Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trumanburg bike ride

Awesome bike ride with Sarah, Matt and Cresten! We happened upon an apple tree when we stopped for a break. As Cresten pointed out, we rapidly went through all the stages of human evolution while trying to get to the apples. First attempt was to climb the tree. Second attempt was to use fallen apples to knock apples out of the tree. Finally we developed tools and used a stick to knock apples to the ground. Success! The apples were mighty tasty too.

Even though we faced some killer hills and only two of us had proper road bikes, everyone claims to have enjoyed themselves. The highlight was the 4 mile cruise back into town on 79. The sun was just starting to get low in the sky and the views of Cornell were quite spectacular. Nothing reinforces the isolation of Ithaca like seeing campus nestled among miles and miles of emptiness.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mountain Madness and short term retirement

Michelle, Brian, Ben, Cresten and I did the Mountain Madness race this weekend in Newfield. Michelle, Brian, and I did the 14k and the other brave souls did 30k. My time was 1 hr 46 which is a 12 min/mile pace. That's slower than normal for me but the 'Mountain Madness' name is not incorrect... this was a super hilly course. This is the first race I've done purely out of peer pressure and I realized that I've briefly lost my enthusiasm for racing. I'm not in the business of torturing myself, despite how it might appear, so I'm going to rest for awhile until it becomes fun again.

After 9 months of scheduling my life around workouts, it'll be nice to put training on the back burner for a bit. I have enjoyed this past year immensely--- it has taught me a lot about myself and about my physical and mental limits. Now that the triathlon has passed, I'm done feeling guilty if I take 4 consecutive days off from running as I did this week. Luckily exercise has become too much a part of my life for me to give it up completely. And I suspect I'll be back to my usual racing antics before long. Until then, this blog is on vacation!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

First triathlon!

I did it! It's been exactly one year since my very first race when I did the CLT as a relay. Since then, I've learned a lot about racing and training, and things went really smoothly. I made a list of triathlon items all week, packed the night before (never pack the morning of a big race!), set out exactly what to wear in the morning down to my sunglasses and watch, got out of bed at 5:45AM and was at the park by 7:10AM. That gave me a comfortable amount of time to set up my station before my 8:20AM start time although more time wouldn't have hurt. I had neatly divided my swim, bike, and run stuff into different baggies, so I pulled them out one by one and had everything set up on top of a towel with the appropriate footwear (3 pairs of shoes for one race!). I talked myself through each of my transitions and felt unusually organized and calm. I had some extra time to visit with my friends, get my number marked all over my body (hands, arms, calves, and thighs), and pick up my timing chip.

Food/water/etc: I had cereal and lots of coffee before leaving home. I was pretty well hydrated at the start and ate half a Clif bar before the race. I had a few sips of water during the swim-bike transition and I should have drank more because I was severely dehydrated the entire first half of the bike. If I ever do another bike race, I'll need to figure out a better way of hydrating: either a Camelback (yuck) or installing a water bottle near the handlebars. The water bottles along the down tube are just too awkward to be reached easily. I taped one pack of goo to my bike and had another in my bike jersey. I consumed those along with gatorade and water on the bike ride. I had too much to eat because it took my stomach a little time to settle down when I started running.

Clothes (and there were a lot of them): SWIM: swimsuit with a sports bra underneath, full body wetsuit, goggles and swim cap. BIKE: bike shorts pulled over the swimsuit (stylish!), bike jersey top, sunglasses, helmet, socks, and biking shoes. RUN: tank top (pre-pinned with race number), running shorts, and running shoes. It's really hard to change clothing while soaking wet, so next time I'd consider wearing bathing suit bottoms and a tank top so I'd only have to pull on shorts. They've cleverly made the number tags waterproof so those can be pinned on before the race.

Weather: Perfect! A cool 60-70F and overcast without rain.


Swim: I got clobbered in the face twice and nearly had a panic attack before the 5 minute mark. Impressively, this was the only time in the entire race I seriously considered quitting. I guess practice is the only way to get used to open water swimming, but it still freaks me out *every single time*. I managed to stave off a full blown panic attack by keeping pace with the girl next to me. I swam at a slower than comfortable pace for half the distance because I didn't want to move away from the buoys. I felt much better on the return trip and made up some time. Swim time: 1.5K in 35:04.

Transition: Shaky. I took is slow or else I would have crashed my bike. Luckily it only took a mile or two to regain my equilibrium.

Bike: I should be a faster biker but I only seem to have one speed. I think I lack a regular training partner so I don't push myself to improve. It was disheartening to continuously get passed the entire trip, although it did make me realize how many people I had beaten out of the water. I love being on my bike so much that I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Bike time: 24.6 miles in 1:35:55 (down from 1:40 during the practice a few weeks back), 15.3 mph.

Transition: Painful. My legs and my stomach were not happy for the first mile. After that, my pace picked up nicely.

Run: This hurt the entire time. I really wish that we didn't have to do two loops of the same course. The first time was wonderful. The run takes you right to the base of Taughannock Falls and couldn't be more picturesque. The second loop was slower than the first and only the thought of being able to lie down got me to the finish line. Run time: 1:06:14 for 10K, 10:41 min/mile pace.

Total time: 3:24:31. I won my first and last medal for an athletic event: #2 out of the 4 females aged 25-29 in the intermediate race. It felt stupid to accept the medal but as my friends and my adviser put it, '#2 out of more than two is good.' In the individual events, my rankings reflected the amount of time I spent training on each sport. My swim time was AWESOME and it's because I've been swimming regularly. I've been running short distances lately so I was undertrained for 6 miles, and I can count the number of times I've been road biking this year on two hands. But it's over and I have no complaints whatsoever about the way things turned out. I have no regrets about signing up for the intermediate. I would not have enjoyed the sprint distance nearly as much.

What's next for me? I'm done with training for the season. My next race is the one to graduate. I do have one more physical goal for the year though. I would really like to be able to do a pullup because I've never been able to do one. Yup, that's right: I'm aiming to do one pullup. I think that means lots of quality time at the climbing wall and with my shiny new pullup bar.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CLT Pictures

There will be a complete rundown of the triathlon eventually, but here are some pictures to start with.

The start of my swim wave. This is the point at which complete terror and panic set in as it finally dawned on me what I had signed up to do.

The sprint distance was to the green buoy and the intermediate was to the yellow. This picture is deceptive: they're a lot further than they seem.

Finishing the swim. Some genius told me to take the top half of the wetsuit off as I ran, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Those pictures are not flattering and thus are not shown here.

Returning to Taughannock after a lovely 25 mile bike ride. The pictures of me biking are really interesting because my posture is all wrong. That explains why my shoulders were the sorest part of me on the day after the tri.

Running. This is the point at which exhaustion set in. It was not helped by the fact that I had to do 2 loops of the 5k course which made everything seem even longer. But alas I finished and I even ran the entire time.

The end!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week of 7/26-7/31

Monday Currently eating every 2 hours. It's kind of fun to be so gluttonous but it'll be hard to stop after the race. Bailed on the swim across the lake because I was reminded I should be "tapering."

Tuesday I got super sick in the middle of the night for the second time this month with excruciating stomach cramps and nausea, and this time I ended up fainting. (I'll spare you the rest of the gory details.) The first time it happened, I assumed it was food poisoning but maybe it's a food allergy?

Wednesday Climbing with Matt. My performance was pathetic-- I couldn't even make it up my easy routes. Matt spent an admirably long time working on the $1000 dyno and came *really* close to getting it. It was amazing to watch!

Thursday-Saturday Rest. After no aerobic activity this week except the 2 mile ride to/from work, I was antsy for the triathlon just so I could get some exercise. I guess the tapering paid off.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Week of 7/19-7/25

Monday First swim across Cayuga Lake! 1.2 miles in 46 minutes.

I was a bit grumpy at the start of the swim. Francesca, the woman who owns the house we swim from, took one look at me and put me on the slow list of swimmers. Granted, her only experience with me in the water was the first week when I got really bad leg cramps. But I swam a mile with leg cramps that left me limping for three days! I see how that doesn't necessarily mean I'm a fast swimmer but it should say something about my level of determination. I was pretty pissed off and we hadn't even left the shore.

When it got to be my turn to swim, there were 11 people in the water with me, and 7 of us were new to swimming across the lake. It ended up being a bit of a clusterf*** which is what always happens when a bunch of newbies get in the water. The pod that was swimming at my pace took off ahead of me and I was left with a pod of slightly slower swimmers. I could have sprinted and caught up with the faster pod, but I wasn't sure about the canoe situation. (We're supposed to get assigned to canoes in the first few minutes of the swim and can't switch after that, and I wasn't sure if that had happened yet). After wasting precious oxygen trying to figure out who I was supposed to be with, I didn't have the energy to catch up with the faster group, and I really didn't want to swim with the slower group. That's what happened to me last week and there are fewer things less fun than treading water while you wait for people to catch up with you.

I was also a bit nervous because my adviser was in one of the canoes and I didn't really want to swim alongside him. I think I was worried that I would be extra stubborn and not get out even if I needed to. In the end, the choice was made for me. The canoe I thought I was swimming beside abruptly left me (not cool!), and I ended up by myself and next to Brian's canoe. He's the last person who's gonna make me swim at a speed that's too slow so he didn't make me wait for anyone else. Having a canoe to myself was very lucky because I got to pick my pace and experiment with breathing, etc.

My canoers did an excellent job of following a straight line (a lot harder than it sounds) so I ended up swimming a shorter distance than the group ahead of me. That meant I got to finish with the fast group (of the slow wave of swimmers) in 46 minutes. I felt vindicated and I think there's still lots of room for improvement.

Swimming was my last fear for the triathlon. Now that I know I can do endurance swimming, I'm getting really excited. I'm not as prepared as I should/could be, but I've done the best I can while balancing work and life. Most importantly, training is still fun and hasn't become a chore. Less than two weeks to go!

Quick run after work. 4.74 miles, 10'08 min/mile.

After work, I went climbing with Mike, Sarah, Matt, and Sarah's sister. I had an infected splinter in my big toe and it hurt like hell, so I improvised a bit to avoid using my left foot. Worked out great because it was the first time I climbed off route in awhile and it was surprisingly challenging.

Thursday I was running late and I missed the lake swim, so I did a quick run on the East Hill Rec Trail instead. 1.28 miles, 9'51" min/mile & 0.51 miles, 8'33" min/mile.

Friday Swimming with Rick. We did 200 yard intervals for a total of a mile, starting with 4:20 then losing 5 seconds each set. The goal was to swim as fast as possible in each set and then spend the remaining time cooling down. For the first 800 yards, I was consistently swimming 55-60 sec laps which is significantly down from my usual 65-70 sec laps. Looks like all the outdoor swimming is paying off.

Saturday Morning bike ride with Sarah, Cresten, and Mo. We biked up 34 to Lansing and went up near Salmon Creek Rd. I did ~34 miles including my ride to and from Gimme. It was HOT and I was wiped afterward, but the ride itself felt pretty good.

Sunday A mere 3 years after buying my MacBook, I finally got around to transferring all my music over from my old computer. The first thing I did was make a running playlist with all my favorite old songs. The second thing I did was go for a 7.2 mile run (11'06" min/mile). It's amazing how much more fun it is to run with good music.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Week of 7/12-7/18

Monday Climbing with Sarah and Matt. I only went up the wall 4 times and couldn't even do my easy blue route. Significant loss of strength has occurred. Also, I've been feeling lazy lately.

Tuesday Quick run before dinner with emphasis on sprinting. 1.29 miles at 9'29" min/mile and 0.49 miles at 8'51" min/mile. A nice feature on the Nike+ app on for the iPhone is ability to calibrate runs after completion, so I don't have to decide on a calibration distance before starting the run.

Wednesday Set my alarm clock for the first time in ages and woke up early so I could go for a run before work (1.39 miles at 9'14" min/mile, 0.49 miles at 9'09" min/mile). I was inspired by Rule #11 of the Runner's Commandments which is "Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run." After work, I went climbing with Ben and Mike. It was significantly better than Monday and put me in a really good mood.

Thursday Lake swim with the tri club. 1.2 miles in 47 minutes. I drank 3+ liters of water that day, have been having 1-3 bananas a day, and made sure to flex my legs regularly while swimming. Result: no leg cramps! We swam in two waves, fast and slow. I was at the head of the slow group and didn't feel very challenged so next time I'll go with the fast group (!!).

Friday I did something crazy yesterday and bought a bike on a whim. It's an older mountain bike that's never been ridden and was only $50. I bought it as a beater bike for getting to and from work. Naturally, I took it for a spin today. I rode to work, picked up some papers, and then headed down to Gimme Coffee to do some reading. After riding back up to campus, I really began to appreciate my light, comfortable road bike. I'm surprisingly sore from all those hills.

Saturday & Sunday Relaxing in Cape Cod. I did do some swimming but not enough to count as a workout.