triathlon

Race Recap: MightyMan Montauk Half Iron Distance Triathlon!

MIGHTYMAN MONTAUK RACE RECAP

In December, I signed up for my first half IRONMAN race - in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 13, 2018.

When I clicked register - I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t make it to the start line. Either a work trip would come along that I had to be at, or my legs (shins) wouldn’t get me through the training. What I really wanted was a summer spent swimming, biking and running with my friends who had agreed to sign up with me.

Triathlon Planning

I was excited for free outdoor lap swimming at NYC pools, Saturday long rides up 9W and on Long Island, and getting myself back to weekend running and brunching with friends. Even if I didn’t become a (half) IRON(wo)MAN I knew that if I enjoyed the training, it would have been worth it.

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When I train for something – I tend to get tunnel vision. This 70.3 race consumed most of my spare time and mental energy from June up until yesterday. I did what I had to do to stick as closely to my training plan (this one) as possible – weekend plans meant Thursday morning long bike rides before coming into the office. Monday rest days were sacred. Foam rolling was a daily occurrence. I convinced myself that tart cherry juice was helping with inflammation and I submitted myself to 4 weeks in a row of acupuncture even though I’m terrified of needles.

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

Made a friend! Hi Emma!

I swam farther than I had ever swam before (and cried tears of joy) and found myself more and more comfortable in the pool. I biked further than I had every biked before. I PR’d Harlem Hill multiple times. I surprised myself on every transition run off the bike. I showed restraint on my weekly running mileage.

Overall, I trained 1,000 + miles and I continued to tell myself throughout the 14 weeks that THIS was the accomplishment. Whether I made it to the start line and whether or not I crossed the finish line, I was so grateful for 4 months of discipline and dedication and purpose and pride.

Half Ironman Training

I was so grateful for 60 miles on Long Island with my best friends followed by yacht club beers with my parents. I was so grateful for open water swim practice while on family vacation at the lake. I was so grateful for the people of Clinton, NY who found me a bike to train with while I was in town for work. I was so grateful for the Friday night run to the pool followed by dinner and drinks. I was so grateful for a return to morning park loops with Tiffanie. I was so grateful for the once a week F45 training with Abby when I just didn’t want to swim bike or run for once (not as grateful for the box jump injury resulting in my shin being Steri-stripped shut).  I was so grateful for vibrating foam rollers and compression leggings and the discovery of Asser Levy Pool at sunset.

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So when our North Carolina IRONMAN was cancelled last Monday because of Hurricane Florence, I was in a bit of a dazed disbelief, but I was also telling myself that it was OK. That the 1000 miles I trained were more of an accomplishment than the 70.3 on race day. And I still 100% believe that’s true. That’s what I’ll continue to be most proud of.

But I also didn’t want to be robbed of the proof that my training had worked. That all those hours could get me from start to finish of a 70.3 distance triathlon.

On Friday I happened to see a post on the North Carolina race page that MightyMan Montauk was offering $40 off registration to anyone who could show they had been registered for North Carolina. The race was on Sunday and they offered a half Ironman distance option.

I texted my friends asking, “Is this crazy?” And their response of “Yes, but I’m totally in” is why I love them. I booked a hotel at 5 PM on Friday. I packed a bag Friday night. I got some sleep, woke up Saturday morning, got myself on a train, and at 3 PM I was in Montauk.

Montauk Cycling

I walked myself, my bike and my massive backpack the mile to registration, paid my $200 cash, and was officially signed up 20 minutes prior to packet pick-up closing.

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I continued the .5 mile walk to Atlantic Terrace, checked-in, and was told that there would be a wedding happening outside our room until 11 PM. Grrrreat.

Next I walked to IGA, bought a banana, walked to Herb’s, got a chicken cutlet/cheddar/avocado/spinach sandwich on a roll, took a picture of the beach, shaved my legs, put my race tattoos on, organized my stuff and crawled into bed where I sat listening to Armchair Expert until 9.

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I also eavesdropped on the maid of honor and best man speeches of the wedding – they weren’t that great. Around 9 I turned off the lights, popped a melatonin and dozed off until Abby and Annelise arrived at around 1 AM.

That’s right, 1 AM. They’re the crazy ones.

We got settled, they filled out the registration paperwork so it would be ready to go in the morning, and we all fell into bed. 3 hours and 45 minutes later, our alarms were going off and it was GO TIME.

I got dressed:
-Favorite Sports Bra
-Voler Tri Shorts
-Tank Top
-Long Sleeve
-Wet Suit Legs on, arms tied around my waist
-Flip Flops
-Garmin (life changing realizing I could wear it for the swim!)

MightyManMontaukTri

I prepped my food:
-Joseph’s Tortilla
-RX Peanut Butter
-Banana 
(*This is truly the highlight of every long workout and race)

Downed some Stumptown canned cold brew, triple checked my bag, body glided the neck and ankles, triple tried to poop (and failed) and we were out the door by 5:15.

It was a half mile walk to Fort Pond transition area where Abby and Annelise registered and got tatted up. The sky was starting to lighten as we made our way to the second transition area and laid out everything we would need for the run (the course had officially changed on Friday when they announced that they couldn’t hold the swim at Fort Pond due to algae levels – just another wrinkle).

MightyManMontaukTriathlon

I ate half of my PB banana wrap, gathered everything I would need for the swim/bike and we set off on our bikes (in wetsuits and flip flops) to the swim start/transition one at Navy Beach. It was about a 3-mile bike ride and we were feeling warmed up.

At Navy Beach we racked our bikes, set up what we would need to transition from swim to bike, got our timing chips and most importantly, Abby braided my hair and gave my wetsuit a loopy hookeroo.

Half Ironman

The entire time a woman was on the microphone going over the different swim courses and I was just getting more and more confused. We donned our hot pink swim caps and headed towards the water where we asked multiple people, “Do you know where we are supposed to turn?” The general consensus was just keep the buoys on your left at all times which seemed simple enough (foreshadowing – it was not simple).

Everything had moved so quickly that morning that I hadn’t really had time to freak out at the fact that the water was pretty choppy looking.

What I liked about the swim start was that we just waded into the water up to our chest and once they said go, people went as they pleased – once you crossed the buoy your timing chip activated. It was a lot less stressful than a jump start, though there was still a lot of kicking and splashing as people got started.

I had just figured I would follow the hot pink swim caps and figure out the course, but it was evident pretty quickly that most of the pink swim caps were going to be wayyyy ahead of me. I felt the familiar feelings of “oh my God I can’t do this” and then I looked around and for the first time realized that these were no joke WAVES and they were not cyclical, rolling waves – they were choppy waves coming from all different directions and crashing into each other and rolling you around and making buoy spotting next to impossible. My mindset was “I have an hour to get this done – until they force me out, I’m going to keep trying.”

At one point, I looked up and saw Annelise next to me and felt so much relief. Then I saw that she was struggling too and tried to calm us both down.

It was chaos out there – and because they had used the backup swim plan, I felt like most of the lifeguards on paddle boards and jet skis were also confused as to what colored caps were supposed to be swimming where. At one point I was swimming into oncoming swimmers which yes, seemed wrong in retrospect, but I was keeping the buoys on my left like they had said! One of the lifeguards started aggressively screaming at me, telling me to stop backstroking and swim, and generally acting like I WANTED to be swimming off course. It was ridiculous.

Luckily, at that point in the swim Abby and I had found each other and though we were one of only a few pink swim caps left in the vicinity, as long as I had her in my sights I felt OK. We somehow navigated to the turn buoy (me, entirely by backstroking and looking at the sky and trying to calm myself down and swallowing giant mouthfuls of salt water as waves crashed over me) and thankfully once we turned all those waves were pushing us into shore and I could finally put my swimming to use. I settled into a pattern of 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight, 10 backstrokes, 21 freestyle, sight.

The times I was actually swimming were definitely the best I’ve done in open water. I could exhale this time without panicking about the fact that it was pitch black.

The closer we got to the swim exit the more crowded and stressful it got but I swam as much as I could instead of standing and running on the rock bottom and dragged myself up onto the shore. I like to think I made this look partially more graceful than the others around me not used to rocky bottom swim exits. Thanks, North Shore!

1.2 Mile SWIM: 44:48

I knew Abby was close behind me so I took my time in transition so that we could head out on the bike ride together. I ate the second half of my wrap, put on my arm sleeves, put on my socks and bike shoes, made sure all my things were in my bag so that the race people could transport it back to Fort Pond bag check, put on my sunglasses, did the hokey pokey, turned myself about. Me, Abby and Annelise set off – “Just like any other Saturday ride!” I told myself.

Transition 1: 8:17

The first 15 miles of the bike were awesome. I felt really really good. I ate a date at mile 10 and was cruisin’ even up the very hilly straightaway to the lighthouse. The hills were hard and numerous but I was handling them well mentally. And seeing the lighthouse was so nice and memory inducing!

But around mile 15 I started to get the familiar post-swim cramps. These were like NYC Tri x 128390. I couldn’t sit up straight, I couldn’t take a full breath in, I felt like I was being stabbed in the side and back and stomach and my chest was tight. I honestly started to question if something was seriously wrong.

Abby passed me and I told her what was up and that I was just hoping sometime over the next three hours, the pain would go away.

Even though it was the last thing I wanted to do – I knew I had to keep drinking and eating if I ever wanted to make it through the rest of the race – even though my stomach felt so so awful.

The cramping was really bad for about 45 minutes and then it eased up a little but I couldn’t get out of my head telling myself that there was no way I was going to be able to run.

I knew that thought was not at all useful and I needed to just focus on the bike. I never found the rhythm I had had for the first 15 miles and I knew I was going much slower than most of my training rides. I’m very bad at self-motivating on the bike – if I’m next to someone I can keep up, if I’m alone on a highway – not so easy to get my RPMs up.

This was a course where you were alone a lot.

But I kept going, kept eating a date every 10 miles, had half an RX bar in the last 10 miles, and swapped out my water bottle at the halfway point.

I knew Abby wasn’t too far ahead of me and I kept telling myself to reach her so we could run together but my legs just weren’t having it. Eventually, the bike was over and I ran to my rack where Abby was finishing up her transition and checked on my cramp status which was definitely better than when she had seen me on the bike but also not great.  

57 Mile BIKE: 3:33:29 (15.7 MPH)

She headed out and I followed behind, after changing my socks and putting on my sneakers. Last minute I decided to run with my phone in my Spibelt because I fully expected the cramps to make this a loooong, slow, walk-filled half marathon with possible phone calls crying to my parents. I left transition and started the run, clutching a melted half of an RX bar in one hand. 

Transition 2: 4:11

I ran with Abby’s advice in mind – run each mile and only think about that mile. I just concentrated on getting to each aid station, where I allowed myself to stop, drink, and walk to the garbage can before starting to run again. My first mile split was 8:25 which was much slower than my usual transition runs but I figured that was safe and smart.

Stomach was feeling OK, right shin was hurting, left glute pain that I’d been worried about seemed numb – all systems were go and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the next two hours were by no means going to be easy but that this was possible and I was going to make it happen.

By the second aid station I realized that Abby was coming from behind me because she had stopped to use a porto potty at a construction site (so resourceful) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that we could run together.

I had been entering a head space that I did not want to be in – due in part to a lonely bike ride and the almost entirely crowd-supportless course.

We agreed that there was no need to run up “Murder Hill” or any of the other vertical incline hills that the race creators for some reason decided to include on the run course. It was seriously unreal. 806 feet of elevation climb on a run course?! You’ve gotta be kidding me. We had trained for a 56-mile bike ride with less elevation gain.

Even with Abby beside me, there were times I started telling myself that I didn’t want to keep going. That this was stupid hard and I should never have signed up. That I should just walk. That I couldn’t keep up with her. Mainly, I just kept thinking, “I want this to be over, I want this to be over.” And – “HOLY HELL MY ARM PITS ARE CHAFING SO MUCH.”

I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have Abby next to me step after step. In true Abby fashion - steadfast, strong, positive, realistic, random (refusal to put down her orange) – I just kept doing what she was doing and I knew we’d make it. 

She waited for my two porto potty stops (there was some GI distress happening), we walked the hills, we drank 6890 tiny cups of water, we cringed at the thought of any form of sustenance, we said things like “single digits left!” and “5K left!” and “this straightaway is going to suck but then it’s going to be the best!” and “Shalane and Emma to the finish!”

Half Ironman Finish

And when we crossed the finish line together, it was the sweatiest, happiest, proudest hug ever with maybe some tears - I don’t really know, everything was a little blurry.

13.1 Mile RUN: 2:09:34

TOTAL: 6:40:20

70.3 Half Ironman

We got our medals and towels (which were not soaking wet and cold like I had hoped but still very nice towels) and gave Annelise big sweaty hugs and walked over to the food table where I demolished many many pieces of watermelon which was everything I didn’t know I had been waiting for.

We zombie walked around for a little, took some photo booth pics, took some phone pics, called my dad, got some popcorn (also a great post race snack – yum salt), got our bags, got our bikes and walked back to the hotel.

Things to note: my swim cap smelled like straight up seafood stew. Yuck. I somehow ripped two big holes in my $300 wetsuit. Wonderful. I was very sunburnt. It was a perfect day weather wise! I was proud that I kept myself sufficiently hydrated and fed. I was never hungry and I was peeing clear all day (this is what you get when you read a race recap, sorry).

Overall the race was fairly well organized – the bike and run courses were clearly marked to differentiate between the Olympic and Half distance races. I liked that everything was super close to where we were staying. I liked that it was a small race that kept things from seeming overwhelming.

I didn’t like that the swim was so chaotic, the bike course was almost entirely unsupported in terms of water/mechanics/etc., and there was no crowd support. Oh, and like I said, the run course was just stupid difficult. I would consider doing this course as an Olympic in the future though!

After we all showered we got food at Gig Shack (burger, fries, beet and goat cheese salad, hummus platter with mushrooms, endive, candied macadamia nuts, parsnips – it was phenom) where there was live music and outdoor seating.

Gig Shack Montauk

Next stop was Montauk Brewery (so glad to have finally made it there!) and there double IPA was so so good. Last stop for the day was John’s (duh) for ice cream (Peanut Butter Blast) and a frozen chocolate covered banana (there’s always money in the banana stand).

Montauk Brewery Triathlon

Abby, again, is a crazy, wonderful human and drove Annelise and I back to our apartments before driving back to her house late last night.

I don’t remember falling asleep it happened so instantaneously. 

Montauk Sunset

In conclusion-

Nothing about yesterday's 70.3 was how I had pictured it in my head since I signed up 10 months ago. 

There was no careful taper - I spent the week before the race working 12+ hour days on my feet, eating chicken tenders and drinking copious amounts of wine (in what was the most fulfilling work week of my life to date, so no regrets!)

There was no time to stress about my outfit, to carefully pack my bags and to triple check my to-do lists. There wasn’t even time to MAKE a to-do list. 15 hours after seeing that MightyMan Montauk was offering day of registration and a discount for those whose Ironman NC 70.3 race had been cancelled, I was on a train.

There was no expo and practice open water swim and big race night dinner with my friends. I ate a deli sandwich alone at the hotel while a wedding raged outside my window and my friends drove through the night to arrive at 1 am.

We we're supposed to have a down-stream fast channel swim and a flat bike and run course. We got a chaotic ocean swim (ok it was a bay but it opens up into the OCEAN), a hilly bike, and a run with so many hills I stopped counting.

I was supposed to finish with two other incredible women who supported me and pushed me and trained 1000+ miles with me. Knowing that Kayla couldn’t be there and that the unexpectedly wavy swim course rattled Annelise definitely changed the celebratory mood that we had all dreamed of and worked towards. They trained just as hard and are more than capable and beyond prepared to go the same distance.

But there are silver linings to every changed plan. 

I had no time to doubt myself or to panic. I felt like this race was truly just a chance to give my training a shot in a scenario where I otherwise wouldn't have gotten to race at all. 

It cut training short when I was starting to feel burnt out anyway and it came after a week of relatively low mileage since I had been away for work. 

There were no delayed flights or lost bags - just a train ride to one of my favorite places. 

I got to complete my first 70.3 on the island that I love so much - I felt comfortable and at home.

And i got to run 13.1 miles with my best friend - something I haven't done since 2016. 

Without you by my side for every step Abby- those last two hours would have been a lot less pretty. But your experience and steady determination kept me going and smiling and crossing the finish line with you was a definite life highlight. 

To everyone who has exclusively heard me talk about 70.3 training for the past 4 months ITS OVER and I'm sorry I’ve been a broken record and thank you for listening.

(And no, I’m not ready to sign up for a full!!!)

Half Ironman Finisher

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

 

 

 

Don't Call It A Comeback, Yet!

Return to Running

Ever since I limp/walked the last two miles of our Ragnar Relay in May, I haven't been running. I was diagnosed with grade 3 stress reactions in both shins, and now I'm using a bone-stimulator machine to help strengthen the bones. 

The machine needs to be used for 1-2 months, every day, at the same time. This has led to some interesting situations where I'm applying ultrasound gel to my legs and strapping on the machine on the Long Island Railroad and even in line for the Boardy Barn. 

#RunnerProblems. 

#RunnerProblems

I'm really hoping that this helps avoid future stress reactions, and that the time off was sufficient to heal my legs up. I've run 3 times in the last two weeks and, knock on wood, I am feeling pretty good! 

Here's a recap on some recent fitness moments!

Great Bike Rides

Every time that I get the "oomph" to bust out a 30 mile bike ride BEFORE work - I end up feeling on top of the world. A recent one up to the Little Red Lighthouse on a Monday morning was GLORIOUS. It was such a beautiful morning, and I crushed a lot of PRs for different parts along the path. 

up.jpg

Another morning, I set out for Central Park with the goal of "break some PRs" and - I did! A bunch of them, in fact! 

When I wasn't running, my bike rides were feeling very strong due to the fresh legs! 

Shocking Swims 

Uhm, can we talk about my swims lately? Because they have been surprisingly successful. 

Don't get me wrong - it is still the HARDEST thing to self-motivate for a swim. And often times I sleep through planned swims and they don't happen. But when they DO happen, they've been going pretty well! 

In the past, I would tend to stop and rest in between every 20 lengths of the pool. Last week, I went 60 in a row without a big break and then, this week, with Abby by my side (ok, two laps ahead of me) I went 80 IN A ROW and swam at 2:16/100 yards which is significantly speedier than my usual swims! 

This week I also purchased a wetsuit in preparation for next weekends NYC Tri (NEXT WEEKEND?! HELP!) So I should probably go test it out in some open water somewhere before then...

Let me tell you - getting that thing on is NOT an easy task. 

Kayla's Last Loops 

Saying goodbye to Kayla was horribly depressing, but I couldn't think of a better way to do it than with a few loops of the reservoir with a group of her running friends. 

This was my first run back since Ragnar and I was so glad I got to be out in the park that morning with Kayla! I might have still smelled like tequila from the previous day's boozy brunch, but I survived the 3 miles. 

Central Park Reservoir Path

I was SO sore the following day. It's crazy how quickly your body forgets what running is like...my hips were sore for a week! 

A Run With Mom 

While I was home for Fourth of July Weekend, I was THRILLED that my mom decided to join me for a run down to our local beach. 

She's the one who used to have me do this with her - before running was something I enjoyed in the SLIGHTEST! She would get me to go with the promise of egg sandwiches down at the beach upon our arrival. 

Now, I love that run - I know every place to cross over to be visible to vehicles around turns, I know to expect the straightaway by the harbor to be brutally hot, smelly and feel like it lasts forever, I know that the hill from the stop sign to Morgan's street is deceptively steep. 

I felt great at the end of these four miles and even better that I got to do it with my momma. My dad always times it perfectly to meet us at our turn around point and bring us home! 

Weeknight 5K! 

I had signed up for the Tracktown USA 5K on Randall's Island because summer weekends always get booked, and this race was on a Thursday night. 

Icahn Stadium Randall's Island

Fast forward to now, and I knew that, as my third run back, this was certainly not going to be a "race" by any means. But I was over the moon to be back at a race setting, pinning a bib number to my chest and toeing a starting line with hundreds of others who wanted to spend their Thursday night at Icahn Stadium. 

I was proud of myself for staying fairly comfortable the entire 3.1 miles, not pushing too hard, not feeling disappointed when things felt hard and I had to reel it in, and never once looking at a watch or my pace. I negative split, too!

I cruised across the finish at an 8:16 pace which I was very happy with all things considered. 

The best part was being able to run the 2 more miles home over the 103rd Street footbridge, running into some familiar NP faces (HI LAURA ANN AND MYLES - I definitely felt a little out of the November Project loop at the actual race) and arriving at my apartment steps in ABSOLUTE EUPHORIA. 

Runner's High

I snapped some cheesy pictures in the middle of the road and texted my parents, "I don't want to go inside. I just want to run around all night. I want to pop champagne bottles in the street." 

K Lauren. Relax. 

Random Workouts

A few of my random workouts have felt really HARD. I've been feeling super weak, and also have been CRAVING meat. Which is odd for someone who is a part-time vegetarian for all intents and purposes. 

But whenever I find myself craving meat, I know it's for a reason.  All this to say that I ate some meat (BURGER ON THE FOURTH, THANKS LINDS!) and finally this week, I've felt a little stronger at the gym. 

I whipped this workout back out from the archives while I was home -

No Equipment Exercise

I also came up with two killer deck of cards workouts the other day: 

Hearts: Plank Hip Dips
Diamonds: Lunges
Spades: Wall Ball Throws
Clubs: Ball Slams
Jokers: 50 Jumping Jacks

Hearts: Kettlebell Swings
Diamonds: Kneeling Overhead Press
Spades: Quick Feet on Step
Clubs: Mountain Climbers
Jokers: :30 Plank

Give them a try and tell me what you think! 

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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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Pre-Race Nutrition Tips from a Pro

Hi folks! I survived my first triathlon, but I'm going to keep you in suspense for the recap as I process yesterday's experience. 

In the meantime, I'm going to share some fun nutrition information that Julie Sparkes from The Athlete's Palate shared with me prior to race day. She's been helping me for a few months and I'm happy to report that my stomach cooperated throughout training and tri-day thanks to her advice and guidance. 

So here ya go!

Dos and Donts of Pre-Race Nutrition

1) What are some tips for fueling the week leading up to a race? 

  • Drink lots of water but not too much. Make sure that you are well hydrated but not to the point that you're going to the bathroom frequently. 
  • A week or two before the race when tapering most athletes are really hungry. I recommend that you eat foods with more fiber. A good option is chilli because is so healthy and filling, you can make a big pot and it's easy to reheat during the week. 
     
  • Add fruit to your carbs to help slow down the breakdown and will slowly release in your  digestive system. This will make you feel full longer and will help reduce those snacking habits. 
     
  • Maintain eating foods that your body is used to and easy to digest. This will prevent any digestive issues. 

2) How long of a workout until you should consider refueling during it? 

  • The body is burning energy as soon as you start your workout. Carbohydrate and sodium stores should be replenished every 20 minutes into the workout and continue to be replenished every 20mins. As workouts increase in time or intensity this becomes more critical. 

3) What are your thoughts on carb-loading and how far out from a race would you start? 

  • Carb loading in moderation is important because it gives you a chance to top up your glycogen stores. Glycogen is mainly stored in the liver and muscles. When you fuel, your body breaks down the carbs from your food during digestion and converts the carbs into glucose. Your body will use the glucose right away and will store the remainder in your muscles. The greater the glycogen storage you have, the longer you will be able to maintain your exercise intensity. 
     
  • With being said, for endurance sports I recommend to eat a good serving of healthy carbs during your training 3-4 days before your race.  
     
  • Here are some examples of carbs that are high in nutrients and carbohydrates: 

Starchy Vegetables

  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Taro
  • Pumpkin
  • Plantain
  • Beets

Whole Grains

  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Farro
  • Oats
  • Bulgur
  • Whole Rye
  • Whole Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Freekeh

4) Pre-race meal (the night before and morning of) tips

  • Eat food that your body is used to and easy to digest. Don't try anything new the day before the race or the morning of. Eat meals that are high in complex carbs, healthy fats and lean protein. 

5) Is a post-race beer detrimental to recovery? 

  • As a holistic nutritionist I can't say that alcohol in anyway is beneficial but with that being said I like to have a celebratory beverage just like the next person. Life is all about balance and sometimes it is good to reward yourself! On a positive note beer does have the perfect carb to protein ratio with 4:1 which helps with recovery. 
TOBAY Triathlon

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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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A Week of Workouts In The Woods

While I spent a week in the woods with 20 family members, the calendar crept closer and closer to August 28 – the date of my – gulp – first triathlon.

Here’s how my training went down for those 7 days.

Triathlon training on vacation

Saturday – Intervals

This was my first time running “fast” in about 3 months. It was hard – but it felt so nice to feel that burn in my lungs again and I was on such a runner’s high when I finished.

I warmed up for a mile and then ran hard for a quarter mile before jogging a quarter mile. I did 8 fast quarter mile (200 meter) repeats before a cool down mile for a total of 6 miles (the most I’ve run since the Brooklyn Half in May!)

I am slower now than I have been in at least 2 years, but I honestly just loved the sweaty, spent feeling at the end of a hard workout.

Warm Up Mile: 9:01
Mile 2: 8:07
Mile 3: 7:58
Mile 4: 7:59
Mile 5: 7:54
Cool Down Mile: 8:41

I was happy that I was able to drop the pace from my first mile to my last!

Sunday – Nike App Workout + Bike

I woke up Sunday morning not really wanting to work out, if we’re being honest. It was gross out, it was the first day of vacation, and my dumbbells were locked in my sleeping father’s truck.

I walked up to one of the smaller cabins that no one was staying in and played a workout video from my Nike app – a few burpees, side planks, and pushups were part of the 28 minute routine which wasn’t really much of a challenge.

Then, later in the day, my uncle decided to try to tackle his 40 mile bike ride. He participates in a two-day century ride every summer and is in the middle of his training.

I was really nervous to join him on this ride because it meant going on a winding, hilly road with no bike lane. But I decided to give it a shot.

We got about 7 miles before it started to rain – no service + wet, winding roads didn’t seem like the best plan so we stopped under in awning in town to wait out the rain. Luckily, my dad happened to drive by at that exact minute and we flagged him down. Our bikes juuuust fit in the back of his truck.

Adirondack Bike Ride

I had been really excited to complete a 40 mile ride (my longest ride is 38 miles) but it wasn’t in the cards for this vacation – though my uncle did manage to do it the following day!

Monday – HIIT

This was the day that my aunt wanted me to come up with a workout for us – which I happily agreed to and created this.

No Equipment HIIT Workout

10 Jumps up the stair
10 Dips
25 Squats
25 Mountain Climbers
10 Shoulder Taps Each Side
10 Pushups
50 Toe Taps

We went through this circuit 5 times before heading to the top of the driveway for 7 hill sprints.

Tuesday – First Brick Workout!

I knew that this was the week I needed to try a bike to run transition. I’ve heard that it’s by far the most difficult part of a triathlon. Getting off a bike and getting your legs to switch to running is apparently not the most enjoyable or comfortable thing in the world. I can now 100% confirm this rumor as fact!

I went out with my uncle and we biked 5 miles before turning around and heading back for a total of 10 miles. I took the return trip a little quicker, trying to replicate the effort I’ll be putting in come race day.

After 10 miles at around 15 mph I got back to the top of the driveway where my sneakers were waiting for me. I swapped my Pearl Izumi cycling shoes and helmet for my Saucony Rides, handed my bike off to my uncle (THANK YOU!) and headed out for 3.1 pretty painful miles.

At first, my legs felt like complete jelly. I was thinking to myself, “Well, this isn’t as bad as people say. My legs don’t necessarily HURT, I just can’t really feel them and it’s kind of hard to run when you feel like you’ve got nothing holding you up…”

After about a mile, the pain set in. But by then I knew from my Garmin that I was moving at a sub 8:00 pace which I did NOT want to give up. I was absolutely shocked – it was the first time I had run sub 8:00 miles since the Brooklyn Half!

I pushed through the 3 miles and finished with a 7:44 pace.

I was exhausted just thinking about the fact that when I do that in 2 weeks, it will be AFTER swimming a half mile. And people do Olympic distance tris…? 

BRICK Workout

Wednesday – Circuit

Wednesday I created another circuit for my aunt and I that was a little easier on my legs – no hill sprints! And my momma joined!

We did

1 Minute Jump Rope
1 Minute Crunches
1 Minute Running Up Set Of Stairs
1 Minute Renegade Rows with 10 lb Dumbbells

:45 Minute Jump Rope
:45 Minute Crunches
:45 Minute Running Up Set Of Stairs
:45 Minute Renegade Rows with 10 lb Dumbbells

:30 Minute Jump Rope
:30 Minute Crunches
:30 Minute Running Up Set Of Stairs
:30 Minute Renegade Rows with 10 lb Dumbbells

Afterwards, we did some lunges, high knees, butt kicks, bunny hops etc. before finishing up with 7 Minute Planks

1:00 Plank
1:00 Left Side Plank
1:00 Right Side Plank
:45 Plank
:45 Left Side Plank
:45 Right Side Plank
:30 Plank
:30 Left Side Plank
:30 Right Side Plank
:15 Plank

The 7 Minute Plank routine is becoming a staple for me – I do it at least once, usually twice a week. And it’s gotten noticeably easier over the past few weeks!

Inlet, NY

Thursday – Bike + Doughnut Run!

This was a fake brick workout since there was around 30 minutes between my bike and run.

First I headed out for a 15 mile bike ride and later, my sister and aunt ran about 3.5 miles to a local doughnut shop to pick up fresh donuts for the fam.

Doughnut Shop Eagle Bay

My uncle picked us up and oh lord were we sweaty.

It was my first time going for a run with my sister EVER and it made me so happy!

Friday – Arms + Swim

I started off the morning with a few arm exercises using the dumbbells – mainly shoulder stuff.

Then it was time to suck it up and get in the water – something I had been putting off all week. My dad and I used Strava and the power boat to roughly figure out where a quarter mile was and then my mom kayaked besides me as I swam a ¼ mile out and a ¼ mile back for a total of around ½ a mile – what I’ll need to swim in my sprint triathlon.

Triathlon Training

Unfortunately – it wasn’t pretty. I panicked, got frustrated, got in my head, cried a little, yelled at my mom when she offered advice, and declared that I would rather waste the $135 than do this triathlon.

I was wearing a wetsuit – which made me float SO much. I wasn’t scared of drowning or anything like that, but actually SWIMMING just wasn’t happening. There was a lot of backstroking. That’s pretty much all I did the entire ½ mile. As soon as I tried the freestyle stroke, I made it about 5 strokes before I stopped. Having no “end” of a pool in sight was a huge mental hurdle.

I was being dramatic when I said I didn’t want to do the tri – but this swim did absolutely nothing to ease my fears about the swim. In fact, it only magnified them.

Triathlon Training Open Water Swim

Saturday – Bootcamp

Saturday I looked at an old picture from my favorite boot camp class that I go to on Long Island if I’m home on the weekends and completed it (minus the running portions usually included after each set of exercises).

It was a killer workout as usual (Marianne Fitzgerald is THE BEST) and a perfect way to prepare for hours sitting in the car heading home from vacation.

Bootcamp Workout

30 Squat press
20 Superman Push-Ups
10 Burpees

30 Mountain Clumbers
20 Release Push-Ups
10 Burpee Star Jumps

30 Wall Jumps
30 Jack Pushups
20 Burpees
(I completed this set as 15 Wall Jumps, 15 Jack Pushups, 10 Burpees, 15 Wall Jumps, 15 Jack Pushups, 10 Burpees)

30 Curls with Squats
20 Lunge Jumps
10 Burpee Squat Jumps
(I completed this set as 15 Curls with Squats, 10 Lunge Jumps with 10 lb dumbbells, 5 Burpees Squat Jumps, 15 Curls with Squats, 10 Lunge Jumps with 10 lb dumbbells, 5 Burpee Squat Jumps)

30 Walking Leg Lift Lunges
20 Knee to Elbow Jumps
10 Mountain Climbers

30 Power Jacks
20 Plank Jacks
10 Drunk Chicken 

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Week of Workouts: Swim, Bike, Run Fun

We are a month out from my targeted FIRST TRIATHLON and I’ve been “ramping up my training.” It’s only a sprint distance triathlon – so I don’t have to do anything too crazy, but I will definitely be powering through some tiredness to cross the finish line.

Let’s look at the workouts of the past week, shall we?

Triathlon Training

Sunday

Circuit Workout

Sunday morning I woke up in Schenectady New York after a day at the Saratoga Race Track and needed to sweat out some beer.

Allison, Emma and I headed to the park and did my perfect no gym, no equipment outdoor workout. I love it – it’s easy to do anywhere, it’s hard, it’s total boy.

Triathlon Training

And then, I busted out TWO PULLUPS on the playground which made me so excited. Being able to do a pull-up was one of my New Year’s Resolutions and even though I haven’t been focusing on it, I guess my strength training has been paying off. Such a nice surprise.

Monday

Bike Ride

I was up bright and early to start the week with a 35 mile bike ride. I felt strong – though I have yet to replicate the 18.7 mph pace that I somehow managed on my first 30-miler. My pace was 16.5 mph – but my elevation gain was only 676 feet. I’ve been a bit of a wimp and know I need to challenge myself with more hills on my rides. This week away in the Adirondacks should be quite the wake-up call!

Triathlon Training

My nutritionist, Julie from The Athlete’s Palate, has stressed that I really need to start fueling before and during my longer workouts. I’ve started taking shot blocks during my weekly long rides and so far they’ve been fine on my stomach. That being said, it’s only been one, and a serving size is 3. We’ll get there eventually…

NYC Bike Route

PT Exercises

I’m trying hard to stay on top of my physical therapy exercises since my hip is still an issue (and because doing strength exercises is just smart in general) – but it’s hard to fit swimming, biking, running AND strength in during the week.

On Monday I took my lunch break to do 25 minutes of strength exercises (one legged deadlifts, glute bridges, lunges – all that fun stuff) and “7 Minute Abs,” a new favorite.

-1 Minute Plank
-1 Minute Left Side-Plank
-1 Minute Right Side-Plank
-:45 Plank
-:45 Left Side-Plank
-:45 Right Side-Plank
-:30 Plank
-:30 Left Side-Plank
-:30 Right Side-Plank
-:15 Plank

Tuesday

Swim

Tuesday morning my roommate and I were supposed to do a BRICK workout to practice the bike to run transition. It’s what I’m most nervous about other than the swim, yet I haven’t managed to try it even ONCE yet. Eek.

During Monday’s bike, something in my glute felt seriously not great – there was a weird clicking happening and I didn’t want to get back on the bike Tuesday morning.

Instead, I ran a mile to the pool, swam 1,400 yards, and ran the mile home.

Everyone keeps telling me that swimming will get easier but – we are not there yet.

Lasker Pool NYC

Arms

On Tuesday’s lunch break I did 30 minutes of arms at the gym. My triceps were wrecked the next day – success!

Wednesday

Run - November Project Bridge Day 

This was the second week in a row that I went to November Project! It’s been great to be back – I’ve limited myself to one or two runs per week and the goal is to keep my running days on Wednesday so I can keep getting to NP.

November Project New York City

This week was bridge day – I don’t remember the last time I ran hills so it was a HARD workout, but those are the workouts that make you feel the best when they’re finished.

November Project NYC

Thursday

Swim 

Even though swimming hasn’t gotten any easier or more enjoyable, I was proud of myself for sticking to my twice-a-week resolution and going by myself on Thursday morning. I ran there and back again and did another 1,400 yards.

My new pair of goggles made this swim slightly less unpleasant.

Abs

During lunch on Thursday I headed to New York Sports Club for an ab deck. My physical therapist told me she doesn’t want me doing a ton of crunches – she wants me focusing on ab exercises like jackknifes and planks that force you to make a different movement with your abs than crunches (which work outwards – or, something…)

I create a Deck of Cards Workout with some ab exercises I thought my PT would approve of –

Plank Saws
TRX Jackknifes
Sit Ups
Plank Hip Twists

I’m not usually very sore after ab work but I woke up Friday morning and could DEFINITELY feel this deck.

Friday

Off

Saturday

Speedwork 

I woke up on Saturday morning and headed out for my first speed work in well over 2 months. I’ve lost a lot of speed and endurance so this was ROUGH both mentally and physically, but when I was done I felt on top of the world. That runner’s high man, it’s no joke!

1 Mile Warm-Up
8x200 (200 Fast, 200 Jog, 200 Fast, etc. for 4 miles)
1 Mile Cool-Down

I’ll be spending a week with family at a Lakehouse – so we’ll see how much exercise happens. But there’s a lake to swim in, my bike came along for the trip, and a set of 10 pound dumbbells snuck their way into the car as well.. 

NYC Biking Little Red Lighthouse

YOUR TURN: 
ANY IDEAS FOR EASY, QUICK, EFFECTIVE WORKOUTS I CAN BANG OUT IN THE MORNINGS ON MY VACATION? 

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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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Biking Blues

I spent a lot of time last year saving up the money required to purchase a road bike. During that time, I dreamed of zooming around Central Park, going on epic adventures into New Jersey, and kicking ass in triathlons. 

In the past few months of owning said road bike, I have covered 116 miles, but I have not achieved any of those 3 above-mentioned things. 

Biking Blues

1. Zooming Around Central Park

Instead of zooming around Central Park, I have been boldly reminded that Central Park is hilly. Very hilly. And I have been humbled to find that as I climb the park's many hills, I look longingly at the runners and think, "That sounds so much easier right now." 

Cycling and running are both hard. I had the uneducated opinion that the bikers had it easy as they whizzed by me in the park. Nope, not at all. My legs burn like hell each climb - so much so that I'd like to ditch the bike and go up Harlem Hill on foot. 

2. Epic Adventures into New Jersey

I attempted an adventure into New Jersey and to be honest, it was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. Getting up to and over the George Washington Bridge was terrifying as a new cyclist who is still not entirely comfortable being clipped into her bike. 

My instinct on an uphill ramp with people flying past me is to stop. When I stop, my instinct is to pull my feet up - not to click them out and think, "Ok, now which side do I need to lean to?" 

I've fallen in a mud puddle and I've fallen in the middle of 96th street at a red light. And those weren't even the worst parts. 

Finishing that ride felt nothing like a victory. It felt like I had been run over by a car. I immediately fell asleep for an hour before waking up so ravenous that I thought I would cry. 

3. Kicking Ass in a Triathlon

I have certainly not kicked any ass in a triathlon. 

In fact, I have not even mustered the courage to seriously consider registering for one. My time in the pool has been non-existent these past few months and while I originally thought the biking portion would be no big thang - I am now absolutely terrified to ride in a crowded group of cyclists. 

I know I need to stick with it. I don't plan on quitting. But it would be a lie to say that I haven't been feeling discouraged.

With the weather getting nicer, and my legs still not having a ball with running, it's time to look at this whole biking thing as a challenge to conquer. I worked hard to afford the bike but that's not where the hard work stops.