Sunday, September 30, 2007

Weekend run

Just did a very easy four miles, around 9:50 average pace. (Thinking strongly of going too fast the other day, making every effort to stay easy.) Beautiful weather this evening, sunny and mid-60s; in a way it's actually tempting to run faster when it's horrible and hot and humid, to get it over with, and I was also just feeling very rushed the other day, because of needing to get the train to Philadelphia. This evening felt distinctly more relaxed for every reason.

I've missed the longer run I would/should have had this weekend minus bike adventure, but I think it's OK. A little worried about getting in enough of a taper this week. I don't think I tapered enough for the half at the beginning of August (though as I look at my little book, it doesn't seem like too much exercise--you know what it was, frankly, PMS the whole week, and the terrible sleep that accompanies it, plus a lot of work-related stress); my legs never felt rested, and just before the race I remember feeling really just weary and nervous and with a high heart-rate already... Let us try not to have that happen this time.

(This one doesn't start till 8:45, whereas the other was 7 with a 6:15 deadline for entering corrals, so this will be a lot more manageable.)

Exercise plan for the week:

Mon.: am PT; pm John Jay swim. Tues.: 7pm run 5 mi. easy with training partners. Wed.: yoga. Thurs.: run 4 mi. easy. Fri. off or light swim. (Note to self: better just take the day off.) Sat.: am half-marathon; pm swim lesson.

(I. says we will work on backstroke this week to spare my legs post-run!)

It will be a pity if I don't practice swimming this week before the lesson, but on the other hand breaststroke is exactly what I don't need to do in a taper week before a big run. And also my evening schedule is very tight with one thing and another, mostly work-related. There kind of isn't any time I'm going to be able to swim--maybe I should just say Monday night swimming is it for this week. Arghh! I like swimming, I don't want to not swim this week! But I guess it will be for the best...

Saturday bike

45 miles. Very slow! Full details here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

On mental health

A combination of swimming, running, tidying up and sorting out minor school business has contributed greatly to my mental health for the day...

Finally made it to morning swim. (Lungs still gummy, but nothing to be done about it except wait it out.) A good workout--nothing intense, and somewhat wayward lane behavior (I think I was the only person out of four really doing the full workout--I see that really I have to improve my other strokes so that I can switch into lane 7, I think my front crawl speed is suitable to put me at the back of that lane already but it won't do to feel super-rushed on breaststroke while I'm still learning--or to drive everyone else in that lane crazy by being the slowpoke!). I cannot for the life of me reproduce the set, but I suppose it was roughly 2200 yards, including warmup (ten minutes of 75 swim + 50 kick), and I am certain that I did at least 400 yards of breaststroke, so that's good. (A couple sets of the 3 x 150 75 breast/75 free sort, that kind of thing.)

Last week I had one blissful swim where I had the most amazing feel for the water almost the whole way through, with water like handfuls of taffy just squeezable in my fists. It took me longer today to get that back, but by the last set of 3 x 150 free descending I definitely had it again, how lovely...

(It is amazing how absolutely wretched I feel when I wake up--in general this is true, I am a bad sleeper and thoroughly not a morning person, but especially when I get up at 5:40 as I have to do for swimming--and then how miraculously two lengths of swimming restores me to my full senses!)

And just now I did the run I missed yesterday. (Ooh, it's too hot again, mid-70s and humid. When will it stop?!?) An enjoyable one, though not quite the run I'd planned. Since I've been doing the long ones at that slower pace, I seem to have lost all ability to pace myself for regular runs! And it doesn't help that my weekday Riverside Park run is so much flatter than the long runs in Central Park on the weekend. At any rate, though it was hot and my lungs felt slightly awful it was a very brisk one, we will count that as a tempo run: just over 5 miles at an average of 9:05.

Mile splits: 9:28, 9:26, 9:10, 8:52, 8:32.

(I really couldn't slow down, I kept on trying and then I would just kind of revert!)

Off to Philadelphia for a bicycle ride for which I am woefully underprepared. However it is all for the good, if I can successfully deal with bicycles on public transportation and bike-riding in a large group than I am a significant step further towards being ready to sign up for an actual triathlon...

CU swimming's on hiatus now for two weeks, which is a pity. It picks back up on the morning of Oct. 11, from which point onwards it's Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 6-7am. I hereby make a resolution to be more responsible about sleep, and to do my damnedest to be in bed by 11:30 every weeknight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dazed and confused

Due to a combination of excessive obligations and my own bad management of the sleep situation, today is going to have to turn into a rest day. Arghhh! I will have to do a run tomorrow morning instead, post-swim.

Lungs still very gummy, but the doctor prefers not to give antibiotics--"Well, if you're the kind of person who loves antibiotics..." he said grudgingly, but I did not have the heart to insist, I do not love antibiotics. His opinion: the cough from a virus can last up to four weeks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wednesday yoga

CU yoga started up again today. Mmmm, I love that yoga...

It's a very stringent and meticulous intermediate Iyengar class, pretty much identical to what they do here. A teacher I haven't had before: excellent, very experienced. A small group of students. It's going to be great.

It's six or so weeks since the last CU yoga I went to; usually I find time to go the Chelsea classes at least a couple times during the break between sessions, but this time I was too busy. Even though I work out a lot otherwise, I really notice the down time--that yoga is intense on the muscles, much more than regular gym-type working out.

On the other hand, I think this spell of no yoga and slightly less running (and no speedwork) has been extremely beneficial for my stress-fracture-area muscles. I didn't feel any discomfort in that left hip area, which was still an issue in early August; and I've noticed this last week or two of running that it really hasn't been stiff or tight to speak of. Nice to see some improvement there.

I have a strong and slightly irrational conviction that I should not do any speedwork till February or March, but just concentrate on very smooth easy distance running, good form and running economy and just now and again some strides or hills to keep the legs moving quickly. It's definitely been great doing more swimming, and the intense sets in the pool provide psychic compensation for the lack of fast running.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday run

A very decent run this evening. Hot, though: I waited as late as I could (schedule constraints at later end rather than earlier), but it was still in the mid-80s when I went out around 5:30. Ran down through Riverside Park to the turnaround point where the bike path starts and back, 68th St. or so--very pretty along the water at that hour...

5.13 miles, 9:22 average pace. It's a very flat, fast run compared to the Central Park loop--if the weather hadn't been so hot, this wouldn't have been very high effort level, though heat made it feel a bit more intense.

Lungs still sub-par. Haven't quite decided about swimming tomorrow morning--I really want to go, I think I'm more or less OK but I also think I need the sleep more than I need the workout. Hmmm--see what time I get to sleep this evening, maybe--or perhaps I should just listen to the voice of reason and say that I'll go on Friday but not tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Quiet swimming

So it seemed to me that though I was certainly not well enough for an intense swim workout, I was OK to go and have a calm swim, and so I e-mailed my apologies to the Monday-night coach and wandered over to the gym around 8:30. Found a good spot and had a nice quiet easy mile-long swim, causing me to reflect on the fact that such a thing would have been hard to imagine even in May. I guess it took around 33 minutes? I promptly forgot the start time, and may have done a couple extra laps to be on the safe side. Lungs still gummy, stomach a bit off: oh, I hope I feel better tomorrow, but I will certainly skip the hard swim workout tomorrow morning also, not up to it yet. I must try and get some sleep.

(I thought I would do a couple 100s of breaststroke after that, but when I went to the slow lane with a kickboard and started to do a length of breast kick with the board, my leg muscles pretty rapidly told me that this morning's gym workout was harder than I thought! I did a length of actual breaststroke to see if it was better than kick alone, but decided I should call it a night...)

And I was still feeling rather upset about missing the real swim workout, which is a hard-core hour and a half of strenuous stuff, technique- and conditioning-focused--but then I got home and found an e-mail from the coach saying that when they all got to John Jay this evening, they found a sign saying the pool was closed for maintenance, with clear signs of chemical imbalance! So if I had tried to go to the regular Monday-night session, by the time I got back uptown I would almost certainly have been too tired and harried to swim at all--a piece of good fortune that has contributed to greater calmness than I expected....

Too sick

to go to the swim workout this evening, a fact that just makes me want to weep. I think I'm going to have to skip tomorrow morning's also, there is no imaginable benefit that will make up for the lost early-morning sleep.

Monday morning miscellany

Felt pretty sick still when I got up this morning: lungs a bit better, but faintly queasy (cough syrup hangover?). Almost canceled the PT appointment, but am glad I didn't.

Half an hour on the trainer first! That was good, it is not as long as I'd wanted (couldn't sleep till after 2 last night, so 6:45 wakeup had to be reconsidered when the hour came) but a perfectly good approximation. Miscellaneous thoughts:

(1) Must look at the instructions for the bike computer that I printed from the company website, I was getting speed but not cadence.

(2) This is going to be very good for practicing and building fitness. Did some clipping in and out, of course it's different in the world (as it were) but definitely will be good.

(3) Goodness, that is sweaty work! I can see I really will need to get a HUGE fan (I knew I would, but this kind of brought it home), and also one of the off-puttingly named sweat nets (alternate name is not better, bike thong--though I still think that muscle milk is the name that makes me most horrifyingly shudder, I do not like milk in any case), and also a proper mat, I'm using the yoga mat for now but its dimensions are incorrect. Will Amazon all this immediately...

Had to do a super-light workout instead of a regular one due to illness, but it was still well worth it. Good for my morale; got the blood flowing...

(Not good to let mood depend so intensively on exercise, but what can you do?)

It really was only about 60% effort and quantity of what we usually do! More rest, lighter weights, easier things. Not very sweat-inducing. Usually for instance we would only perhaps use one or two of the leg machines amidst other more challenging stuff, but we did a lot of that, and various other pretty easy things. Let's see, what will we call it (often I am not really paying attention to the weights, not sure I will remember everything in any case):

3 x 15 each of leg press, leg curl, leg extension
3 x 25 alternating reverse fly and front raise (5lb--baby-sized!) on stability ball
3 x 25 alternating the two different calf raises (feet parallel, feet pigeon-toed) with 12lb dumbbell
3 x 15 shoulder press with another exercise whose name I do not know (sort of bringing arms together in the middle), alternating with 3 x 25 bicep curl (8lb only--arghh, these are all so light!)
3 x 60-second plank
3 x 25 hip adduction and abduction
3 x 15 alternating triceps extension and (not sure what to call it) longer version with arms held in front and then coming all the way down on the cable machine
3 x 15 back extension alternating with 3 x 25 on each side (obliques/transverse)

I was thinking very wistfully at the end of the delightfully evil exercise I want to do next week when I am feeling myself again, pushups with kickbacks--that is a challenging exercise. Usually we would have used a lot fewer machines, done a lot more intense ab work (this is M.'s specialty--these evil exercises that give you demonically strong core muscles, I love 'em)--more squats (I don't do lunges because they make my left knee feel unstable/painful, just not worth it), pushups and chest press-type stuff, with evil little interludes of jumping rope and a little running in place (I associate this with boxers?) where you lift your knees up very high towards your chest...

However really I am sick today and this was an appropriately easy workout.

Testimony to the fact that I'm still pretty out of it: I did remember to put together the shower stuff, felt very pleased with myself, but about halfway over (when turning back would have made me very late) I realized that while I had brought shampoo and towel and various toiletries, I had completely forgotten to bring any clean clothes to change into. So I remain unshowered, not sure quite what to do about this--probably I will go over to the CU gym once I've graded an acceptable number of papers, only everything is very strange round here today because the president of Iran is speaking on campus and all the normal entrances are on high security alert...

Sunday, September 23, 2007


My main observation is that it's amazing the extent to which rationalization can lead me to put off doing anything bicycling-related! All the other stuff, I will find any excuse to do rather than not to do; bicycling, not so much.

Perfectly good reasons, of course (lung ailment necessitated sleeping in; family phone calls; Hamlet is a long play; the East Village is a long way from where I live; wine with dinner afterwards--well, that is not such a good reason, if I had an evening run scheduled I would have foregone the wine!): but I am going to have to chalk this up as a rest day.

Will take this opportunity to do the laundry instead; today's the first day in a week the laundry room's been open, and all water is out in the building again tomorrow for further work on the boiler. Note to self: remember to bring things for showering at the gym!

Problem: I'm already locked in on non-bicycling two-a-days for the next three days (personal training, swim; swim, run; swim, yoga). But I think I can add 40-60 mins. of stationary cycling on the trainer at home tomorrow morning, and I hereby commit to doing at least an hour on Wednesday after yoga. I can't bear to skip any of the swims, I'm in love with swimming right now and CU morning swim is on hiatus the two weeks following so I must make sure I get to all three sessions this week.

(Hmmm, I detect further rationalization...)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Swimming lessons

And an absolutely lovely swimming lesson this afternoon...

It is such a luxury to be a starry-eyed and fairly ignorant learner. I remain starry-eyed about literature and ideas only I do not really get to be so dramatically inducted from innocence into experience in that realm of things these days! If indeed I ever did...

Lots of work on bits and pieces of breaststroke. Breaststroke kick with kickboard, breaststroke pull with dolphin kick or flutter kick, lots of plunging and undulating, some practicing of fast open turns for front crawl and breaststroke; I even got to do the breaststroke on one of those funny cords where you see how far you can get down the pool. All very gratifying.

I am just in love with swimming...

Saturday long run

I didn't feel great going over there--only got slightly more than four hours sleep, still felt a bit under the weather because of this cold--but by one mile in I felt absolutely fine, it really was a remarkably enjoyable run despite slight lung sponginess. (High humidity.)

Twelve miles, two Central Park loops (first one clockwise, second counter--the half-marathon in October is two clockwise loops plus one mile). S. and L. and I were joined by C. who is a super-speedy runner who hasn't done much distance work. He kept us up to the mark!

I really do love the idea of long slow distance training, but since we're not actually training for a marathon I find I do not have the heart to really successfully enforce it. The long run pace we're sort of aiming for based on my last half-marathon time is, say, 10:45 miles, but this is simply VERY difficult to get as a group. 10:00 miles is an alternate long-run pace in Jack Daniels' book (call it marathon pace), and I think it may have to be that we go with this for our fall long runs--we will see. Putting a faster runner into the mix definitely tips us in this direction, whereas if we added a slower one instead I think we could successfully bring it down to 10:30 or so.

Our pacing was much more uneven than these numbers suggest, I was constantly suggesting slow-downs that we then did not attain very consistently! My device gives pace at mile end as well as mile splits, and our fastest mile-end pace--as we had an enjoyable little surge at the end of the first six-mile loop, sort of mini-finish line feel--was 7:41. Average pace for the entire run was 9:50, max pace 6:27.

Mile splits:


I must say I felt pretty great afterwards, very energetic still, and legs don't seem at all tired! So this is good--a twelve-mile run no longer seems absolutely-knackered wipe-out long.

Miscellaneous other thoughts:

Some slightly worrisome discomfort in the old stress fracture area. I have been having problems all summer with the muscles in the sort of front area also affected; this is different, more like where it originally hurt last November. (It was a double stress fracture in two parts of the pubic ramus, inferior and superior; inferior was the one I felt first, and where I was feeling it today.) Hopefully just muscle involvement, but I must keep a close eye on this and back off miles if it seems like it's a problem. In this case possibly just the effect of not having run since the ten miles I did last Saturday in the park with B.

Must get some new shoes! I put in these orthotics after the August half-marathon to counter the encroaching (oh, evil word, it wouldn't seem half so bad if it didn't have such an awfully unsavory name!) bunion on my left foot. Didn't have a problem adjusting, but I've been having much worse black-toenail problems than before--either I need to go a half size further up, or else switch to a different kind. And I also noticed last night that though I haven't been getting blisters, at the two inside-heel spots where I am vulnerable to blisters there are literally, like, BITES taken out of the shoes, like a hole has been worn in the foam. It would actually be worth trying to get a new pair and do a few runs in them to break them in time for this next half-marathon--if I get the same kind half a size up, a couple runs should be enough, but perhaps not a great idea to switch to something different right before the race. Hmmm...

I am in a good mood though! Running-induced elation, very satisfactory...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Modest progress

Still too sick to exercise, but crossing my fingers the run will be OK tomorrow morning. And in the meantime my friend R. has magically provided me with the skewer I needed to put my bike properly in the trainer. Also a mirror. Also a good introduction to the mechanic at the local bike shop.

Everything to do with bicycles just stymies me currently, it is so complicated! However it was a relief to learn that my incapacity to work out how to secure the bike in the device was a result of a missing part rather than sheer cluelessness...

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I was in the depths of despair this afternoon. Felt sicker with every passing hour--around three it dawned on me that there was no way I could run this evening or swim this morning, I feel absolutely dire! Very disheartening. But then I went to the CU triathlon team meeting, and it has infused me with cheerfulness.

It is going to solve a lot of my triathlon-related problems! Not the cycling one, that's just something I'm going to have to get over myself, but it was lovely to find this enthusiastic group (triathletes are messianic about inducting others into the sport, regardless of speed/talent) so welcoming...

And of course the words "bus rental with driver" and "group open-water swim" are music to my ears...

So even if I couldn't do any training today (and I'm worried about the Saturday-morning run--but on the other hand it's a neck-up cold rather than a neck-down one, I don't have any fever or much chest congestion, and I've still got thirty-six hours between now and then), I did do something productive towards the triathlon-related goals.

Unwanted schedule modification

Yesterday afternoon it dawned on me that I was coming down with a cold--quite sore throat, runny nose--and it escalated over the course of the evening. Now full-blown!

I'll see how I feel, but really I need to run at least 3-4 miles this evening or I will be freaking out. Tricky schedule for the day, though. My best bet: do them on the indoor track at the gym this evening following the initial meeting of the CU triathlon club. This has the added bonus of meaning that I can just stop if I feel awful, and that water and bathroom are immediately in reach as needed. I rather hate that little track, it's tiny (a tenth of a mile), but it's sensible...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Swim-run combo a dismal failure

OK, let's get the bad part out of the way first...

It almost worked--nutritionally, I think I would have been fine, I had a banana and half a pack of Clif blocks at 6 and then the other half of the Clif blocks after the swim. I still had energy. But there were two problems:

1. That little nylon backpack thingie is not appropriate for running in! Hmmm... and as the weather gets colder, the whole carry-or-wear problem becomes slightly more intractable (perhaps not a great idea to run in winter with wet hair from swimming pool)...

2. Time.

I even made it down into the park--but after a couple hundred yards with the evil little backpack sort of falling all over me, and some anxious looks at my watch, I had to call it a day. Will try and fit in that run this afternoon if I can, or else I'll have to skip it. ARGHHHH!!!

On a brighter note, the swim workout was good.

Warmup: 1000 yards

2 x 150 (100 free, 50 breast)
200 pull
2 x 150 (100 free, 50 back)
200 pull

Then I got slightly off track--I missed the explanation of the main workout, it wasn't on the board and the coach had vanished, and my nice and helpful lanemate wasn't there today either. So I started doing the warmup again (I need to practice my breaststroke and backstroke), I did the first two 150s again; but then I did manage to snag him once he reappeared and got the main set.

Five 200s, starting with 200 pull and then moving down through 150 pull 50 swim, 100 pull 100 swim, 50 pull 150 swim, 200 swim. Try for descending times (but since I was doing these by myself, it defeated me to also keep an eye on the clock--however I tried to do it on effort, and I do think the last couple were a bit faster than the first three).

Did a couple length of breaststroke again to fill in the wait, it seemed to go much better today... not nearly so frantically out of breath!

And then a very nice little final bit of work, 8 50s on 1:00. I really like doing these little sets, it's hard work but very enjoyable. The first few were probably :53 or so, then up to :54, but I did the last couple at :50...

I must not have excessive self-reproach about the failure to run also! But for future I will note that I do think that if I want a run immediately following, it probably needs to be just three miles on the treadmill at the gym--this is easier to handle, both logistically and psychologically.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Schedule for next week and a half

Just a provisional one, not a permanent pattern, since the CU morning swim goes on hiatus for a couple weeks from 9/28 and comes back on a slightly different schedule:

Wed. am: CU swim plus run 4

Thurs. run 5

Fri. am: CU swim

Sat. am: run 12; pm: swimming lesson

Sun. SOMETHING BICYCLE-RELATED - whatever I can face...

(if I get the trainer working, I'll do 2-3 bike sessions over the next week or so, nothing intense, just to get the feel for it--would be good if I could do one long one, though)

Mon. am: PT; pm: John Jay swim

Tues. am: CU swim; pm: run 6

Wed. am: CU swim; pm: yoga (mmmm, I like that yoga, I've missed it during the break)

Thurs. run 5

Fri. am: CU swim (last of summer session)

Sat. 45-mile MS fundraising bike ride in Philadelphia

Sun. run 6 in Philadelphia with my brother - that is, if not completely knackered

Then it's taper week for the Grete's Great Gallop half-marathon on Oct. 6. Good thing swimming's on hiatus. I'll go to Monday-night swimming, run 5 on Tuesday, yoga Wednesday, run 5 on Thursday (no trainer appointment that week I think, and I might as well wait another week on the cycling since it's been so long already), then perhaps just an easy swim on Thursday or Friday evening for mental health and muscle-loosening purposes, and race Saturday morning. Plus a swimming lesson in the afternoon...

Tuesday gym workout

The last couple weeks have been a bit of a disaster, schedule-wise: not exercise-wise, I'm certainly basically on track in most substantive respects, but my running schedule in particular just doesn't seem to quite get sorted out...

Had a good hour-long workout at the gym just now with the trainer. He's great--I like doing strength-type stuff, but it doesn't particularly have a hold on my imagination, and I find I skip it if I don't do it with him (also of course you work twice as hard...). Prudence dictated that today wasn't an especially strenuous one, since I've been so short on sleep.

(Last week I felt pretty weird during the workout, very unusual for me--slightly light-headed--and thought it might be wise to take it a little easier this week.)

We always do great core stuff, though. I thought I would then do three miles on the treadmill, but though I felt OK I realized just as we were getting started that this was distinctly not sensible, already swam for 75 minutes this morning, 60 mins workout plus 10 mins walk each way plus 10 mins warmup on ARC trainer is enough.

(Doing three miles on the TM instead of a real outdoor run of 5 or 6 is OK for a couple weeks as a once-a-week stopgap measure, but will not do for the longer term. I'm only running three days a week--the coach I've done these running classes with is strongly on a low-mileage model with a lot of cross-training, not exactly like this but along these lines. Her half-marathon training plan, for instance, involves three days a week running, two days cross-training--weights and/or biking or swimming--plus an optional fourth day of running, usually just 3-4 miles. I'd like to add the fourth day, and it wouldn't be bad to have that just be a treadmill run, but as long as I'm only doing three they need to be all for real, as it were...)

(So common sense also said that I really only have time this semester for once a week with the trainer. CU yoga starts up again next week, so that gives me one PT workout and one yoga weekly, I think that's good enough though of course I would like MORE. Also as of next week I'll switch the PT appointment to Monday morning, which frees up Tuesday afternoon/evening for a proper run--basically this is going to solve the schedule problem.)

I've still got a bicycle-shaped willpower problem--borrowed a stationary trainer from my swimming teacher--only after much wrangling with the wretched thing I believe I need a different skewer, not usable as is, got to go to the bike store with my friend R. and purchase relevant item (could certainly go by myself only I think I am more likely to get the right part if I go with someone knowledgeable). In other words, a large bicycle-shaped problem more generally--I have to do a 45-mile ride next weekend and I am completely unprepared! Arghh.... Not unprepared in terms of general all-round fitness, I'm sure it will be fine in that regard; but I can only imagine how stiff and uncomfortable I'll be by the end. It's just been one of those times--I literally had to get out two different book manuscripts in the last week and a half, incredibly unfortunate timing, actually fairly insane, plus the first two weeks of school and getting classes properly going and stuff--and I wasn't willing to give up on the running or swimming in order to make a place for cycling.

I expect it will be rather horrible, but as it's a supported charity bike ride, there's kind of no worst-worst-case scenario--I think I will be able to do it in any case, but if I can't, I will just stop and the van will come by and take me to the other end and I will wait for the rest of my team there! My only hope is that it does not make me stiff or sore in some way that has a horrible negative impact on my half-marathon the week following--but there is a full week between them, so we will just have to hope for the best...

(Will do the run tomorrow morning immediately following swimming, that's basically the only way to deal with it. Will just do 3-4 miles, but will do it outside, I think--will try it with little nylon backpack thingie to put bathing suit and goggles into. Because though I have not exactly tried it this way before, it seems to me that stopping at home to change and drop stuff off will mean a fatal loss of momentum, especially given the way that my building has the slowest elevator in the world--once you're home, it's coffee and online news, not heading straight back out for a run!)

(Once I get the trainer set up, I think I can add in some not-too-long trainer bike workouts either after swimming--like after the Friday-morning one for instance--for before running--like before the Tuesday and Thursday runs. Then try and do a long bike on Sunday, keep Saturday for long run.)

Tuesday morning swim

Dragged myself out of bed for the morning swim workout--it is amazing how you can feel half-dead beforehand and then swimming makes you feel immensely refreshed...

This is the first time I've swum hard on Monday night and Tuesday morning, and I think it's going to be fine. I'm trying it this week and next, then the CU swim is on hiatus for a couple weeks--built-in don't-overdo-it protection.

Can't at all reproduce the workout, it was one of the "canned" ones (fairly generic--the more exciting ones are scrawled on the blackboard and you have to really concentrate to remember them, but once you understand the rationale, it all comes clear--these ones are xeroxes hanging in little plastic sleeves lane by lane, which is convenient but not as interesting). Let's say that the relevant facts were, oh, 2300 yards total, and that the only thing of note (other than general pleasantness) was that I did 2 x 100 of breast and back each. It makes me ridiculously out of breath (which is counterintuitive--breast is supposed to be more relaxing than free), strangely different muscles and movements to free, but if I just keep doing it it will get much easier and better in no time...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday night swimming

Just had the most extraordinarily enjoyable and relaxing Monday night swim workout, after a pretty intense 36 hours of work that left me feeling near dead! I'm just in love with swimming recently, not sure what it is--some combination, I guess, of having found the right set of workouts and finding it challenging and stimulating but also something at which I can markedly improve.

I cannot promise accuracy in summing-up, but let's say what we did tonight was this...

(I was leading the lane, so I can remember it better than I might have otherwise! Actually I think this is exactly what we did.)


200 swim
200 kick with fins

Main set to cycle through:

50 kick on stomach (with fins)
50 kick on back (with fins)
200 pull (2 x 50 long dog paddle, 50 swim)
200 with fins (2 x right arm, left arm, reverse catch-up, swim)
8 x 25 (4 fast legs long arms, 4 "dead" legs fast arms)

(We did this set twice.)


Timed 500! (Yards not meters.)

This is baseline time to work from and improve. It was pretty unsteady pacing, but I felt kind of great throughout, I think I am going to have a better time on this soon--once I can keep steady.

The coach worked with 4 people at a time in the two lanes at the end. Here are my times--I like doing things like this, only unfortunately although I was counting accurately two of the others stopped after 18 lengths instead of 20 and so we don't have the time for the full 500! But let's say it's like this, and that all four of us swam rather similar times only one guy fading in the last 100, with these being the splits:

100 1:38 (fast!)
200 3:27
300 5:18
400 8:08
450 8:48
[500 let's say it would have been 9:35ish, we were going faster again at the end]

Frustrating not to have the exact time! I did a 9:42 in June, but in a 20-yard pool, so the push off the wall makes that faster--this is a definite improvement.

So there are multiple ways of working on this speed stuff from here, sounds like we'll be doing different things in coming weeks: on the one hand, try and regularly do 100s on a 1:45, which will be very challenging; on the other hand, try and hold 1:38 for 10 100s but on a 2:00 interval, i.e. with plenty of rest.

I am excited!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Swimming lessons

I had the first of this exciting new round of swimming lessons this afternoon. This is going to be great...

I started swimming in January. I had a stress fracture and couldn't run, and approached the problem of swimming with grim determination. (Could hardly swim more than a couple lengths without having to stop and rest. The horribleness of entry into the world of swimming pools is not to be underrated--pool etiquette, grungy showers and locker rooms, terribly crowded and inconveniently short pool hours, fitness completely not translating from other activities...) Had a few lessons with various people at CU, but it was impossible to schedule, and variable-quality teaching.

Meanwhile I was doing deep-water running with Doug Stern, and as soon as I met him it was clear to me that I had found my perfect triathlon-oriented swimming teacher. I took his level one and level two clinics starting in March or so (each six or seven weeks), slow steady improvement over both (but Doug died!) but perhaps with steadier improvement on conditioning than technique. Now I do Monday-night swimming through Doug's old group, and for some reason just in the last 6 weeks or so it seems to me that my technique has startlingly improved--this is good....

But I have to learn to do those other strokes!

This teacher did the level II clinic in May, filling in for Doug because he was sick, and she's fantastic. A really first-rate swimmer and triathlete, and a fabulous teacher. She had me do some lengths of the various strokes, including some video (partly so we can look at a before-and-after some weeks from now), and then we just dug in and started working properly on breaststroke. The kick's good, no problem there, for no reason at all I have very flexible ankles in both directions; the timing on breath-scull-etc. is off, though...

And I did some dolphin kicks, kind of...

(My vestigial backstroke is the very flat one I guess I kind of learned in about 1976...)

(I am going to be excited to learn butterfly!)

(But it seems to me that in a couple weeks I will actually be swimming a more or less just about adequate version of breaststroke, this is good--that was why we were working on it first...)

Also to work on, though we didn't have time today: a faster open turn, for immediate use, and some drills to get to having a decent flip turn. I spent a lot of time practicing a flip turn in February before I was really having good lessons, but it was time wasted, I fear, I never learned to do it right. But you lose so much time not doing turns that way, I must get it working as soon as I can!

Slow and steady

A rather lovely 10-mile run this morning with my friend B., from the summer running class. She's a bit slower than I am, and hasn't been training consistently since the half-marathon we both did in early August--this makes it amazingly easier to keep the long run to appropriate pace! Usually I'm doing it with L. and S.--L. is exactly my pace, but perhaps does less cross-training so my endurance is a little better--S. doesn't train consistently but is fast. I have to hold 'em back and then let 'em off the leash for the last couple miles only! But L. and S. are both (separately) out of town this weekend...

(A nice little fast bit by myself at the end, just to make sure my legs remember how to move quickly...)

(S. is on an Alaskan cruise, and I really hope he's doing his training runs while he's away--I am the coach, I am going to be rather disappointed if he does not run a significantly better time than me in our October half-marathon, he's so speedy! But even before he left he was claiming that he would be unlikely to be able to do any long runs because of the danger of being chased by a bear...)

B. and I had lots of triathlon conversation--she's doing her first sprint triathlon next weekend. She has swum a grand total of once, and has borrowed a bike from a friend and ridden it a couple times. This is a lesson to me--I am the queen of overpreparedness, if I get a convenient chance to do one of these I should just do it, even though I feel so nervous about cycling I seriously am good to go on swimming and running. I mean, there's always room for much improvement, I do not have open-water experience to speak of (just had one practice session in August) and I look forward to becoming a faster runner and swimmer in future, but really, I'm quite fully functional and with fairly decent fitness! A mile swim and a ten-mile run are as nothing to me! I was taken aback, looking the other day at a training plan for an Olympic-distance triathlon, to realize that my regular weekly training hours are higher than that already, and that I kind of could do one in a few weeks if I just had a couple decent longish bike rides....

Pool time

A very good swim workout this morning at the CU pool. I only discovered this secret early-morning thrice-weekly swim session in early August, and it solves a lot of problems for me about where and how to swim. (The evening pool hours are so crowded that I get lane rage half the time; besides, it's better to do a real workout with a group...)

I look forward to the day when I can remember every swim workout with insane clarity, but at this point the details run through my mind like a knife through butter, so I will certainly not be able to chronicle every twist and turn of the workout narrative. But I can say that I made a good stab at some warmup lengths that included hapless bits of backstroke and breast (I don't really know how to do these properly, and I don't know how to do butterfly at all!), and that there was a very good main set.

With pull buoy, a freestyle stroke count drill:

25 at default stroke count (for me, around 20-21 or so?)
50 at T-1 (i.e. 19)
75 at T-2 (18)
100 at T-3 (17)
125 at T-4 (16)
150 at T-5 (well, can't really hit 15 reliably, but 16s and some 15s)

and then repeat whole set. Very good stuff--really makes you concentrate on the catch and the glide part of the stroke, I enjoy this extremely...

(I have been having a very good feeling the last few weeks of being really strong in the water. Some technical stuff just kind of came together--in the early summer my conditioning was improving faster than my technique, I think, but the technique has caught up and the front crawl thing is now working, I would have to say, pretty well. Though I am optimistic that if I keep working hard it will get quite a lot faster!)

I flaked out on the last set--a couple people got out, the strongest swimmer in the lane went to see what the next part of the workout was but got distracted by people's small children who were hanging around, I went to look at the blackboard myself (tho it is an effort to remember it even long enough to get started, I have to say it to myself a lot of times and also just mentally struggle to understand the concept, because of course if you understand then it's much easier to remember...) but by that time we had really lost momentum and it was not really in any case a workout I can do yet.

(I don't know enough.)

(And also I suddenly got nervous about the presentation I had to make at lunchtime and kind of felt like I'd better hare off home and get moving on it...)

But I'm writing the workout down here so that a month from now I can look back and do it on my own--I have the first of four or five one-on-one swim lessons starting tomorrow (well, I might have more than that if I'm feeling extravagant) where I am going to learn the other strokes, learn to do a super-fast open turn for now and start working on a really good flip turn for soon, etc. etc.

So: I promise to do this workout one month from now...

24 x 50:

6 fly (1 kick, 2 drill, 3 swim)
6 back (1 kick, 2 drill, 3 swim)
6 breast (1 kick, 2 drill, 3 swim)
6 free (1 kick, 2 drill, 3 swim)

Right now I am so ignorant I really don't even know what the drills are for the non-freestyle strokes. So this is a thing to start on properly at the lesson tomorrow.

I am just finding myself very much in love with swimming recently, I think it's going to be a big priority this fall--my heart is set on becoming a proper swimmer, I love the terminology aside from everything else and I will feel very proud of myself the day that I can actually do, oh, what's a good example, 200 "IM"!

(There is no point having athletic regrets, and for the most part it is fair enough that my endurance-sport-obsession has only come on me fairly recently. Yes, it's a pity I was not a regular runner in my 20s--but I think if I'd done it in my teens, I would have become dangerously obsessed and in any case I never would have been fast, not fast enough to do well on a team. But I guess I do have a couple sport-related regrets. One is that I did not discover yoga sooner, especially Iyengar yoga--I think it would have been greatly to my mental-health benefit as a teenager. The other is that I didn't get to be on a swim team as a kid. I just think I would have really loved it and also been pretty decent at it--I loved swimming when I was little, I learned a pretty OK freestyle at age 5 and greeted swimming thereafter with immense enthusiasm, but scarcely swam at all after age 8 or 9 or so and certainly never swam laps in a pool. Mildly traumatic memory: going with my third-grade friend D. after school one day to her swim-team practice. She was a serious swimmer, and had been tantalizing me with descriptions of how amazing it would be--and there was nothing I wanted more than to go with her and do it also, I really did love swimming. But of course there I was and I was a pitiful swimmer compared to those kids! Pitiful! Though I kept up as best I could, I was on the verge of tears for almost the whole time, I was so much worse than everyone else, it was awful--though I must have been eight I still remember it vividly--because of course then as now I did not really know the strokes, and I really didn't know how to do butterfly, and I was filled with shame! So now I am going to learn 'em all for real, and it will be good... In retrospect it is hardly surprising, I had probably not swum for months and months and those kids swam for hours every day! Just on conditioning alone I could not have done it! But this is only one of a host of horrible fitness-related experiences that led to my childhood self coming to believe that she was the worst athlete in the world, a belief that has been eroded by my experiences in the last year or so but that still has some underlying hold on me.)

Friday, September 14, 2007


Triaspirational: for two reasons. Because I haven't done a triathlon yet, and because triathlon is all about wanting to get better!

I'm not sure yet how I'll use this blog. I'm thinking it's a way to keep track of my workouts and think about goals along the way. We will see how it all unfolds...