Wednesday, August 14, 2013

70 Minutes of Luck

Yesterday was one of those days. I got sucked into the hustle and bustle of Tuesday (perhaps the hustliest, bustliest day of the week). Went in to work, had a doctor's appointment, had to run over to New Jersey for some meetings and found myself uncertain of my workout schedule at the end of the day. It's become increasingly clear to me that I need to step up my game in the swimming and biking departments, if I want to finish this triathlon in October. Originally, I'd planned to hike all the way to Riverbank State Park to take advantage of their Olympic-sized pool. But, as some of you may know, it is a hike. It's all the way up around 145th Street and, while it is a beautiful facility, is quite a waste of time in terms of commute. I'm all about doing things efficiently, and swimming there would have been excessively inefficient.
But I'm getting desperate. Inefficient or not, I'm at the point where I need to bite the bullet. I have to swim where and when I can, so I seriously considered it before deciding to check out the city recreation center in Chelsea, which apparently also has a very nice pool. The website mentioned that swimmers have to register by 4pm, though, and by the time I was checking this out it was 5:30. I called the number and no answer. By this point, I was feeling flustered. This was a prime example of what's been happening all season with training. I keep telling myself I can fit it in, that it'll work out somehow. Only, it hasn't worked out enough so far and now it's crunch time, so I need to be more inistent.
Somehow, though, things worked out yesterday. After I got no answer at the Chelsea pool, I decided to take my chances at my gym. Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that the majority of my gym's locations have pools, but they have a couple of issues. The first is that they are tiny. TINY. 20 feet, maybe? And two (unshareable) lanes wide. I can deal with that, though. The major problem is that there's a 20 minute time limit if people are waiting for the pool. I get why this is a rule, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating.
Have a picture of Phoebe sleeping with her tongue out
I walked into the pool area and was delighted to find not a soul in there aside from the life guard. I thought there was a decent chance I'd get my full 20 minutes and then some, since there seemed to be little demand for the pool. 16 minutes passed, and still no one had come. "Awesome," I thought, as I continued, thinking I could probably squeeze a good half hour in. Then I was at 27. Then 43. Then 52. Then an hour. No one came! I still had the pool all to myself! I wondered if I could make it all the way to an hour and a half, which I thought would constitute a good, solid workout. 1:07. 1:13. Finally, at around an hour and twenty minutes into my swim, another guy arrived and hopped into the pool. He was faster than I am (no surprise there), so I spent the last ten minutes of my workout pushing a little harder.
I did it. Inexplicably, I spent a solitary hour and twenty minutes in that pool and then an extra ten minutes with a pool buddy. Who knows how long I could have gone if I'd wanted. I know I can't expect that every time I go to the gym, so I'm inspired to find a new way. This was encouraging, and my next course of action will be to start attending some coached swim workouts, hopefully starting next week. I can do this. With a happy combination of strategy, efficiency, hard work and dumb luck, I can definitely do this.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Race Report: My First Team Championship

I have not been great about posting recently and, as a result, haven't put out too many race reports, despite having done a fair number of interesting ones recently. I was inspired by Saturday's race, though, because it was the best race I've had in a really long time. Plus, I'm running for a team I really like for the first time.

The team I'm talking about is the Hudson Dusters. I've been running with them for a couple months now. I've done a few races with them now, starting with the all-women 10k back in May (or was it June? I don't remember), the Queens 10k, and now the Team Championships. I've volunteered at this race before, but I've never run it because it's for teams only. As a result, it's very small and very fast. Also, they split the race up into a men's race and a women's race.

I don't know why this one went as well as it did. I'm pretty much the worst when it comes to making smart pre-race decisions about sleep, food, planning, etc and this race was really no exception. I guess I got good sleep? That's something. But I also ate a cupcake for breakfast.

It was nice that the women's race started at 9:30 (the men started at 8:30) because it was a little bit later than usual so I was able to sleep for a good 7 or 8 hours. I made it a point to get there on time because, as usual, I waited until race morning to pick up my bib. No big deal, I got there with plenty of time and was even able to find the Dusters' area and cheer for the men.

Around 8:20, I walked over to the start at the 102nd Street Transverse with most of the other women on the team. I had a middle-of-the-pack bib number and color, which was also the same as 5 or 6 other Dusters. I knew there were also a few in the corrals ahead of us. The corrals were the least-crowded I've ever seen, which will be a definite plus in deciding to do this race in future years.

The race started and I went out fast, as I've started doing these days. It's kind of nice, to be comfortable enough to do that now. Starting fast used to freak me out, and I'd be afraid of burning out early in the race. At this point, though, I know enough to be able to start fast and feel out the pace I can maintain without worrying that I'll wear myself out too early.

I finally settled into something I thought was doable. As I passed the first mile marker, I calculated my mile time (remember, I'm not a huge fan of knowing my pace in real-time) and was shocked to see that it had to be 7:20-7:25. Not shocked enough to be concerned, but shocked that I was running that fast and still feeling good.

So I kept it up, but had it at the back of my mind that a Duster or two might blow by me mid-race, especially if I started to slow down. Maybe that was a motivator, because if I slowed down it wasn't very much. I was passing people pretty well through the end of the race and finished the last half mile or so strong. It was awesome passing by the guys on the team who were cheering. That was definitely a motivator in the early miles.

I crossed the finish line and had probably walked 10 feet before I thought to stop my watch. Once I did, my watch read 38:02. I knew there was a good possibility that I'd broken 38 minutes and I was very excited about that, since my goal had really only been to run sub-8 minute miles. When I checked the official results later, I saw that I'd run a 37:52, which works out to 7:35 minutes per mile! My fastest race pace by 20 seconds!

So, that's that. My first Team Championship was fantastic. I came in second place for the women on the team. The person who got first place is someone I've raced with before and is very fast. The people after me also had really good times and some of them are much older than I am!

In other news, the New York Now short play festival has been wonderful. We had shows last Wednesday through Sunday and are currently at the end of a two-day break. Tomorrow we pick back up for the last two performances on Wednesday and Thursday.