Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday clinic

Freestyle/turns clinic at Baruch.

Not bad - I think the turn business is something I am only going to resolve by starting to practice them very regularly, I am certainly not naturally good at it but I think I have enough of a handle on the fundamentals that the only way forward is work rather than magical solution from outside, ugh....

I would have liked to stay for the workout, but I couldn't afford the time - I spent an hour before I went to the clinic WRESTLING with this software that I am hoping to use to transcribe the huge heap of manuscript pages I've been writing - it is Dragon Naturally Speaking - I used it a bit a couple years ago, and put it aside for various reasons - but now I can't get it to work at all. The microphone just isn't functioning - and after swimming, I went and bought a new one, and that isn't working either, so it's something to do with settings that I can't figure out and don't have time now to get help on. I can feed the program files from a digital audio recorder, so I'm going to have to try doing it that way instead - after I get off the computer, I'm going to go and read some pages and then see what the Naturally Speaking program can do with them for me...


We did quite a few lengths of swimming (arghhhh, I am under-exercised these last 3 days though), including a lot of catch-up combined with finger-drag and alternating lengths of free and back or free and breast; then the last 15-20 minutes were spent on turns. Maybe 1000 yards total?

(I have to revise my swim distance goals for the year - I said I would try and swim 10,000 yards a week, but I think it is not realistic, I will reconceptualize it as 30,000 yards a month and aim for an average of 1,000 yards/day, which is either one nice little short swim in the evening nearby or else 3 real workouts in the week or some combination thereof - I would like to be swimming more, but the hours are so tight on pool availability, and I would like to be running more miles also, and who knows when I am ever going to ride a bike again, and I am not doing enough strength-training work either! So 10,000/week is not going to happen....)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday run

5+ tempo: I did it with C. and S., it was fun! Data seem questionable - the Pod is telling me 5.56 miles in 47:16, for 8:29 pace, but this is unconvincing, my map says the distance is 5.15...

(We skipped the top part of the loop - S.'s other coach had given strict instructions!)

Our pacing was fairly uneven - there were some fast bits, and then there were some bits where we made an effort to slow down only then imperceptibly found ourselves running quite hard again! Subjectively (it is difficult to say, though) I would have said that we were probably going 8:45 for quite a bit of the time - but 9:15 average pace, which is I think more realistic than the Pod's number, is not bad on a hilly course, probably we were consistently between 8:40 and 9:40 but skewing towards the faster end.

I am feeling slowish (need to stop eating cake!) but strong, run-wise - post-marathon, I dropped off on run miles but I kept swimming very regularly, and feel that I have retained the lion's share of my cardiovascular fitness from the fall. And just as of this week I am having that good feeling of having really built back up some strength and fortitude in the legs - it is enjoyable.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


V. annoyed with myself, though possibly it is for the best - I went to pilates class with all sorts of things packed into my bag for the post-swim race-downtown-to-the-theater trip (Twelfth Night) - I had the clothes I needed to change into, some lotion for dry skin (since last time I went to the theater after swimming I was practically scratching my skin off with insane dryness), a snack to eat on the train so that I would actually be able to concentrate on the play, etc. etc.

Pilates class a.k.a. "core strength" was 60% enjoyable, 15% utmost-despair-and-dislike-inducing and 25% just-plain-bad-for-morale-b/c-of-having-to-contemplate-self-in-mirror; and then I realized at the end of class, as I prepared to race downstairs to 6pm swim workout, that though I had packed all sorts of things, I had not packed my swim bag with suit, cap and goggles!


On the other hand, if I am feeling that upset in pilates class, it might be that going home and having a shower and not feeling so pressed for time is a better preamble to the rest of the evening...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Butterfly clinic

Hmmmm, I am hoping that I might actually have tired myself out enough to get a good night's sleep? It is unlikely, but not out of the question...

The butterfly clinic was excellent, though it brought home to me mainly that I do not really fully understand certain important elements of the stroke! These Wednesday clinics are clearly the way to go - the Saturday ones are good in their way but a much larger group (two lanes' worth of people, say 12 or 13 altogether), whereas this is one absolute top-quality coach and only five swimmers, with a lot of individual feedback on stroke.

Mentally stimulating, in any case. I cannot say exactly what we did - but we were working mostly on body dolphin and then just adding in the couple other components that you put in next - not thinking at all yet about the arms flying forward in the recovery part of the stroke, just letting arms go forward underwater and thinking of anchoring with a good catch and simultaneously breathing (I need to keep my lower back rounded and face parallel to the bottom of the pool, I have the same fatal urge to lift the head that afflicts my freestyle breathing!) and vaulting one's body forward over the anchor. He is doing another one in a couple weeks, I think that really I must do it though it is evilly early in the morning...

Hmmmm, the coach said to me right away what I knew already - I am doing much too much work with arms and legs - and really I hardly have the feel of body dolphin at all. Some pretty bread and butter kind of stuff to work on, eh?!?

Not many yards - call it 800? 200 freestyle to warm up, and then quite a few 25s of various drill-type things with feedback and pondering.

The Antarctic shuffle!

Stealing a few minutes to blog - will not have time for the copious screed to which I naturally gravitate! Numbered points:

1. That was one of the most enjoyable runs I have ever had in my entire life. It was stressful finding time to fit it in, and I am overcome with stress now that I am home again, but the run itself was like a lovely Antarctic vacation from the life of Frazzle City. I enjoyed every single minute of it.

2. No socks are really and truly waterproof enough to stand up to today's conditions! Also, it is a mistake to wear the Injinji toe socks inside the waterproof ones - once everything was really squelchy and drenched with water, there was an unpleasant toe strangulation effect in several places...

3. Conditions pretty bad underfoot, very slow running - not for the most part slippery, but there was an inch of slush almost everywhere, with some variation as to depth and wateriness or solidity.

4. I was a bit late heading out the door, and then ran incredibly slowly (due to aforementioned conditions plus fact that I do not think I am running very quickly right now anyway), so I had to cut it short and only did 14 instead of 16. Given the magically good race-specific training conditions, though, I think that the quality of the run more than made up for the missing miles - also, because I was going glacially (HAhahahaha....) slowly, the total time for the run was an implausibly slow 2:45, so it was very good in terms of time on feet. I will just have to revamp the training schedule and see what I can fit in, there is no point beating myself up about it.

5. Anyway it really was one of those days where I was just saying to myself JOYFUL JOYFUL JOYFUL as I shuffled along, even the undelightful toe situation and the fact that I was soaked to the skin after 1 mile of freezing rain could not impede my enjoyment of this run, it was UTTER BLISS!

On the verge...

... of heading out for that run.

(Novel page quota achieved.)

I cannot say in a more general sense that I felt at all well when I woke up, but I did have a gleam of cheerfulness when I looked out the window and saw the TRULY ANTARCTIC CONDITIONS that await me! It was still snowing a few hours ago, but now it's turned into freezing rain - very slushy underfoot....

In other words, it is a very good opportunity to try out the fleece-lined Chillblocker SealSkinz waterproof socks and the newly acquired neck gaiter!

(Oh dear, I am slightly obsessed with this term gaiter, it is so comical! I will hope to find the product itself tolerable...)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday run/swim

It seems to me very farfetched that I actually made it through this day - but in fact I did....

I skipped "core strength" (I was a bit late getting over to the gym from office hours anyway) and did three easy miles on the indoor track. It was all I had time for - and BTW either my FootPod is playing me false or my easy run pace has become VERY VERY SLOW!

(My work schedule in the next couple weeks is still pretty intense, and novel-writing and school stuff have to take priority over marathon training - TO MY VERY GREAT REGRET! - so I'm thinking I should try fitting in some short ones around whatever else I'm doing, it is not ideal but it is better than nothing.)

Then I went to swim practice, and it was great. The indoor track miles are warm and crowded and not nearly as enjoyable as running outside, I was slightly wishing I'd skipped the gym altogether and done a real run outside. But I was underfueled (I am surprised I made it through the swim!), I do not know that I would have made it out if I'd gone home first, and I have a long run tomorrow, and it was a very enjoyable swim practice in any case, plus lots of mutual consultation about respective one-hour swims...

Warmup (truncated): 200 free, 2 x 75 kick-drill-swim by 25 (first one fly, second back)

10 x 100 with evens free on 1:55 and odds back on 2:20

Ladder (not sure about the intervals on this, they were appropriate but various folks were sitting out bits and we ended up hanging around between times more than we were supposed to, and as a result I now can't really remember the details): 300 free on 5:30, 200 free on 3:40, 100 IM on 2:30, 30 seconds rest, 100 IM on 2:30, 200 free on 3:40, 300 free on 5:30

Very good!

3 miles
2550 yards swim

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ONE-HOUR SWIM!!!!!!!!!!!

It was great, I loved it....

I took a taxi both ways, which is absurdly decadent - but one way of fighting mental insanity (like any other problem!) is to throw money at it - and from where I live to John Jay College is one of those trips that is literally 7 minutes in a $10 cab, whereas one would need to leave almost an hour for the $2 subway ride given weekend construction delays. Cost-benefit situation was clear.

(And yes, I did get my page quota written this morning.)

I got a little nervous waiting around beforehand, but of course as soon as I was swimming, it was all good - it was not a race, and fortunately none of my generous family donors (THANKS!) were sponsoring me by the lap! (Here are the charities TNYA is supporting this year.)

I had seeded at 2:00/100 yards, which I figured was about right, but I had no way of knowing if it would be OK or not, and I was resigned to the possibility that I'd be a bit slower. Took the first 20 minutes pretty easy, focused on staying strong for the middle 20, picked it up at the 40-minute mark and started swimming pretty hard when there were only 10 minutes left to go. I was kicking like crazy on the last lap, but didn't quite make it to the end - however I think I had a very good swim, and my total yardage came in just under 3100 (seeding said 3000, so that is exactly as it should be).

(The best way for me to swim more yards next year will be to become capable of doing flip turns! But this kind of swim plays to my strengths - I was thinking quite a bit in the middle stretch, as I sensed people flagging in other lanes, that doing a regular 2-hour run is very good cross-training for this particular kind of swimming, and it is not what most swimmers do.)

A delightful midday interlude, in any case, though I am sorry the timing proved so incompatible with a long run - it's a beautiful sunny day, though temperatures are brisk. But I have a lot of work to do later, so perhaps it is just as well....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday swim

Insanely beneficial swim! I really needed that.

After only 50 yards I already felt much more myself than I had all day. It is a pity I could not get out for a short run earlier, I think it would have had a positive trickle-down effect on my physiological state more generally....

And I even had the whole lane to myself for the last twenty minutes! An antidote to that very crowded one I had the other day.

I was concentrating on long strong strokes in freestyle and good streamline off the wall - I am doing the one-hour swim tomorrow, I will need to swim strongly and efficiently!

Warmup: 200 free, 2 x (100 back, 100 breast, 100 free reducing stroke count on each 25)

Drill: 100 right arm, left arm, full catch-up, swim; 100 as 50 thumbs-and-salute, 50 swim; 100 as 50 finger-drag, 50 swim

5 x 100 free on 2:00

The last was very good - I started out just trying to feel a hard/strong pace (faster than I will swim tomorrow), then descended the last two. 1:48, 1:49, 1:48, 1:47, 1:44? Something like that anyway. And then it was time to get out.

1600 yards total

No run today after all

Ugh, I am very sorry about this, and self-reproachful, but it seems it was not meant to be that I should do a long run this morning....

Usually I keep most of the negative stuff that goes on in my head to myself, but I suddenly feel I am perhaps giving an ill-proportioned sense of my training and my life in general when I am so unduly rosy-spectacled about everything here!

So I will just note that though I went to bed at 11 yesterday, I didn't actually fall asleep till 1:30 or so. When the alarm went off at 6:45, I felt truly awful - drank a lot of coffee and ate a long-run-type carb-heavy breakfast of cereal and toast, which only made me feel queasy - realized around 8 that I was blearily frittering away time on the internet and that I still hadn't started writing my pages of novel quota (I have a Feb. 2 deadline, which probably will be extended by one week, but I have to write about 1500 words every day without fail in order to make this happen) - dragged myself out of the apartment and over to the cafe I've been writing in every morning only to find it hadn't yet opened, because of today being Saturday - came back home, felt the only place I could write pages was BED - wrote one page and then felt I could only write with my eyes closed - wrote a sentence or two more - fell asleep - woke up still feeling rather queasy, but more capable of writing pages - stayed in bed, wrote quota of pages - clock said nearly noon by this point.


But the pages are written, that is the important thing, and I am going to make sure to have a solid lunch and dinner today, I think I did not eat a good enough dinner last night. Will just fit in a bit of a swim in the evening. Tomorrow I'll do the one-hour swim midday and then run an easy 6 in the late afternoon (I don't think the timing will work out for a run tonight), and then I will make up the long one on Wednesday - that's the first day where I have flexible enough daytime hours.

This 16-miler (the one I did not do this morning, in other words, ARGHHHH!) is one of the three crucial long runs I have scheduled for this round of marathon training, but the 18-miler is scheduled for 2/7 and the 20-miler for 2/14, so even if I leave it till Wednesday, I'll still have 10 days between the 16 and the 18, and will just hope to do steady strong mileage in between.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday run

A satisfying end to a mysteriously stressful week.

I jogged over to the north end of the park and did 3 x the upper loop with C., who I have not seen since November. It was great! We took it strong and steady rather than actually fast, but it was a very good workout - I will hope to rope him in for some more of those.

(It works out well - I have about a mile to warm up getting over there, and a cooldown mile home - but I run harder on the loops than I would on my own!)

I am having mild trepidation about tomorrow's long run, but I simply don't see any way to reschedule it - the prime directive is that I have to WRITE NOVEL PAGES IN THE AM - and I am going to a play in the afternoon and have to be at the theatre at 1:45 - which means out the door at 1:15 - which means home from running by, say, 12:30 at the latest, given need to shower and refuel. That means I need to be out the door for the run by 9:45 at the absolute latest, but a bit earlier would be better so that I do not feel antsy and run faster than I mean to....

6+ miles

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday core strength

Though of course my impulse is to skulk in the back and feel bad at it, I made myself get to class early and plant my mat front and center for maximum evil pilates learning purposes.

It was pretty decent - more core and strength work today, less stretchiness.

Had to skip swim practice afterwards to go to a work-related reception and dinner - it is that time of the year...

1 hour "core strength"

Thursday swim

Hmmmm, not bad, but not really the swim I wanted and needed!

(I had hoped to get away this semester without paying for the morning lap swim, but I am reminded of why I have found it necessary - the lunchtime swimmers are less wayward than the evening ones, but it is still terribly crowded. There were perhaps eight or nine of us in the faster medium lane, with an awful tendency to get bunched up behind the slowest swimmer, ARGHHHH! It was relaxing for a little while - it really is sort of like not swimming at all when it is that slow and crowded! - then annoying; I switched into the slowest fast lane to do some harder hundreds of free, but really that's not right either; in the end I just got out in frustration and went away.)

9 x 100 free with fourth lap as breast (odds) or back (evens)

3 x 100 free hard

50 back, 50 free

1300 yards total

The real problem is that mental insanity is making me thoroughly crazy this week. After about 2.5 hours of internal wrestling last night I finally forced it to a draw by defeating the notion that I HAD TO RUN EIGHT MILES TODAY to make up for the run I didn't have yesterday. I then gained the upper hand over the idea that instead I should run 4 on the indoor track and swim for half an hour to have an 80-minute workout in another form. Given that I had a plan (now slightly modified - Triathlete L. and I are both overwhelmed with work & have regretfully canceled our Van Cortlandt trail notion for tomorrow afternoon) to run 6 tomorrow and 16 on Saturday (NB last long run was on Sunday, so I'm already looking at a ridiculous week of mileage), even this was simply foolhardy - I consoled myself with the notion that I would have a good long swim, but it was NOT TO BE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Short Wednesday run

Ugh, very tired when I got home, which was later than I expected - I had to talk myself into going out at all.

(I have grown thoroughly acclimated to the cold, in fact I like it being in the mid-20s, but I had hoped to squeeze it in before dark, which proved a fantastically unlikely notion!)

It became clear to me, though, that I was so tired that I could do nothing else but lie on the couch and that it would be better to have a short run than to while away an hour doing nothing at all!

I have a 7pm appointment, that was the other constraint, and thus had no hope of fitting in the 8 miles on my schedule (shortage of vim and vigor as well as time), so I just did 3.5: over to Central Park, round the upper loop once and then home).

I feel slightly better now - will pop in the shower and get dressed in real clothes again and head back out.

NB it was the first spin for the new pair of fancy-pants tights I've ordered, they are very warm and good - in fact the description sort of makes you feel like they'd do the running for you if only you'd let 'em!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday core/swim

Ugh - everything I had to do today went pretty well, but I was so tired by the end of the day that I slightly felt that I was going to die!

(In retrospect PMS may have been the mystery factor that tipped me over the edge into utmost distress?!?)

I spent most of the pilates class hoping that I was not actually going to burst into tears and feeling very confused and wondering how everyone else seemed to understand the teacher's instructions so readily; I almost did actually walk out at one point, though it wasn't really that bad, more just that I was in a state...

First half of swimming was fairly awful too - again, I almost got out and went home, I just felt very upset - for the kick on back I was right next to a very turbulent swimmer in the next lane over, and I really felt like I was going to drown, and not psychologically fortified for minor limb collisions that usually I would take in my stride! (Stroke?!?)

Anyway, I felt very slow on the 125s, though by that point I'd settled into a better rhythm, and the fifties were quite reasonable - I was sorry that the lane leader stopped after 8, I would have done some more....

Anyway, I do feel quite a bit better now, clearly swimming was beneficial, and I must keep on going to that pilates class, because even one week of it has been enough to make a significant improvement to my tight thigh muscles - the teacher is very good, I think - it is just that it is not what I at all enjoy!

1 hour pilates


Warmup (severely truncated): 150 free, 50 breast

12 x 50 kick-swim by 25 (3 fly, 3 back, 3 breast)

8 x 125 free on 2:25

20 (!) - in fact we only did 8, there was not enough time and the leader got fed up with it! - so 8 x 50 on :55 (a tough interval for me to keep, I was getting 2-3 seconds rest, but it is an enjoyable workout; as I say, I am sorry I could not keep going with these, but it is not practical once the group decides to stop!)

Swim down: 50 back, 50 breast, 50 back, 50 free

2400 yards total

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday long run

Very good run just now - I am especially elated by it now that it is over! Temperatures rose to the low 30s - it was snowing this morning, but sidewalks were clear by the time I went out this afternoon - really it was rather what I would call perfect running weather...

Mental soundtrack:

Miles 1-3: Gosh, that trail running does some mighty strange things to some odd little muscles! Lower legs - and are those the INSTEPS OF MY FEET?!?

Miles 4-6: OK, you can slow it down, maximum benefit from long runs comes from doing 'em lower heart-rate, you still have a lot more miles to go... No cheating - do not even think about only doing 1 loop instead of 2 - you are behind schedule for this marathon training already, if you do not do 12 this weekend you are well and truly f-ed!

Mile 7: I LOVE RUNNING! IT IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD! I feel as though I am moving along as smoothly and effortlessly as a hot knife through butter!!!!

Mile 8: Hmmmm, buttocks and thighs very numb, is that from cold or soreness?!?

Mile 9: Interesting feeling of increasing soreness in the legs - and yet I am running so comfortably in an aerobic sense, even these hills are not phasing me at all at this pace, my cardiovascular system is still in pretty good nick...

Mile 10: Ah, this is good, the 3 remaining miles are the REAL ACTUAL PHYSICAL MILES BETWEEN HERE AND MY HOME...

Miles 11-12: Hmmmm, curiously enjoyable, I liked this run! I feel like I could go on at this rate for hours more - only my legs would protest!

So, in sum, I would say that I just haven't been putting enough miles on my legs for this to have been a super-comfortable run - I had good miles in October and November, but post-marathon I took some recovery time and am only just now really getting back into it. My last 'long' run was 10 miles on Dec. 31, more than 2 weeks ago, so it is not surprising this one felt tough on the legs; and both Wednesday and Friday, I had tough hills. But it still felt pretty OK, and in many respects very enjoyable indeed.

On the bright side, my aerobic fitness seems very good, and I don't think I've lost the, as it were, fueling-type fitness from fall marathon training - I didn't take a gel or anything during this run, just made sure to drink some water, and I felt I could have gone on a good while longer without fuel...

I was determined to sit in a cold bath for muscle benefits when I got home - I felt sure that this was exactly the time I would most benefit, and I was not particularly cold from my run. Also, the bathroom in my new apartment has amazingly good steam heat!

I didn't have ice, but I ran very cold water - however I really could not make myself stay in it! It felt good on the legs themselves, only my toes were so cold that even poking up out of the water they felt intensely painful, and I decided it was not sensible - in fact it seems to me that in the regular size and shape of bath, if one has cold toes and tight hamstrings, it is very unlikely that one will be able to find a tolerable position for muscle-dunking purposes!

12 miles easy

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday swim

I had to take advantage of the holiday weekend pool quietness - and in fact I am delighted to learn that the gym is open on Monday, I have an evening work/dinner obligation but I might get in a late lunchtime swim if I finish my page quota in time...

This evening I had the lane entirely to myself for ten minutes, and after that was sharing only with a fully competent and quite fast breaststroker! It was excellent.

Unfortunately I ran out of time just at the end, so I missed the last 200 of the ladder, but it was otherwise quite lovely.

Warmup: 200 free, 200 back, 100 fly drill, 100 breast, 8 x 50 drill-swim (2 of each stroke in IM order)

Then most of Wendy's IM ladder (20 seconds rest when it made sense with regard to lanemate's position, less if not): 200 IM, 150 IM no free, 100 IM, 50 back, 50 back, 100 IM, 150 IM no free - then I was out of time so I just did 50 free and hopped out of the pool.


1850 yards total

Friday, January 16, 2009


Mmmmm, I just had one of the best runs ever...

Triathlete L. came over and we took the subway up to Van Cortlandt Park and had a most gloriously strenuous and snowy and cold run (it is 15F, and there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground - I did not want to miss the Antarctic moment!).

It was short, we only did four miles in about fifty minutes - but it's real steep snowy trails, good practice on the downhills as well as the ups, certainly my best local approximation of Antarctic conditions - next time we will perhaps add in a second loop of the infamous 'back hills' stretch!

(An expert's description of the back hills on this well-known cross-country course: "Once over the bridge it is approximately 1200m of constant short steep ups, with a few fast sharp downs thrown in. There is no name signature hill in this back section, just a series of hills that are like body punches to a boxer. No one will knock you out, but the series of them will do damage. At about 1-1/2 miles the runners cross a small road and start the 800m series of drops back down to the bridge. These downs are steep which does not help much with recovery. Many are followed by a sharp turn, but all are very runnable and need to be attacked and run down if you are to get that best time.")

Utter bliss! And we will go up there and do it again next Friday afternoon....

Afterwards we got cake!

(L. had classic carrot, I had red velvet. We ate it with plastic forks on the subway home, it was the height of decadence...)

Gear test: gaiters seem excellent but are not required for conditions I am likely to encounter locally, will put 'em away now I've tested 'em and just make sure they get packed for the trip; YakTrax super-excellent, definitely can imagine using them fairly regularly in the winter, with the proviso that they feel a bit weird when you're running on clear sidewalk and they're slightly skittery on, say, subway stairs (I took 'em off before getting back on the train, and I think they should probably be used fairly selectively, but they were absolutely great on the packed snow/real trail sections of the run, and gave me a great deal of confidence on the downhills); the SealSkinz socks did not get a real test, as temperatures were well below freezing, but I dunked a foot under the bath tap before showering and was pretty impressed with the results, they are definitely better than water-resistant, I am ordering a second pair (this time, the fleece-lined ones!)...

4 miles (but with extra snow/trail points!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday swim practice

I am strangely elated this week - super-excited about getting back to some real training!

V. good evening of exercise just now - I enjoyed the pilates class much more than Tuesday's (better mental focus once I knew what to expect?), and swim practice was great.

Guest coach M. gave us a workout to prepare for the One Hour Swim, the team's fundraising event next weekend (I am doing it, I am very excited, it will be fun!).

Warmup (truncated): 150 free with every third length kick; 2 x 75 kick-drill-swim (1st one fly, 2nd back)

2 x (75 finger-drag on 1:50, 50 build on 1:00, 25 sprint on :40)

The main workout was an excellent and hugely enjoyable pacing exercise (I was splitting a lane with A. and we were swimming pretty much neck and neck the whole time - he was benefiting from my steady pacing and lap counting, I will immodestly add!).

Swim for 10 minutes (strong but not over-hard), counting total; then swim for 5 minutes, aiming to cover half that distance or slightly more; ditto 2:30, then a second repeat on 2:30. Swim 25 or 50 easy between sets depending on which end you ended up at.

10:00 - 525 yards (I seeded at 2:00/100 for the one-hour swim, so I knew this was what I was aiming for)

25 easy back

5:00 - 275 yards (met goal)

25 easy back

2:30 - 150 yards (met goal)

50 easy back

2:30 - 150 yards (met goal)

Then we just swam easy for the rest of the session: 100 back, 100 breast, 100 free

2100 yards total

Thursday miscellany

Good list of various strength-training bloggers' favorite exercises (via Stumptuous).

I need to get back on a real strength/core program of sorts, swimming is better than running as a full-body workout but I need the other stuff too, especially if I'm doing my running all fairly slowly! Have just dropped a line to the voluntary phys. ed. program director to pester about when the spring class schedule will be up on line - I do not understand why they cannot make them up further in advance, it is helpful if I have it before the semester starts rather than when it is already underway...


(1) I am going to do some barefoot beach sprints exactly like that next time I'm at Brent's - those are the same shoes I have already!

(2) Other things I like but haven't done enough of recently: regular and inverted push-ups; dumbbell chest press and fly; jumping rope; burpees (well, like is not the word, but it is a very good exercise); pull-ups (I do not think the CU gym has an assisted pull-up machine, so I haven't done any of these since my Bodystrength membership expired - it was one of my goals to get to where I could do unassisted ones, only in fact I am far from that point still, I am sure I could do it if I made it a high priority but I have fairly high body-weight so it is not an obvious thing how I get there...)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The mud report

Waiting for me when I got home earlier from my run was an Amazon box containing (among other things) John Hanc's highly readable The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon.

I have just read it in one sitting - it is very good, though more along narrative lines and less the mine of information (I am promiscuous, I do not care if it's random curious trivia or useful training tips, it just has to be slightly surprising and shift my worldview a tiny bit!) that I was slightly hoping for.

Anyway, a few small bits that struck me:

- Antarctic tourism was facilitated in the years after the cold war ended by the fact that the crews on converted Russian research vessels ('listening ships') would work for post-cold-war Russian wages, bringing prices down from roughly fifteen thousand dollars in the mid-80s to something still expensive but far more affordable

- Long Island police officer Fred Lipsky's advice: "You can't look at the Antarctica Marathon as a competitive race. You have to look at it as a fast-paced day hike without backpacks, or just a kind of crazy adventure"

- Most useful piece of travel kit which I have yet to obtain: the scopolamine patch for preventing sea-sickness!

- Previous item needed in case of rough seas in the Drake Passage, which was formed thirty to fifty million years ago when the continents of South America and Antarctica split, Hanc writes, and which provides "a gateway between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, a sort of natural 'fast lane' for water to go roaring around the globe"; it is known as the Atlantic Circumpolar Current, and its surge transports 426 million cubic feet of water through the passage every second

- This race is overwhelmingly likely to be all about the MUD, with temperatures in mid-30s - less along BALACLAVA lines (though I must still get one in case it is freakishly cold and windy), and more the GAITER sort of thing!

- One year a skua stole one of the mile markers!

And, finally and (needless to say) most exciting to me, check this out: the ship makes a stop at Deception Island, which was formed by a volcano that remains active: "The volcanic activity below the surface has warmed the waters of its seven-mile-wide harbor to the point that on some days you can swim here" - and some of Hanc's shipmates do exactly that!

Hmmmm, now I slightly have my heart set on having a dip there...

Utterly blissful hilly Wednesday run

Goodness, that was a delightful one. It is about 20 degrees F, semi-Antarctic conditions (but not windy and nothing underfoot, so not really!), and I had an absolutely lovely late-afternoon 6+ miles...

Of note:

1. Frozen dreadlocked hair icicles at the back of the neck - must get hair cut shorter and/or wear ponytail when it's well below freezing!

2. These tights really are not warm enough on their own - I think I should get the thicker/warmest version of this same brand, they are very good otherwise...

I was pondering the constraints of this next round of marathon training as I ran. My hands really are tied on this one, as it were: I've really only got six more weeks to train; I have a book deadline on Feb. 2 whose importance supersedes all other things; school starts next week, and the first two weeks of the semester are really the busiest in the entire school year (we have eight job candidates coming in, which means meals as well as the actual talks, and I need to read nearly a hundred graduate admissions folders, aside from other sundries - this is all in the last bit of January).

That said, there are a couple principles I intend to follow.

First of all, as Brent says, I am training to finish rather than to race it with a time goal - I would like to finish strong, and training even just to finish a marathon is a serious business, but I am not worried about speed. It is also true that having a bit less training time than one likes is a good way of keeping mentally sharp - probably better to be wishing for more miles than slightly burned out on running....


I will try and run four times a week, even if one is just a short one.

(Obviously I will be swimming quite a bit also!)

I will try and fit in a 16-, an 18- and a 20-miler (with 12- or 14-milers in the alternate weeks, but I haven't left myself a lot of wiggle room on this, and it's possible I might need to curtail one of the longer ones if I have any concerns about injury).

I will also try and have at least a couple runs on the hilly trails at Van Cortlandt Park - if it snows, I will make getting up there an absolute priority, since I think it is my best approximation of racing conditions.

But the single best race-specific strategy I've come up with is that for the duration of this round of training, I am switching my 'default' 6-mile run from the flat and relaxing and really quite lovely Riverside run I have been doing very regularly (from 116th St. down to the sanitation pier at 59th St. and home again) for a hilly one in Central Park.

I tried it out today, and it was utterly divine, I will get it on autopilot and it will be great!

The upper loop in the park is much the hilliest, because it includes that great long Harlem Hill; if you just do that top bit and around through the 102nd St. transverse, it is 1.42 miles, according to Coach Mindy's strictly accurate pedometer-measured map.

So the new routine 6-miler involves running at an easy pace over to the park, doing 3 upper loops (i.e. ~4.3) and then running easy home (which also includes a hill up 110th St.). Comes in just over 6 miles; truly and gloriously strenuous!

Aptest (and fortunately only - I do not relish commentary, only I fear it is inevitable when one is a youngish female runner kitted out in full running garb on a cold day when not too many others are out there) observation by a passerby as I toiled up the hill for the third time: "Great workout! I can't believe you do what you do! The world is a great place!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday class/swim practice

Very good swim, too - I really enjoyed that one, though it certainly brought home to me for the umpteenth time how much stronger and faster my freestyle is than my other strokes....

From 5-6pm I went to the "core strength" class. It is not so much what I like, but I thought it was very good in its way, and probably in its not-what-I-like-ness very much what I need. Pilates-based, non-sweat-inducing, non-bulging-muscle-producing, but some very solid core work and a lot of the stretching that I am missing in my sporting life! High-quality teacher, which is the most important thing for me in the fitness class setting. I will definitely keep going through this intersession period and reevaluate at the beginning of February whether I want to sign up for the semester-length class also. I like how it's blocked next to the T-Th 6-7pm swim workout, that is an efficient use of time, and the stretching and body-awareness stuff is really valuable...


Truncated warmup (class beforehand went a bit over, I was trying to extricate myself tactfully but had to wait to give my name to the teacher for her list): 100 free, 50 fly drill, 50 back drill (should have been 200 free, 200 IM drill)

8 x 75, on an impractically fast interval that I cannot remember and could not keep, basically just did it as one continuous swim (we had a new coach who was not very experienced and could not imagine how slowly our lane actually swims - I took things in hand and told him the appropriate interval for the next set, he was suggesting 16 x 100 on 1:40! That is JUST NOT RIGHT!)

12 x 100 on 2:00, with :30 extra set rest after each 4 (I led on these, and it was most satisfying, I felt like a truly competent and useful swimmer - ALSO, though I have not perhaps sounded especially enthusiastic about the core class, I felt thoroughly lengthened and stretched out in a way that wonderfully contributed to my freestyle form, so that was very good!)

100 easy swim

8 x 25 stroke in IM order (two times through, not two of each in a row) on :30 (also unrealistically fast, so it was just like 2 x 100 scrambling inelegant IM with no rest!)

100 easy back swim down

2400 yards total

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brief Monday swim

One last little outdoor swim! 5 x 100 (odds free, evens breast) = c. 700 total

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I have not timed things right to have a run today - I will sort out the running schedule properly when I am back in New York. But I have two amazing sightings to report!

First of all, we saw Stumpy twice, and the second time managed to document his health on camera. Stumpy is the northern curly-tailed lizard, distinguished by his missing limb, who used to live in the "lizard palace," a.k.a. the water-heater closet outside Brent's condo; Wendy provided an excellent portrait of Stumpy here. But Stumpy moved elsewhere after the hurricane in November - namely, to another water-heater closet one floor down! Brent tracked him down there, but I have not laid eyes upon him until today.

The sequel:

January 11, 2009, 3:30pm, in the SUV heading towards the condo parking spot:

JMD (meditatively, summing up): We saw Stumpy - twice!

Brent: And you saw sea turtles...

JMD (plaintively): But no iguanas!

Brent: What about that one?

And it was like magic - I turned my head, and there was the most enormous iguana right downstairs from Brent's place!

I have never seen an iguana right by the condo, though there are several spots they hang out locally (these are the green iguanas, not the rare indigenous blues).

It must have been three feet from tip to tail!

Fortunately the camera was still in the car from earlier Stumpy stalking - I took a few shots for the record, until the magnificent creature scuttled off. We were amazed when it reappeared right next to the garages - Brent got some amazing pictures from close up - what wattles! Click to enlarge.

All photos courtesy of Brent!

Sunday sea swim

Just twenty minutes, very nice too - sea turtle sighting!

1000 yards

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday run

5 warm but easy miles, very relaxing (the number is possibly mildly inflated, but I would prefer not to contemplate the likelihood of this just now!).

I didn't go quite as far as we usually do on this route - there is a first bit where it turns into more of a shoulder than a sidewalk and I have a natural impulse to turn back there - I'm not crazy about running that close to traffic, even though it is perfectly safe - and I figured that after the rather stressful run the other night, I had earned an easy one - I followed the impulse!

(That run, too, is entirely safe - really, mom! - and we were wearing reflective strips and blinky lights and things, but the last few miles are in the dark and on sidewalk or very narrow shoulder right next to fast traffic coming from behind - not good for the Triaspirational nerves...)

Also nerve-racking: got an e-mail from the Antarctica folks reminding us that there really are only seven weeks of training left! Hmmm - I will have to count on general fitness to get me through - I am incredibly looking forward to it, I must confess - it is hard to say - I have not really been tested, I am not an outdoorsy type! - but I am much better suited to the windy blustery snowy sort of conditions than to the warm ones (esp. warm ones involving bicycles), it seems much less daunting than either of my triathlons this past year.

Mantra for times of Antarctica-related-worry: BUT I DO NOT HAVE TO RIDE A BICYCLE!

5 miles

A helmet with antlers

Bicycles in the New York living room (not mine, I hasten to add!).

(Also: toy penguin collection!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday strength

Did a version of M.'s core workout, which I have been sorely missing, plus a bit of upper-body stuff. Very nice, too! As of Tuesday, I am signed on for a month-long twice-a-week pilates-based core strength class, so I am hoping to get back in the routine. Meant to swim afterwards, but realized I am excessively underfueled, it is time for a meal I am thinking...

45 minutes core

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday sea swim

I saw a really big sea turtle - I wanted to follow it, only with just a few idle twitches of its front flippers, it was swimming away far faster than I could follow...

1400 yards

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Strangely tattoed semi-nakedness

Interesting piece at the Independent on high-tech gait analysis for runners.

Tuesday run and swim

OK, that was good. This cold is irksome but if I keep on doing moderate workouts I will not lose fitness, and surely it will go away soon. Wrote some honest-to-god novel pages today, too, so that is good too....

Treadmill workout:

I am determined to make more intelligent use of the local resources. I decided to do an interval workout on the treadmill instead of slogging away at slow hot miles. Swim notation makes more sense for this than the usual way of describing run stuff!

(Conversion chart for mph/minutes per mile!)

Warmed up for 1 mile at 5.5mph

2 x (1:00 run, :30 rest) at 7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5
2 x (:30 run, 1:00 rest) at 9.0, 9.5

1 x :30 run at 10.0, just to see what it feels like to run at a 6:00 pace! Answer: fun, but the leg turnover is a slight challenge, I didn't do a second one because I sort of felt like I might shoot off the back of the treadmill at any moment!

Ran a bit more to cool down - I will log it as 3 miles, though that is overly generous. Then cooled down with a bit of a swim; will count as though each length is 25, then add on a third to account for the dog-leg effect (probably also overly generous, but better for counting morale).

100 free, 100 breast, 100 free, 100 breast, 50 fly drill-swim

Call it 600 yards total

Monday, January 5, 2009

Monday masters swim

Ugh, really I just have a cold - not a terrible one, but no cold is a good cold. I would rather have had both sides of sinus at once - the time lag between the right side and the left side just spreads the whole thing out over many more days!

Swim went along these lines - and in fact I felt very good while swimming and very good while eating dinner afterwards, and then it was a resurgence of the ailment...

250 warmup

5 x 150 as 25 kick + 50 pull + 75 swim

4 x 100 as 25 head up + 25 catch-up + 25 6 kick 1 stroke + 25 swim

4 x 100 as 25 underwater, 25 fast

50 easy back

1850 yards total

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday toe shoes outing

It was very good - I am sorry to say that I woke up on Friday morning with an acute right-nostril congestion situation that I swore was allergies but whose subsequent development soon informed me that it was a sinus infection. Not bad - now subsided into sort of low-level cold-type congestion, but I am trying to take it easy for recovery.

I wore the toe shoes! Which I am happy to report were scorpion-free, despite the fact that I had left them outside overnight as a sand reduction measure...

Ran 20 minutes out and 20 back; I will count it as 3.5, though it may have been closer to 4, I wasn't running that much slower than I would on pavement - the toe shoes mean that I can run on the packed sand near the water. Very sunny and hot out there, a bit too hot for me perhaps!

Then I took a dip in the pool to cool off, and it was lovely. I did do some actual swimming, though it is a bit of a conundrum how to count it - the really funny thing about this pool isn't so much the fact that one has to do a sort of dog-leg swerve in the middle as that the bridge over the slender middle bit of the dumbbell-like shape gives you the impression that you are going to whack your head on something! Turns out that breast stroke is the best suited to swimming under a low overhang...

(This picture gives you a bit of a sense of the shape! Click to enlarge.... Stroke count suggests to me that really once one does both joints, as it were, of the dog's leg, it is more than 25 yards, but I will count it as 25. I realize that the compulsion to enumerate is slightly absurd - I could just call this 60 minutes exercise and leave it at that! - but I always feel that a workout unlogged and/or unblogged is hardly a workout at all!)

2 x 100 free, 100 breast, 2 x 100 free = 500 yards total

One reason I really had to get out for an hour's exercise is that we are having the buffet dinner at Fidel's and I needed to work up a proper appetite!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday run

6 miles easy. Easy but warm!

The last couple miles felt very good - I don't know why it takes me so long to warm up when I'm running fairly slowly, but I should try doing some pickups early on to get the good running chemicals flowing!

I was annoyingly aware for almost the whole run of having eaten a too-large and slightly indigestible lunch - I was ravenously hungry in the late morning post-swimming, but really any large meal earlier in the day before a run comes to seem regrettable. And the annoying paradox of running is that I have now gone (turned on a dime!) from feeling too full to being quite hungry again! However I am looking forward to dinner at Decker's this evening, so perhaps it is just as well that I have worked up an appetite...

Swim bits

I had just a very short dip last night, some swimming in the sea and then a few 'lengths' in the pool (which is non-rectangular in a way not entirely suited to doing laps, though I think I will do some there this week, if you ignore the undulating sides and the funny little bridge in the middle it does quite well!); call it 600. And then a very lovely real sea swim this morning, fifteen minutes out and fifteen back from Sunset House (not as much as a mile, but getting up there). Saw a sea turtle and lots of beautiful fish...

600 yards

1400 yards

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In the news

A great story about a fellow who runs the Boston Marathon course every year on New Year's Day starting at 6am. Thanks to Becca for the excellent link!

Hmmm, I am strongly wanting to run that race one of these days myself - but I agree with the story's drift, that the solitary run through empty streets is far more enjoyable than the one with throngs of people...