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


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


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!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who was Richter?

I feel we are coming into the homestretch in a way. Ironman is just around the corner and August 29th will be here in no time. (To be exact: 74 Days, 17hrs, 54mins and 33secs at the time I wrote this).

This past weekend, Kirsten and I made the trek to Penticton for a little 2-man, 3-day training camp of sorts. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip but was a good one none the less.

The journey started as we boarded the 8am ferry on Friday morning. The drive up to Penticton went fairly quick and was somewhat uneventful (especially since I actually made the correct turn off to Hope and didn’t get us "lost" like last year). When we arrived in Penticton we headed down to Lake Okanagan for a swim as the Penticton pool is closed until spring of 2011. We got many strange glances from passersby as we suited up in our wetsuits on the beach. The water wasn’t as cold as we had expected, but was extremely rough (possibly the reason for the curious looks?). The little waves seemed to pick you up and throw you back down into the water without too much difficulty. Since we were just supposed to be loosening up after the drive, and splashing through the waves was doing nothing for our swim technique, we opted to cut our swim short and get on with our scheduled 30 minute easy run. We ran around the Lakeshore Drive and Main Street area, taking in that final stretch of the IMC course - much like we will be doing two and a half months from now! Then it was off to Doug and Di’s house to relax for the evening before turning in for the night.

Saturday was a big day! We got up fairly early, packed up our gear and headed down to a very calm (but also very cold) Skaha Lake for an easy swim before hitting the road on our bikes. Probably the main reason for our trip to Penticton was to ride the IMC bike course and get familiar with the route (and in particular the climbs). About 15-20km into the bike I realized I had forgotten my road id. Not a huge deal as I had my driver’s license with me, but I didn’t have any sort of medic alert saying that I am on anticoagulants, so we made our first stop at the Oasis Gas Bar in Oliver so I could borrow a pen and write my “situation” on my arm. I didn’t expect anything to go wrong, but if for some reason both Kirsten and I got taken out, I wanted to have some sort of warning to emergency personnel.

From there, we carried on to Osoyoos. I found the ride from Penticton to Osoyoos took longer than I expected, not because we were riding slow or anything like that, but mainly because I think I was just “waiting” for Richter Pass. We made a quick pit-stop in Osoyoos to refill our water and Gatorade before it was finally time to climb!

The climb actually went by fairly easily. So much so, that when Kirsten and I made it to the top and stopped to regroup, we weren’t sure if we were really at the summit. Now, I should note, it’s not that Richter’s isn’t a tough pass, but with the way the hill climbs, then levels, then climbs some more, it really didn’t feel as bad as expected.

We made our descent down the other side and started the next leg of the trek toward Keremeos and the next great climb to Yellow Lake. This stretch was a bit tough for me from a mental standpoint. Not only was it hot, and my feet were swollen and achy (although, not as bad as Kirsten’s), but more so because of that whole “waiting” game again. It’s like I just wanted to be at the climb. I just wanted to be done… and I knew once we were up and over Yellow Lake, the end would be near.

We chugged along, making another short pit stop in Keremeos for more water and Gatorade, before beginning the final big ascent. I found the Yellow Lake climb to be a bit tougher than Richter’s. I’m not sure why Yellow Lake doesn’t get the same recognition as Richter’s, but it is a toughie. The best sight was the sign near the top of the hill that showed the lane’s merging in 200m. To me, that could only mean one thing… no passing lane = downhill! We stopped quickly at the top for Kirsten to dip her feet in the lake and give them some relief from the heat and the swelling before zipping down the hills back into Penticton.

Once back in town, we quickly swapped our shoes and headed out for an easy 15min run off the bike. My legs hate running off the bike and today was no exception. Thankfully, this time it was only for 15 minutes and not 5 hours. I’ve got a bit of work to do before August.

After a long day of training, it was great to relax over a nice big dinner that Di had prepared for us. We soaked our legs in the pool and visited for a bit before turning in for the night. I think we were actually in bed before it was even fully dark out!

Sunday morning again started early. We got dropped off in OK Falls and ran the 13km (or so) stretch from the marathon turn around point back to Skaha Lake. My legs were heavy and my calf was not cooperating with me for the first 35mins or so, but I eventually found a nice rhythm and was able to keep up with Kirsten (mind you, she was probably taking it easy for me anyway). It was really good to see that portion of the run course, as it is definitely hilly coming out of OK Falls.

Once done, we iced our legs in the lake for a bit, threw on some compression socks and before I knew it, the weekend was done and we were back in the car and on our way home - a successful and confidence inspiring training weekend in the books.

*Side Note: Richter Pass was named in association with nearby Richter Mountain, which was named for Francis Xavier Richter, an early cattle rancher and orchardist in the area who settled in the region during the days of the Colony of British Columbia, originally working for the Hudson's Bay Company post in Keremeos, taking care of their packhorses.

**Next up: more bike shopping + the Victoria New Balance Triathlon (sprint for me, half IM for Kirsten) on Sunday at Elk Lake.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Week in Review

Well, it’s been over a week now since Shawnigan, and I feel like I have recovered fairly well. The day following the race my body was tired and my calves were sore, but it wasn’t so bad that I still couldn’t walk the stairs at the office. [Random aside: I work on the 3rd floor, and always try to make a point of taking the stairs and skipping the elevator, as I didn’t have the option at my last building and I absolutely hated riding the elevator every day. The one exception to my ‘no elevator’ rule comes after our morning coffee run when the rest of the gang hops in the elevator, as I think it would be a bit weird if I was like “well, see you guys up there.” I had originally told myself that I was ‘allowed’ to take the elevator on the Monday following the race, but I found when I got to work that Monday morning, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.]

I had two days off from training following the race (Monday & Tuesday) and then slowly eased back into things with a very drill focused swim and an easy bike on Wednesday. Thursday morning I had another fairly easy swim and then enjoyed a much needed massage. I found the funniest part of the massage came when my amazing massage therapist, Lysanne (Parkway Physiotherapy in Langford) asked if I was sore as she was working on my quads. “No” I said, “does it feel like I should be?” and she just laughed and said “oh yeah”. She then went on to say that it was great that I wasn’t too sore and how that speaks well of all the training I’ve been putting in and that my body is adapting and recovering nicely.

I ran Thursday evening, biked Friday morning and had a decent workout on Saturday as well (bike/run brick). Sunday was a longer (slow) run that I was having trouble getting motivated to do, but I managed to get through all the same, without feeling too worse for wear.

Other things that cropped up through the week included a good meeting/debrief with Kelly, as well as a chat with Shane about the possibility of me getting a new bike. I had sort of come to terms with the fact that I would be doing Ironman on my current bike, but on Sunday evening after the race both Shane and my Mom said to me at different times – you need a new bike.

I’ve been on the fence about a new bike for a while. Of course I want a new bike, but my trusty old aluminum Felt has treated me well over the past 3 and a half years and I feel like I shouldn’t be forking out huge wads of cash (that we don't necessarily have) when I have a bike that is still functioning. The other part of me realizes that triathlon is going to remain a part of my life for a good long time now and I’m most likely going to get my monies worth out of a new one. As well, the thought that if having a lighter, betting fitting bike might help to save me even a few minutes over the course of Ironman that it may be worth it.

So, today, I went for a bike fit. Initial thoughts on my Felt were that it’s a bit long for me (especially in the aero position, which would explain why I always feel so uncomfortable and tend to avoid my aero bars), as well my bars might be a bit too wide. I think it will turn out to be tremendously beneficial to actually spend the time getting measured and properly set up. Besides, it was really fun to see my power output and pedal stroke on the computer. I’m heading back to the store on Thursday afternoon to test ride a handful of bikes that will be set up just for me. From there, I’ll probably pop by a few other stores and check out a few other brands before making my final decision and laying down a big wad of cash.

Anyway, here’s the dream (not the reality)...