Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

At last, my semester is over. I’ve turned in all my term papers, and I’m actually in the mood to do a little leisure writing. Amazing how writing for school kills all enthusiasm for blogging. I still like my PhD program, but this semester was a tough one…

Anyway, I’ve managed to fit in a lot of fun stuff and accomplished a bunch of goals this spring. Here’s a little timeline:

April 12th, 2015: Completed my first-ever triathlon!!!

What an amazing day. I destroyed my goal time of 1:45:00, completed the race in 1:33:37, and felt great doing it. The weather was gorgeous, the water was nice, the bike course was flat and smooth, and the run course was beautiful. When I finished, I was so amped up I felt like I could do the whole thing again…I guess I could have pushed myself a little more! I made a friend in my start wave who was also doing her first tri, and now we’re planning on running/biking together whenever we’re in the same state. I could not have asked for a better first triathlon experience and will definitely be doing more!



The rest of my visit to FL was nice too. While posing for a picture on a the beach, my mom and I were photobombed by a Great Blue Heron:

That's not something you see everyday...

That’s not something you see everyday…

April 25th: “Music on Maple” Premiere Performance

I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep myself motivated to learn new music at a performance-ready level while in school, and in April I thought of a solution: Host concerts in my apartment (aka “Maple Hall.” Next step, Carnegie Hall!). The bi-annual concert series features myself as well as at least one guest performer. My first guest was a couch surfer I was hosting from France who plays jazz accordion. We met for the first time three hours before the show, ran through some tunes, and then put on a great performance. Everyone is still raving about it! The next performance will take place at the end of June and will feature my dad on ukelele! 🙂

Music on Maple: Premiere Performance

'nuf said.

‘nuf said.

May 3rd: Five Boro Bike Tour

In preparation for The Ride to Montauk, I decided to sign up for the Five Boro Bike Tour, a forty-mile casual ride through all five boroughs. The highways were closed so that only bikes got to ride, and we got to go over a bunch of bridges that are usually off-limits to cyclists, including the monster bridge, the Verrazano. I completed the 40 miles easily, which gave me a lot of confidence for Montauk!

May 9th: Mudderella 11150608_10100454737430182_8265482372204029810_n

Awhile back, some friends asked me if I wanted to do a mud race with them in NJ. I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one; I’ve done one other mud/adventure race and this was much less intense, with a lot of people walking between obstacles. I still had fun, but I definitely prefer races that are a little more demanding.

May 16th: The Ride To Montauk

My favorite ride! Last year, Genai and I made it through 56 miles before having to call it quits. This year, we were better prepared, Genai had a better bike, and we were determined to ride all 73 miles. After five hours of sleep, we drove to Mastic to volunteer in the rain for 3 1/2 hours before beginning the ride. We were wet for the whole morning half of the ride, but we still felt great. And, sure enough, the sun came out in the afternoon, our spirits helped us persevere, and with a big push at the end we zoomed into the finish line. Ahhhh it felt SO good to complete all those miles. Yes, completing my triathlon was a big deal, but I honestly think making it through all 73 miles of this ride was the greatest physical accomplishment of my life thus far. Now I feel like I can do anything! We were so exhausted at the end, so next year our goal is to get to the finish feeling fine. 🙂


Calling it quits at 56 vs. Going all way to 73! 😀


May 23rd: Awesome gig!

I was hired to play vibes for a baby shower on Long Island, so I loaded my vibraphone into my car, drove four feet…and realized I had a flat tire. Luckily one of my neighbors was standing nearby, so he got his tools and helped me change the tire quickly (I know how to fix a flat, but it would have taken forever). Thanks to him, I actually made it with plenty of time to spare, and the gig itself was great. I love playing party gigs because I’m just the background music, so it’s low stress, good pay, and I get free food. 🙂

May 25th: Bike To Long Beach

For Memorial Day, a friend invited me on what turned out to be a great ride to Long Beach. We met up with a bunch of other cyclists for breakfast, then rode 25 miles to the beach. The weather was perfect, and I’m happy to say I was able to keep up with everyone even though they all had road bikes and I had my hybrid. Unfortunately we couldn’t get onto the sand at Long Beach without paying $12, so we ate lunch on the boardwalk and then rode to the Rockaways where we could get onto the beach for free. It was a great day, and I wasn’t even too tired after the 50 miles….I even had enough energy to bike 7 miles to a party later that night! 🙂


So that’s that. Now I’m in the midst of deciding between working at an elementary circus camp or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the summer and enjoying my freedom in the meantime by jamming, running, biking, hanging with friends…all my favorite things. And softball starts Sunday. Life is great! 😀

I have not done very well updating this blog.


I have done very well training for my triathlon. On average, I’ve trained 4-5 days per week and can now:

  1. Swim (nonstop) 3x the distance I’ll swim for the tri.
  2. Conquer the giant hill in Prospect Park on foot and by bike 3x in a row.
    1. (this is a great achievement because any hills in my triathlon will be minuscule and therefore cake)
  3. Easily complete my 9-mile commute to school by bike…including over the bridge.
    1. (my triathlon requires 13 miles of cycling, but considering how many hills I encounter here, how few I’ll encounter there, and the fact that I’ll ride a better bike on race day, I feel ready).
  4. Walk up eight flights of stairs without breathing hard
    1. (not particularly relevant for the tri, but awesome nonetheless)

I’ve also been working on my core, lifting weights, eating nutritious foods, realizing the importance of rest days, and finding time for school work, music, and hanging out with friends, all of which has led to an overall happy and healthy me.

I did have one hiccup…

A word to the wise: If you have a friend visiting for a week and you eat lots of crappy foods and drink more than usual, it is not a good idea to go for a run the day after she leaves. You’re probably too dehydrated to run safely and could end up straining your calf muscle, which will lead to a frustrating week of no running, complete with lots of calf stretches and slight panic that you will not recover in time for the race and will have to walk at the end.


But anyway…

I’ve mostly recovered from that adventure and am excited to fly to FL in two days. I will then have twelve days before the race, during which time I will finally do some brick routines (practicing transitioning straight from one race leg to another; I need to work on getting a nice stride straight off a bike), hang out with my parents, complete the crazy amount of schoolwork I’ve been assigned for spring break, rest up during the last week, and mentally prepare for  race day by envisioning my triathlon success. It’s not going to be an easy race, but I am confident I have prepared well enough to finish and make it count. I’ve enjoyed this training process and am excited to put the pedal to the metal on race day! Two weeks to go!!! 😀

101 To Tri: 65 Days To Go!

Posted: February 6, 2015 in Fitness
Tags: ,


That’s all I had to say today after FINALLY getting back in a pool after 1.5 years on dry land. Geez I missed swimming so much. I’m so happy Baruch College opens their doors to CUNY Graduate Center students, and for such a small fee. Sure, swimming for free at Saint Rose can’t be beat, but considering that Saint Rose is now four hours away and the price I’d have to pay to swim at a public gym is outrageous, I’m not complaining!

It took me awhile to find time to register for membership at the Athletics Center (once again, this semester’s classes are good but time-consuming), so today was my first day back in the water. In the meantime, I’ve been peppering my academic schedule with interval runs, a weekly “long run,” and strength training. On the days I don’t have class, I either head to the park to run before starting my assignments, or split my time between reading and working out; read a PDF, pause to lift weights for 5-10 minutes, read another, do some squats, etc. Plus of course practicing my vibraphone as usual, and taking one rest day when I just go for a walk. So far it’s a good system!

Some observations:

  • Interval training is helping a lot! I’ve been able to run farther and longer each time I’ve done the end-of-week long run, so I’m going to stick to this system. Why I never thought to run intervals before is beyond me…
  • I’ve been experimenting with different post-run recovery foods/drinks and have found that chocolate milk actually does seem to be as effective as studies/articles like this one say.
  • Running amidst other athletes is great motivation! Two weeks ago, I accidentally joined a half marathon on my long run day. It had just snowed the night before and the weather was kind of gross, so I was surprised to see so many people in the park that morning. It wasn’t until I’d started jogging that I noticed that everyone was wearing a bib except me. I tried to get out of the way by veering towards a path past the fans, only to find myself heading straight for the finish line! I crossed the line in little over an hour, possibly setting a new world record with my time. 😉
  • My monetary reward system has been working very nicely; two weeks ago I made $5, then last week I almost took a day off but realized I wouldn’t reach $5 again if I did. I honestly never thought rewarding myself would “pay off” so well!

And some quick thoughts from today’s swim:

  • Swimming is so relaxing; I love the pool 🙂
  • I’m happy to report that I don’t seem to be rusty; I swam easily for forty minutes today, starting with 10 laps in 10 minutes, which is a longer distance than I’ll have to swim for the tri (I figured if I did ten, it would really be like doing eight because of my flip turns). Boo yah!
  • I need to figure out how to train for open waters; there are no wall turns in the Banana River, so how do I swim accordingly indoors? I tried swimming without flipping at the wall, but then how do I get over the semi-embarrassment of not doing flip turns? Will have to think about this…
  • I’m trying things I’ve never done before, like breathing on both sides so I can sight to the left, right, or center, swimming a whole lap with one arm, incorporating the approach stroke into my routine so I’ll be ready to use it if necessary without getting worn out, etc. If anyone reading this has any ideas for exercises that are particularly helpful, I’d love to hear about them!
  • As I swim, I’m trying to imagine tons of people splashing around me. I’m swimming the approach stroke without my goggles to replicate getting them knocked off my face, and I’m trying to get used to sighting so I can do it easily in the race. Eventually I hope to start bricking and go straight from the pool to a bike to see how that transition works, but for now I’ll concentrate on improving my technique and speed so I’ll be well-prepared for race day.

Okay, this wasn’t a very exciting blog entry but I wanted to write something to make sure I’m tracking my progress. Hopefully I’ll figure out how to answer all my swim questions in the coming weeks. 65 days to go! 😀

101 To Tri

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Adventures, Biking, Fitness, Triathlon

On Sunday, April 12th, 2015, I will compete in my first triathlon.

101This is the resolution I made on January 1st, 2015, giving myself exactly 101 days to prepare. defines 101 as an adjective, “comprising the introductory material in or as if in a course of study.” Thus, I’ve begun basic training, learning introductory techniques and reading triathlon blogs for beginners as I prepare for success. 

So why am I vowing to become a triathlete? Did I just pull this idea out of thin air?

No, I most definitely did not.

Citius – Altius – Fortius 

CitiusTo understand where this resolution comes from, we must venture into my past. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the Olympic Games. When I was little, I dreamed of competing in the summer Olympics as a swimmer. Then when I started getting serious about softball, I had hopes that maybe that sport would enter the Games and I could compete. In middle school I ran track & field and thought “Maybe…”, and even during my three years as a Junior Varsity fencer I wished I’d somehow get good enough to make it to the Games. In 7th grade I chose to study French because it’s the official language of the Olympics, in college one of my compositions for songwriting class was inspired by the 2010 Winter Games, that same semester I devoted my Resident Assistant floor theme and programs to the Games, and the only place I’ve visited outside of North America is London…for the 2012 Paralympic Games. I. Love. The. Olympics.

Although I no longer believe that competing in the Games is an attainable goal at the moment, I still strive to live the Olympic motto: Faster – Higher – Stronger. Therefore, I put 100% into everything I do and work to become better than I was yesterday. I make every minute count.

Swim. Bike. Run.SwimBikeRun

There are three components of a triathlon: swim, bike, run. From what I can tell, roughly 10% of the total time is spent in the water, 50% on the bike, 35% running, and the remaining 5% in transitions. There are various triathlon distances, ranging from the mini-sprint all the way up to the Ironman. I’ll be completing a sprint distance event, consisting of a 400m (.25 mile) swim, 12.5-mile bike, and 5K (3.1 mile) run. This is awesome because…

swimGrowing up, I completed every level of water safety instruction offered in my town and practiced stroke mechanics at home on my bed. I attempted to join the non-existant swim team at my high school (seriously…I considered competing as an independent swimmer, but it would’ve been a huge hassle), and took full advantage of the pool at my college (I’d bring a swim bag to class in the morning, head to the pool afterward, swim until the last possible minute, and run to my next class with wet hair). I love swimming.

10342782_328142904005612_5184591390817460519_nNot long after learning to swim, I learned to bike. When people asked what kind of car I wanted when I got older, my answer was (and still is) “A bike.” When I did get a car, I avoided driving as much as possible, preferring to bike when possible (not an easy task when commuting 13 miles to work on Long Island roads). While living in Albany, I frequented Albany Bike Rescue to learn bike maintenance and participated in group rides such as the Bike Barn of Cohoes’ Haunted Halloween ride. And then of course I discovered The Ride To Montauk. I love biking.

runSome people have to force themselves to run, but I’ve always enjoyed it. I’m not the fastest and it’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. When I visit a new place, my favorite way to explore is by running the streets. When I’m stressed I don’t overeat or reach for a drink; I grab my running shoes and hit the streets. And participating in 5K races with friends is always a joy. I love running.

Swim. Bike. Run. I can’t imagine a better combination for a multi-sport event. Softball aside, a triathlon combines all my favorite sporty activities into one awesome race. How could I not love that?

Why Now?

I hope it’s clear why I want to do a triathlon, but why now, while pursuing a PhD? There are a couple reasons:

  1. Life Without LimitsChrissie Wellington: In 2013, I was browsing the new book section of the public library when a cover caught my eye. Intrigued, I picked up what is now one of my favorite books and quickly became immersed. “A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey” is the autobiography of Chrissie Wellington, a British triathlete and four-time Ironman Champion. With a background in international development and a passion for nonprofit work, Chrissie became the first woman to win an Ironman. I am inspired by her story, her spirit, and her determination, and it was after reading Chrissie’s book that I began to think seriously about competing in a triathlon myself.
  2. Curiosity: Not long after I’d finished Chrissie’s book, I discovered that my supervisor was one of the founders of a nonprofit that organizes races for charity. She suggested I sign up for an upcoming triathlon, and I thought about it but wasn’t sure I was ready. Could I do it?
  3. Clarity: Shortly after talking with my boss, a friend of mine announced that she’d signed up for her first triathlon. Hearing about her training over the next few months and then seeing photos from her race inspired me. I realized I was wasting time thinking about the possibility of a triathlon and should follow her example and just go for it. I had nothing to lose and so much to gain.
  4. Circumstance: While visiting my parents on New Year’s Eve, it occurred to me that I could make completing a triathlon my goal for 2015. As we waited for the ball to drop I began researching races and discovered one taking place 20 minutes from their house during my spring break. The decision was made; I was signing up!

The 6h Annual Ron Jon Triathlon Cocoa BeachRon Jon Tri

I am so pumped to compete in my first triathlon. The Ron Jon Tri is supposed to be “the perfect venue for first time triathletes.” The swim takes place in the Banana River rather than the ocean, and the bike and run portions of the race are almost completely flat. Plus there’s an overview for beginners prior to the race, and all first-timers wear a different colored cap than veterans for the swim.

To see what the course is like, check out this video or visit the Facebook page.

Here We Go!

Cannondale R500 Feminine

My beautiful bike 🙂

In preparation for the big day, I’ve done a couple things. Before leaving FL, by a stroke of luck an amazing bike appeared on craigslist at a reasonable price that was the perfect size for me (and my favorite color!). The day before I left, I went to check out the bike and fell in love. Future brides talk about finding their perfect dress…this was the bike version. Buying a used bike will save me money longterm; I won’t have to rent a bike for the race and can ride with my dad any time I visit. Awesome.

Next, I came back to NY and promptly created a training plan. I made a countdown on my calendar and am marking off each time I run (yes, I’m running outside in the cold), lift weights, go for a long walk, etc. As an extra incentive, at the end of each week I’m setting aside $1 for each day I’ve trained. After the race, I’ll use the money to buy something for future triathlons as a reward. Maybe a tri suit (I’ve decided to just use a swimsuit this time), new bike shorts, or something else. Exciting!

Finally, I discovered that as a CUNY student I have access to a local pool and gym for a VERY low price. I’m planning to visit the fitness center tomorrow and can’t wait to start swimming again!!! 😀

The Countdown

74 days to go!

74 days to go!

As of today I have 74 days, or 10 1/2 weeks, until the Tri. I predict that once school starts again I won’t have time to write much in this blog, but I’ll post occasional progress reports. This blog is mostly just to keep myself writing, so tracking my progress through postings will be an extra incentive to work hard. Citius, Altius, Fortius. April 12th, here I come!