Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick note

Ugh, yesterday there were several good developments: on Sunday I started to think about the super-cool race I am doing in September (have been hesitant to get excited about it because I have been sick so much over the last 12 months), and on Monday I had an ingenious idea about a way to do a long-course race in 2012 without locking in so far in advance and spending so much money.

It is the 2012 iteration of this race - suffice it to say that despite my sensible 'decision' that I would revisit the question of Ironman in February or so, I have not been able to stop thinking about it all the time: IMLP registration was yesterday (regular registration was open for some hours but is now closed), it just stirred me up; and though there are still foundation slots left for IMNYC, they are going to be gone very soon and it is an expensive race: NYC had begun to predominate in my thoughts over Idaho, because although Idaho is so beautiful and really the race best suited to my preferences [probable cooler temperatures], it is expensive and difficult to get to with a bike (one of the worst things about canceling in June was that I'd already shipped bike and gear bag at a rate of $300 - so I couldn't even bring all of my favorite gear with me for the summer as the bike had not yet been returned to NYC). IMCDA also falls at a time in the year that makes the heaviest training period overlap with my busiest period of the year, not conducive to staying healthy during training. The NYC slots, though, are probably going to be gone in another week or two - I emailed yesterday with someone at the WTC to confirm this impression, and it is indeed the case. But I had at least two three-week illnesses in the last year, each one preceded about 3-4 weeks beforehand by a one-week respiratory ailment that would also have prevented me racing, and I really don't think it's a good idea to hand over a lot of dollars (in this case it's $1500, the NYC race anomalously costs about $400 more than their other races and then the foundation slot involves an additional charitable donation of about $600) to the WTC for a high-stakes race that will make me upset not to start at if that's the way it goes...

Anyway, the Canadian 226 seems like a great solution, it's cheaper to register further in advance but you can still register for the full iron-distance race less than one week out, and for under $400! Ottawa is easy to get to from NYC, and it's Brent's hometown, so it's a sensible place for us to travel for something like this. It is not quite the same thing as the 'branded' IM races, it is something a scrupulously honest person will feel the need to qualify and explain, but truly for the reasons I want to do it it is the same, and I will not be sorry to have a less hugely corporate sponsored race - I believe this one is a really great event in any case.

Felt a huge sense of relief at finding this as a possibility for next year: this is so much the thing I most want to do that it doesn't sit right with me just to let it go for another year, but clearly the WTC IM-branded races have not worked for me thus far (the long lead-in time doesn't fit well with various things about my life), and it is stupid to make the same mistake again when I have already made it several times.

Anyway, as I say, I had finally attained a small portion of inner tranquillity for the first time since the beginning of June, only I was beginning to feel a slight tickle and soreness in my lungs, and indeed there is clearly something amiss. ARGHHHHHHH! Sunday's bike ride must have put a strain on them again; it's not a cold, but they feel tender, raw, with more phlegm than should be. My hands are irksomely TIED until I am back in NY in early September, I have to go and see the pulmonary specialist I saw last year and also find an allergist, I hate having a course of action but not being able to initiate it immediately!

In the meantime I will obviously take the day off from exercise, which is hugely stressful to me, it is basically the main way I stay on track - off to the cafe shortly to try and do a spot of writing, that is the other big way...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Session #9

1 mi. treadmill warmup, 1hr. strength

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Long ride

First hour beautiful, second hour quite good, third hour hot and demoralizing.

Back tire was totally flat when I pumped up tires last night, it still seemed OK in the morning so I went ahead with it without replacing the tube or investigating further, but it was clearly having a slow leak of some sort: about half an hour from home, I got that bumpy feeling that tells you really you should get off and check your tire, only I was by that point so hot and fatigued that I really couldn't face even five minutes by the (incredibly hot) side of the road, I figured that so long as I still had some air in it I should just get home and deal with it later! But it is bad for the morale to be toiling in high zone 4 and going only at an incredibly slow speed - a reminder that full tires are a necessity for road biking. Annoying task now awaits for later in the day - hopefully it's just the tube, not the tire itself...

I was out the door by 6 (ugh), it makes a huge difference in terms of temperatures and traffic. Rode out past Bodden Town and the Lighthouse and took the left on Frank Sound Road, got to the Esso station around the 1:35 mark and stopped there for a snack and to top the Camelbak up with water and Gatorade.

That gave me a mental boost, and the ride back from there to Bodden Town has some very beautiful stretches, but I began to be aware of being subjectively very hot, and also increasingly suffering from all of the minor ills that cycling flesh is heir to: the heels of my hands were sore (this bike is a bit too small for me, so I lean even more heavily than I do on my NYC bike); toes were uncomfortable in bike shoes; the tender spots under my shorts that were still sore from last week's ride were sore again, and I couldn't find a comfortable position to sit in; my lower back needed stretching more and more often...

In short, I was very glad to hove within view of Kirk's Supermarket, which really tells me that I am almost home...

(Now that I am air-conditioned, I am feeling much better - really it wasn't a bad ride, the slowness/soft tire thing is a bummer but it is still a good workout even if it brings down average speed and extends the last part of the ride almost intolerably!)

44.08 miles
14.1mph avg speed (avg HR 139, max HR 154)

zone 1: 0:01:50
zone 2: 1:44:57
zone 3: 0:55:62
zone 4: 0:22:42

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday treadmill intervals

10 mins warmup, then 5 x 4 mins zone 4, 2 mins recovery

40 mins total

Had intended then to do some elliptical time, but heat buildup was already so intense, I figured it was probably a good time to stop! 

[By the numbers: avg HR 150, max HR 166; zone 1, 12:05; zone 2, 6:12; zone 3, 4:06; zone 4, 14:49.]

Friday, July 22, 2011

Session #8

Was frantically working all day to finish the novel, so much so that I couldn't take the time to write my usual post-workout blog post! But I did have a highly satisfactory session with Carla at 9am. Will run tomorrow (probably treadmill) and ride long Sunday morning, rain permitting...

1hr strength

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday swim

It was a nice one - I felt much less upset than I did on Tuesday, and the only thing slightly hindering me was that we did a lot of back and shoulder stuff yesterday at the gym and I definitely could feel the muscles as being tired, especially on the fly lengths.

But I am still grumpy with myself: I had an epic plan, but bad planning led to a failure to execute! It is my 40th birthday today, and I got the idea last week that I should swim 40 x 100 on 2:30 to mark the occasion.

Brent sensibly commented that one good thing about this plan was that it would only take an hour to do - but really this was totally unrealistic of me, especially once I decided that all freestyle would be too boring and that I would mix in some stroke. In a meter rather than yard pool, and with stroke and at endurance paces (no lanemate to keep me up to the mark!), I'm certainly not going to be making a 2:30 interval. I would have had to budget more like 2 hours, and as morning lane swim is only 5-7am, I would have needed to get there a whole hour earlier than usual, and possibly eaten something beforehand too (usually I do morning swims on an empty stomach). I'd been swimming for nearly an hour, and I was only halfway through...

Anyway, I did enjoy the 20 x 100 that I did, and as at this point it was already just after 7 (they don't kick you out, but you start to feel extraneous and as though you had better wrap up soon), and I have a big work day ahead of me, I figured I should just be sensible and call it quits.

(I do not like being sensible and calling it quits! But I am trying to finish my novel in near future, and fortitude will be better saved for that.)

20 x 100 as 25 stroke, 75 free, 5 of each in reverse IM order (i.e. 5 x 100 free, 5 x 25 breast, 75 free, 5 x 25 back, 75 free, 5 x 25 fly, 75 free), 5-10 seconds rest

2000 meters total

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Session #7

Excellent. I ate a better breakfast this morning and did not run out of steam towards the end of the workout.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday swim

I was not full of vim this morning.

Very tempted to stop after 1000 meters, and then again after 1500, but figured the self-reproach I would inevitably feel later in the day if I cut it short was not worth the mild relief of stopping. I am finding it a very unpleasant surprise how intensely and strongly I miss Wendy while doing these morning workouts in the Camana Bay pool; I guess I will get desensitized to this over the rest of the summer, but it was again this morning a swim where I felt that I was on the verge of tears for the whole duration, including after I got out.

On a brighter note: a cute little frog, slightly larger than a hard-boiled egg, mined itself onto the edge of the pool, then itself up to the pool rail when I got closer to take a look; and as I biked out of the parking lot on my way home, I saw what was unmistakably a Cayman parrot flying low through the trees. Despite the name, one does not see these parrots particularly frequently round here, and they are very attractive, so that was a treat.

Warmup: 100 free, 100 IM kick with board, 100 free, 100 IM drill, 100 free, 100 IM swim

5 x 100 as 25 fly, 75 free

5 x 100 as 25 free, 25 back, 50 free

5 x 100 first as 25 fly, 25 back, 50 free, then on the third one I forgot and went from back into breast (autopilot) so I did the last couple as full IM also

2100 meters total

Monday, July 18, 2011

Session #6

Excellent. Slightly underfueled towards the end, this was the first time this summer we've done a 9am session - got up around 5:15 (?!?), Max had texted to let me know he wouldn't be able to meet up for our notional 6am jog, had protein shake and cappuccino at 6:30 at Cafe del Sol for breakfast. Need to eat one thing more in order to get all the way through to 10am, I think...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday bike

Had a truly nice bike ride this morning - don't know how much actual cycling fitness I have retained from this spring's training, but it is noticeably the case that after a spring doing 6- and 7-hour rides, a 2:20 ride feels like NOTHING!

(I have said it before, really cycling here - at least at 7am on a Sunday morning when there is no traffic - is more relaxing than in NY, there are no bridges or complex intersections or hills next to precipices!)

Saw various folks I know out there, and also had a funny exchange at the Bodden Town Texaco, where I stopped on the way back to buy a Coke to drink and a Gatorade to top up the Camelbak. I walked out of the store with a drink in each hand; a middle-aged guy ambled up on a bike, his eyes fell to the beverages in my hands and with a twinkle in his eye, he asked, "Taking on cold petrol?" It was a good line...

Rode to the Lighthouse and turned around at the 1:15 mark; there is a noticeable headwind on the way out and a very nice tailwind on the way home (1:15 as opposed to 1:05, at fairly consistent effort level).

2:20:58, 34.53mi, avg speed 14.7mph

zone 1: 1:28
zone 2: 1:28:57
zone 3: 52:58
zone 4: 1:15

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday cardio

Hmmm, I wanted to do zone 4 intervals on the treadmill, but running fastish was giving me significant soreness in my left lower leg - I have been using minimalist shoes for treadmill warmup, either that has slightly pronged it or it is something else (have had slightly sore left knee all week as consequence of overly heavy gears on bike workout last Sunday). Anyway I listened to the voice of reason and switched to the elliptical for the rest of the hour. I think I have to use that machine more while I am here: I really haven't used one since I got a HR monitor, but I see that clearly I am getting a higher heartrate with much lower perceived effort on the elliptical than I do on the treadmill, and the heat buildup is far less overwhelming (also I got the one that is in direct line of a fan). Will figure HR zones are similar and that it is reasonable to sub in some volume on the elliptical for what is otherwise nearly intolerable treadmill running, very hot and very slow!

1:04, avg HR 145, max HR 165

zone 1: 12:28
zone 2: 10:10
zone 3: 16:40
zone 4: 7:34

Friday, July 15, 2011

Session #5

15 minutes treadmill, 1hr strength

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday swim

Warmup: 100 free, 100 back, 100 free, 100 breast, 100 free, 100 fly drill-swim (right-arm, left-arm, 3-3-3, full stroke), 100 free

3 x 100 drill-swim by 25: fists, front scull, 6-3-6


250 kick with board (flutter, every fifth length whip)

1750 meters total

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Session #4

Excellent session with Carla.  Working out with her is my third favorite thing in Cayman.  (First and second are Brent and wildlife.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday swim

Good to be back in the pool, but the transition from short-course yards to meters is always a mental blow vis-a-vis numbers, and I was also seeing the ghost of a workout from last summer on the little diving slate I used to note down what I had done (this is a fuller account of it); I was swimming considerably slower on a longer interval and a shorter workout, highly dispiriting to contemplate, and I also just seem to be in low spirits more generally.

100 free
100 IM (fly drill)

A hundred that I associate with Doug Stern, who called it RaLaCuBa on his workout sheets: right arm down, left arm back, catch-up, full stroke back to the start

5 x 100 drill-swim by 25: catch-up, thumbs-and-salute, fists, front scull, finger-drag

5 x 100 free strong on 3:00 (2:12, 2:12, 2:12, 2:13, 2:12)

200 flutter kick with board

1500 meters total

Monday, July 11, 2011

Session #3

Very good. Walked over to the gym, warmed up with a mile jog on the treadmill, then a strenuous hour of mostly lower-body stuff.

(Felt a bit woozy from heat as I walked home - am drinking a huge amount of water now to try and cool back down! It's hotter today than it was the first few days I was back here - 90 degrees, very bright sun, high relative humidity...)

I should have gone swimming this morning, but I rationalized against it: much lightning overnight, didn't want to get stuck having to get out not long after having gotten in. Really I think I was just having the mild bicycle aversion that always creeps up on me when I have not ridden for a number of weeks. But tomorrow I will definitely ride over to the pool early and swim: 'for realsies,' as Brent said when I announced it this morning!

1mi warmup jog
1hr strength

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday spin

I did not have the morning vim to get up at 6:15 and ride outside, alas! Didn't run on the treadmill yesterday morning either - still battling residual fatigue from Ottawa and ongoing worries about the situation there. But I had a good one-hour workout on the spin bike at the condo just now (another good one from the invaluable Workouts in a Binder for Indoor Cycling - I am a huge fan of this book).

16:00 warmup

set 1:

4 x 3:00 in zones 2-5: seated at 70rpm, ramp up to maximum exertion by last interval (1:00 rest interval)

5:00 rest

4 x 3:00 in zones 3-4, with last 1:00 standing at 60rpm, higher gear than first set (1:00 rest interval)

5:00 cooldown

1hr total (avg HR 138, max HR 166)

zone 1: 13:01
zone 2: 20:06
zone 3: 8:06
zone 4: 11:41
zone 5: 2:30

I think I actually had more zone 5 time on the second set, as my left knee was feeling a bit tender and I wanted to be careful about riding seated in a very heavy gear. Anyway, it was very good. I will try it again sometime in the next week or two and see if I can't do a better job getting the HR into the right zone and moving it higher over the course of the interval.

I will hope to ride outside next Sunday early; really it's the only day when traffic doesn't make the whole business singularly unwise. But indoor workouts are good too...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Session #2

Fantastic! This is going to be good...

1mi warmup on treadmill
1hr strenuous strength session

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday treadmill intervals

Alas, my Garmin was experiencing interference that made the HR numbers go wildly all over the place - I think I should try turning it on in the parking lot outside from the gym to see if it can get a lock in on HR before I go in and it starts getting barraged with other signals. So I will just have to call it zone 3/4 intervals, unspecified HR - I am pretty sure at least some of the time was in zone 4, but it is harder to use rate of perceived exertion as a proxy when I'm out of the habit of hot treadmill running...

12min warmup

5 x 4min Z3-4, 2min recovery

42min total (3.5mi)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Got back to Cayman yesterday afternoon after a week in Ottawa that, it must be said, was about as dispiriting and exhausting as can possibly be imagined. I was pretty much better healthwise as of about 10 days ago (residual phlegm at bottom of lungs does not seem to want to go away, but I do not think there is anything much I can do about it), but there was no sensible way to make exercise happen in Ottawa given extent of other obligations...

(We did have a good walk every day with Brent's dad, who remains an excellent walker at age 82, along gorgeous paths just outside of the city - saw a huge turtle, a lot of ducks and geese on the canals, several groundhogs, a spritely chipmunk and various other birds and critters...)

I now have EIGHT WEEKS IN ONE PLACE - Brent will go back to Ottawa again in August, but I will not go with him this time, as although it makes me feel a bit of a heel I need to conserve resources! And I am going to make as good use of this time as I possibly can for fitness purposes. It has been a difficult year, this past year, with a lot of travel and responsibility overload of various kinds, but I am devoutly hoping the coming year won't be quite so challenging for me!

Emailed my lovely trainer Carla over the weekend (she is in particularly good shape just now as she was the female overall winner in the bodybuilding competition here last month) and had session #1 with her at 7am this morning. We had to stop a few minutes early as I was basically just flat-out DONE - it was excellent!

I have two endurance events in September (the amazing Survival of the Shawangunks and the Little Red Lighthouse 10K swim). Won't have any very particular training regimen for either, just lots of strength training, high volume on biking and swimming and then whatever running I can stand to do on the treadmill plus bits and pieces outdoors as heat and humidity permit. Main focus: improve body composition...

Ironman thoughts are much on my mind - the prudent course, unfortunately, may well be to wait till next year and register via normal channels (i.e. online, 1 year in advance) for a 2013 race, but I am not sure I can stand to wait so long. I am going to reconsider the question c. February or so.

I have set two preconditions that must be met for me to register at that point via a foundation slot (more expensive, but often available till some months before the actual race, while regular slots sell out very quickly for most IM races) for either IMCDA 2012 (late June) or IMNYC 2012 (mid-August - more expensive, and not sure about how far out the foundation slots will still be available - IMCDA ones were still available mid-spring, I think, and I would guess I'd have a good shot at still getting one if I were looking to register in February, but the NYC race will be in its inaugural year and it is harder to predict how all that will go).

Condition #1: financial prosperity/healthy bank account such that sinking c. $2500-3000 in IM dreams (this is a conservative estimate, probably lowballed, re: race registration, bike transport, hotel and airfare for Idaho - it may be that NYC would in the end be cheaper, and it is my HOME TOWN which is mentally beneficial, but it is a much hotter and significantly less beautiful race, and also falls in a month when I'd usually have sublet my apartment and be staying in Cayman at Brent's place, so I am really just not sure yet about preference on the one versus the other).

Condition #2: drop 30lbs. I lost a lot of weight five or so years ago, but a good chunk of that has crept back on over the last 2 years - I love exercising, but good nutrition does not come easily to me, and a situation of stress and work overload is basically death to healthy eating for me...

If I meet both of these 2 conditions by February 2012, and if the rest of my work spring doesn't look too crazy, then I think I will take the plunge and register for one or the other of those 2 races (if NYC is no longer available, my choice will have been made for me - but as I say, there are true pros and cons for each, including the fact that the later race gives me more summer training time, and summer is when my work schedule hugely lightens up whereas April and May are the busiest months of my work year). If one or the other condition has not been met, I will choose one of the two races and attempt to register via normal channels for its 2013 iteration. In either case I will try and do as many century rides as I can in spring and summer 2012, and do a lot of indoor bike hours over winter and spring, as this is where I continue to need the most work.

Also: I will see an allergist in the fall, and also revisit the pulmonary specialist I saw about my asthma last year, and see what might be done about improving lung function and making it less likely that I so frequently get a bad three-week bout of bronchitis.

(The other major factor that I should have more information on by February: I have two book manuscripts I'm revising this summer, and though it always takes more time for things to happen in book-writing and publishing than one can possibly imagine, it is not unrealistic to think I might have contracts on both of them by the end of this calendar year. This would put publication dates for both in 2013, most likely, which provides another incentive to try and make an Ironman happen in calendar year 2012. I didn't do much promotion for my last couple books, for one reason or another, but both of these two deserve/require more of my attention and a more serious commitment of resources, both in terms of time/attention and in terms of dollars, so that will be the other big piece of information I don't have yet but that will affect race planning.)

Anyway, that's a long one, but mainly it's just great to be back exercising again, I rely on those soothing chemicals to make me feel I am on an even keel!

1hr strength