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.



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.


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.