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


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.