Sunday, February 28, 2010

The long road to nowhere

A delightful session just now with Coach Troy - Spinervals 13.0, Tough Love (3 hours). I think this might be my favorite Spinervals workout...

Strip along outside sole of left foot quite sore afterwards - I had some trouble with this last summer and fall, but it's receded as I haven't been doing endurance stuff (i.e. twinges after spin class), but nothing major. Good timing, I guess - I should find a physio when I'm back in NY and get a diagnosis and some stretching/exercises to do for it.

I have hardly been swimming at all! Still a huge amount of swell/chop in the sea today, I think I will avoid it, but I might have a short dip in the condo pool just so that I don't forget how...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday run

90 mins. inordinately sweaty treadmill run.

(I am not complaining though, - a notion was bruited yesterday that we would do our 90 minutes this morning outside at 6am to beat the heat, but though I believe Brent may have been awake that early, he mercifully made a unilateral decision to modify the plan!)

My Polar HR monitor really just hasn't been working reliably - I think I need to replace it (or perhaps get a Garmin instead?) before my serious training begins...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday run/strength

30 min. on the treadmill: 10 mins. warmup, then 10 x 1 min. @ 5.5mph (10:54/mi.), 1 min. @ 7.0mph (8:34/mi.). I did the first and last intervals at 7.5mph (8:00) - sensibly realized, though, that the workout was going to be mentally too strenuous if I tried to hold that throughout! Hmmm, I haven't been running enough, time to start raising the mileage and holding a more respectable weekly total...

(I'm going back to New York on Wednesday, and can figure on losing some exercise time to travel fatigue, but I'm basically going to try and have high-volume training from now through March 14, followed by a week of recovery and vacation. So let's say I've got two and a half weeks - I will make the most of them!)

Then 25 min. upper body and 45 min. core class (only I forgot that the Thursday incarnation of the class is much more lower-body-oriented - it was a pity I already did so many lunges and squats yesterday!).

Strength training and biking must remain my priority, I think, through the next training block, despite desire for more run miles and also the fact that I am almost certainly going to swim in a MEET in April (first time ever!).

I've divided this year up into segments. Block 1 was the six weeks running from Feb. 1-March 14. Block 2 will run from March 22 to May 23, 9 weeks (I'll have a couple of easier weeks in there, but will wait to see how training fatigue accumulates to decide when I'll have them), and will culminate in a 112-mile bike ride and the Harriman half-ironman.

I'll head down to Cayman again at the end of May - only then does the real Ironman training begin - everything between now and then is base-building and play!

(That's fifteen weeks out from IMWI, which I figure is just about perfect. I'm going to train on a modified version of Gale Bernhardt's 13 weeks to a 13-hour Ironman plan, and 15 vs. 13 gives a bit of leeway to accommodate several trips, including a visit to New York in the second half of the July for the NYC triathlon and some extensive hilly bike-riding. That's the original article/plan, by the way; the version in the current edition of Training Plans for Multisport Athletes is a bit different, and I'll have somewhat more bike volume and additional strength training if I can fit it in. This book is in my opinion the single most indispensable training volume for a novice triathlete, and I thank Brent for putting it into my hands when I first ruminated, c. January 2008, that it might be more enjoyable to participate in the Florida 70.3 than to spectate, despite my complete lack of previous triathlon experience!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday spin/strength

About 40 mins. lower body, then an hour of spinning.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I took yesterday off from exercise - I didn't get much more than 3 hours sleep (which I had to remedy with a later-morning nap), and to my chagrin I realized that I was coming down with another lung ailment of some sort. This one's minor - my lungs still feel a bit raw, but a little better than yesterday, and I don't think I'm going to get really sick or anything.

Did 30 mins. on the treadmill along the lines of this workout, only with 2 stints of increasing speed rather than one (I think that otherwise it will only suit those who run really fast!): 2 x 1 min. consecutively at 6.0mph, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0. Really I would think I should be able to get up to 9.0 at least - I will make that a modest short-term goal. It is definitely a different workout than doing one minute hard, one minute easy...

Then I filled in time with 20 mins. easy cardio and went to the 8:30 core strength class, which is very good. I was tempted to go to spinning afterwards, but breakfast was calling and I thought I should let the lungs see how they did with morning exercise before inflicting another stint on them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sea swim!

I squandered my afternoon with irresponsible napping; first I fell asleep while reading on the couch, and then when Brent went out to the office I inexorably made my way to the bed for more sleep! I have no conscience when I am half asleep, that is the trouble...

So I had time only for a shortish swim: 30 minutes in the sea. It's nice out there today - didn't see a ton of creatures, but a very active ray of some sort (with attendant fish!) and something that was perhaps a spotted scorpionfish? I need to get better at recognizing fish species - even on an ordinary little swim round here (there is not much reef right where Brent lives, you can get a more scenic swim on the other side of George Town) I would see at least a dozen different kinds of tropical fish, maybe more.

Also a good day for spotting magnificent frigatebirds hanging in the breezes - that is a bird as glorious as its name suggests...

Sunday run

1hr. - c. 5.5 miles, I'd say.

Took a few short walk breaks - it's a beautiful morning here, not at all hot by Cayman standards, but I am not acclimated to running in temps of mid-70s F with 80% humidity.

It also must be said that I am not one of nature's early risers, but it has to be early here if one is going to run outside - also, yesterday was a very lazy day - we were going to go to the gym at 8, and then we might have gone at 10, and then we were going to go at 3 only we were circumvented by the delivery and setup of an EXTREMELY LARGE TELEVISION!

I think I'll swim in the sea later - this week is going to be a big/good exercise week, I am gearing up for it. I am ashamed to note that I did no strength training this past week - that will be remedied...

Friday, February 19, 2010


In a state of mild elation after finishing the Spinervals "On the Road" Madison ride for the first time. My real training plan won't start until late May - but I AM TRAINING FOR AN IRONMAN!

Now I am off to join Brent for happy hour at Fidel's...

3hrs. trainer (c. 50 miles)

Monday, February 15, 2010


It was an authentic and mildly exhilarating swim-bike-run day, though I think Lauren and I were both slightly sheepish about how little running we felt like doing after we had already swum and biked!

Swim now seems an eon ago - what was it? I warmed up before Lauren got there (we were in adjacent spots in two separate lanes) with 100 free, 50 breast, 100 free, 50 back, 100 free, 50 fly drill; then 100 RA LA catch-up free, 50 free, 50 6-3-6.

The proposed main set (proposed by me!) was instead of doing a long straight swim, but with similar pace/effort - 6 x 50, 3 x 100, 1 x 300, 3 x 100, 6 x 50 allowing (for me - YMMV - I think Lauren was doing 1:40) 2:00/100. I stopped in the middle of the second set of hundreds - lifeguard was giving a lesson in the other part of my lane, but in the meantime spots had opened up and he asked if I'd mind moving. I lost my momentum, Lauren was already finished and it really was time to go and get changed for spin class!

(1800 yards total.)

A very sweaty and strenuous hour-long indoor cycle, then 1.5 miles run @ 10:00 pace. We finished a bit faster - we were desperate to be done! You know you have had a good workout when the orange vitamin water you are swilling in between biking and running tastes like NECTAR OF THE GODS.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday strength/swim

MANY hours ago now (I am not on a schedule conducive to a tight exercise regimen these last few days!):

1hr. strength (30 min. abs class - teacher v. good but class itself rather horrendous, beneficial in terms of exercise - pilates-based - but very crowded and dance-y, neither of which is what I really like - but I would go again - plus independent work on weight floor)

very short swim - fueling had run out, muscles sore from other day's workout, didn't have it in me to swim any longer! 100 free, 100 IM, 200 flutter kick (whip every fourth length), 100 back = 500 yards total

Hot tub dunk...

Saturday, February 13, 2010


(The internet has a more useful answer to today's question than it did to the one I asked on Thursday!)


I have registered!

(It occurs to me that it is even possible that I might ride my bike from the Poughkeepsie Metro North station to New Paltz - that is a novel thought...)

May thoughts

Lauren has sent a link to a race I really want to do - just pondering public transportation options in case she does not want to do it quite as much as I do & I need to get there on my own without a car!

(Metro North to Poughkeepsie, taxi from there to New Paltz?)

(If you do not feel like clicking through the link, it is something very unusual and exactly what would suit me - it's the week before the Harriman Half, which is basically what I will do in late May for a fun and enjoyable day of triathlon before embarking on the true 13-week training plan for my September Ironman. It is a 112-mile bike race, in time-trial format i.e. with individual starts and no drafting - four loops, quite hilly, all right turns & paved roads! Does it not sound utterly blissful? It would be a huge confidence-builder for me to do a full iron-distance bike ride some months before my race, especially as most of my summer riding is going to be indoors, and even as far as outdoor riding goes there are no hills on Cayman!)

Saturday run

Just a short one, alas - I want to swim and strength-train later on, and need to have some vim left for that.

It is a pity I have run so little in the past few months, as I am particularly fond of winter running. We are very lucky in NY - the climate is relatively clement, by northern standards, so that there are only a handful of days in the year where it could truly be said to be too cold or snowy for a comfortable run. We had a lot of snow earlier in the week, but the park service folks are pretty amazing about keeping paths clear, and it's 28F, which I find a very civilized running temperature in the daytime with sun.

It was right to place bike and strength above running for this spell of training, though, and swim technique work and basic fitness is a priority also...

4 miles

Friday, February 12, 2010

Postscript on mileage

There is often an answer somewhere on the internet...

(I had assumed it must convert from watts, not RPM. Those numbers on the monitor are well-nigh useless!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday strength/spin

Did an early afternoon strength workout (core, upper body), then early evening spin (triathlete H. came as my guest, it was fun to see her!).

Counteracted beneficial effects of gym time afterwards with shepherd's pie and Dogfish IPA at the Half King (which has a 10% discount on "dining engagements" for Chelsea Piers members - now I am shilling!). A very nice evening with old friends I don't see often enough; it was good.

NB Lauren and I were discussing the other day the vexed question of mileage on these amazing hi-tech Keiser spin bikes they have at Chelsea Piers - very nice to get watts as well as cadence on a spin bike, of course, but Lauren thought the mileage must be in kilometers rather than miles, it was so much at odds with her real-world riding experience; I said I thought it was miles, and that indoor training is just more efficient.

I was not asking pesky questions today, I promise, but spin instructor volunteered this evening the fact that the distance readout on the Keiser bikes is a MADE-UP UNIT BETWEEN KILOMETERS AND MILES! I am not so scrupulous that I am going to go back and fix all my past spinning mileage totals in my training log, but if anyone has more details on a conversion factor, I will be grateful...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day of bliss

It is outrageously snowy here, and the snow shows no sign of stopping any time soon - I dug out my real winter boots which I have only worn a handful of times since the year I lived in Cambridge, Mass. (2005-2006?), I was glad of them.

I worked pretty hard on Monday and Tuesday (my talk at Princeton yesterday went well!), and decided to take today roundly and wholly OFF - it was a day of play, with novel-reading and exercise EXCLUSIVELY. Headed down to Chelsea Piers on the subway, got there a bit later than I'd planned and only had time for 20 mins. strength before spin class started.

It was a very enjoyable class - my neighbor informed me that I had the easy bike, and it was true! Edifying - I can actually get a better workout on the easy bike, with faster cadence and steadier pedaling in hard gears, which really tells me I shouldn't hesitate to use easier gears when needed if I am not on the easy bike...

Had thought of finishing out some more strength stuff afterwards, but I was hot and damp and hungry - shower and lunch called. I read for an hour or two and digested, and then had a truly lovely swim. It was great! I guess I've been swimming regularly enough recently that I'm back in the groove. Oh, and I did open turns rather than flip turns for my hundreds at the end - I would guess that with open turns I can swim 1:50-51 (i.e. 1:55 interval is fine, 2:00 is pretty easy), but that with flip turns I am scrambling for 1:54-56 - I come off the wall much further and faster with an open turn than a flip. Gotta keep working on those, but in the meantime I might start using open turns again for freestyle bits in TNYA practice, or when I'm doing a hard set on my own.

20min. lower body
1hr. spin


600 free with every fourth length stroke (2 x back, 2 x breast, 2 x fly drill)

Freestyle drill:

2 x 100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, full stroke

2 x 100 as 50 6-3-6 (kick on sides), 50 free

2 x (2 x 50 drill-swim: first 2 front scull, second 2 fists)

8 x 75 kick-drill-swim by 25 (2 of each stroke in IM order)

6 x 100 with evens IM on 2:20, odds free on 2:00

2400 yards total

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday brick

A good workout this evening - I am tired out! Met up with Lauren and went to Dolores's (very good) spin class and then ran three miles on the track. I would never do that run following spinning unless I had someone else to keep me up to the mark - it is a true luxury having amiable and conversible training partners! We clocked in at 29:19, so call it 9:45 miles - not fast, but not bad at this point in the training year.

(It was 3 miles or 30 minutes, whichever came first!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday swim/yoga

Good swim and yoga earlier - it is a particularly pleasant combination.

This is a different yoga class I hadn't gone to before, and I liked it, after getting over initial mild internal hilarity at resonant voice and slightly larger-than-life persona of the instructor - it was less athletic and more breathing- and flexibility-oriented than the vinyasa class I also like, highly worthwhile in its own way and (I thought) considerably more challenging from a strictly yoga-related point-of-view (then again, the flexibility bits are much more difficult for me than the strength bits, so that may be a highly subjective judgement).

A funny conversation mid-swim - I had been sharing the lane with a befinned and bepaddled fellow who was doing his own thing, but finished up my 100s of free just as he was getting out. I had been having VERY negative thoughts during those hundreds - I am so slow, my stroke is so awful, my flip turns make me slower than I was before, etc. etc. - I guess I really should have done them on 2:05 rather than 2, as I had to regroup mid-set and take a minute off to recombobulate, it is really a time I should be able to hold but I just wasn't getting it. (Fault of flip turns and lack of recent swim volume!)

So I popped up to get ready for the final set, and the fellow climbing out greeted me with much approval. I cannot swear to the exact words, but they were along these lines: "You are a good lanemate, I enjoyed swimming with you! Some people are very annoying to swim with, you on the other hand made me think that this would be a woman I would like if I knew her out of the pool! You are a good swimmer!" And it was evidently and wholeheartedly clear that he really believed me to be a good swimmer - it was quite heartening, it put my workout in perspective.

(For the record, I was enjoying the swim quite a bit from a strictly physiological standpoint, it was just the mental stuff that was getting me down!)

600 warmup as 150 free, 50 stroke drill (fly, back, breast)

6 x 100 IM on 2:30

6 x 100 free on 2:00 (only I slipped an illicit bit of extra rest in there)

Kick set with board (ourobouros-style!): 4 x 150 as 100 flutter, 50 whip; 100 whip, 50 dolphin; 100 dolphin, 50 flutter; 100 flutter, 50 whip

It was very good.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wintry run of BLISS!

6 frigid miles

I almost talked myself out of it altogether - I'd projected a long one for this afternoon, but decided earlier that this wasn't wise on grounds of pressures of work & suspicion that my immune system might not be up to handling the aftermath - plus temperatures in the mid-20s (it hasn't snowed here yet, but it's damp and overcast and blustery).

But I am very glad I got out - I LOVE WINTER RUNNING! Especially the part where I turn around at 59th St. and am then running along the river directly into ferocious wind - it is amazingly and wondrously arduous...

Haven't run much over the last couple weeks, but I feel it is a deprivation, I must have some more good frigid runs before I go back to Cayman on the 18th! I'd like to do at least two longer ones between now and then, perhaps a ninety-minute and a two-hour, but that will have to wait till after I give this talk on Tuesday. And of course the main reason I haven't run much is that it is my rational decision that it is not a current training priority - but sometimes emotion should be allowed to override reason...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday SBR

Mid-afternoon I emailed out the final corrections for the new book and the author's note, which gave me a sense of accomplishment bordering on elation (though honestly, reading proofs is not the hardest work in the world - but it has to be done). Celebrated by heading down to Chelsea Piers with NO work, a LONG AND ENJOYABLE NOVEL to read and TONS OF GYM KIT.

In retrospect I might have done better to have two full-length workouts rather than one full and two shorties, but it was very good - I had some constraints, I didn't really eat lunch (got up late and had combined late breakfast-early lunch, and then a powerbar in the afternoon when I realized how the timing was going) so I had to stop swimming soon enough to eat something substantial and digest it before spinning. Fueling is the big challenge of the multi-workout day.


100 free, 100 fly drill, 100 free, 100 back drill-swim by 25, 100 free, 100 breast drill-swim by 25, 100 free, 100 right-arm, left-arm, catch-up, full stroke

Freestyle drill: 4 x (50 drill, 50 swim) (front scull, fists, finger-drag, catch-up)

3 x 50 descending on 1:00

At that point I realized that the pace clock I'd been using was behaving very erratically, and indeed as I watched the hand came to a full stop - it was a sign...

1150 yards total

1hr. spin

15 mins. run - I met up with Lauren, who couldn't get to the gym in time for spin class but who was doing some miles on the track. Afterwards we went and had Thai food at Chelsea Market - it was a good end to the evening!

NB muscles pleasantly sore from yesterday's workout, especially abs and triceps...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday gym

Since I got back from Cayman a week and a half ago, I have been ENTIRELY REMISS about my hard-and-fast three-times-a-week strength-training resolution. It drops easily out of my training schedule, it doesn't have a hold on my imagination, and yet I believe that it is ESSENTIAL - strength and biking are truly my priorities between now and May, even if it comes at the expense of my more dearly beloved swimming and running.

So I made it a priority and spent a bit more than an hour on the gym floor at Chelsea Piers earlier this afternoon. I literally haven't spent any time there since the initial session I got as part of my membership package, a triathlon-oriented strength session with Andrew Kalley which was very good but which could not fix my basic lack of motivation to get in and strength-train on my own.

Of course, like everything else at that place, the strength-training area is a THING OF BEAUTY. It is meditative, tranquil and entirely gratifying to work out there. I had a rather haphazard workout due to need to refamiliarize myself with where everything is (they are wonderfully well-equipped - I do not really care so much about equipment per se, it is easy to have a good workout with not very much STUFF, but I have a natural disinclination to use machines with cables etc. and it is nice to have the newest and more intuitive models rather than the rust-bound non-changeable-by-regular-human-hand ones at my old gym!).

(I was gazing at a mysterious attachment to one cable and a trainer actually came over and explained it to me and showed me how to use it - triceps! - NB his observation that "skullcrushers" are more effective than "kickbacks" is also persuasive, I made a mental note, it is not just that the name is more appealing...)

Anyway, I don't think I'll squeeze in three strength sessions this week, the week is almost over, but I am DETERMINED to make this strength thing happen between now and the end of May when I really switch over to my Ironman training, even if I go down to two sessions per week thereafter. It is all very well for the naturally lean to do sport-specific training only during full-on training season, but for the muscular athlete with a tendency to weigh too much, strength training is particularly valuable!

(On which note - an exciting delivery has arrived today...)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday swim practice

An enjoyable swim practice, though my usual lane (often quite crowded) was so thoroughly depopulated today that it almost defeated the purpose of it being practice rather than just swimming on my own - I split the lane with A., which was pleasant, but we were fairly casual about intervals!

The other annoyance was that there was not time to finish the set - open lane swim was starting as we finished the 75s of breast, and it was clear that the old lady with kickboard who had entered the lane in the meantime would be MOWED DOWN if we continued with the third 200 of free.

I went to practice so little in December and January that it hardly registered, but Liz tells me practice has been freestyle-heavy due to the one-hour swim - I am glad it will be returning to the full range of strokes, it is more mentally stimulating!

Warmup (curtailed): 150 misc.

2 x 100 easy IM on 2:30

Main set (incomplete - only went through the breast, and modified the fly set to do 100 drill-swim by 25 instead of the final two 75s - laziness!)

For each stroke, in IM order:

6 x 75 stroke as 1 x 75 kick-drill-swim on 2:00, 2 x 75 drill-swim-drill on 1:50, 3 x 75 swim on 1:40

1 minute rest

200 free on 3:50

1 minute rest

c. 2050 yards total

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back on an even keel...

OK, I was in a bit of a tailspin of overscheduling at the end of last week, but I feel myself to be more back on an even keel now - I will just have to take things as they come. I have two Guggenheim shifts this week (one on Wednesday and one on Sunday), and a talk next Tuesday at Princeton that I want to do significant new work for, but my other priority is exercise - it really does seem to me that two hours of exercise every day is the main thing I can do to keep calm!

1hr. easy run
1hr. spin class

It was good - properly of course the order should be the other way round, but it is easier to run while fresh (legs surprisingly tired from yesterday's swim - I was running on the indoor track at Chelsea Piers - I think I must make more use of that as a resource - I really prefer running outside, but I also prefer not to run outside after dark in winter on grounds of safety) - and then the spin class keeps one focused & not able to cut things short!