Lauren and a stranger in the same aisle of the locker room - but it is a sign of mental flakiness and fatigue, I am not usually so scattered...)

I will endeavor to return to a more laconic mode tomorrow!

Chapters of accidents

It was one of those mornings - I could not get out of bed at the appropriate time to save my life, and late rising had a destructive cascade effect! I had an eminently sane plan (it is very rainy again here today) to take the new bike down to Sid's Bikes on the subway and then walk over to Chelsea Piers in time to have 45 mins. of strength training before the 12:45 spin class.

By the time I was actually heading out the door, it was clear time would be pretty tight vis-a-vis dropping off the bike first - and then I found that there were no downtown trains running from 116th St.! I did not have my helmet or gloves with me, as I did not expect to ride, so I had to go back up to my apartment before heading downtown on the bike (which was stuck in one gear) with an unpleasantly heavy backpack by now containing street shoes, spinning clothes, swim bag, running clothes and shoes, water bottle, a book for reading and a book for writing about and a notepad and my laptop - I went straight to the gym instead of to the bike store first, though, and was thereupon back on schedule for spin class at least....

(I had several hours yesterday early evening where I was in an absolute state of anxiety regarding lateness, mostly due to subway delays - I left an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Brooklyn to see the bike, but there were delays on the 1 due to track work and then there were no downtown F trains from 14th St., so I had to go up to 34th and switch to the downtown train there - in the end it took almost 2 hours, I was quite late, and since the 2 was running local rather than express on the way home I couldn't make the time back up - in the end I was only [!] fifteen minutes late meeting S. and H. for dinner, but I felt awful about it, though they were kind enough to say it didn't matter! Basically there are few things I dislike more than this kind of running late, especially when subway delays are involved - it sends me into an absolutely fizzing sense of anxiety that does not really later dispel!)

Spin class was good, though the substitute teacher had mildly incomprehensible banter - but he obliged me in my request for "long hills." Lauren persuaded me to have a quick swim afterwards, though I was full of sloth and got out after 500 and had a dunk in the hot tub instead!

1hr. spin, 500 yards swim

Then I walked the bike over to Sid's and had a highly satisfactory though expensive encounter with the nice mechanic there - I really like that store. Shifters need replacing, as do brake pads, but bike is otherwise in good order, and I should be able to pick it up on Friday afternoon, when he'll also help me tweak the fit as needed. It's $300 already and I haven't yet bought the helmet and saddlebag/contents (extra tube, CO2, tire irons), I think it's going to run me around $450 altogether, but it is still the most frugal solution to the problem, and my guess is that the bike will suit me perfectly well.

About to try and write quota in the Chelsea Piers cafe (the whole day has been sucked up by bicycles!) - I'm sticking around for the 7pm run class this evening, which I only went to once but which I think should be very enjoyable - this is my chance to do some group speed workouts (I gather that Monday is a mix of 200s and 400s, with some 800s mixed in for the Wednesday class) before hitting the treadmill over the summer...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The sequel

I got the bike - it seemed like too good a chance to pass up, and the reviews I found online were uniformly glowing. (As, for instance, this one: "My only negative comment about the bike was that I felt it was too comfortable"!)

It feels a hair small as currently set up, but I am thinking this is likely to be remedied by some adjustment of the seat, possibly new seat post - I'll take it in to Sid's Bikes in the next day or two for a tune-up and see what they can recommend for fit. Really it will be hundreds more I'll need to spend, that is the sad truth - definitely new tubes, maybe new tires, another helmet, saddlebag and contents (but there is a Cateye computer on it already, and it seems more functional than the one on my current bike, which has never worked for more than a day or two at a time!).

I think this was by far my most economical solution to the two-bike problem, though; I already have a soft bike case I bought last year, and I think I should be able to take it on Cayman Airways without getting charged separately. If it really does turn out that I can't get the fit right in a way that's problematic for riding long, I'll do my long rides on the spin bike and just make sure to do a weekly 2-3 hour ride outside on this one - I do think that for confidence and bike handling I need at least once a week on the roads, but as a novice I think that the indoor riding will serve me perfectly well in terms of fitness and I'm looking at a pretty slow bike split in any case!

A literary reader asked me in private correspondence whether $400 was cheap or expensive for a bicycle, as she had no feel for the price point in this realm of things, and I had to say that it was extraordinarily affordable (a new entry-level bike of suitable quality for the sort of training and racing I want to do would run around $1300 minimum, potentially closer to $1600, with the saddlebag/helmet-type expenses coming on top of that, and of course lots of the guys you see riding laps in Central Park are on bikes that cost $4000-6000 easily) - I directed her to the sale section (road and triathlon) at R&A Cycles for corroboration!

I have been eying that website quite a bit recently, but the fact is I am only just really getting comfortable riding a road bike: there is at least one more season of riding between me and a triathlon bike with twitchier handling, and the course at IMWI is rolling hills so a triathlon bike is for me at this stage actively contraindicated. If I can ever get my finances actually in whack, though, and improve my bike handling skills, it might be that there is a triathlon bike in my future....

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to Brooklyn to look at a bike! My fingers are crossed that it will fit - there are surprisingly few used 49cm road bikes for sale out there - if it fits, I'm buying it and taking it to Cayman to be my TIP (Tropical Island Paradise) bike. I must say that I get a kick out of the notion of doing my Ironman training on a $400 bike - honestly, it sounds like a very nice bike, too!

Day of sloth

Inexplicably fatigued all day, to point where (actually it is not that unusual, I am laughing as I write it!) only thing I could do mid-afternoon was lie in bed with eyes closed!

Dawned on me gradually, as hours passed, that I was not really going to do the projected long run, alas - happily I realized around 5 that I would be very annoyed with myself indeed if I did not get out for some sort of a run, and that I could do as short or long as I liked.

Was keeping an open mind, but seriously, that was one of the most uninspired runs I have ever had! It felt arduous indeed, both I and my quads were toiling - emergency bathroom break after a couple miles, and I got freezing cold while stationary, never quite warmed up again. Ah well, good that I got out there, will see how things shape up for next couple days - if the weather's awful Monday, Lauren and I will switch out our notional long ride for a long run, since running can be done more or less happily in pretty much any weather imaginable!

5 miles

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday run

Former training partner S. is back in town on holiday with his wife, and we had a very nice little 4-mile run in Central Park. (Where, by the way, it is ABSOLUTELY FREEZING and WINDY AS HELL!)

Glorious, glorious

swim - when I don't swim for a few weeks, I forget how much I purely like it and start dreading how awful it will be to get back in the pool, but in fact I just resolutely ignored the clock and found that after a couple hundred yards, I felt completely comfortable (even strong) in the water. Swimming does not give me as much of an endorphin rush as running, but I feel immediately good as soon as I have swum even a length, it's pretty amazing...

I am currently finding it works well to break the workout into 4 x 600, for mental variety:

3 x (100 free, 100 drill): (1) right arm, left arm, catch-up, full stroke; (2) fists/swim by 25 (3) front scull/swim by 25

8 x 75 kick-drill-swim, 2 of each stroke in IM order

2 x 100 IM kick, 100 IM drill, 100 IM

3 x (4 x 50 as stroke down, free back), first set fly, second set back, last set breast

2400 yards total

plus 10 miles bike - it is a ferociously windy day out there, low 40s - on the way back I was slightly afraid my bike was actually going to be blown over, but as I was on the bike path this was exhilarating rather than scary!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


3 park loops, 20 miles total.

I found the ride home along 106th St. quite uncomfortable (that is euphemistic understatement), though I suppose the anxiety remained at manageable levels - it is my own fault for leaving the ride so late in the afternoon, that street is much busier c. 6pm than it would be at 3. There is a bike lane, but it is universally ignored!

Tomorrow I am going to ride down to Chelsea Piers and SWIM, an activity I have shamefully neglected for many weeks now, and then in the evening have a little run in Central Park with former training partner S., who is visiting from England. He says he has not been running much and that it will have to be gentle, but he forgets how much faster a runner he is than I!

I'll do a long run on Saturday or Sunday, and then Lauren's back from California and we're hoping to do a lovely long ride in New Jersey on Monday - after that I'll try and get back in a really good productive exercise regimen, it's a good week schedule-wise (i.e. few daytime commitments) for me to indulge my love of excess! I need to get back in the groove with strength training, among other things...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


1.5 hrs. spin (Spinervals 14.0: Totally Time Trial)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Portion control issues

explored in this Independent piece by Steve Connor about two researchers who've recently examined 1,000 years of paintings of the Last Supper:
Food items depicted in medieval paintings created at the turn of the first millennium are significantly smaller compared to the average size of the disciples' heads than the portions and plates drawn several centuries later, noticeably from the Renaissance onwards, the scientists said.

The findings indicate that the phenomenon of serving bigger portions on bigger plates, which has helped to push people into overeating food that they might not have otherwise eaten, has occurred gradually over the millennium, according to Professor Brian Wansink of Cornell University in New York.

"We took the 52 most famous paintings of the Last Supper and analysed the size of the entrées, bread and plates, relative to the average size of the average head in the painting," Professor Wansink said.

The study found that the size of the food portions and plates depicted in the paintings expanded significantly. The size of the main dish grew by 69 per cent, the size of the plates grew by 66 per cent and the size of the bread depicted in the paintings grew by 23 per cent over the course of the 1,000-year period, Professor Wansink explained.

Tuesday trials

Well, it is a very bad idea not to exercise for a week!

The holiday was very nice, only Club Aquasource really did only have a 'Tarzan pool' (fronds, ropes, masses of children, water estimated tropical temperature and not a straight edge in sight, all undulating); and the combination of eating and drinking and socializing schedules plus lack of Davidsonian willpower meant that I didn't run, either, despite having brought plenty of gear!

(On the bright side, I did write pages each day, which was probably more valuable.)

Too knackered yesterday to get out the door, and suffering from low exercise morale and bad weather to boot, but I dragged myself out just now for a run, talking myself into it with the deal that I could do 4 instead of 6 miles if I felt like turning home at the 79th St. boat basin instead of going all the way to the sanitation pier at 59th St.

In fact I felt very cheery as soon as I started running, and would have done 6 after all, except that it soon became clear that my lungs were much too wheezy - I did take 2 albuterol puffs before going out, but I've missed a few steroid doses in the last couple days (including forgetting to take a puff this morning), and it is clearly necessary to have both inhalers functioning in tandem for full lung access. So I just did 4 - it is very rainy and foggy outside, upper 40s, not bad once you get going but not conducive, either, to a blissful feeling of wanting to go outside!

Clearly I must build back up gradually over the next couple days - I guess I will have to wait till next week to have the glorious week of massive amounts of exercise that I have been coveting...

(This is the first week of my next 10-week training block - I think I will wait to muse on that until I feel more authentically triaspirational and less sluggish! Need to get back into strength-training and swimming, both of which have entirely fallen by the wayside; need to build up run mileage; need to continue with bike as #1 priority; need to improve nutrition. Week 6 ends with the Broad Street Run, a 10-mile road race in Philadelphia that I'll do with my brother and sister-in-law; week 8 ends with the 112-mile bike race; week 9 ends with the Harriman half-iron race; and week 10 is a recovery week, with travel to Cayman happening on Thursday or Friday and some days for settling in and getting started on TRUE IRONMAN TRAINING.)

4 miles easy

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Long run

Absolutely spectacular running weather (mid-50s and sunny, with a crisp clear feeling in the air after all this rain) - Brent and I did c. 1:40 in Riverside Park, it was very good...

c. 1:40, c. 9.5mi, pace c. 10:15, avg HR 147

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday run

A glorious run just now with Brent in Riverside Park; it is chilly and overcast, in the mid-40s - PERFECT RUNNING WEATHER! 60 mins., I guess 6 miles or so...

(I didn't exercise on Friday and Saturday due to discombobulation of sleep habits, plus truly dire weather on Saturday which stymied even my backup mid-afternoon exercise plans after I defaulted on Saturday-morning spinning, and then yesterday was full of family things, but we we will run for two hours tomorrow morning. Leaving on Wednesday for a brief holiday - I do not ski, I have my eye on this and these!).)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Red-letter day

I had an excellent bike ride just now. From a purely external standpoint, it would have seemed quite humdrum and quotidian, in fact really rather boring - but the fact is that I think I am finally now free of my overwhelming anxiety about riding in the street. That is amazing!

(I did have some mild panic on my way home, having taken an unaccustomed route that turned out to be more complicated than I expected, but it was within manageable levels.)

3 park loops, plus 1+ mile each way = 20 miles

Forgot to turn on my HR monitor, but I had an eye on the time - started at 9:52, first lap 10:16, second lap 10:40, third lap 11:02 (18.3 miles, 1:10, 15.7mph).

Now I had better get a move on or I will be late to my 12:15 appointment! Hmmm, horrible realization just now - no water in building 11-5 as they clean water tank on roof! Had better skip hair-washing, I will be lucky to get dregs of water to rinse body - nothing worse than being stuck with a head full of suds and nothing more coming out of the tap...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday run

A very good run with Lauren - the Central Park loop. Slightly marred by several mistakes on my part (forgot to bring asthma inhaler - really I just have to get in the mindset of always having it with me! - and had to walk up a couple hills to circumvent wheezing; rigged a dodgy water-bottle-carrying system that in fact led to entire small bottle of water leaking down my bottom by five minutes into the run; stomach issues late in run, triggered I think by the excessive effort of asthmatic hill ascension). But minor woes notwithstanding, it is really the most beautiful running weather, I now have that appealing sense of hearing the internal words Let the training begin!

Kept the clock going for the walking bits, which I think makes it fair in terms of pace data: 6.1 miles, 56:30, 9:15/mi.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday spin/swim

A decent workout this evening. It was a long and tiring day - on the bright side, I had a good hour and a half of writing in the morning before I had to go to the Guggenheim, but it was ridiculously busy at the museum - I was walking up and down the ramps pretty much nonstop, with mostly not even a little break, and I was knackered by the time I made it down to Chelsea Piers.

(I was wishing I'd just gone home instead, but in fact it was a good thing I didn't, as I am sure I would have succumbed to fatigue and taken the fatal late-afternoon nap!)

Spin class perked me back up again, and I did have a short swim afterwards, though no strength training. I do not know why it is so hard to stay on my notional schedule! Next week is going to be erratic again because of travel, but I'll see what I can get done (re: writing and exercise) the rest of this week. I really like the project I'm working on, it's funny and enjoyable and as these things go relatively easy - but I have to do a museum shift again tomorrow, and I've got a lot of school stuff on Thursday, sabbatical notwithstanding...

1hr. spin

100 free
4 x 75 kick-drill-swim (IM order)
100 free - 75 back - 50 breast - 25 fly - and back up the ladder
2 x (100 flutter, 25 whip kick with board)

1150 yards total

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday run

A delightful run with Liz in Prospect Park (and Lauren rendezvoused with us for the last bit, too!).

It was a ridiculously nice day, I was much overdressed, and I think the weather made us a bit frisky - I had no wild expectations for speed, my legs were slightly tired from my bike ride yesterday and I hadn't run since last weekend; I also rapidly overheated, in a long-sleeved shirt and long pants (though I got freezing on the subway on the way home, so it is just a bit tricky at this time of year still to work those details out).

But I couldn't figure out why I felt like I was working so hard until we stopped, after the first loop, for a brief and fruitless search for a functioning water fountain, and Liz informed me that we had run the first 3+ miles at 9:15 pace - much too fast for our purpose, much faster than I have been running recently on the treadmill! We attempted to slow down, but Liz kept on having to remind me - it truly is beautiful running weather...

This weekend of training really makes me feel that the season has started! Though my 'real' training won't start till May, I do after all have a half-ironman in eleven weeks, and that 112-mile bike ride 10 weeks from now - and these next couple months are my big chance to do lovely outdoor training (hills!), so I intend to make the most of them...

7.4 miles, 1:10:20 (9:30 pace)

An excursion

I had a delightful lazy morning of late sleep and internet time-wasting, with the consequence that I only had time for a really short swim - I would really have liked to do longer, I have been swim-deprived, only it was coming up on 1:15 and I had to have time to eat and digest lunch/get home/get to Brooklyn for 4pm run with Liz and (possibly, depending on brunch vagaries!) Lauren.

Biked down to Chelsea Piers - it is a most beautiful day, actually 50F and sunny. I did feel that tight-in-the-chest sense of anxiety beforehand as I waited for the elevator to go downstairs - the fear association has been so intense that even thinking about putting on helmet and bike shoes basically has made my heartrate skyrocket over these last couple years! But as soon as I was riding, it was fine, and in fact for what may be the first time ever, on a congested day on that bike path, I did not have that horrible video-game things-flying-at-you-from-all-directions-at-top-speed feeling of panicky hypervigilance. Basically sabbatical has if not cured at least strongly mitigated my bicycle phobia - now I just need to find a way when I am not on sabbatical to stay on an even keel...

10 miles bike

Swim: 600 warmup (100 free, 50 stroke drill, for each stroke in IM order), then 2 x (100 IM kick, 100 IM drill, 100 IM swim) - 1200 total

If the weather is like this again tomorrow, I'll ride some laps in Central Park during the daytime and then go to the running class at 7pm at Chelsea Piers and have some kind of a swim there afterwards - this sounds good...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Honest-to-god on-the-roads training ride!

I had a great ride this afternoon with Lauren. She had to pick up her bikes (road and mountain) from her friends' bike store in New Jersey, the Bicycle Workshop (that is a lovely little store!), so she picked me up and we drove over there first (relevant because I was spared the distressing stimulus of the George Washington Bridge) and then set out in what had become a balmy sunny late morning in the high 40s. (It was 55F by the time we finished - really actually warm!)

I am going to keep a record of bicycle-related panic, as I had a very good session yesterday with the cognitive-behavioral therapist - we have done as much work as seems feasible on the sleep/insomnia business, and are now going to attend to the ridiculous but ever-present bicycle phobia (or perhaps it is more accurately described as a traffic phobia exacerbated by fear of heights and bridges).

My task for the week is to do (every day or as close to that as possible) a ride that seems truly manageable - I said that I would ride down to Chelsea Piers or just along the west side bike path, weather permitting - keeping track of panic-inducing situations and beginning to desensitize to anxiety with hope of being able to - well, not FEARLESSLY - but safely and sensibly ride the NYC streets and across the awful bridge bike path so that I can really do the training I need. I am still sort of too scared to ride to Central Park through streets, that is the thing I need to get over!

So it is fortuitous that the weather is getting warmer and the time for riding has come. The ride this afternoon really was great - was quite anxious at a few early intersections, and definitely had some medium-intense anxiety riding up a very steep hill on the other side of Nyack (it was next to a precipice, and also my pre-ride asthma inhaler puffs had worn off - I took a few more puffs when we next stopped, and realized on subsequent hills that there is a significant difference between raspy asthmatic gasping and regular hard-work hill-riding heavy breathing, and that the former is of course much more likely to cause panic to escalate, especially with a steep drop-off on the same side of the road). Mild anxiety on some windy little downhills near the end of the ride, but really the whole thing was fine - thanks to Lauren for supervising!

We rode from Tenafly up through Piedmont and Nyack to Rockland State Park, did a few loops on the road up there to beef up the distance and then headed back through Nyack and onto 9W. I now feel like a real cyclist - that was a bona-fide training ride! It is a pretty hilly ride - I was mentally fatigued on hills in the last hour or so, though taking them quite slowly, but otherwise felt I could have ridden longer without a problem. Much room for improvement on cycling fitness - spinning is not the same as riding real hills!

3:15, 45 miles

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lore and legend of Spinervals

Coach Troy's top 10 reasons to train indoors.


45 mins. core, 50 mins. spin class

(You have to claim a bike an hour in advance or they are all gone - first time I actually got one!)