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.
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.
SWIM: After my February-March slump, I think I’m back. Even during my down time I was still getting to the pool at least 3 times/wk, but I just didn’t love it. Now, even though it’s still hard to actually hurl myself into the water from the dry, relatively warm, deck, at least I’m feeling more motivated and as though I’m swimming better once I do take the plunge. I’m even trying to do some sprints! Left to my own devices, I tend to swim at a constant effort for 2000 yards or so, but I know that’s not helping my racing any. Here’s a sample set from today, in case anyone is interested: 6×150 yds, broken up as 100 sprint, followed immediately by 50 recovery swim. Try to descend the 100s or at least hold them steady. Pick an interval that gives 15-20 sec. rest after the 150. Personal preference: I pick an interval, rather than a rest amount. It keeps me honest! And it’s easier for me to calculate time.
Another couple weeks or so and I’ll be swimming outside! Albeit totally covered in neoprene.
BIKE: Finally riding outside! I can’t believe how great it feels. I really don’t want to head back inside to spin classes, but
since it’s still early Spring, and often chilly when I have the opportunity to ride, I’m resigned to doing a few more classes. I think spinning over the winter might have actually helped with my horrendous hill climbing. I’m still not about to set any speed records, mind you, but at least I feel a little stronger. I’m supposed to ride with friends this weekend, but since it’s supposed to be in the low 40s, we’ll see. It’s hard to ride when bundled up like the Michelin tire guy!
READ: Hmm, I tried to read IBM and the Holocaust, by Edwin Black, but it was difficult – emotionally – and, unfortunately, somewhat boring and repetitive. Now I’m devouring Esmeralda Santiago’s Conquistadora. I saw her speak at Radcliffe recently. She was there for Harvard’s Diversity Dialogues series. LOVE HER! She’s so full of energy, and such a great story teller.
and… EAT! I made Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew from Let Them Eat Vegan! Definitely a success. I’m not big on soups and stews, but this was really good and not difficult to make. Just lots of cutting stuff up, which is pretty much par for the course… I didn’t want to overwhelm the other flavors so I used the minimum amount of peanut butter suggested. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the extra stalks of lemon grass. Hard to buy just one stalk!
I allowed myself to get talked into doing the One Hour Swim – I think I mentioned that in a previous post. Well, I did it. Phew, glad that’s over! My goal was to do 4000 yds which is a 1:30/100 yd pace. That seemed like an attainable, although challenging enough, goal. The last time I did the OHS was probably 10 years ago and I went just over 4000 yds, if memory serves (why don’t I write these things down?!), so while I know I’ve been swimming fairly consistently, 10 years older is 10 years older! So on January 13th, with the support of a good friend who diligently wrote down my splits, I took the plunge. And, guess what? I swam closer to a 1:25 pace and eked out 4225 yards! I was pretty pleased. An hour later and I was even able to move my arms around in a normal fashion.
USMS One Hour Swim: the website is kind of crappy and scary looking, but basically, you swim as much as you want or can in one hour while someone takes down your 50 splits (cumulative splits. There’s a form). You have to be a USMS member, and there are some other rules about where you can swim – check out the site for details. Swim continuously, or stop and start – it really doesn’t matter – yardage is yardage and it all adds up. A couple people who have shoulder issues kicked for the hour (can’t imagine). My regional team, New England Masters, seems to have some kind of rivalry with Davis Aquatic Masters in CA, so there’s always a big push to get as many people to swim the event as possible. I think we won last year, so Davis is out to get us this year.
Looking ahead to race season… I’m all signed up for the season! I’m doing the swim part (fun part!) on 3 Team EnVision relays, all with my super fast cycling sister, and 3 different runners .
- Escape the Cape in June (brr, but only 1/3 mile swim)
- MASS State in July (Olympic distance, yeah! .9 mile swim)
- The Sharon in August (1/2 mile swim)
- Cranberry Olympic distance Aquabike also in August (not a relay, I get to bike on this one – we’ll see if that’s a good thing…)
I hadn’t planned on registering for events so early, but people started talking about what they were going to do, and relays were getting decided, so… LEAP. No procrastinating.
Do you have your races figured out?
Read: Thereby Hangs a Tail, Spencer Quinn. Detective novel from the point of view of a dog. So fun!
Oh, and EAT! I made a variation of Frugal Feeding’s Onion Bhajis. I added some shredded carrots and beets. I don’t like to fry much, but for these? totally worth it!
Ask me if I’m doing a race, and I’ll probably say no. Tell me you’re doing a race and ask if I want to join you and, depending on the event, I’ll probably say I’ll think about it, and then sign up (especially if it’s a swimming event). What is it about knowing others in the fray? In most races, I don’t even see the person I signed up with except for before and after. Different age groups, different speeds, what have you. It’s not exactly peer “pressure” – I like to think I’m an adult, so if I really don’t want to do something, I won’t. I’m stubborn that way. Ask my husband! So why am I so sure I don’t want to compete, and then easily let myself get talked into stuff?! And then, here’s the kicker, I have a great time!!! …after being a wreck leading up to race-time, that is.
I signed up to do an olympic distance aquabike in August. Hurray, no running! And I think I’m committing to 2 tri relays over the summer – phew, just swimming: the easy part!
Swim: my usual pool has been closed this week. ARGHH!! I hope to get in the water before Cambridge Masters’ 100x100yds – Miles for Marly challenge on 12/31. No, I’m not doing 100 of them. I’ll shoot for around 50. And then there’s the USMS 1-hour swim in January – see how far you can swim in one hour. I haven’t done it in years. I swore I wouldn’t do it again about 10 years ago. But then a friend asked me to do it with her. I’m such a marshmallow! But it’s not like I wouldn’t swim more than an hour in any given practice, right?
Bike: finally put my back-up bike on the trainer. And I even rode it! Wonder when that will happen again…? Next week I go back to spin classes at my gym.
Read (and eat!): Just finished Mapping the Edge, by Sarah Dunant. Don’t bother.
Just started Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels. Wow.
Let Them Eat Vegan!, by Dreena Burton It was a Christmas present. Thanks, Shady! A little daunting. Lots of ingredients and involved recipes, but if the winter veg. pot pie is any indication, it will be worth the time and effort. I’m vegetarian and trying to eat less dairy, so it’s helpful to see how vegans work around milk, eggs, and cheese. Watch Vegucated if you get a chance.
Here’s to a Happy Healthy New Year!
Winter is finally making its presence known here in New England. Gone are the days of swimming at Walden Pond, then going for a ride in the surrounding suburbs of Concord, Carlisle, Lincoln, Weston, etc., maybe following that up with a run… Oh, wait, that “run” part never really happens. Well, maybe once in a while. So now that I’m in the pool and either at a spin class or on my trainer (HA! that’s a lie, my trainer isn’t even set up yet), I’m thinking back to happier, warmer, swimming times: most notably in Greece and the British Virgin Islands. And Maine.
Until a few years ago, I never knew swimming trips even existed. I had heard of organized multisport vacations and bike vacations, of course, and learn-to-swim instructional trips, but nothing for those of us who just want to SWIM. And then I stumbled across SwimTrek. Someone had written in to a swim magazine asking about sun protection because she was going on a SwimTrek. I HAD to know what she was talking about. A year or so later, I found myself in the British Virgin Islands. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about my experience for GoNomad.com.
Soon after that trip my husband became proficient at distance swimming (he was jealous after I got back from BVI and felt he was missing out on swimming across Walden!), and we did a SwimTrek to Greece. Incredible.
This past summer, we spent 4 days on a lake in Maine with SwimVacation, another excellent swim tour company. SwimVacation also offers a trip to BVI and just added Hawaii to their roster!
A nice thing about these trips is that they’re very welcoming. A base level of fitness is important to get the most out of the trip, but you don’t have to be a competitive swimmer – the swims are NOT races. It’s great if you can make the distances, but from what I’ve seen, there’s always a boat nearby for anybody who gets tired and needs, or just wants, a ride.
Ahh, maybe I can daydream winter away while I save up for my next swimming adventure – I’m thinking Croatia.
Read: still working my way through Singing Boy. I will either finish it or fling it soon.
Eat: I tried Frugal Feeding’s Vegetable Mash. It’s really good – even with my misreading of the recipe (!) – but I’m still not crazy about parsnips. FF’s pictures are amazing! Next up: carrot and coriander fritters.