Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Own Personal Trainer

This morning I just couldn't get up and out of bed. I think it was residual sleepiness from Saturday. Really makes me wonder how sleepy I'll be after the Olympic triathlon. Of course, by not doing my workout this morning, that meant that when I left work it was pouring. I came home to change clothes and realized that I just did not want to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. All I really wanted to do was go outside, but not in the pouring rain. I was IMing with Drew and told him my predicament and he suggested that I should do something in my apartment. He even offered to give me a workout. He said that he wouldn't be easy on me. So, I turned the air conditioning up, laid out my yoga mat and waited for instructions.

Set #1 (repeated three times):
25 jumping jacks, 5 real push-ups, 10 push-ups on my knees, 30 second wall sit

I laughed out loud during the very first jumping jacks. Mostly because I couldn't believe that I was doing this and I was also thinking of Drew imagining me doing jumping jacks while he was sitting in his office. I found the wall sit to be a lot easier than in the past (and I didn't even cheat!). I'm guessing that my legs are stronger now from biking.

Set #2 (repeated three times):
20 crunches, 30 second plank (on forearms), 20 squats

The crunches were really hard for me. I have been having a lot of pain in my right shoulder blade recently. This all started right after I fell off my bike, so I do wonder if it's related. It was finally feeling a tiny bit better this morning, so I only did 2 sets of the crunches because they were so painful in my shoulder. I figured that it was probably okay as I really don't want to aggravate it even more.

Set #3 (repeated three times):
Leg raises for 30 seconds (legs about 8" off the ground), 20 knee highs, 20 butt kickers, 10 things where you jump up and then go flat on the ground

Drew said that if I was really tough, I could drum my fists on my abs like he did when he was in football during the leg raises. I actually was wondering when Drew even played football (in middle school is my guess) and I'm thinking that holding your legs up in the air and pounding on your abs was a lot easier then. At least I didn't find that part to be very easy. And I was only tough enough to pound on my abs one time. And as far as these things where you are standing up, go down into plank, do a push-up, jump your feet forward, then jump all the way off the ground ... really, really sweaty. I pretty much hated those by the end. And I was dripping with sweat. I think this was about the time that I had to go turn the air conditioning down even further.

Set #4 (repeated three times):
10 stand ups (sat on edge of coffee table, hands out at side, and use only thigh muscles to stand up), 15 jump lunges (lunge and jump while scissoring legs to reverse the lunge), 10 tricep dips (held onto edge of coffee table, legs extended and lowered down)

I was not particularly good at the jump lunges. I was a little bit wobbly, so I had to slow down and try to them better. My arms were also burning at this point during the tricep dips. Do I not work my arms when training for a triathlon? How did they get so tired so easily?

Set #5 (repeated three times):
30 jumping jacks, squat in front of the couch and punch the back 20 times each arm, 5 real push-ups, 10 knee push-ups, 2 real push-ups.

The squats were a little bit funny. I was worried at first when I read the exercise that I wouldn't be able to reach the back of my couch to punch it, but it worked just fine. Drew had to remind me, of course, to keep my thumbs out of my fist while punching. I only recently learned that if you keep your thumbs in, you can break them if you're throwing a real punch. I felt really silly punching the back of my couch, but it didn't seem to mind. The push-ups were killer. I thought the last two real push-ups were cruel and unusual punishment. I actually whined to Drew during this set about the push-ups. I had had enough!

Set #6:
30 second wall sit, 30 second leg raise, 30 second calf raises (balanced on one leg), 30 second plank, 30 second standing on one leg, other leg behind with arms out at sides

This time the wall sit wasn't so easy. I was definitely counting down the seconds until I could get up. The calf raises were pretty hard. I was surprisingly better at balancing on my left leg than my right leg. I'm still not really sure I understand why that was.

Set #7:
40 ankle lunges (leg at 45 degree angle instead of out in front), 20 jumping jacks, 20 couch punches (each fist), 20 tricep dips

I sort-of lost count when doing the jumping jacks and ended up doing 31 because I forgot that I only had to do 20. I will say that the jumping jacks were the most fun (and the easiest exercise). I'm not really sure I understand the benefit of jumping jacks, but I also think I'd like to do them more often. After the lunges, the last think I wanted to do was squat in front of my couch. And of course, my arms were oh-so-happy about the tricep dips.

All in all, the workout was an hour long. Much longer than I would have imagined. It was also a lot sweatier than I would have thought it could be. I was pretty impressed that Drew came up with all those exercises. I'm also really glad that I have this written down because the next time that I'm just not interested in going out in the rain, this is going to be my fall-back workout. I will say that after doing this workout, I wouldn't recommend going to the pet store and carrying home 28 pounds of kitty litter and 8.5 pounds of cat food. That's probably an unofficial Set #8.

Drew wanted me to rate him on the following (using a 4 star scale):
Intensity: ***
Interestingness: ****
Sweatiness: ***
You-Hate-Me-Ness: Varied between * and **** depending on the exercise
You'd-Do-It-Again Ness: ****

The only comment (that wasn't really his fault) is that there was a minute or two of down time between sets while I waited for him to type. Towards the end he got better at just being able to send me the next set right away. I think that was slightly more effective for keeping my heart-rate up. All in all, I thought this was a great workout. I don't think I'll be able to lift my arms tomorrow, but who would need to do that?

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Sleepiest Triathlete

Saturday after getting home from the race, eating lunch, and showering it was time for a nap. Drew and I took a three hour nap before heading out to Brooklyn for dinner at a friend's house. I will say that having someone make dinner for you the night after a triathlon is pretty fantastic. By about 10 that night I was exhausted again an we headed back to the city.

Sunday morning I woke up around 9 and walked Drew to work. I walked home and did some stuff around the apartment. I was planning on heading to the Terrier swim, but I fell asleep around 1:30 and woke up at 4:27. Since practice starts at 4:30, there wasn't really any way that I could get there in time. I took that as a sign that my body needed a little bit more rest.

This morning I woke up early to meet Laura and have a pilates session with Nicole at 7:00. I haven't been to pilates in a while because Nicole was out of town last week. Boy oh boy, was my stomach tired today. I felt like my abdominal muscles had lost a good deal of fitness. It sort-of felt like it would be comparable to not doing any cardio for two weeks and then trying to go for a long run.

I had a really good workout, even though I felt like I was struggling a bit throughout the workout. The good thing was that when I told Nicole how I was feeling about how hard I thought today workout was, she said that I was looking really good at the lesson. That made me feel better. However, because of the holiday next week, I'll be in the same situation again in two weeks. I probably better do some crunches on my own in the meantime!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My First Tri

Well, I did it. My first triathlon. I woke up in plenty of time. Drew made a nice breakfast for us and I double-checked the list and we headed to Staten Island. The exit from the highway that we were supposed to use was closed, so I was momentarily worried that we'd get lost, but once the cab driver looked at the map, we turned around and found the location very easily.

I noticed the Terrier bike trailer was there, so I went to collect my bike right away. I had brought my bike pump because I was too nervous without it. It actually turned out to have been a good thing to bring, since the Terrier pump was broken and I think about half of the team (and Laura) ended up using the pump. As soon as I had my bike all set, I headed over to the transition area. I racked my bike and started setting up my area. I cheated a little bit to see what the people around me were doing and to make sure I laid everything that I would need out. I had brought three water bottles - two for drinking and one to use to rinse my feet off in T1. My plan was to drink one whole water bottle before the race and then fill that one up with Gatorade. I took my water bottle and went to find Drew and to say hi to my dad and step-mom.

I had wanted to get in a short run before the race, but that didn't work out. I think I could have done it, but I'm sort-of glad I didn't because they closed the transition area at 7:15 and I think if I had gone for the short run, I would have felt too rushed. I felt a tiny bit rushed as it was. After they closed the transition area, we had our mandatory pre-race meeting. Then everyone headed over to the beach and we were able to get in the water before the race. When I was walking to the beach, I ran into Robert and a couple of other Terriers and we all got into the water together.

Not surprisingly, the water was pretty cool. I'm really glad that I got into to acclimate myself to the temperature, and when I saw how many people were standing on the beach and not getting into the water, I couldn't believe it! It seemed crazy to me that everyone wouldn't get in, but I guess that everyone has their own pre-race strategy.

I was in the water for 15-20 minutes and then got out and walked back along the beach to the starting area. Before I knew it, they were blowing the whistle for the first wave and it was time for me to get into the water. When they blew the whistle for my wave, I pressed start on my watch and started swimming. I did not have a very good swim. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong. I didn't feel panicked or worried about drowning. I could clearly sight the buoys and used the Verrazano as well for sighting. I think that part (or most of my problem was mental). I realized half-way there on the swim that I couldn't believe that I had signed up to do a triathlon. And even more than that, I couldn't believe I was doing one at that very moment. And I was just thinking that I sort-of had to pee and I had a long way to go before I could use a bathroom. So, I did a couple of stokes of breast-stroke, tried to get my head together, and just keep swimming. I felt like I never really got into a rhythm when I was swimming, which was part of my problem as well. As I was getting out of the water, I was thinking that this whole triathlon thing was crazy and I didn't want to keep running up to the transition area. Then as I was starting to unzip my wetsuit, I saw Drew, who was cheering me on, holding a big encouraging sign (that said "Wow! You're fast!") and taking photos. That made me realize that I had better HTFU and keep going. Although I started running out of the water and towards the transition area, I definitely slowed down to a walk for most of the run in from the beach.

T1 went really well for me. I yanked my wetsuit down and got it off really quickly. Then I poured water on my feet to get the sand off my feet. I didn't really dry my feet off since it seemed like too much work. I pulled on my right sock with no trouble, but I put the left sock on upside-down. That meant I had to take it off and try again. I clipped my race belt on, threw my helmet on and clipped it, and grabbed 1/2 of a Clif bar. I had thought to open the wrapper before the race, so all I had to do was break off a piece. I shoved most of that in my mouth in about three bites while running out of the transition area and heading to the bike mount area.

I got clipped into my bike with no trouble, which I was really glad about. Then I was off. The road that the course was on was pretty bad. There were several holes in the road marked with orange spray paint, but the entire road was really bumpy. The bike course was 3 loops on a 4 mile course (although looking at my bike computer, it might have been just a bit shorter than that). The turn around points were pretty sharp U-turns, so I made sure to really slow down on those. On my way back on the first loop, I looked at my watch and thought that I could possibly see Laura sometime soon. And then, just after having that thought, she was there! I yelled to her, which was fun. I ended up seeing her a few more times on the bike, so it was nice to have something to do. I did think that the bike was pretty boring. I'm guessing that part of that was that it was a loop course. I also think part of it was just that I was trying to race instead of just practice in the park. I don't know if all those crazy pedestrians and bike riders that I complain about so much make bike riding better, but they certainly make it more interesting.

On my second loop at the turn around to head back, the guy in front of me must have been taking the turn too fast because he wiped out. I stopped (remembering to unclip first) and asked if he was okay. It looked like he would be fine - probably just some scrapes and bruises. I clipped back in and yelled to a police officer and was back on my way. I really felt bad riding away, but he was sitting up and wasn't visibly bleeding and I knew assistance was coming, so I felt better about that. I'm not 100% sure what the right protocol is on that. Hopefully I didn't do the wrong thing. I remembered to drink my entire water bottle on the bike, so I was feeling pretty good about my hydration/nutrition.

Drew was waiting with his sign, camera, and cheers at the beginning turn around. That was actually rather helpful because I knew after I had seen him two times, it was time for me to exit the bike course. I dismounted and headed back to transition. I saw my step-mom as I was heading into T2.

I thought my second transition went smoothly as well. I ran in, racked my bike, and then switched shoes. I had unclipped my helmet as soon as I entered the transition area, so that I could remember to take it off. I turned my race belt around so that the number would be facing forward, grabbed my running hat and was off.

I started out going pretty slowly on the run. I knew that I just didn't have anything faster than that in me at that point. I looked at my watch while I was exiting T2 and realized that I was under an hour in at that point and it was looking like my hour and a half goal might be possible. The run was a there-and-back course. About half-way out, there was a water station. I took a cup of water and kept running, which wasn't very effective for getting the water into my mouth. At the turn-around, there were large cups of water. I took one of those, slowed down to a walk so that I could take 4 or 5 sips, and then dumped the rest on me to cool off and I kept running. Although I was a little disappointed with myself for walking those few steps, it was definitely worth it for the water break. I had known before-hand that part of the run back would be on the boardwalk. I was really nervous that I would feel dizzy and weird like I had last weekend at Coney Island while running on that boardwalk. Luckily, this one wasn't in the same pattern as the Coney Island boardwalk so I actually was okay. I also tried to avoid looking at the boardwalk and instead tried to look at the other runners or the ocean.

There was loud music playing at the finish line, so once I started to hear that, I knew I was almost there. I looked at my watch and it was definitely getting closer to being an hour and a half. I picked up my pace a little bit for about the last 1/2 mile of the course. And then, before I knew it, I was almost at the finish line and then I was crossing the finish line! My un-official time was 1:28:41 (according to my watch). I was really, really happy with that. I had said the other day that I would be happy with anything under 2 hours, but I was really hoping for an hour and a half, so that was awesome.

These were my splits and total times:

Swim: 9:43
T1: 2:30
Bike: 44:10 (16.3 MPH pace)
T2: 1:15
Run: 31:06 (10:02 pace)
Total time: 1:28:42
Place: 448 (out of 591) / 28 (out of 37) in my age division / 144 (out of 235) females

I know if I had been able to have a better swim and run into T1 that I would have been more competitive in my age group. However, I still feel really pleased with those results. I'm especially glad that I biked over 15 MPH average and my run was right around a 10-minute mile pace. I followed my race plan pretty well, I think. It definitely helped me to have thought it all out before-hand to make sure I didn't forget anything in transition and to have goals to try to aspire to.

So, I will say that I didn't love the race. I've been trying to figure out why that was. I'm wondering if part of it is that I got so spoiled having a workout partner most of the time that doing it all by myself was a little lonely and boring for me. I also was thinking the whole time about Westchester and how it's longer and I'm not really sure why I would want to do that since I consider myself to be a relatively sane human being. However, I do really like the training for the races and I think that it's an excellent way to keep myself motivated to stay in shape. I wouldn't be surprised if I keep signing up for them in the years to come. I'm hoping that next time when I have more of an idea of what to expect I will find it to be more enjoyable.

I do want to say thank you to everyone who helped me get this far. All the support and encoragement I got along the way was pretty incredible. I never really considered that I would be a triathlete in my life, so it's amazing to me that I can now say that I am one.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's Make A Deal

OK, Mother Nature. Here's the deal: It can rain all day today. It can rain all day Sunday. But let's just have a little rest from approximately 6 AM on Saturday until about noon. OK? I think that's a fair compromise! I had a rough night sleeping. I woke up about 4 times during the night, which isn't like me at all. I know it's all nerves since each time I woke up, I vaguely remembered some sort of triathlon dream. The worst part was that I think I'm going to go through all of that again tonight, too!

I am mostly excited for tomorrow. I started lying out all of the things I need to take with me in the morning so I won't forget something in my sleepiness. My goal for tomorrow is to finish the race. I don't really know what to expect on the times, but I'm hoping that I can get the whole thing done in about an hour an a half. Really, anything under two hours and I'll be happy. I have no idea what to expect for transition times, but I'm hoping that the second one doesn't take as long as the first.

This is my general plan for the race: Wake up early and eat a good breakfast at home. Finish packing up and get into a cab at about 5:30 to head to Staten Island. Hopefully I will arrive around 6 AM. If the Terrier trailer is there, I will get my bike and head over to the transition area to rack my bike and start setting up my area. I would like to get in a quick run (about 10 minutes or so) and I'd also like to get into my wetsuit and get into the water so that I can acclimate my body before the actual race. If I spend about 5-10 minutes in the water, I think I will be good with that. There is a mandatory race meeting at 7:35, so that will be my time to relax and calm down before the race starts.

I am in Wave #2, which goes at 8:05. My plan for the swim is to start strong and try to stay out in front of the wave of swimmers. I would like to swim hard, but also be relaxed. I don't want to burn all my energy on the swim. As soon as my hand starts hitting while swimming in, I will stand up and start running in while also pushing my goggles up to my forehead. I will then unzip my wetsuit and peel it down to below my hips. If I'm still running to transition, I will take my cap and goggles completely off. Once I get into the transition area, I will pull the wetsuit down the rest of the way and get out of it. I plan on taking the additional time to rinse off and dry my feet as I don't think that I will have a comfortable rest of my race with sand in my socks. To finish up my transition, I will put my socks and bike shoes on. I will clip my race belt around my waist. I will put my helmet on and clip it. If I need my sunglasses, I will take those with me as well. I will then head towards the exit and out for my bike.

Once on the bike, I know the course is supposed to be flat, so I'd like to at least keep my regular average of about 15 MPH. If it's more than that, I'll be extremely happy, but I'd like to keep it at least at my normal level. I will remember to drink as much as possible on the bike course. Especially because I need to make sure that I'm hydrated enough for the run. Ideally, I'd like to finish the bike in 50 minutes or less. When heading back to transition, I will remember to unclip from the pedals before stopping to avoid an embarrassing fall! Once I've racked my bike again, I will take off my helmet, switch from bike to running shoes, grab my running hat, move my race number around to the front and head back out to the course. I will remember that drinking is a good thing and if there is water on the course, I will take it. I hope to run at a 10 minute mile pace. Obviously, if it's faster, that would be fantastic, but anything around 10 minutes/mile will make me very happy. I hope to finish the run strong and sprint towards the finish line with a smile on my face at the finish.

I'll be posting a full race report tomorrow after the race! I can't believe that it's already time for my first race. I know that it's just a sprint and that it's not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but I will say that I'm really proud of myself for getting this far. I had no idea in February what exactly I was getting myself into. I've stuck with the training for the most part and I didn't burm myself out. In fact, I am looking forward to upping the training level a bit for Westchester once Saturday is over. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. One race at a time...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Think I Swallowed A Bug

This morning was the first time that I made it to a Terrier brick workout. That partly had to do with the fact that it's been raining for the last month and partly because the workout starts at 5:30, which is really early. I really wanted to go this morning so that I could practice transitioning from the bike to the run a couple of times before Saturday.

I got there and Robert was coaching the practice. He said that we would be doing a run-bike-run-bike-run workout. The bike portion would be the 4.0 mile loop from the 72nd Street transverse to the 100th Street transverse. The run portion would be the 0.50 mile loop from the bandshell heading south down to the end of the Mall and then back up the pathway just West of the Mall.

The first run I just wanted to laugh at. We were supposed to run with our bikes. The catch was that we couldn't hold onto the handlebars. We could only hold onto the saddle. Turns out that I'm not very good at that part. My bike just kept wanting to turn left. I know that I wasn't doing a very good job at steering. I learned later on in the workout that it is a lot easier if you hold your arm out in front of you, rather than next to you. Somehow having your arm out in front gives you more leverage over the bike and helps it go straight. Either way, on that first run, I was definitely the last person to finish (no big surprise there!), but I wasn't as down in the dumps this time as I was on Tuesday. I blamed my slow speed on my bike rather than my legs. I didn't time that run on my watch - I just included that time in the total bike mileage and time.

I used my new speed laces today for the first time. They're fantastic! Because they're longer, I'm able to lace my shoes all the way up and I still have plenty of give on the laces. My feet felt fine and didn't fall asleep at all. I also felt like my shoes were really secure on my feet, so I think these new laces are a winner.

Transitioning from the run to the bike and the bike to the run went pretty smoothly for me. I know I'm not the fastest person, but as long as I don't get too flustered I think I'll be fine. I even remembered to take my hat so that I could practice putting that on since I want to wear it on Saturday. The weather on Saturday is looking pretty good - it's supposed to be 85 and sunny, but not too humid. I think that sounds about perfect for a race, although since I've never raced before, I don't know for sure.

When I got on the bike for the first time, I noticed right away that there were tons of little gnats out and about this morning. I'm pretty sure I swallowed at least one. I spit out two or three (maybe I should learn to ride my bike with my mouth shut). I also got a bug in each eye. They were everywhere! I've never noticed these bugs in the park before, so I was quite surprised. Maybe all the recent rain has made the bugs come out in full force.

All in all today, my total bike mileage was 11.65 miles (including riding to and from the park and the initial 0.50 mile run with the bike). I finished that distance in 54:44, which is a 12.77 MPH pace. The two 0.50 mile runs (1.0 mile total) was completed in 8:09. That's right. That's an 8:09 pace! I know that I did the first 0.50 mile in 4:16, which I was still pretty happy with. On the second 0.50 mile, I was dragging a little bit half-way through. At that point, one of the guys on the team came up behind me and said, "C'mon, pick up your cadence." That was really all the boost I needed to finish up strong and in record time!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where Oh Where Has My Flexibility Gone?

Last night I had a dream about over-sleeping on Saturday and missing the triathlon. In the dream, it was Drew's fault because it was raining and he didn't want to have to stand out in the rain all morning, so he didn't wake me up. He promised me (in real life) that we wouldn't over-sleep, so I think we'll be all set for the race.

Today I had been hoping to go workout with either Laura or Drew, but work kept both of them from being able to do anything this morning. When I woke up this morning, I realized that was probably for the best because I was quite sore from yesterday's Terrier run. At first I couldn't figure out why my rear-end would be sore from running, since that has never happened before. And then I remembered the lunges. And the back-lunges. And the squats. I think all three of those things did me in. I decided that I would take the day off and let my normally unused muscles rest a little bit.

I found a restorative yoga class to go to tonight. I thought that it might be helpful to just do some restful stretching. The class I went to was actually called Yin + Restorative. Apparently the Yin part is for sore joints and the Restorative is for sore muscles. I definitely had the latter. I went to the Exhale yoga studio and had the same teacher, Marcy, that I had the last time I went for a regular class. I was thinking that teaching restorative yoga must be the most boring thing in the world. There are several people all lying around almost falling asleep and you just have to sit there for 3 minutes while they hold each pose.

All the poses that we did that involved anything to do with your hamstrings were practically impossible for me. There was one where we were sitting up with our legs spread apart. We then were supposed to fold over onto a bolster and rest in that position. I could barely lean forward my hamstrings were so tight and had to prop my bolster up with blocks in order to be comfortable. Forget about folding all the way over! The girl in front of me in class was ridiculously flexible. I was quite jealous. I think tonight was a good reminder that I really should try to stretch even more than I normally do and to try to get more yoga in as 'forced stretching'.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Slowest On The Team

Last night I went to my doctor for acupuncture for my right shoulder. I'm not sure how I hurt it (falling off the bike, perhaps?) but it definitely hurts and wasn't feeling much better over the weekend. It's definitely feeling a little bit better this morning, although still not back to normal. I'm hoping that it'll be mostly better by Saturday!

This morning was the group Terrier run and I was finally able to get up early and it wasn't raining, so everything worked out for me to make it to the run today. I switched the shoelaces on my shoes back to the regular laces, so my feet were a lot happier than they had been on Sunday when they were falling asleep with the speed laces on. I'm going to try to go at lunch today to see about getting some different speed laces, so stay tuned for more on that.

When we got there, instead of doing our usual strides workout, we did some body strength work as well. We started by doing 15 push-ups and then we would stride over to the other side for another exercise. We did squats, plank position for a minute, lunges, back lunges, mountain climbers, more push-ups, and some other get down and jump up exercise that I don't have a name for.

The run today was a 5 or 6 mile tempo run, unless you were racing this weekend. Then you were just supposed to do a 4 mile run. Of course, you were supposed to increase the pace for 30 seconds every 2 minutes, but I sort-of skipped over that part of the instructions and just focused on the 4 mile run part. The whole group headed out and north.

I was towards the front when we started and then every single person on the team passed me. Seriously, even the older guy who was walking part of the time was faster than I was. How depressing is that? When he passed me and then started walking I thought to myself that I could totally catch him now. Right when I was almost there, he started running again. So, basically, I'm not even in competition with the 50+ age group. Grrrr... I really had just starting feeling more confident about this triathlon and now I'm just thinking about everyone blowing by me on the run.

I knew I wasn't running as fast today as I did on Sunday or even the past couple times, but I thought that was okay as I didn't want to push myself too hard before the race on Saturday. I ended up running 3.75 miles in 39:21 (10:29 pace) which I think is fine for my level. There was, however, also a lot of walking involved (walking to and from the meeting place) which ended up being 2.5 miles of walking.

All in all, I do really feel okay with where I am running. It's just really frustrating to be the slowest one all of the time. I know that if I just keep at it I will improve, but I am starting to feel like I've hit a wall on pacing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Open Water Swimming Makes Me Hungry

This morning I got up early in order to get ready and packed for my open water swim and run clinic with the Terriers. Drew was kind enough to get up early too and go the grocery store so that he could make breakfast for us. We had eggs, turkey bacon and toast. Seemed like a well-balanced meal to start the day.

I left my apartment around 9:30, because I knew it could take an hour to get out to Coney Island and with slower subway service on Sundays, I didn't want to be late for the 11:00 start time. I ended up getting off the train with about 12 minutes to spare. I started walking to the meeting place and luckily saw Lisa, so that was a nice surprise to see a familiar face.

Of course, as we were waiting for everyone else to arrive, it was raining lightly. At least there was no thunder, so it wasn't a problem swimming. Everyone else got there right around 11:00. Robert, the coach, talked to us all for a few minutes before we headed down to the beach. He asked who was nervous about swimming and reminded us that as kids we would have been dying to get into the water, but as adults we all become afraid, which is sort-of an interesting thought.

Robert said that it was really important on the day of the race to make sure that we get in the water before the race in order to acclimate our bodies to the water temperature. Once we got all suited up into our wetsuits, we all headed out to the water. Those first few steps into the water made me lose all feeling in my toes. Then, once I stuck my arms in, they were freezing as well (I have a sleeveless wetsuit). However, after staying in the water for a few minutes and swimming around, I felt a lot better. My face still felt cold when I had to stick it back in the water after taking a breath, but it wasn't horrible.

After we got used to the water temperature, we all got out of the water so that we could practice getting into and out of the water for races. Getting in for beach starts, he explained, we should run until the water level got to about our knees. After that, we should do a few dolphins, kicking off the bottom, until we couldn't touch any more. Then we could start swimming. The dolphins really make your heart rate go up, so I can see if you weren't already acclimated to the water temperature, you could be easily flustered. Once we had started swimming, we would swim for 20 or 30 strokes and then turn around and head back. The exit from the water seemed a lot easier. You swim until you are hitting the bottom with your hand, then explode up out of the water and start running. You should make sure to take off your goggles right away so that you can see. Then start unzipping and peeling off your wetsuit. By the time you reach the transition area, the wetsuit should already be below your hips. We practiced the getting into and out of the water several times.

Next, Robert had us do some sighting work. The first time, he told me that I was doing it backwards. I was taking a breath and then looking to sight, when I should be looking and then taking a breath. At first when I tried to do it his way, I was getting a little confused, but after the entire practice, I realized how much more efficient that his way was. And In fact, made it easier to sight in general. The swimming area that we were in was between two jettys that were about 200 yards apart. We would swim in a triangle - from the beach to the end of one jetty, then from jetty to jetty and finally back to shore (each triangle was about a quarter mile).

Every time we got into and out of the water, we were still supposed to be practicing what we had gone over earlier with the ins and outs. We then practiced swim starts in deep water. For those, you would be treading water (or holding onto a rope). The key to a good start here, Robert explained, is to be horizontal, or nearly horizontal by the time the race starts. So, during the countdown, you should start leaning over into the water. Once we had done those a few times, we then swam in a rough triangle again. This time, instead of using the second jetty to sight, we were to swim around this guy who had been in the water the entire time we were there and appeared to be doing some sort of testing. I tried not to think too hard about all the rain we've had and how clean or dirty the water might be and instead focus on the actual swimming. I think the guy was pretty shocked when we all swam around him, but since he was just standing there, I hope he didn't mind too much.

After getting out of the water that time, Robert then talked to us about drafting and how great it can be if you find someone who is sighting properly to swim behind. That way you're doing a lot less work and don't have to sight yourself as often. All you have to do is stay on their toes and follow along. We did the drafting in small groups (mine was a group of three). We each led for a leg. We swam out to the end of the jetty, and then back and forth between the jettys. By this point, we had been in the water for about an hour and a half and I could tell that I was getting hungry and losing a bit of steam. We then headed in towards the beach.

This time, Robert had us take off our suits completely. He gave us some pointers first and reminded us to have it below our hips before we get to T1. Then he told us to yank them down as fast as we could and use our feet to step on the suit in order to get it off completely. I actually think I did very well on that part and had my suit off rather quickly.

We then all headed back up towards the boardwalk to rinse off our wetsuits and change into our running shoes. I had to eat one of the bars I had brought with me as well as drinking some fresh water. I had had enough salt water for one day, I think.

We were supposed to run for 40 minutes. 20 minutes there and 20 back. The only problem with that was that by the time we got 'there' to the end of the boardwalk, we had only been running for about 10 minutes. By this time the day had really warmed up and all I really wanted to do was to get back in the water. I also found running in the boardwalk to be very disorienting. The slats were all at a diagonal and something about it made me feel a bit dizzy. Now I'm a bit nervous about my run next weekend, since part of that is also on a boardwalk. I also don't think I can wear these speed laces that Laura let me try out. They're too short. I did lace them further up my shoes, but my feet were feeling numb almost right away. When the rest of the team got back to where we had started from, they all kept going on the 40 minute run, but I had had enough for the day. I think not having enough food/water on the swim just caught up to me. I ran for 22 minutes total (about 2.6 miles/8:27 pace).

All in all, although it started with a little rain, it was a perfect day for the practice. There were very few people out at the beach and boardwalk, which was great for us. I was really proud of all the effort I put in today. Now I'm dying for a cold smoothie and a warm shower!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We Should Never Ride on 95th Street Again

Thursday night on my way home from work I stopped off at the sporting goods store. I needed to buy some body glide (after my struggle with the wetsuit Thursday morning, it seemed like a necessity). I also wanted to pick up a couple of cheap water bottles for the bike. I spent my time just browsing around the store because almost everything was on sale. I ended up getting a new sleeveless biking jersey that was on sale and then 30% off the sale price, so it only cost me $20! I also bought a couple of gu packets because Laura keeps saying that she would never be able to eat a Clif bar at the race like I was planning on doing.

Thursday when I got home I was chatting with Laura and told her about my gu purchase. She said that I should try it out before being too far from a bathroom. Going off her recommendation, I went ahead and tried my first one. I had bought all fruity flavors, since I'm not a big chocolate person and the espresso flavor also sounded pretty bad. The one that I tried was Lemon Sublime. It was okay. It wasn't good and it wasn't horrible. I did feel pretty bloated for the rest of the evening and when I woke up on Friday morning, I had really bad stomach cramps, so I'm not sure about how well this gu will work out for me. I'm going to try it again while working out to see how that goes.

Friday I had decided that I would take the whole day off. I was so excited to sleep in really late and get up at the last possible second in order to get ready for work on time. However, my body and my friends had different plans for me. I woke up on my own at 6:30 and then tried falling back asleep only to get a text at 6:47 from one friend. After that, another text and phone call around 7:15 from another friend. I guess even though it wasn't quite as restful as I wanted to be, at least I still got to lounge around for a bit longer than usual, which was still nice.

This morning Drew and I had planned to get up early and go for a bike ride. The early part was essential since the weather said that it should start raining around 10. I set my alarm for 6:30 and was pretty much up and ready to go. I had to poke Drew a few times before he was as willing as I was to get up and go. I brought Clif bars for us to eat before our bike ride, as I wanted to make sure that I would feel okay after eating the bar and going for a ride (since that's my race plan). We ate our bars, got all ready and headed out.

My plan for the ride today was to cut across to the Westside through the park and then show Drew how nice the pathway up the Westside is. Last time I didn't get to go up the whole path because it had started to rain, so this time I wanted to go all the way to the end of the path (205th Street). On our way there, we were stopped at the corner of 95th and Amsterdam waiting for the light to change and Drew's chain fell off his bike. We had to stop and fix that first. He ended up with very greasy hands that required going across the street to the deli to clean up before heading on. We entered the bike pathway via Riverside Park at 95th Street and headed North. When we got to where I had stopped before (at about 135th Street), it was all new territory and I had no idea what we were in for.

At one point the path gets very wooded. Most of the time you are riding right along the river, but this particular part is wooded on both sides and you really do not feel like you are in New York City. I couldn't believe how nice it was. It's just incredible to me how even in New York there is nature to be found. Once we reached the base of the George Washington Bridge, we began our climb up. Not to the bridge itself, it's just the way that the path goes. The first hill was pretty steep and at one point on the climb up, I wondered what would happen if I couldn't make it? I mean, I'm clipped in. If I stopped pedaling, I will fall over. I realized that my only choice was to continue to pedal as hard as I could. I think it was at that moment that if I had been wearing a heart rate monitor, it definitely would have spiked up from the extra effort.

Little did I know, there would be another small hill followed by a really intense hill. The last one was killer. I actually had to get up out of the saddle and stand up and pedal. I was thinking that I might fall over, but if I made it up the hill, it would be really fantastic. I was also realizing that before Westchester and "Claire's Climb" I'm definitely going to have to practice my hills and that this would be a really good way to do so. The big hills were probably about a mile and a half from the very end of the pathway. We got to the end and really only had one option - to head back the way that we came.

Going back meant that we had to go down the hills. I was really scared. I did not want to go. I really contemplated getting off my bike entirely and just walking it down. Drew just led the way and I saw that he didn't fall or die or go too fast out of control, so I figured I could do it too. When we got to the bottom of the first hill, my hands definitely hurt from gripping the brakes so tightly. By the time we got to the bottom of the last hill, I was ready to let go of the brakes a little bit and even got up to a max speed of 35 MPH!

Heading back home, the ride was still just really nice. There was hardly any other bike or pedestrian traffic and it was a reminder of why it's important to get up early. As we got towards the end of the ride and were exiting Riverside Park, there were definitely a lot more people out and about walking their dogs. When we were approaching the corner of 95th and West End, I could see that the light was red for us, but it seemed like it should be changing soon. Drew was leading the way and had sort-of started out into the intersection. I thought that we were just going to go through the light since the traffic seemed clear. That's not what happened.

Instead, Drew came to a complete stop, which was rather sudden to me, mostly since I was thinking that we would be going through. I think it was in that 10 seconds of me saying "Oh no, OH NO!" that I realized that neither of my feet were unclipped, I was stopped, and I was also falling over onto my left side. Ugh. I knew that this day would come, I just wasn't prepared to fall over into traffic that now had a green light. I scrambled up as quickly as I could, mostly embarrassed to have fallen. Luckily, the car that was at the front of the line at the light had seen me fall and didn't go right away. Of course, since this is New York, the cars behind him started honking since the first guy wasn't going through the light. All of that just added to me being upset and embarrassed. I got up and realized that I managed to get a small cut on my right hand. I'm sure that was from my finger being pinched by the brake/gear shifter when I fell. My left knee also hurt, but I was wearing leggings and I couldn't see any damage although I was pretty sure I would have a bruise. My left hand also got a bruise right in the middle of my palm from landing on it. I dusted myself off and realized that since the light was green now, we should just go ahead and go.

Right away when I got back on my bike, I could tell that something was a little off. Turns out I bent my handlebars when I fell. Drew was still riding ahead of me. I called to him 3 or 4 times, but he didn't hear. We stopped again for the light at 95th and Amsterdam and I told him about my handlebars and how I thought I should just go to the bike shop so that they could make sure that everything else was okay. Especially with my race next Saturday, I really wanted to make sure as soon as possible that nothing serious was wrong with the bike. At this point it was just a few minutes before 9. Drew said that he would just head home, take a shower and then go grocery shopping for breakfast. I headed off to Toga.

I got there right about 9:10. Of course, they didn't open until 10. Why should I get lucky on a day like today? I didn't mind waiting, since it seemed most important to make sure that everything was A-OK with the bike. All of the workers got there around 9:30, but they were all hanging out outside since the store was still locked up. Since I was just waiting there, one of the guys came over and asked what I needed. I told him about my fall and the handlebars and he said that was a super easy fix. He bent the handlebar back for me right there. He also went through all the gears on the bike to make sure that none of the shifting had been affected. He did say that he thought everything looked okay, but that I could definitely use some lube on my chain and I could still wait to have the bike tech guys give it a once-over.

It was about 9:40 at this point, and I figured that I should just wait a bit longer to be on the safe side. They opened promptly at 10 and they took my bike downstairs to give it a once-over. At about 9:25, my bike came back with a clean bill of health, some more lube, and I didn't even get charged for their very kind services. I'm just so glad that nothing serious happened - to me or the bike! After that, I headed back to Drew's to tell him the good news. When I got there, I knocked some stuff over in the kitchen, which prompted Drew to take away everything that I was carrying in my hands and ask me if I could please put my helmet on. I told him it was all his fault that I fell over in the first place since he stopped when he clearly should have gone!

All in all, the bike ride today was 21.78 miles, which I did in a total of 1 hour, 47 minutes (12.21 MPH average). I'm actually okay with that average. With the hills, the city riding, and the stopping we did for the fall and the chain incident, I don't think that's too bad. I know that I was going really pretty quickly on all of the flat parts, so I don't feel as down in the dumps as I usually do about my speed. Plus, I came home to an excellent breakfast that included cinnamon raisin toast! Tomorrow is the Terrier open water swim and run clinic. I'm just hoping that the weather holds out and isn't raining then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wetsuits Are Really Hot

This morning Laura and I met at the other 14th Street Y for a swim in our wetsuits. I got there before her and started putting my wetsuit on. I was not having a easy time of it at all. I did the plastic bag over the feet trick, which really worked wonders. But the first time I tried that on my right leg, somehow the wetsuit flipped inside out on my leg, so I had to take it off and start again. By the time Laura got there to meet me, I was so hot and frustrated with the whole thing that I wanted to give up. I really was sweating with my clothes on underneath the suit.

Laura just looked at me, told me to take a deep breath, relax and try again. She was right. It got a lot easier when I wasn't as frustrated. I had pulled the suit up as high as I could on my calves so that it would be a lot tighter in the crotch than it was the last time we tried this. Last time I was carrying a lot of extra water, so I wanted to make sure that the suit was up as high as possible. Finally, we both got into our suits, zipped up and walked out to the pool. Of course, not only was this a big test for my wetsuit, it was also a big test for my new goggles.

I jumped into the pool only to discover that the water was HOT! I wasn't very happy about that. I had printed out a 2,000 yard swimplan.com workout, but I knew that wouldn't be happening today. Instead, I did a 200 yard warm-up of freestyle followed by 50 of one-armed free. Then I decided that I was warmed up enough to time myself doing a 400 (the sprint triathlon distance) and see if the wetsuit made any difference at all.

Last week, I had done this in 8:35 and had swum pretty easy. Today I decided to swim a lot harder and see what happened. So, I'm not 100% sure that it was all wetsuit related as I know that I was also pushing myself harder today than I was last week, but I finished the swim in 6:49. I think 1:46 is a huge difference, although I know a vast part of it is effort that I put into the swim. However, at the end of this swim, I was dying. I was so hot from the water and the wetsuit, I was actually a little worried that I really was overheating. The whole time I was just wishing that I was wearing my regular bathing suit.

After doing the 400, I spent some time cooling off by talking to Laura for a little while at the end of the pool. Then I decided that we should spend a few more minutes swimming, so I went ahead and did 350 more for an even 1000 yards (0.57 miles). I think the actual time swimming was about 20 minutes.

I know that today wasn't my best overall effort in the pool, although I was really happy with the sprint-distance time. I did discover some very important things. First, that I need to get some body glide. Second, that I should tuck my shirt into my shorts to prevent more bunching. Third, that I should wear my hair in a high ponytail, otherwise it gets caught in the back of the wetsuit (even when under a swim cap). Fourth, my new goggles are great! Fifth, wearing wetsuits apparently makes people want to look and point at you like you're part of a circus sideshow act. Sixth, I do not really ever want to go back to this other 14th Street Y and I'm glad that we only have one more free visit there. All in all, it was a really good learning experience and I'm sure that any practice getting into and out of my wetsuit will be helpful on the day of the race.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No Real Improvement

This morning I got up and met Drew for a nice bike ride in the park. He had already done 3/4 of the loop before we met and told me that he averaged 18 MPH. I knew there was no way that I'd be able to do that, and I was 100% correct in that assessment.

The first loop was 6.15 miles and I finished that in 24:41 (14.95 MPH average) and second loop was 6.08 miles and was completed in 24:36 (14.83 MPH average). The total time was 49:17 and the total distance was 12.23 miles. I guess the good news is that I'm fairly consistent from the first loop to the second loop and I'm not losing a lot of speed. I guess I'm just getting a little frustrated that I'm not getting any better.

When I started this whole triathlon training process, I had no idea that I would find the bike to be the hardest part. Or at least the most frustrating part. Maybe part of that is that I only went on one bike ride last summer when Drew and I rented bikes so I don't have as much prior experience to compare to. Although, thinking about it now, I only completed one loop in the park, so maybe I am improving from last year. I know I'm a lot stronger and definitely in better cardio shape than I was then. If only my legs could magically get even stronger I'd be happy!

Also, this morning I took a water bottle full of Gatorade so that I could try to get myself to drink more on the bike as practice for the triathlon. I did pretty well the first loop and drank about half of the bottle. The second loop I sort-of forgot, but did take about 2 drink breaks. However, when I got home, I still had about a third of the bottle left. At this point I think that any practice with drinking on the bike will still benefit me later, I was just hoping to be able to drink the whole thing within the 12 miles.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do Speed Laces Make You Go Faster?

Last night I fell asleep at 7 o'clock on the couch. I woke up at 8:30 to make a phone call to Drew, get myself a little something to eat, watch a little TV and go right back to sleep. I had set my alarm in order to get up and go running with the Terriers this morning, but when the alarm went off, I was still exhausted. I will say that the temperature also played a role in my decision. It was only 50 degrees outside! So far, this has been the rainiest and coldest June on record for New York City. I'm a little disappointed to be living through this record-breaking time. I much prefer it when those sorts of records were set a hundred years ago!

I decided that the sleep was more important at this point and that I would get a run in after work. Today at lunch I headed over to the sporting goods store in order to buy myself some new goggles. I left my old goggles at swim practice on Sunday, so I was really bummed that I had to get new ones. I think that I got the same kind that I had before, but I won't find out until Thursday when I meet Laura for a swim. I also had some things that I needed to get at the drugstore, so I stopped there on my way back to work. Unfortunately, when I stop at the drugstore at lunchtime without eating lunch first, I'm quite tempted by those $0.99 bags of chips. I bought a bag of Cheetos and had a couple on my way back to the office.

The bad part wasn't that I only had a few at lunch. It was that I finished eating the bag around 4:30 this afternoon. I knew that they would be a bad pre-running snack. It's just that when faced with the choice between Cheetos or the giant bag of almonds at my desk, the Cheetos sounded a lot better. So, after work, instead of heading straight home to go out for my run (because I needed to digest a little bit), I did some window shopping and then went to the grocery store so that I could make dinner and also have some better snacks at work!

By the time I got home, it was already 7. I had to get myself together rather quickly and head out to the park in order to get a run in before it got dark. Luckily Laura had given me a pair of speed laces that she had so that I could try them out so it was much faster getting ready than it usually is. I mean, I probably saved 30 seconds by not tying my shoes! I also thought I'd save myself some time by only taking the key to the actual door to my apartment, not the door that leads from the outside into the foyer. But more about that later.

I walked up to the park and was actually quite anxious to start running since it was a little bit on the cool side in just shorts and a t-shirt. I was planning on doing the same 3.2 mile loop I had done last week to see if my time would improve at all. However, once I got past the 72nd Street turn-off and up to the Boathouse, I realized that I just wasn't in the mood. I turned around and went through the 72nd Street cross-over and headed home. I ran 2.06 miles in 20:11. Turns out that those speed laces made me just a little bit faster -- 9:48 pace!

After my abbreviated run, I headed home as usual. I got to the front door of my apartment building, put the key in and nothing happened. The key wouldn't turn in the lock. Now, remember that I said I had only taken the key to my apartment door and not the key to the front door? Well, that used to be just fine. It was a little secret that the key to my apartment also worked in the front door of the building. I guess they must have changed something because nothing turned. I stood there for about 5 minutes trying to see if I was wrong or if maybe I should turn the key the other way. I was staring at the buzzer buttons trying to decide who in the building I could buzz to let me in. Luckily, right as I was about to press a button, my across-the-hall neighbor came and let me into the building! Lesson learned! Must take both keys from now on!

Now, as for the laces themselves. Laura had told me that she didn't like them because they were too tight. I think I wasn't a huge fan because I thought that they were a bit short. With my regular shoe laces, I was able to lace up through all the holes in my shoes, even the ones at the top that no one ever uses. I like to use those because I think that it makes the shoes feel more secure. When I was running today, I did feel like my ankle was a little loose and could roll around pretty easily, which made me slightly nervous.

The thing about these laces is that they're pretty much at the end when they're loose. When I tighten them up, there is still a lot of give. I think if I stick them through at least one more hole going up the shoe, it'll be a lot better. I'm not going to give up on them yet, but I'm also not 100% sold on them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Early Morning Pilates

This morning I got up earlier than usual to meet Nicole for pilates at 7 instead of 8. Nicole had asked another friend of hers to come and join us, so it was a bit different having someone else there as well. Sitting here 2 hours later, I still don't understand how Drew didn't get a lot out of the pilates when he went and tried it. My stomach is still tired after this morning's workout.

Most of the workout was all things we had done before. I decided today that I really like the exercise called short spine. That exercise requires you to be laying down on the reformer (although I guess you can also do this in mat as well) with your feet in the foot straps. You then lift your legs up over your head, similar to going into shoulder stand in yoga. You end up getting both a back stretch and a hamstring stretch, which is really nice.

Today we did some exercises using the tower, which I haven't really done much of. We did some one-armed roll-downs, which made my hand really tired. I'm guessing that I was gripping the bar too much instead of using my abdominals as much as I should have. Although they were pretty tired at that point too.

The exciting thing was that Laura went and had her first pilates class in the 8 AM time slot. I can't wait to hear all about it! Hopefully Laura will want to go back and she and I can go together sometimes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Could I Really Drown?

This afternoon I went to the Terrier swim to find out that there is a new coach that is being added into the mix. Her name is Sarah and she'll be at the practices for the next couple of weeks and then will be added into the rotation throughout the year. I was hoping to have a really good practice and was hopeful that her workout would be a good one.

This was the workout:

200 Swim
200 Drill
200 Kick (with board)
200 Pull

4 x 75: right arm, left arm, perfect swim (300)
4 x 100: easy to fast (0:15 RI) (400)
4 x 100: fast to easy (0:15 RI) 400
8 x 50: sighting, 50's should be in 1:00 400

Cool Down:
50 easy freestyle

Total: 2350 meters / 65 minutes (1.46 miles)

For the warm-up drill, I chose to do one arm drills, alternating right and left arms. For some reason in the pool, I just couldn't think of anything else to do. The core work-out was really pretty good. The 75s were not very easy. I thought that it would be more of the same right-arm / left-arm drills that I had done earlier. However, instead of keeping the non-working arm out in front of you like I had been doing, these drills made you keep the non-working arm against your side. We were not supposed to breathe every stroke so that we could really make our bodies turn and make the non-working shoulder rotate as well. Doing this drill on the right side wasn't too bad. The left side, however, was almost impossible. I almost never feel like I will drown in the pool, but the first time that I did that drill on the left, I thought about the fact that I could drown very easily. Probably not the best thought to have.

The first 4 x 100 was the following:
100: 75 easy, 25 fast
100: 50 easy, 50 fast
100: 25 easy, 75 fast
100: 100 fast

That last 100 fast was killer. I was pretty beat by the end of that set. The next 4 x 100 was the exact opposite:
100: 100 fast
100: 75 fast, 25 easy
100: 50 fast, 50 easy
100: 25 fast, 75 easy

This 400 was supposed to simulate a race scenario - you start off fast and then settle into your swim, and then speed up at the end. Looking at it now, I realize that I should have timed myself on those 400s as that's pretty much the distance for the sprint triathlon and it would have been interesting to know how going faster for part of it instead of easy like I did last week affected my time.

I was really glad for the sighting drill. I've never really done any real significant sighting drills and it was good that it was part of our practice. They explained that you really shouldn't lift your whole head out of the water, that it should just be a look with your eyes. I mainly incorporated it into my breathing. I would lift my head up to the side to breathe, look forward and then stick my head back into the water. I tried to sight about every 6 strokes or so. I'm not sure how often I'll have to sight in the actual race, but I figured that getting in as much practice with the motion in the pool would be beneficial. We were also supposed to do these 50s within a minute, and at first I was a little worried that I wouldn't be fast enough, but I did them all within 45 seconds, even with the sighting, so it turns out that I worried for nothing.

When we finished up the sighting drills, we were already a couple minutes over the hour we have for practice, but I felt like I needed to do a 50 just to cool down a little bit. All in all, I liked this new coach. I thought it was a good mix of swimming and drills. Next week is an open water clinic that I am planning on going to, so I might not see her again for 2 weeks (that is if I feel like going to practice the day after the sprint, I'm not quite decided about that yet). I also met a teammate today who is also pretty new to Terrier. She's also doing Westchester, so it was nice to meet someone else who is going to be doing the same race!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Really Good Test

This morning I met Drew in the park so that I could do a brick. I had been planning on doing the full sprint triathlon distances, so I was a little unsure of how it would go. I was even more unsure when I got to the park to see that there was a 10K race going on in the park and about half of the lanes were reserved for the race.

I realized that since there wasn't anything I could do about the circumstances, I should just go and have the best ride that I could. My ride to meet Drew was 2.54 miles and took me 13:20 (11.43 MPH average), so I knew that all I could do was improve from there!

We started the loops at the 90th Street entrance, so that when we stopped, I'd be at a good starting point to get to run around the reservoir. Of course, starting further North also meant that we had to tackle the Harlem hill almost right away. Unbelievably, I actually caught up to Drew on the hill the first time around. I've told him before that if he foes slowly enough, I eventually will catch him!

The rest of the first loop passed rather uneventfully. I looked at the bike computer and it was about 24:30 to ride 6.12 miles (14.99 MPH pace). We passed lots of racers along the way. By the time we got back to start our second loop, a lot of the racers had finished, which made it harder to navigate since they were meandering all along the road. Most of them were eating Popsicles and the thought crossed my mind that I'd like to punch one of them in the face (the bad walkers, of course) and steal a Popsicle. Instead, I just kept riding my bike.

The second loop made me realize just how uncomfortable the bikes at the gym are. I think that I might have to get myself some actual bike shorts for the gym. I spent the rest of the second loop wishing that I had some better protection between me and the bike. I finished the second loop in 48:27 total time and went 12.14 miles (15.03 MPH average).

Drew had sent me this article a few days ago about transitioning. I thought the part at the end about standing up on the bike in order to get the blood to the bottom of your legs was especially interesting. Of course, everytime I tried to practice that, I was sure I was just going to fall flat on my face. I felt like it would be easier to do if I was in a very hard gear, but all that shifting doesn't seem worth it to me.

When we got to where I would be transitioning, I hopped off my bike and Drew promptly told me that he wouldn't help me all, which was fair since I won't have any help at the race. As I was trying to pull my running shoes out of my backpack, my legs were definitely shaking. I had tried to time my transition, but I was in such a rush, apparently I forgot to press start on my watch. I managed to get my biking shoes off and my running shoes on, remembered to take off my helmet, and ran over to the entrance to the reservoir path.

My legs actually felt pretty good once I started running. I started out a bit faster that usual, but realized that I probably needed to settle into my regular pace in order to be able to finish the full distance. Once I was rounding the corner towards the finish on the first loop, I did think for a moment about whether or not I would need to do the second loop. Then I realized that I would be really disappointed in myself if I didn't follow through with my original plan.

I kept on running for the second loop and finished the 3.2 miles in 32:01 (10:00 pace). I couldn't believe it! 10 minute miles even after the bike? The main thing that I learned from this experience is that I need to drink more on the bike. I was really thirsty while running. I'm guessing that there will be water stations during the race (although the race reports I've read have said that the water stations aren't that great) so it's probably better to make sure I'm slightly more hydrated on my own.

Once I had switched back to my bike shoes, Drew and I got back on our bikes and headed to his apartment. The last thing I wanted to do at that point was get on my bike, but Drew only lives about a quarter mile from the park so it wasn't too bad. We had a smoothie, played Killer Bunnies, took a nap, had another smoothie and then I needed to head home.

When I got downstairs, I realized that it was raining really hard and I wasn't very excited at the prospect of riding in the pouring rain. However, I realized I might as well do it since there is a chance that it will rain for the triathlon. The ride home was miserable. The water splashing up from the street, the rain coming down from the sky, yuck. The worst part was that once my hands got wet, it was really slippery on my handlebars and I was nervous about that. Also, when they were wet, my brakes got very loud and squeaky. I'm not sure if I should be worried about that or not since they always stopped just fine. When I got home, I was covered in dirt from the waist down and my backpack was covered as well. I do not like this rain. Now I'll have to clean up my bike, which is never my favorite thing. At least I had an awesome workout!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just Enough Reason To Get Up

This morning I woke up to more rain in the city. I really think it will never stop, even though the weather forecast claims that it will be nice tomorrow. I'm not going to hold my breath, although I am really hoping that they've got it right this time!

My gym is currently having a "bring a friend for free on Friday" promotion, so I had talked to Laura about whether or not she'd like to avoid the rain and come join me at the gym this morning. She wasn't sure since she had some work she thought she would be up late doing so I told her that if I hadn't heard from her by 8 AM, I'd assume that she wasn't coming. I had really only planned to go ride the bike for 30 minutes this morning, just to get in a quick workout so I could have my evening free.

When my alarm went off at 7, I looked outside and realized that the last thing that I wanted to do was get up and go to the gym. I also figured that if Laura really was going to come and meet me that I would have heard by then. I tried to convince myself that it would be okay to take a rest day. However, I felt obligated to actually go to the gym just in case she did show up and wanted to get in a workout. And, really, it was just enough motivation to get me out of bed, so by not coming, she still did me a favor.

So, I got changed, walked to the gym in the rain, plopped myself down on the cardio bike and realized that I really only had 20 minutes to do anything before I would have to get up and walk back home in the rain. That 20 minutes hardly seemed worth the effort in my tired mind. Anyhow, I decided to try to simulate the "flat as a pancake" aspect of the Staten Island triathlon and so I just set the bike on level 5 and went about the biking. I'll be honest, my heart just wasn't in it this morning. I only rode for 17:30 and went a measly 4 miles (13.7 MPH pace). I got off, did a couple of stretches, and went home to shower and face the work day.

I have a mixed reaction to my workout this morning. Part of me thinks that there wasn't much point and the other part of me thinks that every little bit helps. I think that rain or shine tomorrow I'm going to have to get out there and do my brick, which will hopefully be a better workout than today!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sprint Triathlon Distance Swim? Check.

This morning Laura and I met for a swim at Asphalt Green. It's a 50-meter pool that is supposed to be the nicest pool in the city. The facilities seemed really nice and they had decent shampoo and conditioner in the showers, so that was a plus in my book. As for the pool itself, I will say that walking in and seeing an Olympic-sized pool was a little intimidating. It's so long! After reviewing the rules and determining that only circle swimming was allowed and that we should stick the slow/medium/fast lanes, we headed toward the pool. I will say that it wasn't 100% clear which lane was which, but I think that we both got into lanes that worked out for us.

On the first 50, I noticed that you could clearly see where the middle of the pool was and at that point I was just about ready to take a big breath and turn around, but I just kept going. Funny how your body gets acclimated to that. Anyhow, I had printed myself out a swimplan.com workout, which was:

4 x 50m Any Stroke (even pace), rest 0:15/50m

Build Up (repeat 4 times):
1 x 50m Freestyle Breath Left, rest 0:10/50m
1 x 50m Freestyle Breath Right, rest 0:10/50 m

12 x 100m Freestyle Swim, rest 0:20/100m

1 x 100m Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:20/100m
1 x 100m Freestyle Easy, rest 0:20/100m

Total: 2000 meters

OK, so I was really excited about this workout. Mostly because I knew that the core part would let me get in a good long swim and I could time myself for the sprint triathlon distance fairly accurately. I very rarely take the rest intervals given on the work-outs. I only really ever stop to take a look at my little cheat sheet to see what is next. I also didn't realize until right now when I was typing this out that I was supposed to repeat the Build Up portion 4 times, so I accidentally only did that once. Oops. Also, because of the timing, I didn't have time to complete the whole core portion. I only did 10 x 100m instead of 12. So, my total for the day was actually 1500 meters (0.93 miles) in 35 minutes.

I did the warm-up and build-up (or what I thought was the build-up) and then started into the main set. I decided that I would just swim nice and easy without pushing myself to see how I did with the sprint triathlon distance (0.25 miles). My time was 8:35. I have no idea how that compares to open water, of course, but I think that as long as I can just keep the same easy pace I did today, I'll be great at the triathlon. I guess the good news is that I did finish the Olympic distance today in 35 minutes, which also seems like a good time to me. Now if only I could get this swimming to translate over to the running and biking I'd be all set.

I spent most of the time swimming today thinking about how hungry I was and how glad I would be when I got back to Drew's apartment to finish getting ready for work because there would be a smoothie waiting for me. Unfortunately, when I got back to his apartment, he was in the shower and there was NO smoothie waiting! Of course, I'm starving by this point. Feeling a little faint, even. Why does swimming make me so hungry? I waited for him to get out of the shower, shave, etc. and an agonizing 13 minutes later I was finally delivered the smoothie I was waiting for. I didn't even care that it had sapota in it!

So, now that I've completed my reverse sprint triathlon, all I have to do is put it all together. However, with all the rain we keep having it's hard to get outside! This weekend is supposed to be nice, so I'm hoping to get in a good brick on Saturday. Now all I have to do is get the weather to cooperate!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sprint Triathlon Distance Bike? Check.

Last night I could not fall asleep and stayed up watching TV way too late. That meant that I couldn't drag myself out of bed before work for a workout. Which was probably okay considering the fact that it was raining. I headed off to work for the day and had packed a bag for hitting the gym later on.

I ended up going to the gym after work and as a special surprise, Drew was able to join me! He wasn't stuck at work until all hours of the night. It was a nice treat for both of us, I think. I had been planning on riding the bike today. When we got to the gym all of the cardio bikes were occupied! How weird is that? They seem like they are usually the last choice of everyone at the gym besides me. I went upstairs to check on the status of the spinning bikes, but there was a class in there. By the time I got back downstairs, one of the cardio bikes had opened up.

Of course, I get on the bike and I realized why it was available. Every time that you pedaled the bike there was an annoying squeaking sound. Luckily, two minutes into my ride, the bike next to me opened up, so I quickly switched over. I set the bike on the random hill setting and put the bike at level 10. Then I started reading my book and just kept pedaling like I was actually going somewhere.

About 35 minutes into my ride, Drew snuck up behind me and said that he was heading to the stretching area. I finished up and did an even 40 minutes on the bike and went 14.2 miles total. That's 21.3 MPH average. What?!? How is that even possible from my little legs? Drew is convinced that I will go a lot faster during the triathlon than I do in the park or other rides since there won't be crazy people in the road or lights or anything else in my way. I'm hoping that he's right. Either way, at least I completed the distance tonight. It wasn't a "real" bike ride, but with the hill settings, I feel like it's not too bad.

I seem to be doing this triathlon in reverse since tomorrow morning I'm going to meet Laura for a swim at a fancy pool that is having a promotion where you can go and try it out for a week for free. I'll report back on the sprint distance swim tomorrow.

4o minutes 14.2 miles

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sprint Triathlon Distance Run? Check.

Last night I woke up around 2:30 to some of the loudest thunder I can remember hearing in recent memory. I stayed awake for a while because I was mesmerized (and a little terrified) at how quickly the thunder was coming after the lightening struck. I was convinced, of course, that it would strike too close to my apartment for my taste, but I somehow survived and fell back to sleep.

When my alarm went off around 5 for the Terrier run, it still didn't look super inviting outside. I checked the internet and it looked like the group run was still on, but I didn't think I was up for the chance that the rain could come back and I'd be soaked at 6 AM. Instead, I lucked out because by the time I left work the rain had stopped. I got home and checked out the routes in the park so that I could map out a 3.2 mile run as practice for the sprint triathlon.

I really wanted to prove to myself that I would be able to finish the run without stopping and do it in a reasonable amount of time. I figured out that if I started at the south-west corner of the park and then ran up to 86th Street and then back down, I would do exactly 3.2 miles. How convenient for me!

So, finally, I did it! Not a great time, but I did it. My time was 34:25 (10:45 pace). Right around 30:00 I started to get a little frustrated and antsy wondering why I couldn't just be done running, but I hung in there, kept going and finished. The funny thing is that I actually felt really good while running today. I managed to pass a couple of people and then I would try to pick a person running ahead of me and match their pace. There was a girl in a gray t-shirt who was running at the exact same speed as me, so she was a really great person to follow for a while (until she turned off and left).

This was my first time running in the park just on the regular road without the Terriers. I actually sort-of liked it. The weird thing was that when I ran up a couple of the little hills that I hate on my bike, I didn't really notice that I was running uphill. It's probably all the gear shifting that gives it away on the bike. I think the most important part of today is that now I've got this under my belt. I know I'm physically capable of doing it, which will be a huge mental help during the triathlon.

As an aside, I just got my USAT e-mail and it had this really interesting article in it about the importance of pilates and yoga to triathletes. Makes me happy that I've been trying to incorporate both into my training as much as possible.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Whole Intermediate System

This morning was my regular pilates appointment with Nicole. When I got there she gave me a sneaky grin and announced that she thought we should go through the entire intermediate system on the reformer. Before starting I thought that maybe I wasn't crazy about that idea, but it turns out that it was actually a really good workout and it was fun to learn some of the new exercises.

I think my favorite new exercise is the side split. I wish that I was super flexible and could get down really far into splits, but standing up on the reformer and going into splits was fun. We also did front splits, which weren't quite as fun, although I still was curious to see how far I could go.

I also wonder where some of these exercises get their names. Like Elephant, for instance. This requires that you hold on with your hands to the foot bar and put your feet against the headrests (describing this in words sounds a lot more backwards than it really is) and then push the carriage backwards with your legs, keeping your arms still. When would an elephant ever make that sort of movement, I wonder? The better question is probably would an elephant ever stand on rollers and move its back legs while keeping its front legs still? My guess is probably not. And I'm 100% sure that if an elephant did that, they wouldn't keep their abdominals tucked in and up the whole time.

Regardless of the names of the exercises, today's workout was definitely a challenge for a lot of exercises. I have found that doing them the first time can be a little awkward, so I'm hoping that the next time I won't be quite as uncoordinated.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

An Easy Swim

Remember on Wednesday when I didn't work out and I thought it would be fine because I could just workout on Saturday? Yeah, well, that didn't happen. I'm just going to go ahead and blame Drew. He's been working like crazy and he came over to my apartment after work on Friday night, but didn't get here until 3 AM. Yikes! I was a little scared when someone walked in during the middle of the night, but all it really meant was that he slept in on Saturday morning, so I did too. Saturday afternoon was spent at the Belmont Stakes, where the horse races were fun, but none of the horses we bet on won! By the time we got home and made dinner and ate, it was 10 PM and time for bed!

This afternoon we spent bumming around town. We took some of Drew's walking tour cards down to the Lower East Side and spent about 2 and a half hours walking around and having a late lunch/brunch. I think we walked a little over 2 miles in our walking tour, so not a bad afternoon activity. I had to cut things a bit short so that I could head to the Terrier swim. After a bit of a lazy week, I was hoping for a really hard workout, but that's not exactly what happened.

When I got there, there wasn't any regular swim coach there. It was just Robert, the person who runs the Terrier group and the main triathlon training. He had a workout laid out for us and it sounded like it would be pretty hard, but I think I got in the wrong lane for a hard workout. I should have moved up a lane so that I could have pushed myself a bit more. Anyway, this was the workout:

200 swim
4 x 50 kicks (splash on first 25 / no splash on second 25)
100 build
100 swim

Main Set (was supposed to be repeated 4 times, but we only had time for 3)
4 x 75 build (0:20 RI)
200 pull (breathe every 3rd stroke)

100 cool down

Total Distance: 2200 meters / 58 minutes (1.36 miles)

When we jumped in the pool, it was freezing. I actually wished I had had my wetsuit with me. However, after doing the warm-up, I felt okay, which gives me hope about swimming in the triathlon in cold water. I'm hoping my body won't freak out too much and I'll just be able to swim and warm up.

On the 75s for the main set, Robert explained that we should really go slower than we thought on the first 25, medium on the second 25, and much harder than we wanted to on the third 25. That was really where the problems started. I felt like the first 25 I was swimming really easy and the next two were an easy medium. At some point, I moved to the back of the line so that I could wait a bit longer before starting out so that I could have some distance in between me and the people ahead of me, which helped me be able to swim a little harder.

I'll admit that part of the problem was that Robert left after about 20 minutes of practice. I think after he left, I mentally didn't really have a reason to push myself very hard and I'm sure it was the same for a lot of other people there as well. One of our other teammates got out and watched us all swim, which was nice of her to do (I guess Robert wasn't feeling well).

The pulling was really interesting because we all had to switch up the order of the lane after we did the first pull. The person who was probably the slowest overall swimmer in our lane was the fastest puller. And the person who was leading the whole time (faster swimmer) was the slowest puller. How does that happen? The person who was fast at pulling I can sort-of understand because she mentioned that she knows her kick is weak so she's really moving at the same speed when pulling as she is at regular swimming. But to be the opposite seems bad for a triathlete. Aren't we supposed to save our legs for the bike and run?

Anyway, this week in my training plan I have Monday, Wednesday and Saturday off. I'm going to probably just take tomorrow off from cardio and just do pilates and then do workouts the rest of the week. I think it will all even out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

No Mental Stamina

This afternoon I lucked into a pilates session with Nicole. It was a really fantastic way to break up a Friday at work. It ended up just being me in the session (our other co-worker couldn't come at the last minute), so it was nice to have the individual attention, even though there were a few times that I was wishing there was something else to distract her! I feel like I must be getting a little bit better at my least favorite move (the roll-ups) because we did a couple of similar moves and the tone of Nicole's voice when she exclaimed, "Good! That's really good!" when I could actually do the moves had a bit of surprise in it.

The weather is still a disaster here. I'm thinking that it's all a conspiracy against me and my training. It's now been raining for at least the last 12 hours. Enough all ready! After work, I had a few errands to run, so I walked all over the place in the rain, which wasn't that fun. Although it was a decent walk (approximately 3 miles) I was ready to get out of the rain by the time I was done. Especially since I walked all the way over to the UPS package pick-up station and my package had been returned to the sender!

I then headed over to the gym to get a run in. By the time I got there I think I was so frustrated with UPS and the rain that I wasn't really in the mood to go run on a treadmill. But that's what I did. I was really not into it. I tried. I really, really tried to be excited about it. I had even put my new (partially ready) playlist on my iPod and I had my fancy new headphones, but none of that was really helping. I barely made it 2 miles before I had just had enough. I will say that I ran those 2 miles in 19:46 (9:52 pace), so it wasn't a total disaster. I forced myself to stay on the treadmill for a half hour and just walked the rest of the time. Total distance: 2.68 miles in 30:00 minutes. Looking back on it, I should have just given in completely and done the elliptical machine. I know I could have done a lot better on that.

There is some hope, though. The weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow, which is great since I'll be at the Belmont. I certainly don't want to have to sit in the rain for that. Plus, I fully intend on winning a million dollars at the races! The upside is that if I do win big, I'll just go ahead and buy myself a bike trainer so I can ride inside.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Yesterday I knew I should have gotten up early and gone for a bike ride, but I was hoping that the rain would stay away after work and I'd be able to get a ride in. Of course, when I left work, it was pouring. I walked over to the library and after leaving the library, I couldn't even face walking home so I took the subway. I really can't believe that I took the "easy" way out. In self defense, I will mention that I was wearing horrible shoes for the rain and each step was making my foot slide around in my shoes and the thought of walking home like that was unbearable. Needless to say, once I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was go back outside. So, I took the day off.

Well, not completely. I did spend part of my TV watching evening on my bike practicing clipping in and out with my new shoes. I was still not finding it easy to find the right spot on the left shoe, but I was hopeful that the practice would be helpful in real life.

This morning, rain once again foiled my biking plans! However, I was really optimistic because 1010 WINS AccuWeather 4-Day Forecast said that the rain would stop late morning and not start up again until midnight tonight. When I left work, everything was looking good. It was really cloudy, but I was still very hopeful. I got home, changed really quickly, and headed out. I hadn't even gotten my bike to the street before I felt the first drop. I hesitated for a few seconds and realized that even if I got wet, I'd still be happier riding my actual bike than I would be at the gym riding the stationary bike.

I decided to go back and try out the Westside route again along the river. I had really enjoyed running there on Tuesday and wanted to go back again. When I got to what I had thought was the end of the path the last time I went biking there, I realized that since it was 6:30, there would be a lot more traffic than there was the last time I went biking on that path. I wasn't 100% sure I was up for all the traffic involved.

I decided to just go back the way I came. However, when I was heading back, I noticed some people coming from another path that I hadn't seen before. Boy, that was like hitting the lottery. That path was awesome! It goes right along the river and is really quiet without a lot of other biking/pedestrian traffic. I'm so glad I found that path. I rode on that until about 135th Street, where the path then seems to maybe go under some sort of overpass and I wasn't quite sure where to go. As luck would have it, it started sprinkling significantly harder just then (it had previously been just lightly sprinkling the whole time). I decided that was a sign that I should just go ahead and turn around and head home.

As soon as the rain picked up, the wind did too. Being right next to the river is lovely scenery, but also makes the wind even stronger. I felt like pedaling home wasn't going to be easy. And I was right about that. Luckily, even though the heavier sprinkles stuck around I didn't get wet enough to be upset or unhappy about it. Just enough to realize that I didn't particularly like it. I would definitely want to check out the rest of this new path when the weather is a little bit nicer.

These are the stats for today's ride:

Getting there: 0.64 miles / 5:00 (7.68 MPH average)
The ride: 9.0 miles / 41:43 (12.36 MPH average)
Getting home: 0.61 miles / 5:00 (7.32 MPH average)

Total distance: 10.25 miles / 51:43 minutes (11.89 MPH average)

Am I ever going to get faster? I may have to do some sort of research on this. My cadence is now definitely comfortable in the 95 range and sometimes even up in the 100s although I try to downshift to get it back in the 90s. My new shoes are really nice. I really like that my feet aren't flopping about in the cages anymore and I think it's making me get the higher cadence with less effort. I think that last night's practice of clipping in and out definitely helped because today I really only had one moment where I had a little trouble with my left foot clipping in and it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been before. Of course, I also had the opposite problem where I was at the end of my street, going against traffic and my foot kept clipping in when I was trying to squeeze by the cars going very slowly ... I kept having to unclip it. I am glad to know that practice will make it better.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Alarm Malfunction

This morning I was supposed to get up and go running with the Terriers. I was really excited about doing so last night because I thought that this might be the week where I could do the whole run since I haven't had any foot problems recently and I was hoping to push myself a little bit and see how it went.

Except, last night at 1:15 AM I got a really nice text from Drew. Now that I'm awake and can think clearly about the situation, I'm 99% sure that text prompted me to press some buttons on my alarm clock, which led to me not waking up for the Terrier run since my alarm didn't go off as planned. I guess that I needed the extra rest.

That meant that after work today I would have to go for a run on my own. I thought about what route to take, because I knew I didn't want to go to the gym and run on the treadmill. I decided that I would go over to the Westside Highway and run along the river instead of going to the park. I walked from my apartment over there as a bit of a warm-up. I didn't really have a clear plan in mind, I figured that I would just try to run for 30 minutes and see how far I could get.

I started out at a pretty slow pace and just wanted to maintain that throughout the run. It's funny because running lets you see a lot of stuff that you miss on your bike. I noticed all sorts of interesting things, including steps that go down into the Hudson. I actually wonder what would happen if I just walked right down and into the water for a practice OWS? I also didn't take my iPod, because I wanted to practice running outdoors without any distractions and sort-of simulate the race conditions.

I got passed by every single other runner that I saw, but I was okay with that. All I wanted to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am a tiny bit disappointed to report that at 18:08, I looked at my watch and told myself that I could take a 10 second walking break, so I did. Even though I know those 10 seconds don't critically impact my overall time or pacing, it was really more the principle that I just wanted to keep running. I'm sure that I could have done it, but something about resting for just 10 seconds made me be able to finish, so maybe it was worth it?

I ended up running a total of 2.9 miles in 30 minutes (10:20 pace). I'm pretty estatic to find that out. While I was running, I felt like I was going so slow, so I know that I'll be able to go faster. Also, when finishing up, it was really weird because I noticed that I wasn't winded at all, which means that my cardiovascular system must be okay with the time spent exercising, it was more that my legs were tired. I'm hoping that they'll be able to carry me through the bike and run.

Monday, June 1, 2009

No Cardio

This morning I got up and had my second attempt at a breakfast cookie, which turned out much better the second time. I think it was due to the fact that I had used better peanut butter this time and I also added chocolate chips. Even with the yummy breakfast, I was still exhausted when I got to pilates with Nicole at 8 this morning. Nicole has her first test for the teacher training on Friday, so we mostly went through the beginner system, with one or two intermediate things thrown in there for my fun and enjoyment, I'm sure.

I actually feel as though I'm getting a little bit better at some things, namely the roll-ups. I wouldn't say I'm anywhere near good at them, but at least I'm not as horrible as I was when I started, so it's nice to see some improvement.

I had to hurry after the class and change so that I could go re-sign my apartment lease for another year. Afterward, I enjoyed a nice leisurely stroll through the park to work and got in a nice 2.7 mile walk. I think that's a pretty good day for a cardio day off.