Monday, August 31, 2009

Pinky Ball Pilates

So, I had an extremely busy weekend that didn't include any "real" workouts, but I unpacked and moved around a lot of boxes, so I think it's just about the same. I mean, I definitely got sweaty and was on my feet most of the day, so I definitely wasn't off slacking. We're still not all the way done unpacking Drew's stuff, but I'm hoping by the end of the week we can be a lot closer to finished.

This morning I met Nicole for pilates. Laura sent us a text saying that she was having train trouble and shed be a few minutes late. I swear it's because she knew what Nicole was planning for the first 10 minutes of our session.

Nicole had told me about these pinky balls a while ago saying that she had wanted to try them out with me & Laura. Basically, it's a ball slightly smaller than a tennis ball that you let rest in your belly button and then you can't let it move while your doing the exercises. It doesn't sound too hard, but you absolutely cannot cheat and not squeeze your abdominal muscles if you want the ball to stay stationary. My stomach was exhausted pretty quickly.

We spent the whole class doing mat and tower exercises. I liked this class better than Friday's because it was easier for me to have Nicole just giving both me & Laura one set of directions. By the time we had almost reached the end of the class, my tummy was so tired I had to take a 30-second breather. I always feel bad when that happens, but sometimes after sucking in and up so much, I just need to let it out and breathe normally!

So, since I was not the best at cardio this past weekend, I am going to try to write down my workout plan for the week here so that I will hopefully feel more motivated and accountable as the week goes on to stick to it regardless of weather or other circumstances.

Monday: Pilates (done!)
Tuesday: Terrier Run (website says it should be about a 3.5 mile run)
Wednesday: Bike Ride (hopefully at least 18 miles)
Thursday: Terrier Brick (website says bike for an hour with cadence of 95+ / run for 20 minutes)
Friday: Swim (aiming for 2000+ yards)
Saturday: Run (hopefully with my friend Ann who will be visiting for the long weekend!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Weird Pilates

This morning I woke up to rain, which is never a good motivator. On top of that, Drew was really sleepy and wasn't motivated to get up and go to the gym, so we both slept in. I really wasn't looking forward to going to the gym after work either. Something about the rain just makes me want to stop working out.

When I got to work today, Nicole asked if I would be willing to come to pilates with her after work and be her "beginner body". For her next test, she has to teach the beginner and intermediate systems to two different people at the same time. She had another apprentice who was going to be the intermediate. I agreed as it would erase some of my guilt about sleeping in and it would be a workout for the day - perfect thing for a rainy day.

Of course I didn't have workout clothes at work, but it worked out that I just happened to be wearing leggings and Drew had a t-shirt in his office, so I was all set for pilates (good thing it doesn't require any special shoes or anything).

We got to the studio and changed clothes, Nicole introduced me to Mikhal (the other apprentice), and we got straight to work. We did the first few leg exercises together but from there on out, Mikhal and I did different exercises at different times. I'm so used to going with a second person when we both do the same exercises at the same time, that it was just really weird for Nicole to be giving each of us different instructions and to do totally different exercises.

I think Nicole did a really good job teaching the two of us, but it was just a little disconserting. She said our names a lot while she was teaching so that we would know who she was talking to, but there were just a couple of times where I wasn't 100% clear on who the instruction was for (although those were likely to be more general instructions and I always needs to keep my shoulders down).

I actually did the full beginner system today of reformer, mat and chair exercises while Mikhal did all the intermediate. What's really interesting to me is that there were actually one or two beginner exercises I don't ever remember doing before. I also was super jealous of Mikhal because she got to do side-splits and I thought that was by far one of the best exercises the one time I did the intermediate system.

When it was all over I asked Nicole if she really imagined teaching like that a lot in the future. She said that she didn't really think so for two reasons: (1) even if one person was more advanced than the other, she could still do a lot more intermediate exercises for both people at the same time and (2) other than the testing environment, she would never be required to teach the whole system in one setting. In fact, that's one thing I like about pilates. That although we may do some of the same exercises each time, we always mix it up and try something new or maybe do things in a different order. I understand why Nicole has to learn it the way she does, but it doesn't seem to have a complete practical application.

All in all I think it was a really good session and I'm so glad that I did something today because I really didn't feel like going to the gym. The bummer is that it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow too so I definitely will be logging some time at the gym this weekend whether I like it or not. I'm pretty bummed about that as I was really hoping to make it back to New Jersey for a ride this weekend, but since I can't control the weather, I'll just deal with it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Passed Robert?

It's been two weeks since I've been on the bike and I was really worried that I'd be super slow and lose a lot of bike fitness. I might not have been the fastest person today, but a lot of that I'll attribute to the fact that my legs (quads, really) were exhausted after yesterday's weight lifting session. The next time that I think it's a good idea to left leg weights before a brick, I wish someone would remind me that it's not the best feeling in the world.

The workout today was one of the brick workouts that I really like. It's alternating short runs and bikes, so you get more transition practice. The first run we do with our bikes as practice running with our bikes. The first time I did this, I was horrible (because you're only allowed to use one hand on the saddle to push your bike). Turns out that the further away you hold your arm out from your side, the more control you have over the bike, which is a bit counter-intuitive. But, it seems as though I've gotten the hang of it as I was actually pretty good today. I went really slowly on the first run because I didn't want to take any chances since going slow has made my calves happy.

The whole workout was 4 runs with 3 bikes and each run should be faster than the last. The bike loops were supposed to be the 5-mile upper loop of the Park and we were supposed to ride in the big chain ring, but I knew pretty quickly after being on the bike that my quads weren't going to tolerate that big chain ring hill ride, so I cut a mile off the loops and went across the 102nd Street Transverse instead.

On the first bike loop, I caught up to Robert (our head coach). And then I passed him! It was unbelievable! OK, to be fair, I have to be honest, I passed him going downhill when he was coasting and I was pedaling. But, to my credit, he didn't then zoom by me later on. He stayed behind me for the rest of the loop. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I did think while biking today that I forgot how fun it is to go really fast, but I didn't think I was going that fast.

On the third bike loop, I did something that I know I should have been practicing for a while, but somehow didn't ever get around to it before. I ate while on the bike. Just a 1/2 of a Clif bar. I fully intend on eating at Westchester since I don't think that gu stuff agrees with me and I finally realized that I had better start practicing since it's a month from today! It really wasn't too bad or too hard. The wrapper was already open, so all I had to do was pull it out and then hold onto it while I ate. I put the wrapper back in my pocket right away so that I didn't lose/litter with it.

I'm planning on going to one of the training rides for the Westchester course before the actual race, so hopefully I can scope out a small section that isn't too technically challenging or where I don't have to shift a lot and I can eat there.

Here are today's stats. I always forget to use the HR monitor when biking. I think it's because I already have the bike computer and it just seems redundant, so it's not all the stats, but I did increase my running speed from lap to lap, so I'm really happy about that.

First run (with bike): ~6:00 (12:00 pace)

Second run: 5:08 (10:16 pace)
Calories: 62
Maximum HR: 174
Average HR: 170

Third run: 4:51 (9:41 pace)
Calories: 58
Maximum HR: 172
Average HR: 167

Fourth run: 4:30 (9:00 pace)
Calories: 56
Maximum HR: 174
Average HR: 170

Total Running: 2.0 miles in 20:29 (10:14 pace)
Total Biking: 12.72 miles in 49:35 (15.39 MPH average)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Stopping

So, I wrote out an entire blog post yesterday, but apparently the internet rejected it as it's nowhere to be found. I'll just give you a quick summary. Yesterday morning was the Terrier run. I was actually really excited to be back with the group and just to have the group dynamic again since I had just had a week of working out alone. We did our normal strides before heading out for the main workout.

The workout was that the Sprint/Olympic group would do 4 x 1200 meters (0.75 miles). Each 1200 meters would be broken down into 200 meter segments. The first 200 would be at 95% effort and the second 200 would be at 75% effort and then you would just alternate back and forth. Once you got to the 1200 meter mark, you would then rest for 2:30 before starting again. We ran over to the starting point and I noticed then that my calves were still giving me trouble. I thought I would just try doing the workout and see how far I could get.

I did the first 600 and then I just realized that it wasn't going well and that I should stop for a minute or two to stretch and see if that would make it better. I started running again and it was even worse. Then I decided that I would just give up since my legs clearly weren't happy and walk back to Drew's. Total run: 1.6 miles in 15:34 (9:44 pace).

I was pretty frustrated because all I wanted to do was to complete a workout without walking or stopping or giving up or having some other problem. When I started walking back, I ran into Robert who asked if I was okay and gave me a new stretch to try out to see if that would help. Shortly after that, I ran into Spencer, our running coach, and he also suggested that I start foam rolling my calves. He gave me another (different) stretch to try and also suggested that I should just try jogging very slowly and see how my legs were at a slower speed.

I walked for a few more minutes and then decided that I would just give it a shot and jogged about as slow as I could go and it was like a miracle cure! Granted, I wasn't anything great, but my calves weren't hurting and I was still jogging, so it seemed like it was better than nothing. I jogged back to Drew's without further incident, so I'm really hopeful that although it was really slow and I'm not very happy with the time, that I can do Westchester. I was really frustrated during the group run and was thinking about having to walk the 6 miles at Westchester, but now it seems like it's more realistic if I just remember to slow down. Total jog: 0.93 miles in 11:18 (12:11 pace).


So, as promised, here's one of the photos my mom took while I was on vacation. This was on one of my runs after swimming. As you can (maybe) see, I ran barefoot on the sand, which I think might have been the cause of my current calf issues. Although I just finished reading this article in Time Out New York that says that running barefoot is supposedly better for you. But I'm not sure I consider them to be the foremost authority on running.

Yesterday proved to be quite a busy day with Drew's big move into my apartment! The movers were scheduled to come in the afternoon and in the morning when I was busy packing things up around the apartment, I managed to slice my finger open with a butter knife. It takes talent, I know. This cut that sounds quite silly meant that I had to cancel my swim this morning with Laura as the thought of bleeding into a public pool (because, yes, my cut still is bleeding from time to time) didn't really seem like a good idea.

Instead, that meant that I hit the gym this morning with my new "roommate" with a band-aid securely fastened around my cut. We did a quick warm-up on the treadmills. I decided to take what I learned yesterday and just take it slow. I ran for 5 minutes at speed 5 (12:00 pace) and went 0.40 miles. Then we hit the weight room.

These were our exercises:

Leg Press
Set 1: 10 reps @ 90 pounds
Set 2: 10 reps @ 115 pounds
Set 3: 10 @ 115 pounds

Set 1: 15 reps with bar + body weight
Set 2: 15 reps with bar + body weight + 30 pounds
Set 3: 15 reps with bar + body weight + 40 pounds

3 sets of 10 reps @ 25 pounds

Drew also did calf raises, but I thought it might be a bad idea since I know that my calves are already bothering me to do some weight training. Although I guess the weight training could help strengthen them to prevent further annoyance while running, but I just didn't feel like taking the chance today. I also stretched between sets, which I think was a good thing to do.

He then headed off to the Arc Trainer (a machine that I'm not a huge fan of) and I went back to the treadmill. We had agreed to do a half hour of cardio before heading back home. I decided that I would just keep with the same premise as earlier and take it slow and see how my calves felt. I set the treadmill to level 5 (12:00 pace) and started jogging. I also told myself that it was going to be really important to not stop on this half-hour jog. I know it doesn't really matter in the scheme of things, but something about it mentally was really important to me to know I was capable of going for a half-hour with no breaks and no hurting parts.

And guess what? I did it. I didn't even hate it. I also never felt like I wanted to stop and rest. So, maybe my problem recently is that I've been running too fast - especially in the heat. I'm not going to lie. I definitely liked it more when I saw my minutes per mile going downward, but I'm not going to sweat it big time. I'd rather actually enjoy this than hate every second or feel like I'm getting all cramped up, so I'll be fine with the slowing down. In my 30:15 that I was on the treadmill, I went 2.5 miles.

Total for today: 2.9 miles in 35:15 (12:09 pace)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Running With A Bad Breakfast And A Bad Attitude

Yesterday, I finished up my vacation with one more swim. The weather had cooled off (the high was only about 63 instead of in the 80s like it had been). That made the lake pretty freezing. I ended up conning my brother to go with me. Because I felt like I had a limited window on his agreeing to swim, I didn't bring any techie gear with me and therefore have no stats. I can tell you we didn't stay in very long before we were both turning blue. I would have liked to have gone for a longer swim, but it just wasn't happening. We lost feeling in our feet almost immediately and when I got back to the cottage and took a (hot) shower, I just stood there for quite a long time waiting for feeling to return.

Today we drove back to my mom's house and I did some laundry and took a nap. Then I got up and got my act together and drove over to my friend Ann's house. I had asked her if she wanted to go for a run with me and she agreed to a 5-mile run near her house. I had wanted to do a bit longer, but she's still recovering from a broken ankle and her knee is now bothering her, so she said 5 was her limit. I took what I could get since I wasn't so keen on running in the first place. At least having a friend would make it better.

Part of my problem today was that while we were driving back from the cottage, we were all hungry and stopped and had McDonald's for breakfast. I almost never eat fast food and it never really sits well with me, so I knew I might not feeling 100% later on for my run. I then made it worse by coming home and taking a nap and not drinking anything for most of the afternoon and when I woke up, I had popcorn as a pre-running snack. All of that made me feel sick while running and therefore gave me a bad attitude and made me want to quit running. Good to know what foods I should not eat pre-race!

In all today, we had an okay run. I made us walk a couple of times (due to sick feeling). Towards the ends my calves started to cramp and we walked the last 3/4 of a mile. The total run was almost exactly 5.0 miles, which we completed in 52:17 (10:27 pace). Seriously, if I could learn to run continuously, I think I might actually be running at a decent pace. I just don't like to do it. I'm getting a little worried again about Westchester, but I'm also trying to remind myself that the last couple runs where I actually felt okay were after biking, so I'm hoping for the best. And if I have to walk a little bit during the race, it will not be the end of the world!

Calories: 682
Maximum HR: 189
Average HR: 173

Friday, August 21, 2009

You're Too Fast

Today I drove the running route I took yesterday in order to figure out the distance. Turns out it was 3.6 miles, which was actually longer than I would have thought, especially since I ended up doing quite a bit of walking. It averaged out to be a 10:47 mile pace, while that's not great I'm still okay with it.

I didn't end up swimming until this afternoon. The weather was sort-of on and off all day long and we got rained on while we were out on our family picnic and excursion to the Lumberman's Monument and the Foote Dam. Luckily, there was a picnic pavilion at the Monument, so at least we were able to be dry while we ate. When we got back to the cottage it cleared up for a while and I decided that it was pretty much then or never for a swim.

I got all my gear on and headed out. My mom came along and took some photos of me swimming. Some of them have turned out really well and when I'm back in civilization again, I'll try to post some of them.

My plan for today was just to practice getting into and out of the water. The beach here is really nice and sandy and you have to go out quite a ways to not be able to touch the bottom of the lake. My brother and some of his friends found a rope anchored down in the sand and tied an old jug to it, so I just swam straight out to the jug and came back into shore.

It was nothing exciting and each time I got out of the water I would wait for a minute and talk myself into going back again. After the first couple of times I had gone out, my mom said that I was "too fast" for the camera and some of the shots she was getting were a bit blurry, so she decided to try to take a movie with her camera.

I went out again and she took a movie. When I got out, she made me watch it with her. I'm quite glad I did because her idea of a good swimming movie and my idea of a good swimming movie are nothing alike. Her idea was to get a close up of my face, which makes for good viewing. My idea was to see if I was swimming in a straight line or not and for that you need a bit more perspective. So, she made a second movie.

I will say that I sort-of lost track of how many times I went out there and back. I did walk out to the jug when I was done and found out that it was 134 feet* one way / 268 feet there and back = 0.05 miles each time. I was out there for 45 minutes and each trip there and back was about 2 minutes. Of course, I didn't use a stop watch or a HR monitor, so I don't have a lot of data, but I do feel like I accomplished what I wanted to today and got a lot of good practice in. And the video showed that I swam mostly in a straight line, even with the waves, so I must be doing an okay job sighting. All good news.

*To clarify, 134 feet = 134 small Amy steps. It's not an exact measurement.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cows and Calves

Turns out that there are a lot more cows up here in Northern Michigan than I would have expected in what is essentially a beach community. My family has been playing a game in the car that if you see cows (or any animal) and they are on your side of the car, you get a point. The only problem with this game is that my aunt cheats every time, so unless you're sitting on her side of the car, you can't win.

This afternoon I decided to go for a run. I had looked at the map before leaving for Michigan and found a route that should have been about 6.5 miles. Our cabin is set right just a little ways back from the highway, but right on the water, so I wanted to try to avoid running too far along the highway. Luckily, just a little ways down the road is a sub-division of houses along the beach, so I figured I could run there and have less traffic to contend with.

Everything was going okay until I got to about the first mile (or what I'm assuming was the first mile since it had been 10 minutes). Then my calves just had essentially had enough. I don't know what happened and my left is worse than my right, but neither was happy. I stopped and stretched for a few minutes and kept going. I ran for another 15 minutes before stopping again to walk for a while.

It actually turned out that it was okay that my calves started acting up, because although the map shows that the road is a through street, it is actually a dead end. When I got to the end of the road, I turned around and headed back. That was also about the same time my legs pooped out on me.

I did run for a couple short intervals just to see how it felt and each time it still felt about the same (not too great). I did run from the sub-division back to the cottage since it seemed like I should minimize my time on the highway if at all possible. I did see a guy out walking his dog, so at least I wasn't the only person out there.

I have no clue at all the distance for today, but I will go back and fill in later. I tried and tried to get gmap pedometer to work on my phone (the only source of Internet I've got here) but I had zero luck. Part of the problem is that it still looks like the road should continue for longer than I know it does, so I really don't understand the map on the Internet at all.

But, here are today's stats without the distance:
Time: 38:51
Calories: 489
Maximum HR: 186
Average HR: 169

I'm thinking tomorrow will only be a swimming day. And I'm going less for distance and more for practicing getting into and out of the water, since Westchester is a beach start and I've got such a nice and sandy beach to practice on. I figure Saturday can be reserved for one long last swim.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Family Hike

This morning everyone was feeling pretty lazy and I just decided to go along with the group. Also, my calves were feeling pretty tired, which I think might be from running on the beach barefoot, but all I really needed was a reason to sleep in and now I had two.

Our vacation activity for today was a hike around Reid Lake. We all piled into the car and headed off with our water bottles and bug spray. We got to the trail head and sprayed ourselves pretty well with bug spray and headed off.

Almost immediately, I was getting attacked by bugs and I had to use my aunt's deet bug spray instead of my mom's family-friendly version, which didn't deter the bugs completely, but did make them think twice before landing on me. The path was really well-groomed, which made it nicer for my grandpa to walk along.

My brother, aunt, cousin and I started walking ahead of my mom and my grandpa. At some point, we got quite a ways ahead and my aunt went back to check on their progress. We waited for a while and then my mom appeared and said that my aunt had taken my grandpa back to the car.

My mom, brother, cousin and I continued on along the path and reached the lake and then hiked around the lake. I'm not really sure of the distance that we hiked in total, but we were out there for just about two hours.

It was a fun but tiring family afternoon. Everyone got back to the cottage and took a bit of a nap!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Will I Warm Up?

Yesterday we went to Super Wal-Mart to go grocery shopping, but I thought that maybe I should look for a brighter swim cap. In the sporting goods section, there was a very small selection, but what they did have was all Ironman brand. I ended up buying a new red cap with a grey M-dot for only a dollar, so I think those Wal-Mart roll backs were very helpful.

This morning I did pretty much the same workout as yesterday, except for a longer period of time. When I put my feet in the water, I immediately regretted my decision to swim. Even though putting on my wetsuit makes me work up a bit of a sweat, I certainly wasn't hot enough to justify the cold water temperature.

I walked out into the lake for a few minutes and my feet were numb. I was hoping that they would warm up once I started swimming. I kept walking and once the water started leaking in by the zipper, I was really unhappy. The water was like little daggers in my skin. I figured at that point it was time to put my head under. Wow! Was that ever cold!

I don't know what happened, but the water was much colder today than yesterday. My face was freezing. My arms were freezing. My toes were cold. Pretty much anything not covered by wetsuit was really cold.

I decided that I would swim for a longer period of time today. I planned on swimming for 30 minutes, so when I hit 15 minutes, I stopped for just a few seconds to make sure I knew exactly where I was and orient myself so I would be able to figure out the distance later on.

Then I turned around and headed back. I had swum north today instead of south like yesterday. That meant that the first part of the swim was with the current and the way back was against it. Although it wasn't much to look at, it turns out that any waves are something to fight against and I knew it would take me longer to swim back. I was actually happy to see that it wasn't a lot longer on the way back, just an extra minute and a half. I also knew I wasn't swimming very fast, but I just wanted to get in the cold water and have a nice relaxing swim.

I got out of the water and did a transition. I timed myself for the last couple stokes, jumped out of the water, goggles off, started running up the beach and unzipping my wetsuit. I got it completely off in 23 seconds. I thought that was fairly good, but I'm sure that people can do it much faster than me.

I then went for a run up the beach, the same direction I had been swimming. The best way I can figure out the distance I swam is to run there since I seem to have about an average 10 minute mile, I'm just using that as a guide. These distances clearly aren't that exact, but I think they are a rough estimate.

I reached the spot that I swam to in 4:20, so I believe that should translate to 0.42 miles each way for the swim. I exteded today's run to be 20 minutes long. I didn't even begin to feel warm in my arms and feet again until I had turned around and had been running for about 13 minutes. I was actually surprised it took that long.

I've heard that the water at Westchester is normally pretty warm, but with the cool summer we've had so far, I hope that it is still warm this year too. I'm thinking that tomorrow might be a pure running day, but we'll see how I feel in the morning. I do hate to give up the open water swimming practice.

0.84 miles in 31:27 minutes (36:00 pace)
Calories: 326
Maximum HR: 159
Average HR: 153

2.0 miles in 20 minutes (10 minute pace)
Calories: 261
Maximum HR: 179
Average HR: 174

Monday, August 17, 2009

Morning Brick

Yesterday we drove up to the cottage and I didn't get a real workout in. I didn't get up early enough before leaving to go running. I was feeling a little bit bad about that, but I did carry a lot of stuff yesterday. And I went for a walk along the beach with my mom and my aunt, followed by a rousing game of Scrabble, so I definitely got my blood pumping even though I didn't really do cardio.

This morning I woke up early and donned my wetsuit. I had only gotten my feet wet yesterday and I knew that the water would be cold, but it was totally different to get all the way in. The lake is really pretty shallow for quite a ways out. The deepest I could get was chest-high, which is fine for swimming. I got in and walked out for a while and then swam back to shore to try to get acclimated to the water temperature.

Once I got back to shore, I ran back into the water, did some dolphins, and started my swim. The first two minutes were really rough. I think what happened was that I was swimming too fast. Once I realized what I was doing, I slowed down a bit and settled into a rhythm, and the swimming got much more enjoyable and I actually probably ended up swimming faster once I just relaxed.

I decided that I would swim for 10 minutes in one direction before turning around and swimming back. I wasn't really sure how long that would be distance-wise, but I figured it would be a good start. Sighting on the swim out was really easy. There were two trees on a little point that were extremely easy to see. Swimming back to the cottage was not as easy. It was surprising because I was swimming with the current, but there was nothing to sight off of. And I was breathing on the left so I could keep the shore in sight, so it wasn't as comfortable in general. Although I'm sure it's good practice.

When I got out of the water, I wanted to go for a quick run because after the swim at Staten Island I really didn't want to run to transition, so I thought that I should practice. I had thought that I would only run for 5 minutes, but I wasn't feeling too tired, so I kept going.

While I was running, I reached the spot where I think that I swam to at about 3:00 minutes, so in total, I think that I swam about 0.6 miles. I ended up running for 10 minutes, which I'm assuming was about a mile. I just ran barefoot along the beach. I might bring my shoes down to the beach another day this week, but I actually think the barefoot running was probably easier.

0.6 miles in 21:07 (35:00 pace)
Calories: 229
Max HR: 166
Average HR: 157

1.0 mile in 10:00 (putting the pace seems redundant)
Calories: 131
Max HR: 182
Average HR: 174

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Serious Snoozin'

I flew to Michigan last night and surprisingly, my flight was on time (early, in fact) and I even had my bag by the time the plane was actually supposed to land. I got to my mom's house and we talked for a bit and I had a snack and I didn't get to bed until around 12:15, which is quite late for me these days.

I set my alarm for 6:45 this morning, which actually is later than I normally get up to workout, but when the alarm went off, I realized that this was my first day of vacation and shouldn't I get to sleep in? So, that's what I did! I slept until about 10:30, so I got a full ten hours of sleep. I'm not really sure the last time that happened. I knew I might regret not getting up and running early, but I was also quite happy with the extra sleep.

I headed off to lunch with a friend and then ran a couple of errands. Then I came back to my mom's house and mapped out some running options, just so that I would have a rough idea of how far different points were from her house. It is really hot here today and I knew that running at 5:00 wasn't the ideal time, but I didn't really have a lot of other options other than skipping it all together, which I didn't even consider as an option.

So, I headed out on my run. Although it was really hot, I had chosen a route that was mostly in the shade on a nice wooded road. Or, at least, that's how the first half of it was. The second half was all out in the baking sun. It was not even close to being fun. It was hideous. All I could think about was wanting to have a drink of water. And the worst part was that the last mile of the run included a huge hill that I had to run up. Why on earth didn't I think this through before I went out running and do the run in reverse?

I think the only thing that kept me sane on this run was the fact that I had taken my iPod and I sang along to the songs. It's funny running in Michigan because you just pass a lot of cars (or a lot of cars pass you, depending on how you look at it). Even though the scenery itself might be nicer than New York, there definitely isn't as much to watch or look at as there is when I run at home. It definitely wasn't boring today because it was a different route, I just happened to notice that I only saw 3 bikers and no other runners. Quite a difference.

Here are today's stats:
4.3 miles in 44:05 (10:15 pace)
Calories: 604
Max HR: 187
Average HR: 178

Although the pacing was a lot slower than I was on Thursday, I think I'm okay with that. I had to stop at some stop lights (one of which was over a minute long) and that's factored into the time, since I only thought about stopping it after I had been waiting forever and by that point it seemed silly to stop the watch. I'm thinking that my runs on vacation (we leave tomorrow to head to the cottage) will have no stop lights, so hopefully I'll get some better (and earlier) runs in then!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vacation Awaits!

Yesterday after my brick workout, I thought about it all day that although I was tired, I felt really good after working out for an hour and a half. I think that was the first time where I really felt like I will be able to do Westchester. Even though I was tired, I felt like I could have kept going, and I think that was really what I needed mentally to carry me through the next month and a half.

This morning, I decided to sleep in and take a day off. Drew has been working like crazy and we haven't gotten to spend a lot of time together this week. He had to be at work early this morning, so instead of going out and working out, I decided to just hang out at his apartment while he got ready so we could spend some time together. Part of the reason that I made this decision is that I will be going on vacation starting tonight and I won't be back in New York until the 24th.

I am going on vacation with my family - we're going to a cottage in Northern Michigan on Lake Huron. I'm actually really looking forward to vacation. It should be really relaxing and since we're going to be right on the lake, I'm hoping to get in a lot of open water swimming practice and doing a lot of running. I won't have a bike and even though I'm a little worried I'll loose a little bike fitness, I think as long as I am swimming and running, I will be fine. I'm not sure how the internet access will be on vacation. I'm planning on writing out my blogs every day, but I'm not sure that I'll be able to post them until I get back. So, if there is radio silence for a while, I'll be back!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dear Mr. NYC Parks Department Man,

This morning I woke up early for the Terrier brick. I walked out the door of the apartment and luckily realized right away that I had forgotten my running shoes, so I had to go back and grab those. I was worried that I would be running late, but luckily I was there in plenty of time.

The workout was as follows:
10 minute bike warm-up followed by 6 x 6:00 minute intervals in the big ring. Each interval would be followed by a 2:00 easy spin recovery. Then we would do a 30 minute run.

I'm really glad that I got that light for the back of my bike. Riding to the park this morning, it was really dark out. I'm not a fan of the fact that the days are getting shorter again and it's definitely becoming evident in the mornings on my workouts. When I got to the park, the lights near the meeting spot went out, so it was even darker than normal. We started out on the bike ride heading north. I was going pretty slowly because I wasn't sure what the road condition would be like after yesterday's brain-jarring ride. Luckily, they had mostly paved what was torn up yesterday, leaving only about 15 feet unpaved. That seemed much more tolerable than the mile or so that was unpaved yesterday. A couple of people commented that they didn't understand why they didn't finish paving the road and I didn't either, but at least it was better than yesterday.

Because I was going so slowly at the beginning, I didn't quite make it to the top of the Harlem Hill in my 10 minute warm-up, but I left the bike in the middle ring the whole time (and didn't switch into the granny gear), so I think that still counts. As soon as I got to the top, I shifted into the big ring for the next 6 minutes. It was about 5:45 at this point and then the street lights in the park went out! I mean, it was still dark outside! I think the Parks Department needs to think about adjusting the timer on those lights. I'm all for turning off lights when they're not needed and trying to be green, but I definitely still needed the street lights for at least another 10-15 minutes. If I thought it would be effective, I would write a letter to the Parks Department to tell them, but I doubt one little e-mail would make them change the timing of the lights. Maybe I should get a headlight for my bike instead.

It's pretty interesting how after you have been riding in the big ring and then you shift into the middle ring for the 2:00 easy spin, how easy it feels on your legs. I found myself staying in a harder gear longer than I normally would have because it still felt easier than normal. I got really, really lucky on the timing today because on the second loop of the park, I was on a 2:00 easy spin for the Harlem Hill. When I got back to the 72nd Street transverse, I realized that I still had a few minutes to go on the workout, so I did another loop of the bottom of the park before heading in for the run.

I got off the bike, changed shoes, and headed off for the run. I headed north for the run instead of doing the lower loop like I had done the last couple of weeks. As soon as I did that, I was thinking that I didn't really want to run up Cat Hill again, but luckily, it wasn't too bad when you only have to do it once. I got back to 72nd Street a little too fast, so I headed down Dead Road and then back up the Mall so that I could add about another 0.5 miles onto the run and make it closer to a 30 minute run than a 20 minute run. I will say that the last couple times that I've run off the bike, I've felt really good. I've felt less like stopping than I do when I just go out running. I have no idea why that would be, as I would think that I'm more tired off the bike. Or, maybe it's that I'm more warmed up and that helps with the running.

All in all today, I went almost a sprint distance triathlon on the bike and run. I signed up for a duathlon the weekend after my Olympic triathlon (Drew and I are going to do it together). I know it might not have been the best idea, since I'm sure I'll still be tired, but today showed that the duathlon (run 2 miles, bike 12, run 2) is pretty similar to a workout and I should be more than capable of doing that as long as I just remember that I'm just going out to have fun! Today was really helpful in proving that doing the duathlon wouldn't be so dissimilar from a Thursday brick session.

Bike: 14.2 miles in 56:05/58:00 (15.19 MPH pace)
Calories: 628
Max HR: 176
Average HR: 160

Run: 2.75 miles in 26:22 (9:35 pace)
Calories: 341
Max HR: 181
Average HR: 173

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More And More Hills

This morning Drew and I got up early to go for a bike ride in the park. I was a little worried that part of the road would be torn up again. It seems that my fears were well founded, because shortly after we entered the park at 90th Street, we were back on the brain-jarring road. Ugh. I really, really hate it. Once we got back onto regular road again, I told Drew that I wasn't going to ride on that again and I'd rather do hill repeats than to have to ride on that horrible road. I guess that might be a sign of how bad the road actually is.

So, we ended up doing hill repeats on the Harlem Hill. Drew had to be home by 7 so he could be into work by 8, so we did 5 climbs up the hill. Nothing too special to report. Drew beat me up the hill every time. I still feel bad when we ride together that I'm holding him back. Today on the hills, I really tried to concentrate on my cadence and making sure that was high enough and I was less concerned with speed. The thing about training for a hilly triathlon is that you need to practice hills. I want to make sure that I'm training the right way with a high cadence so that in the triathlon I just do what feels normal and don't burn out my legs on the hills. Of course Drew was more concerned with his speed a couple times up the hill, which is probably why he beats me (well, and his stronger leg muscles).

The thing about doing hill repeats is that once you are done with those, you have to then go up the smaller hills on the West side, which I'm not really a fan of. I feel a little wimpy downshifting so much, but by that point my legs are just pretty tired!

When we got back to 90th Street and were waiting for the light to turn green, I peeked down at my bike computer and saw that I had gone 11.69 miles in 50:09 (14 MPH pace). Right after that, Drew said, "Did you see that we went almost exactly 12 miles?". I was a little confused about how that had happened because our times were almost identical, I think his was about 10 seconds longer than mine, but our mileage was about 0.30 off. I did use gmap pedometer when I got home, and that says that the route was 11.78 miles long. I don't know if maybe Drew doesn't ride in a straight line or if there is something a little off with my bike computer (or his), but I guess if you averaged our mileage together, you'd come out to be about right according to the internet. Either way, it's a little odd.

Much better heart rate today, even with the hill climbing on the bike! Although it's not surprising that running in general would give me a higher heart rate than biking would. Either way, I'm glad to see that it wasn't two days of extremely high effort. Kristin (fellow triathlete & blogger) was kind enough to send me this Joe Friel link about heart rates yesterday. I'm going to have to try out this 30 minute endurance test sometime soon, I think, just to see the results, so stay tuned for more on my maximum heart rate.

Calories: 507
Max HR: 174
Average HR: 158

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Normally, I Consider Myself A Cat Person

This morning I got up for the Terrier group run. When I woke up, I looked outside to see if it was raining. I couldn't quite tell from 11 stories up at Drew's apartment, but when I looked again, it definitely didn't look like rain. I never know if it's normal or not that even though I get really upset when it rains, I also sort-of wanted it to be raining so I could just go back to bed for a little while longer.

I walked over to the park and the meeting spot. Unlike the last time when I was at Drew's and went to the run, this time I didn't get lost in the park. Mostly because I walked down 5th Avenue the whole way until I got to 72nd Street. I didn't feel like chancing it and being late for the workout. Of course, when I got there, there was no coach! After we all waited around for about 5 minutes, we headed over to get started on the normal stride drills and warm-up. It was pretty surprising that there was no coach, but we managed to do a regular drill workout just fine on our own (0.6 miles, approximately).

Luckily, some people had checked out the Terrier website before coming to practice, so they knew we were supposed to do hill repeats. There was some discussion about which hill we'd use (Cat Hill or the grassy knoll by the Museum), but Cat Hill was the final verdict. One of the girls in the group said that the Sprint/Olympic group should do 30 minutes, the half-Ironman group should do 40 minutes and the Ironman group should do 45-50 minutes. So, we all jogged over to the base of the hill and started running.

On the first leg heading up, I was thinking that 2 minutes should equal 30 minutes because it was really not that much fun. And I really didn't feel like doing it again. Once we got to the top of the hill, we were supposed to jog back down and not cheat ourselves by walking down. Even though there were a few times that I probably would have really liked to walk, I did keep jogging. I will admit, however, that on my second or third time up the hill, I did stop and catch my breath while I counted to ten before jogging back down, but I don't think I cheated myself on that. Every time that I ran by that panther, I just thought to myself that I didn't really like cats that much, even though I own one!

Now that I'm able to look at the internet for myself, I see that we were supposed to do between 10 and 15 loops up the hill, depending on our training distance. I'm really glad I didn't know that at the time of the workout, because I ran up the hill 6 times in my 30 minutes. Well, technically, it was 29:22, but that was close enough for me! Including the jog over to the start, I went a total of 3 miles in 29:22 (9:46 pace). I actually feel really, really good about that pace because I definitely jogged rather slowly down the hills as an active recovery. Actually, it also makes me feel better about what turned out to be a slower pace on Sunday, because I knew that there was no way we were actually running that slowly and that it had to have been the stretching and walking that put us up to almost 11-minute miles.

Now, notice my max heart rate below. I was a little concerned when I saw that while I was walking home, since I thought my max heart rate should be 192 (220-28 [age]). However, I was just trying to research this a bit more on the internet, and it looks like women should do this estimate by taking 226 and subtracting their age. In that case, I'd get a max heart rate of 198, which makes me feel a little bit better. I'm still not sure that I'm getting all the benefits of training with a heart rate monitor and I'm fairly sure that I should do some more research on all of that, but perhaps next week I will have more time to do so.

Calories: 421
Max HR: 196
Average HR: 182

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pilates With My Eyes Closed

This morning I met Nicole and Laura for our regular Monday morning pilates session. I'll be gone out of town on vacation with my family for the next two Mondays, so this was my last chance for a while to get in some really good core work.

Nicole had us start out on the mat and do a couple of warm-up breathing exercises. Then we got on the foam roller. She said she wasn't sure how it would go at 7:00 AM to do that first thing, but that we'd just try it out. I know I said this last week, but there is one that I just love with the foam roller, which is really more of a stretch. You put your hands into prayer position and then move them up over your head. Then you open your arms and let them fall down and around before coming back up into prayer position. Something about the fact that you are lying on that round tube just makes my chest and shoulders really get a good stretch and it really opens up your chest area (an area I tend to hunch over most of the day at my computer). I really would consider buying a foam roller myself just to do that stretch more often.

After doing some other foam roller exercises and then some exercises without the roller, including roll-ups and rolling like a ball (neither of which are my favorites), we moved over to the reformer. The sun rises right into one of the windows of the studio and right onto the reformer that I was using. During the first several exercises, I had to keep my eyes closed most of the time. Next time I'll try to remember to bring my sunglasses! It's actually a little bit surprising to me that the studio doesn't have a window shade that could be used to prevent this. I'm certainly not the first person to have noticed this. Of course, it's just one reformer that gets the sunlight, so maybe that one gets used less than the others.

When Nicole announced that we would be setting up to do the stomach massage set of exercises, I was just thinking that my stomach did not really want a massage today. I'm not sure why, but I just think all three of the stomach massage exercises are a little awkward. Probably because they are. Either way, my stomach did get a massage and now it's quite tired!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Megan Says, "Move Over"

So, yesterday ended up being a rest day. I got up nice and early and headed out to JFK Airport to surprise Drew and take the cab ride back into the city with him and hear all about his African hunting adventure. We got back to his apartment and made breakfast and just hung out all day. Part of me thought at some point that maybe I should go and do some sort-of workout, but it seemed like much more of a priority to just spend some time with him. Totally think that I made the right call on that.

At the Terrier swim today I got into the middle lane (out of the five available lanes) and started doing the warm-up. I normally switch back and forth between the middle lane and the next fastest lane, but it really depends on who is at practice that day because the relative speed of each lane will change based on who is there. This was the workout:

300 Warm-Up
8 x 50 Backstroke down, Freestyle back on the 1:00 400
2 x 300 Pull 600
4 x 100 Freestyle on 1:45
50 Backstroke on 1:30
4 x 100 Freestyle on 1:40
50 Backstroke on 1:30
4 x 100 Freestyle on 1:35
50 Breaststroke (cool-down)

2650 meters = 1.65 miles in 56:10
Calories: 657
Max HR: 181
Average HR: 163

After the warm-up, Megan said we would be doing 8 x 50 on the 1:15 in the middle lane. We would do backstroke down and freestyle back. As a kid and even when swimming in high school, backstroke was always my favorite stroke. I know some people think it's really easy because your head is out of the water all the time, but I always really loved the motion your arm makes instead of the floating on your back part. So, I was really happy to be doing some backstroke. After the first 50, I was at the wall and Megan said I needed to move over into the faster lane. I wasn't sure I was up for it today, but I also wasn't going to question her judgment. Of course, moving over a lane also meant that I had to do the 50s on the 1:00 instead of the 1:15.

There were not a ton of people at practice today, so there were only two other people in my lane besides me, which was nice. We finished up the 50s and then Megan passed out the pull buoys. I was thinking that so far the workout wasn't too bad and that I sort-of was glad for that. Then she told us that we'd be doing 3 x 200 pull. The catch? The first 200 we'd breathe every third stroke (easy). The second 200 we'd breathe every fifth stroke (not too bad). The third 200 we'd breathe every seventh stroke (was she kidding about that?). I was wishing that we could do it in the opposite order so that it would get easier instead of harder as time went on. I normally breathe every second stroke and I sort-of wanted to give up during the last 200. I did take a breath on the fifth stroke twice in that set, but for the most part I did the workout as instructed.

The main set was 1200 broken down into 4 x 100. Each set of 400 would be 5 seconds faster than the last. I knew by the time we got to the last set on the 1:35, I would essentially be swimming a 400 as there wouldn't be any time to rest at the wall. The 50 meter backstroke was supposed to be a slow, active recovery rather than just resting at the wall for a minute. I wasn't sure I was 100% in favor of that, but who am I to say what's best? Also, on the second 50 recovery, I got water straight up my nose at the turn and couldn't stop coughing before starting the last 4 x 100. I'm sure that didn't help my time any.

All in all, this ended up being a really good workout. I was so surprised to get home and to see how far and frankly, how fast I swam today, even though I didn't ever feel like I was going that fast or that hard. I always just felt like I was swimming at my regular pace. Perhaps I'm just getting faster in general.

Last week, Laura had told me that she was planning on going running in Central Park tonight as a taper run for her half-marathon. When I got home from swimming, I asked Drew if he'd want to go along, so we both met her and two other people, Bill & Sue. I was a little nervous that I would be too slow for the group and I knew that I wouldn't want (or be able) to do the entire 7.6 mile run that Laura had planned. I was hoping to do about a 3.7 mile run instead, which meant that Drew and I would cross the 72nd Street transverse and head back East, while Laura, Bill & Sue would keep going North to do the entire 6.0 mile loop.

Sue and Laura talked most of the time we were running together, which actually helped me concentrate on their conversation rather than worrying about the actual running. It was also nice because I thought we were running at a pretty comfortable pace for me, so I didn't feel like I was holding anyone back. When we got to the transverse and turned off to head back to Drew's, he said that his calf was acting up again. I asked him if he wanted to start walking, because I would feel horrible if he got hurt on my account, and he said yes. We also stopped for a minute for him to try to stretch out his calf. When we had walked to the end of the transverse and started to head back North, Drew said we should run again. We ran for about 15 seconds before he said that his leg wouldn't let him. So, instead, we just walked the rest of the way home.

I know from my hamstring incident last week that it is much better to just stop as soon as you feel pain instead of trying to push through like I had with my heel pain, so I'm glad for his sake that we stopped when we did. In total, we went 2.5 miles in 27:15 (10:54 pace). Some of that time includes when we were walking and Drew was stretching, so I don't think that pace is actually accurate. I'm fairly certain we were more on a 10:00 mile pace while we were actually running. Either way, I'm still really glad that I got out and went for the run, even if it was cut short. Even though I think it was silly to swim, shower, and then run, I still think it was a really good workout day.

Running Stats:
Calories: 367
Max HR: 189
Average HR: 176

Friday, August 7, 2009

The World Went By In A Blur

Last night I set my alarm for 6 AM so that I could get up early and go for a nice long run. When my alarm went off, I just kept pressing snooze for the next 43 minutes. I will say that it's much harder to get myself out of bed when I don't have a planned group activity or I'm not meeting someone at a certain time. Even when I was pressing snooze, I was thinking that maybe I really didn't have to go running, even though I knew that was wrong.

Finally, I got myself up and dressed. It was quite sunny out this morning, so I grabbed my sunglasses. When I put them on, I realized that I wasn't wearing my contacts and I wouldn't be able to see anything. I figured that was probably okay. I didn't want to waste the extra time to put them in and my eyes were too tired to deal with it. There isn't too much to see in the park that I haven't seen before. So, the run was a bit of a blur.

I walked over to the park and saw right away that the part of the park drive that was torn up yesterday was newly paved today. Why couldn't the brick have been this morning instead of yesterday? Oh well.

So, right when I started running, another girl started running too. At the exact same pace. I cannot begin to explain how awkward this was for me. We were running right next to each other, but not acknowledging one another. It really felt like I was running with a friend, except she was wearing an iPod and we weren't talking to one another. At some point, I decided that I couldn't take it any more and that maybe I should fall back a little bit, so I ran right behind her. That also felt really weird and when we got to the 102nd Street transverse and turned there, I really felt like I was following her (even though that really was my planned route). I couldn't take it any more. I felt like it was all too weird, so I took a walking break for about a minute to let her go ahead.

When I started running again, I felt like I couldn't get a good breath. I just couldn't inhale all the way. I looked down at the heart rate monitor and saw that my heart rate was 188! That seemed quite high, so I decided to just walk again for a minute to get it back down into some sort of normal range and catch my breath. That definitely helped and I was able to go on with the rest of my run. I'm not really sure what happened, but I do wonder if once I knew that my heart rate was so high that I then got more nervous than I would have been otherwise.

When I reached the bottom of the reservoir, I really thought about just cutting my run short and heading back, but I realized that wasn't going to help me any on race day and that I might as well just keep going. I told myself that I would run from where I was until I got to 72nd Street and then I could take a little walking break. The funny thing is that it seemed like I had so far to run when I made that deal with myself, but I was at 72nd Street before I knew it. I did take a little break and walked for another minute and then I finished my run strong and running the whole rest of the way. I felt really good at the end of the run, like I could have kept running, which I think is a good feeling to have.

I guess now I should mention that I am a mosquito magnet. I don't think regular people would even think that there are mosquitos in New York City, but there are. Regular people just don't know that they're here because they're all biting me! Anyway, I have bites all over my arms, legs, hands ... and one very bad one on the bottom of my right foot. The entire time I was running all I wanted to do was scratch my foot. Or punch someone in the face. It was really uncomfortable running. The bite is pretty much right in the middle of my foot and every step I took, it rubbed against my sock and made me want to scratch. I'm not really sure how to prevent this from happening in the future since I think that they mostly bite me in the middle of the night.

In total today, I ran 4.10 miles in 41:48 (10:11 pace). I'm really happy with that pace since I did take a few walking breaks. I told myself today that it's okay to take those walking breaks sometimes since during the race I'll want to walk through the aid stations on the run so that I can actually drink water instead of spill it down my shirt and this would be a good way to see my race pace. I don't know if that's a good way to think about it or not, but it helped me to run further by taking those breaks today and I think that's the most important thing.

Calories: 550
Max HR: 189
Average HR: 174

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hill Attack

You know, I forgot to mention yesterday that I was actually pretty impressed with my HR stats for my own swim workout versus the Terrier swim workout. I know that it helped that I a swimplan workout to do, so I wasn't fending for myself in the pool, but I'm also glad that I am getting a good workout in on my own.

This morning I woke up at 4:27 on my own. Apparently it was time to get up for the Terrier brick. I did think that was a little early, so I laid in bed for a few more minutes of rest before getting all ready for the brick. Riding to the park this morning I was thinking that if I got another flat today, I would just act a bit like Normann Stadler, because I'm quite paranoid about the whole thing now.

We got there and the coach told us that the workout would be attacking the six hills in Central Park. We were supposed to do one warm-up loop of the park and then two where we really attacked the hills. This would be another workout for anaerobic training and working on VO2 max. Really, why can't this stuff be in English? I guess maybe I should know what they're talking about, but even when I read the descriptions on the internet, I'm still a little confused about all of these equations. The bike would be followed by a 20 minute run.

We started out on the bike. Now, they had mentioned that the road was torn up from 90th Street to about 100th Street, but I didn't really know what that meant. I quickly found out that it meant a brain-jarring ride along the road. Seriously, I hated that. Everyone else just zipped right past me and I was happy to go along at 10 miles an hour. I felt like if I went any faster I'd get that shaken baby syndrome. I tried to figure out what I could do to avoid going along the Upper East Side again. I decided that since we were supposed to be doing hills, I might as well do Harlem Hill repeats instead of doing the whole park loop. It was probably comparable and that way I could avoid the rough road.

I ended up doing 4 loops on the Harlem hill. Then I rode back down and through the lower loop of the park twice. I spent a lot of time at the ends of the park today and not very much time in the middle. I ended up riding for 12.29 miles in 51:02 (14.45 MPH average). I feel okay with that average, especially since I was only going about 8 or 9 MPH on the hill. I was definitely working hard on the hill. On my last Harlem hill repeat, I saw that my HR was at 180, which seemed like a lot of work for my heart, not to mention my legs!

When I got back to the transition area, I stretched out my hamstrings as best I could for a minute or so. I told myself that I would just start running and see how it went. At worst, I could just walk the lower loop of the park and at best I could run, but I wouldn't keep running if it hurt at all and I wasn't going to be in a hurry, I'd just take my time. Well, that strategy proved to be a really good one. I felt better running today than I have in a long time. I really wasn't in a rush and I ran the 1.75 miles in 17:36 (10:03 pace). My leg never hurt at all. It still feels really tight when I stretch it, but I'm not in any pain, so I'm even happier that I didn't keep running on Tuesday as I think it could have been a lot worse. I'm hoping to be able to get in a nice long run tomorrow, so hopefully this just continues to get better.

Calories: 799
Max HR: 180
Average HR: 159

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Spy With My Little Eye

This morning I met Laura for a swim at Manhattan Plaza Health Club. Last time we went there, I wasn't overly impressed with the facilities or the clientele, but I was trying to have a more open mind this time. Laura sent me a text that she was running late, so I told her that I would just meet her in the pool. That way, I could get in a longer workout. I printed out a workout so that I wouldn't be struggling for things to do in the water and I could hopefully push myself a bit more than I had been the last couple times I swam on my own.

This was the workout:

4 x 50 Any Stroke (even pace), rest 0:15/50 yd
Build Up:
4 x 100 Freestyle Swim (kick every 4th 25 yd), rest 0:20/100 yd
2 x 200 Freestyle Swim, leave on 3:40/200 yd
2 x 100 Freestyle Swim, leave on 1:55/100 yd
2 x 200 Freestyle Swim, leave on 3:40/200 yd
4 x 50 Freestyle Swim, leave on 1:02/50 yd
Warm Down:
1 x 100 Freestyle Push & Glide, rest 0:20/100 yd
1 x 100 Freestyle Easy, rest 0:20/100 yd

If someone could please explain the build-up part to me, I'd really appreciate it. At first, I was thinking that I would just use a kick board for every 4th 25. Then I realized that I would need to have 4 kick boards at the far end of the pool for that to work and that didn't seem right. Then I thought maybe what I was supposed to do was use a pull buoy for the first 75 and swim regularly on the last 25. That still didn't make sense because the pull buoy would have always ended up at the far end of the pool as well. So, what I did was to swim 300 regularly and then I did 100 with a kick board. That was really all I could do to make sense of those directions!

Because it wasn't raining yesterday like it had been at our first visit to MPHC, they had the retractable roof open all the way. The retractable part was really only over the shallow end, but it was actually pretty nice to have it open to the sky. Laura got there when I was about half-way through the core portion of the workout. Shortly after she got there, I spied something pretty exciting. I saw someone walk up some stairs and I just had a feeling that perhaps that they were going to a hot tub. The guy in the lane next to me was resting for a few seconds, so I asked him if I was correct and he said that there were two hot tubs! I can't believe we didn't see them the first time we were there! What a bummer! I told Laura and we both agreed to keep swimming for a while before hitting the hot tub.

I finished my workout, but Laura wasn't done with hers yet. She said she wanted to swim for another 10 minutes or so. I told her that was fine with me and I decided that since I was already a bit cooled-down, I would just keep working on my new kick from the hips. I did 500 kick while she was finishing up. These are my totals for the day:

Distance: 2500 yards = 1.42 miles
Time: 1:02:21
Calories: 618
Max HR: 179
Average HR: 148

After getting out of the pool, we spent a very relaxing 15 minutes in the hot tub before hitting the showers. I will say, if a hot tub was involved at the end of every workout, I'd be much happier to get up in the mornings! Although it is disturbingly getting easier and easier to wake up these days. My hamstring still seems to be feeling tight and it's definitely still noticeable when I'm walking around, but it seems better than yesterday. I think this was just a minor thing, but I'm really glad that I didn't push myself too hard yesterday and do something serious.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hello Hamstring!

This morning I got up and headed over to the Terrier run. I slept in a few minutes more than I should have, so I was running a little bit late. I started walking there, but once I got to the park, I realized that I would probably have to pick up the pace and jog a little bit in order to get there on time. Almost as soon as I started jogging, I noticed a pain in my right hamstring. I got to the meeting spot and tried to stretch it as much as I could while we waited for practice to start. It definitely felt really tight when I was trying to stretch, but I thought I would just keep going and see how things progressed.

We did the usual stride drills with skipping, high knees, regular strides, etc. Then Spencer gave us our workout. The Sprint/Olympic group was supposed to do the following: 2 loops of the lower park loop (from 72nd Street to the bottom of the park and back). The first loop at 80% and the second loop at 85%. Then we were supposed to do 6 x 200s fast at 95% effort. The recovery would be a jog back to the start. Spencer said that he didn't care how slowly we were jogging as long as we didn't walk. If we walked, we'd have to do an extra one.

However, we all started out on the two-loop run and I knew almost immediately that my hamstring wasn't feeling any better. I decided that instead of pressing my luck, I should head home and put some ice on it and hope that would make it better instead of worse. Since it hurt the entire walk home, I think I made the right decision. I went home and put some ice on it for a while, hoping that would be a magic cure. Of course, it wasn't. It's still not feeling that great. I'm hoping that doing my yoga DVD tonight and a nice swim tomorrow will do the trick. Otherwise, I might start to get worried about the run portion of Westchester (as if I wasn't already!).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Foam Roller Pilates

This morning I met Nicole and Laura for a pilates session. We started on the reformer and did a lot of the regular stuff. After getting warmed up, Nicole had us move over to the mats and gave us each a foam roller. We laid down on the rollers from our heads to our tailbones with our feet flat on the floor (knees bent). Then we went through a series of exercises on the rollers. By far the best one was really more of a stretch. Nicole said that it was also her favorite. Basically it stretched your shoulders/neck/upper arms and felt awesome. I wished that we could do that all day long.

Of course, Nicole had other ideas for us. Instead of just doing stretches all day long, she made us do the entire ab series on the foam rollers. Ugh! That was really hard, but I'm sure also very good for me. Nicole had told me that she had learned these new foam roller exercises when I went two weeks ago and at the time I was thinking that it'd be really fun to try them out. I'll admit it sounded more fun to hear about it than it actually was to do it, mostly because keeping your balance and trying to do exercises turns out to not be that easy.

For fun, I decided that I would wear my HR monitor and just see what the HR/calories looked like from doing pilates. These are today's stats:

Calories: 216
Max HR: 126
Average HR: 100

Clearly, not the same type of workout as doing cardio. But, I'm still glad I wore it just for the sake of comparison. I was thinking that I might be able to get in some cardio tonight, but now that I realize that I have a lot of other things that need to get done this week, I might skip it and make sure I get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's Terrier run.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's All About The Breathing

This morning I went to Toga to go buy a replacement bike tube for Caroline and to have my bike get a tune-up and check on the brakes. I've also noticed the last couple times while riding that the MPH sensor might have been on the fritz (just temporarily both times, but it seemed like I should just ask while I was there). I was expecting that it would be about a $50 expense for the tune-up, since that's what the sign says at the shop. I only had to wait about 20 minutes for them to check out the bike. When they brought it back upstairs, the girl rang me up and my total was only $12 (for the two tubes I purchased). I asked about the cost of the tune-up and she told me that since I had bought my bike there, all basic tune-ups for the life of the bike are free! What a nice start to the day!

I then spent the afternoon hanging out at home since it was pouring rain (no surprise there!). Luckily, when I headed out to swim practice, there was a break in the rain. Sarah was coaching today. She said that we would be doing some longer sets today. This was the workout:

400 Warm-Up
300 Drill (one arm / thumb drag)
200 Kick
100 Build
2 x 500 (broken into 100's - 0:05 Rest) 1:00 RI
Flip turns
100 Cool-Down

Total: 2100 meters = 1.30 miles
Time: 1:00:49
Calories: 628
Max HR: 185
Average HR: 151

The drill portion I did 200 using just one arm and the other 100 I did doing the thumb drag drill (where you drag your thumb up the side of your body in order to get your elbows up). The 2 x 500s were broken into 100s, but there was only 0:05 rest between each 100, so it was mostly like swimming a 500. The first 500 we were supposed to keep at an even pace for each 100. The second 500 was supposed to increase in speed for each 100. I'm not sure that I really did that as I just get so tired by the end. One of the other girls in my lane said she doesn't think that it's fair that we're working so hard on the last 100 and going slower than the first 100. I tend to agree.

After the first 500, Sarah asked all of us who could do a flip turn. She said that those of us who raised our hands should try to do them on the second 500. I told her my ear problem and how I feel like my whole head gets clogged with water and she said that it was all about the breathing and she'd help me after the second 500. So, once we were done with the swimming, she broke us up into groups and had us practice flipping. I asked her and she said that as long as I blow out of my nose the entire time I'm flipping, I shouldn't have any ear problems. I did it a few times and she was right! I must have been holding my breath a couple of weeks ago when I was doing it and that was the problem.

For the last 100 cool-down, I practiced flip turning while swimming and breathing out and I didn't have any trouble at all. I guess now that I know the trick, I'll have to try to incorporate this into practice more often. Sarah said that if we work on this over the winter (off season), we'll definitely see results next year in our swimming. Even though there are no flip turns in races and a lot of triathletes say that they don't see the point, the extra second of rest that we're giving ourselves at the wall when we turn without flipping does add up and does give us that extra rest that we wouldn't have in a race. I can see both sides of the argument, but I would like to try it more often going forward and see how it goes.

Also, I know that I was mostly worried about not pushing myself hard enough while swimming and that was the reason for the HR monitor. Obviously, I wasn't too worried about that at Terrier practice as the workouts are usually pretty hard. It was more on my own that I'm concerned. I really wanted to wear the monitor today so that I could have a good comparison for when I'm swimming by myself to see how I'm doing then. I'm hoping to swim with Laura on Wednesday morning, so we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Only Cross At Greens & Not In Between

I guess I have to start on Thursday since I've been a bit lax in the blogging department. Thursday after work I headed over to Toga and bought myself some new bike tires. I decided to get Armadillos because I am sick and tired of changing flats and this seemed like a way to avoid them. Friday morning I woke up to rain and decided that I would just sleep in and give myself a rest day. I know that this hasn't been my hardest workout week, but I knew I needed the extra sleep.

Friday after work, I headed to Drew's apartment to put on my new tire and then take my bike home. I got the tire on without too much frustration. I will say that these armadillos are a little bit tougher to manipulate than regular tires, but I'm guessing that's part of the point of them. The only bad thing about going home was that I rode the subway because it was pouring out! I did get a few dirty looks on the trains home, which made me want to shout out "bikes are allowed on the subways 24/7!" but I didn't. I just tried to make myself as small as possible. Which is impossible with a bicycle.

This morning I got up early and headed out for my very first ride into New Jersey and across the George Washington Bridge. I double checked all the directions that Matt had given me and thought I had a pretty good idea of where I was going (but just in case I wrote them down on a post-it and stuck them in my pocket). I took along a Clif bar and a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water. I took my patch kit but left my extra tube at home. I figured with my armadillos, why would I need an extra tube?

I headed over to the Westside bike path and on my way, I was stopped at the light at 51st and 11th Avenue when a pedestrian crossing said, "Only cross at greens and not in between!". It seemed like good advice. I definitely try to do that, although with so many one-way streets here in the city, a lot of times it easy to go against the red (although I do always try to yield for pedestrians).

The ride got off to a good start. I headed up the Westside and exited Riverside Park at 95th Street to continue my ride on Riverside Drive. (Here is a link to the approximate route I took). From there I headed up to 165th Street. I thought I knew where I was going, as when you get to 165th Street, the hospital is there and I knew I had to veer right. Well, actually, you are supposed to turn onto 165th Street and go up a steep hill. Instead, I followed the signs for the GWB (for cars) and started to get onto the highway. I quickly realized when I got to the merging point that I was in the wrong place and turned around and headed back to 165th Street. It wasn't a total loss as I did get to see two dead rats on the freeway entrance ramp. Who can say that they see that every day?

When I got back to the corner of 165th Street and Riverside, I stood there for a minute and watched all of the other bikers turning onto 165th and knew that if I followed them I would be able to find the bridge entrance. It was up a pretty steep hill and since I was stopped and didn't quite have the momentum I thought I might need (especially while also clipping in), I decided not to chance it and to just walk my bike up the hill.

I almost got lost again when trying to find the pedestrian walkway to the bridge. I was going to turn right, but that also looked like I'd be getting on the freeway, so instead there happened to be a guy there and I asked him if he knew where I should go and he pointed behind him to the left and then I saw the ramp. Matt had told me that it was really narrow and steep and my first time I should probably walk. I definitely took his advice and walked up the ramp.

When I got onto the bridge itself I actually said "Wow!" because the views were so nice. And I was amazed that I had gotten as far as I did. I made it across the bridge just fine. When exiting, I turned left and tried to find my way to Route 9W. The street I was on was called Huson Terrace and I knew I wasn't really in the right spot, but I also wasn't 100% sure how to get to where I needed to go. I pulled into an empty parking lot and pulled out my handy phone to look at the map. Hudson Terrace run parallel to 9W and I could take pretty much any street to cut over. I took the next one and then realized that maybe I should have stuck with Hudson Terrace a while longer. 9W (where I got on) goes from having a very small shoulder, which is filled with storm drains, to no shoulder at all. After a couple of miles like that, the road narrows and the shoulder becomes about one lane wide, which is much nicer. Next time I might try sticking with Hudson Terrace until it ends at Palisade Avenue.

It had rained a lot on Friday, so there were a lot of tree branches and debris in the shoulder, but at least I had quite a lot of room to maneuver around all that stuff. I didn't go that far on 9W. I had just planned a 30-mile trip to prove to myself that I could ride the Olympic distance and also just to get over to NJ and back. I figure next time I can go further since I'll be faster at getting to the bridge itself.

After 15 miles on the way out, I turned around and headed back. I had already been riding for quite a while, so on my way back, I pulled into a bus stop and ate my Clif bar I had brought along. Then I kept heading back to the bridge. Pretty much when I go to the base of the bridge I heard the tell-tale sign of a flat followed by a pop! I wasn't even surprised at that point. Why would my new no-flat tire do as it said? I also was really mad at myself in that moment for only having $20 and not my credit card. I know that there is a bike shop nearby and I could have gone and had them fix it, but since I was so close to the bridge, I decided just to walk my bike across the bridge and take the subway home. I was also really worried that I had gotten another blown-out tire and $20 wasn't going to cover the cost of a new tire and tube. I, of course, had left my extra tube at home because I figured if something happened, I would be able to patch it, and really, what were the odds of getting another flat this week?

I started my walk across the bridge, which wasn't too bad. I got to watch all the boats and kayaks in the water and of all the places to have to walk it wasn't the worst. When I was about half-way across, I ran into Will from Toga. He stopped and asked what happened. I told him my predicament with no tube and he offered to fix it for me. He with with a girl named Caroline (fellow Terrier) and she lent me a tube since Will's extra tube had a valve that was too long for my bike (he's got very fancy wheels). Will had that thing fixed in about 5 minutes flat. While he was doing it, he asked if I knew how to change a tire. I said yes, but what I was really thinking was "yes, but I'd never get it done faster than it would take me to walk to the subway like you're doing right now". As he was putting the wheel back on my bike, he said that something looked wrong with my back brake and that I should bring my bike in for a tune-up.

I thanked both of them for their generosity and time. I got back on my bike and headed home. The whole time I was riding, all I could do was think about my back brake failing, so I kept my hand on my front brake more than I normally do just in case. However, I made it home A-OK with no further incidents. These are the stats:

Mileage: 29.08
Time: 2:54:08 (from HR monitor)
Average Speed: 10.01 MPH (not too bad considering the walking part across the bridge)
Calories: 1719
Max HR: 173
Average HR: 146

In short, I'm actually really looking forward to tackling this route again. Now that I have more of an idea of where to go and what the route is like I think I'll be much more confident next time. Next time I'll also be sure to take everything that might be needed. I'm extremely grateful to know some really nice triathletes and be a part of team that is willing to help out. I also happened to notice that it looks like most riders get a bit of a later start than I did. There were lots and lots of people heading out to NJ when I was heading in, which makes me think that going early is a good idea to have more of the road to myself!