Marathon Training Update: A Whole Bunch of YAYs

NYC Marathon training from August 18-September 7, also known as “Hell Weeks” for teachers, went surprisingly smooth. I’m not sure if it’s because this is deja vu, the awesome running weather, the extra sleep I got, or what. I’m sure it’s the “or what.”

Week 7 Highlights:

This week was all about recovery from the Mingoman Triathlon adventures. We drove back from Ohio, and I dove right into schoolwork: Setting up my classroom, attending meetings and professional development, and getting ready for the First Day. Right away, I had to move a scheduled run to another day, but I got it in. There were 3 “easy” runs, and a 10-mile long run. I also wore my GPS watch when I mowed the yard, just to see how many miles it was (with a non-power-assist push mower, mind you).

cross training mowing

I’m guessing it’s not entirely accurate, but apparently, that’s how I roll.

It was actually 1.2 miles total, at a smokin’ 29:31 pace. Kara Goucher, eat your heart out.

That week’s 10-miler was vexing. It felt like a slog-fest, but ended up being an average of 10:52 pace. Anything under 11:00 miles on a long run is quite unusual for me. I was quite tired and a little dehydrated the rest of the day, which goes to show you that PERCEIVED EFFORT is just as important as listening to your GPS watch. But still, YAY!

Week 8 Highlights:

I commemorated the First Day of School by running at 5:30 AM with a headlamp. Overachiever, much?

marathon training dark

‘Tis the season

I actually had good energy this week. I made sure to go to bed early, which for this night owl, is a hard habit to get into. There’s always ONE MORE THING to do before bed, right?

I ended the week with a total, complete, remember-this-run-because-they-don’t-come-along-that-often 16-miler! I ran completely by myself, had virtually no blisters, and had an average of 10:51…whaaaaaaaat? YAY!

marathon training long run

There might have been fist-pumping involved after this run.

It must have been all of the extra zzzz’s.

Week 9 Highlights

This week, in mid-September, summer finally appeared, in all of it’s hot, humid glory. Here’s a poem, referring to speed work on the high school track.

Where art thou,

My sweet track breeze?

Nowhere to be found,

As it’s football practice and 85 degrees.

It stayed hot the whole week. On Saturday, I did my long run of 18-miles. I did 3x 6-mile loops in town starting from the local Starbucks (Restrooms and water? Don’t mind if I do.Three times.) I was comfortable for the first 10 miles, then the sun came out blasting. I was getting a little worried about over-heating, but then, like some glistening beacon of refreshment, I saw the library’s sprinklers were on, and ran right through them with no shame. Later, I saw a random landscaper watering some flowers. I screeched to a stop, threw my hands up in the air, and pleaded “HOSE ME DOWN, PLEASE!!” (He did…twice. Remember, I was running loops.) When I finished my second loop, I saw that the Ridgefield High School baseball team was setting up a car-wash fundraiser next door. Of course, I ran over and asked a bunch of high-school boys to turn the hose on me. I’LL BRING MY CAR OVER WHEN I’M DONE JUST HOSE ME DOWN GUYS. Not weird at all.

marathon training hot

Thumbs up to the baseball boys behind me.

Also during that run, I was randomly joined by another mother runner who recognized me from the Run Like a Mother training sessions last spring. It was delightful as she joined me for miles 12-15 (ish) and we decided we’d run again in the future. YAY for new rando running friends!

Between the hoses and the new friends, it was actually a smashing run, despite the heat. Average pace was 11:17. And I did let the baseball boys wash my car afterward.

YAY for lawn mowing! YAY for hoses! YAY new running friends!

It’s September…let’s hear it now: YAY!

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Mingoman Triathlon: Calm the Heck Down

This is a very tardy race report. Since school started in late-ish August, I’m busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony.

The Mingoman Triathlon was pretty great for an inaugural race – one could tell this company has put on other tris before. Just some tiny little tweaks I would change, but no major issues. You can read about my pre-race tri-anxiety here.

So how was it? Short version: Pretty darn good.

Pre-event: We had over an hour drive to get up to Delaware, OH, a cute little town just north of Columbus. Dan was doing the Olympic version of the tri, and my friend Janet was doing her first sprint tri.

The point-to-point course complicated things a bit. We drove to the swim/transition #1 and set up our bikes in the dark. Then we drove to the finish/transition #2 and parked, and took the shuttle back to the swim start. I know, I’m confused too.

Once we were back at the reservoir for the start, it was daylight (albeit overcast) and I entered the water to warm up a bit. The water was 68 degrees, which meant it was wetsuit legal. When I got in, the water clarity was so poor that I COULD NOT SEE MY HAND EXTENDED IN FRONT OF MY FACE. Talk about sensory deprivation! That could definitely set off an Open Water Panic Attack. I told myself to calm the heck down, and continued my half-blind warmup.

Swim: After a delayed start (the prior waves did not go off on time), I ran into the water, and a little voice inside me told me that today would be a good day to try and dolphin dive to gain momentum. I should’ve told that voice to shut up. I dove a couple of times, bumped into a few people because I couldn’t see a damn thing underwater, started to freestyle, and immediately lost my breathing rhythm. After a few sputters and head pop-ups, and a brief chat with myself to calm the heck down, I was able to get some momentum. I knew I had to get used to being under-water-blind. Normally I sight (sighting is popping your head up and forward on a breath to make sure you’re going where you want to go) every 12th stroke, but this time, I did every 8th. After a couple of hundred yards, I finally found a rhythm. I wasn’t ever fully “calm and smooth” like my mantra was in last year’s TriFitness race, and I about crashed into other swimmers many times, because I couldn’t even see their wake of bubbles until it was too late. I almost got smashed in the nose with a foot —again with the water blindness. I finally reached the shore, climbed out, and breathed my usual big sigh of relief.

Transition 1: Due to this being a point-to-point tri, I avoided the dreaded DERP DANCE of INDECISION, (which is when one is so adrenaline-fueled that you can’t remember what you need next), and I was able to strip out of my wetsuit, hop on my bike and go. I did, however, need to make sure that all of my swim stuff was packed into the provided race bag, as it would be transported back to the finish line for me. Lost a few seconds there. Trying to pack a wet wetsuit into a small plastic bag is hard and silly, but it had to be done. Off I go!

Bike: Flat road. Corn. Soybeans. Sang to myself. Found a zen place in my mind. More corn. Sun came out. More soybeans. Kept telling myself to calm the heck down and enjoy it. Saw my shadow and thought, Who the heck IS that person? Marty McFly performed wonderfully. It was a lovely ride – I think this was my favorite part of the race. 21 miles…done!

Transition 2: Easy-peasy. Rack bike, change shoes, eat a GU, and go.

Run: The first half mile was a decent-sized hill. The sun was out, and it was hot, but I managed to pass a few people. I was working pretty hard, harder than I wanted, and I was trying to save some for the last mile. So I calmed the heck down, dialed back my pace a little, and just tried to keep in motion. There were some rolling hills, playing the part of equalizers, as many central Ohio triathletes don’t have many hills to train on but back in Connecticut I sure do! The run course was in town, so there were quite a few spectators, and the Delaware High School cheering squads were out in full force. As I came into the last 1/2 mile, I passed Dan as he headed out on his second lap. I stepped on the gas…

mingoman triathlon

“Two thumbs up!” appears to be my new thing.

My lungs were burning, and after I crossed the finish line in 2:03:22, I received a finisher’s medal that quickly rose to up to being in my top 3 of race medals:

Mingoman triathlon

Clever!

That’s bike chain encircling it, folks. And, it’s not big and gaudy. LOVE IT.

I got to spectate and cheer for Dan and Janet when they came in. I’m so proud of Jan.

mingoman triathlon

You go girl!

mingoman triathlon

Me nd the hubs on yet another tri-date.

Sooooo…did I meet my goals?

Swim: A dreamy result would have been 18:00 or under. I hit 18:09! (It felt a little short, though, I have to admit. Or maybe I just swam straighter? I’ll take straighter.)

Bike: I had no idea what my goal should’ve been for this, as 21 miles is an odd distance. I had hoped for 1h 20m or less. With an average of 17.2 miles per hour, I smoked a 1:13:04!

Run: Was really hoping to break 26:00 on this one, but the heat got me and I’m happy with the 27:41 I was able to pull off.

I found out later that was good enough for second place in my age group! WAA-HOO!

mingoman triathlon

It’s real plaque that I can hang on my wall and lord over my minions. #lookatallthesportssayings

My husband won 1st in his age group for the Olympic distance. IT’S A FAMILY SWEEP! (Kinda.)

So much for keeping calm.

can-t-keep-calm-i-just-placed-in-my-age-group

NEXT: New York City Marathon training continues…stay tuned!

NYC Marathon Training Week 4: A Wicked Week and a Bicycle Smoothie

This week’s blogpost is WICKED themed. It’s such a fun, useful word that clicks off the tongue. You’ve been warned.

NYC Marathon Training Week 4:

  • 23 miles run
  • 21.5 miles biked
  • One softball game
  • One Broadway show (well, it did take my breath away)

MONDAY: This was a rest day. Normally I would swim at the lake on Monday nights, but a WICKED rainstorm rolled through. So, I rested.

TUESDAY: I decided to take a 16 mile road ride – a rolling route so that I could get in some hill practice. The sprint triathlon coming up on August 17 actually has almost an Olympic-length bike ride (21 instead of 12 miles). I also worked up a little bravery, as some of the roads I rode on were busy. The more peaceful ones had roadside fuel waiting for me:

bike training fuel raspberries

YUMYUMYUMYUMYUM

Then, I missed a turn, got a little off track (not quite “lost”…okay, a little lost) and added an additional 5.5 miles for a total of 21.5, including some WICKED hills. Those of you who travel Route 35 from Cross River, New York to Ridgefield, Connecticut KNOW WHEREOF I SPEAK.

I realized I’m peaking my bike miles right on time; about 3 weeks before the triathlon. So it was a “happy accident” in Bob Ross terms. I also didn’t really pack enough fuel for a 16 mile ride, let alone a 21 mile ride, so I just about ate my own arm off when I got home. But I didn’t, because I needed that arm to pitch softball that night. I pitched a wicked game, but alas, Team Power Outage lost.

WEDNESDAY: 3 miles “easy” run, but I am finding that my easy runs are faster than ever. I’m consistently seeing easy runs in the wicked-fast-for-me range (9:00-9:30/mile), when last year they were usually over 10:00. I think this is due to only running 4 days per week (but I’m working out 6 days a week, usually, so wouldn’t I be tired?) but I think the big reason is the strength training, and all of the millions of squats I’ve done since January. I have no other explanation!

THURSDAY: Speedwork at the track: 800m repeats. Hot and sticky. I call these workouts “character builders.” It was WICKED hard. Or hahd, if you’re from Boston.

FRIDAY: I headed into NYC for a weekend with my mom. I was like this on the train:

sleepy-kittens

SATURDAY: New York City! I haven’t lived there in 15 years, and I haven’t worked there in 8. I truly felt like a tourist again. On three Saturdays in August, the city closes down Park Avenue from 72nd street all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge from 7AM-1PM. I knew it was the perfect place for my “easy” 3 miler.

It was rainy and cool on Saturday morning, and for a while, Park Avenue was MINE, ALL MINE!

marathon training park ave summerstreets

Running the streets of the WICKED City.

One of the coolest things was getting to walk on the elevated section that wraps around Grand Central. Pedestrians aren’t normally allowed on that part anyway, so to be able to run on that section was a privilege and a joy.

marathon training grand central summerstreets

Grand Central: A true gem.

The elevated section shoots you through the Helmsley Building and pack onto Park Avenue.

marathon training NYC summerstreets

Helmsley (yes, that Helmsley) Building with the cool double tunnels.

As I finished with my run, I spied with my little eye a sign that said “Earn your smoothie.” Intrigued, I found out it was a bicycle advocacy group – Bike New York –  offering the smoothies, but you had to ride a stationary bike with a blender attached to it and blend it yourself. DON’T MIND IF I DO:

YUP.

YUP.

It was delicious.

marathon training bike smoothie Bike new york

YUMYUMYUMYUMYUM

Later that day, my mom and I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It was overwhelming in many ways, and I found myself on my feet for about 4 hours. We had a lovely dinner and went to see the Broadway show Wicked. It was truly a magical show. I would absolutely see it again.

Wicked good.

Wicked good.

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try I’ll never know.

“Defying Gravity” from Wicked, the Musical

SUNDAY: Long run day! 12 miles through Central Park. It poured pretty much the whole time, and both my GPS and my Strava phone app were thoroughly flumoxed by the skyscrapers, so my run was really 12-ish. I felt pretty good, my feet were tolerant of the wet torture.

marathon training central park reservoir

SOAKED.

marathon training central park long run

Misty Manhattan morning.

Another solid marathon training week is in the books (or, on the excel chart as the case may be). I’m getting psyched about the Mingoman Triathlon in Ohio on August 17. It’s gonna be WICKED!

IMG_3549

What was WICKED about your week? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Marathon Training Week 3: A Sticky Bricky and Handstand Push Ups

I’m a week behind in my Marathon Training reports. Oopsie.

NYC Marathon Training Week 3 (with some triathlon training sprinkled in) totals:

  • 22 miles ran
  • 18 miles biked
  • 1/2 mile swam
  • 1 Crossfit Workout
  • 1 Softball Game

MONDAY: 1/2 mile open water swim. Our local bike club coordinates with the town beach to have lifeguards available on Monday evenings for Open Water Swim practice. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH OPEN WATER SWIM practice. For me, that open water panic attack could rear its ugly, choking head any moment. The kids can’t go in the water during OWS, so I handed the camera to my daughter and this is what I got:

open water swim triathlon training

Calm and not panicking.

And these:

triathlon open water swim

If You Give a Kid a Camera…

TUESDAY: Softball! I’ve been playing (albeit inconsistenly due to my schedule) in a women’s softball league in another town. My friend Nancy, whom I got to know about 15 years ago when we were both on the Viacom softball team in NYC, roped me into it.

The Nancy Zone.

The Nancy Zone.

It’s great fun, and our team is called “Team Power Outage,” which could be intimidating or laughable, depending on your perspective.  I pitch, and I have a new malady which I’ve named “Pitcher’s Butt.” My left glute is S-O-R-E from constantly shifting my weight from left to right off the pitching rubber. Who could foresee that pitching would mess up my running game? I have to be foam rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ that cheek constantly to get it to calm the heck down.

WEDNESDAY: I had the blessed opportunity of time on Wednesday morning, so I headed over the rail trail for a brick workout, a bike + run. By the time I started, it was 10AM and getting very sticky. A STICKY BRICKY, yo. I got a breeze on the 18 mile bike ride, but the 3 mile run was kinda soupy. Despite the heat, I really surprised myself on this one. I somehow harnessed the energy to do some fast sprints on the bike, and my 3 mile pace was actually fairly fast, hovering around the 9:00/mile. (Coach Erin is cringing at that sentence, as my runs are supposed to be “easy” at this point. It seems I only have one speed when I get off the bike, brickteen-minutes per mile.)

triathlon training marathon brick

Do a brick, collapse on bricks. It’s that simple.

THURSDAY: Five miles of speedwork at the track. I was really looking forward to getting back on the track, it’s been over 7 months since I had a proper track workout. I did 8 X 400 repeats, with rest lap in between. I was moderately tired from yesterday’s Sticky Bricky, and I didn’t have a goal pace yet, so I just made sure the “fast” laps were faster than the “rest” laps. This felt hard, as it was again late morning and full sun. But, I got ‘er done.

marathon training speedwork track

Break line, indeed.

I brought along my son, who’s pretty good at hanging out by himself (he brought legos and ran with me a bit). A few minutes after I got there, another Mother Runner arrived with her kids in tow, one of which was my son’s age, carrying a soccer ball. After some initial minutes of shyness, the boys ended up kicking the ball around the field and having a grand ole’ time. Sport: The Universal Friend-Maker.

FRIDAY: This was me, at various times, on Friday:

lion sleeping

 

SATURDAY: A Crossfit Sandwich! I ran 2 miles to Crossfit, did the Crossfit workout, then ran 2 miles back to my car. That in and of itself felt hard and kind of badass, but to top it off I made a huge breakthrough in Crossfit: I can now attempt HSPU’s…Handstand Push-Ups!

Handstand PushUps from Nancy Barlow on Vimeo.

Who IS that?! No, really, WHO IS THAT PERSON? I have trouble recognizing myself sometimes. That person will turn 42 this fall and I’m all what the hell am I doing? I’m not supposed to be able to do that?! OR AM I? It’s never too late, folks. NEVER. TOO. LATE. Keep in mind it took me 7 months to work up to the HSPU’s, which makes them all the sweeter (sweatier?) . It just reaffirms to me that slow and steady is the way to go. And, that I NEED this shirt. This is my HSPU shirt

 

SUNDAY: Long, slow run with Lori, 10 miles. We started at the dawn of the dawn, and not even Starbucks was open that early.

marathon training long run

Up at dawn o’clock

Nothing notable, other than I got my FIRST BLISTER OF THE TRAINING CYCLE. Time to bust out the compression socks to combat my feet as they balloon in hot, humid, long runs. This run also required the FIRST ICE BATH OF THE SEASON.

ice bath marathon training

It works, it really works.

I feel like I should be earning a scouting badge when I reach these “milestones”. Next week, pershaps I should aim for the first black toenail of the season? (And WHAT WOULD that badge look like?) I felt like this was one of the most badass training weeks I’ve ever had. I felt strong, I felt like an athlete. I felt like I left my mark.

crossfit HSPU's crosstraining

How did you leave your mark this week? Did you have any badass moments (fitness or otherwise)? Do tell in the comments, you Badass you.

 

 

 

Marathon Training Week 2: The Beach and the Men’s Locker Room Adventure

Most of this week was “at the beach” in Ocean City, NJ. Note I didn’t say “ON the beach,” as I think running on sand is just cray-cray. I sit on beaches, I run on roads. If I run on sand, I’ll receive a one-way ticket to plantar fasciitisville, which is a horrid place to visit.

All of my running workouts in these early weeks are under orders from Coach Erin to be “easy”, because at this point, I just need to build up the mileage on my feet. Week three we’ll start with the speed/track workouts, which I am just demented enough to be looking forward to. Srsly.

Exercising on vacation can be very hard, but when grandparents and aunts and uncles come along, it’s way easier because there are built-in babysitters. Thank you Mom, Dad, John, and Melissa for allowing Dan and I to get in some serious workouts this week.

NYC MARATHON WEEK TWO: 19 MILES TOTAL

MONDAY: Rest day. On the beach. Awesome.

TUESDAY: 18 mile bike ride. I went with my husband and we did a loop around Ocean City, going over my favorite bridge, the Route 52 Causeway. It was very windy, and the wind caused me to white-knuckle it on the downhills of the bridge, while experiencing little pulsing heart-attacky adrenaline surges. In other words, fun!

marathon training cross training bike

Finger on the lens AGAIN. The wind made me do it.

WEDNESDAY: 3 miles, which I ran a tad faster than I needed to, but it was drizzling and I wanted to get home because my husband was bringing back donuts.

marathon training Ocean City

“Mmmmmm…donuts…”

Later that day, I played 18 holes of golf with my dad and brother at the Atlantic City Country Club.

Atlantic City golf cross-training

Duffin’ it in the marsh.

This place was so old-timey Atlantic City, it would blow your mind. For instance, the men had a gorgeous, plush locker room with oak lockers, leather couches, huge tv’s, and card tables. How do I know this? Because all players, both men and women, have to go through the men’s locker room TO GET TO THE PRO SHOP.

Plush, comfy, and huge.

Plush, comfy, and huge. That’s the old AC trolley bell in the foreground, so it’s historical too. This was only about 1/3 of the room.

If you are a woman, a staff member will check the men’s locker room for you and let you know if it’s clear to go through to the pro shop. So I walked though feeling awkward and sheepish, praying that the staff member was correct and being ready to shield my eyes at any moment. And if that’s not welcoming enough for you ladies, may I present to you the ladies’ locker room, which was down a small, darkened hallway:

golf atlantic city women locker room

I felt so…welcomed.

So, lemme get this straight: Golf as a sport has taken a beating in the past few years and its numbers are on the decline and this course (a private one) expects to survive by alienating half of the potential golf-playing population? GO FOR IT, BROS. SOLID BUSINESS PLAN.

THURSDAY: Fueled by more donuts, I had the most awesome run with one of my Ragnar teammates, Schuy, who was also vacationing in Ocean City that week. Where did we run? Over the Route 52 causeway, of course. During those 4.4 miles, we chatted about the following: Schuy and her daughter are in training for a half Ironman triathlon in September…seriously badass. Also, my husband and her brother-in-law were probably member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol at the same time back in the early 80’s. And finally, we spoke of that magical Ragnar weekend, where time seemed to stand still, the heat was cranked, tutus were donned, and friendships were forged. Someday I will find the words to write about how transformative that experience was for me, but for now I leave Thursday’s recap with some BAMRs (BadAss Mother Runners) on the Best Bridge For Running Ever.

ragnar marathon training

BAMR Powers…ACTIVATE!

FRIDAY: I rested. I ate more donuts. (Dot’s in Ocean City is DA BOMB.)

SATURDAY: Poof! And just like that, our week at the beach was over. We packed up and headed back to Connecticut. I was too tired to sneak in a run before leaving, so I ran 4 lovely sunset miles when I got home.

SUNDAY: Long run day! After a 7 month hiatus, my BRF Lori and I finally got to run together again and we were all:

Spongebob patrick butt bumps

And then we were all

Spongebob patrick serious running

and before I knew it, we had cranked out 8 hilly miles. Week number two was IN THE BAG!

Do you run on vacation? Do you run (gasp!) on sand? What’s your favorite donut? Have you ever walked through a men’s locker room on purpose? Are you more Spongebob or more Patrick?

Let me (and the world) know in the comments!

It’s the New York Marathon, Baby! Training Week One

On November 2, 2014 I will FINALLY get to run in the New York City Marathon.

This has been FOUR YEARS in the making. What the what?! Yep.

It was way back in the fall of 2010 and I was training for my first half marathon, that I started whispering to myself: “Could I? Could I actually run a marathon?”

This is what happens when you start running and you start to see those little gains, those little jumps in fitness. With every week’s gain in mileage, comes a gain in confidence. It starts giving you dreams of grandeur.

I knew that if I were to attempt a marathon, there was no doubt that it would be New York City. It’s closeby, I used to live there, and my husband has run it twice. It is the Mount Everest of marathons.

In 2011, I earned my spot in the 2012 marathon by using the NYRR 9+1 entry program. It took a crazy amount of effort to get it done, but it didn’t deter me. BRING ON 2012.

In July of 2012, I hired Badass Coach Erin to be my coach, mentor, and cheerleader. I put in the work, I mostly avoided major injuries. I raised over $2000 for LitWorld. I was ready for November 4, 2012.

On October 28, Hurricane Sandy struck. We all know the story, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The marathon was cancelled and I quickly found an alternate marathon to run that day: The Lehigh-Delaware Heritage Marathon near Easton, PA. That marathon was brutal – click here to read the recap. I thought I was ready, but my performance showed that I wasn’t. (It’s the STRESS, stupid!) I cried – a lot. But I finished it. I was a marathoner.

lehigh marathon

Smiling on the outside. Crying on the inside. Actually crying on the outside, too.

But it wasn’t New York City.

New York Road Runners offered a mea culpa to runners to reconcile the cancelled marathon. One of the options was to receive a guaranteed entry spot into the 2013, 2014, or 2015 marathons. I decided to give myself another 2 years to prep for the marathon, and selected 2014.

The new year of 2013 swept in, and so did my itchy race-sign-up-finger. It seems that I just couldn’t wait, and one of my running buds (LORI – I SEE U) twisted my arm into running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon on November 17th, 2013.

And so I did. I rocked it, knocking 28 minutes off my prior record, and not hitting The Wall. I cried…again. But it was all happy runner endorphin tears this time.

Philadelphia marathon

YES.

But it still wasn’t New York City.

SWISH-PAN FAST FORWARD TO JULY 2014!

Here I am, 17 weeks out from the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.

Here I thought I was a one-and-done marathoner, and now I’m going for my THIRD. Believe me, I’m not sure how that happened, either.

MARATHON TRAINING WEEK ONE: 18 Miles total

Monday: It started with a…swim? Yep, yep, I’m also training for a sprint triathlon in August. I did a half-mile open-water swim at our town park. Uneventful, other than I could totally tell that swimming hasn’t been a priority for a while. I was feeling a little uninspired.

Tuesday: Crossfit and Softball. I am very much aware that if I’m gonna do a marathon, I need to actually run. IT’S COMING, PEOPLE.

Wednesday: I ran…on the treadmill. Not exactly how I wanted to kick off training, but it was thunder-storming and I had no other option but to ‘mill it for 3 “easy” miles. It was a sweatfest.

marathon training treadmill

Drudgemill.

 

Thursday: A slow, 4 miler in the early morning. I felt tired as I wasn’t sleeping well.

marathon training sleep

I was awake by mile number never.

 

Friday: Crossfit. Lots of running, lots of snatches (that’s a wide-armed bar lift).

Saturday: I did a super-slow, heavy-footed 4 miles before we packed up the van and headed to the Jersey Shore for the week. Still not sleeping well and starting to wonder if I’m going to feel this way the ENTIRE TRAINING CYCLE. UGH.

marathon training

I never fail to scare the crap out of myself running past this driveway mirror.

 

Sunday: I have no idea what happened, but this long run, this 7-miler, was THE BEST RUN OF THE YEAR. I felt light, airy, and stoopid fast. I was high from it all day long. TURN DOWN FOR WHAT??!!

marathon training long run

Salt in the air, salt on my face, finger on the lens. STILL WINNING

And with that, week one is done. New York, HERE I COME!

 

 

 

 

5 Tips For Conquering an Open-Water Swim

Last year at this time, I was thinking, “So this is what an open-water panic attack feels like,” as I did my first practice swim in a lake for TriRidgefield. I got through that swim (you can read about it here) and that race (read it here) and even another triathlon swim, this time in the waters of Long Island Sound (read about that here).

Tonight, I did my first open-water swim of the year, in practice for TriRidgefield next week. My friend Derry came to the lake to practice, as it was her first open-water swim ever. As she asked me for advice, I completely flashed back to where I was a year ago. To make the time pass faster on tonight’s swim, I thought of some tips that can hopefully help anyone considering dipping their toe in that cold, murky water. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Before you swim the course, get in and acclimate. DO YOU HEAR ME? Get in and your body used to the water! Paddle around! Stick your face in! Pee if you have to! That was the single biggest mistake I made last year. Between the cold water, the compressive wetsuit, and me naively thinking I would be able to see underwater, OF COURSE I had a panic attack. Get in about 15-20 minutes before you need to, and ACCLIMATE your body.

2. Wetsuits are your frenemy. On one hand, they make you more buoyant and keep your core body temp warmer. On the other hand, they can compress you like a weight on your chest, they can chafe you in unkind places (your neck, for one), and they just feel like you’re wearing a rubber suit, which you kind of are, which is weird, unless you are used to wearing rubber suits. Then you’re golden. Some wetsuit-specific tips:

  • Rent a wetsuit before you buy. I rented from triwetsuitrentals.com and they had fab service. It helped me realize I wanted a sleeveless wetsuit, which I bought later.
  • Practice getting your wet suit OFF quickly. That is a funky dance you don’t want to be wasting time on in transition.
  • Use body glide on your legs, arms, and neck to help slide the wetsuit on. Baby powder (just dump some right down the legs and arms) works too.
  • Make sure your wetsuit is yanked up in the armpits and the crotch, or you won’t have the range of motion you need for swimming; you’ll look and feel like a flailing water bug.
triathlon swim

Getting it off is a bear.

3. While swimming, count to yourself, over and over, until you reach a zen-like meditative state. I count on every other stroke: 1, 2, 3, 4, and on 4, when I breathe, I “sight” my target (when you lift your face out for a breath, quickly breathe then look forward before putting your face back into the water. It keeps me going relatively straight, and keeps me from freaking out too much. Other times, my mantra was “Calm and smooth, calm and smooth.” Just find something to occupy your mind.

4. Speaking of sighting, scope out large targets on the horizon that you can see easily. Buoys can be hard to spot from far away, so pick a larger target behind the buoy. For instance, I know that at TriRidgefield, I aim for a large rock face on the other side of the lake on the way out, and on the way in I aim for tallest tree on the beach.

triathlon open water swim panic attack

See that rock face in the waaay back? Aim for that.

5. Do NOT be afraid to stop and rest with a lifeguard. A decently staffed race will have lifeguards on kayaks and paddleboards throughout the course. According to USAT rules, you are allowed to stop with a lifeguard, as long as you are not being helped forward. No one will look at you funny if you stop. Do you remember any specific walkers from any running race you’ve done? I didn’t think so. The other swimmers won’t see you, let alone remember you. We all look like wet-suited, swim-caped minions. If you need a break, swallow your pride and rest. So much less embarrassing than having to be rescued by a lifeguard and being handed a DNF (Did Not Finish). AMIRIGHT?

And don’t forget…each time you do an OWS it gets just a little bit easier. If you have an opportunity to practice, take it! Hopefully, these tips can help you not only avoid a panic attack, but downright conquer your OWS.

Have I forgotten anything? Have you used any of these tips with success? Any open-water panic-attack survivors in the crowd tonight? Do tell in the comments!