Posts tagged ‘triathlon’

Where have your buns been? Multisport World Conference 2012 edition

Active people: Stop being so rigid, loosen up, and enjoy the ride.

That was my takeaway from this year’s MultisportWorld Conference and Expo, held Saturday at Columbia University’s Dodge Fitness Center. (A free fitness conference practically in my backyard? Total score.) Courtney (one of the cool chicks who frequents this blog) and I attended some of the morning seminars, which focused on “Becoming a Happy Triathlete.” After hearing some very inspiring and helpful advice from the presenters, I was pretty damn happy—and the info they shared applies to any active person. What stood out for me:

The inactivity epidemic is far worse than the obesity epidemic. After acknowledging that he was preaching to the choir, Dr. Robert Sallis, former president of the American College of Sports Medicine, started out simple: No matter the population studied, “People who are active and fit live longer, happier, healthier lives,” he said. However, his insistence that being overweight yet fit is better than being at a “healthy” weight but inactive blew my mind a little bit. “Quit using the scale as your barometer for health,” he implored the crowd, suggesting that we use minutes of activity per week instead and shoot for more of those rather than a lower weight. Even a few minutes more of walking each day can make a difference. If you get and stay active, he said, “There’s no reason at 50 you shouldn’t be doing what you were doing when you were 25.”

Triathlon training and racing is a game—it’s okay to have fun with it. Figure out who you are, whether it’s a knee-knocking newbie triathlete or a semi-pro racer, and then have fun with your training and racing. Otherwise, why the heck are you doing any of this in the first place? “If you want to be happy in this sport, your focus should be on the process,” said Dr. Paul Weiss, a sports psychologist and the chief program officer at Asphalt Green in New York City. He added that mini-goals, such as “I’m going to get to that tree… now I’m going to get to the 10-mile mark… etc.” are the best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed at any point in your tri. “If you hit those [mini-goals],” he said, “the race just happens.” Also? It’s okay if you get a little competitive, even if you’re so new that you need a five-minute pep walk just to put on your goggles. The competition is part of the fun. Weiss suggested, “If someone has your age written on their calf, try to catch them.”

Performance starts in your stomach, so eat something. Sports nutritionist and author Nancy Clark—her name may be familiar if you read Runner’s World or SHAPE—made a point that nearly knocked me over with its simplicity: “No weight will ever be good enough to do the enormous job of creating happiness.” BAM. Anyway, I was hooked on Clark’s very straightforward yet incredibly kind way of talking about food and weight and body image. (Disclaimer: I am a girl who has had some bad experiences with nutritionists. More on that at another time.) Who wouldn’t love someone like Clark, who makes fueling yourself sound like such a loving part of training and who reassures you that “On rest days, you won’t get fat or lose fitness?” I later bought her book, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, at the expo.

If your bike doesn’t fit YOU, nothing else matters. Triathlon coach (and my awesome swim coach, hi Mike!) Mike Galvan made it clear that proper bike fit takes hours, not minutes, and it’s far more involved than tweaking your seat and handlebars. And make sure you go somewhere with a super-attentive staff. “The main thing they should do is listen to you,” he said. Galvan used a real cyclist riding on a trainer to point out the do’s and don’ts of proper form. A big deal: Make sure that your sit bones, not the meaty part of your tush, are on the saddle. Galvan also confessed to keeping six bikes in the one-bedroom apartment he and his wife share. I think that makes the two that Mr. Haul Buns and I stash in our studio seem positively Spartan in comparison.

We're not quite this bad... yet.


March 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm 2 comments

Sporty Labor Day deals

Need an excuse to buy those new kicks you’ve been eyeing? These Labor Day sales should make it a little easier to fork over the dough. 15 percent off your purchase with the code found here. Up to 66 percent off (including the 10 percent discount store VIPS usually get) and free shipping 20 percent off clearance items with the code found here. BOGO on all women’s fitness bottoms and sport bras

I, for one, am in the middle of trying to turn my tendency to overeat into a tendency to overshop. (What? It’s kind of progress, right?) The other day, for example, I bribed myself into running an extra mile by promising myself a few iTunes downloads when I got home.

The fact that those few downloads turned into a few albums (Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch the Throne and Matt Nathanson’s Modern Love) shouldn’t surprise anyone.

September 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm Leave a comment


Loyal haulers, how I’ve missed you. Both of you. (No, I’m kidding. There are probably three or four of you, not counting my mom. Hi Momma!)

So much has happened since last we met! A highlight reel:

The Boyfriend is now The Fiance. (Insert girly sounds of joy here.)

Photo credit: Stephanie Pinsdorf

I attempted two triathlons this summer, one of which became a duathlon due to poor river conditions. . .

Photo credit: The Fiance

… and one of which caused me to have a sobbing breakdown one mile into the run. Gory details to follow in another post.

Not crying here... because it's over. Photo credit: The Fiance

I ran a PR (personal record) at this year’s Boston Half Marathon, which left me sore for days but happy to run with old and new friends!

Cez and David, meet Rose and Steph. Photo credit: The Fiance

The good news, which is making me just about as happy as the sparkler TF put on my finger, is that the nagging plantar fasciitis that was keeping me from running and teaching step has calmed a bit. (Thanks, physical therapy and yoga!) This means I can finally run again, which means I’m no longer feeling frustrated and insane. Yay! Thank you to everyone who offered kind words or sent healing vibes into the universe.

The bad news, which is making me really quite bummed, is that my physical therapist and doctor have decided that step classes aggravate my chronic injury in a way that running doesn’t. In step, there’s just too much bouncing on the heel, which tightens the calf and inflames the fascia—a thick band of tissue that inserts at the heel. Not wanting to believe my doctor, I secretly snuck in a step class at a friend’s gym two weeks ago. Though I got through the class all right, I could barely walk when I woke up the next morning.

For now, at least, my step days are done. I won’t be returning to teach the Wednesday evening Intro Step/Step I class at Feminine Fitness, and my Thursday morning FemFit class is going to remain a Spinning class. I don’t know who will teach the Intro class from here on out. Please know that step didn’t cause my injury—that happened when I was dumb enough to try to text and walk at the same time a few years ago, breaking my foot as a result.

You’ll still see me around the gym. Karla, one of the cool chicks who reads this blog, is whipping my tush into shape for my big day. I’ll still sub for body sculpting classes when I’m needed. And you know I’d love to see you haul your buns to my Feminine Fitness Spinning class at 6:30 on Thursday mornings, or my New York Sports Club Spinning class at 5:45 on Monday mornings. Come on down, and give it a whirl! At the very least, bookmark and visit it often. I promise to update it on a much more regular basis.

Teaching the Wednesday night intro class has been my extreme pleasure for the past five years. I will miss working out with all of you intro steppers, but I know you’ll keep on showing up, putting in the hard work, and supporting each other like you always have. Ladies, you’re awesome.


Hasta la vista.

October 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm 2 comments

Do Or Not Do: This Is My Tri!

Barefoot and dripping, I peeled off my swim cap and speedwalked to the transition site where Bertha awaited. “Have some water! Wash the Hudson out of your mouth!” volunteers cheerfully shouted, handing my fellow racers and I cups as we made our way to our bikes. I was smiling, laughing, giddy for no other reason than the fact that I hadn’t drowned in the river.

And despite the fact that I was jogging in a bathing suit.

I dried off as best as I could and donned my running shorts and tank top. It felt so weird to have my clammy suit stuck to my skin underneath everything, and I gave myself a few liberal swipes of Body Glide in an effort to avoid chafing and blisters. It should be noted that triathletes generally try to get in and out of the transition area as quickly as possible; good transition times can make up for slowness during the legs of the race. But I just really didn’t care. I wasn’t drinking mimosas and lounging around, but I also wasn’t freaking out when I temporarily couldn’t find one of my socks (like a woman was in the next row over).

So many bikes!

So many bikes!

That's my girl (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

That's my girl, Bertha Blue. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Helmet on, I walked Bertha out onto the course and hopped aboard. In the next two hours, I had one of the most fun bike rides of my life. I charged up a hill and sped out onto the 79th Street entrance to the West Side Highway. With the Hudson on my left, I pedaled north on a road normally reserved only for cars. (The city had shut it down just for us.) The uphills weren’t horrible, and the downhills were heaven. I felt like I was flying, going faster than I’d ever gone before with no turns or traffic to slow me down. People passed me, I passed people. Just like the swim, it didn’t matter. My only concern was not beating up my legs too much; I still had a 10K to run when the biking was done. I breezed through the tolls at the Henry Hudson Bridge — no EZ-Pass required — and continued north to the Moshulu Parkway exit, the turnaround point.

I saw people of all body types on bikes of all price points just doing their thing. I tried to keep my shoulders loose and made a mental note, as I stood up and stretched during a flat section of the course, that next time I’d wear shorts with a chamois in them. When I spotted race photographers out along the road, I sucked in my gut and grinned.

And then it was over. We turned again and re-entered the transition area, where I traded my helmet for a cap and basted myself with sunblock before bidding Bertha adieu. I started the run with legs that felt so heavy and feet that felt like they were barely moving. I followed all the other participants onto 72nd Street, also closed to traffic just for us. And when I crossed Broadway, The Boyfriend was right where he’d promised he’d be.

Meeting my man at the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

At the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

It was humid and sticky. It was still early. He’d been up as long as I had, and he’d been waiting in his spot for a while because we had no idea how to gauge my time. His face was so happy, so proud, so genuinely excited for me as he snapped photos of my approach.

I love this man.

I stopped to kiss him, and he did what he always does in this situation: He asked how I was feeling and then told me not to waste time with course-side PDAs. So I was off again, doing a slow lope into Central Park. The course snaked north through the park’s hilliest section, and I told myself that it was just a little more than six miles, a distance I’d run many times before. So I focused on picking up one foot and putting the other down. I thanked as many volunteers as I could at the water stations. And I laughed out loud when a random woman on the sidelines, after seeing that I happened to be running among a pack of men, sang out, “You just stay strong, sister!”

The beautiful thing about a 10K is that just when you want it to be done, it is. And when I crossed the finish line, I felt like I did at the end of my first marathon. I can’t believe I did this. It’s impossible that I did this.

Dazed but happy at the finish (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Dazed but happy at the finish (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

And then, the best prize, better even than the subway token medal placed around my neck as The Boyfriend hugged my sweaty, sandy, salty self tight: I totally did this. I am a triathlete.


Little did I know, half of the Hudson's mud was still in my bathing suit... (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Oh, and lest I forget…

This is where my buns have been! (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

This is where my buns have been! (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

August 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm 3 comments

Do Or Not Do: This Is My Tri!

I was up before my alarm went off the next morning: Race Day. Trying to make as little noise as possible, I tiptoed around The Boyfriend’s Upper West Side apartment as I ate breakfast (cereal with skim) and got dressed in the clothes I’d laid out the night before: bathing suit, shorts, tee shirt, flip flops. Everything else I’d need for the day — swim paraphernalia, helmet, sneakers, energy gels, etc. — were in a duffel bag laying in the middle of the entryway so there was no chance I would forget it. At 4:45 a.m., he blearily walked me to the door, wished me good luck and kissed me good-bye.

“I’ll see you at Gray’s,” I said. He’d told me he’d be standing on the course near his favorite hot dog joint on 72nd Street. Though he’d once missed one of my race finishes because picked the exact moment I crossed the finish line to patronize the bar sponsoring the event, I wasn’t worried. What did worry me, as I hailed a cab to the transition area, was the first leg of the race: an almost-one-mile swim, scheduled to start in about 90 minutes.

It was raining when I left the apartment. Not awesome. I had racked my bike the night before in the transition area, a fenced-in piece of land in New York’s Riverside Park where volunteers watched participants’ stuff all night to make sure it didn’t get stolen. Awfully nice of them, right? Bertha, my blue Trek 7.2 FX, was hanging where I’d left her in her designated spot. I dropped my bag, arranged things in a way I hoped would help me get on the bike quickly and then followed everyone else north along the riverwalk to the swim start. The rain had stopped.

I walked near a short woman who was chatting with her male companion. “Can you see any jellyfish?” he asked cheerily, peering over the railing into the murky Hudson. She seemed less enthusiastic about exploring and just as relieved as I was when he couldn’t find any jellies.

“I just keep telling myself, ‘I am a good swimmer. I am a good swimmer,’” she said to me, adding, “This is my first Olympic.’”

Yay! Someone who shared my anxiety! “This is my first ever!” I said in a burst of camaraderie that fizzled when I saw her reaction.

“Really?” she asked, her face hard to read. “Well… good luck!”

I slowed down a little to avoid any more awkward conversation. The butterflies cued up their iPods, laced up their shoes and redoubled their efforts.

Sure, it doesn't look intimidating here... (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Sure, it doesn't look intimidating here... (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

We walked nearly a mile before picking up our timing chips (worn on a Velcro strap around one ankle) and getting body marked. A volunteer with a stinky black permanent marker wrote my race number on my left arm and the back of my left hand, then my age on my left calf. I put my shirt, shorts and sandals in a plastic bag and placed it in a truck that would carry it to the finish line. From then (around 6:15) until the end of the swim, it was just me, my bare feet, my bathing suit, swim cap, goggles and noseplugs.

Laugh if you must.

I joined the other women in our corral (determined by age and sex) and waited to be moved closer to the barge floating at 99th Street. Every time a wave of swimmers would jump in the water, we’d move up. The waves were leaving the start every three minutes or so; the barge was getting closer and closer. I tried not to get freaked out by the fact that I was one of only a few people not wearing wetsuits. They make you streamlined and more buoyant in the water, and they keep you warm if the water is cold. But the river temperature was 74, the race announcer had told us, and I had no driving desire to shimmy myself into a thick rubber bodystocking.

Finally, my wave walked down the ramp and everyone jumped in the water to get ready for our start. I sat my tush on the edge of the barge and eased into the Hudson, then came dangerously close to a moment of pure panic. Because there were so many women in the water in front of me,  I couldn’t get a handle on the rope we were supposed to hold on to so the current wouldn’t carry us away before our wave began. I was surrounded by swimmers who were going to thrash and kick as soon as the horn sounded, and I was sure I’d be pushed under with no way to hold my ground.

“I can’t get the rope,” I said, trying to sound like I wasn’t freaking with a capital F. Rationally, I knew that there were lifeguards on the barge, at the finish and in kayaks all along the swim route. But all I could do was think about how the water was so murky, I couldn’t even see my feet beneath me; if I went down, how would they ever find me?

I will forever love the woman in front of me who turned her head and said, “I’ve got it. You can hold onto my shoulder if you want.” I did, I exhaled, and we bobbed companionably for a few moments before it was time to go.

The first few seconds of my swim were all about getting out of the way of the faster women in my wave. They all pulled ahead pretty quickly, leaving me and a few other stragglers to do our thing in peace. I settled into my breast stroke and the panic left me. Just like that, I wasn’t worried about anything anymore. I was going to be fine. Snail-like, but fine.

I lost count of the number of race waves that overtook me. I tried to swim a straight line so I wasn’t wasting energy. I tried to keep the river water out of my mouth — it was safe to swim in, but would YOU want to drink the Hudson? As I neared the finish barge, I thanked the nearest lifeguard for keeping me safe.

“Sure. You okay?” he asked. I couldn’t see him clearly, but I think he had just caught sight of the ’plugs.

“I’m fine. Just slow,” I chirped back cheerfully and set my eyes on the prize.

Victory! (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Victory! (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

The most disgusting part of my entire first triathlon experience came when I realized that the river was so shallow in the lead-up to the finish barge that I’d have to walk up to the barge’s ramp. THE BOTTOM OF THE HUDSON IS THE MOST HORRIFYING THING I HAVE EVER TOUCHED. It felt like pudding full of silt. It felt like rot and slime and ick. Every time I put my foot down, I felt like it was being sucked into the river bottom. Totally disgusting.

But soon that didn’t matter, because I stepped onto the metal ramp and a volunteer helped me up onto the barge. I started hooting like a crazy person: I was done! The swim was done! And I was alive! My hardest part was over, and I was pretty damn psyched.

No rest for the weary, though. I still had some biking and running to do!

To be continued…

August 10, 2009 at 2:16 am 1 comment

Do Or Do Not: This Is My Tri!

Woah -- this is really happening.

Woah -- this is really happening. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

I pride myself on being pretty unflappable in most circumstances. I like to try and take the “Everything will be fine in the end” outlook, and it usually serves me well. But I’m not gonna lie; as my first triathlon approached last weekend, I was pretty damn flapped.

When I signed up for the Nautica New York City Triathlon last November, I pictured myself using the event as a new goal to put some fire in my fitness routine. I would run! I would bike! I would (learn to) swim! I envisioned long sessions in the bike saddle and hours in the pool. I’d take lessons to learn how to really move my body through the water rather than rely on my subpar breast stroke. And once and for all, I’d learn how to swim underwater without holding my nose.

Yeah, you read that right. I’m 31, and I can’t master the art of going under without water invading my nasal canal. But we can talk more about that later.

I’ve prepped for endurance events before, and I know you’re setting yourself up for disaster if you don’t devote time and planning to your training program. But life got a little more in the way than I’d thought it would — doesn’t it always? — and I felt like I hadn’t gotten in as much swimming and biking as I’d like. About a month before the event, I realized that my schedule didn’t allow time for any lessons, so I committed to letting my anemic breast stroke carry me as far as it could. If worse came to worse, I could always backstroke, right?

The weekend of the tri arrived, bringing with it a cavalcade of butterflies that swam, biked and ran through my gut every few hours. The Boyfriend assumed his duties as my race crew and began reassuring me that I’d do fine, great, spectacular, no worries, no problems. He read the race information booklet cover to cover. He promised me he’d be out on the course, cheering me on. On the day before the race, he accompanied me to the Hilton Towers in midtown Manhattan for the number pick-up, where many of our conversations in the first 15 minutes went something like this:

ME: (panicky) Why does everyone have their bikes with them? Should I have brought my bike?
HIM: (patiently) I don’t remember it saying you should bring your bike.
ME: What if I need my bike? What if they won’t give me my number without my bike?
HIM: I’m pretty sure you don’t need your bike.
ME: Everyone’s bikes are better than mine.
HIM: That doesn’t mean anything.
ME: Everyone here looks really fit.
HIM: So are you.
ME: Everyone here looks like a sports goddess.
HIM: So do you.

Everyone's a comedian. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Everyone's a comedian. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

And so on. We took a seat in one of the mandatory information sessions, where one of the race announcers just basically reiterated what was in the race booklet. He stressed that the nearly one-mile Hudson swim would be quick for everyone because the current was so strong. No one asked about the jellyfish that plagued the swim last year, and I didn’t want to look like a wuss, so I didn’t, either. When he asked how many people were first-timers, me and about half of the room raised their hands. Everyone else clapped for us, which made me feel pretty good… for about 30 seconds. Then the butterflies came back from their Gatorade break and started up again.

Throwing up in my mouth a little at the information session. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

Throwing up in my mouth a little at the information session. (Photo credit: The Boyfriend)

To be continued…

August 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm 1 comment

Do Or Do Not: This Is My Tri

Esther made it look so easy!

Esther made it look so easy!

Thursdays are long days for me. I teach two classes before 8 a.m., work at my day job until 5:30, then teach another class at 6:30 p.m. So the last thing I wanted to do last night was strap on a bathing suit and goggles and get in a pool.

But I did. Because my first triathlon ever is happening in 45 days. And I’m not ready.

I’m a mediocre swimmer at best. I’m slow. My form is bad. I never really understood how the breathing works in freestyle, so I rely on the breaststroke — which, as my former-swim-team-captain sister recently pointed out, is “the least efficient way to swim.” Did I mention that I use noseplugs?

So you can imagine how out of my element I am in the pool. But does that stop me? Heck no. Last night, I was determined to swim the distance that I’ll have to do on the day of the race. (It’s 1500 meters – almost a mile – followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride – almost 25 miles – and a 10-kilometer run – a little more than six miles.) I had no idea how long it would take me, and I was very glad that I was the only person in the pool. The fewer witnesses to my splashing and flailing, the better. The teenage lifeguard seemed intensely disinterested in what I did as long as I didn’t sink to the bottom of the pool.

I did the math and figured out that I’d need to travel the length of the 25-meter pool 60 times to reach my goal. To get an accurate idea of the time, I’d have to go without stopping. And to approximate at least one of the conditions of the triathlon swim route, which takes place in the Hudson River, I’d have to refrain from pushing off the sides at each end. (There’s nothing to push off of in the river!)

I slogged through. At times, it felt like I was barely moving. But I thought back to when I first started running, when getting to the end of my block took all of my effort. Back then, I never would’ve even thought that I’d ever be able to run for hours. But I can now. I didn’t get to where I am through talent or genetics or coaching. I got here because I just kept at it. With that in mind, I made like Finding Nemo’s Dory and just kept swimming.

I finished in about 44 minutes. I felt like rubber and weaved a little as I came out of the pool, but I finished. The lifeguard, whose name I have learned is Eric, looked up from his book (yeah, I know) and smiled as he said, “Good job.”

Get used to it, Eric. You and I are going to be spending a lot more time together, because I’ve got 45 days to go.

Are you a swimmer with tips/tricks/motivation to share? Are you a landlubber who’d never be as dumb as me? Post a comment and let us hear it!

June 12, 2009 at 3:55 pm 4 comments

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