Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Running shoe blues

I miss having a pair of running shoes that I love and look forward to wearing. Since the neuroma in my left foot has reared it's ugly head again and again for the last 6 months i haven't been able to find a great pair of running shoes that are just right. I feel like Cinderella searching for my lost glass slipper that fit like a glove. For years and years I wore Asics Gel-Nimbus, but several injuries and the trend toward less clunky shoes sent me searching for something new. I went through a Saucony phase, but they discontinued the Cortana and the racing flats I loved for so long irritated my right foot and I had an ongoing battle with plantar fascitis for a few years. I have super high Arches, so it's tricky to nail down a shoe that's not too clunky, but still has support.
Last year I was lucky enough to test the new Nike Lunar Glide 5 and liked those a lot, I'm trying to think of why I stopped... Probably because I got a new test pair of Nike Flyknit Lunars and fell madly in love. I had that neon orange and purple pair from the Allyson Felix commercial and they were hot stuff. They gradually wore out and I was getting PF pain, so I sucked it up and with the help of a Nike gift card, bought a light blue pair. Oh, they were heaven, or so I thought. While they were terrible winter shoes (stretchy fabric +snow= brrr wet feet) I loved them so. Then the neuroma hit and my suspicion that they were too narrow for my foot became clear. A neuroma often occurs when shoes are too tight across the widest part of the forefoot because the nerves are pinched together and they really don't like that. Damn it, I would have to find new shoes. In the colder weather I'd been wearing a pair of Salomons, my second pair after running the first pair into the ground, but suddenly they were causing pain too. Cue the return of Asics, the softest shoe I could think of. I bought a pair of Gel Excels from the Asics store because they felt roomy, soft and didn't hurt my foot but are a reasonable heel to toe drop. Unfortunately, the cushioning is sooo soft that my ankles get sore after running in them as if I'd run a tough trail race. They are also pretty unresponsive as a result, I don't feel springy or quick at all. Another trip to the podiatrist led to orthotics and a trip to Jackrabbit Sports where I finally used my store credit from the indoor triathlon prize. I bought Hoka One One Stinsons which look like moon shoes but are super light and responsive. I was surprised at how great they felt while running because they look enormous, but then I noticed the blisters. The overlay is made of a sort of meshy material with lines of firmer material to give it substance, but some combination of that brings on big toe blisters just about every run. I added moleskin over the area inside the shoe and wear cushy socks, but to no avail. I wear my orthotics religiously but the neuroma still tingles and burns more often than not. I'm going back to the podiatrist next week and I'm not sure what she's going to say. The next option after orthotics is usually either denatured alcohol shots to kill the nerve or surgical removal. I don't know if we're there yet, but I am sick of hobbling around on a tingly, zinging foot. I guess I'll wait until after the appointment to make another trip to the shoe store for yet another pair. I'm out of gift cards and store credits, so hopefully my next pair won't be a flop.
I just miss having a great pair that I love enough to stock up on several pairs. I'm also really sick of having foot pain, something I'd really like to resolve before winter boot season makes me change everything again!

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The search for the perfect running gum.

I'm a big fan of running and cycling with gum in my mouth. Before you say "Aren't you afraid you're going to choke?" you should try it because it's really exactly the same as walking and chewing gum and you'll feel a little silly. Chewing gum keeps my mouth from getting dry while running and keeps my breath fresh should I encounter Daniel Craig on a run. This is Manhattan, after all, and you never know who you might run into.
So, my quest for the perfect piece of running gum continues because I think Orbit recently changed their formula and the flavor doesn't last long enough anymore. I am a fan of Extra for regular chewing purposes, but it's not strong enough for running, it completely falls apart. I guess it can't handle the intensity. Trident is okay in a pinch, but it too hardens and loses flavor too quickly. Orbit used to be perfect, the size is still right but now it turns hard and blah after a mile or two. At work I enjoy the Ice Cubes with unwrapped pieces in a little container, but I prefer wrapped gum in case I need to bring it to the start of a race. The types of gum in the blister packs, the chicklet types, also don't last very long and are too small.
I realize I am the Goldilocks of chewing gum, but I'd like to hear any suggestions for types to try. The only requirements are minty flavors and sugar free. I pay enough at the dentist already, thanks, no one needs sugary gum.
posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The results

Ironman 70.3 Princeton Results

At first I wasn't ready to scour the results from the race last weekend and I still don't care *that* much, probably because I didn't do that well. If I'd done as well as I'd hoped, I'd be all dancing around and singing about my place in my age group or whatever. Instead, I'm just laying out the facts to have for future reference.

29th in my age group out of 62, not bad!

The swim course, 38:33

The bike course, forever.

The run course, two loops and my slowest half ever, 2:05

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Princeton Ironman 70.3

"Move outta my way, I want to sit down"
The big day has come and gone and I have the sore legs, shoulders and butt to prove it. Sunday, September 21st was the first annual half Ironman in Princeton, NJ and as a new race, I think it was well organized and safe. Whatever small gripes I may have, those two qualities matter more than anything else to me. Spoiler alert: I finished the race.
Despite being hit with a head cold Saturday morning, the weekend itself was fun, I was surrounded by friends and my hubby in beautiful Princeton on Saturday evening and we had lots of laughs and a good dinner. We were all checked in with our bikes waiting for us in the transition area overnight so we only had to worry about our actual race gear in the morning: clothes, shoes x2, helmet, sunglasses, cap/goggles and water bottles/snacks. There's so much crap to bring to a tri.
I had one little hiccup at the check-in on Saturday, I brought my bike to transition before picking up my packet, which meant I had to turn around and walk back to the car and across the park and then repeat my trip to transition.. Oops. Otherwise things went smoothly and it was well organized.
Out of the water, happy to have my cap off
Race morning was no different, I rode from the hotel with Baker, Doug, Susan and Eric (race support crew!) and we parked in the woods and got ourselves ready to rock. Despite the 1+ hour wait time between the time transition closed and our swim waves, I managed to stay pretty relaxed. It was great to have friends to keep me company while we watched the pros and everyone ahead of us swim by. The lake looked really long, but it was marked really well with tons of numbered buoys in different colors so you always knew right where you were. I've swum in Mercer County Lake a few times before, but this was much longer than the sprint distances I've done before. When our wave finally took off at 8:18, I was happy to have friends nearby, Amanda, Cathy, and Susan were all in my wave. The water was sort of perfect, I think it was around 70 degrees and overcast so there wasn't any glare. I remember thinking that this was one of my favorite swims in a triathlon, despite the shallow lake and murky water. The buoys cruised by and most of the time I had plenty of space to swim. After about 6 buoys I was fully immersed in the wave of yellow capped swimmers from the wave ahead of ours (we were green) and by the turnaround I was in a full out rainbow of caps. People from several waves before mine were doing diagonal backstroke and who knows what else. I weaved around and finished in 38: something. I was already a little behind schedule, but only a few minutes off my target of 35:00 or less. I took off into transition, bypassing the wetsuit strippers because I wasn't wearing one, but they always make me giggle as they're pulling the suits off of people.
Early on, looking alive and well.
I even smiled for this one!

I started the bike off strong, really strong. I think I hit the halfway mark at 1:33, which was excellent. I was cruising along thinking that the course was a bit boring, but beautiful and mostly flat. There were a few quick, steep hills during the ride, but compared to my NYC rides and Adirondack rides, it was nothing. I was snacking and sipping water along the way, having a lovely time in the cornfields and horse farms of Mercer County, but something changed along the way. Perhaps it was a sign that I hadn't finished even one bottle of water when I exchanged my bottle at mile 45 or so, but it's hard to judge how hot it is when you're riding 17 mph and I think I just let it slip. I thought I was hydrating, I even took a salt tab, but I realize now that may have been a mistake. I was also feeling my head cold more now because I didn't take sudafed in the morning because it seemed like a bad idea. So there I was, fading on the bike with no idea why and getting cranky about it. My heart rate was high, especially for how slow I was going and I was sick of being out there alone on the bike. I was surprised how few people were around me for long stretches of the ride, making the country roads even more boring. In one little crowd of people on a bumpy stretch of road (there were many of those) a girl had the nerve to tell me I could get a penalty for riding too far to the left (I was avoiding potholes just like everyone else in the crowd) AS SHE PASSED ME ON THE RIGHT SIDE! WHAT?! I turned to her and said "There's also a penalty for passing on the right!" as she went by. What an idiot. Her response was "what did you want me to do?" as she rode over the bumps and potholes we were all avoiding.
Late in the race, looking...special. 
I told you there were cornfields.
After some serious misery on the final 10 miles of the bike, including the extra two because the course was long, it was time to get running. I was having some bad left knee pain from obviously tight hip and ITB, but luckily it went away as soon as I got off. I have never been so happy to see the "dismount" sign. I trotted through transition, switched my shoes clumsily and hit the road... Still hopeful about my time. I say that because I was oblivious to the time and didn't realize that the second half of the bike took nearly 2 hours. I felt fine at the start of the run, I was just so happy to be off the bike. I made a quick pee stop early on and glanced at my watch, I was 4:15 into the race, I was surprised and realized how far off I was from a goal time or even from breaking 6 hrs, but I was hopeful. I got about 3/4 mile into the run when I hit a wall. Oof. I pushed myself to reach the 1 mile marker and walked for a minute or so. I did a systems check and found the usual aches and pains (hips, lower back) and general thirst. I got running again and made sure to drink water at each aid station. I felt well fueled, but grabbed some pretzels anyway and trotted on. Things went up and down for the rest of the race. I was so thirsty and hot, but there were tons of people walking and talking about the heat, but I didn't think about dehydration. I'm not sure what I thought about.... Mostly getting to the finish line so I could SIT DOWN. I was going through every emotion along the way. I was angry for a while, mostly at myself then the course, then my bike (for what, I'm not sure). Then I was just bummed. Soo bummed to be missing my goal after training so hard and for so long. I was disappointed and I was sad that Baker was going to be disappointed with the hard work he put into my training plan all summer. I know that's not the case, but looking back that's what I remember. The run was a 2 loop course, meaning we ran by the turn off to the finish line but had 6.5 mi left. I may have thought some things that aren't appropriate to share. I was grumpy and still thirsty. I'd been soaking myself and drinking at nearly every aid station. I was determined to run as much of the second loop as possible, but I have no idea if that happened. I set small goals along the way, "make it to mile 10 and you can walk" or "run until you get to the aid station with the potato chips". These little things got me through. On the bike I'd been dedicating 5 mile chunks to Baker, Joe, Amanda and others, but on the run I couldn't focus long enough to do that. I thought about the kids I work with and how hard they work to make gains and that helped me along for a bit. By mile 8 I was chatting with the other walkers (Oh, there were LOTS of people walking, possibly more than there were running) and telling them this was my last 70.3. I realize now that I was probably a little nutty. I saw the photos and I looked like crap. I wonder if that's why the aid station worker at mile 8 asked if I could count to 4. I told her I could, but didn't feel like it.
Not looking good, just... not good. 
Finally, I was slogging through the last mile (uphill!?!) when I heard a girl asking a volunteer if she could just stop. He told her the finish was less than half a mile away and she said "you're not lying to me, right?" I recognized her as someone I'd been running back and forth with the whole time, she had bright purple and orange shoes and I wasn't letting her quit. I turned and told her to "come on" and she smiled. She said I'd been pacing her the whole way. Obviously she was delusional too. By now I'd had a lot of water and gatorade and was feeling somewhat more alive. We ran together for the better part of the last mile before she drifted off behind me, cheering me on. I turned into the chute, the longest chute on earth, and trotted along until I could *finally* see the finish. Dave called my name just before the finish and I managed to give him a tiny smile. There was no fanfare at the finish, I just wanted to get through the swarm to sit down! I caught up with Susan and then Dave and Eric and we tracked down Baker and Doug and FINALLY I got to sit down. It was amazing. It was the best feeling in the world to just stop moving for the first time in 6 hours and 21 minutes. Or however long it took. I'll do a separate post of stats. This has gone on long enough already.
Really just happy to be done. 
posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, August 9, 2014

NYC Triathlon 2014 Edition

Baker, Neal and I at the finish when the sun came out!

My triumphant return to the NYC triathlon deserves a blog post. I haven't participated in the race since 2010, though I attempted in 2011 but was denied by my orthopedist two days before (badly sprained ankle) AND my oral surgeon (dry socket= open mouth wound=no Hudson River swimming). So when I plunged into the Hudson on Sunday morning, it was exciting to be back. Yes, for those of you new to this blog, I swam in the Hudson River next to Manhattan. And not for the first time. I think it was the 5th time, though this time might have been the murkiest.
I've been training steadily for this race for a few months under the tutelage of the talented Chris Baker (http://beyonddefeat.com) I went into it feeling really confident in my fitness and readiness. Perhaps too confident because I was eyeing a 2:30 goal, which I realize now was silly. Anyway, despite my confidence in my ability to race I felt nervous on the morning of. I was comforted when I bumped into several friends and 2 co-workers/friends before the start. I actually started the race side by side with a new friend from work, which was great. We hopped into the dark, murky Hudson together with a splash after waiting for our wave in the increasing rain. Oh joy, rain. The swim flew by, I mean FLEW. To give you perspective, if I could swim that fast (1500m in 14mins 55 seconds) in a pool, I'd be a world record holder. So no, the tide was not "slack" as was mentioned at the briefing on Fri. I checked the tide charts on Saturday and knew that was wrong anyway, but I still couldn't believe how strong it was. Weeeeeeee! I cruised down the river, no problemo. I even slowed down to pee. It got very crowded near the finish with people stopping and dorking around, but I just went right through and got out. What were those people doing? Get out!
T1 is rough at NYC if you're in yellow transition, the half mile barefoot run on the concrete is trying on a good day, but I have a painful neuroma in my foot that mostly hurts when.... You guessed it, when I am barefoot. I can't even walk on the hardwood floor barefoot at home, so running on pavement was more than a little annoying. I ran quickly just to get it over with asap. It was still raining at this point, but I decided to put on my socks... A move I'd regret later.

The bike was wet and a bit crowded, but I kind of enjoyed it. I felt pretty confident out there, despite the wet conditions. For once, I was the person passing with a quick "on your left" to alert someone if my presence on their left side. There were a couple of women who kept getting in the left lane and hanging out there, like bad New Jersey drivers. You can be disqualified for riding on the left instead of passing and moving back over, similar to driving. It was a bit crowded, but these few women were driving me nuts. I tried to get aways from them, but since I was trying to crush the downhills and stay steady on the uphills, we kept playing leapfrog. Part of me really hopes they got time penalties for being so clueless and annoying while the other part of me doesn't care *that* much. In the end didn't exactly "kill it" on the bike, but I was happy knowing that I handled the wet conditions safely. The spray from the bikes in front of me throughout the race may haunt my dreams for a while. Each time I caught someone or was passed I thought "oh, it's raining harder..." before I realized it was just the rooster tail of road grime and rainwater they're were spraying in my face. Yuck.
One of those Jersey drivers riding on my left FOREVER

T2 was pretty quick and it seemed easy enough, but I made a terrible rookie move. When removing my bike shoes I knew my socks were drenched and I didn't have another pair in transition, so I made the numbskull move of taking them off completely and running in my new-ish shoes. I've worn them a few times, but never sockless. Oops. I trotted out of T2 feeling good and already passing folks on the way up the hill out of Riverside Park.
The run... I've already alluded to what happened to my poor feet, but it didn't really sink in until about mile 2. At that point of already seen a couple of friends, Abbe, Claire and Matt and I was really moving along. I was having a great run with the exception of this scraping feeling on my right heel. Even my neuroma was behaving for the most part. I reached down at mile 2 to see if there was a rock or dirt causing the pain and I noticed my heels was already bleeding. The damage was done. Damn. I tightened my shoe with the hope that it would reduce the friction, but... it didn't exactly work out. I tried to put it out of my mind and just kept passing the throngs of people out there. I should have kept count... It was probably a couple hundred. I felt fantastic - the entire run. I couldn't believe how quickly the miles were ticking off and started to pick up the pace as I went along. My final mile was at a 7:18 pace or something like that. That's my 10K pace when I haven't swum and ridden beforehand! I ran into Neal as I turned onto the last 0.25 mi loop around Cherry Hill in Central Park and we exchanged a quick hello and I kept going ahead. I was having so much fun with the crowds all around that I stomped in a giant puddle on one of the final turns, causing a giant cheer from the crowd. It was fun.
I crossed the finish line behind two people holding hands and their dog, I'm not sure if it was a paratriathlete or what. I definitely hadn't seen any other dogs on the course. I had a tricky time getting around them as they hugged and let their German Shepherd stretch his leash across my path. Haha, okay. Last time I did this race the first paratriathlete was crossing the line right behind me and I had to jump over the tape they were holding up for him or her to break. I guess it's tradition now for someone to block my finish. I'm curious to see the finish photos, if there are any. (update: none)
By the time I crossed the line my feet were both on fire and I couldn't think of anything else but getting my shoes off. I limped to baggage and quickly slipped into my flip flops. Someone behind me pointed out my bloody heels as if I wasn't fully aware of them. Thanks, neighbor! Ouch. I still can't wear shoes with backs yet. Rookie.

Otherwise my recovery was quick and easy, as tris tend to be. I'm ready to rock and with a new bike waiting for me at a local shop and vacation (aka time for training) looming- life is good!

The numbers:
Total time 2:42, a 4 min PR
1500m Swim: 14:55
25.6 mi Bike: 1:30
10K Run: 46:05

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Eat, Sleep, Swim, Bike, Run, Work, Repeat.

It's that time of year again! Okay it never really stops being that time of year, but triathlon training has begun in earnest. I know it's that time because I haven't yet added extra sleep to my regimen and I'm feeling it. I am sleepy by Wednesday and by Thursday night I'm curling up with the cats by 9pm, ready for bed. In fact, I'm heading home to take a glorious nap right now before an evening run.
I'm psyched for the season ahead, I have my sights set on NYC Triathlon in August and Princeton 70.3 in September with some shorter races (5K's, sprint tris) sprinkled in for fun along the way. You know I need to whet my competitive appetite frequently in the summer. My work hosts a large fundraising event with a 5K annually and this year it's June 7th,this Saturday. My heart skips a few beats just thinking about it, I have a reputation to uphold with several wins (for staff members) in previous years. I'm excited for the day in general though. If you're looking for a 5K IN Central Park this weekend, you can still register at http://YAI.org/cpc and know that your entrance fee goes to support some of the greatest programs available in NY and NJ for people with disabilities. Heck, you can even join the Roosevelt team when you sign up!
Back to training and racing, I'm pretty stoked to be working with Baker (you might know him as @Lord_Baker on Twitter), the Ironman master, this summer to help me reach my training and racing goals this year. I am excited to be working with him and training with Joe (@CardiacCrusher) this summer, especially knowing we're all doing the same races. I think it's going to be a stellar year.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jackrabbit Indoor Tri Championship 2014

I should start this blog post by talking about Sunday's race, but you'd miss some important back story so just going to sum it up by saying that I missed my Saturday morning group run (and the rest of the day) because of a stomach bug. As the day went on without food or drink in my system, (despite my best efforts) the odds of my getting to the race on Sunday seemed slimmer and slimmer. It was disheartening and I was feeling pretty bummed about how things were shaping up, but I was in no position to do anything about it. I'd qualified for the Jackrabbit Indoor Tri Championship race by winning the Feb 2nd race at Asphalt Green and I'd been training for the finals for the last 5 weeks or so with my eye on 1st place. You can see why I was bummed about spending the day before the race with my head in the toilet.
Sunday started out with some more energy, I had been able to eat some toast and crackers Saturday night and had been rehydrating since about 4pm. My appetite wasn't great though and I knew I didn't have any fuel to run on. As the day went on, I went back and forth trying to decide if it was safe to do the tri. Once I figured that it was definitely safe (ie I wasn't going to pass out) because I felt strong enough to do laundry and go up/down our million stairs, I had to figure out if it was worth it to go. My original thought was "I'm not going if I can't do well", which probably sounds pompous, but I knew I had a shot at placing. I had no interest in going over to the east side just to "have fun". Fuck that. There was money on the line. Later in the afternoon it hit me "I will regret it if I don't go! I'll never know..." At that point my dear friend Sally offered me a ride down (20 min car ride vs 1+ hr train/bus rides) and I said okay and got my shit together.
After my warm up swim, feeling looser but nervous. 
-Photo by Doug Oldies of Jackrabbit

I got there feeling pretty confident about at least being able to be competitive, something that seemed out of the realm of possibilities 24 hrs before. I warmed up in the pool for about 10 mins nice and easy, I hadn't even swum on Friday because of work, so I needed to loosen up. I felt like it was going to take a lot of effort to swim my usual 26 lengths, and I was right. My goal had been 27+ lengths, but I just missed the 26 mark by a few yards (the race is a 10 min timed swim). I knew 25 wasn't going to win me the race, a small handful of women got over 24 in the end. Going into the bike my back had finally loosened up and I felt better than I had all weekend. I heard the officials discussing the previous bike scores with my fellow heat mates, saying that a woman had possibly ridden 25 miles (on a spin bike in the timed 30 min ride) for the farthest women's ride so far, and I instantly had a goal. You might say I'm competitive... I rode 25.01mi. Keep in mind, that's completely relative to the size of the wheel on the bike and zero resistance.
Getting my swim on.
I was starting to feel the lack of fuel from Saturday catch up with me and I knew I wasn't sweating as much as usual, but I felt fine otherwise. I continued to hydrate and started the run. My legs immediately started whining. Whew. I was tired and the headgames began. I'd loaded my "triathlon playlist" onto my ipod shuffle just before leaving home, but I neglected to make sure it was at the start of the list, so I started the bike in a weird place, which is no problem, but it became an issue when I started the run. I had songs on there specifically for the run, but couldn't find them. I was annoyed, but it kept my mind occupied for a bit and didn't affect my speed since I was on a treadmill. I knew I wasn't going to be able to run the 3.0 miles I ran in February because I didn't have the fuel, I could feel it right away, but I was focused on finishing as far as I could. I ended up running only 2.88 miles thanks to my conservative starting pace around 7:00/mi. I was able push the pace down around 6:45, where I'd like to have run the entire thing, but just for a few minutes at a time. At the end of 20 minutes I felt like I'd given it my all, I was 100% spent, though not entirely satisfied with my distances because they were under my goals, but I knew I gave it everything I had on that day.
In the end, I took 2nd place again this year. It was disappointing because I had my sights on 1st after also taking 2nd in 2013, but I was certainly happy to have gone and competed at all! This song came on during my run and it was kind of my song of the day:

When I finally got the results on Monday night, I was excited to have won 2nd and was going over the results to see who beat me, stalking her on Athlinks, demanding a rematch, etc. We had a good laugh about it, but then my husband asked me an important question - "could you have beat her distances/scores if you were healthy?" and the honest answer is I don't know. Her swim was 29 lengths, my goal had been 27-28, I never thought I'd hit 29. Her bike was about 2 miles more than mine, something I *may* have been able to accomplish healthy, and I had the highest score for the run already. It would have come down to the bike... I guess we'll never know! I like to think I could have taken the bike, but I'm not positive. All I do know for sure is that I'm READY for outdoor triathlon (training) season!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take care of my husband who now has the same stomach bug that I had on Saturday! Yuck.
posted from Bloggeroid