Category Archives: Triathlon

Cycling update

I haven’t written about my cycling in quite a while, and my training blog is dead at the moment — I haven’t posted there in over a month.  That’s largely because the blog was meant as a way to record my adventures in triathlon training, and those adventures have stopped for the moment.  I’m still riding, but I’m not running, and only if I’m running does it make sense to me to swim.  I’ve just had so much trouble getting over my most recent running injury, that I’m wondering if running is ever going to work for me, or if I’m willing to be patient enough to make it work.  My injury from last fall has gotten steadily better over the last couple months, and right now it appears to be gone, but I’m not entirely sure it won’t come back if I try to run again.  I did sign up for a couple triathlons for later this spring, and I can still train for them, although I won’t have time to train well, but I can’t decide if I want to.

So I’m in a holding pattern for the moment, waiting for the desire to do one thing or the other to surface and make itself known.  My feelings about bike races versus triathlons are still the same: I think I would like triathlons better because they are more individual — I can race against my own best time — whereas bike races are very much about group dynamics and whether I can keep up with everybody else.  I also like the idea of being proficient in more than one sport and using different sets of muscles with each one.  On the other hand, triathlon training is very time-consuming, more so than training for bike races alone.  Even if I train the same number of hours each week for triathlons as I do for bike races, it still takes up more time, since the total number of workouts is higher and the training involves trips to the pool, which means some extra driving time.

I’m also really, really bad at doing strength training and core exercises, which I desperately need to keep me in good running shape and to be a good swimmer.  I think a weak core is the main cause of my last running injury, and I’ve tried lately to do core exercises, but I just can’t seem to make myself keep it up.  I tell people that I’m really, really undisciplined when it comes to exercise, and they laugh at me, but it’s true — if it’s not 100% fun, I don’t do it.  Core exercises are not 100% fun.

So that’s that.  As I see them, here are my options for this year:  1. pick up the triathlon training again and give it another go, 2. stick with the bike racing and just deal with the fact that I’m not fond of how bike races are run, or 3. ride my bike mainly as a recreational rider and race only if I really, really want to.  I’m training right now as though I’m going to do #2, although I don’t plan to race until a little later in the season than usual. I suppose I’ll keep doing that until I decide to do something else.

I went on a really great, if totally gross, group ride today.  It’s the 50th birthday of the local bike shop owner, so he arranged a ride to celebrate.  About 30 of us did the beach loop, which is a 50-mile trip down to the Long Island Sound and back.  I had a lot of fun, but what made the ride gross was the fact that the roads were thoroughly wet from rain and melting snow, so pretty much from the first minute out, every one of us was covered in mud.  Every time we rode through a puddle, which was often, I got a spray of muddy, gritty water in my face and all over my clothes.  I know better than I’d like about the taste of mud.  We stopped at a coffee shop about halfway through the trip to get something to eat, and we must have been quite a sight — 30 wet, muddy, hungry riders invading the small, clean, quiet place in search of food.  It’s all just part of the fun of late winter riding, I suppose.


Filed under Cycling, Triathlon

New Year’s Non-resolutions

I’m writing this New Year’s resolutions post three days late and having just spent the morning sleeping in until 11:00 because I was out late last night at a surprise birthday party eating way too much sugar and having lots of fun.  Is this a good way to start the new year or a bad one?  It looks like a good year in which to make no resolutions whatsoever and instead just go with the flow, have fun, and not worry too much.  Yeah, right — like you’ll ever catch me not worrying.

But this does fit with the anti-resolutions attitude I’ve had for the last year or so.  At the beginning of 2007 I made a long list of books I’d like to read and things I’d like to accomplish, and that was kind of fun, because planning can be fun, but then I spent too much time worrying about not doing the things I said I would, and I haven’t been all that interested in plans and resolutions since.

That said, I was embarrassed at how few books in translation I read last year, and I wished I’d read more books from my favorite century, the 18th.  It would be great if I could read more in those areas.  It would also be great if I could spend less time online.  I’ll try to keep those things in mind, at least for a little while, but I’m not going to make any requirements for myself.  If I do them, I do them, if not, that’s fine.

As far as cycling and triathlon training goes, my main plan (it’s really hard to be anti-resolutions when it comes to training) is to stay healthy and keep from getting injured.  The best thing I can do to avoid injury, as far as I can tell at least, is to make sure I build up my level of training gradually instead of rushing into a difficult training schedule (as I am apt to do) and to make sure I keep working on core strength.  I foresee a lot of sit-ups in my future.  I loathe and despise exercises of all types, but I will do them if it means I can keep from hurting myself.  Other than that, I’ll race when I can, have fun with my training as much as I can, and that’s it.

Who knows what will happen in 2009.  All I can do, really, is recognize how little control I have over what will happen and try not to let that worry me.


Filed under Books, Cycling, Reading, Triathlon

Riding and reading update

Just having gotten back from swim class, I’m a little tired.  I swam 2400 meters, which is something like a mile and a third, in about an hour.  That’s not fast at all as far as competitive swimming goes, but I’m improving.  I do love starting out new in a sport because it’s so easy to improve in the beginning.  You have to work much harder to improve once you’ve been at it for a while.

Riding is going fine, but the weather has been such that I’ve had to drag out all my winter gear and remember what it’s like to pile on layer after layer in order to stay warm.  Today it was cold and windy, so the ride was extra exciting — in addition to all the usual fun a ride can be, I got knocked around by the wind and was in danger of getting hit by falling branches.  In spite of the cold and danger, I had a great time up until the last 20 minutes or so, at which point I just wanted to be home.

As for reading, I realized today that I’m a bit of an idiot.  I was in the mood for 19C fiction and picked up a Trollope novel (The Eustace Diamonds), a novel that’s nice and fat, which is part of the appeal.  I checked the page numbers and saw that the book ends at around 380 pages.  That was a surprisingly low number for such a fat book, but I didn’t think much of it and thought I could read the thing pretty fast.  So I’m reading along today and I noticed I was up to 180 pages, which is pretty close to the 380 page total, but I wasn’t anywhere near the halfway point of the book.  I spent a little more time flipping through the pages and realized that there are two volumes, each with their own pagination, each one at about 380 pages.  Oops!  The book is twice as long as I thought it was.  Although I should have been able to figure that out just by looking at the thing …

But that’s fine — I’m happy to be reading something long and so far the story is quite good.  Why, though, would a publisher restart the pagination halfway through the book?  I can see restarting the chapter numbers at the start of the second volume, especially as many books were originally published that way.  But to start the page numbers over again?  I don’t like that.


Filed under Books, Cycling, Fiction, Triathlon

Too tired for anything but bullet points

  • But it’s a good kind of tired, an “I worked out very hard and now I’m ready for a good night’s sleep” tired.  I rode my bike for two hours this morning and swam for an hour this evening.  Can I just say that I love my teaching schedule this semester that allows me to do this?  Teaching online frees up just enough time to get in some nice long workouts during the day, and it’s wonderful.  I’m so spoiled and I’m going to hate it next semester when I’m back to a more normal routine.
  • But I pay for the long workouts when I have stacks of papers to grade on the weekend that I didn’t have time for during the week.
  • Yesterday I ran in the morning, taught class in the afternoon, and then went to a friend’s poetry reading in the evening.  A nice day, don’t you think?
  • Today I taught music in my Intro to the Arts class, and I didn’t mess it up!  Yay!
  • And now on to books.  I have three books on the way from Book Mooch: Jenny Diski’s Skating to Antarctica; Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey, which I found out about through the excellent Richard Holmes’s Footsteps; and Elizabeth George’s A Great Deliverance, which was strongly recommended by a friend, and which I’m getting from fellow-blogger Charlotte.  (Thanks Charlotte!)  I also received a book from fellow-blogger Iliana: Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Barnes.  (Thanks Iliana!)  It’s a novel about Anne Boleyn, and it looks perfect for when I want some historical fiction.
  • I just started two new books, Hermione Lee’s Viginia Woolf’s Nose, which looks at the ways biography gets written and particularly the relationship of biography and the body.  It’s short but good.  More on that later.  And I’ve read the first few pages of Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder, which promises to be odd but good.
  • Today I began listening to Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know, which so far has been a fast-moving, exciting story, perfect for the car.  I recently finished listening to Colum McCann’s The Dancer, which wasn’t so good for the car.  More on that later.
  • And now I’m off to bed …


Filed under Books, Fiction, Nonfiction, Teaching, Triathlon


This triathlon training … it’s fun but crazy.  For one thing, while I’ve been a regular weather forecast checker for a while now, I’ve become utterly obsessive about it.  If the weather this weekend doesn’t clear up, I won’t be able to get my rides in, and I really need to ride! Would it be too uncomfortable to ride in the rain when it’s 65 degrees out?  Am I that dedicated??  Probably not …

And another thing — this training means I’m out at all hours taking swim lessons.  I’m swimming with a masters group right now and the lessons are from 8:30 to 9:30 pm, which doesn’t seem that late, except that I like to be in bed by 9:00 or so.  And when I go to a late evening class, I usually can’t sleep afterwards because I’ve built up so much energy and adrenaline. It would be nice if the class tired me out and made me ready to fall asleep, but instead it perks me up and makes me feel wide awake.

And then I have days like today, where I got to school at 9:30 or so, stayed until 7:00 when my last class ends, drove home and stayed for about 15 minutes before heading out again to the pool.  And tomorrow I hope to wake up early enough to run before heading out to school again … all this means  not enough time for reading, I’m afraid.  I need somebody to agree to pay my salary so I can quit my job and train and read full-time.  Any takers?


Filed under Life, Triathlon


Triathlon training feels a lot different than training for bike races — it’s not just that I have three sports now instead of one, but that I have more workouts a week.  I used to ride 4 or 5 times a week most weeks, but now I’m riding 3 or 4 times a week plus running 3 times and swimming 3 times, so that’s 9 or 10 workouts instead of the old 4 or 5.  Since many of the workouts are fairly short, I’ve added only maybe 2 or 3 hours a week total to my training, but it feels like more because of the greater number of workouts.  Each workout requires its own preparation time and usually some time for stretching afterward, and getting to the pool takes some driving time.  And then I have to shower more, especially if I work out once before work and then again afterward.  It’s a lot!

But it’s fun, and it’s a great way to deal with work stress.  After my evening workout, I’ve completely forgotten about my day at school, which is a good thing, even if it wasn’t a particularly hard day.

So, about books.  First of all, I’m excited because Tom McCarthy’s novel Remainder appeared in my mailbox the other day, a book I swear I read very good things about over here, but I can’t find the link right now. I also have Nicholson Baker’s The Fermata and David Lodge’s Author, Author on the way from Book Mooch.  Oh, and then I ordered Kenko’s Essays in Idleness when I read and liked an excerpt from Philip Lopate’s Art of the Personal Essay (I’ve still got the essay project going that you can see on my sidebar; I just don’t move very fast because every time I read a new essay I find another writer I like whose work I have to read in more depth).

And then I have a trip to a used book store planned with some friends this weekend, which, of course, will make this a very nice weekend indeed.

I’m now in the middle of David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle; this is a book Hobgoblin recommended to me, and while I often ignore his recommendations (and he ignores mine), he chose this one for our book group, and so I was stuck.  But I’m loving it!  (And of course I know that I should follow Hobgoblin’s suggestions more often, but it’s a tradition not to.)  It’s such a good story.  More on that later.


Filed under Books, Triathlon

My last race

Last night was my last race of the season — there are others I could do, but I feel as though I’ve done enough, and I have no desire to do any more.  It was a fine race.  It went as it usually did — I rode hard, stayed with the pack the entire way, and finished near the back, trying to stay out of people’s way.  Since I have no hope of winning these things, I don’t even try.  I’m there for the workout and the fun.

It’s been an odd year for riding.  I started out the year hoping that I might do a triathlon, but I had to give up that plan when I injured my foot.  My continuing desire to do a triathlon, though, meant that I became very aware of all the things I don’t like about bike racing.  I allowed myself to feel dissatisfied in a way I hadn’t before.  So even though I rode in lots of bike races, I was always thinking that I really wanted to do something else and that my focus would soon be elsewhere.  This is not a great mindset to have when competing in races, and I never did all that well (although I didn’t embarrass myself either — I did respectably).

Now my foot is all healed and I’m running and swimming as well as riding, and I still feel odd because I’m training in all these sports, but the first triathlon I’ll do won’t be until late spring next year, and it feels so far off and not at all real.

But at least at this point I can concentrate on one thing instead of feeling all scattered — or rather I can concentrate on three things, the three triathlon sports.  In running, I simply need to keep from injuring myself, first, and also work on endurance.  I can add in some speed work later on when my endurance has improved.  In swimming, I need to work on technique and endurance.  It looks like I may be able to attend a master’s swim class at least once a week this fall, and that should help tremendously.

In cycling I feel a little more uncertain at the moment, as my basic skills and endurance are there already, and the triathlons I’ll be competing in aren’t long, but it’s too early to be working on speed.  I suppose I just need to maintain my cycling fitness for now, and keep from getting burnt out on the sport.

After the race last night we had a little end-of-season party, and the race organizer gave out awards for the top 10 finishers in the series competition.  Hobgoblin got first place!


Filed under Cycling, Triathlon

Happy weekend!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend.  Looking back, I see that today was a good day.  I had a book group meeting this morning where we discussed Nam Le’s short story collection The Boat.  The verdict was mostly positive, although everyone liked some stories more than others, and we had some criticisms of this and that.  But everyone agreed he is an excellent writer.

Then I came home and went running, and my feet didn’t hurt at all.  After that a book arrived in the mail, Parson Woodforde’s diary, written from 1758 to 1803.  It’s a big thick book, something that will take me a long time to read and that I’m pretty sure I will enjoy.  Perhaps it will make a good bedside book.

And then there was a trip to the chiropractor, where I got my shoulders massaged and my neck adjusted, and then dinner.  Somewhere in there was some time to read, and I picked up André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name, a book highly recommended by Jenny D., partly because it’s a beautiful book and partly because it has lots of swimming, running, and cycling in it.  I’m having trouble putting it down.

Then there was swimming in the evening, where I did some drills and swam a half mile altogether (with lots of breaks) — not terribly far, really, but the farthest I’ve gone since who knows when.  And then there was a walk to town for ice cream, and now I’m home, ready to return to my novel.

That’s how a summer day should go, don’t you think?


Filed under Books, Life, Reading, Triathlon

Training updates

I just got home from another fun Tuesday night race.  In spite of the fact that I am officially burnt out on racing, I still enjoy the Tuesday night races, largely because I have no hope whatsoever of doing well, and so there is no pressure.  I just hang out in the back, watch what is going on, and get a good workout.  I like hanging out in the very back these days because from there I can see clearly what the people up front are doing as they ride around the corners.  That way I keep an eye on where Hobgoblin is — and he’s generally up front somewhere, usually winning or in the top five.  He’s leading the series by a ridiculous number of points.  At this point, I’m much more interested in how he does than how I do.

So my triathlon training is going pretty well, all things considered.  My feet don’t protest the running too much, although I run only a very little way.  I started with a mile and am all the way up to a mile and a quarter!  Yes, it will take me quite a while before I can run a marathon, but I hope to get there one day.  The doctor tells me I can increase my mileage by 10% each week or 15% at most, assuming I have no serious pain, so you can see how slow the whole process is.

But the big news in my training is that I am now taking swimming lessons.  I can get myself across a pool, and can even do it a decent number of times, but I can’t do it with anything like proper technique, so I decided to get myself some lessons before my bad habits get any further ingrained.  My teacher, who was very patient in the face of my occasional incomprehension, gave me some drills to do, and a workout to do on my own, and I’m so happy to have some direction, instead of just floundering around trying to figure out the right way to swim but not really getting it.

My goal is to run and swim three times a week and ride my bike four times a week, or perhaps three if I do long rides.  All that is easy to do right now, although it will be more of a challenge when school starts.  I had my eye on a September triathlon I thought I might be able to do, but I don’t think I’ll be ready for the running part of it.  But that’s okay — if all goes well, I’ll compete in triathlons beginning in the late spring, and that will give me plenty of time to figure out what I’m doing.


Filed under Cycling, Triathlon

Training update

I went swimming today!  And I ran!  And I raced yesterday on my bike and will race again tomorrow.  I’m becoming a triathlete, it seems.  My triathlon training plans got put on hold last February when I hurt my foot and decided I’d better stop running, but now they seem to be back on track.  My foot is still a little iffy, with some aches and pains now and then, but I’m seeing a doctor who helps tremendously — one who is a triathlete himself, which is a wonderful thing.  There’s nothing like seeing a doctor who really gets it.  There still is a chance my foot might get bad again, and then everything will go on hold once more, but there’s hope, at least.

The swimming was fun; I haven’t been in a pool to do laps in a decade or so, so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I was more nervous about figuring out how things work at the pool — rules and etiquette and such — than about the swimming.  I found a nice motherly woman who I shared lanes with and who explained everything to me, so now I feel much better, and I’m excited about going back.  I hope to take swimming lessons at some point this fall.

Yesterday’s race wasn’t particularly fun; I’m feeling burnt out on racing right now, and with my fairly frenetic schedule of races I’m not really surprised.  I’m not enjoying the pack-riding aspect of racing right now — the aspect of racing where fitness, at least once you’re at a certain level, doesn’t matter as much as tactics and aggression do.  I’m no good at tactics and aggression, and I’m not really interested in getting better at them.  This is where the appeal of triathlons comes in; it’s a much more individualized sport where you’re racing against yourself as much as you’re racing against others.

My goals in yesterday’s race were to not get dropped and not to crash, and I accomplished both of those things without trouble, so that’s good, even if my finish wasn’t that great (12th out of 18).


Filed under Triathlon