2015: My Physical Year

What is there to say about my physical year? I did more than I did in 2014, but still not nearly enough. It’s never enough. I could beat myself up over that, but instead, I’ll let the numbers do the talking.

Running

  • I ran 1383.6 miles in 2015. That’s about 300 more than in 2014. I was shooting for 2000 (again) and guess what? I failed (again).
  • Those 1,383.6 miles were spread across 176 sessions, for an average of 7.85 miles per run. In total, I spent a little over 228 hours running.
  • Nearly half my running (631 miles) was done in Prospect Park where I ran 80 different times.
  • My longest runs were my two marathons, Vermont City and New York City. I also ran one other race, the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Cycling

  • For my fortieth birthday this year, E got me a very nice bike. So far, I’ve put 416 miles on it.
  • I also put 206.8 miles on my dear old Pista for a total of 622.8 cycling miles in about fifty hours.

Swimming and other stuff

  • I swam a bit this year as well, not much, but some. It ended up being only about 5 miles in only about three hours.
  • In addition to my running races, I also did the New York City Triathlon, which I loved, and which I hope to do again this year.
  • I also did the occasional body weight work, but not enough to really track.

Conclusions

I had high hopes of this year, but again did not meet them. I think in the coming year, I need to revaluate how much time I really have, and how much commitment I genuinely have, and set my goals appropriately. But that’s for a post for a later day.

On My Changing Relationship to the Goddamn Pool

If you know me in real life, or pay incredibly close attention to this website, you might know that when I was young, I swam competitively. I was never particularly good (I have never been particularly good at any physical endeavor) but I did it — a lot.

There were years when my summers consisted of three hours of swimming in the morning followed by another hour and a half at night. In between, all I did was sleep and eat.

The clearest memories I have of those days are of how cold the water was in the morning, how crazy our coach was, and how much we ate.

I remember steam coming off the water in the morning and all of us, rail thin, terrified to jump in. I remember Coach Oz who’d lost half a finger in a machining accident screaming at me so much his dentures would come loose.

And I remember the food. When my mother handled the car pooling duties on Friday, we’d stop at this Italian bakery. Four swimmer would split a dozen cannoli’s. At nine in the morning. Then I’d go home and eat a box of pancakes. Yes, a box. Or we’d head out to an all you can eat buffet, where we’d eat, straight through breakfast and into lunch, laughing and joking, and putting away plate after plate of food.

Those are my strongest memories. What I don’t really remember was enjoying the actual swimming. Usually, it seemed like a grind.

And that’s because it is. Unlike running, where you can chat, listen to music or watch the scenery go by, or team sports where comradery is part of the goal, swimming is an individual endeavor where you spend most of your time with your head in the water, looking at a black line at the bottom of a pool, trying to remember what lap you’re on. As I’ve written about before, it can get dull.

And yet there I was, last night, in the basement of my synagogue, getting in some yards.

Was it boring? Yes. Tedious? Yes. But also kind of wonderful to click off the laps without the benefit of a podcast, or audible download, or Spotify play list. A teenage me, would never have appreciated this, but last night, having 45 minutes to think about my son, my training, and John Joseph’s strange road from the Cromags to Ironmans, without any interruptions, felt like a luxury.

This Years Main Events

Last night, it became official – I’m running the New York Marathon in November. And with that, my racing schedule for the year is pretty much set. More for my own amusement than anything else, here’s what my endurance year is looking like — goals are in order of importance (yes, sometimes finishing is more important than having fun):

Date Event Goal
May 16 Brooklyn Half-Marathon A: Enjoy myself

B: See what the legs have for Vermont two weeks later

C: PR

D: sub 1:45

May 24 Vermont City Marathon A: PR

B: Sub 4

July 19 New York City Triathlon A: Relearn how to do triathlons

B: PR

C: Sub 3:00

Late August Presidential Traverse A: Finish

B: Have fun

November 1 New York City Marathon A: PR

B: Sub 3:45

 

I’ll surely add some 5ks and 10ks here and there, and I’m thinking about doing an open water race in June, but these are the goal events. I’ve never had this many goal races in a single year. It’s a little intimidating, but also very exciting.

So far, I’m happy with how the training for Vermont is going. I’m running better than I have in a long time and I’m excited to see what this aging body can do. If I can stay healthy, this is going to be a hell of a year.

Race Autopsy: 2006 New York City Triathlon

Originally written for another blog. I haven’t edited this at all since it was published in 2006.

Prerace

I really underestimated the amount of shit that has to get done before you even start a triathlon. There’s the pre race briefing, where they tell you where everything is, and how the water in the Hudson is clean (honest!). Then you drop off the bike at the transition area the night before and after a fit full night of sleep, I was up at 3 a.m. to set up my transition area.

When I got to the transition area at five am, the sun wasn’t even up. The floodlights were on in the transition area, and not having a clue as to what I was supposed to do, I looked at the people around me for a guide as to what to do. I laid out the equipment and chatted with a number of much more experienced triathletes around me until six a.m. when I headed off to the race start.

The Swim

The swim course was from 100th street down to the boat basin at 79th, and as soon as the pros went off a couple minutes before six, it was obvious the current was going to be in our favor. I saw one woman float on her back down the river and still finish the stage in the allotted time.

Before the race, I was terribly nervous about the swim since I had had such trouble in the Liberty Swim in May. I told myself to just put my head in the water and go for it, counting my strokes and not worrying about where I was in the race.

When the horn went off, I was at the back of the pack, but all the open water swimming I have done recently must have paid off, because by the time I got out of the water, I was feeling strong, and at the front of the heat.

It took me 19:56 to finish the swim. That’s a full ten minutes faster than I was expecting. I felt strong coming out of the water, and was confident that I was going to at the very least be able to finish this thing.

The Bike

I need to do a lot more work on my biking. I got fucking destroyed by the dudes around me. I think this was for three reasons:

  1. I had taken the bike leg for granted and hadn’t trained nearly hard enough for it. I didn’t put in enough long rides and had done no speed work, so it isn’t surprising that I was getting smoked.
  2. Add to my lack of training the fact that I was riding a mid eighties steel bike and many of the guys passing be were riding time trial bikes or at least bikes with the aero bar setup. I need to rethink the design of my bike and possibly invest in a new handle bar set up. My sub par equipment isn’t an excuse for how badly I preformed on the bike, but a more tri specific set up would certainly help.
  3. Finally, I didn’t know how to pace myself since the run was still to come and that affected my speed. In hindsight, I could have gone out a lot harder on the bike. Lesson learned.

I finished the bike leg in 1:30:25. That can definitely be improved on.
The Run

It was well into the nineties by the time the run started, and all I was interested in doing was finishing. I passed more people than passed me. I finished the run in 62:48. My run could always use improvement, but I’m not going to beat myself up over ten minute miles in those conditions.

Total time for the event was 3:05:02. All in all, I’m proud as hell to have finished the thing, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Now, I have to concentrate on training for the Hartford marathon, but I have to say, I’m hooked triathlons. Is it too early to be thinking about a half iron man?