Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I signed up for a race!

MightyMan Sprint: Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Montauk, NY

I'm pretty psyched!


This race is admired by beginner triathletes for its course that runs along segments of the half distance race takes place the following day. This is a great family weekend to spend on the east end with the Sprint on Saturday and the Half on Sunday.

SWIM-750 Meters

Out and back swim in Fort Pond, Fresh water swim with temperature in the mid to upper 60s.

BIKE- 17 Kilometers

1 loop with one challenging climb

RUN-5 Kilometers

Mostly flat with 1 kilometer rolling section around Fort Pond.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I love the NYC marathon

I'm watching it on TV now, and the elite women are already in Manhattan! The point where you come off the dark, quiet bridge from Queens and start moving up 1st Avenue is just so cool. The crowd is amazing. Go Paula!

It brings up so many good memories ... I had so much fun the day I ran the race. I hope I can do it again. I got in via the lottery a few years ago, but they were saying that they had 100,000 entries and let 38,000 in this year, so it would be really lucky if I were able to get in via the lottery a second time. I think you can get a guaranteed spot if you do it for certain charities. Definitely need to look into that for 2008.

So things are really good lately. My new job is going well, but the big new is ... drum roll ... I'm pregnant! The baby is due in April, and we are so excited. So, I predict this blog will get a lot more baby-focused ... :)

I could run a marathon in November after a baby in April, right?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

So much to tell!

There really is ... where to begin?

I got a job! I start August 1st, and I am really excited. It's something totally different than I have ever done before, and I think it is just going to be cool as can be. I can't wait to get back in the real world ... I have been off work for 6 (!) months. While I have been enjoying the "simple life", I am beyond ready to go back. And get this - my new boss is a triathlete! An Ironman! This should definitely help me in the motivation department.

And another thing -- I'm moving! Yep, to a new apartment. In addition to being generally more fabulous than our existing place, there is a new gym WITH A POOL right around the corner. Swimming is my (biggest) weakness, so I have this vision of early morning swim sessions. Or I could join a masters swim team ... I daresay that I have totally set myself up for triathlon success! I may have an Ironman in me yet!

I think some people would be concerned that starting a new job would mean less time for training. I do, after all, have 2 tri's coming up in September. But I am just the opposite. I feel like having a job will force me to schedule workouts and better manage my time. I am a girl who needs discipline, I guess.

[Case in point: Back in college, I was a party girl first semester. I stayed out late, and my grades sucked. Second semester, I got a part-time job. Now I had to set an alarm clock and plan when I would actually study. Hello, Dean's List!]

So, the clock starts now ... I've got two weeks to take care of all the little things I would like to get done before starting a job. There are workouts to complete, home improvements to be made, an apartment to pack, friends to visit. I better get started!

Oh yeah, I went for a run this morning. 3.5 miles. Some walking happened due to my incredibly tight calves. But hey, not bad!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Love this


How to Win a Marathon

Well, at least how to nab a trophy for your mantel. As races dole out more prizes, and the Web makes it easier to scope out the competition, more amateurs are perfecting the art of finding the easy win.
June 23, 2007; Page P1

According to USA Cycling, the sport's governing body, I am a No. 1 cyclist.

I'm not the top cyclist in the U.S.; that would be a guy named Jonathan Page. Nor am I the champ in New York City, or in the borough of Manhattan, or even in the Midtown section of Manhattan, where I live. But I am the No. 1 cyclist at my skill level -- out of four total -- in the 10019 ZIP Code, a roughly one-square-mile area bordered by Central Park to the north and Times Square to the south.

[Marathon art]

Similarly, Terry Walts likes to tell his friends he's the defending champion of Georgia's Summer Sizzler Triathlon 2006. His secret: He did enough research to figure out the course would be easy and the field fairly small. In fact, he turned out to be the only person in his 55-59 age category.

As competitive amateur athletics explode, a new form of gamesmanship is emerging. Millions of people can now say they've run a marathon or a triathlon, but how many people can say they've won one? In the past, that hasn't been easy for weekend warriors who work long hours at the office and lack six-pack abs. Now, some are trying to gain an edge by finding where the fast racers aren't. Instead of training harder, they're spending hours online to scout out the field, and they're driving hundreds of miles to race against thin competition in out-of-the-way places.

Is the Chicago Triathlon, which is expecting 6,500 participants this year, too daunting for you? Well, there's always the Triathlon at Rigby Lake in Rigby, Idaho. Seventy-four people took part last May, the race's first year. Another option: the God Bless America Triathlon in Wautoma, Wis., which attracted seven people last year when it started and this year is advertising itself as perfect for beginners and "the semi-pro who wants to blaze a course."

Of course, some people cherry-pick their races simply because they feel more comfortable running, jumping and swimming with similarly love-handled weekend warriors, but there is a growing cottage industry pandering not so much to the desire to participate but to the more ruthless urge to win.

[Podcast icon]
Podcast: Reed Albergotti discusses some of the ways you can become a marathon champion.
Share your thoughts: Plus, is it fair to use the Web to size up the competition before you compete?

New Web sites closely track results of thousands of races, down to local 5-kilometer charity runs. Athletes are using this information to find out how tough the competition is likely to be in a race based on previous years. The sites also keep tabs on amateur athletes in ever-greater detail, from the names of racers and their past performances to the fastest people of a certain age in a particular ZIP Code. This makes it easier than ever to find out how you stack up against your neighbors.

Some of Jack Weixel's most important race preparation takes place in his home office, where he sits in a leather executive chair trolling the Internet. On the walls are photos of himself running triathlons, including a series of photos that shows the progression of his weight loss from when he started three years ago.

During triathlon season, which runs from spring to fall in and around Walnut Creek, Calif., the software salesman spends at least an hour every day searching for data on competitors and races in which he might be able to place well. He often Googles the terms "triathlon" and "flat"; at 200 pounds, he says hilly courses are a challenge.

[Easy win photos]

Mr. Weixel, 49, has yet to come in first in a race, but he has won medals this way. If he knows from his research that a key competitor is stronger in swimming but weaker in biking and running, he might save his strength while swimming the first leg, letting the other guy gain, and then try to blow by him on the bike in the second leg or on foot in the third.

In April, he came in a close second in his age group in the Moraga Treeline Triathlon in Moraga, Calif., a race he picked in part because it was scheduled a week before the more-popular Wildflower Triathlon. Also, a friend tipped him off that races on university campuses, while very competitive for those 18 to 22 years old, are poorly attended by people in their late 40s. Next year, Mr. Weixel plans to race the Stanford triathlon. "Stanford has a very flat campus," he says.

For some weekend warriors, such strategies violate a core principle of competitive sports: Going up against people at least as good as you makes you better. The practice can be particularly disheartening for people who assume that their local races are, well, local, and then they wind up getting thumped by a carpetbagger.

Nicholas Bernice, a science teacher at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J., had dreams of winning his school's annual 5-kilometer charity run, where the bulk of the racers tend to be faculty, staff and students.

Toward the end of the race, he was passed by a few serious-looking runners he didn't recognize. One of those runners was Michael Conforti, a teacher's boyfriend, who owns a local running shop called Sneaker Factory. Mr. Conforti had planned simply to jog alongside his girlfriend, but when he lined up at the start, he looked around and realized he had a good chance of winning if he tried.

[Easy Win photos]

As he set out, Mr. Conforti says, he began "picking off" inexperienced high-school runners who started out too fast. It wasn't until he passed the school band and heard its cheers for Mr. Bernice that he realized he was about to defeat the beloved -- and exhausted -- science teacher. Mr. Bernice set a personal record, but Mr. Conforti won the race. "People were upset with me," he says.

Races are also getting more generous with prizes, parsing achievement into ever more granular levels. Fields are now routinely split into five-year age groups, each of which has a winner. Trophies or medals are awarded to fourth- and fifth-place finishers, too. Categories for heavyset competitors, "Athena" for females and "Clydesdale" for males, give an edge to tall people who tend to weigh more than shorter people.

James Longhurst drove 50 miles to compete in the Buckeye Lake Triathlon in Millersport, Ohio, last year. He had scoped it out and determined it had only about 100 participants, compared to the nearly 1,000 people who usually compete in the Wendy's International Triathlon race just outside Columbus. He finished third out of seven in his 30-to-34 age group, earning him a spot at the postrace medal ceremony. "I screamed out loud," he says. "I just don't tell anyone there were only seven people."

Mr. Longhurst says cherry-picking races gives him his only shot for coming in first. The history professor in New Concord, Ohio, says the demands of his job and family don't allow him to train as rigorously as full-time athletes. "They're pros," he says. "They have 3% body fat and a $10,000 bike. I'm a recreational triathlete."

[Easy win photo]

Race organizers say they have no way of identifying competitors who deliberately choose easy races. It's also not against the rules. Rob Beeler, the organizer of a triathlon outside Indianapolis that is heavily attended by beginners, says he still invites experienced triathlon clubs to take part in the race, even though he knows they'll probably sail to victory. "We want to attract as many people as we can," he says.

I discovered I was No. 1 by chance a few months ago while I was looking on the Web site of USA Cycling. The group started posting results of races and individual rankings in 2000 in response to cyclists saying they wanted see to how they measure up against their rivals. Race organizers voluntarily submit the results, and USA Cycling keeps updated rankings of registered cyclists based on geography, age and skill level.

Mike Halovitch, a cycling buddy of mine, chose another route to the top. In November, he entered and won an "ironman" triathlon in the Bahamas. The Ironman is an elite, long-distance triathlon that only a handful of people can claim to have won. What Mr. Halovitch doesn't tell a lot of people is that the Bahamian race, while modeled after official Ironman races, was not sanctioned by the World Triathlon Corp. -- and only seven other people participated.

To find a race where the odds of a win are high, start with a little Internet sleuthing. Sites like Coolrunning.com and Trifind.com list results for thousands of obscure races and triathlons around the country. Results are generally good indicators of what to expect the next time around, especially since some athletes return to the same race year after year.

[Tools for finding the Right Race box]

If you're looking to gauge the toughness of a race, it's also a good idea to use these sites to research your competitors. You can find more information about racers by looking them up online or searching the databases of sites that track them. Athlinks.com, for example, has information on more than nine million athletes and 35,000 races.

Also, look for whether the race results are divided up by age group (the more age groups, the better chance you have at taking home a trophy) and see what the winning time was in your category.

Four years ago, Troy Busot started the site that has since become Athlinks.com. The amateur triathlete cultivates relationships with race organizers to get them to send him results that he then crunches and posts. The site sends regular email updates about competitors' performances. He says the pros also suss out their competition. "You take guys like Lance Armstrong; they know what their main rivals are doing," he says.

For years, amateurs didn't get much notice beyond praise from their friends or families. Even when race results began appearing on the Internet, sites weren't always updated frequently, or they listed only a small number of races.

Now, these sites are turning amateur athletes into local celebrities. On Slowtwitch.com and Coolrunning.com, racers are profiled like the pros in Sports Illustrated. In New York City, a popular cycling Web site, Velocitynation.com, for example, posts action shots from amateur races, and local cyclists are featured in interviews in which they answer questions about everything from their training routines to their personal lives.

Chris Bennett, a columnist on track-and-field site Milesplit.com, says many serious runners who couldn't name the fastest American runner in the 100 meters right now (Tyson Gay) could name several people who dominate races in their area. "The stars of the sport are people around them when they finish at their local road race," says Mr. Bennett, a runner and financial advisor in Apex, N.C.

Wendy Abma says entering a race is like being a bridesmaid; winning one is being the bride. Ms. Abma's home in Ridgewood, N.J., is decorated with a half-dozen plaques and trophies "where everyone can see them." Sometimes, she'll finish a race and set a personal best, but she says coming in first is "more impressive." As an employee of a company that keeps track of times during races, Ms. Abma says she's more familiar with many of the courses than other runners and has a leg up in scouting the easier ones.

Her favorite medal is one for a 5K race she entered because a friend was having trouble finding enough participants. After checking the course online to make sure it was flat, she registered and later cruised to victory. When friends ask about the plaque, she doesn't usually mention the skill level of the other racers. "You don't always have to mention how you got there," Ms. Abma says.

For all the thrill of picking up another medal, smaller races can present some problems for serious competitors. Kristina Kester is a former college swimmer who has won or placed well in dozens of triathlons. But during the swim leg of a triathlon in Carrollton, Ga., she had to navigate around flailing swimmers, one of whom called for help from a buoy after the first 100 meters. She also had to deal with male cyclists jockeying with her for position because they didn't want to be passed by a woman. "It makes for a long morning," says Ms. Kester.

Write to Reed Albergotti at reed.albergotti@wsj.com

What the hell ...

I signed up for TWO triathlons!

1. Mighty Hamptons (Olympic Distance) on September 16th

  • Olympic Swim 1.5K (.93mile), Bike 40K (23.0 miles), and Run 10K (6.2 miles).
  • The Swim : Out and back along the shore in pristine Noyac Bay, usually calm, water temp 64-70, wetsuits allowed.
  • The Bike: Loop, taking a scenic tour of the Hamptons, mild hills.
  • The Run: Flat, fast, beautiful views finish at the beach!

2. Mightyman Montauk (HALF IRONfreakingMAN Distance) on September 30th
  • 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run (known as a Half Distance Triathlon).
  • 1.2 mile swim Fresh Water Water temps expected in the mid to upper 60s. Wetsuits recommended.
  • 56-mile bike. Two Laps on a 28-mile Rolling Course. 2200 Total feet of elevation gain. Around town and the Montauk Light House. Light Traffic and great Roads view of the ocean and bay, what could be better?
  • 13.1 mile run. Two Laps on a hilly 6.55 mile course. 806 Total feet of elevation gain. A two lap course that is quite challenging, after a rolling 3 miles you hit "murder hill" followed by two other challenging climbs.
I have attempted both of these races before. In 2005. Both were somewhat unsuccessful. In the Oly distance tri, I swallowed a bunch of salt water, got out of the water just past the halfway point and walked down the beach. But I rallied. No one seemed to mind that I got back on the course to do the bike and run and finish the race. In the half-Ironman, I timed out on the swim. It was long. Although I had a kayak escort for much of it, I was proud that I swam that whole 1.2 miles. Honestly, I think it was harder than the marathon. But I got back to my bike and they told me they had to take my chip. Sigh. I, being pretty tired, went out to brunch with husband.

So perhaps now I shall be redeemed. I have 13 weeks. Not impossible. Although I haven't been doing any triathlon-specific training, I have been working out with a personal trainer for the last six months and my muscle mass is up. And since I am unemployed (whatever!), I should have plenty of time to train.

Things are looking up!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Personal Training

This morning I met with my personal trainer for an hour. I've been doing this for a few months now, and I have to say, I really love it. My trainer is a woman in her 50s, and started the training thing a few years ago after a teaching career. I find this inspiring - she is way more fit than me, and I like the idea of doing something completely different.

One of the things that has really struck me about this process is her observations about me. Not many people really see me work out. And since she trains people every day, I feel like her opinions are more informed than most. So here are some of the things she has said which have made me think:

1. "An athlete like you ..." Um, what? She says I'm an athlete? I just really don't think of myself this way. Yeah, I've done some races, I try to stay fit, but ... athlete? I like it!

2. "You don't have to worry. You aren't obese at all." What!?! Hey now, wait a minute ... saying that I'm not obese is like saying that I actually am kind of fat. Ouch. But hey, maybe a little touch love isn't so bad. After all, Mom, friends and even Husband aren't going to say it. And I don't really think they see it. I basically put on 2-3 pounds a year for the last 10 years. She doesn't know that. She only sees someone with some extra pounds around the middle. Ouch again. The truth hurts.

3. "Your balance is amazing. My other clients never get it the first time." I never knew I had great balance! She likes to say that we are "multi-tasking" - many, if not most of the exercises we do, involve dumbbells PLUS the balance ball, or the bosu thingy, or standing on one leg. Who knew?

4. "Have you lost weight? You are looking a lot more toned. I can really see a difference." Thanks! Although I haven't actually lost any weight, I have lost inches and can see the difference. Husband has said so too. It's nice when someone else notices.

I doubt that she has any idea of the effect that these offhand comments have. It's interesting to me. And it does motivate me. So it's all good.

Friday, March 09, 2007


More exciting blog maintenance ... I started a training log (get one here) and added it to the sidebar. Cute! I'm thinking about putting weather back up as well.

What I really need to work on is getting some races on my schedule. My husband and I live in Brooklyn, but spend a lot of time in Montauk.

Ah, Montauk ... it is really a triathelete's paradise. Not only are there several races held here, but there are wide roads for bike riding (I am really a chicken about bike riding in NYC), clean water for swimming, and beautiful routes for running. Now that Spring is almost here (can't wait), I need to start taking advantage of the great outdoors.

Saltwater air makes me happy ...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I miss my blog!

It was this cool thing I used to do ... train for triathlons and write about it online. It's been awhile, and I even cheated on this blog with another one, but I want to come back.

Although I haven't been blogging, I have actually been working out. I bought some personal training sessions in late December, and I have been going 1-2 times per week to work out with my trainer Christine. Been trying to do cardio - running, rowing, biking or ellyptical - at least 2 times on top of the strength-building training sessions. I haven't been swimming in ages.

I really like working with a personal trainer. I have definitely struggled with motivation, and having an appointment and spending money on it makes me actually go to the gym. Plus, she has me do things I would never do myself. Much more focus on strength and also balance. I can't tell you how many exercises I do while standing on one leg, or on the ball, etc.

And I have definitely been seeing results! Although I still haven't lost any pounds (why!? why?!), I have definitely gained muscle and lost fat. I've lost a solid 1.5 inches from the waist. So I can't complain. I've got a swimsuit-required vacation coming up in mid April, so I'd planning to ramp up the cardio in hopes of budging the scale and looking good in my bikini.

That's it for now, but I did just spend some time fixing my links on the page and such. Enough blogging time for one day. Plan to be back tomorrow!