Friday, April 30, 2010

Feet of pain!

Really it was an extravagance, but I became convinced earlier this week that a Garmin was so immediately indispensable to my training that I had to order it RIGHT AWAY! (I had been pondering the question and pretty much decided to get one - Ray Maker's review of the 310XT had persuaded me that I would wait for the new and improved model, but in fact the 305 is now available for a very reasonable sum. I had to send in my Polar HR monitor to get the battery replaced, so I've been without a HR monitor - but I'll be able to use the Garmin now for my race on Sunday. The Polar has been very unreliable in recent months, so it will be nice to have the Garmin for the other upcoming May races too.)

It is a fantastic device! One which I am as yet only figuring out how to use - but I can upload directly to the Buckeye Outdoors site, which is great, and it's awfully nice having all the pace data and so forth as you're going along. It will be a good cycling incentive, I think - I definitely wouldn't have stayed on for quite so long today if I had not had a vision of what a NICE ROUND NUMBER 60 is and how lovely it would look on the device's display if I really did do that last loop...

10 loops in Central Park!

Yes, it is insane, but so long as I don't feel good about riding over that bridge, this is what I will need to do, and in fact it is really mentally comfortable near-to-home feeling in a way that I like. Mentally fairly arduous - first laps were pretty nice, but my lower back (right-hand side) started aching fairly soon, and I remember looking at my watch around the 30 mile mark and thinking "Oh, god, I am only halfway done!"

My back became increasingly achy, but it paled in relation to the agony in my FEET in the last ten miles or so! I really thought I might have to stop, they were so painful - I don't think it's shoe fit, I think it's a nerve thing, and that I just have to wiggle my toes around more in my shoes right from the beginning of a long ride. I wasn't wearing socks, so I think it might be that I should wear socks next time - might also be that I should try different shoes? The pain was in a part of the foot I do not really have a name for - call it the grippy bit that is between the ball of the foot and the toes. It was truly painful!

Anyway, I call that a very solid training ride. And I am very glad it is over!

Nice Garmin data:

60.44 mi., 3:50:17
avg HR 134, max HR 156
avg speed 15.7mph
4442 feet ascent
4428 feet descent

Thursday, April 29, 2010


It is a beautiful day, but very windy - I got spooked right away by how much lateral momement the wind was inducing, and had a mildly harrowing ride over to the park, but it was nice once I was there.

Inadvertent experiment of one - after reading about the possibility that caffeine alleviates exercise-induced asthma, I figured it might be time to start drinking coffee again. It happened that I was at a breakfast meeting this morning with coffee and pastries (this is very unusual in academia, we live a frugal life!), so I had 2 cups of coffee. And I accidentally forgot to take my puffs of albuterol before leaving for my bike ride - I need to put aside an inhaler just for exercise purposes, and always have it with me, but I still often forget and didn't realize until I was already halfway to the park.

So caffeine + no albuterol turns out to produce LESS wheezing than albuterol alone - I would say it was pretty noticeable - it's true that my bike fitness has been improving also, but I really had no wheezing at all (just a little tightness of chest) going up Harlem Hill. I think the reintroduction of regular caffeination will be wholly justified; I don't think it has a significant negative impact on sleep, so long as it is taken in moderation/only in the first part of the day.

4 park loops

26 miles total

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


So, though in retrospect I'd been having a bit of trouble with it for a while, the exercise-induced asthma only kicked in in January, first as what seemed a symptom of a heavy (bronchial) cold but it wouldn't go away subsequently, until I saw a doctor and got the steroid inhaler. However, I have just read something that made my jaw drop - wait a minute! That was the big change I made exactly at the new year - I cut caffeine out totally, from having been a 3+ cups of coffee a day person. Hmmm, must raise this with doctor on the phone next week....

2010 zones

No time to exercise today, alas, due to late rising plus complicated work commitments - but I did have a very interesting session yesterday at the cardiopulmonary clinic doing the CPET. The technician was lovely & printed me out all the results, though most of the tables are too complex for me to interpret - I will have a consultation with the doctor next week once he has had time to peruse them.

It seemed complimentary that the doctor was using one graph to explain to the technician that this particular fall-off pattern is seen in elite athletes!

Most of the data I have are not really keyed to exercise physiology needs per se (I rode the cycle ergometer for 17 minutes, the peak work rate was 210 watts at 171bpm [not bad but it can be much higher than that with more training!], the maximum oxygen uptake or VO2 peak was 3.607L/min.). But the technician took a look at all the numbers and gave me what I really needed, and what will be very useful to me for Ironman training this summer, as this sort of endurance training is almost certainly best done using the HR zone system.

I have been casual about implementing such a thing, and mostly exercise on perceived effort with the HR monitor as an additional aid - but really I'm going to get serious about HR monitor training this summer!

So I can sub in this test for the tests I would have had to do on my own to get approximate cycle-specific anaerobic threshold - the guy said I could use 160bpm (I can't remember now if he said what wattage was there - 180?). This fits with the much clearer subjective sense I have of my running numbers - I have been using 167bpm as LT for running.

(These numbers are sport-specific, though they will be broadly correlated - it is common to have a gap of 10bpm or so between cycling and running LT, for instance. You don't need to work the numbers this way for swimming because the pace clock is such an excellent training tool! I'm going to do Gale Bernhardt's swim pace test sometime in the next couple weeks - that definitely needs to be repeated every six weeks or so in hopes of improvements in speed...)

So here are my numbers for this season's training (I might retest in 6-8 weeks, but I would think these are good enough to use for this year & unlikely to move much in the short term - how often do you guys retest over the season, and do the numbers change significantly, or do you find they basically settle in around a predictable set of numbers?):


Zone 1 (recovery): 105-129
Zone 2 (aerobic): 130-143
Zone 3 (tempo): 144-148
Zone 4 (sub-threshold): 149-159
Zone 5a (super-threshold): 160-163
Zone 5b (aerobic capacity): 164-169
Zone 5c (anaerobic capacity): 170-175


Zone 1 (recovery): 111-141
Zone 2 (extensive endurance): 142-152
Zone 3 (intensive endurance): 153-159
Zone 4 (sub-threshold): 160-166
Zone 5a (super-threshold): 167-170
Zone 5b (anaerobic endurance): 171-177
Zone 5c (power): 178-185

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday spin/swim

ARGHHHH, when am I ever going to do any strength training?!? I know I need to, and I enjoy it once I am doing it, but for some reason it is the thing I infinitely put off - I had it on my schedule to do an hour before the spin class, but dragged my heels getting out the door, and it is neither psychologically nor physiologically plausible to do it post-spin.

In every other respect, a very good exercise day. Spin class was excellent - I really like this guy's approach - and I could tell how much bike fitness I've gained since the last spin class I took. Showered and ate lunch and read for a while, then got in the pool for a solid swim - should really have done one more 600 of higher-intensity freestyle-type stuff, but judged the degree of raininess outside meant I had really better get myself on the bike home before dusk approached.

RAINY ride home! But it is all good, good practice in case I have a rainy race...

1hr. spin (24 IDU*)


600 free with every fourth length back

4 x (6 x 75, #1-3 as kick-drill-swim, #4-5 as drill-swim-swim, #6 as swim), IM order

2400 yards total

*Imaginary Distance Units

plus 10 miles biking in the world

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rainy Sunday run

Almost any weather (barring very warm) can become ideal running weather when viewed in the right light - today it was very lovely out there, in a perverse way.

(Drizzle, high 40s - nearly deserted, except for the very funny sight of four ponies giving rides to a handful of Young People in the middle bit of Riverside Park!)

The training schedule I made up earlier this week is wildly - delightfully - overambitious, and though I had 12 miles on the schedule for today, really I knew after yesterday's ride that I probably should cut that back a bit.

(Rationalization or common sense?!?)

I compromised on 90 minutes - probably about 8.5 miles, maybe a little more. Took 3 miles or so to feel the muscles were really warmed up, and I definitely had some fatigue in the quads, but it turned into a very good run in the end - afterwards I was flooded with endorphins and felt that running in the rain was the most blissful thing in the world!

8.5 miles

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday bike

BEST TRAINING RIDE EVER. Seriously - even if it is only because I have not had many really good ones!

Lauren, like the generous friend and cycling mentor that she is, when faced with the fact that I really cannot yet ride over the bridge & that this is one of the last times this season we'll have the chance to ride together, made a fantastic offer, at some inconvenience to herself: she drove from Brooklyn, picked me up in the car at 9, we parked in New Jersey just off the bridge and started from there. It will not be a sensible long-term way of proceeding, because that's 2 hours of driving for her that could be bike miles instead, but it was a delightful treat for today. It also takes some stoicism on her part to let the fast cyclists blow by us as she accommodates my pace - in short, major props to Lauren, who has earned some very good karma with the help she's given me over the last year or two....

We had an excellent ride. Gorgeous weather (really perfect - a bit cool, but only in the good way - low to mid 60s, I guess). It is such a great hilly route - the hills are more of a mental challenge than a physical, honestly; it is beforehand that my heart quails, but it is fine once I am riding them.

We went out to Rockland State Park again and did that very pretty park loop, then rode back through Nyack and stopped for a bite to eat at the Runcible Spoon. Which was utterly THRONGED with cyclists - I said that my blog readers in other parts of the country would not believe how busy it is, and Lauren kindly stepped outside to snap a picture on her iPhone!

52.3 miles, 3:29:10, avg pace 15.0mph

Friday, April 23, 2010

Short run

I was having a hard time motivating, and left it rather till the last possible minute - poor sleep last night, continuing allergies, a grogginess-inducing afternoon nap, super-stiff leg muscles from Wednesday night's run class, etc. etc. Decided (partly just to get myself out the door) to scale it back from six to four miles, and it turned into one of those really lovely runs - the weather is perfect, clear and fresh, mid-60s, beautiful running along the water when it's like this. The legs loosened up very quickly, which I knew they would, and it was pleasantly strenuous. I turned around at the boat basin.

4 (rather delightful) miles

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A truly enjoyable bike ride - 4 park loops. Ride over still seemed rather dreadful, but I think I can improve the situation by taking a slightly different route next time - it is a mistake to go down 114th St. past the block with the emergency-room entrance to St. Luke's Hospital, it is all jammed up with vehicles!

26 miles

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back on track

Well, I did have one shortish treadmill run while I was in Boston over the long weekend (Brent and I were cheering on his friend Jim Simpson), but mostly it was a wash as far as exercise goes, though inspiring in its way (but with vast quantities of eating and drinking). I am horrified by how quickly the spring's gone by, and how much lower my training volume has been than I would have imagined at the end of last summer!


I made a delightfully ambitious training schedule this afternoon - I'm looking at about four and a half weeks for this next block, basically planning on working pretty hard from now through to the Harriman Half on May 22, then taking a week to regroup and get myself down to Cayman and then get started the next weekend with my 'real' Ironman training.

Lauren and I met up to go to the evening run class at Chelsea Piers - it is an excellent class, with the major proviso on this particular occasion being that the wretched asthma is crippling me, I could not run nearly as fast as I should have been able to! I've got to see what can be done about this - I have an appointment tomorrow morning with a pulmonary specialist, will hope to get some useful thoughts about treatment.

Then we swam for about 50 minutes - did the warmup written up on the board for the masters swimmers, then some drill (Lauren did a more ambitious set than I!). And had dinner and official Ironman training consultation afterwards - so it really was a nice way to get back on track.


400 free with every fourth length stroke
300 breast as 150 swim, 150 kick
200 back as drill-swim by 50
100 fly as 25 kick, 25 drill, 50 swim

5 x 100 free drill-swim by 50 (catch-up, thumbs/salute, finger-drag, fists, something else I can't remember)

2 x 100 IM easy

100 kick

1800 yards total

Friday, April 16, 2010


are the 2 words on my favorite sign on the west side - they are so inscrutable, so enigmatic - imagine the puzzlement if one were not a native English speaker!

An excellent run just now - not excellent as in exhilarating, but a really solid piece of work.

(Several recently were marred by the fact of my asthma inhaler having run out without me noticing, so that excesses of huffing and puffing that in retrospect were due to asthmatic wheezing just made me feel unfit! And a couple others were marred by a very stiff right soleus. And last week's long one was just plain arduous. This was probably the nicest one I've had for ages.)

Ran down to Chelsea Piers and back. 10.02mi., 1:39:22 (9:55/mi.), avg HR 152, max HR 166.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Another day off...

My allergies are making me crazy! Right sinus and throat plus streaming eyes - size of swollen gland on the right-hand side, plus all-round face headachey way I'm feeling, makes me decide I'd better just cancel it for today. Ugh!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday swim

I think today must have been the most beautiful day in the history of New York City for bike-riding - it is lovely out there, and not yet too crowded as the weather has been so variable...

I rode down to Chelsea Piers (chain fell off twice before I got started, but I figured out what the problem was and fixed it, that was good) and had a very lovely swim:

600 free with every fourth lap back

6 x 100 as IM kick, drill, swim by 100, 10 seconds rest

4 x (3 x 50 on 1:20), stroke in IM order

6 x 100 hard on 2:30 (holding 1:48-49 - not fast, but it is a start)

2400 yards total
10 miles bike


I always think it is slightly ill-phrased when people say they are taking a well-earned or a much-deserved day off - it would be more decorous to leave such judgments to others! - but in any case I am taking a much APPRECIATED day off - I made a big push to finish my book manuscript, and sent it out yesterday evening - didn't exercise Monday and Tuesday as a result (it was 3am Monday night and I was sitting at my computer typing in corrections, it is such a familiar feeling, I like it!) - today am PLEASING MYSELF and taking the day entirely off from work and exercising as much as I want to...

Had a VERY NICE bike ride. Ride over to park quite unpleasant, but everything was good thereafter, ride home was fine.

Really I am a person of too many ruminations anyway, I am guessing I have spent about two million hours obsessing about cycling-related issues over the last 3 years (that is just an estimate!) and I can say that this is probably cycling insight #299 - but - I gotta be patient on this cycling thing. When you have anxiety about something, it really is necessary to take it in baby steps, unfortunately - I am more the type to want to bite off new problems and swallow them in HUGE GULPS - but that will not do.

The latest revelation came from reading this post by a CU triathlete who is much, much faster than I will ever be: it mentioned a 2hr30min hard bike ride in Central Park. And I suddenly thought - yes - so many NYC cyclists do all their riding in New Jersey - but if I cannot get myself to ride over the bridge regularly this season (I know I can do it once or twice, but I don't know that it will become routine), it is not as though I could not be doing a ton of riding in the park in the meantime! There are times to avoid because of crowding, but I am lucky enough to have a very flexible schedule right now, and indeed in general compared to what most people have - if I stick to M-F 10-3, during the hours the park is closed to traffic and without weekend crowding, it still give me tons of leeway. The hills are not as awesome as what you get in NJ, but it is still very pleasant riding, and honestly, I am at such an early stage of my development as a cyclist that ANY riding is good riding! And I cannot do a midday Saturday long ride there, it is too crowded, it would make me crazy - but I could do a 4-hour ride from 10-2 on Friday, there is NOTHING STOPPING ME.

(You know, last summer I still was too nervous to ride over to the park on the road rather than the sidewalk, and I really am enjoying the actual riding now in a way I didn't at all two years ago, so I really have made progress each season of riding, even if I still feel like I am completely hampered by irrational fears.)

20 miles easy (3 park loops in 1:12:54, pretty darn slow but I was really set on just riding for enjoyment and appreciating the beauty of the weather!)

I'm going to do as much park riding as I can between now and the end of May, that's my resolution, and find at least a couple non-crowded weekday times to venture over the evil bridge - I will walk my bike the whole way across if I have to, but will definitely walk it up the first hairpin bend bit, because that's what really triggers the anxiety. More anon...

And I sent a message to the CU triathlon list and have lined up a couple possible rides to the May bike race I'm doing, one guy who is probably driving from here and another who's currently living in Nyack but would be happy to pick me up at the local train station up there, so that is progress too - I am hoping Lauren will do it, it would be fun, but I may well need to get there under my own steam.

(I am going to ride down to Chelsea Piers in a bit and swim - not sure yet if I will go to 7pm run class or not, may be I'll be a bit too knackered by then, but we will see...)

Sunday, April 11, 2010


(Most of) Spinervals 13.0, my favorite Spinervals workout - I am irked not to have finished, I made it over the mental and physical hump of the one-hour-left mark pretty readily, but then with about twenty-something minutes still to go I felt something odd happening with my right cleat - a moment later the whole pedal flew off! It is very rusty, and I couldn't screw it back on - will have to dig pedal wrench out of the triathlon closet and see what unguents I can scare up (WD-40, steel wool, lubricants?) to get it back on.

2:36:02, avg HR 128, max HR invalid (it says 190, but that is impossible! I would guess around 148 based on what I noticed on the HR monitor with my own eyes)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Long run

First 3-4 miles were mentally tough, for no good reason, but after that I was enjoying it more. Took the short rather than the long route home (.5 vs. 2.5) due to underfueling (I fell asleep mid-afternoon when I should have been heading on my run!).

Beautiful day for it - pretty much the absolutely perfect running weather...

9.37 miles, 1:37:53, avg pace 10:26 (avg HR 145, max HR 159)

"Their rims were tall and awesome"

Wendy sent me a link last night that I absolutely couldn't resist - this morning at 9:30 it was the 12th Annual Blessing of the Bikes at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is in fact only five blocks away from where I live. I had never heard of such a thing!

(They do a blessing of the animals on St. Francis's Day, but those of you who know cats will understand that I have always felt that my cat would much prefer not to be blessed if it meant being put in his carrier and forced to hang around in a box with lots of dogs and other cats and other animals in the near vicinity!)

It is really a lovely and funny idea - the reading was from Ezekiel (!), and we were enjoined not to be afraid of any terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day. The canon sprinkled us with holy water, we had a remembrance of dead cyclists and then made a circuit with our bicycles around the cathedral, which was rather amazing.

The pictures I got aren't much good, but they give the flavor of the event:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Home with TIP

Picked it up at the store, kitted it out with the necessaries, got some good advice from one of the guys about how to adjust fit (seat is now appropriate height, but I will do some further tweaking), rode it home. It will do me just fine, I think, though my heart slightly quails at the prospect of getting it to Cayman with all of my other luggage (including large numbers of books!). I might find out what it would cost to ship it - it may be that I'll have to pay an excess baggage fee if I take it all on the plane anyway. Something to ponder...

5 miles


Well, I did not have a long ride after all - a couple of relatively sleepless nights, killer allergies - basically I just didn't have the vim to get out there this morning. Finally dragged myself out of the house around 1:30 and had a very panicky ride over to the park, but it was nice once I got there - it's cool and overcast, with a little bit of drizzle, so things were relatively civilized.

I think I will run long tomorrow and then do a long indoor ride on Sunday - I am well aware that I have been skimping on the long rides, but unless the weather's terrible the park will be too crowded for me to do a long one outdoors that day.

3 park loops (18.3 mi.), 1:13:58, avg HR 134, max HR 154

20 miles total

Bike store called earlier to say that the TIP bike is ready, so I will go downtown shortly and pick it up...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Short run

in the near bit of Riverside Park. I am taking the HR numbers with a grain of salt, it seems erratic as they show up but then again these numbers are eminently plausible (it's warm and I am somewhat dehydrated, so they were a bit higher than they might have been)

3.18 miles with strides
avg pace 9:38, max pace 6:26 (not for long - but I was finding it easy to get down to 7:15 or so for short bursts - I think I am not as unfit as I fear...)
avg HR 152, max HR 177

I have refound my training mojo this week, the last few days have been great and I will have a long ride tomorrow and a long run on Saturday. In order to have the right training volume, I basically need 2 workouts a day six days a week, with sporadic days off when necessary - some of those workouts themselves can combine 2 things, like a swim goes very well after a spin class. Still not sure what to think about schedule vs. no schedule - once the morale is high, I think I am OK with either, but I need to make sure I have appropriate bike and run volume for the events I have planned in May. Higher-frequency on running is good, that's why I was out for just a short one this evening.

Good swim

I couldn't make it to the midday Chelsea Piers swim workout on Tuesday, but I was determined to do it today, and it was very good. Biked down, did a bit of work and an important local errand (I have finally got the reimbursement check for that surgery I had in December - in the end, after a chapter of accidents involving missing paperwork, it got sent by mistake to the doctor instead of to me, and I had to retrieve it), then got to the pool about 15 minutes early to do some stroke warmup.

Last week I had a very nice time in the slow lane, but today's slow lane was differently constituted and it became clear during warmup that I was much too fast. That meant I had to go and be the slow person in the next lane over - I ended up doing swim instead of pull and skipping a couple 50s where I needed to, but with a different workout, I don't think I'd have had as much of a problem keeping up. (I am guessing I was only a hair slower than the 3 slower swimmers in the lane, but there were 2 quite fast ones, and on the 150s it was no good, b/c with six in a lane the front person catches up with you very quickly when you are the slow one at the back! I also note that I never do kick with fins, and forgot how nice and fast it feels - in fact on that one I was as fast or faster than anyone else, it is just the pull where I'm so much slower than average, or perhaps where the male-female differential comes more strongly to bear.)

So I didn't quite make all of these intervals (I observe a general tendency even among slightly faster swimmers than I to round :55 and 1:55 up to 1:00 and 2:00!), but let us transcribe it notionally and figure I did about this (I had some extra warmup that pretty much cancels out the 50s I missed). I resolve that in 2 months I will be able to swim this workout (possibly excepting the pull) with no problems...

My initial swim (600):

4 x (50 free, 50 drill in IM order)
2 x 100 IM on 2:30

Assigned warmup (750):

150 each of swim, kick, pull, swim
3 x 50 descending, 10 seconds rest (did some extras of these, won't count here)

Then (1950):

3 x

150 build on 2:45
3 x 100 descending on 1:55
3 x 50 on :55
1 x 50 on 1:15

odds pull, even kick with fins

3300 yards total - A RESPECTABLE TOTAL.

plus 10 miles bike - it is unpleasantly warm outside again today, I shouldn't have showered at the gym, I was dripping with sweat by the time I got home!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I drowsed this afternoon and was too groggy and hot (it was 90 degrees!) in the early evening to make it down to Chelsea Piers. I am resolved I have to start spinning more often in the evenings at home, and though I love Spinervals (and it's a great workout), I think I'm both more likely to do it in the evening & also less likely to seem like a crazy person if I watch DVDs instead. Just had a pleasant 2-episode Veronica Mars ride - Brent loaned me season 2, and I have not delved into it at all yet!

1hr.20min. easy spin

(Really it should be 2 hours, or else with intervals, but I think at this point I've just got to start getting more hours on bike of whatever kind. I have been perplexed at how hard it has been this spring to get into a good training vibe - I thought that being on sabbatical would make a huge difference, but in fact it seems to me possible that there is something about the rhythm of winter leading into spring and weather changes and post-holiday blahs that make February and March often rather laggardly training months. Time to step things up round about now, though!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Brief swim

Just a short one - it was not unduly crowded, but then one more person got in and I suddenly had reached my human contact limit!

Realize that the undifferentiated face-headache feeling I have been having all day is sinuses rather than general malaise. Serious spring allergen activation...

c. 1000 miscellaneous


I was emailing with Liz earlier this morning - mostly just grumbling about the horrible bridge and how bad my training morale has been recently (I hope I am now back on track, today's run was pleasant). She has kindly given me permission to post one of her emails as a guest blog - it cracked me up, and I hope it will give you a smile too!
Sorry about bad training and very sorry about the awful gwb. Last saturday it was more crowded on that awful onramp than any of our group leaders had ever seen it. Later I rolled into a ditch and leapt off the bike and later still i stalled on a hill and nearly caused a pile-up. I have four black toenails and training outside in this weather is making my allergies so bad i want to tear my eyes out and scrape them off on the pavement. I ran a good four miler weekend before last ("colon cancer") so there's that at least. I can't wait to get in the pool tomorrow and get a lot of cleansing, refreshing chlorine in my eyes. Maybe if i do flipturns it'll wash out my sinuses and I'll feel ok till around lunchtime.
Happy training!

Bridge attempt #1

In which I learn two things, both of which I sort of knew already:

1. I shouldn't run up the Greenway path if I want to get bridge access - it's much nicer than running on the street, but there's then a good 25-minute confusing and complicated negotiation to get to the south bridge path - I walked it, I don't like running and exploring at the same time, and it probably took almost half an hour. Not worth the time! (And not as good aerobic benefits from two half-hour runs with a half-hour of walking in between - though it is true, it is a hilly walk, it is not nothing...)

2. The south path is not always open!!!! I passed by the north path first, and saw it was open, so I walked up the little steps and out onto the first bit of path, but I figured that was not what I needed to practice - it takes forever to get round from that side to the other (partly because I can't remember the right way to go), and by the time I found the south path was closed, I really could not be bothered to go back to the other one.

Anyway, on foot and with no bicycle I don't think I would have had an actual panic attack anyway, so I will make another attempt where I do it on foot and with no worries about bicycles, and see how I do.

I see I can get alerts about which path is open sent to my email account - obviously that is the site I need to check before I make my next attempt. I am interested to see the exact language they use about cycling: "Bicyclists using the sidewalk are asked to walk their bikes for the safety of all sidewalk users. Bicyclists who choose to ride are asked to exercise caution and ride slowly. Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times." Obviously in reality 99% of cyclists are riding rather than walking, but it is genuinely a horribly overcrowded path (on a nice weekend day) even aside from the fact of being on a bridge and without a nice high railing - that's why I need to practice walking and riding it on weekdays when it will not be crowded.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

On a brighter note

Bike routes near train stations. (This site is an amazing resource that up to this point has been mostly notional for me, but I think I have to start taking it more seriously.)

And a lovely obituary (by Phil Davison) of bicycle frame builder Bill Hurlow at the FT (site registration required):
Hurlow was an amateur racer himself, winning numerous time trial awards for two of the great cycling clubs of his day, Galena and Marlboro, including in the great Bath Road 100 (mile) time trial, in which he won the Lascelles Cup three times - in 1949, 1951 and 1952. He was still racing into his seventies, often beating competitors 30 years younger, and still covered 30-40 miles a day for pleasure into his mid-80s. A photograph taken when he was in his seventies shows a lone, white-haired figure gobbling up a deserted Bandy Canyon Road in California's San Pasqual Valley.

Hurlow's designs influenced bicycle makers worldwide, particularly in the US, where frame builders took up his mantle and one described him as "the builder's builder, a tailor of tubes" for his ability to design and build a bike to individual measurements and needs - height, weight, build, and even, like a tailor, the vital inner leg measurement - to angle and balance the frame to suit the customer. "His bikes were the equivalent of Savile Row suits," said his friend and fellow biker John Hunt of Canterbury, Kent. "It was Bill who invented the breakthrough fastback seat stays, brazed into an Allen key housing. Most lugs are biased but Bill's were totally symmetrical. He couldn't draw them. He cut them like a sculptor. I think he knocks all other builders into a cocked hat."

Ugh, ugh, ugh

I try not to complain too much, really I think I have it pretty darn good, but I just had a massive discouragement and am hoping I can write it out of my system.

It is, alas, a most beautiful day for a bike ride; Lauren arrived at my place at 11 and we rode up towards the bridge. First bit of the ride very relaxing, certainly I was feeling a bit anxious as we turned off Riverside Drive and negotiated the medical school area due to hills, cars; but as we headed up the little ramp onto the bridge bike path, I was completely overwhelmed.

I got off my bike when we came to a cluster of pedestrians that I couldn't see how to ride around safely, and then just couldn't get back on; in fact it was a full-blown panic attack. Lauren saw that I wasn't following and came back to see what she could do, but really there was nothing - I sent her on, and walked back off the bridge with my bike, trying not to alarm passersby with my physical distress!

Ugh, ugh, ugh - I was hoping I would make it over OK, but clearly this was quite unrealistic.

I am going to have to adopt a multi-pronged attack. These problems with bicycling have been crippling me in my triathlon training for the last 3 years, and I am sick of it, I have to find an accommodation: and now that I am on sabbatical, I have the resources to try and deal with it.

1. Start doing runs up to the GWB and practice going over it on foot. Walking at first, perhaps, as I think the elevated HR from running confuses the issue, but there is no reason I should not have that be my REGULAR run for the next couple months, it's about 3 miles up there from here and perhaps a mile across the bridge - good eight-mile run, or 3 run plus 2 walk plus 3 run. This is the desensitization the CBT types recommend - it will still be absolutely horrible, but certainly much less awful on foot and with no bicycle than riding.

2. Get a Metro-North permit for my bike and choose a Hudson line station to take the train to and ride from there. This is something I could have done last summer, but didn't have the gumption; now I think I have enough confidence, and also increased flexibility due to sabbatical time (it means taking subway to Grand Central and train from there - although I guess I might be able to get the train from 125th St. now that I can actually face the notion of riding through streets over that way?), that I must just figure out what would be a good one to go to and make it happen. Will consult with internet sources on this. It is just too bad that the subway doesn't have a stop in Fort Lee, NJ...

As for today, I'm going to go to the library for a couple hours and write what I hope will be the last few pages of the little book on style (holes still at beginning, and more work needed throughout, but it will be excellent to have the full draft), and then go for a run later this afternoon. I think the groin muscle is pretty much better - I tested it on whip kick yesterday and decided that was still contraindicated, but it should be OK for running, I'll just do 6 if it's still feeling uncomfortable after a couple of miles but it would be nicer to have a long one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Short Friday swim

I am weary: I think I got underfueled, I feel better now that I've eaten. I went downtown on the subway to do what I thought was going to be pick up the TIP bicycle at 5 - I understood that they were going to call me if it wasn't ready by then, but that if I didn't hear from them it meant the bike was good to go.

Obviously should have called first; they were only just getting to it when I got there. Told me they'd call when it was ready to pick up, probably close to seven (when the store closes).

I walked over to Chelsea Piers (it's about 20 mins. each way from bike store/subway - beautiful day for a walk outside, but on the whole all this was a more complex, tiring and time-consuming way of spending my early evening than I might have otherwise chosen) and had a short swim with eye on the clock. But when I got back to the locker room around 6:15, I found a message on my phone saying that in fact the new shifters had either never been delivered or been misplaced, and the bike wouldn't be ready till late next week...

WHATEVER! I am only sorry that I didn't know sooner, as I would have had a longer swim!

Warmup: 8 x 100 (4 x 75 free, 25 back; #5-8 as odds freestyle drill, evens fly drill wtih final 25 full stroke)

2 x 75 fly kick-drill-swim

2 x 50 fly

50 back

1150 yards total


Modest, but a distinct success compared to yesterday. No anxiety other than when trying to press lap button on Polar watch and finding myself dangerously weaving!

It's an absolutely beautiful day here, which of course means the park is annoyingly crowded - I did one full loop to warm up, but it's the south end of the park that's the worst, so I decided to do some hill repeats instead. It was a good plan, it is a lot quieter up there (and the little boys riding their bikes at the north end of the park crack me up, I wish I had that kind of confidence and recklessness on a bicycle!).

I need to start tracking HR much more closely on the bike - I don't have much of a feel for how it runs, though I'm starting to get a sense of comfortable max effort.

1 mile each way to-from park
Full loop (6.1mi.): 25:22 (avg HR 131, max HR 159)
Hill repeats on north loop (5 x 1.4mi.): 29:31 (avg HR 136, max HR 158)

15 miles total

One task for the next week or two is to do the tests Gale Bernhardt recommends for LT threshold and HR zones on bike and run, plus swim T-pace testing. They're a bit of a nuisance, but straightforward enough - I think I'll try and do the bike one sometime this coming week on one of the spin bikes with watts at Chelsea Piers. You basically start at 50 watts and increase by 20 watts every minute until you can't go any longer. You track RPE and HR, then chart the data (lactate threshold is in this case close to the "ventilatory threshold" - and as GB says, "athletes are seldom able to go more than three to five minutes beyond their lactate threshold on this test," so the numbers really should be fairly clear)....

(The run test can be done on a treadmill or as an all-out 5K - I might have to try and get Lauren and/or Liz to do this with me - 2 loops round the reservoir would do, it is more fun than running laps around a track!)

I'm having a REAL (i.e. long and in New Jersey) bike ride with Lauren tomorrow, which is one reason I didn't ride longer today (and I still have to go downtown and pick up the 'new' bike from Sid's) - she'll lead me up and over the Bridge (of Evilness) so that I can see the good route from here, and then we'll ride up the same way (Piedmont-Nyack-Rockland State Park) we did some weeks ago. THIS IS GOOD.

April is bike-riding month chez Davidson - it is my absolute top priority other than finishing the little book on style and starting the new book on the ABCs of the novel. I've got a couple little trips (Philadelphia on Sunday for Easter, Boston for a long weekend later this month to meet up with Brent and cheer on his friend J. who is running the Boston Marathon)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday swim and modest TOB

Finally made it to Swimtech midday swim class at Chelsea Piers - I thought it was great!

It's really just a masters swim workout, not as much drill stuff as I was hoping for (but maybe sometimes they do more drill work?). Three lanes, I think the middle one is probably swimming on 1:55 or 2:00 and that I could perfectly well join it, but I liked the slow lane, too - three other swimmers of much my ability level, going on rest intervals rather than set send-offs which makes it easier to sub in other strokes.

(One woman was doing all breaststroke, another guy quite a bit of back - the sets as given are freestyle only, but there is lots of room for substitutions.)

Anyway, I really enjoyed it - my three lanemates were exceptionally friendly, as was the coach, who used to coach for TNYA and currently completes as an elite triathlete - a good resource, I am thinking!

Let us now see if I can remember what we did - no hope of remembering the rest intervals, but they varied between 10 and 30 seconds.

100 warmup (before class started)

4 x 150 as swim, pull, kick, swim

3 x 50 as easy, medium, hard

8 x 100: odds pull, evens swim (I did #6 and #8 as IM)

100 easy

4 x 50 kick-swim

100 easy

8 x 50: #1-3 5 breaths only, #4-6 4 breaths only, #7-8 3 breaths only (i.e. once on way down, once at wall, once on way back - I just about managed this, but not quite, I surfaced about 3 yards early at the end!)

2450 yards total

I wanted to go for a real bike ride in Central Park afterwards - it is my notion that I can do a swim-bike brick on Tuesdays and Thursdays - but I was stymied. I rode out of Riverside Park onto 95th St. thinking "Oh, yes, I can ride directly over to the park this way, that is sensible!" Half a block later, as I came up to the intersection, I realized that it was a terrible idea - all the traffic coming off the West Side Highway goes onto 95th St. I missed 2 lights due to mild anxiety (it is an uphill as well as traffic, which makes it more stressful - like driving stick!), crossed Broadway on foot due to impending panic, then realized that at Columbus the street dead-ends and it's one way in the opposite direction. Took a right onto the sidewalk (Columbus is northbound only at that point and also full of trucks and traffic),* wherepon an old lady rightly scolded me for riding on the sidewalk - at that point I felt ready to burst into tears, anxiety was only moderate but I figured that really I should just call it a day and try again tomorrow.

There are times when it really is the right thing to push through fears, but the cognitive behavioral guy has persuaded me that the way to get over serious anxiety is to take things in baby steps and to back off if things are daunting - so I will start fresh tomorrow, and make it my priority to find 'my route' from Riverside to Central Park so that I can make it a routine for Tuesdays and Thursdays in coming weeks.

2450 yards swim
10 miles bike

[* Or maybe it was Amsterdam? I honestly couldn't say!]