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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week of 7/5-7/11

Monday Rest.

Tuesday Swimming with Lauren at Six Mile Creek. Given the heat wave, swimming is the sport of choice.

Wednesday Practice triathlon at Taughannock during an epic heat wave. I did the 25 mile bike course in 1 hr 40 min which put me at second to last to finish. As if that weren't embarrassing enough, I couldn't get my bike shoe unclasped so I spent 5 minutes stuck in my shoe (so glad this happened during the practice instead of the real thing). Instead of doing the 5k at Taughannock, I went home and did a quick run around my neighborhood (2.39 miles at 10'57" min/mile).

Thursday Swimming with Rick at Six Mile Creek. We did two laps across the opening at second dam and then spent some time jumping off stuff. Seaweed + goggles = gross. I would rather not know what I was swimming through.

Friday Rest.

Saturday First group bike ride! Sarah, Lauren, Cresten, Michelle, and I met at 9:30 in the AM at Gimme Coffee and biked up to Taughannock. From there, some of us continued up to the falls overlook and then through the back roads of Trumansburg. The return trip was quite pleasant. Because we got the uphill done with at the falls, we got to coast 3 or 4 miles down the freshly paved Rt 79 back into town. Afterward, we enjoyed some delicious coffee. I took my brand new iPhone along for the ride. Although I was too lazy to try out any biking apps this time, I did get to use the GPS feature go get us back home safely and the camera to snap a quick picture of Michelle and Cresten under the falls.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week of 6/28-7/4

Monday Climbing with Matt, Lauren, Sarah (States), and Arend. I was *really* sore from tubing but it was fun to climb with a different crowd.

Tuesday REST.

Wednesday 5 mile solo run at a 10 min/mile pace. I love how I go from stressed out because of work to completely carefree after couple of minutes. It helps that everyone is so nice... there were crews of workers in the Plantations and everyone kept looking up from what they were doing and waving. It was really sweet.

Thursday Lake swim with the Ithaca Tri Club. I started with a Thursday swim because they go parallel to the shore, which seemed wise for my first open water swim. The current was moving north to south, so the strong swimmers swam north while the rest of us canoed. Once we reached a point 1.2 miles north of where we started, we switched places and swam back. Many of us were new to open water swimming, so there was some momentary panic as we oriented ourselves to each other and the boats. I'm mildly uneasy in open water ever since a bad riptide experience, so I stayed very close to my canoe. It was a good thing because I developed calf cramps after about 15 minutes of swimming. I managed to make it 1 mile, but at that point my calves were cramping so badly that I had to get into the canoe. I used to get leg cramps as an undergrad, but they haven't been a problem since my diet has become more well rounded (i.e. includes fruits and vegetables).

For next time: I will be better hydrated since dehydration always makes my muscle cramps worse. I will also be better about periodically flexing my legs to prevent this from happening again. Another suggestion I got was to kick less frequently, which will reduce the effort on my legs and is generally good triathlon technique since leg strength should be saved for biking and running.

Friday Bike ride with Sarah (States) for about an hour after work.

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Saturday Calves are still really tight so much so that I'm limping. I had forgotten how much leg cramps suck. Forced day of rest.

Sunday Tri-sport day! Michelle and I ran to Six Mile Creek, met up with folks at the third dam, swam, and then ran back. It wasn't real running or swimming, but I think it still counts. We spent the rest of the day celebrating our country's independence by binge eating. I was in a bit of a funk afterward so I hopped on my bike and went for a sunset bike ride (Honness>Rt 79>Snyder Hill>Honness). Biking cheers me up every single time.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week of 6/21-6/27

Monday Climbing with Ben L, Cloe, Matt and Sarah, 2 hours. Definitely pushed myself to my limit.

Tuesday Swimming with Rick, 1 mile.

Wednesday Biking with Michelle, 14.9 miles, ~1 hour.

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Thursday Swimming with Rick, 35 laps, 1'05" split times so ~34 min/miles. It felt easy. Apparently all the practice is helping. I feel ready for the tri club lake swims. The cutoff is 45 minutes to swim 1.2 miles across the lake.

Friday Running with Michelle. 2.2 miles at 9'52" min/mile pace.

Saturday Solo bike ride. 20 miles in ~1 hr 45 min. Feeling a little more confident about the tri and even forced myself to clip into the bike.

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Sunday Morning run at Six Mile Creek with Gretchen and Maddy the dog. 3.3 miles at ~10 min/mile pace. That evening I went inner tubing down Fall Creek. Little did I know that it would be the best workout I've had in months. My abdominal muscles are sore from the effort of staying upright in my kiddie sized inner tube. My shoulders are sore from swimming and scrambling over rocks in the many places where the water was only 6 inches deep. But the real highlight came when dusk approached and we decided to abandon the creek, hiked barefoot through the woods, and ended up standing in the dark on the side of the road wearing swimsuits and inner tubes. Sarah S, Matt, Sarah J, Maddie and I were all good sports and didn't kill our event coordinator (Rick), although it is generally agreed that he is no longer allowed to plan trips into the woods.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week of 6/14-6/20

Monday Morning abs. Went swimming at lunch with Maddie and Rick (1 mile) and climbing after work with Matt and Cloe. Climbing was spectacularly fun. I love watching experienced people climb. Everyone has their own strengths and it was great to see how Cloe handled the routes since she's the same size that I am. However, I was a pile of jelly... no more swimming and climbing on the same day.

Tuesday Ran with Michelle after work. 3.51 miles, 9'55" min/mile pace. Really tired.

Wednesday Rest. Feeling funky this week so I decided a dose of meat was in order. Dinner was a tofu and ground beef burrito.

Thursday Canoe clinic with the Ithaca Triathlon Club. We learned how to canoe while guiding swimmers so that we can do lake swims this summer. So much fun to canoe and splash around in the lake. Can't wait to try swimming across Cayuga.

Friday Running with Michelle around Beebe Lake. 2.5ish miles. Much too hot. Cooled down with dollar beers at the Big Red Barn.

Saturday Swimming at Six Mile Creek. Lots of splashing around. I took the opportunity to swim across the pond at the second dam. I have no idea what the distance was but it was amazingly tiring.

Sunday Rest.

I have no idea how I do it but knees are pretty much always black and blue these days from climbing.

Six Mile Creek

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week of 6/7-6/13

Monday I ran home to grab my car: 0.98 miles at 9'19" min/mile, 0.43 miles at 10'05" min/mile. Then 2.5 hours of awesome climbing with Ben, Sarah, and Matt. Really sore the next day.

Tuesday Swimming with Rick (1 mile). He made me do sprints with him, which meant I got to swim in his wake and swallow lots of water. Really good workout, though.

Wednesday Feeling extremely exhausted. Rest.

Thursday Running with Michelle (Vet School>Game Farm Rd>Rec Trail>campus), 4.17 miles , 9'19" min/mile. She remarked multiple times that we were keeping a brisk pace. The day of rest really helped.

Friday Swimming with Rick, 1 mile.

Saturday Rest.

Sunday 13.6 mile bike ride (Honness>Ellis Hollow Rd>Rt 79>Honness) in 1 hour 1 min (13.4 mph)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week of 5/31-6/6

Monday Rest. I bailed on a bike ride with Annie.

Tuesday 11.6 mile bike ride in 52 minutes (13.4 mph) (Ellis Hollow>Genung Rd>Ellis Hollow Creek>home) then 1.73 mile run (9'38" min/mile). First back to back training event. Running was really hard after biking, but surprisingly I still had a fairly decent pace.

Wednesday Quick before work 2.6 mile run (9'27" min/mile) since the rest of the week will be busy with a conference.

Thursday, Friday Rest.

Saturday Tortoise and the Hare 10+K run at Buttermilk Falls with Gretchen, Michelle, and Miguel. 6.7 miles and 1 hour 23 minutes of fun. This was my first real trail run and it was significantly harder than road running. It felt a bit like an obstacle course with all the tree roots and puddles, and the up and down hills made for lots of walking alternating with rapid wild descents. I dropped my keys early in the run. Oops.

Sunday Strength training. I must be slacking off on abs because I was really sore after this.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Activity log

5/31: rest. I've been feeling so lazy lately.

5/30: running speedwork, 1.43 miles at 8'28" min/mile, 0.53 miles at 8'04" min/mile

5/29: RecWay 10K, 59'07" minutes, 9'32" min/mile

5/28: swimming, 33 laps, 36'57" minutes, 1'07" per lap (200 kickboard, 200 pull, 200 freestyle reps). It felt sloppy but I was too tired to do drills.

5/26, 5/27: rest, I cannot remember the last time I was inactive for two consecutive days. It felt awful, but I was swamped at work.

5/25: running with Michelle through the Plantations. Too bloody hot. 4.25 miles at 9'37" min/mile

5/24: climbing. Biggest group so far: Ben^2, Annie, Mike, Sarah, Matt, and me.

5/23: biking! first time with clipless pedals since September or October of last year, 8.6 miles at a blistering pace of 12 mph.

5/22: running with Annie, Gretchen, and Maddy the dog, 4.98 miles, 10'03" min/mile pace

5/21: swimming, I did the swim workout that Rick showed me and I can feel the difference in my strokes already. I did 30 laps (1500 yards) in 36 minutes for an average lap pace of 1'12" min/lap. My pace for pulls and for kickboard laps isright around 60 seconds.

5/20: the nausea is back if I do strength building in the morning so it's time to give that a break. Went for a run after work: 4.31 miles at a 10'21" min/mile pace.

5/19: strength building in the morning, 1 hour of lunch time swimming with Rick

5/18: rest

5/17: abs and yoga before work, running 2.4 miles at 10'38" min/mile after work (meant to go swimming but found out the pool was closed after I'd changed into my swimsuit)

5/16: 2.5 hours of climbing with Mike, Ben, Cloe, and Jason followed by running speedwork, 1.38 miles at 8'29" min/mile, 0.48 miles at 8'23" min/mile

5/15: running with Heather, Gretchen, and Maddy the dog on the South Hill Rec Trail, 5.76 miles at 9'08" min/mile (new personal record!)

5/14: abs and leg strength building

5/13: running with Shamoni, 2.52 miles at 9'15" min/mile, then climbing at the bouldering wall with Mike and Ben. I was surprised to find out that bouldering at Noyes uses completely different muscle groups than climbing at Lindseth.

5/12: rest

5/11: running speedwork, 1.34 miles at 9'42" min/mile (true distance 1.4 miles), 0.58 miles at 7'28" min/mile (true distance 0.5 miles)

5/10: climbing with Matt, Sarah, and our new German friend Ericks. I did laps up my favorite blue route, which I was told is a 5.7. It feels so easy now that it's hard to believe I couldn't do it earlier.

5/9: spinning, 20 miles. Despite not having biked regularly for months, I felt in much better shape than the last time I went spinning.

5/8: running with Michelle, Gretchen, and Maddy the dog, 4.4 miles at 9'59" min/mi. My speed is consistently getting faster and I'm almost able to keep up with my friends.

5/7: rest

5/6: running with Michelle, 4.0 miles at a 10'00" min/mi pace, then I did a 0.5 mile at the same pace to recalibrate my iPod to my current speed.

5/5: swimming, 25 laps, 1250 yards, average pace of 1'13" min/split

5/4: running, 4.67 miles at 8'57" min/mi, now the calibration is off in the other direction. Grrr. True distance 4.2 miles and true speed 10'00" min/mi. On the plus side, now I know that it's 1.4 miles from my building to the water towers and each loop through the Plantations is 1.4 miles.

5/3: climbing with Annie, Mike, and Lauren. I conquered the blue route!!!! It seems so easy now that I've memorized every move.

5/2: running speedwork, 0.72 mi at 11'34 min/mi (0.89 mi true distance), 0.54 mi at 8'09" min/mi (0.5 mi true distance). I recalibrated my iPod between the first and second runs. I think my strides having been getting bigger as I try to run faster (which is the wrong way to increase speed but that's another topic) so my iPod has been really off lately.

5/1: running on the South Hill rec trail with Annie, Heather, Gretchen, Michelle, and Maddy the dog, 2.38 mi at 11'51" min/mi, 1.1 mi at 11'34" min/mi

Note to those following via RSS feeds: this will the be the only activity log post you see this month since post revisions don't get updated on the RSS feed. (Does anyone know how to change this setting?)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Miscellaneous updates

Whew, it's been a whirlwind few months. Work has been incredibly busy with writing, talks, and meetings as I've been trying to finish up and graduate. I've managed to stay consistent with my workouts -- in fact, they're one of the things keeping me sane during this hectic time. But I haven't had time to think about a triathlon training schedule or update this blog consistently. Here are a few updates that have been piling up:
  • April Nike+ challenge: Vikram defeats the girls by a margin of 0.6 miles (brat! :/) [Vikram 87.23 miles, Punita 61.83 miles, Poonam 24.77 miles]
  • May Nike+ challenge: The girls finally win! Vikram ran his first marathon and Poonam stepped up her training for her half marathon. [Punita 50.17 miles, Vikram 47.98 miles, Poonam 35.11 miles]
  • I passed the 300 mile mark of lifetime miles run.
  • I've become terrified of biking. I've lost all my confidence at using clipless pedals and dealing with traffic, and it's been a significant deterrent that's keeping me off my bike.
  • I set a few personal records. (The best part of running a new race distance is that you always set a new personal record.) I did the Belle Sherman Elementary 5K last month and the South Hill Recway 10K yesterday. I came very close to matching my 5K pace in my 10K run!
Current personal records:
5K: 28 min 55 sec (9'18" min/mile)
10K: 59 min 07 sec (9'32" min/mile)
13.1M: 2 hr 22 min 14 sec (10'52" min/mile)
  • As if I'm not busy enough, I have a few other events I'm considering training for: OwascoMan Sprint Triathlon (July), AIDS Ride for Life (September), and the Philadelphia Marathon (November). I'm signed up to do the Tortoise and the Hare 10K+ run through Buttermilk Falls next weekend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Normal blood tests!

Good news! Just got more test results back and everything looks good. My hemoglobin went from 11.1 to 14.2 (normal is 12-14.5) and my ferritin went from 5 to 28 (normal is 10-291). I'm supposed to keep taking iron supplements since my ferritin levels should ideally be above 40 for my activity level and get retested in 6 months.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Swim workout

I'm gonna really miss my friends at Cornell when I leave. No matter what activity I want to do, I have a friend here who is an expert at it. Today I got a personal swimming lesson from someone who swam and did triathlons in college. We realized that it's too early for me to be worrying about speed and that I should spend a few weeks working on technique. We did some drills and put together what I think will be a very good workout for the next few weeks.

200 yards side swimming (alternate sides every 25 yards) to get used to being on my side
200 yards of catch up strokes focusing on correct hand position for entering the water
200 yards of pull focusing on arm stroke
200 yards of kickboard recovery
200 yards of freestyle to practice putting it all together with a focus on rotating my body

The key here is efficiency. My goals are to use my arms more since the key to triathlon swimming is conserving leg power for the cycling and running. I also want to reduce the total number of strokes it takes to get across the pool.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I've become addicted to smoothies lately. They're the perfect food for an active lifestyle. I make them in bulk once or twice a week, and I keep them in my fridge at home and at work. My stomach can tolerate a couple of sips before a run or working out, and I finish the rest afterward. It's important to have carbs right after exercise, and they're an easy way to meet that requirement. They're also quite filling which is great since I tend to workout after work and sometimes don't get home until 8 or 9.

Here are my two favorite "recipes." I especially like the chocolate smoothie because it takes seconds to make. I've found that glass jars (like the kind you buy salsa or pasta sauce in) are a good way to bottle smoothies. The price is right (free), they have wide mouths for easy pouring, and they don't leak like other containers.

Guava-coconut smoothie
-guava puree (Goya brand, frozen)
-coconut (Goya brand, frozen)
-vanilla yogurt
-soy, almond, or rice milk
-protein powder

Chocolate smoothie
-cocoa powder
-vanilla yogurt
-soy, almond, or rice milk
-protein powder
-optional: oatmeal (makes it even more filling)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Activity log

Going back to the activity log format for a bit.

4/29: AM: strength building, PM: 3.63 mi run with Michelle at a 11'10" min/mi pace

4/28: swimming (first time in 4 months!), 1100 yards, 1'09" min/lap. The pool wasn't nearly as cold as I remembered... it probably helps that it's April now instead of December.

4/26: treadmill running, 1.1 mi at 10'38" min/mi and 2 hours of climbing with Annie, Mike, and Matt. There's only one song that makes me tear up every time I hear it, and it came on in the middle of a climb. Needless to say, I didn't nail that route.

4/24: Belle Sherman Elementary 5K, 29 minutes for a speed of 9'21" min/mi :D

4/22: AM: weights, abs PM: running with Michelle, 0.96 mi at 9'19" min/mi, 0.21 at 10'22" min/mi & climbing with Mike and Annie

4/21: weights, abs

4/20: running speed work, 1.37 mi at 8'54" min/mi, 0.49 at 8'25" min/mi

4/18: running with Asti, Erik, and Daisy the dog, 1.68 mi at 10'58" min/mi, 0.43 at 10'13" min/mi

4/16: running speed work, 1.28 mi at 10'20" min/mi, 0.48 mi at 8'58" min/mi

4/15: running with Michelle, 2.67 mi, 28'55", 10'47" min/mi

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lunch recipe

I'm sick and tired of eating quinoa and kidney beans. In order to salvage my appetite, I decided that I needed to find more exciting meals to eat at lunch time. I stumbled on an unexpectedly good "recipe" that I thought I'd share. It's easy to make in bulk and then eat throughout the week.

quinoa*: 1/3 cup per serving
amaranth*: a couple of tablespoons per serving
pesto*: 1-2 tbsp per serving
beans*: 1/3 of a can per serving

Cook the quinoa and amaranth with salt to taste for about 15 minutes (2:1 ratio of water to grains), and then mix in the rest of the ingredients. It's a recipe that's easy to adapt to whatever is in the fridge. This week, I used chickpeas, olives, pinenuts, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and feta*.

*iron source

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skunk Cabbage report

It took 12 weeks of training and running 10-20 miles per week, but I made it. I learned a lot about how to train (have a schedule!), I made some mistakes (iron is important), I spent lots of quality time running with my friends, and I am now in the best shape of my life. All the hard work paid off and I finished faster than I could have predicted.

Half marathon results: 2:22:14, 10'52" minutes per mile, 429/465 overall, 98/108 for my age/sex bracket, 200/226 overall for women.

That's not bad for my first real running race, but I have to admit, I was a lot happier with my results before I saw all the ranks. I just have to remind myself that it's a great time for me (amazing, really) and that now I have a personal record that I can aim to beat next time. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun and enjoyed every minute of the run.

I'm especially proud of my training partners. We worked really hard for the past few months and it showed. All of us were able to run the entire distance without injuring ourselves and each of exceeded our own expectations. Remarkably, all of us want to do it again, and some crazy folks even want to double it for a full marathon.

Race stats:
  • Food: 2 packages of goo consumed along the run. That stuff is magic.
  • Water: I was the only person that I saw carrying a gatorade bottle by hand, but it was so worth it. The 4 water stations would not have sufficed.
  • Weather: mid-50's, sunny (amazingly, I have tan lines), slight wind
  • Body parts that hurt the next day: left ankle, right knee, both quads
  • Vitamin I: 1 so far
Notable training milestones:
  • August 2009 (~8 months ago): first time running a mile since high school
  • October 2009 (~6 months ago): first time running 5k
  • January 2010 (Week 1 of half marathon training): first time running 4 consecutive miles
  • March 2010 (Week 10 of half marathon training): first time running 8 consecutive miles
  • April 2010 (half marathon): first time running 13.1 consecutive miles
  • Miles logged so far: 244
I know I'm repeating myself, but seriously, thanks to everyone who's cheered me along, virtually or in real life. I'm lucky to have so many great people in my life, especially those who ran the 10k or half marathon, came out to watch, and helped celebrate.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 12

This week was a tapering week. We did our normal run on Tuesday and a short run on Thursday, and then spent a few days resting before the half marathon. I also decided to temporarily stop taking my iron pills because they're making me feel really sick. A break from the nausea and from running helped me feel energetic and relaxed before the half marathon.

1.5 hours of climbing at the wall with Matt. After three weeks off, my arms felt like spaghetti.

Tuesday Michelle and I ran 4.86 miles through the Plantations. We managed to follow the route that Ben showed us over the weekend. My pace was 11'36" minutes per mile. I carried water for this run and did a cooldown afterward before heading back inside. No post-run wonkiness.

Wednesday I did a little light weightlifting in the morning before work.

Thursday Michelle and I went for a quick 2.81 mile run around campus and Beebe Lake. Both of us were feeling lethargic so we ended up walking the last part. We're both looking forward to some well deserved rest after the half marathon is done.

Friday-Saturday Rest.

Half Marathon Training: Week 12
Week of 4/5/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4 m run3 m run or cross2 m runrestresthalf marathon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Iron continued

After two days as an omnivore, I can officially say: BLECH. I've calmed down and decided to re-evaluate my diet for what seems like the umpteenth time this year. I realized that there are number of places where I can easily double or triple my iron intake without relying on meat. For reference, the recommended daily allowance is 18 mg. And yes I eat the same exact meals 5-7 days a week.

Breakfast A quick glance through my breakfast cereals revealed that different brands in my cupboard vary between 1 and 9 mg per serving. Other brands like Grape Nuts or Total go up to 16 to 18 mg per serving. One tablespoon of molasses in morning coffee is another 7 mg, although iron is not well absorbed when taken with coffee or calcium.

Lunch I switched to protein and iron fortified pasta years ago, so that earns me a healthy 4.6 mg. I started adding beans to my pasta last month, but the 'serving size' of 1 cup is too much for lunch. However, grains like amaranth and quinoa are loaded with iron in much smaller serving sizes and can easily be boiled along with (or replace) pasta.

Dinner Man I wish my burritos were more nutritious. But eating veggies, beans, rice and/or tofu wrapped in a tortilla gives me tons of fiber and fills me up before I've consumed enough food. I discovered today that I can throw the same veggies into my favorite Indian lentil soup -- sambar -- for 7 mg of iron. It turns out that the Indian diet I grew up on was amazingly high in iron so perhaps it's time to go back to my roots.

On a related note, I got more test results today and more not-so-good news. My ferritin level (a measure of stored iron) is 5 ng/mL (normal is 10-291). Watch what you eat, people in cyber world!

For a list of vegetarian iron sources, see here.
For a discussion of iron for triathletes, see here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Iron and exercise

I gave into my craving and I ate my first hamburger in a decade. It was delicious. But more than that, for the first time in a long time, I was satiated by a single reasonably portioned meal. I was getting worried by the fact that I had no appetite after my long runs. It wasn't because of lack of hunger. I just wasn't hungry for tofu, beans, or any other veggie protein. None of those things felt substantive enough after a really hard workout. This is the first time in all my years of vegetarianism that I've craved meat, so I took the hint.

I got my blood tests back and I do indeed have low iron levels. In fact, they're lower than they were a month ago, and that's despite my best attempts to eat a well rounded iron rich diet. I know that the quick and easy fix is to take iron pills. But I can't help but feel that it's my diet that is inadequate, and that's a problem that can be fixed by changing what I eat. I'll probably combine both approaches and start taking iron supplements as well as add a small amount of meat back into my diet.

The key point here is to listen to your body. I've increasingly had problems with nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, and loss of appetite during and after exercise. I've also been frustrated by my inability to improve my performance. I have no idea how much of that is related to blood iron. But from my reading I've come to realize that endurance athletes carefully monitor their blood iron levels. Anemia is quite common, and being a female vegetarian put me at high risk. Rigorous exercise increases your iron requirements up to 30%, and vegetarians must consume twice as much iron as omnivores because non-haem (plant derived) iron is absorbed half as well as haem (animal derived) iron.

Related reading:
Women with low iron have impaired physical performance
Iron status and exercise

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 11

I decided to shell out the $10 for my copay and scheduled an appointment to get a proper blood test done by a doctor. My metabolism has been f***ed up lately and it seems worth getting things in working order before embarking on triathlon training. I'm amazed at the different metabolic requirements between sports (see stats below--- I finally understand why runners are so skinny). I think my body will appreciate a balance of swimming, biking and running. Only one week of half marathon training to go!

Some interesting stats from this month's 'Runner's World':

Activity (Calories burned per mile/Calories burned per min)
Running 5 mph (108/7.87)
Running 10 mph (108/16.87)
Walking 3 mph (85/3.12)
Cycling 16 mph (18.57/3.82)
Cycling 23 mph (36.2/13.35)
Swimming 2.56 mph (330/12.95)

*Cycling faster apparently burns more calories per mile because wind resistance becomes a factor, whereas running burns the same number of calories per mile whether you go fast or slow.

Monday-Wednesday Rest.

Thursday After 3 days off, I was itching to run again. Michelle and I went for a 4.05 mile run through the Plantations. My pace was 10'43" minutes per mile. It was bloody hot outside (75F!!) and I was too thirsty to run any further. Now I remember why I always ran in the morning last summer.

Friday Decided to recalibrate my iPod since it's been a bit wonky lately. Before work, I ran 1.8 miles up and down the East Hill Rec Trail at a 9'59" minutes per mile pace.

Saturday Annie and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to ride our bikes to Taughannock (10 miles each way) for a barbecue. Riding on my trainer is not equivalent to riding outdoors, especially after the wind picked up on the ride home. I felt very out of shape.

Sunday Michelle, Annie, Jaroslav, Ben, Maddy (the dog), and I ran through the Plantations. It was fun running with a different group. Ben showed us some dirt trails behind the Plantations that took us down to the creek and back up. I did 5.15 miles at a 11'15" minute per mile pace.

Half Marathon Training: Week 11 (modified)
Week of 3/29/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen5 run3 m run or cross5 m run + strengthrest60 min cross10 m run

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 10

I finally mailed in my registration for the Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some goals and expectations for the run. I'd really like to run the entire distance without taking any walking breaks. This might be out of my reach given my experience this week, but I'd like to aim for between 2:24-2:37 (11-12 minutes/mile). This is my first real timed run, so I expect I'll learn a lot about pacing myself. The trick will be to not run so fast in the beginning that I'm too tired to run until the end, but also not to reserve so much energy that I still have fuel left at the end.

Monday The climbing wall is closed for spring break so I went to yoga instead. In my opinion, Tammi's class is the best whole body yoga workout at Cornell.

Tuesday So ridiculously sore and running 4.21 miles at 10'45" minutes per mile through the Plantations didn't help. However, it is really hard to say no to Michelle.

Wednesday Rest.

Thursday Michelle and I ran up Triphammer to Hanshaw Rd, came back to campus on Pleasant Grove Rd, did a loop around Beebe Lake, and then headed back to lab on Judd Falls and Tower Rd. It was raining and freezing cold (literally) by the time we got back. I did a total of 5.73 miles at a 11'21" minute per mile pace. Later that night, I caught the Cornell-Kentucky game. I like this quote from the New York Times via Amit that sums up so many things in life:
"There is nothing tragic about attempting a great leap and falling short. The tragedy is not even trying."

Friday Rest.

Saturday 12 minute warmup on my bike followed by a 1-2-3-2-1 interval pyramid that I read about in some magazine. Basically, you do 1 minute fast-1 minute easy-2 minute fast-2 minute easy, and so on through the pyramid.

Sunday Michelle, Brian, Mel, Nori and I went for a long run in Ludlowville (another old biking route of mine). I did 13 miles in 3 hours and 7 minutes. I was so miserable and frustrated with my poor performance after this run that it actually brought me to tears. After having a late lunch and lots of water, I crawled into bed to recover for about 3 hours. I was too nauseous to cook dinner so I tempted myself to eat with a slice of pizza. Luckily, the root of my problem was easy to trace: dehydration. Apparently carrying one bottle of Gatorade while running simply isn't enough.

View Larger Map

Half Marathon Training: Week 10 (modified)
Week of 3/22/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen5 run3 m run or cross5 m run + strengthrest60 min cross12 m run

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 9

Daylight savings is here which means I can finally start walking to work again. It takes me about 25 minutes each way, and walking is surprisingly good for stretching out my muscles after a long run.

Climbing for 2.5 hours with Matt, Mike and Shamoni. I learned how to smear! I felt like Spiderwoman.

Tuesday Michelle, Melissa and I ran through the Plantations and around Beebe Lake. I added a few loops around Beebe Lake to make up for missing my Sunday long run. I did a total of 8.05 miles (my longest run yet!) at an 11'19" minute per mile pace. Eight miles of running is apparently equivalent to 25 miles of biking for me. It suddenly becomes very important to think about water and food. Next time I'll carry a Clif Bar with me. Other than being hungry and thirsty afterward, the run felt fantastic and I'm now confident that I can do the half marathon.

Wednesday Played squash with Madeline. Have my increased endurance and climbing muscles translated into superior squash playing abilities? Not even a little bit. Turns out squash requires hand eye coordination that can't be gained by all the running in the world.

Thursday Rest.

Friday Rest. Although I went shopping in Syracuse and trying on clothes for 3 hours should be considered a workout. I found my favorite workout pants for $20 at the Gap (great fabric, high waist so they stay put, and a pocket with a zipper).

Saturday Rest. I think my last long run was so nice because I wasn't exhausted, so I'm trying not to overdo it.

We're approaching run distances where we're starting to utilize my old bike routes. Awesome! Brian, Michelle and I did a variation of my favorite bike ride. My pace was 11'08" minutes per mile for a total of 9.2 miles. (I recalibrated my iPod based on the Google maps distance since the iPod said we ran 10.3 miles.) I carried food and water with me at the urging of a wise friend, and it made the run a lot more pleasant and will hopefully make me less sore in the morning.

Half Marathon Training: Week 9 (modified)
Week of 3/15/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen5 run3 m run or cross5 m run + strengthrest60 min cross9 m run

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 8

Bah, "Team Vikram" won our Nike+ challenge again! He clocked in 75 miles this month, and "Team Poonam and Punita" totaled 51.5 miles. My personal total was 41.6 miles, which is up from 33 miles last month. That's about 10 miles a week. Not too shabby!

We had a small climbing group this time -- just Matt and me -- which was fine because I was pretty tired and definitely didn't have the energy for a very rigorous workout. I lasted ~2 hours and did a lot of bouldering. Bouldering is a great way to focus on technique and concentrate on each move.

Tuesday I started off the day with crunches and weight lifting. Michelle is out of town right now, and I wasn't able to motivate myself to go on a run after work.

Wednesday I started off the day with 30 minutes on my bike trainer.

Thursday It was a hot and humid 58 degrees when Michelle and I left for our afternoon run. Imagine our surprise when we plodded through several inches of snow to get to the Plantations only to see 2 feet tall snowdrifts and people sledding down the hill. All the best of summer and winter. We ran at a pace of 10'47" minutes per mile for 4.68 miles.

Friday I spent 50 minutes on my bike trainer before heading to work. I've started drinking consuming smoothies with my workouts, and it's amazing how much it helps my energy levels during and afterward.

Saturday Rest.

Sunday Apparently 3 beers is my new limit, although in all fairness I later realized that they were all >7% ABV. The results were staggering and I was in no shape for my Sunday long run with Michelle and Melissa. At this rate, the half marathon is looking less and less likely.

Half Marathon Training: Week 8
Week of 3/8/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4.5 run3 m run or cross4.5 m run + strengthrest50 min cross8 m run

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can vegetarians be triathletes?


But being vegetarian means paying careful attention to diet. I was reminded of this fact yet again when I tried to donate blood today. I was turned away because my iron level was too low. I've donated blood regularly for roughly 12 years, and iron has never been a problem until the past 6 months. Given my declining iron levels, the constant hunger I wrote about awhile back, and the fact that I'm starting to lose weight, it's apparent that I am still not meeting my body's nutritional demands.

I've been doing some reading about nutrition, exercise, and vegetarianism. I'm still in the experimental stages of figuring out what will work, but here are the things I'm currently trying:
  • snacking: Maybe okay in moderation? I'm replacing my midday Cheese-its and Sun Chips with healthy, guilt-free snacks like fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and hard boiled eggs. These snacks are rich in iron and protein, two of the weakest spots in a vegetarian diet.
  • multivitamins: It's easy to forget these on the rush out the door in the morning, but I'm hoping that by keeping them on my desk at work, I'll remember to have them with my lunch.
  • supplements: Real people actually use protein powders, ground flaxseed (high in omega-3 fatty acids), and the like. Simply eating healthy foods may not be enough for me right now.
  • smoothies: I've always heard that it's important to consume simple sugars during and immediately after exercise otherwise your body metabolizes muscle. I can't eat before or during a run, but it's easy enough to have a smoothie on hand for afterward.
I have another appointment to donate blood next month. If things haven't improved by then, I'll have to re-evaluate the question of whether I can balance training for a triathlon with being vegetarian.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 7

This week ended up being a recovery week. For the first half of the week, I was too exhausted to do much. Then I got busy with work and life, and exercise slipped through the cracks. I think a week off to recover is a good thing, but I'm feeling a little behind since the half marathon is only about 5 weeks away. If I don't get any 6+ mile runs in soon, I might opt for the 10K distance instead because I know I can easily run that distance. If I do a 10K, I can try to run for a good time, whereas running a half marathon will be just to see if I can finish.

Monday Matt, Lauren, and I met up with Mike and Annie at the climbing wall. Lauren and I haven't been getting fatigued after one run at each route, so we've started doing each route twice in a row. It's more time efficient that way since switching who belays between each climb is a rate-limiting step. We spent ~2 hours at the wall.

Tuesday I was too sore and exhausted from the past week so I skipped my Tuesday run. Why is climbing making me more sore the more I do it?

Wednesday I had a long day at work so I really didn't feel like running, but I promised Michelle that I would run today. I felt great as soon as I got going. We ran to Game Farm Rd and I kept a pace of 11'19" minutes per mile for the 4.12 mile run.

Thursday/Friday Rest.

Saturday I woke up on Saturday morning in Queens, ready for a weekend of sight-seeing, eating, and drinking in New York City with friends. Unfortunately, I was the only one who wanted to be awake at 8 a.m., so I went for what was supposed to be a "short" and "slow" run. I ended up keeping a 10'38" minutes per mile pace as I ran 4.58 miles up and down the Union Turnpike. I didn't see a single other runner, which is quite different than when I run anywhere in Ithaca. Everyone was still asleep when I got back, and I managed to shower and get ready before anyone else got out of bed. Apparently my definition of vacation differs from other people's (no surprise there).

Sunday Rest.

Half Marathon Training: Week 7
Week of 3/1/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4.5 run3 m run or cross4.5 m run + strengthrest50 min cross7 m run

Monday, March 1, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 6

Whew, this was one exhausting week. Luckily my body is getting stronger and can tolerate quite a bit of abuse. At least I'm going to NYC next weekend so I'll have a few days off to recover.

I finally understand why my friends like climbing so much. It's physically and mentally challenging, and climbers are an awesome and friendly group of people. Mike, Matt, Lauren, and I were at the wall for 2.5+ hours. Mike is a great motivator: I was exhausted (4 consecutive nights of not being able to sleep made me grumpy), but he convinced me to do route after route.

Tuesday For the first time, climbing left me incredibly sore. I can usually feel it in my legs (oddly enough) but this time I hurt everywhere. Regardless, Michelle and I went for an afternoon run through the Plantations. I kept a 10'30" minute pace for the 4.5 mile run.

Wednesday Some acquaintances who boulder on Monday nights asked if I could show them how to belay, so today we went to the wall. It'll be nice to have more people to belay me, but I think I'll lay off teaching until I've had more experience climbing. Teaching others to belay is lot of responsibility (and teaching 3 at once is too much!). I bouldered a bit while we were there... I think I'm maybe kinda sorta starting to get the appeal.

Thursday SNOW!! Too much snow for running, so I stuck with the bike trainer today. I did ~20 minutes while watching an episode of '30 Rock.'

Friday EVEN MORE SNOW!! It took me an hour of shoveling to get from my front door to the street and another 20 minutes to begin to unearth my car. And then there was a snowball fight, snowman building, hiking downtown for a concert, another snowball fight, and unearthing another car so I could get a ride back home. That totally counts as cross training, right?

Saturday My back and core muscles are screaming from all that shoveling yesterday. Nonetheless, I still managed to go skiing at Hammond Hill with Matt, Sarah, and Jaroslav.

Sunday My pride is going to kill me. I stayed out way too late but I was still to stubborn too cancel on my morning run with Michelle. I managed to do 5.05 miles at an 11'49" minutes per mile pace. Afterward, I went to a bike workshop that was sponsored by BikeIt!, where I learned to change a flat tire, patch flats, and adjust my brakes.

Week of 2/22/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4 m run2 m run or cross4 m run + strengthrest40 min cross7 m run

Embracing winter

We had our first big snow storm of the winter, which was also the most snow we've received in the 2.5 years I've lived in my current house.

My house is *really* far from the street. This is the first time I've ever had to shovel my front walkway.

We snuck out of work early for some snowman building and snowball fights and then went to happy hour.

Even more skiing. The snow was incredibly sticky so it was more like hiking, but it was still really good exercise and an excellent way to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Dear iPod: I missed you, thanks for coming home

This makes me smile. Losing my iPod ended up being a far less expensive mistake than it could have been. After pondering all my replacement options, I came to the conclusion that I have the perfect setup. Before I got my Nike+, I had considered getting a Garmin Forerunner GPS or an iPhone which both do much more than just recording mileage. I've come to the realization that I don't need anything fancy. I want good battery life, a hard drive that can tolerate being dropped and sweated on, and a small size that doesn't interfere with my running.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 5

I've been more conscientious about food this week, and it's definitely paying off. My meal sizes are bigger and I'm no longer hungry after every meal. I think the biggest difference is that I've started cooking with oil again. I had gotten into the habit of only using cooking spray to temper the pan. It turns out a tablespoon or two of oil makes things taste a lot better and makes the meal feel more substantial.

Still not tired of climbing. Our little group added one -- Shamoni -- and merged with Mike and Arend, who were also at the climbing wall. It was fun climbing with people with more experience. They knew the wall a lot better than we do and convinced us to try the climbing routes instead of just scrambling to get to the top. We stayed for almost 3 hours.

Tuesday Michelle and I went for a run through the Plantations. She wasn't feeling well and turned around, so I did most of it on my own. It was peaceful running by myself for the first time in weeks, and I maintained a pace of 10'31" minutes per mile for the 4.5 mile run.

Wednesday I'm pressed for time this week (and every week lately) so I went to Teagle for a quick run. I did a 2.0 mile treadmill run at a pace of 10'54" minutes per mile and then did some "pull-ups" and crunches.

Thursday Hopped on the bike trainer for 40 minutes. My reward for squeezing in a ride was getting to watch an episode of "Bones" while biking.

Friday Rest.

Saturday I did 2.0 miles on the treadmill at 12'15" minutes per mile, took a break and did sit ups, then did 2.0 more miles at a pace of 12'02" minutes per mile. Running 4 miles through the Plantations is no problem, but running that amount on a treadmill is unbearably tedious.

Sunday Bummer. I dropped my iPod while running, so I turned around early to retrace my steps. Google maps combined with my watch tell me I did ~3 miles in ~36 minutes. I feel so lost without my Nike+...

Half Marathon Training: Week 5
Week of 2/15/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen4 m run2 m run or cross4 m run + strengthrest40 min cross6 m run

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Counting calories

It amazes me sometimes how much learning I have to do when it comes to staying fit and healthy. I have been ravenous lately which has led to constant snacking between meals. It finally occurred to me that I have been very active since the new year and haven't accounted for that with my meal sizes. Some rough estimates from the internet tell me that:
  • A lightly active person of my age, sex and stature (28 years, female, 5'2", 110 pounds) needs 1650 calories a day to maintain a constant weight.
  • A moderately active person of my stature needs 1900 calories a day to a maintain constant weight.
  • A very active person of my stature needs 2150 calories a day to maintain a constant weight.
That's roughly an increase of 200 calories in intake per 30 minutes of exercise. That coincides nicely with my Nike+ run history, which shows that I burn between 300 and 500 calories per run.

I was curious how this matched with my calorie intake so I decided to calculate how many calories I eat in a normal day. During the week, I eat:
  • 300-400 calories for breakfast (cereal)
  • 500-600 calories for lunch (pasta)
  • 600-800 calories for dinner (a burrito)
  • 75 calories for an occasional dessert (half an ice cream sandwich)
which gives me a total of 1475-1875 calories a day. Some very simple math explains why I'm suddenly hungry all the time. Let's see if increasing the size of my lunch and dinner fixes the snacking problem.

Half Marathon Training: Week 4

Apparently my frequent blog posts help motivate at least one person to go to the gym. I'm still going to have a single blog entry per week, but I'll try to update it throughout the week.

Monday I'm really starting to get into climbing. I think my upper body muscles are improving which makes the activity a lot more enjoyable. Lauren, Matt R, and I spent two hours at the climbing wall after work, and I hope to make it part of our Monday routines.

Tuesday Rest. I got 3 hours of sleep on Monday night and decided it would be dangerous to try running on that little sleep. Boo insomnia.

Wednesday Missed salsa class because I was catching up on labwork since Tuesday was a bust on all fronts. I did manage to do 25 minutes on my bike trainer, a little bit of weight lifting and abdominal exercises.

Thursday I went for an evening run with Michelle. We did a loop on the East Hill Rec Trail to Game Farm Rd for a total of 4.12 miles at a pace of 11'10" minutes per mile. My left ankle has been bothering me for the last few runs, so it's time to start stretching again. The highlight of this run was catching the sunset from Game Farm Rd. Between the clear blue sky and the fields of fresh snow, it was spectacular.

Friday Rest.

Saturday It's time for some creative bookkeeping. Michelle, Brian, Shamoni, a few of Michelle's friends, and I went skiing at Yellow Barn. We spent 2.5+ hours on the trails, which I'll consider equivalent to a 3.5 mile run. Our 'Dance Therapy' party was later that evening, and 3+ hours of dancing is going to count as my 40 minutes of cross training. It was a long, long day but I'm glad I squeezed everything in.

Michelle makes a snow angel.

Dancing in the DJ booth.

Sunday Rest. My legs were sore from the abuse they received the day before. I cleaned, cooked, spent the day with the people who keep me sane, and remembered that there is more to life than exercise.

Half Marathon Training: Week 4
Week of 2/8/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen3.5 m run2 m run or cross3.5 m run + strengthrest40 min cross5 m run

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Half Marathon Training: Week 3

I decided to reduce my spam onto the interwebs and switch to reporting weekly workouts. Here's the recap for the week:

Monday I did pull ups and weights with my legs, and then did a wimpy 0.89 mile at 10'37" minutes per mile on the treadmill. Treadmill=boring.

Tuesday Michelle and I ran through the Cornell Plantations at a brisk pace of 10'09" minutes per mile for a total of 4.30 miles. Could have gone faster but my stomach was full of undigested cookies.

Wednesday Salsa dancing! I couldn't convince anyone to take a salsa class with me, so I went by myself. That's something I never would have done a year ago, but I've had to become a lot more independent since I started training for triathlons. It was a lot of fun, and I'm counting it as cross training. It's a surprisingly good workout.

Thursday I no longer have to harass people to run; now they volunteer. Annie, Michelle, and I went for a run after work. We did our Game Farm Rd. loop that takes us on the East Hill Rec Trail at a slow speed of 11'45" minutes per mile for a total of 3.64 miles. Afterward, Michelle and I went to the gym to work on our arm and abdominal muscles.

Friday and Saturday rest! I spent all day Saturday working and was too tired to bike when I got home.

Sunday I used to think people who ran when it was 15F (3F with windchill), snowy, and windy outside were crazy; now I know they are. Michelle, Brian, Annie, and I ran 5.66 miles through the Cornell Plantations. My pace was 10'50" minutes per mile. I never want to spend an hour running at that temperature again.

Not quite a perfect week, but I achieved the balance of meeting most of my goals without being too exhausted to work and have a social life.

Lastly, my Nike+ challenge with my sister and brother has come to an end. Vikram was the first to reach 50 miles of running this month and I was second with 33 miles. For next month's competition, Poonam and I are teaming up against Vikram. If the two of us together can't beat him, then we might as well give up.

Half Marathon Training: Week 3
Week of 2/1/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen3.5 m run2 m run or cross3.5 m run + strengthrest40 min cross5 m run

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Ever since the triathlon, I have developed a predilection for timing everything. I like to know precisely how fast I run, walk, bike, and swim. My sleep schedule is relatively fixed, it takes me the same amount of time to get out the door every morning, and I eat my meals at set times throughout the day. If I didn't stick to a schedule, I would never be able to balance work, life, and exercise.

I forget that not everyone lives in my strictly regimented world. My obsession with timing everything has apparently overflowed into my personal life. I made the mistake of taking my watch when camping with friends in a yurt in the Adirondacks. Apparently one of the joys of being out in the woods is being able to eat and sleep without a schedule. (I disagree, but I was outvoted on this point.) Lesson: watches are good training tools, but are not to be worn on vacation.

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Overall, the week was bad for exercise but good for fun. I skipped two runs, but we did go for a long hike while camping. Hiking for 2+ hours on snow definitely counts as cross training.

Half Marathon Training: Week 2
Week of 1/25/10 red=incomplete; green=completed

stretch & strengthen3 m run2 m run or cross3 m run + strengthrest30 min cross4 m run