Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nothing to Blog about...till now!

So, I haven't "blogged" in months now, and honestly I figured I was done with it as I enjoy so many other's posts but haven't been able to find anything "inspiring" or interesting to write about (at least nothing triathlon-wise). Until today...

Saturday was a day to remember for me... A training day that I will draw upon over and over again in my future races. I woke up at 4:50AM SaturdayItalic morning absolutely dreading getting up and traveling out to Eisenhower Park to start my epic training day at 6AM. I actually contemplated staying in bed and doing my training day solo, BUT deep down I knew that it would probably be a good thing to do this workout with others (as usual George was the voice of reason the night before as he encouraged me to train with the group when I suggested that I might just blow it off and do the day solo). Also, I had a friend that I haven't seen in a while coming to do the run portion of the workout with me, SO I got myself out of bed and drove out west to the pool at Eishenhower Park.

Once I got to the pool I was greeted by a smiling Jose Lopez and many other athletes, many of whom will be competing in Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Louisville. We were told that we were to swim one hour STRAIGHT... It was 5:58 AM and I had 2 minutes until the long day started. Just then Bob Spina ran on deck and jumped into the lane next to me. We were off...I swam "smooth and steady" for an hour and ended up completing 3800 yards. I must say that I did "cheat" a bit as I stopped every 1000 yards to switch things up by grabbing my snorkel, or by grabbing paddles. Spina was cruising along in the lane next to me for a hour straight, probably completing 3900+ yards.

We all got out of the pool at 7AM and transitioned quickly before driving 10 minutes to Jose's house. There we got our bikes ready as many other athletes filed in for the ride portion of the day. There were about 45 people getting ready to ride! I must admit that I do get a bit nervous about big groups on the bike, but I figured it would break up into smaller groups relatively quickly. Soon we all headed out on the loop after a briefing from Jose. This bike loop would be supported by vehicles as well as a "special needs stop" half way through! About 3 minutes in Spina noticed that his tire was not properly fitted to his wheel. So we stopped to fix it as the group of cyclists continued on. We quickly got his tire fixed and were on our way!

The bike route was awesome...hills, flats, beautiful scenery... We followed my "workout plan", which consisted of: 30 min warmup, then 2x: [40 min at Ironman pace/5 min easy] then 5x: [25 min at ABOVE Ironman pace/5 min easy], then a cooldown. It was great to do this with Spina as he not only kept a solid/strong pace, but encouraged me the ENTIRE 5 hours! Spina is a true veteran at triathlon and a fantastic athlete. I had the pleasure of doing his last Ironman at Kona back in 2005 where he passed me on the bike, then stopped to fix a friends flat tire in the middle of his race, only to pass me again! This is the type of person he is. Every now and then it would be, "Nice job Danielle, keep it steady", or "you were rocking on that interval, way to go!". This was SO great for my morale throughout the ride and once we got to the 5x25 min at above Ironman pace we were ROCKING! We even picked up 3 other guys (they waited for us at the beginning of the 2nd loop as they went ahead while we stopped in the beginning). Rob, Adam and John all did the intervals as well and we were really hammering on that second loop!

We finished the bike and the three guys and myself were getting ready to run. Our friend Merrie came specifically to do the run with us as well! What a special treat this was! We got to Jose's and she was warming up. She looked fit and energetic as usual! The plan for the group was to run 15 original plan was to run 45 off the bike and 2 hours the following day, but I was definitely caught up in the moment and I felt great, so I opted for the whole thing! Plus, we had aid every 3 miles (ended up being every mile as our support followed us the entire run)! Because I wasn't planning on doing the entire run, I had no drinks set up, but of course Spina shared his with me and with Merrie and the guys too. Actually, let me re-phrase that...Spina sacrificed his FAVORITE drink (and mine as well) for the run portion of a triathlon: Coke! He drank Red Bull as Merrie and I gulped down his Coke! Unbelievable!

I decided that we should do my long run plan for the next day... It was: 20 min warmup, then 3x: [25 min at roughly Ironman Marathon pace (7:15-7:30)/5 min easy], then a 10 min cooldown. It was hot and sunny and I wasnt sure how I would do holding these paces after a 1 hour swim, a 5 hour bike and a serious week of training under my belt already! My goal was to "stay within myself" and not get injured! We started off the warmup nicely. Merrie was chatty as usual and I encouraged her to keep talking as it helped the run pass along and I didn't have it in me to chat quite as much! Without her, this run would have been much more difficult! The first 20 min warmup went quickly and was 7:34 pace (at this point we had Rob and Adam running with us as well), then we started our first "steady ironman interval" which was done at 7:26 pace. We realized at this point that the aid stations were too far away, so we asked the support to follow with drinks every mile. After one little hiccup, they were there for us the rest of the way! What a difference this makes!

After 5 min easy we were onto the 2nd 25 min interval (and the most uphill). This was a solid 7:25 pace with Merrie leading the way! We were loading up on Coke and Red Bull and after our 5 min easy again we were onto our last 25 min interval. The three of us were rocking as the chatting slowed down a bit. We could actually feel the energy passing through one another, giving us strength as we ran the last 25 min at 7:08 pace! It felt great and we were thrilled when we finished the interval! We still had 10 min to go however, so we kept it smooth, but not too slow. Finally we finished! The three of us crossed the "finish line" holding hands and hugging! Soon there after, Adam and Rob finished and we celebrated with them as well. It was a fantastic day.

It felt so great to finish and it was such a solid day all around. The company made the day and it ended up being exactly what I needed at this point in my training! I haven't felt that positive and truly excited in a training session in a very long time. This was probably the best single day workout I have ever completed and the positive vibes throughout the entire day were incredible! As I spoke to Spina after the workout we both agreed that it would be a day that we would both remember and one that we will draw upon in Lake Placid this July.

I want to thank Jose and Irene for having us at their house and for sacrificing an entire day so that we could all have a training day that was unmatched with support. Oh, and for having a BBQ for all of the athletes to boot! I also want to thank the support crew and organizers Maria, Mindy, Steve, Carmelo. Also a huge thanks to our run support: Toby and Michael (the two of them were our support crew throughout the entire run and they were incredible, ready with anything we needed at every mile of the run)! This was a fantastic day from start to finish! Also thanks to Spina, Merrie, Rob, Adam and John for the incredible company...what a great day!

And also a huge thanks to George who has helped me to get into fantastic cycling shape this year, is always there for guidance with any workout I need suggestions with, and who is always supportive of anything I do. One more thanks to Cliff English for agreeing to help coach me the 2 months before Lake Placid (under Bobby McGee's pleading!) and for writing up some killer workout sessions! I am more excited to race Ironman than I have been in a while!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back to Training..

Hmmm.... Been a while! Im happy to report that I have been back into my training routine and feeling quite good! I am committing myself to workouts on the trainer this year...partly because I am finding that I am becoming wimpy in this cold weather, but MOSTLY because it's something that I have always shyed away from and I have been told time and time again that it helps to make you stronger. I have so many friends (cyclists, Pro Triathletes, Amateur Triathletes) who commit to trainer workouts on a regular basis and swear by it. I must admit that I have always pretty much sucked on the trainer, and for this reason I have avoided it, but I am trying to face my weakness this season and this is my first battle!

For the past 3 weeks I have been doing my trainer workouts religiously (thank you George for helping me with a program to follow) and have found that not only am I getting stronger on the trainer (something that I was skeptical of) but I am starting to really love the challenge of it (was also a skeptic of this)! Plus, its nice to wear shorts and a sleeveless top when it's 19 degrees outside...

Other than that I have been enjoying training with others! I've been running once a week in the hills with age group stud Nancy, swimming with Cathy on the days that we don't swim with our team at CW Post, strength training with triathlete and P90X Guru Jamie, hiking (yes, hiking) with my friend Joanne and trying to fit in a workout with George when it works out. The great thing about training partners (as most of you already know) is that it gets you out of that comfort zone. For example, the past few weeks I've hit the hills much harder than I would have ever run them had I been alone, Ive finished killer swim sets when I would have otherwise swam an easy "recovery swim", I lift more thoroughly than I would solo and I hike about 2 hrs more than I would attempt alone (that is, I wouldn't hike alone)!

So 2010 is starting off great and I am looking forward to a fresh start!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Am I new to this triathlon thing?!

Looks like the cruiser bikes will need some work once they thaw out! I've needed some TLC after this season as well! Its been 3 1/2 weeks into my 6-week hiatus and I am just starting to feel like myself again! I rested well a few days after the race, but then I quickly got into my routine of "light training". What a rookie mistake! I tell my athletes to take serious off time both for their bodies and their heads, and what do I do? I start training after a grueling season where my body is just hanging on and I am mentally toast!

The week after Cozumel I was back swimming with my team, lifting, and running quite often. I took some time off the bike ( less than a week), but decided to go out with my buddy and ended up bonking on a ride that was too long for me two weeks out from Ironman. I told myself, "Three hours easy shouldn't bother you Danielle!" ...but it did. I was dragged to a 7 Eleven by my riding partner, Kevin where he bought me a powerbar and some Gatorade. Thank you Kevin! After eating and drinking my body responded quickly and I was able to make it back home! "Note to self: bonking 2 weeks out from a disastrous race in IM is definitely NOT a smart thing to do!"

So, knowing that the weather would be warm one last day, I decided to back up the 3 hour bonk-ride with an hour and a half swim team practice and a 2 hour ride the very next day... Again...not the smartest idea! At one point Kevin turned to go up a "steep hill" and I simply stopped and refused to follow him up it. I did not think I could make it up the hill without tipping over! He had to turn around and come back down! I averaged 112 watts on the bike and was spent. Again...not one of my brightest moments! I found myself constantly sleepy, dragging myself out of bed in the morning... The "easy training" I have been used to was feeling really tough and taking it's toll on my body and my mind. What I was used to not affecting me was making me feel like I was putting in wicked hard training sessions! This was a wake-up call as I was fearful that I would get myself really sick...maybe develop chronic fatigue and not bounce back at all!

That was a week ago and I have not been on the bike since. I've run a bit, but all easy and I have continued to swim, but just a couple of sessions...Ive also gone hiking , which was a fantastic change of pace! My tough workout was shoveling out the driveway with George on Sunday (Im taking a much needed photo break here while he shovels!)...I was more sore from shoveling than I have been in a while!

So, finally I came to my senses and decided to take my "off time" much more seriously! One week later and I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER! Practice what you preach, eh?! Now I am looking at 2 1/2 weeks more of off time. My goal after 6 weeks is to feel like I cannot wait to get back to training... So I will continue my serious rest through the holidays and back it up with a trip to Vail for some fun activities like snowshoeing, cross country skiing and some partying as well!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone! Hope you all have been smarter that I have been during the off season! I also want to give my best wishes and a speedy recovery to Jim MacWhinnie who survived a very serious accident a couple of weeks ago. It seems that Jim has beat the odds and pulled through due to his strength both physically and mentally... His family and friends are calling him a miracle... My thoughts and best wishes are with Jim and his family!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lucky #13?

Although many people see #13 as the most unlucky number, I have always included it in my list of favorite numbers (yes I have more than one favorite/lucky number...) Though I have always considered 13 to be a favorite number of mine, I am beginning to sway to the popular thinking that it's quite unlucky! Ironman #13 was a tough one to get through...first IM Louisville: Fall down steps a week and a half before the race, injure ribs badly, attempt to race (bad idea), DNF. Next is IM Cozumel and here is my story...

First let me say that the island of Cozumel; is one of the most beautiful spots that I have ever been to. The water is incredible, the people are laid back and kind and the air is warm and humid, just as I like it (or so I thought!)...

George and I arrived Wednesday and let me say that the journey was a long one! Drive to JFK, fly to Cancun, drag bags and bike to bus shuttle, take bus ride for 60 min to Playa de Carmen, drag bike and bags through streets to ferry, wait 90 min for ferry, take 45 min ferry ride (beautiful), arrive in San Miguel Cozumel, drag bike and bags through streets to car Rental (Volkswagen Bug Convertible Circa 1970's...very cool), drive in the dark to find condo (at this point our patience are a bit short...especially as we navigate through the dark to find our secluded home), drag bike and bags up stairs, drive into town for yummy tacos, and off to bed...

...wake up to the most beautiful scene! It was worth the travel!!

So, I may have enjoyed the island a little more than I should have? ...but it was so hard not to! I did try and keep the physical stuff to a minimum though. We did some exploring in the VW (found a great little bar/restaurant on the beach where I had killer fish tacos), did some swimming with the fishies, and drove the IM loop, but I did stay on the boat and in the shade when George went Scuba Diving, and no that isnt my Dos Equis on the table there, though it was tempting!

Saturday came quickly and it was time for me to do one last little bike workout and drop off the Orbea for Sunday . My legs felt AWESOME! I was SO ready for this race! Sunday morning seemed warm and calm! Yippie! We got to the race site early and met up with Bill and Nancy (both racing see picture below) and their family (spectating). Off to the water and before I knew it, the Pros were getting ready to go! The gun went off (actually, I dont remember if it was actually a gun, but we started the race either way). I felt strong and the very first thing I said to myself is, "Im going to have a great day". Hmmm...what happened to the power of the mind?!

I exited the swim in :56 min with one other girl who stayed on my feet for the whole swim. WooHoo! My fastest swim ever! I did not know, however, that the lead girls swam :46-:51! Wow... Sadly, I let my swim companion exit the changing tent before me and she was on her bike quicker than I was, which is not necessarily surprising given the fact that I never practice my transitions (Note to self: Goal#1 for 2010...practice transitions!)

I felt strong on the bike and the watts were as they should be. I was doing a solo time trial in no-mans-land, but hey...Ive done plenty of solo long rides, so Im mentally prepared for this!

Then came the wind...the other side of the island was much windier than I had expected and I found myself going 16 mph and dreading the two loops ahead of me that would bring me to this windy section! Oh, and there goes the nice little bar/restaurant on the beach that George and I had enjoyed just a few days before...wasnt that nice?! OK, back to the race...

I was SO excited to get to town on the first loop...I got to see George and he told me that a girl was just up ahead...yippie! I soon passed her and was back to no-mans-land... Then the bottom fell out from under me. I had a major meltdown about half way into loop two and started to get worried. I looked down and saw that my shorts were COVERED in salt! What?! This never happens to me! I got through the second loop and almost stopped in town when I saw George again...I think I told him that it was very windy out there...he just encouraged me to keep going. I did and I can say that the last lap was absolute torture! For those of you who know watts, I averaged around 120 for the entire loop! I stopped a few times just to rest my head on my handlebars, I contemplating stopping at one of the parked ambulances on the course, but decided to do the best I could to get back to town and finish the race...

When I finally got to T2 (the bike course was 114 miles, by the way and that last 2 miles nearly killed me!) I was delirious. I knew I was delirious, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was stumbling around and while George was talking to me, I couldnt quite focus on what it was that he was saying. I entered the changing tent and the Dr. approached me. She asked if I was OK...I told her yes. I figured that if I knew that I was delirious, I could still forge ahead! When I exited the tent I grabbed a coke and drank it down, I also had a banana and a few bites of a Powerbar... I started to feel a bit better, but not good enough to jog.
As Im realizing that this blog is getting to be WAY too long, I am going to sum up... My saviors out on the run helped me finish the race:

Savior #1, though he will argue this, is George. He met up with me out on the run course and I saw him every loop. He walked with me and joked with me, then told me in a joking manner to "run the last loop...Im tired of walking, my feet hurt. I'll give you and hour and meet you at the finish line!" He was there at the finish line, even though it took me longer than an hour to get there! He was screaming for me, apparently...I was in a bit of a fog to notice at that point, but he was there at the end and I am so grateful to him for being there for me.

My savior #2...Bree Wee. What a fantastic person Bree is! I can see why there are so many Bree fans out there and now I am one too! Not only did Bree scream for me every time she saw me and encouraged me to hang in there, but she came up to me on lap 2 of the run (she was on lap 3) and said, "Come on Danielle, run with me... we are going to play a game...its called How Slow Can We run?" We ran together for a while...I felt so much better...Then, as we parted, she told me to make sure I kept running...that now matter how slow I ran, it would be MUCH quicker than walking...she was right and I tried to keep the walking to a minimum... Oh, and not only did Bree encourage me, but I think she encouraged EVERYONE out on the course!

Savior #3...Nancy Cattabiani. I wanted to finish for Nancy... I know how tough Nancy is and I didnt want to let her down. I thought of her out on that course every step of the way and I am so impressed with her for so many reasons... Not only did she ace the swim, but she got through a horrendous (and long) bike. Unfortunately, as Ironman can be an "unknown", Nancy had back issues that could have become very serious, so she did the smart thing and pulled out before doing serious damage... I am so proud of her though...

One last thing: CONGRATS to Lorraine Huether on her first IM finish (a fantastic 5th place in her age group, I believe), Bill Romas on a great finish, and Christine Kenney who ROCKED her first IM with a 10:25 and a slot to Kona...unbelievable!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Down this road before...

Less than one week to go and I will be in Cozumel! Ten days out from race day and everything is falling into place. I finished my last long training days feeling good and escaping any overtraining or injury! I was hovering on "the razors edge" for a bit, feeling strong, but knowing that I could step over that "edge" very easily. Thankfully I did not step over that edge and I finished strong! My body began the resting process last week and it is just starting to bounce back from all of the training and feel fantastic! This is perfect timing and this, in my opinion, is what my coach does best. Timing is everything, right?

I never like to feel too good two weeks out from race day. I know that I am right on target when I feel a bit tired with heavy legs 2 weeks out, then the body starts to gradually feel better a week and a half out and just gets better and better from there! This is how exactly how Im feeling right now... My legs responded very well to the workout today, but were tired this time last week. I have been down this road MANY times before, so there are no surprises. This weekend, (now that Im nearing the end) I should feel fantastic and I should begin to feel like I can race an Ironman! Next week is the count down to race day: travel, rest, wait (perhaps do a bit of snorkeling?!), hydrate, perform some short bursts of intensity to keep the systems open and ready to go, eat, sleep and before you know it race day is here! What fun!

GOOD LUCK to my friends racing Arizona this weekend!!! Kathy, Tara, Wolf and Kasia! (The picture of the Ironman race start is from honor of them!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


As I get ready to do my last long run of my 2009 season, I find myself procrastinating the start for a warmer part of the day by reflecting upon my long runs of the past as well as my future long runs. I starting thinking a lot about running this weekend after following the NYC Marathon and following friends who were running the marathon. Not only was I psyched to see some awesome performances from my friends who were running, but I had the pleasure of helping to coach an athlete to a very successful first marathon! What a thrill!

Ironically, RockStar Tri wrote a blog about "the long run yesterday. Check out, "When is a long run long?" on RockStar Tri's Blog: I commented that I think a run is long when it reaches 12 miles. To me anything 12 and over seems long. I also commented that I do all of my long runs alone and without an IPOD as I learned that he, along with others wear an IPOD and do all long runs with company. I can only remember a few long runs that I did with others. I have been running my long runs solo since I started running in 1998 and I am so familiar with a solo long run, that it would be quite an adjustment to run with company.

After graduating College in 1998 I decided to enter the lottery for the NYC Marathon. Upon my return from spending a summer backpacking in the Arctic of Alaska, I found out I had gotten into the the marathon! I had 2+ months to train and I can tell you that my body was in shock as it was used to swimming many hours a day, but was certainly not used to the pounding of running! I can also remember training for Boston for the first time in 1999 and running SOLELY on the treadmill in my gym! I did every run, including my 3 hour runs on the treadmill that year! Now, I cant even stand running a half hour on the treadmill! A few years ago, I did all of my long runs at SUNY Old Westbury. That was really tough, but awesome prep as I believe running there makes you VERY strong!

As I try and map out where I will run today, I realize that I'm tired of the same old routes. For my last long run, a 20 miler, I ran from here at my home in West Islip to my parents house in Blue Point! My dad drove me back home after having a nice lunch post-run. To my surprise, I had to run up and down some blocks in Bayport and Blue Point to reach my 20 mile was worth it though...the one-way run was a fun little journey and a great way to mix it up! My friend Kathy did her last 18 Miler this Sunday. She's smart...she had friends meet her a different points in her run to keep her company and break it up. I think I may need to take advice from her next year! I'm thinking that if I had company with me today, I probably wouldn't be procrastinating (somewhat dreading?) this one quite as much as I am! No matter how many long runs I have done, the thought of running 18+ miles is absolutely daunting. The thought of running that distance never ceases to amaze me!

Reflecting has helped me to appreciate all of the runs I have done in the past as well as reminds me of the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment after completing a long run. I started running late in my life (I started at the age of 21...which isn't necessarily "later in life" but always seemed like it to me). Because of this, I never considered myself to be a "runner"... I still have a hard time calling myself a runner, but I guess I am. When I think about it, running has been a big part of my life... Running is so great because you can do it anywhere... Thinking about it, Ive run in so many great places and had such great memories. Ive run in Spain, France, Chile, Costa Rica , all over the US, the Bahamas...everywhere I travel to, I bring my running shoes. Maybe I'll reflect upon that today as I run long...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

True Inspiration...

As many of you already know, Ironman Hawaii was last weekend. I've had the good fortune to race kona 5 times and every single race contains memories, both good and bad, that I will never forget. Picture: YOUNG Dee in Kona 2005.

My first Hawaii, in 2002, was TERRIFYING, "Will I finish? Will I be crawling to the finish line like Julie Moss?". There were 11 of us from long Island doing the race that year and it was a BLAST!

My last race in Kona was actually my first year racing as a Pro. I felt like it was my first time there all over again! While I wasn't nervous about my ability to finish, I was unsure of myself and insecure racing in my new category.

My 3rd time there was by far my best finish. Second place in my age-group (behind phenom Tyler Stewart), 4th amateur overall. It was after this finish that the idea of racing Pro seemed somewhat in my realm of possibility.

My 4th Ironman Hawaii was memorable because I was VERY lucky to spend 5 weeks in Kona training! The time I spent in Kona that year was especially memorable due to my roommate, training partner and friend, Simon Butterworth. It was that trip that made my friendship with Simon such a close one. Funny...I recall that I turned 30 that November after the race, and Simon turned 60 a week earlier! Of my 5 Kona finishes, that one was the toughest. I had problems handling my nutrition on the bike and cramps that made me walk on the run. At one point I thought I was finished, but I rallied and got through it holding onto 5th place in my age-group. Running down Alli Drive that day was my most emotional finish as I had overcome many obstacles that year as well as in that race...funny how the toughest finishes can be the most memorable!

Speaking of the toughest races being the most memorable...

When you get a chance, read Simon's latest blog ( entitled, "My Lucky Day-Angels in Kona". While it's a long post (that's Simon for you!) it is a FANTASTIC READ and a GREAT source of inspiration to me. I think it will inspire anyone who reads it.