Friday, December 31, 2010

Scotty welcomes Blue Steel

As 2010 comes to a close I can’t help but feel lucky for the year I’ve had. 2010 has been somewhat of a defining year for me I think. In fact, I’d say the past 2 years have really shaped the person that I am today. I’ve had some struggles, but feel like I’ve come out on top, stronger and more confident than ever before. I became an Ironman. I formed a new bond with my sister (who I can now say is my best friend) that will be forever stronger due to our journey together. I’ve recently entered my 4th decade of life, and well, I’ve swam, I’ve biked, and I’ve run (A LOT!).

I was especially spoiled this Christmas and birthday and have welcomed a new member to my quiver of bikes. I’ve decided to call my shiny new Marinoni cross bike ‘Blue Steel’. While it’s not quite as flashy as Scotty (my road bike) it’s a great solid bike for winter training that will allow me to get out on the road without worrying about the winter dirt and muck. After a great (and chilly) ride yesterday with my Dad, I’m feeling really excited about training this winter (at least the bike portion anyway, haha).



Other than that, I’ve spent the last two weeks in active recovery mode. Training has been extremely low key and flexible and while I’ve enjoyed it (and needed it); I also know I’ve been eating way too much junk and have been feeling a bit sluggish for it. I’m looking forward to getting back into a more structured routine as we roll into the New Year. I will have new challenges ahead, first in my own training, as I attempt to gain some speed and see what I can accomplish over shorter distances. As well, I will be taking on the roll of run leader for the first time with Frontrunners Westshore, as I attempt to lead their Oak Bay 'Kool' Half-Marathon Clinic in the spring.

I’m looking forward to finding out what the New Year will bring, but for now, I shall sign off and enjoy the dwindling hours of 2010.

Until 2011...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I ♥ Swimming

I didn’t really expect to make another post before Christmas, but well, I couldn’t resist, because...

I had one of the best swims ever this morning!

Juan de Fuca is open again. I’m loving the fresh new lines on the bottom, the crystal clear water (that surely won’t last), as well as the fact that they haven’t got the temperature back up to normal lately so it’s more like Commonwealth’s competition pool than a kiddie pool. While it’s a little chilly when you first get in, it’s nice not to be sweating profusely from the lukewarm water within 50m.

But it wasn’t just the pool conditions that made this swim so great; it was the fact that I had one of those days where everything clicked – like really clicked.

I’ve been doing a lot of drills lately, and I actually think they are starting to pay off. Today was no different, I did drills, drills, drills, along with some “strong effort” 200m sets and, you know, I think I may have had some of my fastest times ever for 200m (and it was just a “strong effort” not even an all-out effort!).

It is truly amazing how having such a great workout can put you in such a wonderful mood for the rest of the day… :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Really?

Wow…

2 weeks into December.
11 days until Christmas.
13 days until I turn 30.
18 days until 2011.

Really?
Wow… Where has the time gone?

Well, I suppose it’s gone to a good year of training and racing. To goals both set and accomplished. To a new job that I actually don’t mind going to every day. To vacations and fun times… and of course, to the regular old day-to-day that makes up life.

Overall, I think 2010 has been a pretty good year.


Anyway, onto the here and now…

This past weekend the LiveFit Crew had a nice little social evening and year end wrap up at Straight Up Cycles. Smart of the guys at the store to have us, as it made me realize a few things I had left off my Christmas list, which I (or Santa) will hopefully be back for soon. (Cross bike, new helmet, etc. etc.).

Other than the typical holiday build up (which I love) and the over consumption of treats (which I also love), there really isn’t anything too out of the ordinary to report on the training front. My motivation has faltered a few times over the last couple weeks, as I’ve opted to sleep in rather than head out in the rain and cold to run in the dark. (It was much easier last year to make myself do the workouts with the thought of Ironman looming). This December, however, I’m finding I’m being a little more lenient on myself, which I actually think is a good thing. On the whole, when I look at my training calendar, I guess aside from the odd missed run, I have still been managing to get most workouts in. It really has become habit at this point.

Otherwise, I’ve been especially enjoying swimming lately and have been feeling fairly strong in the pool. With Juan de Fuca closed, I've moved over to Crystal Pool for the month and am enjoying the 50m lanes. The only downside was waking up yesterday morning with yet another ear infection! Let’s hope Santa puts some earplugs in my stocking.

All that said, I am definitely looking forward to a couple weeks of easier, active recovery over the Christmas break and then really getting going in the New Year.

There are new goals to be set, new challenges to be had.



MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gunner Shaw - Race Report

When I lined up to tackle the snow and ice covered trails around Thetis Lake on the weekend, I really didn’t know much about Gunner Shaw or the 26th Annual Memorial 10K Cross Country Classic that I was about to take part in (aside from a few stories about the massive puddles and the "lakeside" finish line). So, today, before writing this report, I figured I would do a little reading.

What I learned…
Gunner Shaw sounds like he was a pretty neat person, whose friends and family obviously loved him immensely. I imagine he would be proud of the event they have created to honour and remember him. [Visit here for some good articles from the Prairie Inn Harriers website].

I also learned that this is one tough race! (Although, I guess technically, I learned that on the weekend).


So, on to the race report.

The short version... I struggled!

The Long version... Well, it was a beautiful (but chilly) day and a really fun event that I will definitely do again (especially since they had to cut out the puddles this year due to the fact that they were shear ice that would have sliced and diced us), but I can’t say I necessarily felt that way at every point during the race. The trails were covered in a combination of snow, ice and slush which made finding a good footing for a novice trail runner like myself a bit of a challenge.

As the race began, and Kirsten and Tyler quickly escaped from my sight, I tried to settle into a rhythm with the 500 or so other runners jostling for space around me. Off the roadway and onto the trails, I heard a woman exclaim “well, the easy part is over now!” and you know, I think she was right.

As I climbed the first big hill, the pace slowed to a walk – this was not necessarily of my own choosing, but well, if the person at the front was walking, everyone was walking. I will admit though, aside from nearly (and inadvertently) planting my face in the butt of the guy in front of me, I did enjoy the little walk break.

From there, I held a decent pace for a while, but eventually started noticing a lot more people whipping past me. Up and down, over the rocks and through some pretty thick mud, I trudged along. My stomach started growling horribly about 35-40 minutes in and my quads trembled slightly. I seemed to be holding my body in a rather tense position the whole race, trying not to slip on the snow, which made for an awkward gait and I think tired me out - both mentally and physically.

As I approached the last three hills before the finish, I could hear the roars from the spectators on the beach and knew what laid ahead… the big splash in the lake!

I must say, I think my shining moment of the day was my run through the lake (all those tri practices, entering and exiting the water really paid off, haha). I didn’t get too soaked and even managed to gain a bit of ground on the woman in front of me (granted, I think she may have face planted in the water).

So, yeah, I struggled… but would I do it again? You bet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

... But the fire is so delightful! Too bad I had somewhere to go ;)



This past weekend’s unusual November snowfall kept me from racing in the Bear Mountain 10k, (err, 6.5k - it was shortened due to the weather).

Living at the top of the Malahat, we tend to get a little bit more of the white stuff than everywhere else in the Capital Region. So, when I awoke Saturday morning, we had about a foot of powdery precipitation - and it was still coming down!

The roads were being ploughed, and I probably could have made it down the ‘hat and up the Bear, but being a born and bred Victorian, my confidence with driving in winter weather is not the best. As such, I spent the better part of Saturday morning humming and hawing about attempting the drive down... by the time I finally sucked it up and decided I should head down, I realized I hadn’t cleared the car off yet. As I began uncovering the heap in the driveway, I realized there was no way I was going to make it on time and so I called it quits – car only half uncovered - and played with Rusty in the snow instead (which I think he was quite thankful for).

I’m sorry to have missed the race, but have gotten over it fairly quickly as this weekend I am going to be racing the Gunner Shaw 10k at Thetis. Kirsten and I got out for a run around Thetis on Sunday in an attempt to see the race course. We may have made a wrong turn or two, but it looks like it should be a pretty fun one.

Here’s hoping the weather cooperates!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Maui Love

Late last night (well, actually, early this morning) I returned from a week of basking in the sun (and replenishing my vitamin D stores) in Maui. It was a somewhat impromptu trip, only planned about 3 weeks prior, when Shane and I decided to throw caution to the wind and join some friends who would be in the "aloha state" for a wedding.

We arrived last Friday night to a bit of a rain storm, but that was the last we would see of any sort of precipitation. The weather was phenomenal and the laid back vibe of Kihei town was absolutely amazing.

We snorkeled, we explored, we ate, we drank, we hiked a volcano, we boogie boarded, we surfed, we took silly sunset 'jump' photos, we didn't get attacked by sharks and we had more than a few beach days! It was pretty much everything you could ask for in a tropical vacation.



















I was also able to squeeze in a bit of training (turns out it is all I ever think about). Part of me would have liked to have done more, but it was a vacation after all. ;)

Leading up to said vacation, my desire to run had really been lacking, but it felt like as soon as we touched base on Hawaiian soil running was all I wanted to do! I was lucky enough to be able to get in more than a few great runs around Kihei and Wailea (which is very very hilly). The heat was often intense, but wow, it’s amazing how breaking such a fierce sweat can make you feel so good!

On top of running, I enjoyed a fun swim workout at Kihei’s outdoor community pool. It was so neat to be swimming laps in a pool and be able to look over and see a palm tree in your peripheral. I would have liked to have taken advantage of the pool a little more, but the schedule didn’t always work with the day’s activities.







The only thing that was missing was having a road bike to get out and explore the hilly roads of Maui... but, I suppose I had to save something for next time!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Is that all you ever think about?"

"Is that all you ever think about?"

This was the text response that greeted me when I sent Shane a note on my way home one night and asked if he still wanted to go for a run when I got there. I think my very un-witty response at the time was something along the lines of, "no, not always", but in fact it should have been "Running? Nah, I think about swimming and biking too” [ba dum bum]

Seriously though, it is not all I ever think about, but triathlon (and fitness and health in general) do consume a good portion of my mind and thoughts. That said, lately, I’m finding it a bit difficult to get these thoughts on [virtual] paper. Maybe writing a ‘triathlon blog’ while in the triathlon off-season isn’t that easy? Perhaps, it’s the lack of races on the horizon; or maybe even the grey weather outside that seems to strip me of my desire to do anything but laze around in front of the wood stove and watch horrible television (oh, and workout and think about triathlon of course, haha).

That said, while my desire to write has been lacking, I have been keeping up with a pretty consistent training schedule in preparation for the Bear Mountain 10k on November 20.

Part of me dreads this race. Like a serious, full on, “why did I sign up for this” dread. The thought of ‘Baby Bear’ ‘Mama Bear’ and ‘Papa Bear’ make me cringe a little every time I think of them. But of course, another part of me remembers how fun it was last year. Sure, I took it really slow (treating it more as an easy training day than a race) and I even walked a little (which I plan NOT to do this year) but there is something about this race that really is appealing. Maybe it’s the challenge, or the thrill of competing in “Canada’s Hardest 10k” or even just the good old grass roots feel, or the fact that you get a Lululemon t-shirt this year. Whatever it is, I’ll be there. Ready to take it on as a race this year and not just an easy training day.

Watch out Papa Bear… I’m coming for you ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Race Report – Victoria Half Marathon

Well, where to begin….
I guess, in short, I felt like this past Sunday at the Goodlife Fitness [Royal] Victoria Marathon was a pretty solid race for me.

I had been feeling a different sense of nerves coming into this race. Maybe a bit of fear (a slight fear of a self-perceived “failure” perhaps?). I’m not 100% sure, but I suppose I really only say failure for lack of a better word. It’s more the sense that I know the day is going to come that I might not set a new PB, and even if it’s a great race, I think that part of me will be slightly disappointed. I guess I just always want every race to be better than the last – make sense? Anyway, I could be completely wrong about how I will feel when the day comes, but I obviously wasn’t ready to find out this week. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. I finished with a chip time (and a new PB) of 1:50:51.

I got up fairly early in order to partake in my regular pre-race ritual of cereal and a small cup of coffee. Following that, I headed down to my parent’s place to meet them and Kirsten for the drive into town. After a quick pit-stop at Mom’s office to use the loo it was time to join the thousands of other runners and wait for the starter's pistol.

As I stood silently among the masses, I saw an acquaintance/friend (future-training-partner?) a few feet away. I knew we ran a similar pace, and thought about having a chat and seeing if she wanted to run together, but then I remembered some of the horrible races I’ve had because I’ve tried to run someone else’s race (the 2010 TC 10k sure springs to mind). So with visions of my crappy TC 10k dancing in my head, I decided to stay put, be a bit unsocial and just run my own race.

[Of Note: After the race I checked out my acquaintance/friend’s time, and she finished about 30 seconds back from me, so we probably would have been great running partners for this race….].


I felt like I started out at a pretty good pace. I was comfortable and relaxed, but not too too relaxed. I had written some pace times on my hand as I usually do, but quickly realized I had written them down wrong (don’t ask), so after about 2k I decided to ignore my watch and just run. I’ve been doing a lot of my training on perceived effort lately, and right now, it seems to be working for me.

Down Cook Street I enjoyed listening to the people around me chat, and even had a few good chuckles from some girls behind me who were convinced it was “all down hill from here to the water” – I guess they forgot about that little loop through Beacon Hill.

Near Ross Bay Cemetery I got to see a full moon! Some poor woman didn’t make it to the porta-potty and squatted right on the side of the road. The guy beside me let out a loud grumbly “that’s disgusting” but I thought it was kinda funny – or maybe I was just thankful it wasn’t me. I also think she probably thought she was a little more hidden by the bushes than she actually was, haha. The things you see on race day!

From 10k through to the turn around I started to see more and more people that I know, which came as a nice distraction from the actual running. Back onto Dallas Road, I was a bit taken aback by the headwind that seemed to have come out of nowhere and I definitely had to re-check myself mentally and just remember to push through. I did a lot of training runs along Dallas Road this year compared to previous years and think it was quite helpful to know how long the “climbs” were and when the downs started, etc.

As I approached Ogden Point I saw my friend Robyn on the side of the road. She is a great cheerleader and definitely gave me a little boost. I knew it was just a few more corners and a couple more km’s and I would be at the end… happily finished for the day.

With about 500m to go I looked at my watch for the first time since the half way marker and noticed I was just under 1:50. (I will admit I kicked myself a little for not looking sooner – who knows, maybe I could have gone sub 1:50?). That said, I did try to pick it up a bit for the last little stretch past the crowds and made it across the line feeling pretty strong.


Once I grabbed some food and chocolate milk, my parent’s and I headed out toward Oak Bay to see Kirsten on the marathon route. It was a lot of fun cheering on all the runners (my Dad is the best cheer-er out there, without question). We managed to see Kirsten 3 times before heading back to the finish line. She looked really strong each time we saw her, and the finish was no different. She finished in 3:50:57.


So, big congratulations to everyone who raced and of course, thank you to all the many volunteers who helped make the day a great one. Oh, and the weather – thank you for not raining on us!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Everybody Poops

Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good poo story. Not to mention the fact that, well, I have had my fair share of "close calls". Needless to say, when I read this article, I just couldn't resist re-posting.

It happens
"Uh-oh" moments are more frequent in sports than fans realize


AFTER RACING NEARLY 140 miles, first through the ocean, then across the blackened lava fields of Kona, Hawaii, Julie Moss crested the final hill of the 1982 Ironman Triathlon alone in front, hovering near delirium. She was also about 45 seconds from becoming, as she remembers it, "the ultimate, giant, chocolate mess."

Since the 16-mile mark of the marathon, Moss, a vivacious 23-year-old with a shock of red hair, had managed to hold back the field as well as the considerable contents of her intestines. Suddenly, like a beacon in the Pacific twilight, a Sizzler steak house appeared, cool and inviting, atop the hill on Palani Road. Almost a half mile from the finish, Moss had a gastronomical gamble to make. She gazed back and forth, evaluating her options -- relief by way of the Sizzler bathroom in front, an evaporating lead in the inky darkness behind -- all the while contemplating the ultimate unspeakable taboo almost every elite athlete faces at some point.

Do I stop? Or go?

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mixed Bag

I feel like I’ve had lots of thoughts and ideas for my “next great blog post” running through my mind lately, and yet, I can’t seem to develop these ideas into anything more than a brief thought. So, I’ve decided it’s time for a bit of a mixed-bag, a quick and random update on a few things that have been sharing space in my head (in no particular order of course).

1) Crazy is as Crazy Does…. As I prep for the half marathon this weekend, Kirsten has been busily preparing for an even bigger challenge – she is set to take on the FULL marathon again this Sunday. While we haven’t been doing a lot of training together, we have managed to get in a few long runs on the weekends. I realized the other day that I had repeatedly been telling her she’s crazy for wanting to run the marathon. Of course, I was joking, but then it hit me – what a mean “joke”. So, no more of that. I have decided to stop telling her she’s crazy – because she is far from it. She’s an amazing runner who has an incredible drive to push her limits. She’s ambitious and talented, and far from crazy. I have good feelings about this race for her and can’t wait to cheer her on at the finish line. Her goals will be met. I’ve no doubt.

2) I have good co-workers…. As I was leaving work the other night to “run home” [in actuality, I run from my office to Colwood where I meet my Mom and get a ride the rest of the way – I do not run up the Malahat] I realized I’m pretty lucky to have co-workers who are actually kind of interested in hearing about my training and don’t think I’m a freak for liking endurance sports. While I may have gotten a few strange looks the first time I mentioned I was “running home” they don’t judge me for going for a run on my lunch break or any of the other “strange” things I do. I’m not sure this would be the same in every office environment and I appreciate it.

3) Race Week = Race Jitters…. I’ve still been up and down, back and forth about how this weekend’s race will go. More and more each day I’m starting to think I can beat my PB, so well, fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a bit of a taper and can’t wait for some carbo-loading, haha.

4) A Glorious Return to the Pool…. Just over 2 weeks ago, Kirsten and I got inked. That’s right, Ironman tattoos. I know some people think its a little cliché, and well, maybe it is, but I don’t care. I’m loving my new little mark. I feel like it will be a good reminder of the accomplishment - an icon of my epic journey. Also, I figure it will be a good motivator to stay in shape as I'd be really embarrassed walking around with it on my body if I totally let myself go. Anyway, because of the tattoo, I had to stay out of the water for 2 whole weeks! For someone who loves epsom salts baths tremendously, and well, loves swimming too, it was torture. Thankfully, I made it through and yesterday I had my first swim in far too long. The pool was surprisingly busy, and yet, it didn’t really matter. Swimming is the best!

5) Speed Demon in the making…. I had a chat with Kelly recently to discuss the coming months and my goals for next season. I’d been feeling really wishy-washy about “the off-season” but knew I wanted a little less structure, while still maintaining fitness and preparing for whatever comes next. As for what comes next, in short, I've decided next season I want to get fast! Well, faster than I currently am at least. Initially I felt like this was kind of a broad and maybe somewhat immeasurable goal, but after talking to Kelly, I think we’ve got a game plan. I’m going to be focusing on shorter distances (mainly sprints) and really pushing myself to see where my limits are. I’ve never loved speed work as much as longer, slower, endurance blocks, so I think it’s going to be a really great challenge and will give me a new push in a different direction. Times trials will become my friend :)

Well, I'm sure there is more, but I figure that is all that is fit to print at the moment.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here I go again...

Well, it’s that time again - time to get back to a bit of a focus on running and gear up for the Royal Victoria Marathon (sorry, Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon). The RVM (really, I can’t call it anything else) has become somewhat of a yearly tradition for me. While I only took part in the festivities for the first time in 2007 (at that time, running my first 8k ever, followed by my first half marathon the following year), it has slowly become a staple race in my repertoire and one that I really look forward to each year.

This year I will take on the half marathon again. Of course, my ultimate goal is to beat my personal best time that I set last year. Although if it doesn’t happen, I hopefully won’t be too crushed. I’m in a bit of a funny state building into this race, as I know I am completely capable of taking down my previous PB, but I’m also not 100% sure if this year will be the year.

I’m not trying to make excuses; I just don’t want to set unrealistic expectations on myself. I suppose the reason I’m waffling like this is due to Ironman. I feel like I have recovered quite well from the race and all the training that lead up to it, and yet at the same time, there is a deep fatigue (both mentally and physically) that is hard to explain. I’ve been enjoying my workouts for the most part, but will admit it’s been taking a little more effort to get myself out the door, followed by a little bit longer to get warmed up and little more anticipation for the workout to be done.

The last two weekends have been split with good and bad workouts. I’ve had a rough interval workout on each Saturday, (where I think I’m either going to pass out or puke), followed by a decent long run on Sunday.

This past Sunday’s long run in particular actually went quite well. Kirsten and I headed out for two loops of the lakes with some good efforts thrown in. During a 30 minute half race pace effort, I struggled a little and questioned whether or not I could realistically hold that pace for 21.2k as opposed to say, 5 or 6, but I felt like I finished strong and was pleased with the workout on a whole. Mind you, thankfully Kirsten was there to push me to keep going or I may not have felt quite so good about it. Hard to know for sure.


Now, all that said, I suppose I should address the state of my blog. I thought with a new year of training and new goals ahead that a new look was in order. I’m not 100% sure I’m satisfied with the new look quite yet, so it may change once or twice more, but well, I’m sure I’ll get there.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Wristband

I came across the following post in the Slowtwitch Forums today. It put a smile on my face and made me feel the need to share.

Anyway, I’m not sure what kind of credit you need to give when you copy something off a public ‘forum’ but the following was posted by “no good” on Sep 15, 2010 at 19:44.

--------------------
Ironman Canada wristband and my naive reverie

I'm still sporting my IMC wristband 2 1/2 weeks after the race.

2010 was my 12th banding at IMC, but I'm finding it hard to part with this year's fluorescent green reminder. Maybe I'm trying to prolong my IMC experience, hoping to stave off the post traumatic IM doldrums. Maybe I'm just too lazy to find a scissors. Maybe I like neon green.

But neon green is not subtle. So, the cynic might say it's my subliminal eddy sucking the unsuspicious into an Ironman "all about me" conversation ad nauseum. Maybe.

My yearly pilgrimage to Penticton is the celebration of a lifestyle that allows me to participate in something bigger than myself. I get to don the costume of an Ironman, and sate in the accolades of ten thousand cheers. My joy graciously on loan vicariously to those nameless faces. So akin to the last mile of IMC, vicarious is a two way street. And I reap much more than I sow.

The patience of the volunteer at registration, working a double shift. The innocence of the little kid asking for my glowstick, then shyly asking for my autograph. The respect from the old folks sitting for hours, with bodies betrayed by time. Their barely audible cheers are deafening to me, and it is I who now betrays them, as I shuffle by, my pained acknowledgment and labored thank you belying my true gratitude. The Spartan volunteers at Yellow Lake, aka Ice Station Zebra. The awe, wonder, apprehension and fear on faces of Ironvirgins. The excitement of the finish line, building up to Midnight.

And the humbling experience afterward, while walking to my car along Winnipeg, as the crowd emptied onto the course. Up ahead I hear the din of excitement, I see the horde part, and a lone runner emerges from the darkness. People gasp in amazement, stopping to applaud and cheer what they are seeing. She is determined to cross the finish line, still over a mile away. I'm honored to celebrate her triumph, and overwhelmed with pride to witness her determination, as she passes me by. You go girl. Congratulations. You are an Ironman.

So I've got this plastic wristband that I haven't taken off yet. I think I'll keep it on just a bit longer.

http://noel-ironman.blogspot.com/

--------------------

I must admit, that while I did take my wristband off when I got home from Penticton, I secretly didn’t want to. Not to mention the fact, that for me, 2.5 weeks out, I find myself periodically logging onto Facebook just to look at the picture of Kirsten and I crossing the finish line. It takes me to a happy place.

Friday, September 10, 2010

By the Numbers

Well, it’s been nearly 2 weeks since Ironman. I must admit, I feel a bit lazy. I know it’s important to take time to recover (and I have been) and while I’ve still been doing some sort of workout everyday, it’s just so little compared to what it was. Part of me can understand the whole “Post-Ironman Depression” thing… it’s like, okay, the race is over - now what?

Anyway, with all my extra time I decided it would be neat to go back through my training log and see what I’ve actually done since the “official” start of my training for IMC last November (November 1st, 2009 to be exact).

So, here’s my Ironman training “By the Numbers”
Months: 10
Weeks: 43
Days: 300
Completed Workouts: 357
Skipped and/or Missed Workouts: 12
Days off: 48
Races: 5 (2 running, 3 triathlons… not including IMC)
Swim Workouts = 115
Bike Workouts = 92
Run Workouts = 129
Other Workouts = 21

I wanted to include hours spent and km’s covered as well, but when I started going through every single workout, it seemed like a really really big task, and well, I don’t have that much free time.

Next on the agenda is the Royal Victoria Half Marathon. I just signed up last night, so I guess now I’m committed :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

IMC Photos

A few photos from Penticton and IMC 2010.




Kirsten showing her strength to Richter on our drive of the bike course.


Getting some pre-race pointers from Lisa Bentley on the Friday before the race.


The finish chute being set up.


Waiting in line. Something that you do a lot of during Ironman week. This time it was for the carbo load dinner on Friday night.


Trying to get a good shot of all the athletes at the Welcome Banquet / Carbo Load.




After dropping off our bikes and transition bags on Saturday.








Race morning (pre-warmup swim).








The start of the Yellow Lake climb.


Mom cheering her guts out as I near the end of the bike.


Our amazing fans.




FINISH LINE!!!








The day after - going to wait in some more lines to look at finisher photos.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ironman Canada 2010 – Race Report

Oh gosh, where to start...
Well, maybe with a warning - this is probably going to be a long post!

Second has to be a kajillion thanks....
Thank you Shane for your patience and support - words cannot express my love and appreciation.
Thank you Mom and Dad for believing I can do anything and encouraging me to go after my dreams.
Thank you Kelly for preparing me, not only physically, but also mentally... and for acting as much as a psychiatrist in the final weeks as a coach.
Thank you to everyone who stood by me this year and supported me. To those who left me alone when I was tired or stressed. Thanks to those who encouraged me and offered words of support when I needed them most. To those who didn’t complain when I deserted them for training. To those who understood what this journey meant.
Last but not least, thank you Kirsten... without you this journey and this achievement would never have been the same. I’m so happy we conquered this together.

Ok, onto the race report.

Overall, I’m really happy with the day that I had. As noted in one of my last posts, one of my main goals was definitely to enjoy the race and to try and avoid any negative thoughts. I’m not going to lie and say it was all peaches, as I definitely had a few moments on the bike where I was a bit down, but overall I think I was able to just take it all in and was left with an largely positive memory of the day.

Kirsten and I got to the race site quite early. It was weird not having to set up transition (as we had checked our bags in the day before with our bikes) and I think both of us felt like we could have come a little later. That said it was nice to soak up the atmosphere. We got into our wetsuits fairly quickly and when the beach opened at 6:10 we headed across the timing mat and down to the water for a little warm up. We also got to see our family for a little pre-race chat and photos. While we ended up hanging out on the beach for a while after warming up, I’m still really glad we did this, as it helped calm my nerves and it was nice to get a warm up in without thousands of other people around.

I started on the beach and slowly walked into the water after the gun went off. I'm pretty sure I heard the announcer say about 2 or 3 minutes had passed by the time I actually made it to the "start line" and started swimming. I wouldn't say I was swimming my absolute hardest, but I was able to find a pretty good rhythm and was happy that I managed to stay relaxed and, I think, pretty focused throughout. I swam rather close to the buoy line on the way out; got a bit disoriented at the turn (you go around two houseboats. I saw the first one just fine, but didn't see the second houseboat right away and was a bit confused by a sailboat that was also out there). After the second turn I realized I was quite wide, but had pretty clear water and a good site line, so I just stayed wide and made my way back toward shore.

There were so many people coming out of the water at the same time as me that I couldn't really run up into transition, so I just got in line and walked on up to the wetsuit strippers. I must say, it was pretty fun getting my suit whisked off – definitely much quicker than when I do it on my own. The change tent was packed, so I definitely got a bit excited and just whipped my gear on and headed out. I had originally planned to stop and use the washroom, but totally forgot in my excitement (this became a factor not long into the bike).

The start of the bike was fun. I feel like everyone told me not to get too caught up in the excitement and not to go too hard up Main Street, so I tried to keep this in mind, but I definitely just wanted to go. The crowds on the side of the street definitely added to the excitement.

About the time I hit the Skaha Marina, I realized I really really had to use the washroom, so just before McLean Creek Rd I knew I couldn't put it off any longer and had to make a quick pit stop. A friendly spectator on the side of my road held my bike for me and jokingly assured me he wouldn’t change my gears or eat any of my gels. Soon enough I was back on the road and rolling along. There was a hilarious guy mid-way up the McLean Creek hill standing in the back of his truck with a loud speaker and a microphone blaring the Rocky theme and encouraging everyone as they tackled the climb. On the descent I narrowly avoided running over a young duck that had walked out into the road – hopefully he made it safely through the maze of bikes as they went flying past. From there, it was onto Osoyoos. I felt like I found a decent pace without “killing it” and just kind of took in the atmosphere of the day.

Then came Richter.... I struggled a little with Richter this time around. I'm not sure why, but it just felt incredibly long compared to when we had done it in training. Kirsten caught me and passed me on the climb which, admittedly, was a bit of a punch in the gut. I felt like I had been moving along well and then there she went quickly and smoothly past me – looking great. That said, the descent perked me back up (I love a good descent) and I was feeling really strong as I headed into the first few rollers. Coming down the 3rd or 4th roller (I can't really remember which one) – pfft – I got a flat! My first thought was of course - CRAP! - but I pulled off to the side and remembered in the grand scheme of things it wasn't going to take that long to make the repair (I think Kelly’s voice actually went through my mind, reminding me to stay calm and just work at a relaxed speed). I got my tire off the rim pretty quick (which is usually what I struggle with) and found the cause of the problem without too much trouble (a big metal sliver). That said, it was so embedded in the tire, it took me a bit to actually get it out. I could have used a pair of tweezers! I did eventually get it out, got my new tube in, and then the race support pulled up. They gave my change job the once over for me, pumped up my tire so I didn’t have to mess with the C02, put my wheel back on my bike and I was on my way. I really have no idea how long I was on the side of the road, but it was long enough that I never saw the people I had been riding near before and was sort of with a new group for the rest of the ride.

There was a pretty strong headwind from the end of the rollers through to the turn off for the out and back, so I was happy when I finally got to the out and back turn off and got a little reprieve from the winds. Also, I was nicely distracted on the way out looking for Kirsten. I took a quick stop at special needs, and then got going again. This is about the time I started to struggle a little and had a harder time shaking some negative feelings. The headwind was back and took a lot out of me (as I'm sure it did everyone out there), my stomach started really churning and I had to make yet another stop at the washroom just before Keremeos (which is rare for me, as I can often get through a long training day without any bathroom breaks). The stretch from Keremeos to the bottom of Yellow Lake was hard. I just didn't feel good and had some moments where I just wanted to stop and walk. This was definitely the down point of my day, and definitely the spot where I had the hardest time refocusing and pushing away the negativity. Thankfully my family was at the bottom of Yellow Lake so that perked me up a bit and I actually felt really good on the last big climb. I passed quite a few people and felt like I had a nice solid cadence the whole way up and overall, just a really strong climb. It was a nice turning point after having felt so down for the last hour or so. Cresting the top of Yellow Lake was one of the best feelings and the descent back into town was a huge boost – definitely one of my favourite parts of the day!

My 2nd transition was a little calmer. I sat and took my time getting my run gear on and making sure I had everything, and also remembered to hit the toilets. The extra time and the calmer mind frame definitely helped and I felt good as I started the run. Also, a neat little pick me up as I left T2 was unexpectedly seeing my cousin who had come down from Kelowna to cheer us on. I had no idea he was going to be there!

Like I had planned, I walked every aid station and just tried to focus on one mile at a time. My stomach still wasn't too happy and there was no way I was taking any more gels, but I carried some Clif Blocks and Sport Beans with me and slowly just munched on them as I went. I also made a point of taking in some Gatorade and water at every aid station on the way out, whether I wanted it or not. Kelly was on his bike and at one point pulled up beside me for a quick chat (which was a great distraction). I felt really great until about the 10 mile marker – which happened to be around the time the first big hill hit. I ended up walking up that hill, but sort of a 'power walk' and found I was actually passing most people who were running, so I felt ok about it. At the top of the hill, I ran again down to my special needs bag where I restocked my Clif Blocks and tried to sip on some Boost (which wasn’t happening). My hips were really sore by the time I hit the turn around and I was feeling a bit tired, and so I decided to walk up the big hills out of OK Falls as well. I had met a really nice girl from Alaska near the start of the run and she caught back up to me as I walked out of OK Falls. She seemed to be feeling similar to me, so we chatted and kept each other going for a bit in a run/walk routine. It was a really nice distraction to have someone to talk to. Once we started running again, she started to fade a bit, so I went on ahead. Not long after that, I heard Kirsten call me as I was leaving an aid station (she was just coming out of the toilet). She had been experiencing horrible stomach issues and was having to stop at nearly every aid station. As bad as I felt for her and the stomach issues she was having, I was really excited to see her and to know we would finish together. I think we were together for probably the last 15km or so and it was a pretty routine last 15k. Kirsten had to stop at pretty much every toilet, so I would take that as an opportunity for an aid station and walk break. Then she would catch back up with me and we would run until she had to stop again, and then, well, we'd repeat that same routine over and over. I was so happy to be running with Kirsten and I think she kept me moving a bit quicker than if I had been on my own. Actually, when we were running I think we were keeping a decent pace. I drank coke for most of the way back, and it actually really hit the spot. It was so nice to have something different!

We didn't stop at the last two aid stations. I think we both realized we had a good shot at making it in under 14 hours, so we pushed on. Turning onto Lakeshore for the last out and back before the finish line we saw my cousin, and then almost immediately after our family. It was so neat to see all the people and know we were almost done. Just after the final turn around, someone told us we had 8 minutes and less than a km to go to make it under 14. We knew we had it.

Coming down the finishers chute was pretty incredible. We grabbed each other’s hands, threw a fist pump or two (well, at least I did) and crossed the finished line together in 13:56:16. Finishing together truly was the perfect end to an incredible journey. I really could not have asked for anything better.


Of course, part of me thinks I could have gone faster or pushed harder, but if I did, I don't know that I would have enjoyed myself as much, and really, aside from the little bit of down time on the bike, I felt really happy for most of the day and think I accomplished my goal of just taking it all in. I also thought it would be a few weeks before I had the "I could do that again" feeling, but it pretty much hit me right away. I can see why people end up doing Ironman year after year after year.

So, IMC 2012 anyone? ;)


As for the blog, I know the reason I began it was to chronicle my Ironman journey, but well, it’s been oddly therapeutic, so who knows, maybe I’ll keep it going. (Oh, and a photo post will definitely follow shortly). Anyway, I’m thinking the RVM Half Marathon is the next race on the agenda.... so, stay tuned?

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Enjoy.

Well, here I sit, in Penticton. 3 days, 20 hours (and change) until the cannon fires and the race officially begins. The last few days have been pretty good. I’m definitely enjoying the taper and some down time. I had a decent run yesterday along the channel here in Penticton.... Even though its pancake flat, I really like running along the little waterway. On the way out I felt like a gazelle, smooth and quick – then I turned around and realized the wind had been at my back the whole time! Needless to say, the second half of the run wasn’t quite as graceful (although it was slightly faster so that was nice).

....

This morning Kirsten and Tyler are in Kelowna visiting a friend, Shane and his Dad are out shooting guns (boys) and Di is at work, so it’s just me and the silence. I figure I’ll take this quiet time to write down my race plan and then just put it away until Saturday. I want to give the day some good thought, but then get it out of my brain for a few days.

Last night we had a visit with Sue, one of Di’s friends who did Ironman last year. I remember seeing her after she crossed the finish line and thinking how great she looked. At that moment I remember saying “I want to look as good and as happy as Sue when I finish next year” and that thought still holds true. She gave us some good tips and thoughts about the day, and like everyone her biggest piece of advice was “Enjoy the day!” Take it in, love it, don’t worry about the weather or other people or the things you can’t control. Just enjoy it. So, I suppose, that really is my race plan:

Enjoy. Stayed relaxed. Eat. Enjoy. Drink. Enjoy some more. Remember to smile. Enjoy.

....

Penticton really is an amazing little town and it sure does embrace Ironman and all the competitors. I love seeing all the business marquees welcoming athletes and wishing the racers good luck. As well, all the well wishes I’ve received from friends and family; be it in person, over the phone, over email or even facebook have been amazing too. It’s neat to feel the support of so many people – to have so many people from such different aspects of my life, all rooting for me on this one day. So thank you.

Tomorrow we will head down to Okanagan Park to register and check in, and then Friday is the big carbo load dinner and welcome. I’m looking forward to experiencing every bit of Ironman that I can this week.

....

Anyway, as you can probably tell from this post, my thoughts are a little scattered, so I should probably sign off. Time to get my race plan on paper and turn off my brain.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Penticton Bound

Well, the taper is officially here and the last of my workouts in Victoria are complete. I’ve swum my last 2 loops of the big island at Thetis for the season. I’m packed and ready to go. In an hour or so we depart for Penticton. Less than one week until the big day!

It’s somewhat surreal...

When this journey began a year ago it sort of felt like race day would never actually get here. Even as the season got underway and the half irons and other pre-Ironman races slowly came and went, it always still felt as if it would never actually get here. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs emotionally this week (but have been assured that comes with the taper) and am now feeling pretty ready.

I’m nervous, but excited.


[More to come from Penticton]

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where was I?

Well, where to begin....

The past 10 days or so have been slightly different. Following an extremely soggy (but fun) 6hr ride in the rain up to Nanaimo a week ago Saturday (August 7), I took my training to Washington, DC! Well, actually I was in National Harbor, Maryland… but DC sounds better. Oh, and it wasn’t really an Ironman training trip, as much as a work training trip – a big ol’ Tessitura conference. [Tessitura is the software I use at work].

I’ll admit, I was very worried leaving home and my training routine so close to the race. I was afraid by being away I might screw something up. Of course, this wasn’t the case. In fact, it may have actually been a good thing, as it allowed me to focus on something other than triathlon for a few days. Yes, actually, now that I’m back, I can say with confidence that it was a good break for me mentally. The conference was pretty full on, so I didn’t really get a lot of down time, but I was able to get most of my workouts in, and found that by being so busy with the conference my mind wasn’t completely consumed by thoughts of Ironman.

While in “the Nation’s Capital” I got up early each morning to get my workouts in before breakfast and the daily conference sessions. The first thing on order each day was a swim. I was very lucky that the hotel pool was 25m long and always had one lane roped off for length swimming. The pool was oddly choppy (the filtration system I think?), a little murky/dirty and had no lines on the bottom, so it was kind of like swimming in an over-chlorinated square lake.

The fitness centre was very nice, but extremely busy. I had a great run workout on the treadmill one day, but opted to skip my other treadmill workout later in the week to participate in the conference 5k fun run. The course for the 5k was 3 loops around the resort and conference centre, with one very long gradual uphill and one equally as long downhill on each loop. It started early in the morning, but I would guess the temperature was still 30+ degrees (or hotter) – and humid! There were probably about 60-70 conference goers (aka. Tessiturians) who participated in the race, and I’m very proud to report that I was the 4th female to cross the line – 7th overall. While the competition maybe wasn’t the stiffest, I was still pretty pleased with the outcome. I’ve never been near the front the pack before and it felt pretty good. It was also quite nice to race in the heat, and while it wasn’t my fastest 5k ever, it was definitely up there.

One other “training session” that wasn’t your typical swim, bike or run – but was definitely a highlight – was a walking tour of many of the monuments and memorials that dot the capital. The reason I’m opting to categorize this as training, is simply for the fact that we walked for about 2 hrs in approximately 37+ degree heat (again, plus extreme humidity).

I arrived back home in Beautiful BC on Friday morning (about 15 hours later than planned due to a massive thunderstorm in DC and an unplanned stay at the Not-So-Quality Inn in Toronto) and pretty much got right back into training with my last long ride on Saturday and last long run on Sunday.

Saturday’s ride was pretty good. Kirsten and I explored some different roads in and around Victoria and, I must say, after these last two long rides I’m starting to feel like I’ve got my ‘on the bike’ nutrition pretty dialed. The stomach upset has definitely been kept to a minimum (yay!). I did have one small crash (okay, I turtled) that resulted in many many bruises on my knees and one big ol’ raspberry on my right knee cap, but my bike was okay, and I actually didn’t bleed quite as profusely as I would have expected.

Sunday’s long run was decent as well. I opted to head out in the midday heat, and well, it was hot. Very hot. Kirsten was away, so Shane accompanied me on his bike and was a complete life saver, as he carried water bottles for me, and even went to the store to get some cold water half way through the run to dump on my head and neck. It was a slow go, and I felt a bit sick at the end of it, but overall, I kept a pretty consistent pace and was pleased to have made it through.

I can't believe there is just under two weeks to go… thank goodness the taper is finally here :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The final dress rehearsal...

I sat down today thinking it was Wednesday and that I should probably try and update the ol’ blog since it feels like it's been forever since I did write something. Then I realized it was Thursday and it’s only been just over a week since I last wrote. Anyway, ramblings aside, I’m a bit shocked at how quickly the past week has gone by. I feel like I’ve been lost in a whirlwind of training and working and wanting to sleep, but not really ever feeling like I’m getting to do that enough. My house and bed seem like this foreign land that I only get to visit in a dream.

I’ve been trying really hard to maintain my positive thinking that I vowed in last week’s blog post, and some days it’s there and comes easily. Then some days I’m overwhelmed with exhaustion and the only outlet is emotion, not necessarily negativity, just emotion. My fear of the unknown (the race) and my need for more sleep seems to come out in tears. Inevitably someone will ask me what is wrong, and my answer is usually “I don’t know.” And really, I don’t, it’s just the way my emotion manifests itself I suppose. In tears.

I went for a massage this morning and Lysanne asked me if I was at that point where I was tired, and sick of training, and just wanted the race to be here and to be done with things. It was weird, I couldn’t help but answer yes – that is exactly how I’ve been feeling. Every feeling she described was pretty much like hitting a nail on the head. She laughed and said “Perfect. You’re right where you should be then.” Oddly, that statement made me feel better.

All that said, while training has been more of a slog this week from a mental standpoint, I’ve been pushing through and getting it done.

As mentioned in my last post, we traveled to Penticton for the long weekend. I had a great chat with Kelly on the Thursday night before we left and was feeling really confident going into the weekend even though I was feeling a bit drained.

On Saturday we took on the bike course. It wasn’t as hot a day as I expect August 29th will be (it was a bit overcast), but it was still warm none the less. The ride felt different from the last time we did it, maybe because I knew what to expect a little bit more. Oddly, Richter felt a little harder than I remembered, and Yellow Lake felt a little easier. Coming back into town and down Main Street we managed to get stopped at every red light and also behind a bus. This stop and start routine sucked a lot of my remaining energy and left me drained for our 20 minute run off the bike. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the best final impression on a day that really wasn’t that bad.

Sunday was time to take on some of the run course. I didn’t feel too bad when I woke up and thought the run would go well. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. As we took our first few steps out of the parking lot at Skaha beach and began heading to OK Falls, I was a bit shocked how tired my legs really were. That said, I think we settled into a nice pace and I felt like everything went really well through the turn around at OK Falls, and even back over the hills on the return trip to Skaha. I think it was probably around the 15/16km mark that I started to fall apart. We hit the flattest part of the run, and I lost focus. My legs began aching with every step. My mind wandered and I questioned my ability. I struggled just to keep up with Kirsten. I wanted to cry. It took me to about 19k to get myself back together. I could do this. It was fine. There was water waiting at the car. Just put one foot in front of the other. I made it back to the car (26k) without walking and was thrilled to be done. Tired and ready to finally relax.

I came out of the weekend a bit shattered, both mentally and physically. I guess really, a bit scared. Thankfully someone reminded me that you never want the dress rehearsal to be your best performance, so I’ve decided I'm putting the weekend behind me and looking ahead. Race day will be different. Better. I can feel it already.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

31 Days

Monday night I had a minor emotional melt down after swimming when I didn’t get enough food in me. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to my last blog post, haha.

Anyway, Kirsten and I are in a final (fingers crossed) big push right now on the training front before our taper begins. I’m still enjoying training, but have been in a slightly strange headspace as I feel like I've been struggling more the normal lately. Of course, this struggle has started to frustrate me a bit - and admittedly, freak me out too. I found myself wondering “is this mental or physical, am I normal or totally abnormal.” Thankfully, when I air all these worries to my psychiatrist (I mean coach) he seems to know the right things to say and is able to offer the reassurance I need. It’s funny too, because he can say all the same things as say, my folks, and yet, it’s somehow received differently (sorry parental units).

All that said, driving home last night after a bike workout, I just had this moment – it hit me – I can do this. I have no doubt I can do this. I will finish and I will have a great time doing it. When I picture myself finishing Ironman, I have never imagined a bad scenario. It’s always a pretty happy, feel good vision, and so I think it’s time to focus solely on the food (haha typo, but I’m keeping it – should say focus solely on the good) and think only positive thoughts for the next 31 days.

So yes, the positive thinking starts now!



Very random picture, but I figure how can you not feel positive when you look at this loveable little man?



Other than that, I suppose a training recap is in order….

We had a fairly big training day on Saturday which consisted of a two loop big island swim at Thetis. From there we hit the bikes and rode up and over the Malahat to Mill Bay, into Shawnigan and around the lake, then back out to Mill Bay and back over the ‘hat. This was followed by a fairly hilly 90 minute run around Thetis and surrounding areas. While I struggled at times on this workout (and unfortunately rolled my ankle about 45 minutes into the run) I was fairly pleased with it, as I think we took on somewhat challenging routes on both the ride and the run.

Sunday was a much needed and much enjoyed rest day! Perfectly timed with the conclusion of le Tour de France. (Yay Ryder!) Oh, how I love le Tour. My Tour withdrawals commenced promptly on Monday morning when I flipped on the TV and realized that OLN was airing yet another episode of Operation Repo or something equally as un-outdoor-life-y.

Since then, the week has been fairly typical for training, (if not a teeny bit heavier than usual) with a solid open water session on Monday night, a fartlek run workout on Tuesday morning and a fartlek bike session in the evening. This morning I hit the pool and also plan on getting in a good ride tonight after work. I was supposed to be running off the bike, but have been given the go ahead to skip this in order to try and heal up my ankle a little as it’s still pretty tender and did not like me running on it yesterday morning.

Looking ahead to the weekend, we’re heading to Penticton for some training on the IMC course and hopefully some relaxing around the pool as well.

Bring on the heat!

Friday, July 23, 2010

EAT!

I'm starting to realize there are actually 5 disciplines in triathlon. The obvious: swim, bike and run. The always important, but sometimes overlooked in practice: transition. And then there is the fifth, the one that without it, you surely wouldn't be able to make it. The ever popular and deliciously delightful numero 5: FOOD, aka. Chow, aka. Nutrition, aka. Fuel. Call it what you will, making sure you eat enough and eat the right things sure is important.

This thought came to mind yesterday as I "practiced" my pre-race eating and hydrating routine in preparation for a pretty major workout this weekend. Oddly enough, as I was filling my face with the most nutritious carby-things I could think, I came across an Arc'teryx interview with Adam Campbell (full interview here). I found myself captivated by one his responses in particular.

".... I believe that you have to be confident that you can suffer and survive. Especially with long races, you are bound to go through mental ups and downs, so it is all about managing these highs and lows. Some of it is just being used to the lows and expecting them, which comes with experience. They can also be managed through nutrition. A great line that I was told is "if you feel good…eat…if you feel bad…eat…" When you nail your nutrition, your emotions are much more even keeled. It's always easy when you are having a good day, but you have to mentally prepare for the worst case scenario."

I suppose this excerpt is not solely about eating or food or nutrition, but it's amazing to me, as I delve deeper into the world of endurance sports what a huge impact food and proper nutrition can have on the outcome of your day (be it race day or otherwise).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On things...

I keep feeling like it’s about time to write a little training recap, but can’t say that anything significant has happened as of late. I’ve been a bit fatigued, but tomorrow is a rest day (yay!) and overall, training has been rolling along well and I feel like I’ve been putting in some solid efforts. A few noteworthy items are below.

On the swim…
Apart from the fact that my ear has revolted against me with a lovely bout of swimmer’s ear, I have been really enjoying the open water swim sessions we’ve been having twice a week out at Thetis. It seems Kelly tells me I need to work on the same thing every session (which I know I do – reach and rotation). Some days I wonder if he gets frustrated by always having to repeat himself or if he thinks I never listen? Anyway, that said, I am taking it all in and trying to work on these things, and I do actually think that slowly but surely, I'm improving. In fact, I am actually feeling really good about the swim lately – it’s maybe just not showing in my stroke quite yet. ;)

On the bike…
I’ve been on the bike a lot in the past week or so – a much higher frequency of shorter rides (although that will change this weekend when the duration ramps right back up). Last night I was back into Trek to get a new set of aerobars and to test yet another seat – and hallelujah, I think I have finally found a saddle worth hanging onto! It is actually the very first saddle I tried when I got my new bike (I guess sometimes you just don’t realize how good something is until you’ve gone and tested out a few of the ‘not-so-good’ variety) and it actually felt – dare I say it – rather comfy on last nights ride.

On the run…
While I’m still not totally in love with running at this point in my tri-life, it is slowly and surely progressing and starting to feel better again. I had a good outing last Sunday in the peak of the midday heat that helped boost my confidence a little. It wasn’t fast, but it was consistent throughout which was nice. I think, at the end of the day, that maybe I’m becoming more capable of fighting through the mental aspect of the aches and pains (??). *Fingers crossed*

On the nerves…
Even though everything seems to be going well, on Monday of this week I had an extreme case of nerves. I’m not sure what brought it on, but when I looked at the good old ‘IMC Countdown’ and saw 47 days staring back at me, my tummy turned on itself and the butterflies began. The nerves have since eased, but I hope they don’t make an appearance again for awhile, as that could make for a very long August.

44 days to go!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Random Inner Monologue

On Wednesday night I had an easy 1.5 to 2hr ride to do. I headed out from our place down toward Shawnigan for a loop around the lake before climbing back up toward Goldstream Heights. On the ride, I noticed that my thoughts were pretty all over the place, so below is an approximation of the incoherent inner ramblings that crossed my mind.


“It’s so nice and sunny and hot. This will be good practice for Penticton.”

“Hmm, shade. Oh well. Still nice.”

“Man this road is bumpy.”

“Draycor sucks.”
[I should say, I don’t know anyone at Draycor, but the guys that drive their pick up trucks have almost run me off the road or run me over more times than I can count on early morning runs, so ‘Draycor sucks’ is a pretty regular thing that goes through my head when I see one of their trucks or excavators working].

“Going down… time for the big descent. No cars. Nice. I wonder how fast I’m going. Need to remember to recharge my Garmin before workouts and get a new bike computer.”

“I have forgotten my Garmin a lot lately.”

“I love my bike. I think I’m moving pretty good.”

“It really is beautiful out tonight.”

“Effing car! That was close.”

“Okay, back at it. It sure is different going this way.”
[I rode in the opposite direction from what I normally do (it’s funny the habits we get in), it was definitely nice to change things up a bit].

“Oh, the Galley hill – it doesn’t look so bad from this direction.”

“No, that wasn’t as bad. I like this way better”

“I love fresh asphalt. Nice and smooth”

“Did that guy just yell at me to get off the road?”
[Indeed, he did. I should say, he was going in the opposite direction, and I was well onto the shoulder on my side of the road, so there is no way I could have been obstructing his drive in any way.]

“What is it with young males that make them feel the need to yell at cyclists? What a knob.”
[The guy yelling occupied my thoughts for a while].

“Hills, hills, hills… Not so bad. Yep, this direction is definitely easier.”

“Really, I can’t believe that guy yelled at me”

“Phew, that was tight. I wonder how many cyclists are hit simply because someone is being impatient.”

“Holy crap, that’s the turn. Hmm, looks different from this angle.”

“Shawnigan really is beautiful.”

“Wowza, another close one. If I make it home tonight unscathed that will be a pretty amazing feat. Maybe riding the lake on a hot summer night during peak commuting hours is not the best idea.”

“This is like my own little Paris-Roubaix, I mean, minus the cobbles, but the bumps sure feel like cobbles.”

“I love le Tour de France. Might need to buy a PVR as I'm sorely missing the re-airing at night.”

“Dickwad! Shoulder check next time buddy… oh wait, he’s waving and apologizing, alright, overreaction on my part. He's not a dickwad.”

“Oh gosh, it’s hill time, maybe I’ll get a flat right now and Shane will have to come pick me up, haha.”

“Nope, no flat. Suck it up princess, it’s not so bad and it’s good practice.”

“Hmm, quads are burning a little, but this doesn’t feel too bad.”

“Almost there.”

“Stay relaxed.”

“The top! Sweetness. Mini-fist-pump.”

“Hmmm…. That didn’t take as long as expected, need to add more time. Stebbings? Yep, Stebbings.”

“I love my bike.”

“Did someone steal my shoes?! No way. Oh my gosh, they are gone. Someone stole my shoes!”
[This thought was as I arrived home. I always walk to the top of our hilly, gravel driveway in my ratty old bright pink crocs and leave them there for when I return. I’ve done this plenty of times, and they are always there waiting for me when I get back. Tonight, this was not the case, someone stole my ugly old crocs out of my driveway.]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vancouver Half Iron – Race Report

Kirsten and I set sail for the mainland on Friday afternoon after at quick stop at Trek to get some aerobars put on my bike for the race. When we arrived in the ‘big city’ we headed directly for the race site and did a loop of the bike route by car. Driving up the big hill from Jericho Beach to UBC worried me a little, but didn’t necessarily stress me. It seemed long, but not too steep to handle. From there, we headed to Kirsten’s friend Leanne’s apartment, where we would be staying for the weekend (which was happily just down the road from the race). She treated us to a feast of the most delicious caramelized onion, roasted mushroom, arugula and goat cheese pizza on homemade dough. Typically, onions and mushrooms are not my favourite thing, but wow, on this pizza it worked.

But I digress….

Saturday was a pretty typical pre-race-day day (so I won’t go into all the long boring details), but I will mention, during our race prep we decided to ride over to the hill at UBC and give it a go. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad at all – much like I suspected in the car, it was long, but not horribly steep (and as Kirsten so eloquently put it “it’s no Yellow Lake”). The rest of the day went something like this: sushi, bike check, package pick-up, race meeting, more delicious food prepared by Leanne, a chill night at ‘home’ and then, sleepy time village.

The morning seemed to come fast and furious. I woke about 3:30 and never really got back to sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30. After the usual morning preparation we headed off to the race. We wanted to be there early enough to get set up and stand in the bathroom line up, as the line was so long at the New Balance Victoria race that Kirsten was practically still in line about 5 minutes before the race start! Luckily, on Sunday, we had plenty of time.

There was a slight chill in the air, and the sky was a little overcast, but it was a decent morning all the same. The water didn’t feel too too cold at that time (probably because of the chill in the air) and soon enough, it was time to get going. The race was an ‘on the beach’ start which is a little different for me, but when the gun finally went off, it was just like any other start. The crowd of competitors filed into the water and we were off.

Of course, what came next was a little unexpected - salt water, choppy waves and ocean currents. (It was only unexpected because 1~ I’ve never done an ocean swim before, and 2~ it looked really calm from the beach). I struggled a little to find my rhythm amidst the chop and all the people and really can’t say I enjoyed the first part of the swim, but I did feel good about being able to regain my composure relatively quickly when I was getting banged around. I also felt like I did fairly well at just focusing on my breath and my stroke. Another different part of this swim for me was the fact that after the first lap you get out of the water, run around a buoy on the beach, and get back in the water again. It felt kinda weird, and was kinda fun at the same time. The second lap was much the same as the first, although, with a little less smashing around with the other people.

With the swim finally complete I made the long run up from the water to the transition area. I had to kind of laugh at myself running through the sand, as it really took a lot out of me! That said, T1 went pretty smooth and I was out on the bike in a little over 2 minutes.

I feel kind of indifferent about the bike leg. I wasn’t disappointed with it by any means, but it wasn’t the best outing on the bike I’ve ever had either. One minor annoyance came almost immediately after the first climb as I noticed a tightness in my groin/adductor/hip flexor area that I just couldn’t seem to shake. I've been testing out different seats since I got my new bike and, well, I’m realizing now, the one I raced on, probably isn’t the right one. Because of this tightness/discomfort I just couldn’t get comfy in my aerobars and did most of my riding either on the tops or in the drops. I felt like I was putting out a pretty consistent and solid effort, but unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I got a bit slower as the laps ticked by. All that said, I did feel like my nutrition went a little better on the bike then at Shawnigan and I did have fun. The out and back style of the route allowed you to see the other competitors both in front and behind you at various points which made it a little less monotonous. With the final descent of the UBC hill behind me, I knew my nemesis, the run, was the only thing standing between me and the finish line.

After a bit of a frazzled T2 [due to my lovely neighbours on the bike rack not leaving me any space and even throwing their stuff on top of mine (or so it seemed)…] I was on my way. Kelly and I had discussed taking the first km to really just shake the kinks out, to go easy and get in a good head space, and I must say this approach definitely helped. As expected I fought what has become my typical calf discomfort for the first 3 or 4km before it flushed out. Thankfully, this time, I found I was better able to talk myself through it. I had also decided before the race that I just needed to look at this as 4 separate 5k’s as I knew I could handle 5k at a time (5k really does sound so much more attainable than 20k, doesn’t it?). From a mental standpoint, this 5k strategy really helped me. I can’t say I was moving too rapidly, but I was moving - and at a consistent pace to boot. I continued to truck along, and am happy to report that there was no walking and no bathroom breaks! (I even passed a handful of people on the run!). I had expected Kirsten to blow past me early on, but I managed to hold her off until about 1.5-2k to go. Of course I didn’t want her to pass me at all, and then when she did, I wanted to stick with her, but by that point in the race, my legs didn’t have a whole lot of pick up left in them – and you know, coming in behind her really didn’t bother me as much as one would expect. When all was said and done, we ended up crossing the finish line about 49 seconds apart and both under 6 hours. Kirsten is 5:56:47 and myself in 5:57:36.

I feel like I did improve on the things that really bothered me about Shawnigan (nutrition and the run specifically) even if they aren't quite perfect yet. I can admit it now – I was really quite scared going into this race. I was worried how I would react mentally if I had another bad run. I didn't want that to be my last big impression going into Ironman. It's hard to explain, but I guess, long story short, I'm quite glad I came out of this race feeling like things improved.

So, I guess, to sum up what has become a very very long post – overall, it was a good day.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do two Half’s make a Full?

This Sunday is race day.
Kirsten and I will be heading over to the mainland for the Subaru Vancouver Triathlon Half IM. (I really hope she doesn’t kick my butt too too badly).

I’ll admit this race has kind of snuck up on me. Shawnigan had so much emotion behind it. Ironman has so much anticipation in the lead up to it. Vancouver, in some weird way, feels a bit like a practice – a final test to make sure I can nail my nutrition; a chance to try and improve my run; a moment to push through the sore calf and the mental ‘instability’ it brings.

That said, I want to do well, and with that feeling of self-imposed expectation comes the nerves. It’s only natural right?


Anyway, my main goals for this race are:
- Nail my nutrition. [aka: no tummy woes and no bathroom breaks… please, please, oh pretty-please, no bathroom breaks]
- Improve on my run from Shawnigan. [aka: a faster time would be ideal, but I think I would be happy if I could get through the run without any walking and with the mental fortitude to realize my calf will stop hurting and that I am strong enough to ignore it]
- Have as much fun at this race as I did at the New Balance Victoria sprint.


3 days until Vancouver… 59 days until Penticton!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Triathlon is my Paris

I have an amazing friend who has a passion for Paris like no other. Paris is her happiness. It is her strength and her dream. She amazes me with her restraint – skipping a coffee or a meal out, all in order to save for that next wonderful escape to a place that makes her feel so complete.**

I came to the realization when I was shopping for my new bike, that triathlon has become my Paris. It is my passion (some might even say - my obsession). It is my escape from reality, my stress reliever, my strength and my confidence. My relationship with triathlon definitely isn't something that everyone can or will understand, but that doesn't matter, because it is mine. It is, and has become, such a large part of what makes me tick and keeps me happy… (and while I rarely skip coffees or meals out, any bit of spare money I have inevitably gets channeled toward something tri related).

That said, I guess every relationship has a rough patch now and again. I say this, because while my love affair with triathlon is growing, at the same time, I have been battling a bit of a love-love/hate relationship during training recently. I feel so great about my swim and my bike right now (the love-love part), like everything is clicking and is where it needs to be, and yet, on the run, all I feel is discouraged... and discouraged is not a good feeling.

This struggle with the run has been brought on by a resurgence in calf pain. On every run lately, it takes about 20-30mins for my calf to flush out and feel somewhat normal. It’s so hard to describe, as the pain isn’t so bad that I can’t function, but it is an extreme discomfort that not only bothers me physically, but wreaks havoc on my mental state as well.

I know I will overcome this and move forward - that my calf will heal or I'll get to the point where I can block out the discomfort - but in the meantime, it's an interesting place to be. Discouraged by my Paris? [or at least 1/3 of my Paris]. That just doesn't seem quite right, but well, hopefully it won’t last long :)


** If you ever need a Parisian fix, follow along the adventure of my wonderful friend on her blog “All Things Paris - the Fabulous Adventures of CountessLV

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Balance Victoria – Race Report

FUN FUN FUN

Yesterday morning I tackled the sprint distance of the New Balance Victoria International Triathlon – and if you couldn't guess from the first 3 words of this post - it was pretty darn fun! I crossed the finish line in 1:19:45. Good enough for 10th in my age group (and there were even more than 10 people racing so it wasn’t by default – I was actually 10th out of 30) and a PB at this distance to boot.

It’s so different to think about going as hard as you can over a relatively short distance, compared with all the thought and planning that goes into the longer races - the idea of pacing or nutrition barely even crossed my mind. It was actually a really nice change of pace (pardon the pun) compared with everything I’ve been doing lately. The last time I raced a sprint was over two years ago (Shawnigan 2008).

The sprint started in 2 waves – men went first with woman starting a few minutes later. I will say I was fairly nervous standing in the water waiting for the gun to go off, but I hadn’t really given it much thought or worry before that moment. When it was finally time and the whistle blew to start the race, I dove in with the rest of the pack, not really waiting for the crowds to clear like I often do. The swim was rough. There was lots of jostling and grabbing and pulling and bumping. A few people swam over me and I actually think I swam over a couple too. It was definitely the most physical swim I’ve been in, but I never panicked, and before I knew it, the beach was within reach.

Out of the water and up the shoot to transition I got my wetsuit mostly down and was able to slip out of it fairly quickly. Helmet on, bike off the rack and I was away. My “flying” mount could still use a little work, but it was significantly better than Shawnigan. I managed to escape the crowd fairly quickly, get my feet in my shoes, and start hammering away. (It’s amazing how much easier transition can be when your feet aren’t completely numb).

My bike leg was by far the strongest (well, in my opinion at least)… and my new bike is amazing! Who knows, maybe that is why this portion of the race felt like it went so well, because I was just so excited to actually be riding my new bike? I felt like I pushed myself and my bike really hard through the 20k loop and would say I actually passed more people than passed me (which, admittedly, is a bit rare).

I managed a really great dismount from my bike and my transition to the run was relaxed and smooth.

As usual, the run was the most difficult for me. My calf bugged me for about the first 3k, and then finally (thankfully) loosened up. Looking back on it today, I realize I could have pushed myself a bit harder on the run and that I just need to work on ignoring the pain in my leg as much as possible, as I know it is going to go away eventually. When I looked at my watch with just over 1km to go, I realized that if I pushed, I could probably get in under the 1:20 mark - the race was truly 'on' at that point.

When I finally crossed the line, the smile on my face couldn’t have been bigger. I think the first words out of my mouth were “that was fun” followed promptly by “I think I’m just going to do sprints next year!”

After my race it was time to cheer on all the Half IM participants and just enjoy the rest of the day. Of note: Kirsten laid down an absolutely stellar run off the bike of 1:44:53 to accomplish a huge PB of 5:56:22. Good enough for 10th place in her age group!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New BIKE!

This week I splurged in a big BIG way and got an amazing new bike. It’s a beautiful Scott CR1 Pro from the Trek Store Victoria. I didn’t really expect to end up with a Scott bike, as the brand wasn’t really on my radar, but it was definitely the most comfortable bike I tested – and I definitely rode a few! It is probably a bit more bike than I really need, but well, I love it!! It’s so pretty I just can’t stop staring at it – with its clean components and beautiful Bontrager Aeolus wheels. Sorry old aluminum Felt, I think you might be going up for sale :)

Aside from a bit of a shopping spree, the week has been a bit of a down one on the training front as I have been very tired and just not feeling 100%. It’s slightly frustrating, but I suppose every week of training can’t be perfect. Luckily this weekend will be a bit of an easier one (from a volume standpoint at least) as I am racing the sprint distance at the Victoria New Balance Triathlon at Elk Lake tomorrow. I’m excited to race a shorter distance, but also nervous at the same time – it has been so long since I even thought about the sprint distance and there is definitely something a bit unfamiliar after all these long training days about going as hard as possible for a short distance and not worrying as much about pacing... that said, I know I’m going to have fun. Especially since I get to break in the new ride!









Also, how could I forget... pics of the new tri-suit!