Friday, September 30, 2011


Exercise plans stymied today by a stomach-ache - in retrospect, my stomach hasn't been quite right for a couple days, only definitely worse over last night and today. Nothing dramatic, but can't really do much other than lie down and read or nap! It is especially grumpiness-inducing because the weather finally changed from horrible warm humid rainy overcast to seasonally appropriate clear beautiful late-September climate. Will hope to feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


1hr boot camp, shower and quick breakfast with an aspirational triathlete looking for advice, 1hr gentle yoga.  I think I will hang out in the cafe at Chelsea Piers now for a bit- I have to read 2 books, and it will go more quickly if I am not near my real computer with internet (internet on phone is too fiddly to do for long).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beast week 4 class 1

It was very good, too: I slept little and poorly (I have a long demanding day ahead), but the class started with more stretching than usual and I felt very good by the end of it. It was disgustingly humid as I rode downtown around 6:15, but in fact by the time I was riding home it had cleared up significantly: seems like it might have actually turned into a nice day! There were a large number of trucks parked along Riverside Drive early, which is anomalous, and as I rode back through the top bit of the park I saw that they are filming something there today, not sure what...

1:15 boot camp
10 miles bike

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Race of the Incredible Moving Buoys!

Just a quick note to say that I distinctly enjoyed this morning's Little Red Lighthouse swim. I was feeling mournful last night and this morning as I thought about the bittersweet memory of the other time I did this race. Everything is so different now: I still just really miss Wendy (whose race report from the 2009 event was here - my cat Blackie, in that picture, died in May 2010, and Wendy died in June - with further roundup here), that is the long and the short of it. But I saw quite a few people I knew once I got there, and it was fun riding on a boat from 125th St. (the check-in point, literally ten minutes' walk from my apartment - truly a race on home turf!) up to the start four miles further upriver from the George Washington Bridge. Which, as I rode under it on the ferry, I felt very grateful I was not riding over on a bicycle!

It was a quite enjoyable swim. The water temperature felt perfect (I think it was around 68F - it's cold when your face first goes in, but very good in terms of keeping body temperature regulated during exercise), and the air is warmer than the other time I did it. There was a ton of chop in the second half, but I always think it's good practice to get these conditions in a low-stakes race so that one isn't fazed when they happen sometime 'important.'

The only really bad thing was the moving buoy situation! I swear, I swam two and a half times to New Jersey, it was the most zigzaggy inefficient open-water swim I have ever done - we were supposed to keep buoys on the left, but they were shooting across the river and also upriver towards us, I was perplexed around mile 2.5 that the buoy I was sighting on seemed to be aligned with the NJ rather than the NY side of the bridge but figured I had just misunderstood the initial course description - had to make this mistake several more times before it became truly clear that the right thing to do was to ignore the buoys and just swim as one thought proper!

(Funny exchange with kayaker, just before the bridge: JMD, treading water, slightly irked and distinctly confused: "But is it really the case that we should swim with left shoulder to the buoy?" [gesturing with head towards buoy that is clearly much further on the NJ rather than NY side, and only about 25 yards ahead, which would necessitate probably an extra 50 yards of swimming or more to get to] Kayaker: "Yes, that's right, swim with your left shoulder towards the buoy!" And we turn to look at it, and just in that brief bit of time during our conversational exchange it has actually shot upriver past me and is now 25 yards behind me!)

Don't have official time yet, but it was close to three hours - unlike last year, where everyone had very fast times, there was relatively little tidal assist for a good chunk of the race.

10K swim

Friday, September 23, 2011

BEAST, short swim

I had a work thing yesterday evening and wasn't sure I'd really be up for the Beast this morning, but I'm going to miss a couple the week after next, so really it was a priority to make it happen. I do feel unpleasantly tired now (nearly burst into tears in the lobby when the freight elevator bypassed me without stopping - it is too warm and humid, and also clearly I need to eat something additional!), but it was worthwhile. Rode my bike down in what was mostly pitch darkness, not crazy about that but it is so much the most convenient way to get there, and most of the ride's on a bike path; ran my mile warmup; had a strenuous hour of BEAST; then had just a short swim, 600 yards, as I have not swum all week and I am scheduled to do a very long one tomorrow! Had thought of going to the 9:30 "gentle yoga" class again, but really it was more important to write comments on a few more of my student assignments: one of the small things I can do to avoid excess stress is not end up having to mark them all in an insane late-night-early-morning marathon session on the same day that I have my heavy teaching load!

10 miles bike
1:15 boot camp
600 yards swim (100 free, 50 stroke x 4)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BEAST, bike, yoga

I worked very hard (work work, not exercise work) on Monday and Tuesday, to point of complete exhaustion - could not even contemplate prospect of a swim workout yesterday evening! Have indulged myself this morning, though, with much exercise, and am going to try and do some other relaxing things today also. I have a huge amount of work to get done for Monday, so I need to start making some headway with that, but not at cost of stress explosion...

1.25hr boot camp
1hr gentle yoga
10 miles bike

The yoga class meets at 9:30 and is mostly made up of older people, it's definitely less athletically strenuous than some of the other ones there, but I suspect this is more to the point right now - I haven't been doing yoga regularly for a long time, and I really miss it, I find it beneficial...

Monday, September 19, 2011

BEAST week 3 class 1

I took yesterday off, as my legs felt completely chewed up on Saturday afternoon during my 'easy' run with Liz: in retrospect, I didn't build in any time for recovery after the S.O.S. triathlon (this is always a conundrum with a race for which one hasn't really trained & which falls early in a get-back-into-shape cycle!). Definitely benefited from that today, though I think it was also an easier class than Friday's.

1:15 boot camp
10 miles bike

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Was supposed to meet up with Liz at Grand Army Plaza at 4:30 for an hour of easy running in Prospect Park, but the trains did not do right by me! Really I should have left more time, an hour is fine on a weekday but does not allow for weekend vicissitudes (the last straw was the 2 train running express in Brooklyn & requiring me to overshoot and switch to another train back). I will leave 90 minutes next time. Fortunately even though I was half an hour late, Liz was still waiting: neither of us was full of running vim, so we just did 40 minutes, but the park is a pleasantly bucolic sight on a September Saturday afternoon, with lots of barbecuers and picnickers and dogs and younguns...

40 mins. run (c. 3.7 miles, avg HR 151, max HR 160, 10:50 pace)

Friday, September 16, 2011

BEAST week 2 class 2

A modified version of the same circuit we did on Wednesday, only spread out much more lavishly on one of the basketball courts rather than crammed into the studio; with lots of running in between. I had to bow out of the last 200 and 800, as some inner thigh muscles are painfully sore - not sure if that is the consequence of Sunday's triathlon, too much whip kick or Wednesday's Beast, but it seemed clear that caution was advised. I think we will continue to do circuits with increasingly long run intervals over the next few weeks, so it may be that I should focus on swimming and biking for workouts.

(Beautiful bike ride down and home: the temperature yesterday afternoon dropped about 25 degrees in two hours, and this morning it is a beautiful crisp fall morning, the first of this year.)

10 miles bike
1:10 boot camp (much running)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Some unhappy friction with a lanemate, I am too sensitive to this sort of bad feeling; otherwise a good swim.

Warmup (somewhat truncated, but at least I wasn't late!): 200 free, 100 back

6 x 50, odds free and evens choice (I did fly-back), on 1:05 and 1:20

200 free
200 as 50 free, 100 back, 50 free
4 x 100 kick: (1) 50 fly, 50 back; (2) 50 back, 50 breast on back; (3) 50 breast, 50 free; (4) 50 free, 50 fly
200 as 50 free, 100 breast or fly, 50 free
200 IM

1800 yards total

I want to start going to the early-morning Tuesday and Thursday workouts at John Jay, as they're 90 minutes and I think swimming in the evening is not conducive to sleep; I had planned to go to Chelsea Piers early this morning for spin and yoga, but I've been sleeping so little and so lightly, it was clear somewhere around 3:30 that I should turn off the alarm and try and actually get some more solid rest.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BEAST week 2!

I was working very hard, and long days, on Monday and Tuesday, so although 5:45am is a horrible rising time for an insomniac and light sleeper, it was really quite luxurious to ride my bike down to Chelsea Piers and stagger through a particularly challenging Beast class. I did the best I could! There were about 12 'stations' set up in the studio, we did those for time and then ran 1 mile or .5 mile in between: the 'easiest' stations are jumping with heavy rope and pushups on body bar balanced on bosu, it only gets worse from there...

10 miles bike
1:10 Beast (we have been given the assignment to warm up before class by running one mile and doing 6 each of pull-ups - modified in my case, I practice hanging on the real bar and just sort of twitching upwards, then do them on the low bar near the ground with legs on ground - and leg lifts)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Hmmm, I need to start swimming a lot more, I am swimming very slowly these days - it seems like a long time since I really was mentally focused on swimming and interested in questions of form and technique. In particular what falls off when I don't swim regularly isn't so much the straight speed while swimming as the turns! Ugh...

Anyway I swam on my own in half of the slow lane, as doing even a couple of 75s in lane 2 made it clear that I would be getting no rest and struggling to keep up - it was actually a pretty nice swim, I enjoyed it. I need to figure out what my fall exercise schedule is going to be.

Warmup (truncated - I was 5 mins late getting there): 100 free, 50 fly-back

6 x 75 IM no free, 10 seconds rest

I did main set on 5-10 seconds rest rather than using intervals. I think it was this:

1 x 100 free
2 x 125 IM (#1 50 fly, #2 50 back)
3 x 150 (odds free, even IM no free)
2 x 125 IM (#1 50 breast, #2 50 free)
1 x 100 free

2 x 50 kick down, easy free back (dolphin, flutter)

1850 yards total

Monday, September 12, 2011


Results are up for the S.O.S. I really was the slowest finisher! However the numbers confirm my sense of things, that it's my cycling split that's so woefully slow. I'm not aerodynamic, I ride the brakes on the downhills (i.e. can't make up time there from slow climbing) and I don't ride that much (haven't ridden on hills since May for instance) - it is not surprising. I still don't know how long the run course really was (the numbers on that chart are from prior years - oh, here are some numbers, they had announced a run of 12.8 miles but really it looks as though it was only 10.1, that is much more plausible), but there were at least five others with slower run splits than I had, my swim time is solidly in the 'middle of back of pack' and clearly my trudge to the skytop in conclusion was more efficient than that of some others - I will take it!

(The numbers don't quite add up, I think the chip missed splits for a couple racers as real total finisher number is 141, but they offer place for each separate leg: I came in dead last on the bike at 138, but fell in at 132 on the run, 127 on the swim and 121 on the final insane steep uphill hike. It wasn't enough to make up for cycling deficit and gain any places as a finisher, but I felt that I was finishing pretty strong - my swim was really enjoyable, and I had some energy still left in reserve to scramble up the hill. Good to see this sense confirmed in the results.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Just a quick line

to say that I had the most absolutely lovely day at the Survival of the Shawangunks triathlon! Saturday was very fun in many respects but utterly chaotic also in a way that doesn't suit me, and on top of that at the pre-race briefing they announced that flooded roads post-Tropical Storm Lee meant not just an even more challenging bike course but also an alternate route to the race start that meant we could no longer ride our bikes from motel to race start, which led to many further complexities: it was a tiring evening! But everything went beautifully once we were actually racing. Fuller report to follow, but it is an amazing race in terms of both the spirit and the volunteers. Also, contrary to my worries, they were not at all enforcing time cutoffs: you have to have done a sub-7:00 half-ironman or equivalent to confirm your entry, which I did do 2 years ago but on a very flat course & under fitter circumstances than I am now in, but there is truly an atmosphere of inclusion, and I felt like a rock star the whole way, even though I was literally the last person on the course from about 2/3 of the way through the first climb!

More TK - I really was the very final finisher - beautiful trail running, much more of it downhill than I had anticipated - beautiful lake swim - gorgeous landscapes throughout - results aren't posted, and I didn't really register my final time, but it was a little over five hours, pretty much what I thought it would be.

Thanks to Loren for instigating and Ben and Carolyn for crewing! (And to Lauren K. in absentia...)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Race simulation!

I skipped the Beast class this morning - I didn't get home till midnight from play and late dinner, couldn't get to sleep till 2 - got up when alarm went off at 5:45 feeling rather dreadful and pretty sure that it would be better to get some more sleep. Ran around like crazy all morning for work stuff, then rode my bike down to Chelsea Piers in the early afternoon (it's hot here!). Geared up in clothes and stuff I am planning to use Sunday, did one hour spin plus 1 mile run plus some experimentation with how to tether the dry bag to myself without making myself crazy: my conclusion is that I should wear a race belt and tether it to the belt, it's not really suited to being held on securely at the ankle...

10 miles round-trip bike
1hr spin (avg HR 129, max HR 150)
1mi run (11:30, avg HR 142, max HR 160)
250 yards swim (experimental)

If I were really 'racing' on Sunday as opposed to simply participating, this would have been rather a lot of exercise, but Sunday is going to be conducted in the spirit of a long and unusually enjoyable training day, and today's workout was a good confidence-builder.

Spent the end of the day at the Verizon store as my smartphone is busted: it is still under warranty, they will send me a new one, but in the meantime I am back on Primitive Technology! Basically I just feel absurdly fatigued now, am going to get up very early and sort out all race stuff in the morning! I need to be on a 1:45 train from Grand Central to Beacon, that gives me plenty of time to do things in the am (including getting last bits and pieces of teaching stuff organized for Monday: I will have a virtuous smug feeling as I leave town on the train on Saturday afternoon with syllabi finalized and first classes prepared, it is a highly uncharacteristic level of non-last-minuteness that was necessitated by the fact that I probably won't be home on Sunday night till eight or nine, and I can only guess that I will be absolutely and utterly knackered at that point...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BEAST week 1 #2

That was great. I was full of trepidation at riding down to Chelsea Piers in what is essentially still the dark, but it wasn't so rainy this morning as it was last night, it was getting light as I left my apartment and really it is nice riding at that early hour: I do avoid riding in the dark more generally, especially in the evenings, but I don't think there was a single car on the mile of Riverside Drive that I ride to get to the west side path, and the path itself was delightfully empty - much quicker ride down than usual for sure. As days get shorter, though, it will be darker - I think I need to get a higher-powered light for the front of my bike (I just have white and red blinky ones) and one of those hideous but safe fluorescent cycling jackets.

There's no 6am class this cycle, just the 7am, but Gerald wants us to get there early enough to run a mile to warm up and do 6 pullups (modified, in my case...) and 6 leg raises on the high bar, so I think I need to leave at 6 to get there and be ready to start my warmup at 6:45. Ride itself is shorter than that, but it always takes longer than I think to get downstairs in the elevator, etc. and to lock up my bike and put things in locker at the other end.

10 miles bike
1hr boot camp

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I must confess that I was filled with dread as I walked over - partly due to sense of lack of swim fitness, but also just the mild underlying dread that begins to adhere to anything if one hasn't done it for a while. Descending to the bowels of the Columbia gym for a swim workout is that sort of thing - there is some minor psychological obstacle that becomes more major if one lets it. However as soon as I am in the water, I am always enjoying myself. The next-to-slowest lane was packed with 7 fast swimmers, so I was pretty happy to swim in the slow lane with H. and another woman whose name I do not know - they were both wearing fins, so I had to work pretty hard to keep up. Alas, on the last bit I was barely making the 2:10 interval, chosen by me - I had an impending foot cramp, flexing the foot is not conducive to freestyle speed!

Warmup (truncated - I was 5 minutes late getting there): 100 free

Set #1: 8 x 50 on 1:15, swim-kick by 25 (2 of each stroke in IM order)

Set #2: 3 x 150 on 3:30, swim-kick-swim by 50

Set #3: 3 x 100 IM on 3:00

Set #4: 5 x 100 on 2:10

Swam 50 easy back-breast to try and work out the foot kinks; the hour was by then pretty much over...

1900 yards total

Monday, September 5, 2011


Liz came over and we had a beautiful holiday run together north along the Hudson, then breakfast sitting outside on Broadway. Checking the weather right now, it's 79 degrees with 73% humidity, and it is certainly slightly unpleasantly muggy and warm for running (thus slow paces and high effort levels), but I have the taste in my mouth now of how great it's going to be running in NYC this fall as the weather gets cooler. Liz and I are going to try to run together at least once a week, it's good to have the company and a fixed point on the schedule...

50:11/4.61mi. (10:53/mi. avg pace, avg HR 150, max HR 163)

zone 1: 3:47; zone 2: 10:26; zone 3: 20:15; zone 4: 12:09

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Under normal circumstances

I would be absurdly disappointed about this, but given the reality of recent lack of training (and especially lack of swimming and running!), I must say that there is a bit of a "saved by the bell" aura hanging over my head right now.

I was very sorry earlier this week to hear that the trails on which the Survival of the Shawangunks race is run had been very seriously damaged by Irene. They've now sent the new course details, and for once in my life I will say that I am relieved to have an insanely challenging challenge downgraded to 'regular' levels...

The original course featured 8 segments, bike-run-swim-run-swim-run-swim-run, with a total of c. 18 miles of trail running; the revised course still has the initial 30-mile bike leg, but then has one long trail run (12 miles - not sure how hilly/rugged trails are, which will obviously affect my pace a great deal) and then just a .7mi swim and the final .7mi run (or hike in my case) up a steep hill to the finish. It's still going to take me 5 hours for sure, but 5 rather than 7 and not nearly so many run miles (and none of the huge gear complexities that come from the frequent switching-back-and-forth bit) seems quite manageable.

Cue huge sigh of triaspirational relief - this seems eminently doable? I am so under-trained, I had already resolved that if I miss course cutoffs and get pulled I will resign myself to it & go and cheer on racers at finish line (my father was asking this morning, when I said this, how the logistics would work, and I said that I believed there is usually a vehicle to transport stragglers to the finish where they can reunite with gear, but I am not sure about how this would work on a trail run! Questions to ask at the pre-race briefing, that's for sure)...

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Still feeling ridiculously happy about being back at Chelsea Piers. Rode my bike down (PACKS of runners out for marathon training), did the first class of the next BEAST cycle (it doesn't meet again till Wednesday because of the holiday on Monday), went to Joanna's spin class. This is my absolute favorite - it is a real cyclist's class, she announces at the start that the work for the day will be three thirteen-minute climbs and gives slightly different instructions for each one (proportion and timing of seated and standing work, gear, etc.). It was very good - I would be able to get more time in zones 3 and 4 if I hadn't done the Beast workout first, but that is the way it goes...

10 miles biking
53min spin

(avg HR 140, max HR 156; zone 1, 1:26; zone 2, 34:14; zone 3, 10:20; zone 4, 5:29)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Exercise bliss!

Happily reacquainting myself with some favorite parts of my NYC life. I was a bit late getting out of the house: first I had the long sleep I desperately needed and only got up at 10:30, then I had to kind of dig the apartment to bits finding the things I needed for transport and workout (this included unearthing superior tri shorts from the gear bag that got sent to Idaho, tearing apart huge duffel bag I brought back from Cayman to find my combination lock, tearing apart my whole apartment looking for the floor pump I tucked away tidily so that subletters wouldn't be bothered, etc. etc.).

There is a very good Friday midday sequence of classes, all taught by the same guy: abs from noon to 12:30, then segue into an hour called "Max Out" (body sculpt with heavier weights than usual), then a 45-minute spin class. I missed the first 15 mins. of the abs class, but did everything else. It is just such a beautiful space there, and with such an excellent class schedule - the only thing was that I had a terrible pang of missing Triathlete L., who has moved to Atlanta for a very good job & who will accordingly no longer be my trusty CP companion!...

1.25hr strength, .75hr spin, 10 miles bike