Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Short run!

Extremely demanding day (day and a half really) of work ahead. It was the right choice to get out for a run, it made me feel much better! Very high humidity and rather too warm - hopefully torrential rain will arrive to clear the air....

40min as 8 x (4:1)

Monday, September 29, 2014


a very apt NYT article gives the clear sense of why I can't do training rides in Central Park!

Short run!

Have seriously not had a MOMENT to write my race report for Princeton 70.3 last weekend, which is very uncharacteristic - I had to travel again this weekend, that was the problem, and also my storytelling vim got used up for SOS! BUT after a very demanding week that didn't so much feature post-race recovery as ONGOING LIFE STRESS (nothing bad, just life at a very busy time of my work year, with various other personal and professional obligations!) I did finally have a short nice run this morning. I needed the happy running chemicals to relieve stress and calm myself down a bit - in FRENZY, ugh!

30min run as 3 x (4min run, 1min recovery), then 5 x 1min moderately hard, 1min recovery, 5min cooldown jog

Friday, September 19, 2014

Short run of beauty and bliss!

There are other kind of runs I like very much too, like arduous 2-hr ones in stinging rain (really!), but what could be nicer than a 30-minute run on one of the most beautiful days in the year when you're keeping legs fresh for a big race on Sunday? Glorious!

30min with 3 x :30 hard, :30 recovery and a 1:00 surge up the little hill

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


A bit of a funny day as I was so tired yesterday after Monday and Tuesday teaching that I went to bed around 11 last night, without setting the alarm, and only woke up at 11 in the morning! (Wednesday is my sort of midweek hiatus this semester, with beginnings and ends of weeks more demanding; given the race this weekend, and that I have evening commitments on Thursday and Friday, it was clear that I'd better get what sleep I could.) Was battling inertia, and only managed during the afternoon to write and submit one letter of recommendation I should have done sooner (there is a tenure letter I really need to finish tomorrow, will do some more work on it tonight before bed), but decided it really was a good idea to go to Chelsea Piers for early evening exercise.

The weather is astonishingly lovely just now in NYC! Swam for a bit, then went to 6pm spin class, today taught by Ben rather than Danny. It was very good - a lot of high-intensity work, good for me to desensitize to higher heartrate! And then it happened that this evening was the member appreciation party. I went out to the sun deck and watched the sun set over the Hudson; also, very delicious margaritas (with ginger and kale juice, and a chili salt rim on the glass!), shrimp wrapped in bacon, potstickers, etc. Pleasant indeed (certainly softened the blow of having just coincidentally renewed membership and winced at monthly rate)!

700 yards (100 swim, 100 kick, 100 RaLaCuBa, 2 x 100 drill-swim by 25 [front scull, fists], then 2 x 25 hard on :45, 50 hard on 1:00, 100 moderate

:45 spin with :10, :20, :30 sprints and recoveries

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Short but nice run!

Only 1/6 into the semester, but I am utterly knackered. Got home from teaching last night so tired I actually couldn't think of anything I wanted to read, which really is a sign of deep fatigue for me, it rarely happens! Sleep did not feel restorative, and I had to fight to get focused this morning to write my lecture - could tell willpower was already much depleted. Finished lecture around midday, first meeting on campus not till 2:30, so I definitely had time for a run, but I wasn't hugely optimistic about executing workout as planned (not a huge one, but with 6 x 1min hill as central bit of work/gearing up for racing this weekend). Indeed, I did my warmup, then ran the first hill distinctly half-heartedly - was fading by 2/3 of the way up and decided I really didn't need to do it if I was that tired. Did 4-5 10-second accelerations on last bit home, for a total of about :32. It did make me feel calmer and more awake, highly worthwhile really (this sort of a run, which endurance athlete thinks of as mini, is really probably about what's recommended for daily exercise for health!).

Monday, September 15, 2014


It was touch and go whether I'd actually get down here for midday class, but I scrambled to finish the essential teaching stuff and it did work out. It is very good if I can do it! Joanna's spin class, and then just a short swim: my right knee is a little tender at the front, and there is something tender as well in my left arm on the outside (I think this is from swimming last weekend with a bashed-up elbow, nothing major but will behoove me to keep swimming short and sweet this week).

:45 spin
500 yards swim as 100 swim, 100 kick, 4 x 75 kick-drill-swim by 25 in IM order

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I didn't sleep well (sign that I have been overdoing it), so I wrote off the notion of a longer morning run and basically just spent the day in bed doing all the reading for my classes this week with naps for periodic refreshment! Cats gave this agenda the vote of approval. Just went out now for an easy 30-minute run with 5 x 30 seconds hard. It is GORGEOUS out there, the most perfect running weather.....

:30 with 5 x 30s hard

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Double spin!

Tiring day of being out and about - vast pile of work at home awaits, unfortunately!

Double spin was good. The track work they're doing on the weekends is making me grumpy; I hadn't left quite enough time to get downtown this morning anyway (50 minutes rather than the full hour, which you really need given weekend transit schedules) - then remembered to my horror that NO trains are running on the 1 line north of 96th St. for the whole weekend! Horrible crowded shuttle bus, slow train, had to take a taxi from 14th St. (should have taken a taxi right away when I saw the bus situation, as it was distinctly frazzle-inducing). Was about 10 minutes late but could have been worse....

First class: :40; second class: 1hr. I gather there is soon going to be a change of policy whereby we aren't allowed to ride straight through the double...

Then spin teacher Joanna's birthday lunch at Chelsea Market! Very nice.

1:40 spin

Friday, September 12, 2014


Rather slow but utterly lovely - glorious weather for it! (Low 60s and breezy!) Fall is my favorite season - temperatures are headed on the right trajectory, there's the excitement of a new school year and the pleasant feeling of possibility in the air.

:50 as :15 warmup, 5 x (3:30 steady, :30 hard, 1:00 recovery), :10 cooldown

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SOS 2014 - race report!

I almost posted a status update on Facebook on Friday: "Cycling shoes are definitely the smelliest thing in my apartment. Not excluding the cats' litter box." Then when we were driving up to New Paltz on Saturday, I was making idle conversation with my 5-year-old niece GG in the back seat and told her this.

I think my companions in the car thought it was hyperbole - but the next day, after they'd taken all my bike stuff from me and seen me off on my way for run-swim-run-swim-run-swim-clamber, they were overwhelmed with an ungodly horrible smell. At first they thought something must have died in there! Then they pinned it down & isolated said shoes in a neatly tied plastic bag....

(GG greeted me as I exited from the last swim with a long and excited story about the smelliness of the shoes and solving the stink mystery, it was very funny!)

Also: the race starts at the Ulster County Fairgrounds, where there are real bathrooms, which is nice. General agreement among women racing: this is not just the only race but the only place in life where the line for the men's bathroom is much longer than for the women's, and you even see men sneaking in to use a stall in the ladies' room!

Coming out at the last swim exit - I'd been racing for 8+ hours already, legs tired from a running point of view but that final swim (3 of 3) is so gorgeous, I love it!

More pictures:

Breaking back into a run as I reached the finish line.
Spoils of victory!

That photo set in its entirety, from zgunks.net, really gives a feel of the beauty of the race - the bike is gorgeous, the running trails are ridiculously beautiful and the swims are the best you will have in your entire life.

(Me to volunteer helping me out of water after initial 1.1mi swim: "That water is the perfect temperature!" Him, skeptically: "You must be from New England. You're the only person who's said that today!" Temperature probably around 73-75, cool clean lake water - you can take a gulp of it without gagging, it is in that sense much more relaxing than swimming in the sea!)

A minor triumph: I was not the last cyclist! Or, for that matter, the last finisher. The course changes a bit from year to year, so times can't be compared exactly, but here are results from the last time I raced SOS and here are this year's. My bike time is c. 7 minutes faster, and it felt like more than that because it keeps you more in the mix and puts you with nice big 18-19mph numbers on the Garmin (then the last five-mile stretch up into transition features 1000 feet of climbing, at paces between 5 and 8 mph if you are me!). I rode in the big ring and didn't have a problem staying with others - three or four others were always in sight, and there were at least three behind us. Music to my ears as volunteer said, as I pulled up the last bit of hill: "Are there still a lot of racers behind you?!?!?"

I should clarify: I don't at all mind being last, someone has to be, but being the last cyclist on the course gives you a sort of entourage of sweep vehicles, and their sound and presence and fumes are a little stressful and distracting if you are so easily unsettled a cyclist as myself - I felt a huge amount of gratitude that my year of riding last year while training for IMWI led to noticeably improved technique and fitness on the bike.

I can do considerably better still at this race, by the way - it is everything I most like, and I am hoping to get a slot for next year and do it at least 10-20 minutes faster!

Took a hard tumble on the trail at the start of hour six, about two-thirds of the way through the middle run leg at the crest of one of many hills. My attention must have drifted (I believe I was thinking about how the insole of my right shoe hadn't quite settled right when I put shoes back on after the first swim, and was rubbing against instep - did the race sockless for the first time, it was worthwhile - this is the first pair of running shoes I've had that are genuinely comfortable without socks, though I might have tested that premise on a longer run first - I do have a bunch of blisters, I just didn't notice them at the time - had a pair of socks in pouch in case I changed my mind). It's gravel there (not gravel-strewn, more like thick gravel) with some larger rocks, I think my foot caught on a rock.

Bruising on left knee, hip and elbow felt worse at the time than it did the next day (when you come out of the water after the next swim, it feels stiff after having been submerged in cool water), but also the blood was streaming down my calf - gaggle of teenage girls coming the opposite way shrieked, I think they had a slight zombie apocalypse panic moment!

Style of this race: comforting volunteer aiding transition into the next swim said, "The lake will wash it off. You can get it looked at properly at the finish!" (Also, teenage girl at later aid station - "Oww-ee!") Guy at last swim exit started cleaning it off for me, but I brushed him off as I still had to do the Skytop climb! That transition could have been a little faster....

Close your eyes if you are sensitive to gruesome - this is the elbow the following day!

Keeping an eye on it in case I think I should go and get some antibiotics, but really it is OK, definitely better today than last night.

In, an absolutely glorious day. The best endurance race in North America, in my opinion, and I really hope I will be able to do it again on a regular basis!

Shout-out to some coaches who've made a difference for me: Joanna Paterson, not just for the great spin workouts (the long climbs we do make the 1000-foot climb over the last five miles here feel relatively manageable!) but also for the coaching session last summer when she sternly told me I should be riding a lot more of the time in the big ring (I have a triple on my bike, and a lazy tendency to ride always in the middle ring - also, HEELS DOWN!); and David Roche, whose coaching this summer has been a pure pleasure. You wouldn't think such a superior athlete would be so excited about coaching middle-aged back-of-packers, but he is, it is very good fun indeed! (I think he may still have a few training slots open if you're interested - here's more information.

Finally, this race makes me think deeply and gratefully of Doug Stern, my first swimming teacher in adulthood. I only knew him for about six months - he died of cancer very quickly after a shocking diagnosis - but he was an important person for me, and this was an important race for him (the Doug Stern Memorial Award is for the fastest women's bike split - the person who got it this year was absolutely elated, it was fun!). I like the thought of doing this race in his honor and his memory.

Most of all, thanks to my brother and sister-in-law and niece for crewing for me. It was a lovely way to spend a weekend together. Life re-entry was a bit challenging - I taught my first graduate seminar of the semester on Monday, and had to pull things together for a Milton lecture yesterday when really I wouldn't have minded lying on the couch with my feet up - but what a privilege and a pleasure to be able to do this sort of thing!

Monday, September 8, 2014


It is my favorite race of all the ones I've ever done - putting in for a lottery slot for next year for sure! Full report will have to wait till I have gotten this work day under wraps....

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Just a very short one, to set the day off on a good track and loosen up the legs - 30min, with 4 x 100m strides. The weather is grotesquely humid - forecast clear now for catastrophic thunderstorms later, so tomorrow should be not as hot and humid, but I am a little worried about the effects of rain on the course....

.5hr run

Friday, September 5, 2014


Thursday was a wash - I had an appealing run on the schedule, but I didn't do it first thing and then the day got away from me (especially when it's so warm, a day of doing this and that around town really makes it hard to get out, and then I was having a very productive evening spell of work on my syllabus for Monday, I couldn't stop until it was done!). But I did have a nice midday workout today - Joanna's spin class and then a swim for form and feel. Now it's late, I'm pretty tired and I'm really nowhere near packed for departure tomorrow (race is Sunday morning), but it's OK, will go to bed soon and regroup in the early morning - don't need to leave here till 11:30 or so.

:50 spin
1000 yards swim (100 swim, 100 pull, 100 kick, 2 x 100 drill [RaLaCuBa, 6-3-6], 4 x 75 free increasing speed every 25 (10s rest), 100 IM easy (fly drill), 100 easy free

(Really it was a nice day - after leaving the gym, I visited Rent the Runway and found a dress to wear for a black-tie event in 2 weeks [yes, I know it's not a black-tie outfit really, more on cocktail dress lines, but I'm just not the type for black tie, it is inconceivable that I would wear a floor-length dress, this dress will do me very well instead!] then had cheese & crackers at my adopted grandfather's place nearby - we went to get an early bite to eat round the corner and ran into my brother, who was waiting for his phone to get fixed at the Apple store - so he joined us, it was a lovely coincidence!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Very nice, too - I wish I could have stayed in longer, but when a third person joined our lane and we switched to circle swim, I was the slowest and kept on needing to stop at the wall to let others pass, it broke my concentration! Probably just as well, I am racing on Sunday and do not need to do any mega-workouts this week.

:45 spin class
c. 700 yards swim

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Gosh, that was good! Needed to do something psychologically manageable and not too strenuous, given that I have a demanding week and a big race on Sunday; ran down to the boat basin, then home, doing 4 x mini-hill up into my bit of park en route home (concentrating on powering up hill and running "through" the top of the hill, about 80s work, then walking to the bottom as a recovery).

(The sad fact is that after spending one of the coolest Augusts on record IN ANOTHER VERY WARM COUNTRY, I have returned to NYC just time for a September wave of heat and humidity - NOT pleasant out there, but good to get out regardless.)

:55 run

Monday, September 1, 2014


OK, that was good. Yesterday was a wash - partly it was incredibly warm and humid, partly I was just overwhelmed with need to de-chaosify my apartment, finish some work and generally get myself into the right place to start teaching tomorrow! But I rode down to Chelsea Piers for Joanna's midday spin class - the ride down was HORRIBLE, I do it because it's time-efficient but really long since I knew that riding that crowded path on a holiday weekend is NOT FOR ME! Class was extremely demanding, in a good way, and the ride home felt much more relaxed, I suppose because the endorphins are floating around....

:50 easy (stressful!) ride
:45 spin!