swimming

How to Train for Triathlon Swimming In a Small Pool

As someone who enjoys training for the occasional triathlon - I do not swim nearly as regularly as I should.

There are a number of reasons for this - but the biggest reason is that I am quite possibly the slowest swimmer on the planet. I like to refer to myself as the sea-sloth. Would swimming more regularly help me gain some speed? Novel concept!

Anyway - when I do go for a swim - it sometimes helps if I have a workout written out (and stored in a plastic bag so it doesn't become an illegible pile of mush - made that mistake once or twice). 

However - all of the swim workouts I find online are written for and by people who swim in normal sized pools - not people who live in Manhattan are are stuck swimming in 15 and 17 yard pools that are the aquatic equivalent of a hamster wheel. 

I've added a section to my main navigation bar that will take you to some swim workouts I've used that are great for my fellow small-pool-swimmers.

Please keep in mind that I am incredibly unqualified to give any sort of swimming advice.

Sincerely, 
Sea Sloth

Triathlon Training in a Small Pool

NYC Tri Race Recap

For the past week, whenever anyone asks me how my first New York City Triathlon went, I'm sure they've walked away from me secretly hating my guts. 

I hear myself gushing over the race and talking about 3 hours of physical activity as if it were a trip to an amusement park - and I've thought, "Wow, I'm annoying." 

But yet I can't help. Last Sunday was absolutely amazing in a way that only fellow race addicts will be able to comprehend. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Packet Pick-Up & Expo

Friday, I took advantage of my office's "Summer Friday" hours to stroll over to the Hilton Hotel where packet pick-up and the NYC Tri Expo were taking place. I happened to arrive a perfect 10 minutes prior to the 3 PM briefing that is required for all participants. 

The briefing lasting about 30 minutes and had a lot of good information - all of the logistics of triathlons tend to overwhelm me so the more times I'm told what to do and what to expect, the better. Not to mention, this was my first Olympic Distance triathlon and only my second triathlon EVER. 

After the briefing you received a stamp on your hand to prove you had sat through it, which enabled you to pick up your packet full of bib numbers (one for your shirt, one for your bike, one for your helmet, etc.), your timing chip (worn around your ankle), your t-shirt and swag bag.  

New York City Triathlon Expo

Then, I headed into the expo to see what freebies I could snag. Since the expo had started at 2 PM and it was only 3:30 on a Friday, it was still pretty calm which was nice. I grabbed all the chip clips, hand sanitizer, keychains, chapsticks, coupons, etc. only to get home and think, "I literally do not need any of this..." 

I had ordered a bunch of stuff online  that didn't arrived in time - so I was on the hunt for tri shorts to wear during the race (oops). Mine have slowly disintegrated from wearing them in chlorine when I go to the pool - and the padding in my biking shorts was way too much to swim and run in. 

After trying on a few pairs at the TYR booth, I found a brand I'd never heard of - Voler - and fell in love with their basic pair of $30 tri shorts which were black and teal to match my bike, helmet, cycling shoes...etc. etc. 

I also bought a new Adidas sports bra for $12 - suhweet! 

Bike Check-In

The NYC Tri basically takes place in my backyard, which made the somewhat daunting three-day process of Expo, Bike Check-In, Race, Bike Pick-Up a lot more manageable. 

On Saturday, after a productive morning at the library and Trader Joe's, I set out on my bike with a giant backpack full of all my race essentials. 

15 minutes into the ride - I realized I had forgotten to put my number on my bike - which would prevent me from checking it into the transition area. 

Back to my apartment I went - dripping in sweat and cursing myself as I precariously balanced on my bike.

Finally, I made it to transition and found Callie and our friend Molly, racked my bike (my number said, "If triathlons were easy, it'd be called football") and started laying out all my things. 

NYC Tri Bike Check-In

It's kind of crazy to think that I walked away from transition having left behind a $1300 bike, $200+ wetsuit, $75 cycling shoes, $100+ GPS watch, and various other items. That night my parents would ask me, "What will you do with your cell phone during the swim?" And I had to laugh, thinking that my cell phone was the least of my worries. 

Callie, Molly and I took the 30 minutes to go on one of the transition area tours which I cannot recommend enough if you ever find yourself doing the NYC Tri or any tri that offers such a "tour." I left feeling much more at ease having a mental picture of where I would walk to the swim, where I would be exiting the swim, where I would re-enter transition, where I would leave with my bike, etc. etc. It also really helped to see "the hill" everyone talks about that comes fairly quickly in the bike ride. 

NYC Tri Transition

The Night Before

After bike check-in I spent the evening meal prepping for the week, getting a pep talk from my parents (which ended with, "I really don't know why you do this Lauren...") and eventually eating an early dinner of chicken, vegetarian chili and spinach. I double checked that everything was ready to go for the early morning alarm (including my pre-made rice cake + PB and banana) before taking a melatonin. I fell asleep shockingly easily around 8:30 PM. 

NYC Tri Race Prep

Morning Of! Pre-Race Readying

My alarm went off at 3:40 AM and I felt shockingly fine. I put on my tri shorts, tank, running sneakers, Road ID and pinned on my bib. Fun fact, I had gotten my period the day before, so I popped two Ibuprofen for cramps, brushed my teeth, grabbed my water bottle and breakfast and within 15 minutes was ordering an Uber pool to the bike transition. 

I assumed an Uber pool would probably end up being a) just me or b) myself and a fellow triathlete on their way to transition but NYC truly is the city that never sleeps and I was surprised to find myself explaining to a couple why I was dressed to go workout at 4:00 AM. 

Transition was daaaark when I arrived around 4:15 and I remained pretty calm - a nice departure from my crazed/stressed self prior to last year's sprint triathlon on Long Island where I had a panic attack first about my bike pump not working and then about forgetting my ear plugs in my dad's truck. 

NYC Tri Transition Area

I easily found someone nearby to help me re-inflate my tires, sipped my canned cold brew coffee, ate my rice cake with PB and banana, and re-jiggered my things in a way that made sense. 

I put on my flip flops, put my goggles around my neck, slung my wetsuit over my shoulder, and made sure that my ear plugs, swim cap and socks were in the bag I'd be walking to the swim start with.  

Callie's bike was only a few down from me, I saw Abby right away, Molly, Emily, Alex - tons of November Project people made me feel calm. I also just kept telling myself that we still weren't starting for a long time. 

NYC  Tri Race Recap

After some pictures (duh) we left as transition closed at 5:15 on the dot and started the walk to the swim start. Making our way up to 99th street with Abby and Callie by my side made it just feel like a regular morning and kept me calm. We watched the Hudson River flowing on by, "The river is moving! There is a current! Hooray!" 

When we approached where we would be exiting the water, I laid out a pair of socks that would save my feet from the gravely quarter-mile run back to transition. A ton of people had left out sneakers, but that seemed like a big hassle to put on. 

At the swim start, I body glided up, put my flip flops in my bag, took out my ear plugs and swim cap, and gave it to the truck that would transport it to the finish line. 

We continued along to Port-o-Potty Village and finally, donned our sexy wet-suits, shimmying our way into them like an extra-tight pair of skinny jeans. 

As we approached the water I put two spare ear plugs in the sleeves of my wetsuit, where I was pretty sure they wouldn't budge considered how tight it was - I knew that if I lost the ear plugs in my ears mid-swim I'd probably freak (I ALWAYS swim with them, get terrible swimmer's ear, and hate the feeling of water in my ears - especially because I fly so much, it makes me paranoid!) 

Callie braided my hair (best part of race day are the race braids!) and when we entered the line with our swim start/age group we completed the Tinder-profile-worthy look with our swim caps. 

Soon, a giant pink pig poster came marching by and attached to it were Abby's adorable parents who snapped some WINNING photos of the three of us. 

We, as usual, goofed off, joked around, and kept things as far-from-serious as possible. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

When swim waves started going off, I was relieved to see lots of people side stroking, back stroking, treading water and STILL moving at a fast clip towards the finish. The river was movin' all right and I knew that even if it took me 40 minutes of backstroke, I'd make it out of the Hudson and to my bike. 

The three of us decided to take the 20 second time penalty by sitting on the barge and dangling our legs into the water instead of jumping in and can I just say HOW GREAT it was that I got to start this race sitting next to my two best friends and triathlon inspirations (Hi, 70.3). 

The Swim 

You know people who downplay their abilities constantly because they want to hear people tell them how great they are? I SWEAR I wasn't trying to be that person by panicking about the swim portion of the NYC Tri. 

I was legitimately petrified of swimming .9 miles and still do not think that I'm entirely capable of doing it in other circumstances. Those circumstances = a quickly moving river, pulling you downstream whether you wanted to or not. 

The promising news was that I managed to do some actual face-in-the-water swimming this time around. That being said, it was HIGHLY supplemented with the backstroke for more than half of the time. Progress? 

The wave start meant that for most of the time, the route wasn't too crowded. The sea wall had signs marking each 100 meters and volunteers on both sides made sure that you were staying within the safe swimming area. By the final 150 meters, the course got crowded and hectic as everyone converged on the barge where we would exit the water. I just hung back and slowly made my way to the exit area where I grabbed onto someone's arm and they pulled me up and out. 

Volunteers immediately started telling everyone to wipe their faces off - to remove the notorious "Hudson River Mustache" from their faces before they approached the photographer. Gross? Yes. Real? Definitely - I felt plenty of gravelly-grossness as I tried to get myself camera ready (LOL I mean, how camera ready can you be as you run/try to remove a wetsuit/take off goggles and swim cap? Answer: Not very.) 

My swim ended up being 20:04 for a pace of 01:21/100 M (for reference, the fastest splits I've ever had in a pool are well over 2:00 per 100M). 

NYC Tri

Transition One

I was pleasantly surprised when I reached back to unzip my wetsuit that it pretty easily complied. Using a tip from Abby, I held my ear plugs, swim cap and goggles in my hand while I pulled the sleeves down - ensnaring the miscellaneous swim accouterments in the inside out sleeve. SCORE. 

I overshot my socks by a few steps and swiveled around to grab them and slip them on - definitely a great call to go socks instead of sneakers. I was moving at a quick pace back to transition - passing plenty of people but also trying to take a minute to breathe and mentally prepare for the bike. 

NYC Tri Swim

Imagine the smile on my face when I got back to my bike and saw Callie ready to go out and start her ride! 

I scarfed down two dates (YUM they're my new favorite fuel), took off my timing chip, fully took off my wet-suit, put the timing chip back on, slid into my socks and cycling shoes, clipped on my Spibelt with my phone, put on my Garmin, buckled my helmet, thought to myself, "that's it right?!" and picked up my bike, jogging alongside it to the exit. 

My watch said 6:30 which absolutely shocked me - I'd swam .9 miles, run .25 and gotten ready for the bike in 30 minutes - something I had never thought remotely possible. Now, it was in my head that 3 hours was a possibility and the chase for 3:00:00 was on. 

Transition One took me 08:27. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Bike

I mounted my bike and off I went! "The hill" wasn't as stressful as anticipated - I got there at a lucky time I guess and it wasn't very crowded. I stood up to make my way up it quickly and easily. Once we made a few sharp(ish) turns (nothing that made my stomach enter my throat) it was nothing but open highway! 

NYC Tri Race Recap

It was amazing to have a whole highway shut down for us to ride on. Over the course of 25 miles, I had verrrrry few instances of overcrowding or close calls with fellow riders - everyone seemed very courteous and under control - riding to the right and passing on the left. 

I felt good and was riding hard, until I passed the first 5 mile marker and realized, "I should probbbbbably dial it back a bit." 

So I dialed it back and settled in, telling myself that I was going to be on here for awhile and didn't really know what was to come in terms of hills. But I felt great and my legs felt strong - I really had no way of knowing how fast I was going since I don't have a bike computer, but I was confident that I was having a good ride. 

Each hill that greeted me was manageable and each downhill made me a little anxious about how I would feel on the back-half of the route. There was one major hill on the way up to the Bronx that had my legs screaming but it was over fairly quickly.

I passed and was passed by the same people back and forth for most of the ride which let me know that I was staying pretty consistent. For awhile, I was chasing down a woman who 70 and it reminded me that I want to be a bad ass triathlete when I'm well into my 40s and 50s! 

The bike went really well - the final 5 miles had me trying to calculate how fast I'd need to run to finish in under 3 hours and it seemed to be slipping away. 

The final turn around was the hairiest turns but once that was over it was smooth sailing back to transition, where we slowed down to a frustrating crawl/single file line. That being said, it was nice that everyone just accepted that it was going to take a minute to get back as people slowed down and dismounted and no one was an asshole barreling through the narrow path. 

I ended up finishing the bike in 1:29:03 for an average speed of 16.75 MPH. This was nuts to me because that's the exact speed I normally do my Central Park loops at! I guess I'm pretty consistent! 

This was probably my favorite long bike ride ever and I'm so glad I enjoyed it.  

NYC Tri Bike

Transition Two 

I ran my bike back to the rack and proceeded to take off my timing chip and socks - before realizing 

that I absolutely had not needed to do that - oops haha. I ate two dates, put a caffeinated gel in my Spibelt, laced up my sneakers, contemplated a hat and decided against it, drank some water and made a quick dash to the port-o-potty. 

After that, it was out on the run - which I had originally thought would be my favorite part of the race. In reality, it was hands down the hardest part of the race. 

Transition Two: 04:00

The Run

The run course starts with a massive hill up to Riverside Dr. and I decided immediately that it wasn't worth getting super out of breath and mentally frustrated by attempting to run up it - I walked up and I think it was a good call. 

For the first mile I just told myself to relax, let my legs get used to running, and get myself to Central Park. It's nice that you don't enter the park until a mile into the run, because I just told myself once I hit the park I could really start to hit my stride. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

Like I said, this was hard. Running after biking 25 miles is a very strange sensation where your legs are heavy, yet also numb? You feel like you're moving so slowly because you've been moving at 16+ MPH for the past hour and a half. Even though I felt like I was running through quicksand and not moving - my first mile split was an 8:12. 

It was a pleasant surprise, but I also had been aiming to start slow and go for negative splits, which wasn't going to happen with that start. 

Once in the park, the hills came and I focused on quick, short steps to get myself up and over them. But that West Side of the park still killed me. I was letting my head go to a bad place where I was saying, "WHY IS THIS SO HARD this is supposed to be my favorite part!" The only thing that kept me going was that everyone I passed seemed to think I was "LOOKIN' STRONG" and had "GREAT FORM." This was news to me but I took their word for it. 

Once I saw the November Project cheer squad - things changed. The energy put a huge smile on my face and from that point on I had a much much better attitude. I bee-lined for Kaitlin who was taking pictures and gave her a big high five and zoomed away in much better spirits. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

The trudge up Harlem Hill began and my watch kept giving me mile splits that I was happy with - 8:26 for mile2 and 8:19 for mile 3. 

Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 I took my gel which also helped - I only use the caffeine Cliff shots and they work like a charm. 

I passed the water station my friend Michelle was volunteering at and gave her a huge hug which re-energized me to finish the hills. 

For the entire race, my strategy was to stop at each water station and actually drink water - I hadn't even finished a full water bottle on the bike ride and new I would be in trouble if I didn't drink during the run. I'm never a walk through the water stations person but it worked amazingly for this race and I'm really glad I did it! 

When I got over to the east side I saw Callie in the distance which put an extra pep in my step so I could catch up to her. We chatted for a few minutes and I continued on with splits that were making me very happy and quite frankly very surprised. Mile 4 was a 7:55. 

I decided to try to take mile 5 more conservatively so I could finish the final mile strong. Mile 5 was an 8:23 and then I kicked it into high gear for mile 6. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

At that point, my legs were fully in running mode and my stride was more relaxed and natural and I could tell that I was cruising along. It felt great to pass so many people in that final mile and as I approached the finish line I was pushhhhing myself to the point where I started getting chills and thinking, "Uh, this is probably not good since it's 85 degrees out."

In the final few feet I was stuck behind 2 or 3 people and desperately trying to pass. Eventually I snuck around them and sprinted across the finish line. Nothing has ever felt so amazing as the freezing cold wet towel they placed around my neck. I would have taken that over the medal. 

My final mile was a 7:32. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

According to the official results, my run was 49:07 for a pace of 07:55 (my watch had me at an 08:07) and 16th in my age group for the run! It was definitely the hardest part, but I guess it's obvious which of the three things I'm best at! 

Final time was 02:50:39 and I was so happy to break 3 hours!

Post-Race

It's hard for me to remember a time I was on such an endorphin-high. Probably after both my marathons my 10K PR. But it's just the absolute best feeling in the world and I rode that high alllllll day. 

So many people ask me why I wanted to do this triathlon if I was scared and nervous and thought that it was going to be hard and my answer is I wanted to do this triathlon BECAUSE I was scared and nervous and BECAUSE it was hard. 

There is no better feeling than proving to yourself that you can do something you've never done before. To do something despite the fact that you're nervous - to prove that you can fight through the nerves and the fear and go for it anyway. 

My biggest pet peeve is when people say they "can't" do something when they've never even tried and REFUSE to try. Complacency is so boring. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

After the race we took lots of pictures, I called my parents, we walked around the finishers festival (free YASSO BARS!) and eventually Callie and I made our way to the shuttle that took us back to transition to pick up our bikes. 

After packing everything up, we took the subway uptown and walked our bikes across the park to my apartment where I took the most amazing shower of my life, used my bone stimulator machine, and we got ready for food. 

We met Michelle and Abby at BARE BURGER which was everything I wanted and more. A burger in a collard green wrap + crispy Brussels sprouts and sweet potato fries. Not to mention 23842 glasses of water. 

Next stop was Treadwell Park to meet up with people from November Project and enjoy a refreshing alcoholic beverage (I finally tried the Wolffer Cider white wine!) courtesy of my mom and dad. 

NYC Tri Race Recap

We only lasted one drink before decided we needed our beds. 

I spent the rest of the night reading, watching TV, and eating summer rolls and a pint of Halo Top. 

It was the most accomplished I've felt in a really long time. And now, of course, I'm wondering what the next challenge will be! Thinking about that 70.3.......

THANKS 

Shout out to Kaitlin, Patti, Brian and Mr. & Mrs. Reisner for all of the wonderful pictures of the day!! I'm obsessed and you can find me most days just scrolling through my phone looking at all of them and reminiscing :) 

I really can't even figure out what to say about how much Callie and Abby helped me get to the start line and across the finish line so I'll just say that every run, every swim, every bike ride, every brunch, every beer, every laugh, every cry - it's 294380X better with you two by my side! Next stop, Banff!

NYC Tri Race Recap

 

 

 

I'm A Triathlete! TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

Helloooo! Here is where I delude myself into thinking that the readers of PB Is My BF have been waiting with bated breathe for my TOBAY Triathlon race recap. 

I love writing race recaps for something to look back on. Sometimes they are reminders of a well-organized, fun race that I'd like to do again. And sometimes they're reminders that "I WILL NEVER RUN THE BROOKLYN HALF MARATHON EVER AGAIN..." (lies). 

TOBAY Triathlon Review

PRE-RACE PREPARATION

Saturday A.M.

Saturday morning Callie and I walked our bikes and backpacks across Central Park and hopped on the subway down to Penn Station. We met our friend Abby and the joys of traveling on the Long Island Railroad began. Let's just say that LIRR cars are not bike-friendly and we had to create some interesting bike sculptures in order to keep our bikes out of the aisles. 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

2 hours later we were at my house and shortly thereafter, headed to pick up bagels for some relaxation at the beach. 

Saturday Afternoon

Abby and Callie get major points for loving my North Shore beach despite it's rocks and for happily floating around for a little bit in the Sound to test out the temperatures. We were pleasantly surprised that it was so warm! 

Long Island Egg Bagel

I was happy as a clam eating my egg bagel with egg salad, lettuce and tomato while soaking up the sun and chatting. We stayed a few hours, changed back at my house, and accompanied my parents to the yacht club for a drink on the deck.

Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty zen every time the tri came up - I think part of me couldn't believe it was actually going to happen. Throughout the day we would vocalize our fears - mine being drowning, Callie's being getting a flat but overall we were confident that it would be a fun day no matter what happened. 

Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA

Saturday P.M. 

After a beer at the yacht club (it was a struggle to keep it to 1 - Monkey's Fist IPA by Shipyard is fab) my parents dropped the three of us off at Mavi - a Mediterranean and Turkish restaurant near my house. 

We went to town on pita with hummus, babaganoush, white bean salad, and olives before entrees of chicken shishkabob with bulgar, rice, grilled veggies and tzatziki sauce. I still don't have a "go-to" pre-race meal but after reading my nutritionist Julie's advice, I thought Mediterranean was a good choice. I'm used to eating it, it's fairly simple, and my meal had protein and carbohydrates along with some veggies. Bonus points: delicious and such a cute little restaurant! 

We got home and were all shocked at how exhausted we were considering it was only 7:30 at night. We got our things organized for the morning and I did a little Addaday and lacrosse ball rolling while we watched Mean Girls. That movie will truly never get old. 

Obviously I couldn't go to bed without the dessert my mom had picked up for me - Tate's White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies! If you've never had a Tate's cookie (Long Island made!) you need to get on that. They have tons of Gluten Free options too. 

I took a Melatonin before bed because I expected to have trouble sleeping due to nerves, excitement, and sleeping on the couch but I'm constantly surprising myself with my ability to sleep - I didn't have any trouble at all. 

WHAT I PACKED 

I've got my pre road race packing down to a science but with a triathlon, damn is there a lot to think about!

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

GENERAL 

Tri-Shorts - I found mine on clearance at Marshall's well over a year ago, when doing a triathlon was just a tiny little thought in the back of my mind. Impulse buy for the win! I saw tons of people wearing Orca shorts and they worked perfectly for me. I trained in them too, because no new things on race day!

They're fast drying, have leg grips that keep your shorts from riding up your quads during the bike, and a quick drying pad between the legs that helps make up for the fact that you're not wearing fully padded bike shorts. 

The tie in the front kind of bothered me, but for $15, they were great. Another brand I saw out on the course a lot was Zoot

Flip-Flops- Before the race, I walked around in flip-flops and left them at my transition area when we walked down to the water for the start of the swim. 

Road I.D. - I finally got a road I.D. and I've been wearing it on all of my bike rides and runs - especially with so many awful stories in the news about runner's being attacked.

Nutrition- Since working with Julie from The Athlete's Palate, I've been trying to be better about fueling during workouts and now, races. I've been using Clif Bloks and have always had success with Clif Shot gels so I packed one of each. 

Water Bottle- I'm very bad at hydrating, but I kept a water bottle at transition to remind myself to drink! 

Sports Bra- Duh. 

Shirt- My original plan was to take off my wetsuit after the swim and finish the tri wearing my tri-shorts and a sports bra. But then I realized I needed to pin on a bib for the bike and run! I pre-pinned my bib to one of my favorite shirts - my blue Sugoi one - it's so light and soft!

Necklace- Yes, I wore my necklace for the entire race! I'm so used to working out in it that I didn't notice it once. 

SWIM 

Wetsuit- I don't know if I would have made it through the swim without wearing a wetsuit. It provided so much buoyancy and gave me a little extra confidence. It didn't fit me perfectly, it's my mom's, but I'm glad I had it as my security blanket. 

Swim Cap- We were the white swim cap wave and we had to wear the swim cap provided by the race. I was nervous it wouldn't fit my head, but it was actually perfect. 

Ear Plugs- I had a slight scare while setting up my transition area when I realized that my ear plugs were in my dad's truck. Luckily, he was able to go and grab them. I've never swam without them, and constantly get swimmer's ear, so that would have been a disaster. 

Goggles- Self-explanatory. I like the pair I use. Callie found them and I'm not sure of the brand, but they stay fog-free for the most part and are pretty comfortable. 

BIKE 

Bike- Important 

Helmet - Also important. Safety first! 

Flat Repair Kit- I keep this in a little pouch under my seat, though if I had gotten a flat during the race I'm not sure I would have been able to repair it on my own. 

Cycling Shoes- I love mine because they're teal and they're actually tri shoes! Again, I bought these a long long time ago before I even owned a bike, and they ended up working really well. They slide on super easily, which is what makes them great for tris. That being said, they're very open and my feet freeze in the winter. 

Cycling Socks

RUN

Feetures Socks - I love the pull tab on these. No blisters!

Garmin Forerunner- I didn't want to down my Garmin on the swim, so I put it on when I got out of the water and wore it for the bike and run. 

Sneakers- For the run portion I wore my Asics GT-2000. I haven't been loving any of my sneaker options lately, but that might be because everything hurts regardless of what shoe I choose to wear. I like these Asics because they're very cushioned. 

SUNDAY A.M. 

Our alarms went off in perfect synchronization on Sunday morning at 4:45 a.m. I shockingly wasn't all that exhausted due to the 9:30 bed time. 

The first thing I saw was a text from my sister, who had also set her alarm for 4:45 a.m. so she could wish me good luck. AW! 

We quickly dressed while my dad loaded the bikes onto the rack on his truck. My mom thought it was so weird that Abby, Callie and myself all wanted the same thing for our pre-race meal: 

2 Pieces of Whole Wheat Toast
1 Banana
Peanut Butter
Cinnamon

Callie and I also had coffee. 

The car ride was uneventful as we ate and made comments like, "I can't believe this is about to happen," and, "Just going for a lovely swim in the Sound." We enjoyed pump up music like Shots! and Yeah! Nothing says "IM ABOUT TO RACE MY FIRST TRIATHLON" like Lil Jon at 5:30 a.m. 

SET-UP

My dad pulled over near the entrance and we took our bikes off the rack. After a short meltdown where I couldn't work the tire pump and was convinced I had a flat, we walked over to packet pick up (super easy) and started to set up our transition areas. 

I racked my bike without incident and laid out my towel while attempting to organize things on it in some type of order. I didn't have a chart or layout, but I imagine that one day I might very well be that anal triathlete who has checklists and balloons for my transition area. 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

For now, I just tried laying everything out in the order I thought I would need them. That's when I realized my ear plugs were missing and frantically told my mom through the fence that my dad had to look for them in the truck. I also handed her my bag - something I would miss when it came time to pack up all my things at the end of the race....rookie. 

Next stop was "Body Markings" which might have been my favorite part. While the lady wrote my number and age on my arms and legs she told me it was so I could see someone in my age group and try to pass them. Gotta love that competitive spirit! I felt like a badass with my new tattoos. 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

But this badass realllllly needed to pee. So we hopped on the porta potty line which was long, but not too awful. 

Dad saved the day with the earplugs and after lots of hugs and "OMGS" we headed back to our bikes where I slipped on my wetsuit, grabbed my goggles, swim cap and earplugs and headed toward the water. 

As we got closer, my eyes tracked the course and my stomach twisted. That looked far. We joked as we walked, "Look - it's like a minute walk from where to go into the water and wehre we get out - it must be really short!" But I could stop looking at all those buoys marking our route. 

It helped when my parents popped up next to us near the water. They got this really great picture of us looking like athletic aliens. I gave them lots more hugs and my mom told me she would see me when I got out. 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

This was the part where I needed to start consciously breathing slowly and deeply to keep the nerves at bay and I was shocked that I was able to do it. I had an almost totally calm feeling as we stood knee deep in the water (somewhere, got the blue sky breeze and it don't seem fair...) which was a beautiful temperature. 

THE SWIM

Next thing I knew we were going! As I looked around, i saw that almost everyone still had their heads up and were slowly making their way towards the first buoy while the group naturally spread itself out a little bit. 

My wetsuit, which I had promptly peed in, was helping me float fabulously and I didn't feel too much urgency to start freestyling - my doggy paddle technique was going just great. At one point, Callie and I looked up and were right next to each other doggy paddling along - we smiled and cracked up which are two things I did NOT think would happen during the swim portion of my first tri. Tears and stress? Yes. Smiles and laughing? Not so much. 

Soon Callie started swimming for real but I was like, "Nah, this whole swimming with my head out/backstroke/doggy-paddle is extremely inefficient but it's also much more relaxing and enjoyable." 

I swallowed a lot of water. A lot of times I just stopped and treaded water in place. The sun was very bright and I couldn't really see where I was going. It was very slow going. I veered off course more times than I can count. I ran into some people. Some people ran into me. A lot of times it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer to the end. But there was never a time when I thought, "I'M GOING TO DROWN OUT HERE!" In fact, I even remember thinking, "This is actually kind of cool that it's a gorgeous day and I'm going for a swim in the Sound." I probably stroked a total of 20 real swim strokes, but I traveled the half mile and emerged from the water with a smile on my face and that my friends was the first victory of the day. 

SWIM TIME: 26:13 or 3 minutes/100 yards

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

TRANSITION ONE

My wetsuit was the one that was victorious, however, as I struggled to unzip it on my run from the water to my bike. People kept trying to help by shouting to me which shoulder it was over but heck if that helped. I was so frazzled from having just spent a half hour in the water with the sun in my eyes and earplugs in my ears. I was a little discombobulated. But I did hear my parents yell for me which made me happy, even if I couldn't focus on actually making eye contact with them! 

I made it out of my wetsuit and since it doesn't fit me perfectly, it was really easy to peel it off. I put on my Garmin, drank some water (definitely not enough water), popped a Clif Blok in my mouth, wiped my feet off on the towel and put on my cycling socks and shoes, threw on my shirt, strapped my helmet, lifted my bike off the rack and wobbled my way to the bike start. I was actually surprised at how fast I ran in my cycling shoes - maybe not smart, but thankfully I didn't eat it. 

I got on my bike without much trouble and was on my way to the bike portion. 

TRANSITION ONE TIME: 3:04

THE BIKE 

I didn't know much about the course going into it other than there was one fairly large hill. 

The course wasn't too crowded in the beginning which was nice, but soon I found myself surrounded by more people. For much of the bike, part or all of the street was open to traffic which I didn't love, but it didn't cause too many problems. The one part that sucked was when we were on a main road that was still open and we could only ride in the shoulder. I wanted to pass people on the up-hill but was forced to slow down at some points. 

When I got to that one large hill - there was no question that it was "the one." It was a hill alright. My legs were screamin' and seeing people walking their bikes up it realllllly tempted me to do the same. But I shifted down to the lowest gear, grit my teeth, and made it up the hill even when I felt like the end would never come. 

After that, the rest of the course was fairly flat and the end was downhill. None of the turns were too scary and though my legs were tired, I tried to give them pep talks that they still had to run 3 miles. 

On one of the downhills I shakily grabbed my water bottle and took a sip and somehow managed to get it back in its cage without flipping over the handlebars. 

The bike was probably the most enjoyable part of the race for me, but that's also because I was purposely taking it easy and trying to relax and enjoy. 

Soon I was nearing the bike finish and gingerly dismounting while trying not to flop onto the ground. My legs were like jelly! 

BIKE TIME: 32:24 or 17.6 mph 

TRANSITION TWO

The run from bike back to transition was a lot slower. I switching socks and decided to go for it, putting on my Feetures followed by my Asics. 

I should have already had my Garmin going, but alas, I did not. 

I grabbed my Clif Shot gel and got to see my parents again as I went out for the run! 

TRANSITION TWO TIME: 1:46 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

THE RUN 

In my head, this was going to be the victory lap. The best part of the tri. Totally fun. Easy, breezy. I had practiced going from biking to running twice and both times was pleasantly surprised. 

But the TOBAY Triathlon course had some serious hills in store that I was not mentally prepared for. 

The entire first 1.5 miles of the run course was straight up up up. What made it even worse was that it was an out and back, and the entire time people who had already made it to the turn around were whizzing past me on the downhill. It sucked. Plain and simple. 

My shins were absolutely screaming bloody murder. 

At the second water station, I did something I RARELY do - I walked while drinking my cup of water. Even though I only had 1.5 miles to go, I ripped open my Clif Shot gel - I needed something, anything, to get me up the rest of this mountain. 

When I finally made it to the turn around and started running downhill, things got marginally better. My legs were still in pain, but at least I knew I was in the home stretch. 

Without around a mile left to go, someone near me on the course started joking with a friend about how crazy we are to do this stuff for fun and it made me smile and get out of my head for a second to realize "Hey, I'm doing this, I'm going to finish my first triathlon!" 

When the finish line was in sight I was able to kick it into high gear and finish strong, bursting across the finish line and instantly chugggggging a water. I was definitely super dehydrated. Woops! 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

First I saw Callie and gave her a big sweaty hug and high five - WE DID IT! Then my parents came from the other side and got sweaty, wet, salty hugs too. It was so so so amazing to have them there since they have heard me bitching and moaning about swimming for over a year now. 

They took some very flattering post race pictures and next thing we knew we were cheering Abby across the finish line too and WE WERE ALL DONE! 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

The run was actually so much faster than it felt at the time (unless the course was short!) 

RUN TIME: 23:50 or 7:41 pace 

POST-RACE

We packed up our things (I forgot my wetsuit and had to go back for it later, fail) and went over to the post-race festivities for ice cream and beer. It was a really nice finish area and we sat out in the sun recapping the race and taking more pictures because heading to Huntington for brunch with our familias! Avocado bacon burger with a Bloody Mary was the perfect recovery meal! 

I was asleep within 10 minutes of the train ride back to the city and a lazy blob the rest of the day! 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

THOUGHTS:

 The race was very well organized and the perfect size! It wasn't overwhelming at any point and everything went pretty seamlessly. 

The swim, though many people said it was long, was very calm and warm. 

Now that I know I don't need to be Michael Phelps to travel half a mile in the water, I'm much more comfortable with the idea of tris. The fact that I managed to do the whole swim without ACTUALLY swimming is comforting and also something that I now see as a challenge to improve on instead of an insurmountable hurdle. 

Callie did the best braids!!! 

Having my parents there for this was HUGE. They are my biggest supporters and the fact that they woke up at 4:45 a.m. and dealt with my stressed, overwhelmed, scared, anxious, crankiness all day means the world to me. 

Every race should have beer afterwards. 

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

I love the shirt that we got! 

Most people have asked if I'm "hooked" on tris now. I definitely plan on doing more, and I still hope that I can make an Olympic Distance happen someday. But I wouldn't say I'm addicted. It's a lot more stressful and a lot more work than simply running a race - the logistics of traveling with my bike alone make me think this isn't something I'll be doing every weekend while I'm still living in NYC. 

That being said, I had SO MUCH FUN doing this with Abby and Callie. That made all the difference in the world!

TOBAY Triathlon Race Recap

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Ready or Not - Here (tr)i Come

Somehow, the Tobay Triathlon is upon us. In two sleeps I will be waking up in my childhood bed at an ungodly hour to journey to my first multi-sport race.

Joining me on the course will be two amazing ladies and the world's best support squad. Yet despite the comforts of home, the fun of racing with two friends, and the support of family members:

I am straight up petrified, people.

First Triathlon Fears

This is the first time in awhile that I'm attempting something I've never done before and it's scary. I've tried thinking back to how I felt before my first marathon and I don't think I was this stressed out. With my marathon, I bought into the whole "trust your training" mantra hook line and sinker.

WINEGLASS Marathon

But with this tri, my training hasn't had me run into the Long Island Sound with hundreds of other people kicking, swimming, and splashing around and on top of me.

Physically, I know I can handle a sprint distance triathlon. Mentally, it's a whole 'nother story.

It's no secret that I've struggled with swimming. Multiple times I've cried about it (dramatic, I know). I'm not comfortable in a 4 foot deep pool with no one around me. How the hell am I going to make it a half mile in the murky, crowded Sound?

Triathlon Training Open Water Swim

It comes down to determination and reminding myself of how far I've come and how badly I've wanted to become a triathlete. It's focusing on the fact that I have overcome a lot of mental challenges already - getting to the starting line wasn't a cake walk. Here's a reminder to myself of how I got here:

  • Over a year ago I got myself into a pool. I've consistently swam, even taking lessons in a disgusting Chinatown pool, for over a year despite dreading it each and every time.
  • I worked for months at a running store after my 9-5 day job - saving everything I made there until I could buy myself a road bike.
  • Embarrassment didn't stop me from clipping in for the first time in the middle of Central Park completely alone - where I promptly tipped over into a giant patch of mud.
  • Despite my initial fears, tears, falls and flats - I've learned to love my bike. It's taken me fun places, brought my roommate and I closer, and even introduced me to new friends.
Palisades Bike Ride
  • Biking and swimming provided an outlet while I suffered through months off from running.
  • Being able to swim in a giant pool in the middle of Central Park is just one of those NYC things that makes me question how I could ever leave. Also, I question how I never noticed Lasker Pool until this summer.

As I was typing this and listening to showtunes (naturally) - I Have Confidence from The Sound Of Music came on. New theme song for Sunday:

I've always longed for adventure

To do the things I've never dared

Now here I'm facing adventure

Then why am I so scared

So many people have promised me that during my first tri, many things can and WILL go wrong - but that I will still absolutely love it. We'll find out if that's the case on Sunday!

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Ready To Be A Triathlete After the World's Worst Swim

MY SWIMMING BACKGROUND 

Hint: Non-Existent 

It was over a year ago that I took my first trip to the New York Sports Club pool to attempt swimming as exercise. I grew up on the water – swimming at the beach, in the ocean, on my boat, in friends’ pools - but was never enrolled in swim classes. I was a professional doggy paddler/breast stroker/water treader/noodle floater. And that was fine with me. 

While most kids and teenagers enjoyed somersaulting in the water and having handstand contests, I was petrified of going under water after several painful experiences with swimmer’s ear. At water parks I exclusively went on rides that involved tubes of some sort. On a trip to Hawaii my family marveled at the sea creatures they saw snorkeling while I felt claustrophobic near the coral reefs.

Beginner Triathlete

Getting My Feet Wet 

If You Want to Tri, You've Got to Try

That first attempt at swimming laps had me all sorts of nervous about putting my face in and head under. I was frustrated but not all that surprised by the fact that I struggled. But I had gotten the idea in my head that I was going to be a triathlete and so – I signed up for lessons. I learned a ton about technique and form but my practice sessions were few and far between as I lacked the motivation to partake in exercise that I was a) awful at b) didn’t enjoy whatsoever. I even wrote a post about all the things I had learned from my swimming workouts – you smell the rest of the day, your eyes are sleepy, my hair doesn’t fit under swim caps, the list of excuses I had to do any workout BUT swimming went on and on.

Beginner Triathlete

BECOMING MICHAEL PHELPS

A Breakthrough?

But then I was injured and not running and was more seriously looking into my first triathlon. I began going to the pool once a week on a consistent basis. It was just a few weeks ago that I started to actually look forward to these workouts and feel just a tad more confident. I was swimming over a mile in a workout and while my pace was slow I felt I was improving.

When I read about NYC Parks summer lap program, I was so excited. I could swim outside at a pool that was 63 YARDS LONG instead of the 18 yard pool I had been stuck in. I was convinced that this would be an amazing experience, perfect practice, and I set off on Monday morning ready to rock and roll. 

It was a gorgeous morning and when we ran up to the pool through Central Park, the water was shimmering in the sun. We talked to an Ironman while waiting for the gate to open which made my even more excited for this next step in my training.

We hopped in the pool and it wasn’t a disgusting 90 degrees like New York Sports Club but a beautiful, crisp temperature that warmed up immediately when you started moving. I clung to the edge and looked across the pool thinking, “Shit this is long. There are no lines. There are a lot of people swimming near me.” I quieted the voice in my head reminding myself that all of those things were what made this great practice for my triathlon. I took a deep breath, pushed off and set out for my first uninterrupted 63 yard swim.

Lasker Pool Central Park

DROWNING

Absolutely Not Michael Phelps

I was immediately uncomfortable with the lack of line to follow below me and I was thinking on repeat, “Where’s the other side, where’s the other side.” I was so uptight and anxious that I couldn’t relax into my stroke whatsoever.

I stopped and stood up in the 3 foot deep water as my eyes pricked with tears. I was one second away from a full-blown panic attack. I took a deep breath and plunged myself back in – hard to get going without a wall to kick off of. When I finally made it to the other side my roommate was there and we both gave each other a look that said, “Oh my God what have we done?” Then we said to each other, “OMG THAT WAS SO HARD!”

At least I knew I wasn’t alone in the fact that 63 yards had felt like an eternity.

Eventually, we figured out the circle swim pattern that everyone was following and I started to flip onto my back when I got tired which is what I’ve read to do during the open water swim portion of a triathlon. But during 45 minutes and over 1200 yards, I didn’t once successfully make it across the pool without stopping to stand. I felt like a complete failure.

I’m still unsure how much of a mental thing this was vs. a physical thing – all I know is it was a huge wake up call to the challenges of open water swimming vs. lap swimming in a pool where you reach a wall every 18 yards.

NYC Lap Swimming

WHAT HAVE I DONE

Am I Cut Out for Triathlons? 

Monday completely knocked me down. All the work and progress I thought I had achieved in swimming came crashing down and the worst part was how excited I had been before I pushed off from the wall for the first time. My pride was bruised and I was embarrassed for everyone at the pool to see how much I was struggling.

I had been feeling confident about doing a triathlon at the end of the summer and now I was seriously questioning paying $135 to not even make it through the first leg. I was convinced there was no way I could complete a half mile open water swim after that complete and utter failure.

TURN YOUR FROWN UPSIDE DOWN 

Why This Was A #Blessing

I got home and I looked at the pictures I had taken from the pool and realized what an amazing opportunity I had been given.

I swam outside in one of the most iconic parks in the world.

I woke up, rolled out of bed, and ran there in less than 10 minutes.

It was a beautiful, sunny Monday morning.

It was completely free.

I had realized at a perfect time that there is a lot more work for me to do before I’m ready for a triathlon – while I’m training, not while I was in the middle of the Long Island Sound.

I now have the chance to suck it up and get myself to the pool twice a week instead of once – three if I need to - and slowly but surely 63 yards won’t seem so impossible.

And so when I got home, I posted my atrocious 3+ minutes per yard pace on Strava and promised myself that I would make it official by shouting out to the internet –

I am training for my first triathlon on August 28. The TOBAY Sprint Triathlon will be my first attempt at becoming a triathlete – something I’ve been wanting to do for over a year now but was too scared to officially sign up for.

Lasker Pool Central Park NYC

While practice makes perfect, I do know that there is a lot I need to overcome mentally to get myself through an open water swim. People who know I grew up tubing, boating, water-skiing and kayaking are shocked to hear how panicked the idea makes me. But it’s a physical reaction when I think about it – my chest tightens, I get nauseous, and I want to break down and cry.

But my friend Sarah, an amazing inspiration and Ironman, reminded me that to be afraid means that I am challenging myself and that I am respecting the challenge of a triathlon.

August 28 is terrifying to me. But I know that overcoming the crushing fear will make the finish line that much sweeter.

YOUR TURN:
WHAT IS THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
DO YOU HAVE ANY SWIMMING TIPS FOR ME? PLEASE?

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My Week At Equinox: PURSUIT Spin Class + A Swim

I'm taking you along for the ride on my 7 days as an Equinox member. You can read about my first class, Ropes and Rowers, here

The PURSUIT Equinox

Day Two: The PURSUIT 

For Tuesday morning's workout I decided to try a spin class at Equinox and was surprised to find that the bikes were very similar to those used at Swerve. That means METRICS which is always a positive in my opinion. 

I went into the class not knowing what to expect in terms of if I would be able to ride in my Nike's or if their bikes would only be able to be used by clip-in spin shoes but I was pleasantly surprised to find that an Equinox staff member was going around putting cages on pedals for riders who couldn't clip in. He was also taking said cages off of pedals for people that had spin shoes. 

I hopped on my bike and took in the scene - a very large spin studio (I would guess 40 bikes) but a raised platform for the instructor. Melissa Morin taught the class, and I recognized her from when she used to teach at New York Sports Club. I liked her style then and I still like it now - though the way PURSUIT is set up requires much less from the instructor. 

Behind the instructor is a bigggggg screen that makes the class feel like you're playing video games on your bike. 

METRICS 

Your bike will show you your RPMs, MPH, total mileage, and watts. I missed having a metric that shows "resistance." What's most important throughout the class is your watts - or power you're producing as you spin. 

5 GAME FORMAT

After a few minute warm-up, it was time for the workout to begin. PURSUIT is broken up into 5 "games," each lasting between 4-6 minutes. The ultimate goal is for the entire class to reach a pre-determined wattage score by the end of these 5 games - the more people in the class, the more wattage you'll need to produce. 

GAME 1 

During game one, we focused on our RPMs. For one minute the goal was to spin between 65-75 RPMs before increasing to 85-95 for a minute and then a minute at 105+. Then, we repeated. The graphics on the screen showed each person in the class as their bike number in a circle. That circle glowed and filled up as your wattage increased. 

For this game, there were two horizontal lines that represented the high end of RPMs we were aiming for and the low end of RPMs. The goal was to keep your dot shining bright in the middle of those two lines. 

GAME 2 

Game two focused on distance intervals. You clicked a button on your bike's screen which zeroed out your distance (though your total mileage remained) and then tried to spin your way to .25 miles as quickly as possible. You took the rest you needed before clearing the screen and sprinting to another .25 miles. 

The goal was to accumulate as many quarter-miles as you could in the allotted time (the studio record was 14!) 

GAME 3

In this round, riders were partnered up with someone else in the room and switched off riding every :30 racing the rest of the pairs in the class. The screen continued to show your glowing circle, as well as where you were in regards to the rest of the class on your race. 

The screen also highlighted which teams were competing for first and second place - a huge boost to the individuals on those teams (as proven by the last minute come from behind victory by the team in 2nd place!) 

GAME 4 

Another game was similar to game 1 as we focused on staying within a prescribed RPM range. The challenge was that between 65-105 RPMs we had to try to keep our resistance the same! Ouch. 

GAME 5 

The last game split the entire class into different teams. The whole team sprinted as hard and fast as they could for 1:00 before getting a break - the team that amassed the most power (watts) won that round. 

WHAT I LIKED 

Metrics. 

Always diggin' the metrics. Even though lately, I've discovered that the metrics make me feel pretty damn bad about myself! Here I was thinking I was pretty decent in a spin class and, well, not so much. At best it's motivating to see just how much I can improve and at worst it's discouraging to see how much more power my classmates were able produce throughout the 50 minute class. 

DIY. 

Stand when you want, sit when you want. Make the resistance what you want. This can go both ways depending on the day - sometimes I need the structure of detailed instructions to get the most out of my ride, but some days it's nice to feel in control of my own workout. 

TECHY. 

This class is super high-tech. The games and graphics are awesome. For games where you're partnered with someone - if there's an uneven number of people you have a computer ride with you that performs exactly as you were performing. If it's a team game and one team is lacking a player, there's a computer rider that produces results that equal the average of the other riders. I'm not a tech-person at all, but it really impressed me thinking that someone designed all this stuff! 

It's also awesome to crank up your resistance, keep your RPMs the same and watch your icon on the screen start to glow brighter - it KNOWS. 

COMPETITION. 

This class has team competition. partner competition, group competition (the entire class is trying to reach an end watt goal throughout), and solo competition. After each game, the screen will show the leader board - the top 8 female riders and the top 8 male riders for some extra motivation. 

POWER. 

I love that this class isn't like SoulCycle or Cyc - it doesn't matter how FAST your legs are flying around the flywheel. What matters is producing WATTS. POWER. Strength. No dancing on your bike. No bicep curls on the bike with baby weights. 

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE 

SHOES. 

My own fault, but not being clipped in for this class was a major bummer. 

WOMP WOMP. 

I was shocked at how poorly I performed. My sad little circle was by far the least brightly shining. I thought it might have to do with the fact that my age, weight, height, etc. wasn't in the Equinox system, but since the class is based on watts - it's essentially how well you're able to keep up your RPMs at heavier resistance - which I apparently am not-so-good at. It was disheartening, but I did what I could and left feeling like I had gotten in a solid workout for sure. 

BIKE COMPUTER. 

It drove me CRAZY that the computer on the bike had a button you had to KEEP PRESSING to turn the light on if you wanted to see your numbers. I wish that it would have just stayed turned out!! 

Overall, I really really liked this spin class. It was high-intensity but also focused on strength. It went really quickly because of the 5-game format. It had metrics, it had good music, the instructor was great and the competitive aspect kept me putting in a solid effort. I would like to see more studios implement this "gaming goes to the gym" idea! 

Equinox Columbus Circle

Day Two: Swim 

Tuesday I went for the two-a-day. After work  I headed to a different Equinox location (Columbus Circle) to meet up with my friend Kaitlin and check out the pool. Entering through the Shops at Columbus Circle - I eventually managed to find my way to the pool. 

It was SO NICE swimming in a 25 yard pool vs. an 18 yard pool. It doesn't sound like much, but it made a difference. 

The lanes were very crowded though (2-3 people per lane) - probably because we were there after work as opposed to early in the morning. 

Instead of just showing up at the pool and aimlessly swimming back and forth which is SO BORING to me, I looked online and found some suggested workouts which I modified since I can swim like 50 yards at a time before I need to stop for a breather. Hey, at least I #Tri. Ha, get it? 

I had my workouts written on index cards which was like, DUH LAUREN, pool + paper. The woman I was sharing a lane with clearly knew what she was doing and had her workout in a zip lock baggie. Now I know! 

SWIM WORKOUT 

Warm Up - 100 Yards
4 x 25 - Counting my strokes and trying to stay consistent
4 x 50 - :30 rest between each 50 yards
4 x 25 - Counting my strokes and trying to stay consistent
100 Yards
4 x 25 - Breathe every 4th stroke
4 x 25 - Breathe every 2nd stroke
8 x 25 sprints with :30 rest
100 yards counting strokes per length
4 x 25 sprints (as few breaths as possible) with :30 rests
100 yards counting strokes per length
4 x 25 kicking (alternate sides) 
2 x 25 no kicking
2 x 25 hands in fists

Total: 1500 yards 

It took me about an hour and was much better for me than just going to swim for an hour. But still not enjoyable by any means. Glad that my friend was there to hold me accountable for showing up! 

YOUR TURN: 
ANY TIPS FOR CREATING A SWIM WORKOUT?  
ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR EQUINOX CLASSES I SHOULDN'T MISS DURING MY FREE TRIAL? 

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10 Things I've Realized While Learning To Swim As An Adult

For the past 8 weeks, I've had the opportunity to take JackRabbit Sports' Efficient Technique Swim Level I course in a sketchy pool on the Lower East Side. 

Seahorse Fitness NYC

The signs at Seahorse Fitness say things like, "No Spitting" and "No Holding Breathe" in English and Chinese with some of the most entertaining illustrations I've ever seen. 

The 25-yard pool is always awkwardly warm and smells slightly of fish. According to their website, the water temperature is kept between 85 and 90 degrees. Perfect for swimming laps...(uhm, no). 

The locker room is a place you wouldn't want to be alone and after a shower at Seahorse Fitness, you'll feel dirtier than when you came in. 

That being said - I have learned a TON in the 8 hours spent in the pool thanks to the course instructor, Maria Mason Frazetta. 

Many of the people in my class have taken multiple swim classes with Maria, have trained with her for triathlons, etc. She's the real deal!

Each week she's provided us with a recap of the workout so that we are now equipped with clear-cut workouts to bring to a pool. She has provided resources and videos and answered a million of our questions. 

Since I started trying to get into this whole swimming thing over the summer, I like to think I've improved vastly. That being said, I've still only managed to swim a full mile one time and I still don't exactly look forward to jumping in the pool. 

I still feel like a fish out of water. Except, in the water. Becoming Michael Phelps is no easy task. And here are some things I've learned from my many (short) laps in NYC pools. 

Becoming Michael Phelps

1. No matter what the temperature of the pool is, I am a baby and will shiver a little bit when I hop in.

2. Constantly having Swimmer's Ear as a child has scarred me for life. The second I feel a drip of water enter my ear canal, all bets are off and I panic. At least half of my time in the pool is spent adjusting and readjusting my swim cap and trying to mold my ear plugs to fit perfectly into my ear. The second I start swimming, they usually get messed up and I have to stop and readjust all over again. 

3. I never realized that most people breathe out through their mouths. I'm a nose breather, which is all well and good until you have some phlegm or are feeling stuffed up. Then, it can get messy. I've grown accustomed to some snotty swims. Cute, right?

4.  After swimming, I tend to feel incredibly bloated and have a stomach ache. I've done some Googling on it, and it seems to be a problem some other people experience as well. I think it may have to do with my panicked gulps for air! Either way, it doesn't feel great and even results in lots of burping while I'm swimming. 

5. Also not great is the sleepy feeling in my eyes for an hour or so after swimming thanks to the chlorine. 

6. I'm also typically starved after swimming, though research has made me realize that I'm not, in fact, burning as many calories as if I were to run or bike or lift. So sadly, I can't yet eat as many calories as Michael Phelps does on a daily basis. 

7. The bathing suit dryer at New York Sports Club is a lifesaver. 

8. I obviously shower after swimming, but that does nothing to remove the scent of chlorine from my skin which seems to linger for at least 24 hours. 

9. There is SO MUCH to think about while you swim. I'm trying so hard to be aware of my body while doing laps and focusing on form but sometimes it gets frustrating and I just want to go back to my old ways - it seemed to be easier, faster and less mentally challenging to windmill my arms back and forth. 

10. There is no cute way to take off a soaking wet bathing suit. You must shimmy and contort your body and there is really no way to be modest in the locker room.  That, combined with the bloat, goggle marks and snot makes me simply irresistible. 

I'm a long way away from triathlon ready, but that's the ultimate goal so I will continue to practice practice practice. Just keep swimming as Dory would say! 

Photo Credit: My talented Aunt D!

Photo Credit: My talented Aunt D!






What's Next on My Fitness Journey?

During a cold, wintry long-run last February, my friend Rebecca and I ran together for a few miles in Central Park. My foot was giving me problems, we were dressed in 20 layers to stay warm, and we very quickly fell into an easy conversation that helped distract us from the general unpleasantness of an outdoor run in February. 

The topic of conversation? Food. I had found my culinary-counterpart. We bonded over our love of all things epicurean – and since then I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can make eating look as life-changing as Rebecca. Just look at her with this Pepe’s pizza. Is she not making you want to hop on Metro North for a slice 

right now?

(I don't make it look as believable) 

Anywho, since then, Rebecca and I have bonded over things besides food – one of those being fitness! Like me, sometimes (lots of times) Rebecca likes to lift heavy things. I love that she knows MUSCLES ARE SEXY. And let me tell you, her gun show is the best in town.

Recently, we both started to do Kayla Itsine’s 12 week “Bikini Body Guide.”

I’ve explained in previous posts

that originally, I thought this program would be no big deal. I mean, it’s called the “Bikini Body Guide.” How legit could it be? It sounded like just another trend that would over promise and under deliver. But as I wasn’t able to run at the time, I figured I would give it a shot.

Shit that shit was hard.

Leg day? I would be sore for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards.

Kayla Itsine’s guide isn’t anything revolutionary. She’s taken a bunch of standard strength and cardio moves and put them into an easy to follow plan – it’s short but high intensity. You WILL be dripping in sweat by the end.

As someone who generally despises any and all jumping exercises – this was especially challenging for me. If I never have to do another jumping lunge in my life it would be too soon.

I was loving Kayla’s BBG for a while. And then I started running again. And suddenly the 3X a week commitment on top of trying to run 18 miles a week, swim and fit in yoga got to be overwhelming. I wasn’t looking forward to the workouts anymore and while the leg and ab routines were awesome, my arms weren’t feeling challenged.

Not usually one to quit things, especially fitness-based things, I pretty un-guiltily just…stopped…

After a solid 8 weeks of completing all the workouts, I had had enough. I felt a little bummed. But I also felt excited to be running again, and that off-set any “You’re a quitter” thoughts that I was having about cutting Kayla’s BBG short.

Last week at November Project, I got really excited when Rebecca arrived and I got to run with her for 2 miles. And again, we totally bonded over the conversation topic of choice– Rebecca’s statement of, “I’m just kind of confused on my fitness journey.”

DING DING DING!

Exactly how I have been feeling! And since that run together, I’ve been thinking about it even more. I’m feeling a little lost on my fitness journey so I’m going to try to write it out to gain some clarity.

I’m not training for a marathon.

 The fall marathon I thought I was going to run as an attempt to BQ – that most definitely didn’t happen. I've been a little sad lately watching everyone around me planning for and running their long runs – especially when it’s so beautiful out!

Do I want to run a spring marathon? I still can’t decide. I trained for Pittsburgh over the long winter months last year and it was hard. I know Peter will be an amazing source of support if I decide to do it again, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation right now for 7 a.m. alarms when the thermometer is in the teens. Then again – I want that BQ. The weather for spring marathons is beautiful. What else am I going to do all winter? So – the jury is still out.

I have been slowly increasing my weekly mileage and so far so good – except that it's still frustrating that I feel like I'm having a fast, strong run - putting in a ton of effort and left completely gassed after 4 miles - yet my pace is so. much. slower. than a few months ago. I know I need to be patient, but I may or may not have cried on a rock in Central Park after Saturday's run. I used to wake up and run the 6 mile loop at a 7:50 pace pretty consistently while training for Pittsburgh. Saturday, it took every ounce of energy to run 4 miles at 7:58. Grr. 

I

do

have a few running-related goals to work towards, however.

I just signed up for the NYC Runs 10K on Roosevelt Island on Halloween! I want to be excited, but I know the reality of how much speed and endurance I’ve lost in the past 5 months is going to hit me like a ton of bricks when I cross this finish line. At the 2014 Scotland Run 10K, I threw down a 45:23 – 7:19 pace.  Yikes.

I plan on running a new Turkey Trot this year – a 5 miler near my home on Long Island. My official 5 miler PR is the Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off which I ran monstrously hungover last fall – so we’ll see if a 7:45 pace is something I can top.

With our upcoming trip to Austin, Texas planned – my 4

th

half marathon is on the calendar. The Decker Challenge is a hilllllly course that I’m not expecting to PR, but hoping to feel OK running. It will be my longest run since May’s Brooklyn Half Marathon if/when I cross the finish.

Ted Corbitt 15K is the last NYRR points race of the year – and since I’ve been unable to race as a member of November Project’s team yet, I want to be out there running! It will be a PR no matter what, as it’s a new distance for me.

Last but not least on the calendar (for now) is the Blue Point 10 Miler – which was an AMAZING race I ran last winter. This year it will be even better since I will hopefully have friends to drink with after. By then, who in the world knows what my pace will be like – but I don’t anticipate it being easy to beat last year’s 8:13 pace. Time will tell!

Focusing on these shorter distance races will be different for me and I’m hoping it eases me back into running/racing/going fast and then if I decide I want to go far – we’ll see about that spring marathon. I have another month or two to decide.

Strength Training

has not being something I’ve been focusing on a lot – but I do really love it! I love going to the gym and coming up with my own circuits focused on certain body parts – waking up in the morning and knowing within a minute, “Oh yeah right, I did triceps yesterday – definitely worked!” Marathon training makes it really hard to spend a ton of time doing much besides running. And it makes it really reallllly hard to spend any time at all focused on arms. I’ve come to accept that I need to include one day a week of leg strength training to keep my hips and glutes strong. But in the next few weeks I hope to incorporate some more abs and arms as well, despite the fact that I’m not still following Kayla Itsine’s guides.

If anyone has fun strength training ladders/HIIT/Tabata/etc. that they’d like to share, please do!

Triathlons

are something I’ve been super gung ho about for a few months now. I started saving, I started researching bikes, I started bothering people with a million and one questions (sorry everyone). I spent $80 on shoes for spin class that I have yet to attach the cleats to. I started swimming once or twice a week. And now, I’m signed up for swimming lessons once a week.

And suddenly – I don’t know if I want to do a tri.

Oops.

That’s not true. I know I want to do a tri. I think I would like it. Maybe love it. That “Iron Man” challenge is definitely still in the back of my crazy mind. But I just don’t know if right now is the time. Triathloning (yes, it’s a word…) is

really really expensive

.

I just booked a flight to Austin for a 6 day vacation and half marathon and it’s probably going to end up costing me less than a bike would cost me. Not to mention the $200 entry fees, a wet suit, and the tons of biking things I’m sure I don’t even know about yet.

So, jury is also out on whether or not a tri is in my future at the moment -  but I do still plan on stopping at a bike store to get myself fitted so that I can properly stalk Craiglist for a used bike in my size. Doesn’t hurt to keep my eyes open!

And in the meantime, I’ve found that swimming is a nice new challenge and I’m looking forward to finishing this 8 week course and keeping a weekly swim in my fitness repertoire.

Yoga

continues to bore me for the most part – but I

do

notice a huge difference when I go twice a week as opposed to, you know, thinking my body will magically be fine without zero stretching. So, I’ve been trying to be consistent with that!

Unfortunately, writing all of that out didn’t give me any real clarity on why I’m feeling kind of “meh” at the moment – why I can’t seem to figure out what I want to put my energy towards.  

But maybe the moral of this incredibly long blog post isn’t, “Figure out what your next challenge is” or, “Figure out what muscle you want to develop next!” Maybe the moral of it is that I’m going to accept the fact that sometimes, we don’t know exactly where we’re headed. 

If there’s nothing calling to me right now, maybe it’s because physically or mentally I need to take a chill pill. Or maybe the lack of direction is making room for something else to unexpectedly turn up – roller blading, that field hockey league I’ve been wanting to join, trapeze school? I’m keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out. 

Some days it makes me a little antsy. Without a calendar to tell me how many miles I need to run on Saturday morning, who am I?! Answer: still Lauren.  

And sometimes, for a lot of fitness-loving ladies and lads – I think that’s harder for us to believe than it should be.

So listen up. I’m talking to you and I’m talking to myself: If you’re ever feeling a little down because you feel “lazy” without a big shiny goal – stop.

Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t preparing to run a marathon. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t spiritually moved by downward dog. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you didn’t do a WOD at the box this morning.

Maybe you enjoyed a walk through the fall foliage. Or a jog. Or a giant picnic. Maybe you dragged yourself to yoga because you know you needed to stretch your calves. Maybe you hope to never use the term WOD in your life. Maybe you slept in.

 As long as we are moving our bodies in ways that feel good and right for us in the moment, and letting them rest when they want to rest, we shouldn’t feeling anything but appreciation.

Appreciate that we’ve found ways to move and be active that we genuinely enjoy. Appreciate that we’ve realized endorphins really are like drugs. Appreciate that fitness is a great way to connect with your body – to know when it wants to move and how it wants to move and when it wants to rest.

To know on the day that you’re signing up for a marathon that you are ready to commit to it.

To know on a certain day that you can go that extra 100 meters in the pool.

To know on a certain day that you are definitely not going to make it to that spin class you signed up for.

To know on a certain day that the time has come to train for your first tri.

To walk into the gym ready for a tricep workout only to get there and see tthe TRX machine is empty and you feel like doing some back exercises instead.

I loved that Rebecca referred to it as her

fitness journey

.

No two people’s journeys are going to be the same. Some days your journey is going to be awesomely downhill and wonderful and fun and some days or weeks or months it’s going to be slow going. Then there are those forks in the road where you’re not quite sure what’s coming up next.

It’s allllll part of it. 

So instead of getting down, embrace it and keep your eyes open for the moment when your next goal appears on the horizon. And when it presents itself, you give that goal your all.

The Running Update!

It's time for a recap on my fitness life for the past oh, I don't know...4 months? The last thing I blogged about was really the Brooklyn Half Marathon back on May 16. 

And unfortunately, that was my last real run where I felt good (well, I was even hurting by the end of Brooklyn). 

(Remember when I ran a 1:40:34 half marathon?)

If you remember way back to May - I had boldly declared that I would be attempting to BQ at the Suffolk County Marathon. Well, that race was on Sunday and needless to say, I wasn't there to even slowly run the half. 

The problem has been my IT band and it's been frustrating to say the least. For 4 months I've attempted to rest for weeks at a time (and by rest I mean no running) only to feel pain 2 or 3 miles into a run when I finally decided to give it another try. A run in Tampa - ended in stabbing pain. My first "training run" for the Suffolk County Marathon in Las Vegas - awful. The first attempt at 8 miles in Central Park with Peter? Frustrated tears and stabbing pain. There were a few three mile runs I was able to run without pain - but they mainly made me grumpy because I realized how much speed and endurance I had lost. 

Not to mention not exactly feeling my best in terms of the weight department either - if you've been reading my blog and reading about my summer - it pretty much consisted of a LOT of eating out and drinking. Pair that with practically no running - and I haven't been feeling super confident rockin' my bikinis. 

BUT I also had an amazing summer and just keep trying to tell myself that this whole not running thing won't last forever (please, don't last forever!)

The most frustrating thing about IT band pain is when you try Googling ways to fix it and half the Internet tells you foam roll, foam roll, foam roll and then other people tell you rest rest rest while simultaneously telling you to strengthen your hips and glutes and then other people tell you that foam rolling will only make things worse.


So, what have I been doing in an attempt to get rid of this awful tightness in my IT band? And still exercise? (By no means should you follow my lead here if you're trying to overcome ITBS).

1) Not running - but not exactly resting. 
I was pretty good about taking a serious break with running. Every two weeks or so I would lace up my sneakers and head out for a run to see if things had improved, but most of the time the answer was a big fat no. I listened when that was the case and I never went more than three miles (OK, except for the time I ran to NP Chicago). 




But should I have been going to spin class twice a week? Probably not.

I know it wasn't helping speed up my recovery - but it was low impact cardio and it didn't bother my knee when I did it. So that's what I've been doing - spin twice a week. Some days I was actually OK with the break from running because I was able to find other things I like to do. And one of those things was getting back to spinning. So while it may have slowed down my recovery, it at least kept me sane. 


2) Kayla Itsines 12 Week Bikini Body Guide. 
This chick is all the rage on Instagram. 


She's from Australia and she created a workout and nutrition guide that has completely taken off. The other day, myself and another girl were both doing the same routine at the gym! 

When I first saw all the posts, I rolled my eyes. And to be honest, I thought the workouts would be a joke. I'm hear to admit that I was wrong. 

I just started week 6 of the workouts and while I haven't noticed much of a change (I haven't exactly been following the whole nutrition aspect of this guide...) I am consistently sweaty and out of breath at the end of the workout. 




The way the program works is this:
3 days a week you complete a strength workout - either abs, arms or legs or some combination of those with some cardio. Each workout consists of 2 circuits that you complete twice each. 


Circuit one is 4 exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Circuit two is 4 different exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Then, you repeat circuit 1. Then, you repeat circuit 2. 

28 minutes of work and you'll good to go! 

The guides call for 30 seconds of rest in between each 7 minute circuit but I usually take more than that if we're being honest. 

Set-up to finish is usually 45 minutes for me. 

The other days of the week you're supposed to do either low-intensity steady state cardio or HIIT but I've just been doing my spin classes as cardio.

I really like these because they aren't super time consuming but I definitely feel like I'm getting a good workout in. After leg day, it's pretty daunting arriving at Peter's apartment and knowing I have to walk up 5 flights of stairs. 

Should I be doing 28 minutes of jump squats and lunges and burpees when I'm trying to heal my IT band? Debatable. I will say that my legs have felt stronger, which can't be a bad thing for a runner in the long run, right? 

3) Hip-Strengthening 
Last time I had IT band problems I consistently did a few hip strengthening exercises that I attribute to getting things working again. I've started to do them again. 


-Hip hikes



-Single leg squat onto box




-Clam shells with resistance band
-Leg lifts with resistance band
-Side shuffle with resistance band


Here's a video that includes some other good exercises

4) Foam rolling...sometimes.
My foam rolling game has, admittedly, been pretty weak. 

5) Icing when needed.
Sometimes after an attempted run, my knee would KILL. Any time I have knee discomfort just from walking or sitting, I try to ice it. 


6) Yoga.
I've been trying to get to yoga twice a week, even though sometimes it's only once. It's crazy how fast I lost my flexibility. During Pittsburgh Marathon training I was killin' it with yoga - sometimes going three times a week. Slowly but surely I'm getting back into it and it definitely makes a difference. The other day in the store, I told Peter my chatarunga was on fleek AND HE DIDN'T LAUGH! Someone tell me I'm funny. 


7) Daydreaming about all the things I'm going to do when I can run again. 
And that still includes a big fat BQ. Recently, I've allowed myself to start thinking about a spring marathon.



(This is what I do in my free time...anyone run any of these marathons? Suggestions for a good spring BQ course? Minimal travel? Early May?)


Even bigger than that is this crazy idea that has always semi-existed in my head of completing an Iron Man. I always said I was going to be a bad-ass 50 year old completing an IronMan but recently I've been wanting to do it sooner. But not soon. Like, 10 year plan soon. 

But that means that I'm gunna need to start somewhere in the world of triathlons! Which is why I am officially saving up to buy myself a bike (I'm also accepting donations! And recommendations, advice, etc.) I've got a loooong way to go - as in my current savings are at $35 and I figure I need $1,500. But what's important is that I've started! 

I already bought myself a pair of cycling shoes and cleats so I can start clipping in during my spin classes just to get used to it. 

And the biggest step in all this triathlon jazz is that I started...

7) Swimming. 
GULP. 

You're talking to the girl who DOESN'T put her head under water for fear of instantaneously getting swimmer's ear like she did as a child - ruining many a pool party or summer day. 

I can swim fine - just not for real

Peter has been enlisted as my swim coach. 5 minutes into my first lesson I was totally over it, getting cranky and frustrated. 




But I've been consistently going at least once a week and have improved a TON from that first trip to the pool - there's still so much work to be done though. I can basically get about 15 meters before I'm hanging onto the side of the pool gulping in lungfuls of air. 

Yes, I love lifting weights and strength training - but I need my cardio! So swimming has been good for that too.


8) Plunging. 
I bought a $7 sink plunger and I use it on my IT Band. Yes, this was a day I was feeling particularly desperate. But I've read a bunch about it and it's a real think! Similar to cupping - it's supposed to distract the soft tissue and increase blood flow to the area...or something like that. It feels weird but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 


You can watch it here. 


9. Reading a lot of running related books. 
It helps keep me motivated instead of convincing myself I'm over running completely just because it's going to be a lot harder now. Read these if you need to get yourself out the door!


Two weeks ago, I went to November Project for PR Day and Yearbook picture day. Really, I went for yearbook picture day. The PR day part I was dreading. I woke up and went out to get to the 5:30 workout and on my way there I swear I almost turned around and ran in the opposite direction. I suddenly felt so self-conscious. I know it sounds stupid, but I didn't want my seriously diminished running abilities to be out on display to a bunch of bad-ass, speedy-ass people pushing their limits to PR. 

But then I realized - if there was any place to make a comeback run, it was at NP - home to not only some of the speediest runners, but home to some of the most motivating, understanding, supportive people in Manhattan. Tons of these people know what it's like to come back after an injury. And the best part of November Project is celebrating everyone's accomplishments - not just the super fast and impressive accomplishments. A BQ is just as impressive as someone running their first mile without taking a walking break. 

So I made my way to the East River, got my bounce on, and threw down 3.5 miles that were far from a PR but were a start. 



And I am happy to report that I had a pretty good 3 miles last Sunday when Peter was on Long Island, and a solid 3.5 mile run to November Project Toronto on Wednesday of last week. So Peter and I set out to run the 6 miles to South Street Seaport for November Project on Friday - and it was wonderful! 

I was on cloud 9 when we reached the pier. I'm pretty sure I told everyone that I saw, "I JUST RAN 6 MILES! I JUST RAN MY LONGEST RUN SINCE BROOKLYN! I HAVEN'T FELT THIS GOOD IN 4 MONTHS!"
I was expecting to be super frustrated with my pace and had mentally prepared myself with a "Just be happy if you make it there pain free" speech, but with Peter by my side I was able to run close to my Pittsburgh pace! Granted, 6 miles vs. 26.2 miles is a lot different, but it was awesome to feel my legs underneath me and to feel them giving me a little power. 



I feel like a weirdo but on Friday it really felt like my body was telling me, "Okay, you can start running again - but ONLY if you promise not to be stupid about it!!!!" 

That second part is what I know I really need to focus on. Saturday I was already asking Peter, "Should I run the Hartford Half on October 10?"

The answer is most certainly no. 


But already I feel more like myself. On Sunday morning, Melissa and I jogged the mile and a half over to 63rd Street to cheer on November Project people running the 5th Avenue Mile. Just being back with running friends in the race environment on a crisp early fall morning made me so happy. I jogged with Peter to a Starbucks. I jogged the mile and a half home. Being able to use my favorite mode of transportation was exciting to say the least. More exciting? The half mile from 86th to 97th street where I really let my legs fly. And they worked! I flew! 

I am so ready to ease back into runs a few nights/mornings a week with a little longer run on Saturday mornings. With no humidity too! 

I just hope all this excitement and optimism isn't going to come crashing down this week or in the next few weeks... 

So that's the update. 

But enough about me. I'm also really happy that Peter's feeling better too, though still having some foot aches and pains, his hip seems to be holding up and he was able to break 6:00 at the 5th Avenue Mile this year :) And he looked good doing it too. Like a Disney Prince, some might say! 


The best part about being back to running is being able to do it together - I just hope we can both stay semi-pain free for the best running weather of the year!!



More running, more smiles!





Wolman's in the Hamptons

The last day of July meant my first day of FAMILY VACATION. 

I took the train home Friday after work, got dressed, and left with my parents for the restaurant where we were throwing my Nanny a surprise birthday party. 

Slowly, our big happy family filled the private room and we waited for Uncle Greg to show up with the birthday girl. Sitting in a room whose walls were giant floor to ceiling windows, we tried our best to turn away so Nanny didn't see us as she made her way inside. 

I wish the pictures came out better - but I think it's safe to say she was surprised! Maybe even a little teary, seeing a room filled with all of her favorite people (we're all your favorites, right Nanny?!) 



Behind Nanny and Poppy were Uncle Greg and Aunt Christine, who I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving, and THESE two little munchkins. 




Despite living in South Carolina, my aunt and uncle have raised Julia and Claire to know all of their east coast aunts, uncles and cousins wonderfully. I don't know who was more excited - us, or them. 

Our prix-fixe dinner was tasty - my sister and I split the eggplant Parmesan and fish entrees.

Given my choice of desserts, I will rarely pick cake. But given a piece of cake, I will always eat cake. And the cake was actually delicious. 

When my Poppy got up to give a little toast to Nanny, it was so so sweet. I could not be more grateful and appreciative of the love I grew up surrounded by. Not only did my grandparents and parents love for ME allow me to feel happy and secure, but their love for EACH OTHER has shown me that no matter what life throws at you, no matter how stressful it can get - if you are with the right person you can always find reasons to laugh and smile. 

Being surrounded by my family made me SO ready for a week spent with them in Hampton Bays.

(Gangs (almost) all here - and we've got a selfie stick...uh-oh!)

Saturday I attempted a run, which, shockingly, was a pain-free 3 miles. Those 3 miles were more of a jog than a run, but it was the first time that I wasn't limping a mile into it, so I was a pretty happy camper. 

I convinced my mom to drive 20 minutes to the nearest Trader Joe's so I could get some "me" food for the week -long vacation. Sandwich thins, chocolate covered almonds, garlic aioli mustard sauce - you know, the essentials. She also had to return something at Macy's next door so that's the real reason we made the trip. And I was excited because I was given permission by master-chef Mitch to make the three of us dinner that night! A healthy dinner!

And a delicious dinner, if I do say so myself. Mom and Dad both seemed to agree, and I know they would be honest with me if it was sub-par. 

I made a quinoa salad with edamame, mango and black beans along with salmon brushed with sauce made by mixing olive oil with the garlic aioli mustard sauce (again, credit to Kayla!) 



Dad made mom and I his version of the "China Blossom" from China Grill, my favorite cocktail, and I soaked in a rare night sitting out on my deck. I've had an eventful, fun summer, but the number of days spent at home on Long Island have been dismally low.

(Remember how I said I had the best role-models for happy marriages? HOW CUTE ARE THEY?!)

Sunday afternoon was the day - we packed up the truck and set out for the Wolman Family Vacation 2015. 


True story - we used to get t-shirts made for the occasion. Then there were the beer koozies. No outfitting this year, though. 

Most summer's, we go on a big family vacation like this. My grandparents rent a house and all 20 of us spend a week swimming, eating, drinking, playing games and boating. There's a lot of conversation around which house is our favorite that we've stayed in, and the consensus seems to be that nothing beats that first house, which we returned to once and try to return to every summer (Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga).  Here's a run down of the Wolman Family Vacation spots over the last couple of years: 

1) Camp O-Kwa-Ri-Ga in the Adirondacks (2008 and 2013). Nothing seems to beat the seclusion - meaning lots of late nights at the fire. The main cabin is great for fitting all of us, and there's a smaller cabin perfect for Nanny and Poppy (they deserve to be spoiled!) But the best part is the boat house right down by the lake. There's a dock, which means we can rent a boat and tube and water ski. And there's paddle boats, kayaks, a canoe, a pool table, piano, balcony for jumping into the lake, and shuffleboard table. So many hysterical moments have happened at O-Kwa-Ri-Ga. From ghost stories, to my dad pretending to be a bear and scaring the crap out of my uncle in the middle of the night - this place feels like home, maybe because it was the first time we all did a trip like this. 





2) Maryland Mansion (2009) - This house was definitely fancier than the Adirondacks. But there's no boat house, and sitting down by the water wasn't as easy. The plus was that we could still rent a boat AND drive the boat across the lake to the Honi Honi bar for happy hour (still fun, despite not being 21 at the time). The lake was a lot rougher though, with more boat traffic, which stressed my dad out and made tubing and water skiing a lot less enjoyable. We could make a fire outside though, a definite plus! And, my family will understand the significance of this - it was at the Maryland Mansion that Claudia Ellen was born! 


3) Rhode Island Beach Mansion (2014) - This house was weirdly fancy. But there was the beach a few steps away AND a pool. No nighttime fires, but the outdoor patio was nice. The option of pool or beach was nice. Sadly, I only spent 3 days at this house, because it was my first year working and I had no vacation time. But while I was there, we discovered the plethora of clams at the beach, which my dad naturally dug up with his bare hands and feet, with the help of uncles and cousins, which we feasted on. There was also a great running and biking path nearby, and as I was marathon training and my uncle was training for a 100 mile bike ride, that was clutch. The restaurant we went for dinner at that year was also THE BOMB. 




4) That brings us to 2015. Originally, we were supposed to go to a lake house near Hunter Mountain. But my grandma had a weird feeling, and after going to check it out, it was a big thumbs down. So last minute, her and my aunt managed to find a beautiful house in Hampton Bays for us to spend the week. The best part? It only took us an hour to get there! The quarters were a little more cramped than usual (though there were more bathrooms and showers!) and there were a lot of rules since the Hamptons can be a little hoity-toity - we couldn't be outside after dark which meant no fires. And we were about a 5 minute drive to the ocean, instead of having it in our backyard (wow, I'm sorry I don't mean to sound quite so spoiled there...) but there were so many GREAT things about this house! A huge pool AND a hot tub. A really great town to explore. A new tradition - the Wolman talent show! A basement with air hockey, foosball and pool. We just won't talk about the dining room chairs...



We were the first to arrive and after driving around to check out the beach and nearby bars and restaurants, we pulled into the driveway of this lovely little house. 


(Ok, 8 rooms, maybe not so little!) 

We figure out the rooming situation which worked out quite well for me - since my sister refuses to share a bed with me (SHE's the one who moves around a ton, NOT me...) she had an air mattress, I had a bed to myself, and my parents shared the other. 


Our days during the week went a little something like this: 

-I would wake up around 8 and go for a bike ride on my little cousins bike or into the basement for some deck of cards workouts. One morning I ran with my Mom and aunt, hopeful after my Saturday morning pain-free run, but unfortunately the IT band acted up again and my knee felt like it was being stabbed after 2.5 miles. So running wasn't part of my week, as much as I would have liked it to be. 

(My 10 year old cousin's bike - perfect fit!)

-After working out I would make myself breakfast - lox and a bagel, Greek yogurt with all the fixings, oatmeal, cereal - so much to choose from. And for someone who loves breakfast like no other meal, it was like Christmas every morning. What's the saying? "I love going to be because it's like a time machine to breakfast." Exactly. 



-Spend the day either at the beach (we went to the ocean two days and to the the bay for one day) or by the pool. At the ocean, I didn't get in the water because the waves were big and it wasn't too hot out anyway. 



At the bay, we swam around despite the rocky bottom and shallow water (North Shore Long Islander over here - totally used to the rocks!) At the pool, I attempted to improve upon my horrendous swimming skills, and although I dressed the part, I probably lasted a total of 10 minutes before frustration overcame me. By the end of the week, though, I DID feel I had made a little bit of improvement. 


-Pre-dinner snacking was a wonderful time of day - we broke out bags upon bags of chips and dips and cracked open some brewskis...or even better, my dad made margaritas. One night, the pre-dinner snacking involved clams on the half shell and another night, shrimp cocktail. You wouldn't believe how fast they got scarfed down! 



Another night, my dad made his artichoke dip - cheese, mayo and artichoke hearts. It might sound gross, but it's so addictive, despite the calorie count. 

(Happy hour - whipping our hair back and forth and eating cheese doodles)

-The way dinner works on these trips is each family gets assigned a night and they make the meal. Pretty simple. This year, some meals included - spiral ham with baked beans, brats and pierogies with LOTS of onions, pasta with chicken and vegetables, filet minion with broccoli and baked potato. There's also always a night where we all go out as a big group, and wreak havoc on some poor, unsuspecting restaurant in the area that is totally not accustomed to seeing a group of 22 people walk in. This year, however, my dad and his siblings had graduated high school with the owner of a local bar/restaurant - so we gave him a heads up, got the back room of Gator's to ourselves, and enjoyed a meal out on the town. 

I'm not sure what it was, but I was having horrible heart burn all week - something that I've never experienced before. One night, I got up out of bed with that urgent, "I think I'm going to be sick" feeling - only to see that the bathroom was occupied.  So I hurried downstairs and, I'll spare you the details, but, I was right - I was sick. After awhile I made my way back upstairs. As I entered the bedroom my family was staying in, my mom goes, "Did you see your father?" 

"No, why?" I asked, a little confused. 

"He thinks you're missing. Him and Sam are searching for you."

Dear Lord. 

Eventually they came inside and saw I was alive and well, aside from the vomit. They stopped looking in bushes and at the bottom of the pool for my body, and we all went to sleep. 

-After dinner every night there were different things to do in the basement, my little cousins organized a talent show one night, and we somehow peacefully watched the GOP debate another night. There were games of "What If..." and "Cards Against Humanity," which you're probably thinking, "Isn't that weird to play with your family?" The answer is yes. Yes, it can be a little strange, but it is also always hilarious. 

(Talent.)

There were a few special activities as well, like the morning that a group of us went paddle boarding. We were enjoying ourselves, paddling like pros (including my fearless little cousin Kyle), and I was even getting fancy with some downward dog. 

(Zen)


Then, we decided to head back. 

Uh-oh. 

Though the teacher had encouraged us to go even further than we ended up going, as soon as we turned around to make the trip back to the shop, we realized the wind was far stronger than when we first headed out. We paddled to no avail. I couldn't get past one boat for about 20 minutes. Kyle was spinning in circle. Eventually, my mom and I got Kyle situated on my board and she towed this board behind hers. We still weren't making much progress, but with Kyle laying down and using his hands to paddle along with me, we moved a little bit. Then, my mom realized we could stand. So there was some sludging through the water that way. 

They must have realized we were struggling, because we heard yells and looked to the shore to see my uncle and the paddle board shop owner waving us onto the beach.  We were still SO far from the shop, so we walked our boards up and put them in her pick-up truck for a lift back to get our stuff. 

She told us we were doing great, and that even SHE had some problems getting HERSELF in to shore. That made us feel better But we were EXHAUSTED and I was starving. I had planned to go to paddle board yoga the next morning - but, no thanks. 

Another fun night was when we went to Cowfish for happy hour and then took the Rum Barge over to Rumba for dinner. 



Cowfish was one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever seen. The landscaping and flowers were beautiful, and the view couldn't get much more perfect. There were lawn games and couches and it was such an oasis. I couldn't stop taking pictures! 



We loaded up the Rum Barge and took it across the water to Cowfish's sister restaurant, Rumba, which we heard had the better menu for dinner. The view and outdoor area wasn't as nice, so I was really happy with our decision to do drinks at Cowfish and dinner at Rumba. 





Rumba had it's own style and feel - much more laid back and island-y. The food was KILLER and SO PRETTY. 


Are you ready for these avocado tacos? I don't think you're ready. Rastaman's Taco: paneed avocado, island slaw, corn salsa and rasta cream. 



What does "paneed" mean, you ask. Well, I Googled it so that you don't have to - basically it means bread-crumbed. Fried avocado might sound weird, but I promise you it wasn't. It was very LIGHTLY coated. Almost like a light tempura. The slaw was to die for. Or maybe it was the rasta cream. Either way, I could have eaten 2384932 of these for dinner and not tried anything else and still been happy. 

We also tried the duck empanadas because...I mean, duh. They were good too (greasy, fried good) but those tacos were on a different level. 



For my entree I got the jumbo scallop and papaya salad with avocado, tomatoes and corn. I don't know why I didn't sub the papaya for mango. I know I don't like papaya. And this confirmed it. But everything else about the salad was delicious! 



Mom: Ahi Tuna Salad- mango, avocado, purple onion, sesame seed, filed greens, tuna, "yummy yummy" sauce.



Nanny: Jumbo diver scallops- rum reduction sauce, white beans, capers, rice & mache 



Dad: Shrimp Boat- sage breaded shrimp, remoulade, avocado, lettuce and tomato 



Sam: Jerk Chicken Platter: coconut risotto and mango papaya honey salsa. This stuff was NO JOKE spicy. 



The cocktails were wonderfully refreshing and flavorful and the Hot Fudge Sundae was plain sinful. I've never seen a sundae that comes served with an entire gravy boat of hot fudge to be poured on top. And all of it was poured, trust me. 

After the rum barge got a little stuck in the shallow water, we were on our way back to Cowfish to pick up our cars and head back to the house. 



Watching the sunset was the perfect end to a pretty awesome night. 



Another night my parents, sister and grandparents went for a cocktail at Oakland's where I reestablished my love of prosecco. 

The last night, we again did happy hour and dinner out, this time at The Hampton Lady


Though the service wasn't anything to write home about, and the margaritas left something to be desired - the Mai Tais, crafted by a Hawaiian bartender, were phenomenal and the food was quite good along with the half-price drink happy hour special. Can't complain about that! I ordered the fish tacos and my dad got the lobster, which we split. 2 lobsters with corn and potatoes for $28! My mom got a burger that I was SO close to ordering - bacon, blue cheese, and a grilled shrimp on top! My sister ordered clams on the half shell and the Thai fried-calamari which was quite good! 



After dinner, my parents dropped me off at the train station and it was time to say goodbye. I got pretty emotional - tearing up a little as I watched them drive away. 

I just love how close I am with my family - the fact that I can be genuinely excited about spending 7 days in a house with 22 relatives says a lot - and I know how incredibly #blessed I am. 



Lately, I've been having a little bit of wanderlust. My list of places that I want to see and explore has grown a lot in the past few months. In fact, I used to not even have a list of places I wanted to see and explore. Now, I badly want to go to Iceland. I'm longing for a trip out west to hike and explore National Parks. Denver, Idaho, Yellowstone. I want to do and see it all. But having 10 vacation days means prioritizing. 

I know the day will come when I forego the family vacation to do my own thing. But when, a week after leaving Hampton Bays, my grandma sent me a link to next years house (we return to the Adirondacks!) I just thought to myself, "How can I turn down a week with the people who matter most to me?"

We shall see what happens next summer. But until then, the memories of Hampton Bays will carry me until Christmas, when I get to see everyone again! 

Nanny and Poppy - I know you're reading this, because you are my biggest fans - THANK YOU for making and raising and nurturing this big, crazy, wonderful, beautiful family and for giving us the opportunity to spend time together. 



I wrapped up the weekend with a trip to Target and Costco with Rebecca and Melissa, unpacked, and got ready for another week in the big apple.