Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

The title makes neither common nor grammatical sense but that’s ok, it’s Tuesday.  I don’t love Tuesdays.

Lobsterman 2012 was a really fun race!  Before I really considered myself a “triathlete” (2010), I borrowed a bike, biked to and swam in Walden Pond a few times over the summer, and completed this race as my first every Olympic distance triathlon.

There are a few reasons it’s a “repeat” for me– 1. It was my first and you know, there’s nothling like your… first.  2. It has a lobster bake– and people who like to sit on the ground in spandex and eat Lobster after kicking some serious butt in a race are my kind of people.  And 3. It looks like this–

This is the only race, therefore, that I feel I can compare apples to apples from one year to the next.  So, without further ado- I present– 3 years of race results!

2010: 2:35 Overall Time
193rd Place Overall
24th Female
1st of 9 in my Age Group
Swim: 22:54
Bike: 1:23 (11.4mph)
Run: 46:50 (7:30)

2011: 2:27 Overall Time
48th Place Overall
5th Female
1st in Age Group
Swim: 24:57
Bike: 1:16 (19.5mph)
Run: 43:33 (7:02min/mi)

2012: 2:23 Overall Time
57th Overall (Fast field!)
5th Overall Female (yet again!)
1st in Age Group
Swim: 21:18 (1:18/100m– if this isn’t an advertisement for my swim club, I don’t know what is…)
Bike: 1:13 (20.5 mph)
Run: 45:30 (7:19 min/mi)

The final delta is 12 minutes faster than 3 years ago, 4 minutes faster than last year… AND… I’ve been injured!  Not altogether terrible 🙂  (Let’s get that RUN in shape now, eh?!?!)

This is my take-home message: while I’ve been injured a lot of the season, running very little, I’ve managed to make up for that.  I’ve ALWAYS said, don’t waste time on your strength in Triathlon; rather, focus on your weakness. this is in stark contrast to what I’ve done this season.  Without being able to run and with my hip bothering me a bit on the bike, too– my most consistent training has been in the pool.  And wow… it works.  Granted, I don’t putz in the pool.  My workouts aren’t long either though.  I stick to a hard pace, very little rest and really pushing it.  I don’t swim a lot- during the broken ankle incident I was up to 4 times a week?  Now I’m dialed back to just 2.  However, those workouts are really solid.  This morning’s was a 1000 meter warm up and drill, followed by this:
2 x (400HARD, moderate 8 x 50)
2 x (200 HARD, moderate 4 x 50)
2 x (100 HARD, moderate 2 x 50)

The whole set was 3800 meters and the majority of the pace was 1:25/100meters (not yards).  I was DEAD by the last 100. And if you’re not? You’d better be going for longer than I was 🙂 I think the key is to understand how to maximize your time and sustain the RIGHT effort for that time.  If I were training for Iron distances, I would need LONGER swims.  If I needed more distance I would slow down my pace.  I wouldn’t have swum so much this year but not only did I have to… stupid injury… but I also LOVE my team!  I swim with a talented group of mixed-age masters swimmers.  They absolutely ROCK the pool at 5:30am most mornings.  I’m there as much as I can be and no matter what I’m doing next season, I’m signing on for another year of the team because I can’t fudge these numbers– clearly swimming is keeping me in awesome (or well, good enough) shape.

I’ve fared MUCH better this season than I would have anticipated in May.  In May, I thought I’d re-break my ankle during a transition in a race, not kidding.  I was afraid I’d actually try to unclip from my pedal and crack the ankle all over again because the whole joint felt so weak and fragile.  But nope!  With a little faith and a LOT of slow work, I’ve manged to recover about as well as anyone might have imagined I think.  I’m pretty psyched. I’d like to be a lot faster in NZ for World Championships, but I have a good training plan,I’m working toward a well executed race, and I have a fan coming to watch :)– so I’m pretty sure,  I’ll have a great time.  Proud of 2012 thus far!

Larry, the Lobster, and me 🙂

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To be totally honest– this was a funny, fun, my-size Tri. An excellent production overall by FIRM racing. Although because the results page is down a few of my friends are hanging trying to figure out if they made their National qualification! In any event, I had a lot of fun today racing my first tri of the 2012 season.

Let’s get all the basic facts of the day out there:

1. I had no expectations. I couldn’t. I haven’t run for 2.5 months except in the pool and well, that wasn’t “running”– more like wiggling with a rhythm.

2. It was a pool swim? Sure, that’s great for a swimmer, yep. But, my flip turns turn to the left and we were snaking the pool to the right so, physically and mentally, it was strange. In addition, who swims under lane ropes? (well, ok, I do sometimes but that’s because I am the worst backstroker you’ve ever seen, it’s.. hilarious… to everyone else).

3. WEIRD distances. For any non-tri’ers reading this (unlikely…) but a sprint distance tri is variable– there isn’t a set distance. And this was a MINI tri. We all know short distances aren’t really my thing. I feel as though I “do well by attrition”– as if everyone else’s energy reserves just give out and mine just tend to stick around longer. Not SPEEDY energy reserves, just like an energizer bunny– or energizer turtle– steady. This tri was a 400 yard swim, 7 + mile bike, and a 2.3 mile run. Yep, how strange, I know.

4. I misplaced my helmet and found out around 12am when I got home from a Cinco de Mayo party. This whole sentence falls under “do as I say, not as I do.” #oops #badtriathlete

5. I never started my watch. #DoAsISayNotAsIDo. DUR. That was dumb.

6. This is the first race I’ve done on a triathlon bike. First ever trying to stay in aero. Only the 3rd time I’ve even been on the bike outside. That’s just worth thinking about as I consider how the race went.

The race itself went something like this:

5:30am: wake up 6am: determine I really didn’t have my helmet… receive text back from carpool buddy that he has one I can borrow. #Phew.

7am: Arrive at race, check in, say hi to teammates, drink water. (Had a banana pre-race, personally, can’t eat within 1.5 hrs of a race)

8:10: Swim! I seeded myself at a 4:40 for a 400 yd. I didn’t really consider the whole turning under lane ropes thing… I also decided to chat up the nice lady in front of me (partly because I knew she wasn’t in my age group thanks to age-labeled calves). She had seeded herself at 4:30! MUCH faster than me, which got me a little nervous. I really didn’t want to hold anyone up! But Jamie and I had talked about this whole conundrum. It takes a LOT to pass someone who starts 15s in front of you– possibly not possible within 400 yards. I realized that someone could potentially overtake me in a 400 but only if they were quite a bit faster and if that were the case, they would be intelligent enough not to seed themselves slower than me. Ergo, get over the fright, and swim your best. That, I did. Or tried to. The swim felt good. It’s weird to feel like you’re swimming through an obstacle course, but hey open water swimming can feel like that too. I made sure to have the energy reserves for the final 100— that was where I really picked it up. Until that point, I just held steady, thought about breathing every 3rd stroke and keeping an even kick. I pulled myself out of the pool and ran through the transition to my bike.

T1: Not bad! I got my cycling shoes on pretty quickly. Ran my bike out of T1… the wrong way. This was unfortunate; I just had no idea which way to go and all these spectators just stood and looked at me as I ran the wrong way… eventually a volunteer told me to turn (I only wasted a few seconds, it just always feels longer :).

Bike: Felt ummmmm HARD. I booked it. I made a decision that the course was SO short I would be in the big ring the whole time. That proved to be the right decision. Obviously had the course had more climbs or variable topography I would have changed my gameplan. No need to stick to some arbitrary race plan if it isn’t right, no matter the cause (maybe your quads are tight, maybe the sun is draining your energy– whatever it is, you should always take note of how you feel and adjust your race strategy if necessary). I didn’t pass anyone but I also knew there were only 22 people in front of me because I started 23rd in the pool. I then got passed by a wee one– I think a college kid who was wicked quick on the bike. That is no surprise to me– I get passed on the bike– a lot. You deal with it. It isn’t my strength and I know it. So I was pretty psyched that he was the only one to pass me!

T2: Hilariously bad. I just could NOT get my run shoes on. My feet had been wet in the cycling shoes coming straight from the pool so they were just too sticky to get into my shoes smoothly. With enough shoving (lurvely, I know), I got my shoes on, stepped into my race belt (no clipping and unclipping this time (stupid mistake at Nationals) and grabbed my hat to run out of T2.

Run: Welllll, here was the fun part. How was this going to feel? Dr. told me to jog. Coach told me to run/walk. I thought about doing both. I didn’t blast it by any means. I took it steadily and never raced my heart out. After all? My heart rate was AMPED through the whole race. I didn’t actually feel amazing, certainly NOT recovered at any point during the race. Nor should I have– you don’t get recover in this kind of race, it’s just not the point. You go hard, the whole time because it isn’t a half iron– it isn’t a cruise to maintain– it’s go hard or go home. So, I took it 1 stride at a time, careful to note how my ankle felt and making sure to avoid any tight turns. I passed 2 people during transition and the run. Neato.

Final? Not bad. Swim (with transition): 5:02 (with transition, that’s maybe a 1:12/100 pace?).

Bike: 20:59 (with long transition). 21 mph pace (ish, this is a guess- because of transition times)

Run: 15:19 (not sure about any transition time here, I don’t think so. I think both T’s were included in bike time). 6:39/mi pace.

Overall: 41:22. 1st Age Group, 4th Overall woman. Felt: Burnt! My chest was actually burning after I finished but that was a great feeling. I definitely worked it but didn’t do anything dumb (racing wise). Plenty to work on with the prep mistakes.

Yay podium!

As most people know, I haven’t been running, cycling or being a real triathlete these last few weeks.  As a little update– my silly boot has stuck me in the pool almost every day for 14 days in a row!  NUTSO.  I swam 28,000 meters in about 8 days.  Obviously, this just isn’t sustainable.  And I’d know, I do sustainability professionally…. no wait… wrong one.

Anyway, my coach added something to my schedule that he called, “pool running.”  He seriously underestimate my capacity for this weird, new activity– as he instructed me to “just strap on the running belt and run the intervals.”  Oh, yes, just … strap on.. wait, what?! Strap something on in the pool? This former (past life) swimmer girl stopped in her tracks. It’s not that I’d never seen people doing this activity, it’s just that… I thought it was minimum age 60.  Oh how very wrong I was.  My first time aqua jogging was hilarious.  I had a set of 5 x 3 minutes with a nice long warm up and cool down.  I thought, “well, this will be easy, maybe too easy.”  HA.  Wrong yet again.  I worked my buns off… not literally (glutes have purpose, I swear!).  I don’t know much about my heart rate data, but I do know that I was working it– and doing my best to ignore how ridiculous I looked.  But at some point I couldn’t help thinking, “this isn’t running; hell, this isn’t even jogging.  This is awkward… yogging.”  A la Anchorman — yes that is an urban dictionary link.

Seeing as I have had NO clue how to do this… these have been my own self-developed ‘strategies’ for, well, trying to move forward:

1. Feet off the ground (thinking about nearly-missing the bottom); skip the shallow end.

2. Pull my knees up, keep up the cadence… (that’s clearly a relative metric).

3. Arm pump is ok, as long as it’s NATURAL.  This is not sculling practice!

The best way to show the “look” of this activity might be the “What people think I do” meme.  Yes, go see that link, the whole post will make more sense if you do 🙂  This is my best attempt:

When I say I’m “Aqua Jogging”:

What my friends think I’m doing:

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What my Coach thinks I’m doing (great form, so angular and tall…):

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What it feels like I’m doing (come on! I’m wearing a floating device!):

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What I’m actually doing (wait I’m supposed to be moving… forward?):

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Motioning a whole lot… and not. going. anywhere.

So far, This is my Awkward Yogging.  Clearly this is NOT a ‘how-to’ post– more of a “HOW DO YOU DO THIS?!” desperate plea for help 🙂  Any thoughts? Hints? Strategies? 

This is just a short post based on the fun we all had with my recipes post!!  More recipes keep filtering in, so check it out!!

Today’s topic was instigated by my friend, Jessie, who writes a wonderful life-running blog, you can read here 🙂  After recovering from a serious knee injury and subsequent surgery, she’s feeling a little less than amazingly perfect especially in terms of running.  Oh, how I understand the feeling.  One of her main issues is just that in her recovery process, she’s lost a little of her motivation to get AFTER her running workouts.  It’s not that she doesn’t do them, it’s that the intensity wanes, her enthusiasm then does as well and… as with most running surgeries, her pace is just not quite where it was pre-injury, which is furustrating on all counts.  The other thing about jess… is that she LOVES to run.  She honestly misses the feeling, the high, that running gives her when she isn’t running, so cutting it out completely was simply not an option.  Almost the opposite.. she not only JUST completed a half marathon (after only 6 months of recovery!) but has, yet again, signed up for another!

I understand this feeling of losing motivation though and it’s especially hard when you do in fact need to train.  The worst for her is that running on the tread dreadmill is among her least favorite activities but it’s often the right choice given that it’s softer than road and the road/sidewalks do (on occasion….) get icy/uneven in Boston.   So, I suggested a few things:

1. Give yourself time to RECOVER!  I think Jess suffers from an affliction most athletes I know have– too much time “on” not enough time “off.”  That means that her runs were all only mediocre because she was not well rested or recovered from the last one.

2. One full rest day!  Give the body a break and let it rebuild, every week!  This way, your base pace could be faster each week or 2!

3. Mix it up!! I wrote out some treadmill workouts that I enjoy.  And would LOVE to hear your thoughts/ideas/workouts that make the treadmill a little more enjoyable!

Non-Dreamill ideas:

For all of these- the base pace is the same! Find that easy pace that you could sustain for miles on end (but you won’t have to!) and where I’ve written BP remember that pace.  Don’t make it TOO hard, that’s the tempting ifdea… but you’ll regret it halfway through the workout. On different days, this might vary a little if you’re feeling sore, but try to maintain this BP for 1 month.

1.  40 minute Pyramid (medium intensity): 5 x 6 minutes
10 min. warmup

Set 1: BP (base pace) 1 minute each @ 2, 3 and 4 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 2: BP 1 minute each @ 3, 4 and 5 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 3: BP 1 minute each @ 5, 6 and 7 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 4: BP 1 minute each @ 6, 5 and 4 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

Set 5: BP 1 minute each @ 5, 4 and 3 percent incline
2-3 minutes recovery @ flat jog

8 minute cool down

2.  40 minutes Rolling Hills (medium intensity): 5 x 8 minutes

5 x

1 minute BP

2 minutes increase speed by .2

2 minutes increase incline by 2%

2 minutes increase speed by .2

1 minutes recover, flat easy!

Each set can get faster by .1, or increase Incline by 1%.

3. 30 minutes of Intensity!

5 x 5 minutes, warm up and cool down!

Set 1: 1 minute @ Base pace + .4

1minute @ BP + .5

1 minute @ BP +.6

1 minute @ BEST EFFORT!

1 minute RECOVER EASY

(adjust the .4 only after the first set. if that is too easy, pick it up; if it is too tough, drop it to .3)

YOUR turn.  Thoughts?!? Ideas??  Let me know! I’m always on the lookout to make the treadmill a little more… fun?


ROI- Return on Investment.  Today I’m asking… are you getting all that you could out of your training? Before you start with the typical athlete’s response here “NO! I need to do MORE!!”– take a moment to think.  A coach’s blog today asked this question with important follow-up questions, which I’m going to list here.  Read these and then consider this question again, before you start adding more STUFF to your training regimen, are you really getting everything out of the regimen you have?

According to this particular coach (and hey, just ask mine… and he’d say the same), popular requests include:
• Tips for better nutrition
• Faster/shorter/less recovery
• More strength & conditioning

Most athlete do not ask for …
• More recovery time
• More stretching
• Less training

Now, when an athlete pleads for more stuff to ADD to the schedule, he asks,

“Are you doing what it takes to get the most from your current training?”

For example
If you currently complete 10 hours of training per week and are thinking of gradually increasing the volume to 15 hours these are some questions you might want to ask yourself. (By the way if you are thinking of doing this you ought to have a better reason than just “because that’s what everyone else does” OR “I’m doing an Ironman so I need to do lots of volume”!)

1. Could you increase the amount of quality sleep you get each night
a) Do you get at least 7 hours sleep per night?
b) Is your sleep good quality restful sleep? Again, nope. Woke up at 1am, completely awake, and was up for an hour at least. And that was before my 4:45am alarm…

2. Could you get better quality recovery after each session –
a) Could you introduce power naps to get more rest? Ok, I actually do this. Not after a session, but I LOVE them before. 20 minutes and I’m GOLDEN.
b) Are you able to relax when you aren’t training or do you always find household tasks to do? I’m not bad at this actually. I can sit on a couch for a little longer than I’d like to admit.
c) Do you stretch regularly for at least 15 minutes per time? Working on this! Doing it more and more, it IS helping, it is not a waste of time!

3. Is your nutrition program 100% perfect and suitable for an athlete –
a) do you refuel within 30 minutes of each training session? Not usually. Need to work on this.
b) do you eat a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day? YES, easily.
c) Do you get enough carbs in during your long training sessions? During? Probably not, but I don’t do a lot of LONG workouts right now.
d) If you need to lose weight are you really doing what it takes to alter your nutrition? Not really aiming to lose weight per se, but shift my muscle/fat ratio (as usual).  And no, I’m definitely not doing as much as I could.

4. Are your warm ups effective in each session
a) do you get the full warm up? Almost never! I need to be more patient because a good warm up gives me a MUCH better workout!
b) Do you arrive at training sessions in good time? Usually I set my own schedule, I rarely feel rushed. To be totally honest, I’m more on time for training than I am for anything else 😕 oooops. Sorry friends, professors and collegues!

5. Are your cool downs effective?
a) do you do a cool down?  Cool down? What?  (could use some work :))
b) do you cool down for long enough or do you have to rush of to another commitment? Usually rushing off after…

6. Is your lifestyle conducive to your triathlon goals
a) do you have a lot of stress in your life? Not a lot per se, but I do keep pretty busy…
b) could you reduce your stress at all? Yes, I’m not sure exactly HOW but I know I could…
c) Does your time management allow you to do all of the elements listed above? It would appear not, but I’m not sure how flexible or realistic this whole stress-reduction idea is 🙂


 7. Do you invest much time in developing your mental skills
a) do you include visualisation into your training sessions? No, but I plan to start. I used to do this in swimming and I really liked it. HARD though, takes patience.
b) Are you able to be mentally present (this means being focussed on the task at hand rather than daydreaming) for 100% of the time in each training session? Not daydreaming, necessarily, but I’m usually thinking about the next workout, assignment, work deadline… planning, scheming… much too much. Need to take things 1 at a time.

There are probably many more questions that are pertinent.  How about you?? Any thoughts on these questions and/or answers? Are you doing what it takes to maximise the return on your current training investment??

Training your Strength vs. Weakness

One of the most fundamental issues in triathlon training is time.   This post is NOT a breakdown of hours per each tri-sport exactly (because that’s boring); the hours themselves are not as formulaic as the ratio of hours training strong suit vs. weak suit vs. everything in between.  What does that mean? Well, I was a collegiate swimmer and I never competed in the other two until well after graduating, so swimming tends to be my stronger suit.  Granted, I was a 2-year, small college, BREASTROKER and IMer.  Not exactly super helpful as a triathlete.  If you want to choose a water sport in college for triathlon training?  Choose water polo No joke.  It’s the most similar type of swimming as you could get!

Determining your strength

So, figuring out one’s strong suit is a question of how you have performed or trained– or– what comes easiest and at what energy cost?  I’m pretty comfortable in the water.  I can go for months without a ton of training and not feel awful getting in a 3000 yard practice.  It won’t be fast or pretty, but it’ll get done.  Because I cannot do that in the other 2 sports, I call swimming my ‘stronger suit.’  NOTE! This HAS to be a relative value.  You are most likely NOT going to be a rock star in all three events- in fact? you might not be a ‘rock star’ in any one either!  That’s SOOOO fine!  People overestimate the value of the single-sport awesomeness.  The sport is a mesh of swimming, cycling, running, taking off clothing (well, it is part of the race), racing and sustaining yourself.  There are a lot of moving pieces.  In terms of training, you simply need to understand how to allocate the time you have to train.  Deciding how to divvy up your time-crunched schedule is a matter of triage because you’ll never be able to train as much as you might ultimately like to.  In my opinion, there’s no reason to focus training (time wise) on your strength if you can avoid it.  (Perhaps a little different for runners because running is a way to sustain overall triathlon fitness, but it is not the end game.)  I argue that you ought to train your weakness because it will likely create the BIGGEST bang (performance increase) for your valuable triathlete-hour (triathlete’s ‘buck’).  Because of the relative ease of swimming for me (only compared with the other 2 sports!), I tend to train only once hard and fast per week and as a recovery a second time per week.  I also make sure that my strength training (which is applicable to all 3 sports) targets my lats, pecs, and deltoids- attempting to compensate for swimming less than most triathletes might.

What’s your Weakness

Check out that gear-- biggest one, and I'm about to go straight up hill. Brilliant, I know.

Well, let’s be honest, this one is probably more obvious.  While you might not be stand-out, incredible in all three sports, you’ve likely got the one sport that just makes you sweat: literally and figuratively.  That’s the jam right there.  That’s where you’ve got room for change, impact and improvement, which is great.  You know what isn’t great? Training that part.  I know– it’s the thing you always choose the snooze button over if it’s an AM workout, or choose drinks with friends over at night, or well, just a bad Sunday afternoon movie 🙂   It’s SO easy to forgo that workout.  Because? You’re not good at it. And honestly, we’re not in college any more, why spend time doing something that you’re good at and genuinely enjoy?  I will tell you- it doesn’t take much.  It takes just 30 minutes twice a week more than you’ve spent in the past to probably make an appreciable change.  Those 60 minutes could be– drilling with a stretch cord for swimming, single leg drills in cycling or cadence play on a hill for running.  I really think it takes just a bit of added effort and you could see some pretty good results at very little cost to your other sports.  I could easily say both running and cycling are weak spots for me. But the truth is that my cycling is kind of ridiculously sad.  I’d say there’s good reason, but there isn’t really. I probably didn’t bike enough as a kid so I tend to be way too timid on the bike- my gear shifting is hilarious and I’ve been known to ride in “the hardest gear possible” until I can “no longer push the pedal around” and then change gears.  For the record? Don’t do that.  That, shockingly, is not how one ‘rides a bike’ or … so I’ve been told, through bouts of laughter on group rides.  To train my cycling weakness, I’ve been increasing the amount I’ve been cycling and specifically, I’ve been targeting what I’m worst at (if you’re going to train the sport you’re general ‘worst at’- train the weakest spots, right?).  So, for me, that means cadence increases and better connectivity to the bike- lots of single-leg drills teaching me about floating the foot that isn’t working, increasing hip flexor power, et cetera.  So far so good! My power numbers have been getting better (I have pretty low power compared to where it should be based on muscular weight ratio)– but obviously, I don’t know anything until I’ve raced.  Also, I have to thank VMPS triathlon center for letting me use a Cervelo P3- this is my first time on a tri bike! It’s incredible! It is different– I’m pitched forward throughout a whole ride, there’s little ‘rest’ space but I don’t mind.  The harder the better for now 🙂 At least cycling is getting to be more fun than it ever was last season!  That’s simply from become a little more comfortable on the bike, or.. in my case… on that crazy tri saddle.

So, that’s how I break tri training down: where is your triathlete comparative advantage and disadvantage?  If you look at the ‘law of comparative advantage,’ but inflect the definition inwards– it means your relative “costs” of producing three “goods” (sports) are different.  So your comparative advantage is the sport whose production value comes at the least opportunity cost.  Turned around- the sport that’s your weakness, has the least output pre hour input.  To continue the nerdy reference, your job as a triathlete is to reduce the delta between those 🙂

So that’s what I’m trying to do.  What do you do? Do you train your weakness? Your strength?  How does that differ for singular sports?  There’s always something to train- even just a piece of a stride or cadence, or climb skill– so what’s yours? Do you ignore it? Overcome it with strength instead of finesse? Is this all overrated?

As you may or may not know- Rev3 has become a well-known name in the triathlon industry.  As a newer race organization, they’ve been able to host some of the most fun and popular races from Connecticut to Costa Rica! Their races are fun because the directors at Rev3 clearly care about the racers themselves– not just about the show or logistics.  They go above and beyond to ensure that racers each feel prepped for the race- from individualized bike racks to fantastic (well-made and wearable!) SWAG.  They also fill the whole race weekend with fun events- for friends and family!  From fun-runs for kids to shorter distance tri’s for newbies or longer ones for the expert in the family!

Part of that whole approach is really indicative of what Rev3 wants to do in the sport of triathlon.  It’s easy to think of pro-organization and elite racers as a little self-indulgent– races are a one-time event, they can be costly, and training and equipment are pretty consuming in time, energy and money as well.  That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for giving.  But Rev3 wants to change that.   Rev3 has just announced a new event to benefit a great foundation while being active.  The team is planning to run across the United States!

In partnership with  the Ulman Cancer Fund , Rev3 will be hosting a huge (awesome) fundraiser to help the Ulman Fund find lasting solutions for Cancer treatments in young adults. A team of Rev3 staff and runners who have been affected by cancer run the 3121 miles  in 21 days from Oceanside California beginning on March 26th; the team ends at the Georgetown Hospital in Washington DC April 16th (see the route!).

You can join the this awesome endeavor by donating or cheering the runners along the race. Rev3 and UCF have set a goal of raising $100,000 to continue research into cancer and comprehensive health services for cancer’s victims. I’ve personally known several Cancer victims and survivors- and I’m sure you each are in teh same boat (or running shoes).  Please think about donating, running, or cheering! For more details- check out– the Rev3 Run Across America page.

Donations can be made at any amount!  It’s a really great cause and I hope you will consider helping in any way that you can!

2011 was, without doubt, the best year of my life.  I know it sounds cliché, or at least like immense hyperbole, but it’s not.  I don’t really need to dedicate an entire post to it, but as a triathlete, I tend to dwell a lot on the negatives– on the things I could improve– and rarely think about the things that went well.  However, I’ll fight the tendency to compare 2012 with 2011.  I don’t need to 1-up my year. It would be impossible actually.

This year highlighted some important things for myself: (I know this is a training blog so most of these are training related… but I can’t discount the other important stuff too)–

1. I might have the BEST friends, family, teammates that ANYONE could ask for.  It feels selfish in fact- I have the most loving and supportive network, without which I would completely crumble beneath the weight of my graduate work, professional work and triathlon training.  I love the people around me and feel so lucky to have them. I also do NOT do enough for them in return.

2. I have more energy than I give myself credit for.

3. You can train your butt off to cut 4 minutes in a 10k, but you can easily lose 3 minutes by being daft in your transitions.

4.  People are shocked by my enthusiasm for energy efficiency.  I have a really positive outlook on my potential to reduce our energy consumption at a pretty large scale and I’m excited about that.  People notice. Those in my field, in turn, tend to get excited too.  That’s the reason my academic and professional work are exceedingly satisfying.

5. I can manage to teach spinning without a ton of prep work– I wasn’t sure that was true– but I love coaching and it comes easily to me. This realization made it possible to teach nearly every monday of 2011 at 6am.

6. My athletic performance peaks when everything else in my life is balanced: fueling as an athlete (no dieting), sleeping (7 hours is primo, magic, amazing and rarely happens), work desk clean, work tasks accomplished instead of procrastinated, school work completed and finally- a clean room.

Half Marathon PR at Hyannis: 1:37

Switzer Fellow 2011: I was honored and humbled to be selected as a Switzer fellow for 2011.  This is a prestigious environmental award for academic work in the field.  The Switzer Foundation is helping me fund my Master’s degree at Tufts where I am working on a thesis about energy reduction improvements (monitoring-based commissioning, if you really want to know) on campuses throughout North America.

Joined Wheelworks Multisport: I joined this awesome Boston-based tri group in the spring.  THey are an incredible group of people and have been AMAZING supporters and teammates all year.  I’ve gotten to meet motivated, strong, incredible people who’ve all helped me become a better athlete in so many ways.

First time running a race actually for fun (pacing a friend): I ran a fun run half marathon on a whim; I decided I did not need to go all out and instead I just helped run with a friend and tried to get him to his own PR.  He didn’t quite hit it but came very close and we had a great time running together!

Hired Coach: My coach Alan is awesome. I hired him in April and we’ve since worked together, chatting at least weekly since.  He is incredibly intelligent and necessarily tough.  I have really enjoyed working with him and would not be where I am today without him.  If you have any interest in coaching– talk to me!

2nd overall female @ New England Season Opener Sprint Tri: ‘Nuf said. I’d never gotten an “overall” anything before.  That was a fun race; I was nerve wracked and still managed to tough it out.

2nd Olympic Tri EVER: I completed my 2nd Olympic distance Triathlon in June 2011. It was my 4th triathlon ever and only my 2nd being “clipped in” on my bike.  It was a tough, hilly race in Connecticut and actually- the swim was cut short (so my 1 advantage was decreased 🙂 ).  Nonetheless, I learned a lot during that race- such as- don’t forget your timing chip at your hotel.  It makes for a messy morning.

Overall WINNER @ Lowell Mill City Tri: Speaks for itself. I can’t believe I won an Olympic Tri.  Neato.

2011 National Championahips: HUGE race. Olypmic-distance PR.  This was my ‘A’ race of the season. I worked the whole summer to prep for it.  I think I did very well, but I would love to be faster. My transitions were quite poor, my bike split was a little slower than I’d like and I think I managed to mess up my taper with over thinking and undertraining.  I placed in the top 20 in my age group, which was awesome but I want to break that 2:20 mark. But I had the BEST cheering squad around!

World Team Selection: Then I got selected for the World Champ 2012 team in Auckland New Zealand.  WOWOWOWOWOWOW.  This was a secret pipe dream that I mentioned to NO ONE except my coach.  Can’t believe it happened! Now I have to earn that spot for in training.

Personal Record (PR) Half Marathon:  1:34. I had an awesome race in the fall that led to another Half marathon PR.  I love this distance– it’s also easy to have a 2-PR year when you’ve only raced the distance… 3 times.

Team Rev3 Selection: Lastly, this fall, I was selected for the incredible Rev3 Amateur Team.  It’s a fantastic organizaiton, putting on some of the BEST races around (most fun, most catered to athletes and very family-fun oriented).  I am psyched to be part of the new family and to have the immense resources of the collective experience of the team.  YAYYAYAYAYYAY.

10,000 x 3: On December 31, 2011 I complete a semi-crazy capstone to the year.  I swam 100 x 100’s (10,000 yards), I ran over a 10,000 meters (10k) and I biked 10,000 meters (10k).  It was an incredible personal experience that I did not even plan to do.  It felt incredibly empowering and really showed me that I’ve got a power and determination that could make almost anything possible.

Some pictures from the year:

I am not exactly sure what 2012 has in store.  My goals are:

1. Complete my Master’s Thesis

2. Complete my Master’s degree

3. Race my FIRST ever Half Ironman Distance (70.3!!!)

4. Get to World Championships with a bike

If I accomplish those, it will truly be a great year. Who could ask for more?

How about you? What are your goals this year? What will you accomplish?

Winter training varies a lot person to person, athlete to athlete.  I have to confess I’m a bit  cold-phobic.  Not for any particular reason either– I tend to get chilly easily, but I also have never gotten very good at knowing how to perform well in colder conditions.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot though and there is no room for excuses this season!  So, I’ve done a bit of research for things I’m going to try to make this winter season a more productive one (athletically anyway. Please don’t ask about my thesis 🙂

Remember, eventually Boston will look like this (even if it doesn’t right now…):

1.  Dress up! 

a. Get dry. Use a dri-fit, wicking base layer. This is the stuff designed to wick away sweat (yes you will eventually sweat) from your skin. Keeps ya dry and warm.  DON’T wear cotton as a base!

b. Sock it. Seriously, invest in a good pair of dry-wicking socks.  Wear them for your long weekend run.  Keeps your feet warm no matter the conditions.  AVOID wearing layers of socks.  You’ll end up with blisters, sweating too much and then.. more blisters. It’s gross. Make the investment.

c. Shell out. Wear one thin exterior layer that is wind proof. Makes a HUGE difference especially if you’ll be exposed at all on the run.

d. Buy the extras– gloves, hat, sunglasses (snow is wicked reflective).

2. But don’t overdress (this isn’t a formal, it’s a workout). I know- this one is hard for me, too.  It feels nice at the beginning, but you’ll sweat more and your clothes will absorb it.. in turn making you. Wet Clothes = Cold Body.

3.  Warm up first.  If you’re wary of being underdressed, get dressed, shoes, hat, everything– but run the stairs up and down a few times, or do a few squats or burpees to get your blood flowing.

4. Start Slow.  Yeah, your times might be a little slower than usual, get over it.  Cold air takes some adjusting- about 2 weeks of outdoor runs before you’re really acclimated.  The snow and ice are their own obstacles, so take it easy.  No reason to come out of a run with a sidelining injury.

5.  Start INTO the wind.  Small thing to think about but makes a lot of difference– you’ll thank me on the second half 🙂

6. Run at midday.  If at all possible, run when it’s warmest.  Take a quick jog at lunch time; it will break up a monotonous work day and be a whole lot nicer to run when it’s 10 degrees warmer.  Stash running clothes at work and make sure you bring some soup for lunch after 🙂

So, those are my suggestions (and reminders for myself)!  Do you have any I should think about?  It’s hard to get going sometimes but I try to remind myself how good it feels afterwards– I happen to like the pink glow from a chilly run and nothing feels better than a well-deserved, warm-up shower for recovery.

Turkey Trot-ing

Posted: November 28, 2011 in Racing, Running, Training

This Thanksgiving holiday has been fantastic for a whole host of reasons– so much family, so much food and oddly enough, plenty of training time, too!  Hence the title– Trot-ing isn’t just for Turkey day anymore. With extra time “off” of work and school I decided to run a bit every day. I started this Thanksgiving with a trip to hang with my sister, her hubby and my 6 month old nephew- and he ROCKS.  He’s such a little man now; how did that happen!?

Yes, my brother has a hilarious mullet. No, it isn't ironic 🙂

I love their perch in Vermont- they’re in the Northeast Kingdom, outside of Montpelier on a beautiful stretch of 10 acres that feels more like 40.  The spot is surrounded by woods, a river and a dirt road.  Well, edit: a HILLY dirt road.  They’re actually on the side of a hill with a view of the Green Mountains.  Needless to say, my morning run on Thanksgiving was literally, not a walk in the park.   So I ran for 6 miles- up for 1, down for 1, flat for 3, up for 1.  Oh I know the physics of that don’t SEEM right, but rest assured: Julia > laws of topography.  Thanksgiving rocked the house.  My sister puts on an amazing show.  My brother and I surprised my sister by flying him in the night before so she got to come into her kitchen at 7am to my brother drinking a beer because he “didn’t see any orange juice.”  Twas, hilarious.  As one of the most in-shape guys I know, I figure he has a free pass on the ‘alcohol at odd hours’ any time he wants.  We spent the day cooking and prepping dinner and sat down (hunnnngry as anything!) to an amazing feast.  Complete with a good family game of Apples to Apples and a viewing of Man on Wire.  #Success!

The day after that I spent the morning running “into town.”  I loved this.  I was all fueled up from the day-before’s eats and felt smooth and relaxed running what turned out to be about 8.5 miles.  That was awesome.  There was a elevation loss actually, but it never really felt that way (again).  Just enough hills to keep my mind entertained.  It’s amazing what happens when you don’t train on hills: you lose hill endurance!  Really.  There’s a big difference between running on roads you’re used to and running on a different type of topography altogether.  Your strength won’t quite be there which dramatically affects the amount of oxygen your body needs to refresh and recover.

Saturday included a mini run, too but nothing worth noting because I’d decided that I might run…. a 10 miler Turkey Trot the following day.  Now, if you know me, this isn’t a shock of unpreparedness. In fact, it’s more the rule than the exception.  And in more fact- it’s probably more time that I usually give myself to prep for a race these days.  So… I woke up on Sunday and drove out to Marlboro, MA for the “Tough Ten Miler Turkey Trot.”  I wanted to do this ‘race’ for a few reasons:

1.  In lieu of entry fee, you donated 10 can goods to the Greater Food bank of Marlborough.  Score.

2.  HILLS.  Yeah, I know, I was just “complaining” about those.  The thing is that I don’t mind hills, I’m just necessarily slow at them because I don’t practice them enough.

3.  It was a random ‘fun run’- complete with popsicle stick timing– no chips.  Old school. Love it.

Tough 10 Mile Turkey Trot Race Recap:

The run was indeed, tough.  Harder than I thought it would be.  I’m glad I didn’t dwell on its description because I might have talked myself out of it.  Unfortunately the race directly went over the course in tedious detail so I knew what to expect 🙂  3 very big hills and rollers in between, not much flat except a stretch at the 5k mark and one at the end.  No big, right?  Basically I had to look at the whole race as a fun Sunday challenge.  I was there, I was chilly (then way too warm because I over dress like a fiend… oops), and it was Sunday of a long weekend of running daily.  So, expectations were necessarily low.  That’s ok!  If a race is NOT a big deal to you you don’t have to make excuses for that.  Run the way YOU want to.  If I hadn’t followed that advice, in fact, I would have blown this race completely.  I knew I didn’t need to speed through the first half because I knew I’d die on the hills in the second half. And, as they say in a half marathon “You can never win a half marathon in the first 5k.  You can, however, lose it in the first 5k.”  I LOVE that saying.  So I kept even-keeled, nothing speedy, just going along at something that felt like a reasonable pace. I know my 5k split was 21:30 which was too quick for that course.  I slowed down my speed, NOT by slowing my RPMs but rather by thinking about smoothing out the stride and a little less push per foot stroke.  So- same numbers of rotations by each leg, less “oomph” per stroke.  Does that make sense?  By the time I hit mile 7 I was TIRED.  I don’t usually get that way in races- especially not with 3 miles to go, but I was feeling those hills, no doubt.  But I can tell you one way to relax and recover? Smile.  Ugh, how annoying right?  I swear it works.  As soon as I saw these 2 cheerleaders for the 2nd time (who is Steve? he has killer fans), I just smiled at them.  They said, “you look great AND you’re smiling! That’s great!”  I beamed some more because… how could you not?  In any event, I forgot about having “3 more miles to go,” and just relaxed.  I brought my shoulders down away from my ears, thought about my 90 degree arm angles and looked my 10 meters ahead/to the side to see the gorgeous scenery.  Before I knew it, a FAST runner had caught me just in time to say, “only 1 mile to go!”  That was perfect timing.  I picked it up and blasted through the last 1/4 of a mile uphill through the finish line– all whilst smiling.  I bet that finishing picture would look goooooofy (luckily there were no photographers :).   I felt tired and sore but in a really satisfying way.  I also checked my time and was happy and surprised.

I ended up going a 1:10.5.  I wasn’t planning to race that quickly but turning the speed down from miles 5-7 really helped me kick it in the end.  I was the 5th overall woman and 3rd in my age group!

Happy Turkey Trot-ing to everyone!  I’ve heard some fabulous reports of PRs from Julia and Jean-Louis!