Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry- Just Kidding

I am finally back in NYC. On Sunday I smugly watched the television at my grandparents' house as the blizzard unleashed its wrath upon New York. I thought I had escaped. I was wrong. 1 plane, 4 trains, and an automobile later, I am back.

And after the holidays, I have a lot of work to do. I haven't eaten so many cookies since, well, last Christmas. I'm planning to get up early and go for a swim. Seems like an odd work out for the end of December, doesn't it? As it happens, there's an indoor triathlon taking place on January 9th. While I plan on participating, I'm also painfully aware of the fact that I haven't been swimming in months. Months! It's a good thing the swimming portion only lasts 10 minutes.

You might also be wondering how an indoor triathlon works. Here's the deal: each athlete is allotted a certain amount of time for each segment (swim, bike, run). The race organizers then use a formula to calculate each racer's score. For more info on the scoring system, check this out. Transitions are not counted. This particular race format is 10 minutes of swimming, 30 minutes of biking, and 20 minutes of running. I've never done one of these, but I think it will be educational, if nothing else. The amount of time spent running is pretty short, so I'm hoping the speedwork I've been doing with Jared will have some impact. On the other hand, it might be hard to tell since I haven't done a brick (bike/run) workout in months either.

I'm off. Need to be up early!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope your day was bright, blessed, and full of Christmas cheer. For anyone who did a race today or will be doing one in the next day or two, best of luck. I'll be in San Antonio for the next couple of days and then back to NYC for New Year's Eve.

Enjoy the last hour or two of this day. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - 2010 Edition

Hello from Texas! I decided not to bring my computer. It might have been a bad idea simply because it will make blogging more difficult. No matter. This one will be very short. Wednesday's workout was a little shorter than usual because I woke up late. We were supposed to meet at Crunch at 6am (as usual). I woke up at 6:17am. Fail. Normally, though, I leave at 7:30 and we did manage to squeeze in an extra half hour. We did some crazy Yoga-on-crack circuit which involved lots of pushups and the plank position. Then we moved into a variation on the Dwight Freeney workout. Jared asked me if I knew who Dwight Freeney is. I obviously didn't, so he sent me a link (FYI he's a football player). Google it, if you're interested. I'd share the link here but it's in my work inbox. Jared, if you're reading, comment with the link?

Alright, I have to run. I'll try to be back later, but if not, everyone have a Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sprinting to Christmas

Hopefully you're not tired of the Christmasy posts. I know some people grow weary of the season, but I'm not one of them. I plan on enjoying it for the next four days, so bear with me if I crank out a few more. New York remains mostly snowless, but beautiful nonetheless. If you live here in the city and haven't seen Columbus Circle, it's something you need to do ASAP. In terms of being breathtaking, I think it's second only to the tree at Rockefeller Center. I fully expect that you've witnessed the lights in all their glory while running through or by Central Park if you're a runner. Columbus Circle is one of the closest subway stops to my home so I'm fortunate enough to be able to see it on the regular.

Image borrowed from the theweblicist

Right. Down to business. First, a recap of yesterday's workout. It was a combo of circuits, strength training which mostly focused on the legs, and sprintwork. The circuit consisted of:

5 pull-up jumps (unassisted, thank you)
10 push-ups
15 squats
20 walking lunges
400 meter sprint

Jared put 20 minutes on the timer and our goal was to do as many circuits as possible in that time. We managed 5. I did my sprint at an 8.5-9.0mph pace. The pull-up jumps went well and I'm hoping to achieve my goal of doing a full unassisted pull-up by March. After the circuit exercise we did leg strength stuff. Finally we went into sprints. This consisted of each of us doing 20 seconds of sprinting, at which point one would slow to a jog and the other would begin their 20 seconds. I did these sprints a little faster (9.5-10mph) because the time was shorter. We did 2 10-minute segments of this with a half mile between each segment and a final hard sprint at the end.It was a really good workout. I always enjoy sprints and am really hoping they pay off for my races coming up in the new year.

Due to a combination of last minute Christmas shopping and a cold, I didn't do anything today. Fortunately, though, we have a 6am scheduled for tomorrow. I guess that means I should go to bed. Night!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Big Fat Variety Post - Part 2

In the second installment of what might have been the longest post ever, I'll discuss some recent race schedule news as well as important information for any New Yorkers seeking to gain guaranteed entry for the ING NYC Marathon 2012.

As you may remember from my holiday race post, one of my favorite races is the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, which takes place in Central Park at midnight on New Year's Eve. Last week I registered for that. If anyone else is interested in running it, visit I'm sure you can still register, though prices may have gone up a bit. The NYRR website allows you to register for a number of its upcoming races in one shot, so I went ahead and registered for the Manhattan Half Marathon, which is the first in the Half Marathon Grand Prix. Actually, I think they might have changed the name of the series, but the idea is the same. It's a series of half marathons that take place in each of the five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island).

While I was at it I renewed my NYRR membership. This is the important information part. If you have any interest in obtaining guaranteed entry to the marathon in 2012, you must be an NYRR member by January 31st, 2011. Take heed!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Big Fat Variety Post - Part 1

I decided to do a little midday blogging as I wait for our stove to be fixed. We haven't had a working stove since we moved in. It's a really long story and involves a gas leak and me getting locked in my own apartment. Good times.

I was a little hesitant to start this one because there are a bunch of things I want to cover and I left my notes at work. I will surely forget something without my notes, which is why I decided to break it up. First off, let's get into the upcoming triathlon season.

It seems like the 2010 tri season just ended. Yet lo and behold, 2011 is now upon us! I'm sure there are triathlons that can be done at all times in the year, but I intend to start sometime in late March or early April. Full year schedule to follow. With the advent of a new triathlon season comes thoughts on the things I anticipate needing. At the top of this list for me are:

1. A new bike
2. A wetsuit

I'm going to save the bike discussion for another day. It's a huge purchase and requires lots of research and consideration. In other words, a dedicated post. As for the wetsuit, I plan on purchasing one pronto. After going an entire season without one I concluded that it was doable, but not something I'd recommend for anyone who's going to get involved with the sport. Why didn't I buy one from the get-go? They're expensive. At a few of the triathlons I did, I had people tell me "Wow, you must be a really good swimmer if you're going without a wetsuit!" I wanted to respond with something like "Yup, I can doggie paddle with the best of them," ; "Hell no, I'd have to sublet half my bedroom to buy one," or simply "Nah, I'm just a cheapskate." But I knew that if I wanted to maintain any amount of dignity I'd keep my trap shut, nod and smile, and hope they didn't notice me emerging from the water toward the back of the pack. This brings me to a little segment I like to call:
I received an email with this ad the other day and it looks like a really good deal. I'll probably take advantage before it expires on December 31st. If you're in the market for a wetsuit as well, visit xterra's website. At checkout, enter the promo code R-PIRANHA.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let it snow!

New York City had its first real snowfall today. Fortunately it didn't come while Jared and I were on our morning workout/run. As usual, he had something diabolical up his sleeve. We started with 10 minutes of warmup on the elliptical and then did 2.5 rounds of the following:

20 box jumps
10 jumping pull-ups (mine were assisted)
50 20lb kettle bell swings
50 walking lunges
20 knee to elbow crunch thingies
20 push presses with 20lb barbell
20 back extensions
20 squat thrusts
50 jumping jacks

Apparently, as the real workout goes, you're supposed to do 50 reps of each exercise and then do 5 sets. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on your perspective), we didn't have all morning. Halfway through Jared decided we'd go on a run outside for the last 35 minutes or so. So we covered the following route:

Our pace was pretty decent for the first half. On the second half we stepped it up because we were running out of time. Jared had me do 20 seconds of sprinting, at which point I would slow to a jog and he would catch up to me. That continued for the second half of the route within the park. Central Park's hills made it challenging, but it was obviously a valuable exercise.

Until next time!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

'Tis the Season

Let us go back. Way back to last Thursday when I plopped myself down on the couch, laptop in hand. I was bright eyed and eager to register myself for a New York Road Runners Race called the Jingle Bell Jog. This was to be a 5 mile race in Prospect Park (Brooklyn). There were two reasons for my excitement over this. First, all runners were to receive a technical tee. Remember, I'm cheap. I don't spend money on technical t-shirts. One might argue that the money spent registering for races is effectively buying the shirt, but I like to think that at least then you sort of get two for one. Anyway, I like to take every opportunity I can to augment my small (but growing) collection of technical shirts. The second reason was that the race description promised there would be jingle bells for your shoes. JINGLE BELLS. Best swag of the season? Quite possibly.

So there I was eagerly anticipating my technical tee, jingle bells, and a nice Saturday morning race. I visited the NYRR website and clicked on the race page only to be horrified. The price of the race? $50! My face looked a little like this:

So much for that. $50 is just too much to pay for a 5 miler. I pay half that much for each of the Half Marathon Grand Prix races and they're more than twice as long!

But I digress. Part of the allure here was that it was a holiday race. These are really fun, particularly if you're just getting into running and want to cut your teeth on a low-pressure race. They're often family friendly (even pets are sometimes welcome!) and you'll find racers dressed in costumes that fit with whatever the holiday theme happens to be. These races exist for pretty much any holiday during the year, but during this time you'll have Turkey Trots (a little late for these), Christmas runs, New Year's runs, etc. Here in New York City we have the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, which takes place in Central Park and begins at midnight on New Year's Day. I LOVE this run. I'd love it more if I could ever round up a group of people to do it in costume. Shockingly enough there aren't many who are eager to leave their New Year's Eve revelry to run 4 miles. Who knew?

Do your holiday plans involve a run or race? Is there a particularly notable run that happens near you? If so, happy holiday racing!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holy Roller

I'm postponing the holiday race special for a day. This is simply a workout update. I went to the gym with Jared again today. That guy finds new and creative ways to kick my butt every time. In a good way, of course. I don't remember all the specifics of the workouts. Jared is going to send me the workout log sometime in the next few days so that I can be more specific. There's a lot of strength stuff and a surprising amount of speedwork. Today I ran a few 400s (quarter mile) at an 8.5-9.5mph pace. This is helpful, as I'm hoping to speed up. I want to run next year's Fifth Avenue Mile in under 7 minutes. After we did a few rounds of circuits (sprints included) we did a 5K on the rowing machine. And we didn't do it today, but were supposed to do another 86 flights of stairs. Apparently that comes tomorrow before the real workout starts...

The one other thing Jared showed me was how to use a foam roller! The technical term for this is "self myofascial release." No joke.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First Marathon? Don't Sweat It! - Part 2

My previous post dealt more with mental concerns on race day. Today, I'm going to focus on some physical issues that many runners encounter during races of all distances, but marathons in particular. Let's begin!

1. Pre-race meal

This is a source of anxiety for many people. Planned or consumed improperly, a pre-race meal can be disastrous. Keep it simple and stick to carbs. While I prefer a plain bagel, there are many options available to you. Bagels, toast, cereal, granola (careful with the fiber, though), various bars, bananas, etc. Your best bet is to try out what you'll be eating on race day before one of your long runs. Another option for people who might have digestive difficulties is a liquid meal. There are different types of Gatorade and electrolyte mixes you can buy that contain a sizeable number of calories but don't require the same level of digestion that solid food would.

Some runners make coffee part of their pre-race routine. If you're comfortable with this and are used to drinking coffee before running, go ahead. Just don't decide that you're going to try it out for the first time on race day.

A few weeks before race time you might also start being more aware of how your body reacts to certain foods. I like to avoid dairy in the days leading up to a marathon. It doesn't always give me problems, but why risk it?

You will probably encounter some pre-race jitters that will have you needing to use the restroom once, maybe twice before the gun goes off. Play your pre-race meal cards right and you can minimize your time spent in a portable toilet. Let's face it, few things are more repulsive than race day porta-potties.

2. Chafing

If I had to pick one thing I hate about running, this would be it. Chafing can strike anywhere something is rubbing against your skin. Anywhere. I've gotten chafing from the neck and zipper of my tri suit while swimming. Unfortunately, this is one of those things you learn about through experience. The more you race, the more places you'll experience chafing. On the bright side, you'll also be better equipped to deal with it in the future.

How DO you deal with it? Lubricant! That's right, runners, lube it up. Many running and athletic stores sell products like this. I've used Body Glide before and it worked fine. Cheap tip: you can also use Vaseline for this purpose. Apply wherever you think chafing is a possibility. After completing dozens of races I finally got smart and started noticing my own chafing hot spots (the back of my running pants where there's a tag AND zipper and bra line).

And then of course there's one of evolution's cruelest jokes: nipple chafing. If you've seen the episode of The Office where Michael Scott organizes a 5k, you know what I'm talking about. This is mostly specific to gentlemen. Be aware that there are also products for this unfortunate situation.

3. Hydration

It's embarrassing to admit, but I'm pretty bad about this. It might sound gross (perhaps not as gross as nipple chafing) but you should drink water until your urine is clear. Make sure this is a priority for you in the days leading up to the race. Maybe resolve to drink water instead of coffee and/or soda in the week before.

4. Tidbits

Fuel Belt: Many marathoners use these during their long runs and races. I myself have not used one, but if you don't like keeping an eye out for water fountains or carrying a water bottle in your hand, this might be a good solution. It's a belt that holds 2-4 small bottles that you can fill with water, Gatorade, etc.

There are also simple race belts on which you can pin gels and attach your race number. It's an alternative to pinning your bib to the front of your shirt.

Decide what you'll carry. Even though you'll probably be running in a race with hundreds or thousands of fellow marathoners and spectators, you should consider carrying ID and some cash or a credit card with you, just in case. I carry my phone during races for music and in case anyone plans to watch for me on the course.

That's all for now! Remember to vote in the marathon poll up top. Next time I'll talk about holiday races and why you should try one this season!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Marathon? Don't Sweat It! - Part 1 sweat. But try not to worry about little things. So you're about to run your first marathon. I'm sure you're nervous about it, but I'm here to tell you that your hard work and training will pay off! Runners' goals for their first marathon can vary hugely. For many, simply finishing is the ultimate goal of the day. Some runners, though, might want to finish in under 5 (that was my first time goal), 4:30, 4:00, maybe even 3:00 or 3:30 depending on how competitive the runner. Ultimately, you need to decide what sort of mentality is going to best propel you to that goal. If you have one, great. If you don't and the thought of it overwhelms you, don't worry about it. It's not the world's last marathon! There will be plenty of marathons in the future where you can add a time goal to your running objectives.

A goal time is only one thing a runner might worry about, and I recognize that. Below, I'll list some common worries and issues that you might encounter at various points on or during your big day.

1. I only trained up to 18 or 20 miles. What if I can't run farther during the race?

This is probably the most common worry I've heard from people who are running their first marathon. I worried about it, too. It's scary to think that on race day you'll be running a full 6.2 miles farther than you ever did in training. Let me tell you, though, once you're at that 20 mile marker, you will not stop. Not that you won't want to. I remember around mile 18 of my first marathon thinking "this was the worst idea I've ever had and I'm never doing it again," and you see how that's turned out for me.

Before the 2009 New York City Marathon I was speaking to a woman who ran Boston that year. She said around mile 20 she encountered intense pain in one of her feet and had to walk the last six miles, but you can bet she finished. As it turns out, she had developed a stress fracture in her foot. In no way am I condoning or encouraging risking serious injury in order to finish a race. My point here is that the human will is a powerful thing. Don't underestimate yours.

2. I've heard a lot about "the wall" and I'm worried about hitting it.

I'm not going to lie to you, you probably will. And it probably has something to do with what we discussed in point 1. Remember, you only trained up to a certain number of miles in preparation. Your body won't be used to running further even though it can. You might hit that wall and think about silly things like quitting, but don't panic and give in! Push through that wall and make it to the finish line.

3. What if I sleep through my race?!

Okay, this one is probably specific to a very small number of people (like me). I never get a good night's sleep before a big race because I'm always worried about this and end up waking up every hour or two until I have to wake up and get ready. My advice here is pretty simple. Set a bunch of alarms. Ask a nice friend (who won't mind waking up at whatever ungodly hour you need them to) to give you a wake-up call or have your significant other set their alarms, too.

Alright, that concludes Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, when I'll discuss more specific concerns like your pre-race meal, staying hydrated and dun dun dun...the dreaded chafing. Are there additional topics I haven't addressed that are keeping you up? Let me know!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Friday!

Thank goodness it's Friday. This week has been good on the training front. I'm just getting back into the swing of things after the 60K. Jared and I have worked out a training schedule for the Empire State Building Run Up/Febapple 50 Mile. We're trying to do 5 days per week: 1 long run (18-20 miles), 1 medium run (5-7 miles), 1 day of speedwork and 2 days of stairwork with strength on 2 of those days. We both agreed that it's an ambitious plan but decided to give it a try. We'll rework if it proves to be too much.

We started on Wednesday morning with strength and 86 flights of stairs on the stairclimber. In case you haven't guessed, that's how many flights are in the Empire State Building. It took approximately 16 minutes on the stairclimber. Thursday was more strength and sprints. Jared concocts all our workouts because he's the workout guru. We did negative pull-ups and something called "Fight gone bad" which is supposed to simulate how one might feel after an MMA fight. Minus the bruises and injuries, of course. Supposedly the negative pull-ups will help me achieve my lifetime goal: doing one pull-up. That's what Jared claims. Only time will tell if his theory is correct. Friday we did a 5 mile run in the morning.

The stairclimber exercise provided us with an interesting (if inaccurate) baseline for the ESBRU. It really can't be considered accurate because the stairclimber has two rails. I leaned on them quite a bit, and this provided more upper body support than I can hope to have during the actual race. In the actual race we'll be lucky to have access to one rail and I certainly wouldn't be able to brace myself on it when the going would get tough. I've heard the start of the race can get messy as it's not broken up into corrals like most NYRR races. It's just one big clump of people trying to run and claw and scratch their way to the top first.

If tri swims are any indication, I'm a terrible clawer and scratcher and will probably be getting more of that than I'll be giving. I'll take it, though. The idea of racing up the Empire State Building is really exciting!

Well that's all for today. Stay tuned tomorrow (which is really later today) when I'll cover some first-time marathon tips.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Back and Cheaper Than Ever

Heeeey! It's me! Again! I'm so bad at doing this on a regular basis. I'm considering going public with it just because it might motivate me to be more diligent about posting [Please see disclaimer below]. So many things have happened since I last wrote. I joined Team Lipstick and found out that I have a whole hell of a lot of work to do on all aspects of tri, but most of all on the bike. So I took a beginner cycling class taught by Sara Ellison, one of Lipstick's coaches. It was a really great class. I wish I hadn't been so busy in the fall because I ended up missing a good number of classes. While I felt like I gained a good grasp of the basics like clipping in and out, stopping properly, bike maintenance, etc., I didn't feel that I got any faster.

This is where I reveal that the title of this post is sort of a lie. I am still cheap but slightly less so because I actually have invested some money in cycling. And I haven't even purchased a new bike (although it's something I'm pretty serious about doing before next season)!

But back on topic. I completed the NYRR Sprint Triathlon, began training with Team Lipstick, did the DiamondGirl sprint triathlon at Lake Sebago with the team, and did the Mayflower Sprint Triathlon over Labor Day weekend solo. That was a really nice race. Very scenic, although the water was pretty cold.

As far as running goes, I did the Bronx half-marathon, Staten Island half-marathon, Greta's Great Gallop (half-marathon), the Marathon Tune Up, Fifth Avenue Mile (7:17!), the New York City Marathon, and the Knickerbocker 60K. I'm determined to really start my ultramarathon career this spring. Jared and I applied to enter the Empire State Building Run Up but it's difficult to get into. If we don't get in, we'll probably do a 50 mile race called the Febapple 50 Mile in New Jersey. If I'm ever going to do Badwater, and I hope to in the next five years, I need to start getting 100 milers under my belt (you have to run three of them to be considered). I figured I should ease my way into that by starting with 50 milers and then maybe 100k races. This is going to require some really intense training, though. Jared and I have worked out a preliminary plan. I'd explain, but this post has gone on for quite some time and is very scattered. If I ever get good about posting regularly I'll try to address some of these topics individually. The New York City marathon deserves its own post for sure!

If and when this goes public, you need to know something about this blog. You may have read other blogs about other crazy people who are also addicted to doing races like me. Take this guy, for instance. That man is a champ. Browse his blog for a bit and you'll likely discover a listing of his personal bests. Notice that he's run a 5:09 mile and a 2:53 marathon. His blog is filled with tips and good advice on being a competitive runner.

Before you turn to my blog for the same sort of thing, understand this: I am a goofball and might be considered just slightly more skilled than a novice runner for the simple reason that I have put in lots of time and miles. I'll be lucky to win an age group award sometime in my life. And believe you me, it will be at a tiny, tiny race somewhere remote where there is an unusually small population of runners. This blog is 10% speculation, 60% entertainment, 25% information, 5% crazy talk and all the inspiration I can squeeze in. Someone check my math, it's getting late.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Inspiration - Part IV

Alright, I promise this is the last installation in this series. Who knew it would take so long to talk about this. When we left off, our heroine was just exiting the T1 transition area and setting off on her 56 mile bike trek!

What? It sounds a lot more dramatic than how it actually happened, which is this: I got out of the water and almost fell back in because my legs felt like jelly. I finally regained my balance, however, and booked it for the sandy shore and transition gate. Once I made it to my spot I yanked on my shoes. Pretty sure I even skipped the socks part of this exercise (as if the extra 10 seconds really mattered). I dried off, put my GUs and water bottle in my butt pockets, made sure my stuff was in the bag and strung up on my rack, and headed out. Jeremy filmed me running out, which was half exciting and half embarrassing as I had a massive wedgie.

I mounted my bike and settled into the ride with the full knowledge that there was probably a maximum of twelve people behind me in the entire race. I was a little embarrassed by this, but not too much. I had to focus on the cutoff at that point. So I rode and rode, and watched as I was slowly passed by each of the riders behind me. For the first two hours I just chugged along and, while the cutoff was at the back of my mind, it wasn't a pressing concern. I figured the four and a half hours I had would be plenty. It wasn't until about 2.5 hours in that I started doing mental calculations of my current pace and the distance I still had to cover. I just kept telling myself to push harder and make the cutoff even though a sinking feeling had begun to creep over me.

I won't go into some of the sad details of the rest of the race, though I will admit that I'm not above grunting and screaming my way up a massive hill. Let's just say it wasn't my finest hour (or five). Finally, I was pulled from the course at mile 47.

As much as I hated not finishing, it was a huge lesson in failure for me. Normally when I fail at something, I become intimidated by that activity. Not this time. I couldn't stop thinking about all the things I needed to do to get better and finish. And while my first instinct was to sign up for the next 70.3 race I could find, another part of me said to wait until next year so that I could not just be ready, but do well. I'm still struggling with this dilemma.

So the point is, I failed. But I can't wait to jump right back in (and on).

That sounds like a really good blog post ending, but I still have things to say so I guess it will be wasted. Once again, it's really early in the morning. But I decided that I really need to develop a structured training plan that incorporates swimming, biking, running and weight lifting. It's no longer enough to just do whatever, whenever. Triathlon is too demanding for it and if I don't have a schedule to stick to, I'm much more likely to either blow off a workout or water it down. There are a few ways to do this. One is to do lots of research and develop one myself. It's not an altogether terrible option but, let's face it, I'm not exactly the most qualified person to be doing that sort of thing. Another option is to join a triathlon team. I found an all-women's one called Team Lipstick. I'm looking into joining because their training program seems really comprehensive and I'm intrigued by the all-female aspect. Although it would preclude me from meeting guys, it would also provide a more appropriate level of support than a typical team, most likely. Regardless, I think it's worth a shot.

In other news, I'm starting to look at upgrading (or purchasing for the first time) my gear. My bike is a piece of crap, but I don't currently have the resources to invest in good bike, which would cost at least $1200. I need to talk to someone at a bike or tri shop about adding aerobars and clip-on pedals. At some point, I'd also like to get a wetsuit and bike computer. Triathlon is an expensive sport.

On the running front, training for the marathon is in full swing. The Queens Half Marathon was last weekend and it went really poorly due to a combination of circumstances, not least of which was that I just wasn't prepared. But I plan on getting better and more disciplined. Just have to work out some of these kinks. This weekend is the NYRR Sprint Triathlon. It should be interesting to see how I do. Last year was terrible, and while I don't expect to place at all, I do hope to perform markedly better.

Well I'd better quit. This is getting long and I have logistics to work out!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Inspiration - Part III

Where did I leave off? Oh, yes, the swim. I wrote about finishing it but I didn't write about the swim itself. So, the gun went off for my wave and all of us ran out to meet the water. I fell behind right away, unfortunately. For a couple of minutes I was hanging with one girl, but it didn't last long. Another problem I didn't anticipate was the panic I felt almost as soon as I started swimming. And I really should have anticipated it since the same thing happened to me during the sprint triathlon last year. Both times I panicked and was unable to breathe underwater. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) this swim was long enough that, at some point, I just wanted it to be done faster and was finally able to settle down and breathe properly. Even once I sorted that out I had to deal with really inefficient swimming. I'm not good at keeping an eye out for which direction I'm swimming, so I would swim with my head down for a few strokes, look up, realize I was going too far right or left, overcorrect, and repeat the whole process on the other side. I'm sure this just resulted in a lot of unnecessary zig-zagging.

So the part where I had to swim with my head above water lasted for almost half the race, until the turnaround. In that time, people from the two waves behind me caught up and started passing me. It was demoralizing but not altogether unexpected. It also seemed endless. Every time I swam up to the next buoy hoping and praying that it was the last, there would be another one right behind it! And when I say "right behind," I in fact mean far, far away. But I did finally finish and head into the Transition 1 area. The transition went pretty well even though I was one of the last ones out. I forgot to put on my Garmin ForeRunner, but as it turns out this wasn't a big problem.

Oh my God I'm falling asleep again. Four parter? Meh, it's not like anyone is reading anyway. If any of my non-readers are following and offended, I'll try to avoid future four part posts. Night@

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Inspiration - Part II

It's late. I don't think I can make blog posts at normal times. I'm actually feeling sort of restless tonight. I feel like doing some writing but I never know where to start. But that is a topic for a different blog.

I think I left off with Jeremy and I getting dinner at the food court in Providence. I got spaghetti from Sbarro. It was meh, but spaghetti is a reliable pre-race food for me. After we finished, we headed over to the GNC to sort out my liquid breakfast situation. A store associate guided me right to the section that everyone else in the triathlon had been hitting all day. It was the section with the new Gatorade G Series line. I got a couple of the Step 1 products that had a few hundred calories each. Hefty, I know. But I figured it would be necessary. And I think it would have been had I made the bike cutoff and been able to finish. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I spent the evening preparing all my stuff for the morning and solidifying the plans with Jeremy. I then did what I do most evenings, watched a lot of tv. I probably should've been in bed by 10, but of course I was not. I was busy watching Harry Potter IV. I don't know that I would have been able to fall asleep at 10 but I should have at least tried. I ended up going to sleep at midnight (approximately 3 hours before I was supposed to get up).

Each of my five alarms went off unmercifully at the right time.

Man, I'm getting tired. But this story is taking so long! Now I'm going to have to switch to the condensed version and then maybe get back to it if I ever feel it's necessary. We got up at 3, left to catch the shuttle at 3:30, caught the shuttle at 3:45 and arrived at T1 a little before 5. Once there,I set up my transition area. It was a "clean transition" area, which meant that they didn't want anything on the floor and everything had to be hung up on the rack or bike. Almost everyone had a wetsuit and, although I'd ideally like to get one, the one I saw at the check in convention was priced at $400. No way am I paying that much money for that. I found one website that sells one for $99, but it's still something I'm going to have to think about.

Honestly, though, the water wasn't that cold. I was okay in just my tri suit. The race itself started at 6am with the professional men. My start came 45 minutes later. I knew I was way out of my league when one of the girls I was talking to said she intended to do the swim in 35 minutes. The one standing next to her mentioned that she was slow and would be doing it in 45. My anticipated time was 1 hour. No joke. But I calmed myself and kept thinking about how I'd practiced and timed the swim and thought I had definitely given myself enough of a cushion.

And I had, the swim did take me a little bit over an hour, but I was still one of the last ones out of the water and that just does not bode well for the rest of a race...alright I can't do this anymore as I'm too sleepy. Will have to make it a 3 parter. TTFN - ta ta for now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Inspiration!

I don't know if it's a good or bad thing that I view my spectacular failure at the Half Ironman as an inspiration. Probably a bad thing. And yes, the Half Ironman was a massive, massive failure. I thought I was ready but I absolutely was not. Not logistically and not athletically. So, I guess let's back up to that part.

Jeremy (who was nice enough to come with me) and I left the apartment around 6:30am that Saturday (7/10) to catch the bus to Providence at 7:30am. I was kind of worried about getting my bike on board just because their policy, while it did allow for bikes, also included a caveat about the bus driver being able to put you on the next bus if there wasn't enough room in the cargo area. We got to Port Authority about 30 minutes early, but it ended up being a good thing because I was able to get the bike on without a hitch. Well, sort of. I guess you could call the bus driver's griping a hitch but overall it didn't impede my progress.

We got to Providence around 11:30 and headed straight for the convention center. I checked in and got all my stuff just fine, but soon realized that I would need to check my bike in at the start. This wouldn't have been a problem if the start had been within walking distance of downtown Providence instead of a 45 minute drive away. Alas. As you might imagine, this worried me a little bit since no bike meant no race and a complete waste of time and money. So Jeremy and I started frantically thinking of what to do. After finally deciding that renting a car was going to be the best bet, we left the convention early (in order to get a leg up on anyone else who might be as incompetent at planning as I) and headed over to the Avis across the street.

30 minutes and $70 later (damn under-25 fee) we were on the road to Roger Wheeler State Park. Fortunately for us, the day was nice and the drive was scenic. We had a little trouble finding Point Judith, but finally managed to get to T1. We had 15 minutes to park and check in the bike so I quickly pumped my tires and rode back and forth a few times making sure the gears were in passable shape. I then took it into the transition area and hung it up by its seat at my spot (1041). I was a little self conscious because the entire transition are was full of tri and expensive road bikes (LOTS of Cervelos). I don't think I saw a single other bike that didn't have proper pedals. More than anything, it finally gave me some inkling of how serious most of the racers were about the sport and made me want to be competitive as well.

After my bike was secured we headed back to downtown Providence to check into the hotel and drop off the car, which we'd had for approximately 3 hours. I have only nice things to say about the Hampton Inn in Providence. The room was nice (though I think anything with air conditioning would've pleased me by that point in the heat wave we'd had all week). We also had 50 more channels there than at home. AND there were free cookies in the lobby. How much more could you ask for, really?

Once we were checked in and the car dropped off, we walked to Providence's one (albeit nice) mall to eat and find me a liquid breakfast for Sunday. I got this idea from a triathlon podcast I've been listening to (TriTopics, if anyone is interested). It seemed brilliant to me as I tend to have...digestive difficulties before races.

A quick look at the mall directory revealed that there was a GNC near the mall entrance and a food court on the third floor. Needless to say we headed for the food court first. I read in a beginner triathlete forum that it's best to finish your last large meal before a race about 12 hours before the start and by that point it was about 5pm. The choices at the food court were mostly not triathlon friendly but at least there were lots of options. I ended up going for the standard bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce. It's a safe option.

This is getting really long so I'm going to break it up into two parts. TO BE CONTINUED...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where has the time gone

Well here I am. It's really early in the morning. For various reasons I thought it would be a good idea to wake up at an obscene hour to get some stuff done since I can't seem to manage during normal people hours. As a result, I've caught up with a few things that have been neglected over the last few days, weeks, or in the case of this blog, months. So here are some updates on my 2010 goals:

Big D Texas Marathon: Done. Shitty time (5:20) but completed nevertheless
Amica 70.3 (Half-Ironman): Registered and training. Training is a bitch, by the way. It's physically hard, yes, but even more annoying is the time commitment. If I want to do both the swim and bike portions of training in an evening I can expect to be at the gym for 3 hours. But the variety has been really nice! My swimming has improved and, although I haven't mustered up the courage to really bike in Central Park, I'm getting decent at it on the spin bike. I haven't been doing enough running, though...
Half Marathon Grand Prix: Bad news, I didn't sign up for Brooklyn before it sold out, so no Grand Prix for me. But that's okay, I just need to keep up with my races. I'm already a little behind for 9 + 1 but it's nothing a little frantic racing won't fix.
NYC Marathon 2010: Registered.

I've also come to the realization that I have plenty of things to do and I need to stop looking for more. I'm stretching myself too thin, and it shows in the things I do. Basketball, for instance. I know I could use a lot of improvement and that a surefire way to achieve that is by playing in a second league. But I have waaay too many things already scheduled to be able to commit to that. There's apparently a league that plays only on Saturday mornings, and if I could join that it might be manageable now that tutoring is over. But that's just one example. I should prioritize and pick the things that are really important to me and drop the rest so that I leave myself room to get better at those things. But enough for now. Since I'm up this early I figured I should get in a morning trip to the gym (for once). Toodles!