Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesday swim

Well, it is silly, really I missed some good swimming time through (a) unavoidable work-related lateness and (b) wholly avoidable and frivolous (but swimming-related!) conversation on the pool deck--but I must say it was nonetheless a most enjoyable swim. I am always pretty tired by Tuesday evening, but I think I finally lowered my expectations about the Tuesday swim enough that I can enjoy it for what it is.

Unfortunately I could not really mentally construct several of the bizarrely simple drills I did at that lesson yesterday morning! And I talked away all the time that I would have used to do some serious drill-oriented swimming! But I enjoyed what I had, and I do think that just being more mindful of body position should be helpful. Hmmm, for better and for worse, swimming is a sport where the potential for improvement is virtually infinite...

(Got some tips on breaststroke from Coach H., he was helping out the woman in the other half of the lane but as I happened to be doing a very poor length of breaststroke at the same time I was lucky enough to benefit also! Gist: really plunge when moving forward, don't dally/think about it too much/do it gradually?!?)

500 warmup: 150 free, 150 drill-stroke IM (no free), 100 free drill (RA LA CU Swim), 100 IM

24 x 25 (trimmed down--should have been 40--stroke on :40, free on :35--I cannot do double-arm back on :40, arghhh!)

First time through, drill fly and breast; second time through, drill back and free

2 x

3 fly
3 back
3 breast
3 free

Then time was almost up--I did 4 x 25 kick on side (horrible!), concentrating on body position, and swam 50, and it was time to get out...

An altogether meager but on the whole quite enjoyable 1250, that is a pitifully small number!

Tuesday bike

I will not inflict on you all of the huge number of cycling-related thoughts that burst upon my consciousness as I rode my bike this morning. I am freezing, starving and unshowered, and I have a limited amount of time only to remedy the situation!

A few highlights (I was probably riding for about an hour and a half, not much good for fitness but good for confidence):

1. I am designing this week the Evil Week of the Bike.

2. I am almost ready to face the thought of biking to and from the park instead of walking my bike over there like a baby and changing into my bike shoes at the foot of Harlem Hill!

3. I figured I might as well have the real baby session I should have had months ago, so I went to the 102nd St. Transverse (a nice short little stretch of road with pretty much no activity) and just practiced clipping and unclipping, getting more comfortable with a 180-degree turn, etc. etc. Hmmm, calmness-inducing...

4. After that I rode a couple loops at an easy pace. I think this is the first time I have not felt the need for utter death-grip on the brakes. Much more relaxed than any time previously, possibly as direct result of tranverse session. That is good.

5. The speedometer has stopped working again! I noticed it as I was going over there--cadence wasn't working either. I sort of poked everything around, and cadence is OK now. That is certainly the more important one of the two for me. Will delve into things online and see if I can figure out what to do about this--most annoying. But if I have to, I will take a zen-like attitude and figure speed is not in itself hugely relevant...

6. So really the most important thing is to cultivate that little germ of affection for the bike, more important at this point than fitness! But the point of evil week of bike is that this really is the last week to do much good with fitness, so if I can, I should do some more indoor cycling at the gym at more intense levels to make up for the fact that my rides outside will be more confidence-building than anything else. Wouldn't be a bad idea to have two-a-day (one outdoor, one indoor) any day this week and early next when it is actually possible. I will keep Thursday, though, as a real day off.

7. I will do a real long ride in the park on Sunday morning, keeping track of time and distance and getting a better sense of effort levels etc. It is a much hillier course than the actual Florida one, it is not in any sense comparable, but if I can't get speeds from the computer I should at least get some idea...

8. It was kind of rainy, but more like drizzle than actual rain. Kind of freezing, too... but it is worth it because of how the park is so much less crowded.

9. I do think that one of these days I will find myself fully in love with the bicycle. (I am full of admiration for this particular bicycle, it is a rather lovely creature, very slim and strong and responsive--I think I must just think of my goal for the race being to let it have its way!) But the fact is I am just not a person with a strong urge to go places! I am the kind of person who deals with stressful or depressing situations not by going elsewhere but by lying in bed and going someplace by reading a book, that is never going to change. I do not even have a driver's license! I have no impulse to roam! I do not think this is an obstacle, but it means I do not have the urge that makes many people particularly enjoy cycling...

10. I am at least temporarily filled with a sense of calmness about this actual race. It is easy to get caught up in complicated stuff, but in a strictly rational sense the only thing I need to do is use this lovely machine (which was designed to go quite fast with relatively little effort and very fast if one actually knew what one was doing) to cover 56 miles within the time limit and while hydrating/refueling in some way that will allow me to run a half-marathon afterwards. I am fully capable of doing this. My only time goal is that I know I will be anxious if I'm really bumping up against the cutoff, but I am fairly certain the time cutoff on the bike course will not be an issue, it is generous. I spent some time last night perusing the race results from last year and I find it implausible that I will actually have a four-hour ride, I am thinking somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45 is considerably more likely. Let us see if I can get that computer working again and get some sense of speeds on the flats. But whatever...

A rookie season

Our Girl in Chicago takes up ice hockey as an adult, after many wistful years as a passionate hockey fan with no hockey-playing experience. Not explicitly triathlon-related, but let us not be literal-minded, it's really all the same thing...

Monday, April 28, 2008

No run this evening

The forecast said thunderstorms--in fact it was only slight rain, but I think I did enough exercise today already! I hope it is not rainy still tomorrow morning...

Monday gym

A good solid hour with M. at the gym. It is not ideal doing it back-to-back with a swim like that; I will arrange things differently next week. But very enjoyable, particularly once I was in the swing of things...

Swimming lessons

It is the utmost height of extravagance, but I have just had an amazingly helpful swimming lesson with Jim Bolster. It is not very frugal of me, but I am going to have another one next week--we spent the hour doing deceptively simple (but actually quite difficult, it is not that I can do the things properly at all!) stuff and then at the end when I swam some lengths it was fairly extraordinary how striking an improvement had taken place.

It's all about body position (neutral head position, leading from the hips)--I fear I have been persuaded that I must switch to bilateral breathing, I was breathing every 3 strokes for the last bit (which I never do, I have a strong preference for right-side breathing) and with the other minor adjustments my stroke count had gone down from 19 to 17 without me even thinking about it, that's crazy...

A lot of stuff to work on by myself, too, though I know it's hard to find the mental space for it. Just this simple exercise of holding a nice straight vertical body position underwater and moving from that into a regular streamline position makes me hugely more attentive to what I'm doing. Craziness!

Sunday anti-mental-insanity measures

I went to the gym thinking I would just do forty-five minutes on the bike, although it seemed like putting a dime in the piggy-bank when what you had imagined chucking into the slot was a nice heavy round silver dollar.

The CU gym is in many respects and most of the time fairly impossible--it is underground in dank spaceship-like tiers, it was built in the 70s when the college was much smaller (and all male!) and there was no such thing as going to the gym to do cardio, as a result it is evilly overcrowded much of the time and there is a 30-minute limit on all cardio machines. Not per machine, thirty total minutes per user per day--which is simply not sensible, one would not have to be an excessive exerciser to want more like 50-60 minutes on one or two different machines.

And often it really is crowded enough that every single machine is accounted for...

But Sunday night this late in the semester is not one of those times, and the bicycles are usually the least popular cardio machines in any case.

So I did a 45-minute "sport interval" workout. Then I did 45 minutes of "rolling hills." Then I did 30 minutes of "easy intervals" (hmmm, not sure about that application of the term...) for a total of two hours.

2.0hr. stationary bike (zone 2)

It was rather blissful, I must confess--I had a surge of feeling how enjoyable it was around minute 35 and once I was dug in on the second segment I was seriously enjoying myself...

(If I had known I would stay so long, I would have worn bike shorts, that seat is more comfortable than my actual bike but not that comfortable! Also could have used some Clif product...)

I was like this with swimming last year, I remember: evening lane swim hours are 7-9:30 on weeknights, and I would drag my heels later and later (I live two blocks away!) and finally only be rushing out the door around 8:50 and have only twenty-five minutes of swim time by the time I had changed and be very irked with myself. And really it is a habit I know from way back (hmmm, childhood music practice?!?), but particularly well and painfully from many years of experience as a writer.

Really from about 1993 onwards I was in some sense thinking of myself as a professional writer, although to the outside eye I was a grad student who was not earning a penny from writing. As an academic, my writing life is highly cyclical--work like a maniac during the semester on school-type stuff, then shift gears and switch to writing mode for the summer or the winter break or whatever.

Once things are really in train, say second week of June, I am usually writing very happily and steadily every day, with perhaps every sixth or seventh day off for slight recharging. But before that happens, there is a truly miserable period of a couple days where I realize I have underrated the exhaustion and depletion of resources effected by the school year and that I cannot write yet at all.

Then there are two or three days (these are my absolute least favorite ones of all, and have very much the texture of today's bicycle-related procrastination!) when I just go pretty much totally crazy with inertia and sloth. I get up, I read blogs (used to be the newspaper, I am thinking...), I write e-mails, I drink ever more coffee, I take a nap. I bore myself utterly out of my mind (I cannot read interesting books or do anything interesting or stimulating during this period). I feel like I am bouncing off the walls. Then around 8 at night (I cannot make any evening plans when I am in this stage, or I will not get that day's writing done) I suddenly and decisively sit down and savagely write for an hour, and at the end of the hour or hour and a half I have the day's pages...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The death grip of bicycle-related procrastination!

Well, I really am in the grip of it, I am not enjoying it one bit! And the worst thing is that I have literally spent the whole day in thrall to bicycle-related things, and have not ridden a single bit! (OR done any work.)

I could go into detail about how this came about, it was one thing and another resulting not entirely from my own miscalculations, but really it is pure procrastination, and I am not going to get out there for a ride today after all. ARGHHHHHHH!

On the bright side, the trainer has now been reunited with its true owner, so I will no longer be able to put off riding outside by riding inside.

(Just by not riding at all!)

And I had a great session with an altruistic CU triathlon team member who has fully illuminated me on tube-changing matters and various other things as well. I am now confident about taking off and putting back on the wheels, changing tubes, using various kinds of pump and CO2 and generally organizing all that stuff. I should write myself a real checklist of what order to do things in--it is amazing how it goes more smoothly if one does these little things in the correct order! We replaced both existing tubes with new ones and I now feel race-ready in that minimum sense at least...

Pedals were a bit more of a conundrum: turns out I need an 8mm hex wrench rather than a pedal wrench, and when we tried to use the 8mm attachment on the multitool it became clear that the pedals are screwed in so tightly that they are impossible to dislodge. Will go and obtain a self-standing (as it were) tool for the purpose and see if it lets me get greater leverage.

(In other words both the things I bought at the bike store the other week were wrong, not just the pump! A trip back there will be in order, though I am not sure they will take the wrench back now that I have opened the packaging...)

I am making some emergency calculations about what to do this week to remedy a slightly irretrievable training situation. (Right now I am drinking some tea in the hope it will clear my head--allergies and sleeplessness are continuing to make me feel dazed and confused!)

I think I will go to the gym this evening and do an intensive half-hour exercise bike workout so that I have not completely missed out on today. Tomorrow is no good because I already have an absurd number of exercise-related commitments that do not involve bicycles (early am swimming lesson, which will also hopefully involve some triaspirational morale-boosting [CU triathlon folks v. encouraging also!]; gym workout with M.; evening run with S.).

But I am going to shame myself into a serious bicycle commitment for the week:

Tues. am: 2.5 hours in Central Park come hell or high water! (The woman who cleans my apartment is coming at 9, and I like to leave her a clear field to work in, so I will leave with bicycle at 8:45 and come back at 11:15 when she is finished.)

Wednesday pm: one-hour bike ride in Riverside Park, followed by 3-4 miles run.

Thursday will be off instead of Friday, due to work stuff. On Friday I will do a short bike and swim. On Saturday I will do the Brooklyn half (as the last long training run) in the morning and swim in the afternoon. And on Sunday I will do a three-hour bike--that is a threat and a promise!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday swim

Well, it was one of the utterly blissful ones. Slightly beyond rational explanation, but as soon as I got in the water everything about the temperature and feeling of the water on my skin just felt absolutely and luxuriously delightful, and swimming was easy and satisfying throughout the workout. (Partly because I did not a single flip turn!)

(I guess I have been slightly swimming-deprived, couldn't go Thursday or Friday because of work conflicts. And because I took Wednesday off altogether, not just for bicycle-procrastination-related reasons but because mid- to late-afternoon I really was not feeling well in a way that asked for food, caffeine, ibuprofen, water and allergy-related nose-blowing rather than exercise, I had to sub in Wednesday's bike-run on Thursday in place of the infinitely more desirable projected long-distance swim at Riverbank.)

Warmup: 800 as 100 freestyle drill, 300 back-breast-back drill-swim by 50, 300 IM kick-drill-swim by 25, 100 freestyle swim

First set (truncated--should have been 24 x 25, 6 each of underwater, kick, drill, swim, split in my case between free and fly): 6 x 25 underwater, 6 x 25 kick with board (3 fly, 3 free), 4 x 25 free on :35

Main set: 3 x 500 with one minute rest, T pace (which is slightly notional to me, but which I was thinking of as strong/harder but sustainable and non-breathlessness-inducing).

Now, unfortunately I was not wearing my Polar watch, and while in theory I should be able to keep track with the clock on the wall, in practice it is so much of a strain on my brain to count laps ("hmmm, that's coming up on 375--or wait, is it only 325? ARGHHHHH!") that though I temporarily sort of register the time when I finish, I cannot really keep track of it even a moment afterwards in my head. But is it possible that my 500s were around 8:40 or so? Seems fast, and yet I think that is what it was.

(But I might have miscounted, must try for a timed hardish one again sometime this next week to see if I am perhaps completely off and it was 9:40 instead! But I do seem to believe they all were around 8:40, I cannot have skipped a 50 or somehow mis-noted and mis-remembered on all three, can I? I am fairly certain the last one was :X8:00-(X+1)6:38 [ED. Have replaced obviously mistaken initial numbers with algebraic symbols, I was only paying attention to the last bit of number...], and that it was pretty much the same in each case... not, I suppose, certain beyond a reasonable doubt...)

(My records suggest that I did a supposed-to-be-timed-500-but-we-stopped-at-450-accidentally very-hard-effort swim in September around 8:40. I was certainly not swimming at nearly such hard effort this time. Today I could have done a couple more at that effort level for sure. And my swimming conditioning must have improved quite a lot since September. But is there really such a big speed difference between my current easy and harder swim paces? I was doing more like 10:20 when I swam those ones the other day--though that really was almost dawdling pace, a stroll rather than anything else.... Hmmm.... )

Then I did 4 x 100, alternating evil drill 100s of right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, free with 100 IM (fly drill).

3100 yards?!? Good, that's quite a lot for me, it was certainly most enjoyable...

[Further ed. It is now nagging at me, this is going to make me crazy--but yes, I took a bit more than a minute rest each time because of wanting to start on a clear interval--it seems to me plausible and vaguely what I remember plus what I can plausibly reconstruct that I might have swum 4:48:00-4:56:38-9, 4:58:00-5:06:3X, 5:08:00-5:16:38. Something like that... I must just stop thinking about this, I will do a timed 500 one day this week and get a better idea, this is absolutely hopeless!]

Saturday run

A particularly delightful run this morning with S. (Who says his wife H. always asks him, "But what do you two talk about when you run?" S.: "There's not much conversation, really--just a lot of heavy breathing!")

I was feeling tired and hay-feverish beforehand, but as soon as we got going, it was great. Just the right effort level for pure enjoyment--hard but not too hard.

I think that my HR range for Zone 2 has really gone significantly up--I was in the low 160s during various stretches, and certainly breathing harder than I would on a long slow run, but still feeling very much physically comfortable.

Mmmmm, speedwork in late May and June, I am looking forward to it...

7.1mi., 1:05:46, HR avg 159, pace avg. 9:13, pace max 5:49 (probably for about 2 seconds only and on a downhill, but still! We had a good finish-line run, too...)

Friday, April 25, 2008

All in the family

Triaspirational sister-in-law Jessi's suspension training class is on TV! Very exciting...

Thursday, April 24, 2008


1.0hr. trainer, 0.33hr. run (zone 1/2)

Low morale. Hay fever contributing to utter physical wretchedness!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tautological Tuesday swimming

Mental insanity is making me crazy!

I was slightly worried that things were beyond even swimming's power to remedy, and in fact it was not a set conducive to great internal delight (several people will be reading below and wondering why in the world I do this by choice!), but about two-thirds of the way down the first length of butterfly on the last set I suddenly felt rather blissful...

I am sick of mental insanity, I am going to do something more productive about it instead of just complaining!

(Actually I spent the first half of the swim thinking about how I might have to switch to a strictly factual mode here at Triaspirational for the next couple weeks, because otherwise I was going to be spouting quantities of grim despair! Hmmm, that was an overly melodramatic thought--I am always so talkative here that even going temporarily laconic would be self-dramatizing in a teenagerish way, arghhh!)

I hope it does not sound as though I am complaining about my job, in fact I have the job that most suits me of all jobs I can possibly imagine and I really love it (had a great class this afternoon BTW), but it goes on a very boom-or-bust cycle--boom-or-bust within the week, and this semester it's the Tuesday-Wednesday bit that's rough, and boom-or-bust within the year, with April as a definite low point. Even at this time of year, I definitely have the time to fit in some 'real' work (i.e. writing of my own), but no resources remaining to dig in on anything new or serious. Combination of exhausted and intellectually understimulated = recipe for utter mental insanity!

(I was having a strong symptom the other day, which I recognized with mild alarm--the deep conviction, which I only barely prevented myself acting upon, that life would be greatly improved if I threw away about 80% of the things in my apartment, including most of the furniture, leaving me with a fairly monastic cell, many fewer books, some lovely empty bookshelf space and a beautiful set of highly organized files. In fact I do not much enjoy tidying up, so I was able to prevent myself from undertaking this project. But I must sit down properly this weekend and sort out a plan to carve out time for some writing, it is all very well channeling all this anxiety into triathlon training but the taper should start next week and I really am going to be going crazy if I do not have something useful and reasonably interesting to do once I cut down training hours!)

All right, now I will get off the soapbox...

Warmup: 700 yards as 100 free, 50 scull, 200 IM, 50 scull, 300 free

First set (modified for me, with goal of working on this problem of left arm being much worse than right re: high/bent elbow, entry, etc.): 8 x 100, odds as right arm, left arm, full catch-up, swim by 25 and evens as free swim focusing on form

Second set (abbreviated/modified also): 3 x 100 IM no free (50 fly on first one, 50 back on second, 50 breast on third--the Jim Bolster style!), with 2 x 50 free on 1:00 in between.

The IM was like a lovely reward for sticking it out through the tedium of the first set...

Total: 2000 yards (hmmm, not bad, I really did feel like I was doing the most negligible and remedial workout compared to everyone in the other lanes, but it is a good time right now to work on technique, small technique improvements over next couple weeks could definitely help my race swim whereas I'm not really going to pick up conditioning-type speed in any way that affects that swim--in fact in general I am still at a stage where technique will affect speed more than almost any imaginable conditioning...)

p.s. In the category of never too late to learn something incredibly obvious and foolish, I announce with relief that I now understand why my bathing cap is constantly slipping off my head, so that at least twice during each workout I have to stop and tug it back lower down on my head. It is not because I have a monstrously large head. (That said, I do have a fairly large head.) It is because bathing caps have an orientation, Coach Henning did a demonstration and showed me that really the Tyr logo has to go on the sides rather than front-back! He expressed remorse for not having thought of this before, since several times he has asked me whether I am having a problem with my bathing cap, but I really thought it was just a problem with the shape and size of my head! ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday run

A nice brisk one with S. Just over five miles--we took the clockwise loop from Runner's Grove, went fairly hard round the north end of the park and stopped for water at Engineer's Gate in hearty agreement that we should run the rest of it slower! Cut back across the 72nd St. transverse instead of doing the full six-mile loop.

Very enjoyable, particularly once it was over!

5.06 miles, avg pace 9:40, max pace 7:08

(Not giving avg HR because I do not believe what the device tells, really we were in the upper 150s and low 160s for most of the run, this is reflected in the device's lap-end heartrates, it was simply not HR avg 151--I think the device has a messed-up algorithm, it has not been behaving properly recently...)

I know I say this very regularly, I am a creature of habit and I like my days to be fairly similar to each other & my weeks to be also fairly similar to each other, accordingly I regularly think the same thoughts and post the same observations on my blog--but I do like running with S., he is just a faster runner than I am, he keeps me up to the mark! Otherwise I would be doing all endurance training and never get any faster...

(I am going to do my damnedest to get faster this summer, though.)

Bicycle-related progress: thanks to the kindness of strangers, I have a mechanics tutorial set up for Saturday afternoon. Tire-changing, putting wheels properly back on afterwards (and getting them off in the first place!), detaching and reattaching pedals. Also the coach of the Columbia cycling club in a follow-up e-mail offers this very helpful link...

Monday gym

Good workout with M. Was feeling very groggy when I got up, hay fever on top of usual sleeplessness has been trying these last three or four days, but exercise dispelled the feeling...

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Tomorrow's no good, but I think I can fit in a one-hour trainer ride on Tuesday morning. I must have a couple really short but strenuous ones this week, they will be crucially beneficial! The race is only four weeks away, so this next week and a half are pretty much it for building fitness--after that it will mostly be (at least as far as the bike is concerned) trying to claw my way to some confidence outside...

Sunday trainer

I am sorry to say I just called it on the trainer ride at 2.0hr. instead of doing the whole 3.0hr. I intended.

I was already doing the slothful person's version of Spinervals 13.0, i.e. sitting instead of standing for all the standing bits, and was growing increasingly puzzled by the problem I'm having with these trainer workouts. Decided I had better just stop--I need to eat a proper dinner (I left this workout much too late, I must be better about that!), I need to do laundry! I was behind on meals all day yesterday, and now it has happened again today--not conducive to the best possible workouts.

Here's the difficulty. If I set the trainer resistance low enough that I can follow the gearing and cadence guidelines on the DVD, I'm just barely working in the bottom of zone 2 as far as HR goes. If I raise the resistance, I can no longer even approximate the right cadence. Which seems totally counterproductive!

(Actually as far as bike fitness-related regrets go, my single biggest one right now is that I didn't get that cadence-meter fixed sooner, or else check in more consistently on cadence in the winter the old-fashioned way [i.e. counting!], because I do not think I have done the neuromuscular work necessary to really "set in" a cadence of 90-94 or so. This is a pity, that's a thing to work on in coming months...)

I don't think this is a technical problem, I think it's just a manifestation of my current fitness level and the nature of the trainer. My basic aerobic fitness is fairly high, so I don't super-easily tip up into zone 2 from zone 1, and I even have fairly strong legs, but I do not have cycle-specific fitness that will let me work at zone 2 intensity for a long period of time like this.

For my ninety minutes on Wednesday, I'll do the sequence of shorter segments on the Spinervals TimeSaver workout, and really concentrate on getting HR high--and then I'll run five miles off the bike, so that I get a good brick in.

And I will try and have a really solid attempt at doing this workout again next Sunday. I am regretful that I have skimped on both bike workouts this week--I am still with a steep learning curve on this stuff, it is not as simple as pure slothfulness though there is certainly an element of laziness and procrastination also!

I have been thinking often recently about this question of uneven development, mostly as it concerns swimming. Maybe I am mistaken, but I feel that I am at this particular juncture an annoyingly (to myself rather than primarily to others!) anomalous swimmer. My speeds, even on stroke, are at the very slow end of what you might find in a masters workout, but I am actually not much different of a speed than someone who, say, was the slowest member of a HS swimming team and swims semi-regularly but doesn't do a lot of other stuff. My fitness, in other words, is very reasonable, as you would expect based on my fairly regular attendance at masters swimming, and I can certainly swim longer and harder than some of these slowish swimmers. In that sense I am fully competent.

But I am purely incompetent (in a literal rather than judgmental sense) on a lot of things that are second nature to these swimmers. Flip turns, of course, but those at least I'm addressing--I don't know at all how to deal with the other turns, and I have not really figured out how to do that "pullout" (is that even what it's called?) on breaststroke. Backstroke is particularly demoralizing because of this--even a nice smooth length of backstroke is then mentally undermined by the clumsy maneuvering I have to undertake at the other end. And my technique on breaststroke is particularly bad (or perhaps it is just that this tends to be the non-freestyle stroke that many swimmers prefer, and they do it better than they do fly or back!).

What I need is a masters swim that has a stroke clinic & a coach who will help with this sort of thing (and a dive start, that is another thing I have never even tried to do in my life, and it is frustrating watching these perfectly slow swimmers with whom I am fairly evenly matched on a 100 IM and could beat on a timed 500 freestyle gracefully dive in at the beginning of their workouts!). I want to be able to do everything properly!

ARGHHHHHH! What I really need is to go and eat, I must stop blogging and get on with the business of the rest of the evening! The other thing I need is to make a bit more space in the training schedule for bike-related things, because given that it is much my weakest link it is not appropriate for me to have only two workouts in the week, and to cut both of them short due to having left them till too late in the evening!

Schedule for coming week

Mentally gearing up to get on the trainer, but it is more enjoyable to contemplate the week's projected training schedule...

Monday: am: gym; pm: run 6 with S. (Central Park loop)
Tuesday: pm: masters swim
Wednesday: pm: brick (1.5hr. trainer ride plus run 5)
Thursday: am: endurance swim at Riverbank
Friday: off
Saturday: am: run 8; pm: masters swim
Sunday: 3hr. trainer ride plus run 3-4

Today, Wednesday and Sunday will all still be trainer workouts, and I must get the most out of them fitness-wise, but after that I'm slightly moving into taper mode (still with one more long training run at the Brooklyn half on May 3, though, and a longish but not very strenuous bike ride on May 4--that's two weeks before the big race) and will unskewer the bike from the trainer and just get myself outside for whatever kind of a ride seems best...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday swim

Lovely, lovely, lovely!

(No time for lavish blogging, though--friend has an extra theater ticket, must be showered and out the door in about 18 minutes, arghhh!)

I followed Coach Brent's advice (with Coach Amy's endorsement) of what to do for a more race-specific workout. I warmed up for 500 yards with a mix of freestyle and freestyle drills, then did the following most delightful set (proper swimmer would find tedious, for me it is delightful because it is what I can actually do quite well and with great enjoyment--I did open turns and concentrated on form/technique):

5 x 500 at easy pace with 10 seconds rest between

Used my HR monitor to time each set. A little touch-and-go, that device is not really designed for this purpose, but it looks to me like the splits were really fairly even: 10:21, 10:35, 10:40, 10:33, 10:25.

Very comfortable--really if I had all the time in the world (and some reason to!) I would totally have done five more just the same. I would think that's about the right effort level for the race. If anything, I should go a tiny bit easier, but it's pretty much right...

Total: 3000 yards of a fully respectable and highly enjoyable persuasion

Saturday run

A very solid long run just now. Enjoyable. Not as easy as I thought it would be.

(Expectations were unrealistic, needless to say! Why did I think it would be a total breeze? I haven't done a run that long since the Queens half in February--and I did again today what I have done several times recently, which is get up and eat a modest breakfast on assumption that I would go out shortly to run, then dragged my heels all morning and not really left the house till closer to noon, at which point I am rather underfueled. Had half a packet of Clif Blox around mile 6 and the other half around mile 9. Lemon-lime flavor, which I had not tried before. Most acceptable--the Blox are more chewable in warmer weather also! Must go and eat immediately--I now barely have time to digest before swimming, arghhhh!)

11.5 miles, avg pace 10:20, avg HR 151

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mental insanity!

1. Suffering very acutely from mental insanity today. Cannot say if it is the cause or the effect of last night's sleeplessness, but it is ridiculous, I am completely frenetic, I am strongly hoping it will go away again soon!

2. If I were a Puppy, the Person I lived with would be firmly putting me in my Crate and saying, when I whined and started bouncing off the walls of the Crate, "Sometimes it is necessary to be cruel to be kind..." But People do not have Crates to help them calm down! I need a device like one of these...

3. An honest person turned in my watch to the Lost and Found!

4. In a way, one is more likely to get back a watch than a bathing suit/cap/goggles unit. The latter, although the replacement value is fairly similar, sort of has the aura of trash--I am not so sure someone would bring it upstairs to the front desk, and then sooner or later it will get stolen or thrown away...

5. Because it is a university gym, there is some sense of community that makes it more likely someone will turn in a watch--the one I left on the treadmill last year was at the local hole-in-the-wall gym, which is very pleasant in its mildly sordid way but where I am not perhaps so confident a sense of community would incline most members to have a helpful and communitarian attitude towards found possessions...

6. However on the wrist-mounted device complementarity front, my Polar monitor is gradually losing one function after another. It has always been irksome transferring data to the computer, but now the SonicLink function seems to be working only very erratically. And the HR readings are quite erratic also, it has been jumping around and giving me some singularly farfetched numbers that I can tell have nothing to do with my actual exercise. I think I must get a new one, worth trying something different to see if it will be better?

7. So my run data is not very precise. About 3.5 miles, easy pace. I went out around five, feeling hungry and thirsty and tired and altogether low-energy. Just warming up by the time I was nearing home, I did not have time for a long one! Did some strides at the end, reminding myself what 7:40 pace feels like.

8. Part of mental insanity symptom is that I am thinking about a million different contradictory training things! I want to run long and slow, I want to run fast intervals, I started second-guessing myself (but have now stopped!) on which fall marathon to run, etc. etc. etc. However I feel I sorted a number of useful things out, with the help of a lot of very patient e-mails full of Caymanian expertise.

9. I hereby firmly state that I will not race the Brooklyn half-marathon on May 3. I will do it as a STAID AND SEDATE training run at 10:00 pace!

10. Post-run, I forgot to drink any juice (the lure of e-mail!) and it was already time to go and swim. Under-fueled!

11. Nice swim, though!

12. Tomorrow's rest day is probably not going to help my mental insanity, though who knows, peace and quiet might be beneficial. Saturday's exercise schedule should calm me down: run 12 miles, slow, in the morning, and then go and do a race-specific swim in the afternoon. The plan: warm up with some freestyle drill, then do 5 x 500 at a very comfortable speed with only maybe 10 seconds rest. Concentrate on technique and even pacing.

Today's swim:

600 warmup as follows:

300 choice (I did 100 free, 100 back, 100 IM)
200 kick-swim by 50 (fly, breast)
100 build (but instead I did freestyle drill--right arm, left arm, full catch-up, swim)

4 x

100 free
75 breast
50 back
25 fly

(I just did 10 seconds rest for the first two times through and five seconds for the second two rather than worrying about intervals)

Not enough time to do a proper job with the last bit, so I just did 200 free cruise, 4 x 25 drill, 50 build and then it was time to stop. Call it 1950.

Further afterthought

Once I suggested, as a joke, that I should keep a running tally in the sidebar of how much money I spend each week on triathlon--Wendy thought it would be funny and interesting, but I thought I would be ashamed!

Which I mention because another notional triathlon-related expense this week is that I left my watch in the pool locker last night. I meant to go back today and search for it, only I forgot--I have a strong feeling it will be altogether gone by tomorrow. We will see...

I was more upset when I left a bathing suit & cap and goggles there one night this summer. I went back about five times to look for them, it was not good judgment. If this watch is not in the lost-and-found or the locker when I go there tomorrow, I am writing it off and getting another one...

(I left its identical predecessor on a treadmill at the gym last spring. I am not actually especially careless with my possessions, usually I do not particularly lose things--I have slightly just mentally assigned triathlon some tithe of lost things, I think it is unavoidable when one is often changing from one set of things to another in a non-home environment...)

Triathlon is an expensive hobby! But we will hope the spirit of triathlon is appeased by my sacrifice and grants me prosperous racing conditions in May...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bicycle-related question...

All right, I am going to appeal to the wisdom of the internet before wasting any more money!

Where I think I went wrong (aside from not having really looked at things online first) was in using the word pump rather than inflator...

This or very similar is what the store that sold me my bike last summer mounted on the frame for me: the Blackburn AirStik. I did not buy any CO2 cartridges or an inflator at the time because my temperament is such that I could more easily envision myself doggedly but happily using a tiny pump rather than anxiously using up a cartridge of which I would only have one or two and which I might accidentally discharge in a squib-like manner!

This is what I bought today: Second Wind MTB Co2 Hybrid/Compact Hand Pump. It has a nice feature which is the CO2 cartridge in a little plastic frame that clamps onto the pump and is also attached with a velcro strap. It is much squatter and wider than the other one, so it will not fit into the plastic bracket that holds the current one to the bike. Neither will the plastic thing that holds the inflator to the pump

So: what do I want? A mini-inflator like this one that I put into my pocket or into a bento box or wherever else I can stow it, plus an extra cartridge? (Tiny little seat bag is already jammed full with tube, tire levers and multi-tool, there is certainly no way I can fit anything else in there!) Can such a thing be obtained with this appealing little plastic frame and velcro bit like the one I bought today, only in the right size, so I can attach it to the pump I already have? Or is there some homemade solution to the problem?

Or is the new one I have bought superior to the old, and should I (tediously) see if LBS can attach it to frame? (But they will be annoyed that I did not buy it from them rather than from other slightly-less-local LBS! I cannot buy another one just for etiquette/politeness!)

Thanks in advance for attention to this matter!

Demon robots!

It was a day of epically triaspirational procrastination. The weather was very nice, I thought optimistically I might actually ride outside, only when I got home at one I did what I have done pretty much every Wednesday this semester (my teaching week is tiringly front-loaded, I kind of go crazy working from Monday to Wednesday midday...), which is collapse into bed and sleep for three hours!

Then I went and did a triaspirational errand, which initially made me feel very accomplished: I purchased a pedal wrench and a number of CO2 cartridges with a pump! However when I got home, I realize that really I have bought the wrong thing--I have a small frame pump already, I only needed the cartridges and mini-pump, and this one is a different size so I cannot substitute it for the one I already have (nor will the CO2 inflator attach to the existing frame pump). It cost $30, so I should take it back to the store, only that takes us into the territory where round-trip subway fare plus time spent are actually not worth it, I will just order the thing I really need online and see if I can make it over there in some not-inconvenient-and-several-hours-blowing way. At least I have the pedal wrench...

And then I meant to have a longer trainer ride, but it was one thing after another and I left it rather late, so I have just had a one-Buffy instead of two-Buffy ride. Zone 1: I simply cannot seem to get my HR high enough if I am not doing Spinervals. Hmmmm...

(A good episode, Willow meets a lovely fellow online only he turns out to be the Demon Moloch released from a medieval book onto the internet via a scanner!)

Tomorrow will almost certainly be a more productive day, but I am sorry to have wasted today's riding opportunity, that was not much of a workout. I will try not to have another wasted one like this--if I am going to do it indoors, I should have higher-intensity Spinervals and at least be building fitness...

"A very silent, very swift swimmer"

Two nice swimming-related bits in this week's New Yorker. The first is an essay by distance swimmer Lynne Cox chronicling her swims in the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, following the path of Roald Amundsen. Unfortunately not available online, but here she swims in Baffin Bay (in a regular Lycra bathing suit!), through ice floes with a friend in a kayak leading the way:
I dragged my feet as I walked slowly into the water, so I wouldn't step on any sting-rays. A chill ran from my feet, through my body, and out along my shoulders and arms.

"This is great," I said, when I reached David. "Let's go to the right." The water felt as cold as it had in Greenland, but I could breathe much more easily.

Swimming with my head up, I followed David around a small block of sea ice and entered an area where there were larger blocks of ice on either side of me. It was like entering a snowy sculpture garden, one that might have inspired Henry Moore--the ice had been rounded and smoothed by the wind and the waves and the tide. To my right was a block of ice that looked like a reclining polar bear. On my left, another resembled a snowy egret taking flight. As I continued through the maze, though, I became a little afraid. There were ledges that extended under the water; David pointed to them with his paddle, but I still misjudged my position moving through the water and hit them. It hurt dully.

I caught up with David, and I gradually put my face in the water. I t was easier to swim that way--my hips were not dragging, and I could see well below the water's surface. It was glacial blue and as clear as springwater. The bottom was a soft, silty brown, and a pure white starfish was resting on a sandbar. I felt more confident as we moved into deeper water, and at the same time I was gauging the distance we had travelled, making sure that I had enough in my to get back. Although my outer body was numb, my core felt warm.

I continued springing through the passages, but I wasn't paying attention to my forward motion. I turned too soon at one point, and got hung up on an underwater ice shelf. David glanced back, and I shouted that I was fine and asked how long I'd been swimming.

"Twenty minutes," he said. "One more crossing of the bay?"

Once I'd finished my final loop, I had been in the water for twenty-three minutes and had covered about a mile. It was my coldest swim--four degrees colder than in Antarctica.
The other one is on a slightly lighter note, sort of (I am never going to swim as fast as this creature!). Certainly less chilly. Caroline Alexander on the aquatic Royal Bengal tiger:
Tigers, the largest of the world’s big cats, migrated to India twelve thousand years ago from south China and southeast Asia; the time of their arrival in the Sundarbans is not known. In the marshy land and brackish channels caused by encroaching tides, the huge terrestrial animals took to the water. “The Sundarbans tiger is amphibious,” Dr. Sanyal said. The tiger’s diet is not only meat based; it also includes aquatic prey, such as monitor lizards and other reptiles, frogs, and fish. The variety of the tiger’s prey—ranging, as one field manual cheerfully notes, “from fish to human beings”—is another advantage that the Sundarbans tiger has over other tiger populations.

It was only nine o’clock when the boat arrived at a neat compound of concrete-block buildings and gardens, where reserve officials and staff, some with their families, lived, surrounded by high, stout wire fencing. The day before, a tiger had sauntered along a creek outside the compound and left its pugmarks. “This was a female,” Dr. Sanyal said, pointing out that the four pads were slightly rectangular, each measuring about two and three-quarters inches. The pad marks of a male would be squarer and broader.

The prints had been made not far from a “mangrove cage walk”—a two-hundred-metre-long path through the forest under a protective wire tunnel, such as one might find in a maximum-security prison. The path ended at a thirty-foot-high watchtower, level with the tops of the tallest trees and overlooking a broad river that marks both the eastern limit of the Indian Sundarbans and the international border with Bangladesh. Historically, bandits have operated on both sides of the border, but the Bangladesh Sundarbans, which is also under protection, is considered the more lawless. The possibility of closer collaboration between the two Sundarbans is being explored, but for now the little-patrolled seventy-kilometre-long river border remains vulnerable to traffic and to poachers.

“A male tiger on this side who hears a female over there will swim over to her,” Dr. Sanyal said. Tigers can swim five miles, so the two-mile dash to Bangladesh would be a mere jaunt. “Once, I was following a tiger in a motorboat,” Dr. Sanyal said, as we continued looking across the river. “And the tiger was swimming faster.” A tiger is said to have clocked more than eighteen hundred feet at seven minutes and eighteen seconds—against the tide. Put another way, a tiger’s time for a hundred-metre freestyle would be a respectable one minute and twenty seconds. “Tiger is a very silent, very swift swimmer,” Dr. Sanyal said.

The Royal Bengal tiger is solitary and “secretive”—the last attribute regularly appears in the language of even the most sober field manuals. A group of tigers—should one be so fortunate to see one—is called a streak. A male tiger can be as large as ten and a half feet in length and weigh more than five hundred pounds. The tiger’s coat is deep amber, the lines of its characteristic black shadow-stripes abstract and sophisticated. Its claws retract, like those of a domestic cat; it “prusts,” or chuffs, rather than purrs, as well as roars. The iris of the tiger’s eye is amber-yellow. The tiger is one of the few anointed animals commonly referred to as “charismatic”; “Nature’s masterpiece of the creation,” to cite a recent book; or, as Kushal put it, “something to look up to,” both beautiful and powerful. The tiger is also a very clever animal, and a very effective predator. Stories abound of its strategic, chess-player maneuvering of prey and of its extraordinary stealth. Every story told to me by a witness or survivor of a tiger attack included words to the effect of “it came from nowhere.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Evil, evil catch-up!

I cannot say it was exactly a blissful swim, nor was it as long as I would like, but it was certainly a very enjoyable and productive one.

I did the warm-up: 4 x 175 (125 free, 50 IM order kick-swim).

Flip turns coming along: I seem to stall once I've tucked and turned, I am still not doing it right, but I am no longer coming down deeply and steeply off the wall, and occasionally I get a glimpse of how it might be in future...

Then I got started on the first set, still doing flip turns & accordingly not really worrying too much about speed. 12 x 75 free, ascending [Ed. That should obviously be descending! But obviously the casual association is that as one is going faster one should be going up rather than down!] by threes (first three smooth, second three medium, etc.).

Around #8 Coach Henning stopped me & made the exact same observation that the substitute coach made on Saturday: my right arm looks good on high-elbow and entry and catch, but the left arm (this is my phrasing obviously, not theirs!) is slightly awful, very straight and windmillish and smacking/flopping back down into the water instead of having high elbow and proper entry and decent catch. He recommended that I do my last four 75s as right-arm, left-arm, full catch-up.

So I did, and it was evilly and wonderfully beneficial...

I only had time after that to do a few hundreds of drill-swim. Say 3 x 100, first as zipper-with-salute, swim by 25, second and third with right-arm, left-arm, full catch-up as before plus one length swim concentrating on technique. It felt a lot better, but I know it falls apart once I am actually swimming for real! Then 50 swim concentrating on form.

(It is possible that these two coaches both independently noticed the wayward left arm because in the last few months a lot of other things about my swimming have had steady improvement, namely body rotation, so that this is more striking. It is more likely, though, that doing flip turns basically just makes my stroke go all to hell!)

(Quote of the day from Coach Henning: "The drill that we most hate is usually the drill we most need to do!")

(Yesterday's quote of the day, from M., who was somewhat laughing at me as I did my squat-with-various-upper-body things on the Bosu ball: "You've got your serious face on!" And I did, it was fairly ridiculous, I could see in the mirror that I looked like I was pondering the fate of the universe--in fact I was contemplating the undoubted need for great mental focus in the inevitable less pleasant stretches of Florida 70.3!)

Total (hmmm, not very high, but they were quality yards): 1950 yards

Tuesday run

Very nice, too--decadent doing it in the middle of the day like this! Low 50s, sunny--ideal...

5.5 mi., avg pace 10:42, avg HR 148

I was thinking a lot over the weekend about an "enough is as good as a feast" mentality versus a "too much is never enough" one. I strongly see the good sense of the former, partly because my temperament inclines me slightly towards the latter (which I feel particularly strongly applies in the matter of books, whether reading or writing 'em!).

With this race coming up, I feel a somewhat insatiable desire to train that is accompanied by a slightly more anxious urge to fit in as much training as possible just to be on the safe side--which is why I have decided (I have been pondering it, but thinking about it just now was a clincher) that I must take one full rest day each week between now and May 18. It pains me to sacrifice the Friday swim, but I must do it--also this is not quite as principled as it sounds as on 4/25 I had a work conflict and 5/2 is the day before the Brooklyn half-marathon, so both of those would have been off anyway. But I will take off this Friday and Friday 5/9. It is ridiculous that it should feel so painful to decide, but that is why it is a sensible thing for me to do!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday gym

I had the most heavenly workout this morning with M. Just one of the really delightful ones where you find yourself able to work extremely hard all the way through--I was dripping with sweat, it was super-enjoyable!

I'm not going to do much lower-body stuff over the coming weeks, I don't want to overdo it on the legs. So we went through a nice version of the usual core routine (3 x front and side planks, cobra, push-ups, "quadruped," V-raise and another core exercise whose name I do not know but which involves bringing up straight legs and arms holding weighted bar at the same time, a minute of jump-rope), then some very enjoyable other stuff.

The two most delightfully evil bits: a deceptively simple-seeming shoulder-press (overhead, and then down to bring elbows together in a sort of perpendicular position at the front) done while standing in squat position on the Bosu ball (you really feel it on the abs!), and holding for a couple seconds in each position; jackknife with palms planted on ground and tops of feet on stability ball, bending legs to bring ball up underneath torso.

Hmmmm, I like both of those...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The puddle contest

3.0hr. trainer ride (zone 2)

I finally broached Spinervals 13.0 - Tough Love! That is a very good workout--the ones that are designed as free-standing and continuous workouts are preferable to the ones spliced together out of bits and pieces.

Of course I am not doing as good a job as the cyclists in the DVD--I am often in a slightly easier gear & riding at a lower cadence than recommended. (I adjusted the resistance to make it a bit easier after forty-five minutes, but I still could not quite keep up!) And I cheated in one significant way, which was that in a long middle set of 5 x 6 minutes where you do one minute standing alternating with one minute sitting, I skipped all the high-cadence easy-gear standing work--it is both a technical and a fitness-related challenge to stand and spin in an easy gear, I cannot face it yet!

All told, though, I feel I did an eminently respectable job. I am going to do this workout again next Sunday, I really liked it...

(Real cyclists will be ritually groaning at the evidence of my extreme procrastination re: riding outside!)

Avg HR 133, max HR 156

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sufficiently triaspirational Saturday swim-run

Enough is as good as a feast.

That is a proverb I have always liked (I associate it with my grandmother, though I cannot say for certain whether I ever heard her utter it!). Also it is the way I felt about today's training! It was quite a lot, but not at all excessive. Enough was as good as a feast!

I meant to do my run in the morning, but a cascade effect over the last few days led to a series of other things being put off till the last possible moment and in fact I spent the middle of the day today in a frenzy hunting down books at the library and cutting and pasting bits of poetry for handouts and rather frantically getting down some sort of a talk for this dean's day presentation at 3! I did not get up early enough, that's the fact of the matter, and I spent the hours last night when I could have been writing the talk lavishing attention on my slightly-neglected-this-week other blog...

1.0hr. swim, 1.5hr. run (zone 2)

First, the swim! Very enjoyable. A substitute coach gave me some useful advice on my freestyle stroke--I felt she had a good eye. I only had an hour in the pool, as it was impossible to detach from post-lecture conversation promptly at four, but it was a good full solid hour so I cannot complain.

Warmup: 200 swim (with flip turns--and strange to say, they seem to me distinctly better these last couple days--of course, then I didn't do that many for the rest of the workout, probably I will have forgotten how again by Tuesday!)

4 x

2 x 25 drill (I did 2 of each stroke)

1 x 100 IM

2 x 25 fast (these I did all free--I do not really have fast yet for the other strokes...)

Then I skipped straight to the second half of the ladder set due to time constraints:

3 x 100 free on 2:05 (swimming solidly 1:47-48, with fast open turns and a good kick off the wall)

200 50 distance-per-stroke/50 catch-up (yes, commenters from yesterday, after the first 200 I was deeply regretting my sanguine words and rather wishing that one of you was there to give me official permission to substitute in some other drill on the next bit! No such luck...)

2 x 100 free on 2:00

200 50 DPS/50 catch-up

2 x 100 free on 1:55 (by now it should have been 1 x, but since I skipped the 5 and the 4 I felt I had better do a couple on the quicker interval rather than just one)

Then after the coach gave me stroke feedback I did 4 x 50 drill-swim (a couple ones with finger-drag, a couple with zipper), and I closed with 100 swim with turns.

2400 yards total (not bad)

It was about half an hour later by the time I was leaving my apartment to set out on the run. Lovely weather, it makes everything seem less complicated, though I also do not see why we have to go straight from the 40s to the 70s--what happened to the 50s and 60s?!?

Ran over to Central Park and did the full loop. Very minor problems in first three miles or so--not exactly a stitch or a stomach-ache, more like small-fry hybrid offspring of two, only not very intense, wouldn't have stopped me running. I associate it with fueling issues rather than muscular fatigue. I took a gel and some water at Engineers Gate and used the boathouse bathroom and after that everything was fine, in fact it felt pretty great. Nice day for a run!

9 miles, avg HR 154, avg pace 10:20

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday swim

Weather was lovely yesterday, colder and overcast today--but I forgot that spring coming means I am afflicted with hay fever! Hmmm....

Lovely swim just now. Coach Henning gave me some advice on flip turns, they are definitely coming along though still very bad. My most serious complaint about masters swim is that it is only an hour, it is all very well for the fast swimmers because they can do the whole workout in that time but I had only time for the warmup and the first set, it rubs me the wrong way not to do the whole thing! Saturday is 90 minutes, but I have a work commitment tomorrow that will almost certainly make me lose fifteen or twenty minutes at the beginning, most irksome...


150 free
100 IM kick
50 back
200 free
50 breast
100 IM drill
150 free

First (and only) set:

25 x 50

ODD sets stroke, EVEN free

First 5 (I did back): 2 kick, 2 drill, 1 swim
Second 5: catch-up free (EVIL, evil drill, v. beneficial...)
Third 5 (I did breast): 1 kick, 1 drill, 3 swim
Fourth 5: swim free
Last 5 (I did 3 back, 2 breast): all swim

And 50 free to cool down and squeeze in a couple more turns. Call it 2100, though honesty compels me to admit that I might have only done 4 x 50 catch-up free (the flip turn consultation was in the middle, and wishful thinking might have made me ready to be done with drown-intensive swimming!)...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One-Buffy indoor cycle

0.67hr. trainer ride (zone 2)

I fiddled around with the resistance until I found somewhere I could ride very comfortably with cadence in the 80s and with mild concentration in the bottom half of the 90s. Got HR pretty solidly in the 140s for last fifteen minutes or so: avg HR 130, max 150. I think I am just looking at a pretty low race-pace HR (120-135 rather than 140-45), in theory bike HR zones should be rather closer to the run ones but I think in this case they will only come closer once I have built more bike fitness. It will come higher when I am riding outside, I feel certain...

(Actually I am feeling very cheerful about the whole thing, I have made guilty but happy procrastinatory mental adjustments that involve doing a lot of trainer hours this next week and putting off the evil day of really working on riding outside. Also today I made travel plans for my bike--via TriBike Transport--and myself, which makes the whole thing seem excitingly real! Fact is, all I need to do is enjoy the next stint of training--that I think I can handle!--sort out various equipment-related things and do what I can to get mentally and physically prepared for the bike section of the race. It will not be fast, but if I am sensible I still should be able to have a really enjoyable race!)

Thursday swim

(Really I should have gone straight onto the bike when I got home, only I am so very fond of blogging, I felt I would burst if I did not write my swimming-related post first! It would be more thoroughly triaspirational if I refrained from blogging until I had finished both parts of the workout...)

It was a good one this evening, I think. I realize I have been slightly discouraged about swimming in recent weeks, mostly just because I am still at this frustrating stage where doing flip turns (of a sort!) makes my swim much less enjoyable and yet they must be done or I will never learn to do one properly. I did them on the warmup lengths, it was dutiful but discouraging, but the emphasis on technique for the first freestyle bit made me feel justified in totally ditching 'em for a bit, which of course leads to the most enjoyable swimming! Like switching from writing poetry in rhyming couplets to blank verse...

(And then a very befinned and bepaddled novice in the next lane over actually complimented me on my flip turns, it was sheer blandishment and the fact is that they are still barely deserving of the name but it made me think about perspectival questions, and the way that one person's slow is always another's fast and so forth. We get very easily used to whatever progress we have made and reproach ourselves for not being already and ever-onwards-and-upwards better, faster, etc. etc. but really progress does come in uneven spurts, it is likely that I have been improving in minor ways over the last few months even if I feel like I'm mostly standing still.)

Warmup: 4 x 150 as follows:

100 free, 50 back
100 free, 50 breast
100 free, 50 fly
100 free, 50 build

Main set (abbreviated):

2 x 100 free drill-swim by 25
2 x 200 free on 4:00 concentrating on technique

(This was the bit that put me in a good mood--I felt very smooth and strong in the water [let us not speculate on how it looked from the outside!], and it was quite feasible to swim them in 3:45 and have fifteen seconds of rest--I would call it medium effort rather than hard, I was just concentrating on form and on doing a brisk open turn at each end and getting a really good kick and streamline off the wall.)

4 x 50 drill-swim stroke in IM order
4 x 100 IM, starting with 20 seconds rest and lowering it by five seconds each time

Time was almost up by that point, so Coach Amy gave me the sensible assignment of 200 easy free with flip turns.

2000 total

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday bike-run

1.5hr. trainer ride (zone 1); 5.2 mi. run, avg HR 153, avg pace 9:50

Ten minutes in between, probably, and the bike part (a two-Buffy ride!) was too easy to really be ideal as a brick. I must continue to tweak the trainer resistance--I had it where I could really comfortably keep a 90-95 cadence, but it just wasn't getting my HR high enough even in the heaviest possible gear. I do not think zone 1 is terribly useful, but on the other hand I just need ANY kind of time on the bike, so much better than nothing...

(Really obv. I must ride outside, I know it!)

The run was lovely, though; I felt really loose and comfortable once I got going. I think I am seeing the benefits of last week having been a recovery week? Also the temperature finally made it up into the 50s, I was running in short-sleeved shirt and triathlon shorts and still with daylight at 7pm, very good for morale...

I'm just going to have to scramble through the next few weeks doing as well as I can with the bike training. It is a very bad time of the school year to be trying to do something new and ambitious; I will have to see how it goes. It will sort itself out somehow--but there will certainly be considerable further procrastination!

Aside from the bike-specific concerns, I think I will be well-advised to put an emphasis in coming weeks on longish brick workouts where I am exercising at fairly comfortable intensities for two-and-a-half or three hours. This was two and a half and it felt great, I would have been happy to run for longer if I had not had to rush and get ready for a work dinner!

I'm going to do a short but more intense bike-run tomorrow, if I can fit it in. I felt this one today was good mental practice, even more than physical (that's why I wanted to run for closer to an hour rather than just doing two miles only and waiting to have my longer run tomorrow morning).

I was thinking about likely race scenarios--bike HR and pacing are on the whole going to be quite speculative, and the race is potentially very hot and humid so HRs at higher end. But the benefit of a slow and fairly easy bike ride is clear. I should be able to start the run still in reasonable condition as far as HR/fueling issues go (because if I'm biking at a lowish HR I can perfectly well eat and digest quite a bit of stuff while riding).

My usual HR for a half-marathon is mid-160s at, say, 8:50 pace, tipping up into the 170s for the last couple miles as I push it and pace goes to more like 8:20. This gives me some wiggle room to slow things down and still hope, even with the likelihood of serious heat and humidity, to keep things feeling pretty OK. I am thinking my goal is going to be 10:00 pace, but I am happy to go slower as needed--I will use 165 as a marker to tell me to go more slowly and try and keep myself really solidly in the mid-160s for the first two-thirds of the run, then pick up for last 3-4 miles if I still have anything in me at that point.

(Probably not, I would think I would be lucky just to hit and hold a kind of 10:00-10:30 pace, and all bets are off if it's super-humid--but that will be the idea!)

(I am excited! But I have a lot more preparation still to do, so impatience is conveniently hedged with urge to string it out for as long as possible...)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday swim

Not particularly triaspirational, I would have to confess (for the first five minutes I sort of felt like I'd forgotten how to swim!), but very pleasant...

No coach, and it was pretty much ten past by the time I actually got into the pool, so I did the warmup someone had written up onto the board and then did what I felt like, with an interlude for conversation with new lanemate about the difficulty of trying to convert from being a very flat swimmer to a rotational one!

Warmup: 400 free, 200 IM drill, 200 kick choice (50 dolphin, 50 whip, both with board; 50 kick on back; and 50 6-3-6, since more drill seemed more useful than more kick)

8 x 100, alternating free and IM

That is only 1600, but it really was enjoyable. Was contemplating a swim-bike brick--I have been neglecting that bicycle, it is certainly going to be a very slow race indeed!--but I've got a couple hours of work that must be done this evening and I think it will be more prudent to wait and do a proper bike-run tomorrow afternoon instead.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday catch-up

Well, it was a lovely recovery week, that's the fact of the matter. I did half an hour of mostly just core stuff on Saturday and had a very pleasant run with Brent Sunday early evening: in his idiom, 1.0hr. run (zone 2); in mine, 5.8 miles, avg HR 153, avg pace 10:10! We went south along the river--very windy on the way back, I like it, it makes me feel like I am having an adventure...

And a good gym workout with M. this morning. I was feeling a little groggy due to having got up very early and then fallen back to sleep, but it was a very solid and enjoyable workout in any case--that hour flies by.

My favorite exercise today was a kind of one-legged crunch on the stability ball: one foot is planted on the ground, and as you do your crunches you raise the other leg up with your upper body and lower it when you come down(but never quite touching the ground). That is a good one, all those one-legged things are very useful...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thursday swim-bike

The subtitle for this post is I am the village idiot of all cyclists!

My assessment this afternoon was that I did not have the wherewithal to have an outdoor ride after all (it's freezing, my willpower is in the usual state of erosion that all academics experience at this time of year and most of all I'm just timid--I should take a leaf out of these guys' book!). So I thought I would just do a short trainer ride post-swim, and in the end it was just as well because I had a blinding revelation...

But first, the swim.

Very pleasant!

(Not quite long enough, I was a few minutes late getting started--had to get the laundry into the dryer first...)

Warmup: 600 choice

(I did 200 free--with flip turns, not so dire as the other day either!--and 4 x 100 as 25 kick 50 drill 25 swim for each stroke.)

12 x 50 on 1:15

1-3 free drill as 25 6-3-6/25 distance per stroke
4-6 choice no free (I did one of each stroke)
7-9 free solid effort
10-12 IM switching no free (i.e. fly-back, back-breast, breast-fly)

I didn't at all have time for the whole of the main set, which was a nice descending ladder, but I did a good middle chunk of it:

4 x 100 IM (fly drill on evens)
5 x 50 25 kick/25 swim
3 x 100 solid free on 2:00

2150, quite respectable.

Came home, retrieved laundry from dryer, drank some juice, got on the bike to do Coach Troy's technique/recovery workout.

Hmmmm, it is dispiriting to contemplate the fact that my cadence is so low, I always thought I fell pretty naturally into the 90rpm thing....


All those people on the TV are, like, whisking their pedals round at 100 or 110rpm without, really, breaking a sweat...

Why am I working incredibly hard to try and push it up to 80?

And then it dawned on me...

(I should have known it the other day, frankly. I was startled the cadence was so low, only it is very easy for me to have a low opinion of myself on cycling-related matters, so I was discouraged but not really surprised!)

The cycle computer has no way of measuring what resistance I've got on the trainer, and in fact--people who know me in real life will be laughing at this point, this is so characteristic!--it is on incredibly high resistance so that it is very, very hard indeed to pedal at all...

I got off and fiddled with the knob on the trainer. Then I got back on and started pedaling.

OK, really the speeds the computer gives me on the trainer are pretty much worthless. I am under no illusions that I would be able to bike this fast in the real world--aside from fitness-related issues, I would be in sheer terror!

But I was so discouraged the other day with the low speeds I was getting--and I can now report that once I made the adjustment, I found it strikingly easy to get speeds c. 30mph and when doing high-cadence pedaling it was not at all trying to get it up to 40!


I did one other very idiotic thing today also, which I will note before signing off for the weekend. The ground-floor women's bathroom in the building where I have my office was notoriously grungy for many a year--when I visited for my job interview 8+ years ago, there was a pool of water on the floor and one stall was blocked off with the sanitational equivalent of crime-scene tape, and really it was almost always in that sort of state. No toilet paper, puddles of water, freezingly cold, occasional male prowlers peering over stall dividers, that sort of thing! They renovated it a year or two ago, and in some respects it is quite spiffy now, except there is always a problem with something or other and the stalls are also extremely cramped.

So I was rushing in and out today with a bunch of stuff and a string of student appointments for which I hadn't yet read the drafts, I was in a real hurry--and as I tried to leave the stall I somehow bashed my forehead right into the coathook on the back of the door! It was so painful and disconcerting that I was slightly afraid I was going to start crying--not the emotional kind of crying, just the strictly physiological!

I now have a sort of nub on my forehead (it became increasingly sore over the course of swimming this evening, one does not realize how much pressure the bathing cap exerts on the head!), fortunately covered in real life by my bangs...

(In an urban fantasy novel, it would be the first sign that I was about to sprout some sort of horns that would signal my impending transformation into a goat-woman. No sign yet of cloven hoofs, though...)

Things will be quiet round here over the weekend, because barring a medium-length run on Saturday I am taking the whole weekend off from work and training, triaspirationality notwithstanding! Brent is coming to town (but currently he is stuck in the Miami airport, most trying for him!), and we are going to see plays (I must confess it was the words Mylar and "clear swimming pool" that lured me to that one...) and have lovely meals and do triathlon-related shopping. Most delightful!

Thursday run

Nice shortish one with postdoc J. in Riverside Park. 4.6 miles, avg HR 155, avg pace 10:00.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday trainer ride/reflections on willpower

A shortish one, just an hour. I meant to do the entire 90-minute spinervals workout, but first the DVD kept jamming and then I found my attention seriously flagging. I did eat a PB & honey sandwich around 7 when I realized how late it was getting, I was not actually intensely underfueled, but it was 10:30pm and I decided that an hour was enough and I should stop and have dinner instead of finishing up in a half-assed way. The right decision...

A good article on willpower in the Times today. Nothing I hadn't thought of already, but it is well put: "The brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others."

I have never been a put-it-off-till-the-next-day procrastinator, usually I steel myself and get it done in the end, but I am certainly prone to leave off-putting tasks, horribly, till later and later in the evening--it was the case with taxes on Monday evening, I did not really get started properly until 6:30pm which was very foolish, and it was the case today with the trainer ride also.

The excessive willpower demands bicycling currently places on me are not intrinsic to that particular sport. It could be anything, really. But I have not set cycling up yet in a way that will minimize the drain on willpower.

(Swimming is great now that I've got good evening masters to go to. It's a routine, I show up if humanly possible, I do not have to get up brutally early like I was doing in the fall, I do the workout, it's delightful and not stressful at all except insofar as schedule is sometimes tight. Running similar--I only usually run three times a week, which keeps it feeling like a treat--and when I was finding it a bit of an effort some weeks ago to get back into a routine after being off for work and illness, all I had to do was make some dates with friends for runs and again the willpower question was solved. Ditto, obviously, working out with a personal trainer. It is all just a nice steady routine with no particular strain on the system.)

An indoor trainer ride no longer seems to require an excessive amount of willpower, though it certainly did at first. Outdoor rides still do, though. But taxes and work used up all my willpower this week!

Tomorrow if humanly possible I must get a short make-myself-comfortable ride in, in the lowest-possible-amount-of-willpower-needed way. Regular sneakers rather than cycling shoes, Riverside Park, no fitness-related workout expectations, stop after half an hour if I feel like it (but try and stay out for 45-60 minutes). I would say that in the grand scheme of things I have fairly strong willpower, but that the excessive exercise of willpower certainly comes with high costs, and the trick (this is very true with writing, and certainly with exercise also) is to set things up in a way that it feels like routine rather than a self-imposed challenge of one kind or another.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesday swim

My good bicycle-related intentions were thoroughly thwarted yesterday and today by the need to do evil, evil taxes--clearly this is going to have to be a recovery week and I will return in full force next week...

But I did have a good swim this evening. Short but fairly satisfactory. I cannot say I am really making progress on flip turns, it just seems difficult to find the time and space to practice, but I am a slow learner on that kind of thing and will just have to trust it will come in time. I did 'em on all the freestyle bits, no matter how horrible...

Warmup: 400 choice (I did 100 free, 100 IM, 200 mix free drill and swim--quite a bit of zipper/salute, also 6-3-6)

Main set (in theory twice through, but I finished the first round only at 6:55 and spent remaining minutes practicing somersaults):

300 as 100 smooth free/50 hard kick (can't remember time)

8 x 25 2 of each stroke on :45

200 as 75 smooth/25 fast on 4:10

8 x 25 odds kick even build (2 of each stroke) on :45

3 x 100 as free (2:00), IM (2:15), free (1:55)

4 x 50 choice (1 of each) on 1:10

1800 yards total, short but not bad really. Got a lot of work to do tomorrow and the next day, but should be able to have a decent bike-run workout tomorrow later afternoon/early evening, a Thursday-morning run and a Thursday evening swim.