In the throes of an endorphin-filled haze, I signed up for an event. Not just any event, but one of the bigger, more competitive races in my area: The Patriot Half IM. I’m not completely crazy – I’m doing the aquabike (since I don’t really run), but still: 1.2-mile swim + 56-mile bike is pretty ambitious for me! If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may recall that I run hot and cold about racing. Usually cold, unless it’s a swim-only event.
So how did this crazy lapse in judgement occur? COMPUTRAINER! Evil. Painful. And that glorious feeling of being capable of doing anything when the session was over. That feeling apparently lasted until I got home and whipped out my credit card to register. That was in mid-December. The race has been on my mind ever since. Now it’s a month away. Yikes! Am I ready? We’ll see!
So what else is new? In addition to the tried and true swim/bike/(hobble)run, I’m trying to do more regular weight-training. It’s not as bad as I feared! I had a few sessions with a personal trainer (LOVE my trainer!), and I take some circuit-training type gym classes. It’s really helpful having someone tell me what to do.
Swim: My usual pool routine, but now that it’s (finally) getting warmer, I’ll be wriggling into my wetsuit (and 2 caps, and booties – it’s not THAT warm yet) and heading out to Walden Pond and Mystic Lake for some OWS.
Bike: Ramping up mileage so the 56-mile Patriot course won’t completely destroy me (it WILL destroy me, but I’ll pretend it won’t for the sake of saving face). I’m riding with my friends again! It’s wonderful to be outside rather than stuck in spin class. Computrainer is a whole ‘nother beast from spin. I went to quite a few computrainer classes at Grace Bicycles over the winter, and I’m pretty sure my masochism has paid off in at least a little extra speed. That’s the hope, anyway.
Read: I read everything by Anita Shreve and Jodi Picoult, and lucky me, they both came out with new books recently. The Stars are Fire, by Anita Shreve, and Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult. Both are really good. I’m not going to give anything away. Get them. Read them. I also read a lot of crap, which I definitely won’t recommend.
Happy Spring! Happy Training!
A friend of mine has a cut-off temperature for outside biking. At one point it was 60 degrees, although she has been out in lower temps since she told me that. I think she might have dropped the threshold a few points as she became a more experienced rider. What’s my cut-off? I’m not exactly sure, but I think we’re there! I know I’m not happy riding in the 40s, and it snowed (ok, flurried) over the weekend. Sure, I’ll continue to commute my 3-4 miles each way to work and swim, bundled up like the Michelin tire guy – unless it’s icy – but I am by no means hard-core enough to road ride through the winter. Do you have a temperature range?
I did the Rapha Women’s metric century ride over the summer. FUN! There’s another one in December. The Rapha Women’s Braver than the Elements Ride. NOT SO FUN! I won’t be doing that one – I’m really not braver than the elements. I get cranky when my hands and feet go numb and turn funny colors.
SWIM! My last Walden Pond swim was on September 23rd. It wasn’t awful in terms of being cold, but I could tell I was done. I rejoined Cambridge Masters Swim Club and am happily (?) getting my ass kicked in the pool 3-4 times/week. I need a push every few years – I was due. I’m curious to see if my shoulders get bigger with the increased yardage and effort. I’ll keep you informed. I might even do a pool meet in the Spring. Oh shoot, now that I’ve said that, I might actually have to do it. Something I found out: stroke workout right after spin class doesn’t work so well for me. Swim fail!
BIKE! See above. No more outside riding for me. I finished the season by joining some friends to do another metric century: The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk on October 5th (early and chilly!). It was my first benefit ride, and I hope to do it again next year.
It was a very well-supported ride through a scenic part of CT. I got out for a few more rides after that, and now I’m adjusting to ~3-4 spin classes/week. It might be time to put a crappy tire on my bike and set up my trainer, though. There’s only so much “Maniac” and “Eye of the Tiger” that this former Deadhead can take. I get gym class music stuck in my head and it stays there for days. That can’t be healthy.
READ! The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken away. A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman (friend from Cambridge Masters). This book explores chronic pain and how it is misunderstood and mistreated and a HUGE problem. It is accessible but still not a super easy read. I might be working on this one for a while. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach. I just started it.
and EAT! Fig and Pear Crumbles by Frugal Feeding. Wow! Next up: something with apples since we just bought 3 bags of them at Clarkdale Fruit Farms while in Western MA for Cider Days in Franklin County.
So what’s all this about mason jar koozies? Apparently the hipsters in Union Square are enjoying their coffee in mason jars these days. My husband, not one to miss out on such a fun fad, told me about it. But glass jars full of coffee are HOT! Enter, the KOOZIE, or COZY. Are koozies only for cold beer? But cozies are for teapots… (they seem to be interchangeable). Anyway, after a few false starts (pics if you’re interested) – one being so small and cone-shaped that it has been re-purposed as a bear hat – I finally got it right. Or at least right enough.
Swim! My old swimp3 died – it wouldn’t hold a charge – so I contacted Finis Inc. and they sent me a new one. I was expecting to get the same kind I sent back, the yellow and black 2g, but when I opened the box, I saw that they had sent me the new Neptune. Hmmm. I wasn’t so sure about this: it looked a little like the original SwimP3 I had oh-so-many years ago: a chunky box-like contraption to clip onto my goggle strap in addition to the ear paddles that I was used to. I kind of liked the streamlined ear paddles + small, light USB port of the 2g. But after trying it out, I’m a convert! The Neptune is really light and the ear paddles are smaller and lighter, too. The sound is great, not that I ever had an issue with the sound in earlier models. And the part that clips to the goggle strap is actually informative! There’s a small screen so I can see what’s playing (if I want to stop and look), and I can choose among playlists and whether to shuffle songs or not. I used to have to guess if shuffle was on by the frequency of the blinking green light. I hope this device lasts a while!
Bike! Spin class is all fine and good, but no comparison to being outside. Except maybe the no cars or pot-holes part… In addition to other rides, for the last couple years I’ve been riding weekly, weather permitting, with a great group of women. We’re compatible in terms of speed, temperament, and desired ride distance, so it works out really well. It’s such a gift to have found the right group. I ride with others, too, and it’s fun, but this group feels like home. Now that it’s finally warm enough, the group is heading out again!
Read! I’ve read quite a lot since I wrote my last blog, so I’ll only mention a few highlights. Thirty Girls, by Susan Minot; Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; and Ripper, by Isabel Allende. I also read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. A lot of hype about that one, but it didn’t really work for me, and it was too long. Actually a lot of books seem to be a little too long to me lately! Even some of the ones I mention above could have been cut by about 100 pages give or take. Not Shapton’s book though. That one was just about perfect. As a longtime swimmer, I struggle with how competitive swimming fits into my life, so I can relate to what she says (on a completely different ability level, though, of course!)
and EAT! boring, boring, boring. Except for cookies. Oh, and I made a killer Chicken Marbella (mostly like this recipe) for Shady and a friend. I don’t eat chicken, so I didn’t have any, but it smelled really good!
My older brother said I was bad luck since I was born on Friday the 13th (he wanted a brother and ended up with me, another sister). Scarred for life. Both of us!
This Friday, December 13th, I turn 50. Wow. How did that happen? And what’s it supposed to feel like? I don’t feel 50 – that sounds so…, well, OLD. Where do I go from here? Oh no, am I having a mid-life (or later) crisis? Does that mean I get to buy a mini? Um, pretty sure I’m not getting a mini.
What I think I’ll do is go to spin class in the morning, work for 3 hours and then get beat up (in a good way) swimming with Cambridge Masters. Sounds like a perfect birthday to me! Who needs all that mental anguish about getting older anyway?
If anybody is interested in a really fun read (much better than this drivel), check out my brother-in-law’s blog post about signing up for IM Mt Tremblant. Warning: sarcasm and humor!
As for next summer’s triathlon season: I can’t believe my sister has already signed me up for a Team EnVision relay (I swim, she bikes, and we beg another team member to run). I guess she didn’t hear me when I said no races. I guess I didn’t hear me, either!
Now what? The race season is over – and has been, for me, for a couple months already. My husband and I went on a VBT cycling trip to Croatia in mid-September – it was fantastic.
And now it’s Fall in New England. There’s still outdoor riding to be done, but it’s definitely getting colder, and I’m not sure how many layers it’s worth putting on! – especially when my feet turn a funny shade of yellow and/or purple, even with shoe covers! So spin classes and gym classes here I come. I’m still trying to venture out of my comfort zone (once in a while) so this might be the year I try a step class. I just hope there’s enough room around me so when I go the wrong way I don’t take anybody out like I almost did in cardiokicks (not pretty) a couple weeks ago. And there’s always the pool.
SWIM: trying to get to the pool 3-4 times per week. That’s the goal, anyway. Sometimes it’s only 2xweek. I didn’t swim much while on vacation, so I’m just starting up again. I do ~2000-3000 yds each time – more often 2k than 3k! Here’s a fun swim workout I did today.
BIKE: hoping for a few more rides outside before heading indoors to spin class hell.
READ: The Shell Collector: Stories, by Anthony Doerr was a really nice collection. Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, was a fun quick read. I’m into Claire Messud right now. I read The Woman Upstairs – wow what well-described rage!, and I just started The Emperor’s Children. I really like her writing. I’m looking forward to reading Survival Lessons, by Alice Hoffman, one of my favorite authors.
and eat! I haven’t been that inspired lately. But I did manage to make jam bars and peanut butter squares (yum), and vegan banana biscuits (from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner) recently.
And that’s a wrap. My season is over. Can’t say I’m sad about that. I’ve been struggling with the whole competing thing all summer, and was kind of dreading this race. I was irritable, stressed, cranky. So maybe not too much different from my usual self… (Just kidding?)
Race day Sunday: I had eaten a delicious chocolate espresso brownie a little too late on Saturday, so my sleep sucked, but I don’t sleep well before a race anyway, so it probably didn’t make much difference. That night I just happened to have caffeinated bad sleep instead of just regular bad sleep. Moving ahead… Up at 4:15am, out the door at 5. The weather seemed good, although it was dark, so I couldn’t be sure. I saw stars though, a good sign. An hour drive to the Ted Williams Camp in Lakeville, MA for Sun Multisport’s Cranberry Trifest. Set up, stress, wander around, stress, talk to Team EnVision teammates, shiver in the cold, stress some more. There were 4 TE women doing the aquabike (25 women aquabikers total), 4 doing the full olympic tri and 2 joining together to do a relay. A good team turnout!
The race: .9 mile swim, but most people agree it felt short. Last year the pond was really shallow and a lot of folks ended up running (swimming?) aground, but the water seemed a little deeper this year. There was only one, well-marked, problem area that was easy to avoid. I was in the last wave: aquabikers and relays. It was a small manageable wave, and by the time I started swimming through the group ahead of me, it was easy to weave in, out, and around flailing arms and beating legs. The longer races are nice that way – athletes get spread out. Out of the water in 19:18 (first of the aquabikers, thank you very much!), skipped up the stone stairs without falling, phew!, all the way to the back of transition and on to the bike. If I do this again (what?!), I should probably get different bike shoes. The tongue gets in the way, and it’s hard to pull out when it gets mushed down there trapped by my wet foot. Ran the bike out of transition, kept running by the people stopping to get on their bikes and HURLED myself on the bike. Pedal, pedal, pedal, get moving! Only to be held up after maybe a mile or two – HEY! – by a police officer letting the accumulated traffic go. ARGGHH! Frustrating, yes, and it probably cost me a place (no doubt I would have been 4th for the women instead of 5th), but you never know what will happen on race day and you just have to go with it.
26.2 miles of mostly flat terrain with some rolling hills. If I was more leisurely about it, I would have noticed the beautiful ponds and fields we rode through. I hear it’s very pretty in the Lakeville, Marlboro area! Gasping for breath, trying to inhale a gu (yum, salted caramel), occasionally taking a sip of water, I finished with a bike split of 1:23:47 (good for 15th out of the 34 aquabikers), for a total time of 1:45:22 and 5th place (by a second). All of my splits were faster this year than last – that was my goal, so yeah for me! And no run. Double yeah! I’m sure my shorty wetsuit helped with the swim (I didn’t wear it last year), but faster is still faster! Another goal was to finish no more than 15 minutes behind my sister, and I did that, too. She’s a solid swimmer and kicks ass on the bike – she placed 2nd. I believe she caught up and flew past me at around mile 11 (she says it was closer to mile 13, but whatever).
Will I race next year? I’m not sure. I’ve been so ambivalent, and even negative, that maybe I should take time off from competing. I really enjoy swimming and biking with my friends and teammates, so perhaps I’ll leave it at that for a while. I want to keep it fun.
Special thanks to Greg M Cooper Photography for use of his photos. Thanks, also, to Paula and Trinity for their pictures.
I haven’t written anything lately mostly because I haven’t had much to say. I survived my 4 TRX classes. They were good and I really liked the instructor. I can see how doing it regularly would help with strength and tone, but then again, it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do similar exercises with weights or body weight in the gym. I still would need to actually GO TO THE GYM (see previous post on gym aversion)!
So… it’s finally race season. I watched a sprint triathlon on Mother’s Day – poor racers. The water was maybe 59 and it was cold and rainy out. So glad I didn’t sign up for that one! My first event is coming up on June 8th – Escape the Cape:
SWIM: That’s all I have to do. Hurray for relays! 1/3 of a mile. Easy. Cold. I did the whole tri last year (water was 64. Yikes!), but opted to be part of a relay this year. My goal is to beat my time, but I’m not swimming quite as well this year so we’ll see. Swim time to beat: 7:24. Last year it was a small women’s only tri, but this year it’s co-ed. I just hope the relays don’t get put in the same wave as the Clydesdales – it hurts when they swim over you.
On one of my swims last week, I was lucky enough to have a kayak escort. I say “lucky” because it was foggy and I couldn’t see beyond the first buoy. But my kayaker could. Pretty cool! He just positioned himself so I wouldn’t go off course. The kayaker is planning to escort a swimmer for the Manhattan Marathon Swim in a couple weeks. Now that’s a serious swim.
BIKE: I ended up going to a spin class last week, but for the most part I’ve been riding outside. It’s so nice to be on the road again! I did 41 miles with a friend on Memorial Day and hope to get out a couple more times this week.
READ: Being Henry David, a young adult book, but suitable for adults. It’s set in Concord, MA and some of the action takes place at Walden Pond, where I swim, so I couldn’t resist. I also read two books by Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl and Sharp Objects. Dark and twisted. Creepy good.
and… EAT! A while back I wrote about what I was eating for breakfast. I was on an oatmeal kick for a bit – it was good – but I needed a change. Hello, Smoothie! But what to put in the smoothie? EVERYTHING (see below)! I consulted No Meat Athlete’s perfect smoothie recipe, and then went wild. I’m not vegan so I’m using BiPro protein powder – it’s whey protein isolate. It dissolves really well, no weird grittiness or taste. If at some point I decide I don’t want to eat whey, I’d probably use Hemp protein. Tons of options when it comes to smoothies.