Sunday, October 31, 2010


I'll be off island for the actual Cayman Islands Triathlon (it happens over US Thanksgiving weekend), but the CITA organizes a series of build-up races (untimed, casual, fun) in the weeks leading up to the race, and I was delighted to be able to participate in the second one today. They offer two recommended distances, I did the longer: 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run. (Standard sprint distances, appropriate as training session for the Olympic-distance triathlon.)

I was very slow, but I just felt super-lucky to be out there - and though I am completely unfit and overweight right now, it is still not like starting from scratch, if I were truly unfit I would not be able to exercise continuously for approximately an hour and forty minutes without feeling overloaded. I felt that at the gym this week, too - I have reasonable residual strength even if I do feel unfit, I can lift respectable weights and maintain a reasonable workload for the full hour. There are benefits from maintaining a regular year-round exercise regimen, even if you periodically fall off the wagon...

(I must say, too, that everyone at these races is so nice, I was by far the last finisher and C. and W. rode their bikes round to see how I was doing and cheer me on for the last bit of the run! There was also a very attractive and shaggy lolloping stray dog who accompanied me on that bit of the course...)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday treadmill

50 warm minutes - by that time I had knocked the safety plug out three times and completely lost track of how long I'd gone for, so I finished out the last bit walking on an incline (real-world walking over to gym and back also, but I will not log that).

Week of over-exuberance was predictably followed by drastic mood crash last night - I feel better now post-run, but I think that really I will just have to strive to get myself on a more even keel, dramatic ups and downs are no good....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday workout

A fantastically good workout at World Gym with Carla. It is not exactly that it is truly enjoyable, it is hard work, but immensely satisfying!

Friday swim

More of a wake-up swim than an actual workout. This has been a nice quiet week of morning swimming, but I think I must get up a tad earlier and have some sort of small breakfast (probably oatmeal) before swimming if I want to do a full hour and higher-intensity stuff. Certainly Wendy was always adamant that one should eat first before swimming, though it is a piece of advice I have mostly ignored!

4 x 150 free, 50 stroke in IM order (one-arm fly)
4 x 100 free drill-swim by 25 (catch-up, finger-drag, front scull, fists)

1200 meters total

It's good to be riding my bike over there and back in the morning, it gets me reacclimated to bicycle-riding...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday treadmill

.5hr. run intervals, .5hr. walk on incline - a way to minimize willpower involvement but still get an hour of aerobic exercise...

10 mins. warmup, then 1-1-2-2-3-3-2-2-1-1 alternating hard and easy (6.5mph, 5.3mph); will keep that as a basic workout and add in the second "3-3" pair, then a "4-4," then a second "4-4" - once I can do that I will up the "hard" speed to 7.0mph...

30 mins. @ 3.2mph/6.0 incline

60 mins. total


Having read the National Lightning Safety Institute guidelines, I think that next time I should get out of the pool as soon as I hear thunder...

Thursday swim

It was a nice swim until the thunder and lightning started - I stayed in for a while, and then thought of how really I have no idea whether getting out when there's lightning is a long-shot precaution or actually something really very sensible, so I figured I'd better cut things short.

And then I was further thwarted - I had packed up a huge bag of stuff so as to go on to the gym for core strength and spinning - it is an absurdly large collection of necessary things - but a nasty suspicion occurred to me partway through my swim that I had forgotten to pack a sports bra! Indeed this turned out to be the case, and I didn't have my wallet with me to obtain another one at either of the gym/yoga studio kiosks where they might have sold me such a thing...

By the time I had walked home in pouring rain (and a very wet semi-transparent white t-shirt with nothing underneat!), I figured that this was the world's way of telling me to have a treadmill run later in the day instead. It is fine, it is probably a better use of my time for the day.

I enjoyed the swim (and rain means cooler air temperatures), with the proviso that my left elbow is a bit sore (internet self-diagnosis is a foolish business, but I am guessing it is mild triceps tendonitis, I've had it for about a year or so and am sure that it was exacerbated by relatively heavy lifting at the gym yesterday):

4 x (200 free, 50 stroke drill in IM order)
8 x 75 kick-drill-swim by 25, 2 of each stroke in IM order

1600 meters total

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I cannot described how relieved I was to find myself yesterday evening checking out suitable races to use in the late spring as supported IM training days - really in September I could hardly imagine that I would ever be motivated to train for a race ever again, I was fearing that my decision to register for IMCd'A had been singularly rash and that I was just going to have to regard the registration dollars as yet another chunk of change lost to my own bad judgment - but I really think I am myself again, instead of languishing I was frenetically emailing with the organizers of the Montauk Century to see what day it would be on in 2011!

I learned that it is the third Sunday in May, namely 15 May 2011 - six weeks out from my race, thus a little early but basically an excellent day to do a relatively easy (i.e. flattish) century ride with full support on the course. The bikes are shipped by truck from Penn Station to a station on Long Island, and you can ride the full 100-mile route from there (trucks also take bikes home at the end of the day), so I will avoid bridge paranoia and whatever other psychological obstacles may have emerged in the intervening months and have a real guaranteed long day's riding with none of the usual anxieties about getting stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere, mechanicals, getting lost, falling off the GWB, etc. etc.


And I have found an excellent trainer, took the plunge and purchased a 20-session package. I'll work out with her MWF2-3pm in November and December, travel schedules permitting.

I had the first session today, and it was fantastically good, at least until I suddenly felt very queasy around the 45-minute mark! Not sure whether this was the result primarily of general lack of fitness, lactate buildup or of not having eaten lunch - probably some combination of all three (I always eat lunch, but I didn't want to work out on a full stomach and 2pm's not a time I ever usually exercise, I hadn't thought through the mealtime implications), at which point we really just pretty much had to stop - made a couple further stabs at finishing the set I was working on (deadlifts, clean and press), but it was not meant to be! I am going to be very sore tomorrow, it is a satisfying feeling - I am looking forward to our next appointment on Friday afternoon.

10 mins. warmup
45 mins. strength

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Good morning of exercise. I am hopeful that I can use this time between now and Thanksgiving very productively, even if Thanksgiving week itself is certain to be a nutritional disaster.

Was a bit late getting over to the pool, and had ambitious plans for further exercise, so I didn't swim much, but it was very nice (triceps distinctly sore from yesterday!):

500 straight as 100 free, 25 alternating breast, back
4 x 150 kick-drill-swim by 50 (IM order)
75 IM no free (easy), 75 free (hard)

1250 meters total

45 minutes core strength class

60 minutes spin

I've got the business card for the trainer I want to work with; I'm going to email her as soon as I finish writing this post and see what her schedule looks like...

Monday, October 25, 2010


My evening self thinks that swimming in the early morning seems like a very good idea. My morning self thinks that this is sheer idiocy! Fortunately Brent is willing to provide external prodding, otherwise I certainly would not have gotten up this morning and ridden over to the Camana Bay pool, where I had a truly excellent swim.

(I think the water is cooler than it was in the summer, certainly I had none of that unpleasantly sludgy feeling that was afflicting me in July and August over there.)

It's been about four and a half months since Wendy died. As with anything of this magnitude, it both seems like it just happened and also seems like it happened a lifetime ago.

They have been very difficult months for me - aside from the deep sense of loss, I've just felt completely out of control about almost everything to do with my life. The cat who was my companion since 1993 died in May, and my apartment is sublet through January. I canceled all my big races for the year and am not really training for anything seriously, nor am I in the thick of a big writing project. Low spirits combined with other obligations have largely prevented me from doing the things (writing, exercising) that usually keep me in good train; even at the best of times, it's difficult to stay on an exercise and healthy eating regimen while traveling, but during this last New York trip (my talk in Buffalo went very well, though!) I pretty much threw up my hands and admitted that I would have to get back to Cayman and stop living out of a bag before I could really dig in and try and get myself back on track in any meaningful sense.

I flew back yesterday, and it's a significant relief to be here....

I can now see that I pretty much have 2 months left to me of this sabbatical, and I need to set modest but determined goals.

I have a book manuscript to revise, it's true, but other than that, my main goal is to get back into shape and also re-embrace the nutritional straight and narrow. If I am going to do IMCd'A, I need to lose weight now and be in really good shape when I start training seriously in March or so - it is not realistic to think that one will lose weight during Ironman training.

I do have to travel for Thanksgiving and Xmas, so it is not a truly uninterrupted stretch, but I am going to devote all the energy I can this month to exercising a lot and figuring it will improve my mood more than almost anything else within my power to change.

I'm going to splurge on some personal training sessions at World Gym, since I have found in the past that this is a very sure-fire and low-willpower way to get into shape (also it gives me accountability on what I'm eating - I do not even want to think about the nutritionally unsound choices I have been making for the past four months!).

I'm going to swim as much as possible; I'm going to see if I can do low-intensity long spin bike sessions while reading a book on my new Kindle; I'm not going to run a lot, since it's not the most enjoyable thing in Cayman heat, but I'll do enough (including interval and hill sessions on the treadmill and a weekly long run) that I'll be in good shape to run quite a bit in New York in January and February.

If I can end the year in pretty OK shape fitness-wise and with a new version of the little book on style that I drafted in the spring, it will have been a worthwhile year from the point of view of achieving personal goals; and I now think it can be done, although I am sure I will still have some more days where I am in very low spirits and can do nothing other than lie in bed!

100 free
100 drill-swim by 25 (catch-up)
100 free
100 drill-swim by 25 (6-3-6)

IM transitions: 50 fly drill, 50 fly drill-back by 25, 50 back, 50 back-breast, 50 breast, 50 breast-free, 50 free, 50 free-fly drill

4 x 50 fly-breast by 25
4 x 50 back-breast by 25

2 x (4 x 50 free on 1:20): (1) easy (2) build (3) easy (4) hard (:59, :60)

50 cooldown

1650 meters total

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This is hopeless! On Friday en route to Philadelphia I realized I was coming down with a cold, it has turned into a predictably awful one - I am sitting bleary-eyed in my office right now about to do one more library run, then I will have everything I need. I will be lucky if I get in even one or two sessions of exercise before I leave for Buffalo on Thursday - I think that tomorrow I will still be feeling too unwell, and of course I am wheezing terribly.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday bike/swim

It worked well to ride my bike uptown - first time ever commuting by bike! (Really in normal life I live 2 blocks away from my office and there is no need, but I am staying downtown for this visit.) Good way of fitting in some sanity-inducing exercise and fresh air in a fairly tightly scheduled day. There was an absolutely spectacular rosy pink sunset going on as I rode back downtown - at the Boat Basin people were standing and marveling at it and taking pictures of themselves against the herringboned pink sky.

I stopped at Chelsea Piers and had a very short swim - I had a birthday party to go to later on, and also masters swim practice was about to start and caused the lifeguard to consolidate swimmers into a small number of lanes - I decided I was just going to get out and move on with the rest of my evening. But it was worthwhile - I had a hot tub dunk - I am really wanting to be back on a regular swimming schedule, but this next week and a half remains very busy and complex in terms of scheduling...

12 miles bike
600 yards swim (100 free, 100 IM kick, 100 free, 100 IM drill, 100 free, 100 IM swim)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday spin

After a day in which inertia laid me low, I met up with Lauren at Chelsea Piers for the Monday night spin class. It was excellent - I felt afterwards for the first time in a long time as though I can imagine getting back into a decent fitness routine. I'm hoping to make it there for a swim this evening and for something else tomorrow during the day - and I rode my bike over there last night, and also uptown to Columbia this morning, so that's good too (though I underestimated how sweaty I would get - if I do that again, I might bring a towel and a clean shirt to change into!)...

55 mins. spin

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Short Saturday run

I am in Portland, Maine, and decided that I would simply be too self-castigatingly annoyed with myself if I did not get out for at least a short run in what is surely the most beautiful running weather in one of the prettiest towns in America.

Ran down to the harborfront, which is a bit too crowded and touristy to produce blissful running conditions (overly crowded sidewalks!), and then to a truly lovely path that is called the Eastern Promenade Trail. Turned around at East End Beach.

Must make sure to exercise more this week than last - I cannot plunge into a truly focused and extreme fitness regimen until I get back to Cayman, but I can certainly do better than I have done this last two weeks - even half an hour is better than nothing!

40 mins. beautiful running

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I have overscheduled my New York time, that's the long and short of it. Today was the first day that I really and definitely should have had plenty of time to run, but I still didn't get out at all - I only slept for a couple hours last night, due to insomnia, and crashed this afternoon for several hours of very deep sleep.

I'm taking the Philadelphia marathon off the sidebar, much as it disgusts me to back out of yet another race. I need to go to Portland, Maine this weekend for a wedding, I need to go to Philadelphia for at least a day next weekend, I leave for Buffalo on the 21st for a couple days of conference before returning to Cayman, tomorrow night I'm out all evening giving a talk and tonight I will see my brother for the first time in many months then go to a play with my grandfather (dinner to follow) - it's the season of meeting with my grad students on the job market and writing letters of recommendation - all these are good and important things, but incompatible with re-initiating my training plan at a time of discouragement and low motivation - if I'd run a lot in the past week, I suppose it would still be just about feasible to run a full marathon the week before Thanksgiving, but I am looking at the timeframe and thinking it really is pointless and stupid to push ahead with a notion that bears no relation to the reality I am currently living!

I'm pretty desperate for a return to a steady and predictable fitness regimen, in other words, but it was unrealistic to think that the New York time would be the start of it - too much other stuff to do here, including a lot of work things that I am packing into too short a time. Will be back in Cayman by the end of the day on Sunday the 24th, will dig in thereafter on book revisions (the little book on style) and fitness, but not with a run focus in particular.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Thursday run

It was rather a dreadful one - it is strangely warm and humid (arrived in New York on Tuesday night, but weather here is unseasonably and rather unpleasantly damp), asthma was troublesome - but the endorphins were as usual in plentiful supply by the end. Exercise schedule through the end of the weekend is sketchy, but from Monday onwards I should be able to have a couple weeks of more regular stuff. In the meantime, internet access remains sporadic, so expect few updates...