Sports

Tri, Tri Again

This year has been a bit of a break for me on the triathlon front. I went to a wedding in California the weekend of the NY Triathlon so had to defer (see you in the Hudson in 2016!), but knew that I'd do another triathlon on another weekend instead. Here's the thing -- triathlons, especially non-local ones, can be quite expensive. I originally signed up for the Orange County Triathlon, but didn't feel quite ready and got suddenly overwhelmed by the logistical aspects (transportation, lodging, blah, blah), so deferred (guess I'll see the Hudson twice next year!). Instead, I'm doing the Jersey City Triathlon on Sunday. Aside from the slight annoyance of taking the PATH at 5 am with my bike and all my gear (I think I'll take the ferry home), it should be fairly simple. It's also a sprint -- half the distance of the NYC Tri -- so despite not being in tip-top shape, I'll be okay with the training I've done. 

If you are in Jersey City and feel like coming out to cheer me on -- please do! 2016 training starts next week. . .


Awareness

I've been playing in a shuffleboard league at Royal Palms the past few months (in Gowanus -- yes, I'm a hipster). It has been quite fun, and we did okay -- we won some and we lost some. I've met new people and re-connected with others I know who happened to be in the league, and all and all I've enjoyed it. Last night, as I was playing, I noticed that one of the guys on the other team would always make a comment when he missed a shot, and that more often than not, it involved calling the biscuit (the puck-like thing) a name -- a misogynistic name, like "bitch" and "whore."  "Travel, you whore!" The guy seemed fairly nice and friendly otherwise. At the end of the match, as we were all shaking hands, I said to him, "hey, you might want to tone down the misogynistic comments when you miss a shot." He was honestly apologetic. "You're right -- I didn't realize I was even doing that. What if my little sister was here?! Thanks."

Spreading awareness, one dude at a time.


Motivation

I'm not a competitive person. Not really. I have minor moments, like during the triathlon when I speed up to try and overcome someone in their 20's (everyone's age is on his/her calf), but generally, I'm not out there trying to win stuff, especially on the athletic front. Since I joined ClassPass a while back, I've had the opportunity to go to a number of spin studios in addition to my usual (Revolve). I'm noticing a trend -- most of the studios have the technology to track your performance during the class, and some use this information in an attempt to motivate you during your ride. One studio flashes your RPMs and energy output up at the front of the room at various points in class (you're only identified by your bike number). I don't mind this -- it shows me where I am in relation to everyone else and as long as I'm not at the bottom, I generally feel okay. Another lets you opt in to do the same. This is fine too -- even if I don't opt in, I can see where I am in relation to those who have.  Neither one of these display options makes me work harder, however. Since I'm not at the bottom, and I know I won't be up at the top, I just take notice and keep going. 

Yet another studio does something slightly different -- it puts you on a team. During various points in the class, it pits the teams against each other, either in a sprint to see which team is going the fastest/working the hardest, or to see which team can keep tempo the most consistently. Now, when there's a team situation, it changes my motivation entirely. I found myself pushing super hard during sprints -- I wanted to make sure I was carrying my weight and doing my share of the work. Our team kept winning, which made me work even harder. In fact, our team won for the class. Woo hoo! I was exhausted, but proud. Until I got home. This studio also sends you an email at the end of class with your individual stats. I was 31st out of 44 in the class (not bad, in my book -- probably about average for me), but 15th out of 16 on my team. WHAT?!  I nearly killed myself and I was at the bottom of my team?!  Screw that.

My most recent spin experiment was Cycle Karaoke, where you can sing along while you ride. Now *that's* my kind of motivation.


NYC Tri #6: There Will Be Blood

TricrashI'm back from the wilds of Maine, feeling well rested but not quite ready to return to reality. Before I do, I wanted to give a quick recap of last week's triathlon. My time was in the same ballpark as past years, which is not surprising. The part that *is* surprising is that my time was similar (and even faster than 2011) despite the fact that I'm two years older then the last time I did this and despite the fact that I crashed about two thirds of the way through the bike leg, getting thrown off my bike (which suffered some bent handlebars), that I probably lost at least 10 minutes pulling myself together at the crash site and trying to clean up my bloody elbow with the help of two fellow triathletes (note to riders -- it's always good to have first aid stuff in your bike bag), and that I lost about 5 more minutes stopping at the medical tent between the bike and the run. I had personal records on both my swim and my run and was still 4 minutes faster than my slowest tri. Many thanks to the triathletes who helped patch me up and to the guy (Keith? Kevin?) who ran with me/kept me entertained during the majority of the run course. Also thanks to my Mom and Stephen for cheering me on along the way and walking me back (as I hobbled) to transition after the race. Along with my medal this year, I've got some gnarly bruises all over my left thigh and hip, a tetatus shot, and a likely scar on my elbow as additional souvenirs of the race. See you next year!!

2014: Swim 18:06 T1 11:10 Bike 1:58:23 T2 4:37 Run 1:07:17 Total: 3:39:31

2012: Swim 23:28 T1 9:55 Bike 1:44:50 T2 5:02 Run 1:11:05 Total: 3:34:16

2011: Swim 22:19 T1 12:27 Bike 1:51:54 T2 4:58 Run 1:11:40 Total: 3:43:17

2010: Swim 20:54 T1 11:39 Bike 1:42:43 T2 6:26 Run 1:08:01 Total: 3:29:41

2009: Swim 24:30 T1 10:17 Bike 1:40:57 T2 4:01 Run 1:07:22 Total: 3:27:06

2008: Swim 24:30 T1 10:55 Bike 1:36:47 T2 4:00 Run 1:08:40 Total: 3:24:51


Mind Games

A week from today, I will have completed my 6th New York City Triathlon, if all goes according to plan. This week, I'll only be doing some light exercise, but I've been training consistently for several months (if you want to see what I've been doing, click here), and feel absolutely ready to go. That said, I haven't trained as hard as I have in past years -- I had injuries, I'm a few years older, and all that good stuff -- but I have trained at a level where I know that can complete the race. So much of the training, as well as the race itself, is mental, not physical. When I do training runs in Central Park, I run clockwise while most runners run counterclockwise -- the tri course is clockwise, so I know exactly what's coming up, what hills I have left, and what landmarks mean for distance left on the route. I generally swim around 30 minutes for training, which is less than the mile I'll need for the race, because the swim has never taken me more than 25 minutes or so. That said, I don't feel ready until I've done a mile in the pool, which takes 40-45 minutes (I did it yesterday). Similarly, I don't feel ready until I've run over 5 miles a few times (done), biked over 20 miles a few times (done), and thrown in a few brick (bike/run) workouts for good measure (I only managed to fit in one this year, alas). 

The other thing that's been fun this year is bike commuting along the Hudson, right where I'll be swimming, and past what will be my transition area on Sunday. I can visualize so much of the race -- having done it five times already helps -- which calmes my nerves. NYC Tri -- I'm ready to take you on!!


Recovery

After a super-busy week last week (Passover, work event, reunion with high school friends, Easter with family), I'm doing my best to lay low this week. In addition, a few weeks ago, I ran on the indoor (banked) track at Columbia and my right hip has been wonky ever since. I'm trying to balance letting it rest with getting back into training mode,  so there has been less running than I'd like, a great deal of stretching, a bunch of whining, and a doctor's appointment this coming Friday.  Fingers crossed that some stretching and physical therapy will do the trick, as I've got the NYC Triathon on August 3rd and a cycling trip in the Loire Valley at the end of May. . .


Warming Up

It's cold out there, kids! I'm trying my best to warm up at the gym with self-guided spin classes (there are spin bikes, but no formal classes at my gym, sadly). My latest warm up: a little Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (easy cycle to the beat with sprints during the chorus).


Beach Brain

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Sorry for the radio silence -- @MoxieMutt and I spent a week on Fire Island and, although I got back on Friday, I think we're both still recovering. The big news is that my Citibike key was waiting in my mailbox when I got home -- have already been riding around town quite a bit. In other news, I just spent a wad of money at Trader Joe's, so between that and my CSA produce, there's going to be quite a bit of cooking going on at Chez Laren (tonight it's BBQ pulled chicken and cole slaw, and will be doing this slow cooker chicken later this week). Finally, with a heavy heart and a great deal of beating myself up, I've decided to defer my entry to this year's NYC Triathlon. I'm simply not ready, and given the heat, I'd rather not put myself through it when I'm not feeling up to snuff. I've got a guaranteed entry for 2014, so training starts now. Maybe I can find a sprint triathlon in the next month or two to do instead.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike*

I finally dusted off my bike and went for a ride yesterday, which felt great. Given the prevalence of the new Citibike docks all around the city, I've been thinking quite a bit about bike riding lately. I was trained as a very safe rider thanks to the AIDS Ride folks back in 2000, but I'm still not super-thrilled about riding in traffic. I prefer to get over to a bike-friendly area that is blocked to traffic (Central Park, West Side Highway) and ride around there instead of using my bike for commuting. As safe and cautious as I am, I think that drivers are still not accustomed to cyclists and I'd rather avoid them.

That said, they're about to be everywhere. I'm incredibly curious to see how this whole Citibike thing will work. I plan to try it out (with a helmet, of course) and see if it makes me more comfortable using a bike as a mode of transportation rather than a means of exercise. My two big hopes are that 1) drivers will start to get used to and respect cyclists who share the streets, and 2) cyclists will ride safely, respecting traffic laws. The latter is something I don't see as often as I'd like. I constantly see cyclists riding the wrong way down bike lanes, not signaling, blowing through traffic lights, wearing headphones, texting (are you fucking kidding me?!) as they ride, and riding on sidewalks. I truly hope that with an influx of cyclists, this changes, and if not, that cyclists are ticketed accordingly for traffic violations. The sooner we all learn to share the streets safely, the better.

* Thank you, Queen.


Pushing Limits

On Sunday I went running outside. "So what, Laren?" you might say. "You're a triathlete and all, don't you do that all the time?" The answer is yes, I do, but generally not in 30ish degree weather. I hate running in the cold, and I probably haven't done it in about a decade, but I made myself do it. "Why?" you might ask. "Don't you belong to a gym where they have a perfectly good treadmill?" Why yes, I do, but I wanted to make myself a bit uncomfortable -- to push my limits, even if it was ever so slightly. I'm at a point in my life where I have to push my limits in so many ways -- I might as well start with something easy. Plus, there are only 129 days left until this year's NYC Triathlon. . .