Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shawnigan Sprint – Race Report

Overall I was pretty happy with the way the day played out. Oddly, I had very few nerves or pre-race jitters leading up to the race (which was kind of nice).

Saturday was a pretty chill day that included some race prep, typical Saturday chores, as well as watching some of the bike time trials along Dallas Rd in the evening. We were having dinner after watching the TT’s and all of a sudden it was like “oh yeah, I’m racing in the morning”.

Sunday morning I definitely started to feel a bit anxious, and with the late start time for the sprint (9:15am) there was definitely a lot of that “hurry up and wait” feeling.

After checking my transition set up over and over (and over and over again), it was finally time to don my wetsuit and take to the chilly waters of Shawnigan lake.

Surprisingly, the water wasn’t too bad - cold yes, but not as horrible as I had been expecting. The first stretch of the swim was really rough and I definitely had trouble finding a rhythm. That said, I think that “rough start” was partly just because I picked a bad starting spot behind some people that were slower than me. Once I made the turn around the first buoy, I was able to find a little more space and relaxed a bit.

500m is so short! It felt like the blink of an eye and the swim was done. I was pretty happy with the time coming out of the water, but I know if I push it a bit harder I can easily bring that time down a bit.

My T1 was pretty good. My wetsuit came off fairly easy and I only had a short second where I felt a bit dizzy (I always feel kind of dizzy when I first get to the racks). I had a couple wasted seconds where I was trying to decide if I was going to put on my long sleeve or not before I realized it was warm enough without it (which turned out to be a very good decision indeed as it was definitely warm out).

Helmet on, bike un-racked and I was off running toward the road and the mount line. My bike mount went really well (I was really happy with it actually). Before I knew it, I was on my bike and gliding down the road, my feet slid into my shoes relatively smoothly and away I went.

Ahhh, the bike… I was pretty pleased with the bike leg overall. The sun was shining and the bumpy roads were rolling past. Usually I get passed a lot on the bike (or at least I feel like I get passed a lot), and I definitely did get passed during this race, but I think most of the people passing me were guys on flashy aero-bikes that I’m not even sure were racing in my distance, so I was okay with it.

One negative to the bike leg was that I think I started to slow down a little toward the end of it (maybe the last 5k or so?). During this time I definitely got passed by one girl who was in my race (she went on to place 3rd female overall). We jockeyed for a bit (me going past her on the uphills and her killing me on the flats) before she finally just kicked and pulled away from me in the last 2 or 3k.

My dismount coming into T2 wasn’t great. I got my feet out of my shoes no problem, but the part where you actually get off the bike, well, I just didn’t execute it like I know I can. Mainly because my legs were a bit wobbly, but also because there was someone right in front of me and I just envisioned a crash (note to self: never, I repeat, DO NOT picture yourself crashing in a race).

I made good time down the ramp to the racks and slid into my runners with ease (I think I even passed a few people who had entered transition before me - yay!).

Unfortunately, the run was my least favourite part of the day (or at least the 1st km of the run was). There is a little uphill trail out of the provincial park to the main trail where the majority of the run is held and well, frankly, it just hurt. My calves were really tight/sore and for that first km or so I just struggled. I think a lot of it was mental though and that is what bugs me the most – I don’t know what I need to do to make myself just push through that discomfort and not think about it. (More brick workouts perhaps?)

In this early stage of the run leg I got passed by two girls (one that I had passed with ease early on in the bike and another who I’m pretty sure I had just passed in transition) so that was a bit frustrating, as I just couldn’t seem to reel them back in!

All that said, I did eventually loosen up and once that happened I felt pretty good and think I was moving at a decent pace (for me that is).

The finish at Shawnigan is always sweet and Sunday was no exception.

Overall I feel like it was a really solid effort. I feel like I did really well (especially for the first race of the season), but I also see areas where I can improve and maybe shave off a bit more time, so that is super encouraging too.

In the end, I placed 3rd in my age group (my first podium finish ever), 8th female overall and 26th out of everyone in the sprint.

Photo by: Split-Seconds Photography

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Train

I realized recently that I haven’t actually written much about training lately – and considering this is a blog about, well, triathlon training, I figured it was time to reflect on all the swimming, biking and running I’ve been doing lately.

That said, I guess training has been a little inconsistent as of late. On May 8th or 9th I was struck with one of the nastiest colds/flus I’ve had in a very long time. It zapped pretty much all my energy and knocked away most of my desire to do anything but lay on the couch and sleep. Taking Rusty for the odd, 20-30min walk was really the peak of my physical activity for the better part of a week.

On Friday the 13th, I decided it was time to try a light swim. This decision was more based on a feeling of guilt and a worry that I was losing fitness than on an actual desire to do anything, but I dragged myself to the pool nonetheless. I only swam about 1600m that day, but it actually felt really good to move, and so I slowly starting trying to get back on schedule with training.

For the next 3 or 4 days, most of my workouts were done at half the strength or half the duration from what was originally planned, but I found things slowly starting to get back to normal. Swimming felt easiest and was definitely the most enjoyable, whereas running was pretty much hell (but isn’t that always the case? haha - just joking). My chest and head were full of utter nastiness and every time I eased up even a little while running, a coughing fit would ensue.

That said, as the week progressed, so did my workouts and this past Saturday I put in a really solid day of training that I was pretty pleased with. It was just like last year – Kirsten and I hit the pool first thing, followed promptly by a solid (50k-ish) out and back ride on West Saanich, capped off with a short run off the bike. My legs were definitely wobbly on our run, and my chest ached a little, but it felt really good to have had such a good physical day… and we didn’t even get rained on!

Later that night I could tell I overdid it a bit as I crashed into bed, my chest and lungs aching like they haven’t in a very long time. For the most part though, it was a good tired and a good “hurt”.

Sunday I ran about 14k. It was a pretty slow pace the entire time, but a consistent pace (over a fairly rolling route) at the same time. The sun was shining and the roads were quiet, so while I didn’t necessarily love it, it was a decent outing.

Monday I had a scheduled rest day. Obviously, I’ve had lots of those lately, but I still kind of needed it. I did however attend a yogilates class with my Mom and then worked on my bike mounts and dismounts for a half hour or so. My “flying mount” is definitely coming along and I was feeling pretty darn smooth, so here’s hoping that translates into perfection on Sunday at my first race of the season (although something tells me things might be a little trickier with numb fingers and toes, as I doubt the lake is going to be very warm by Sunday).

Anyway, I’m having mixed emotions about this coming weekend’s race. On the surface I would say I don’t have much expectation for myself with how I’ve been feeling the last little while, but deep down, I know I’m going to want to do well and am hoping for a solid performance where everything comes together nicely. The pre-race jitters haven’t really hit yet, but I imagine they will be making an appearance in the next day or two. Fingers crossed for sunny weather and a warm warm swim :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yeah, My Parents are Awesome

This post is long overdue, but somehow the week just kind of got away from me.

Anyway, really, the title says it all. Of course, there are many reasons that this statement is true (cause well, my parents really are two of the best people ever) but the main one I write about today took place last Sunday, May 15.

On a very wet-wet-wet west coast day, both my Dad and my Mom conquered the Oak Bay Kool Half Marathon. It was the first race at this distance for my Dad and the second for my Mom.

We got there about a half hour before start time and found a nice tree to hide under in hopes of not getting completely drenched before the start (which, on this day, was probably a pointless effort). At 8:00 their journey began...

Oak Bay is a really spectator friendly course, so thankfully, I was able to catch glimpses and high fives at a few different points along the route. There were moments when they each looked really happy and excited and moments when they each looked like they were just ready to be done (but I suppose that comes with the distance).

It was great fun to switch roles with them for this event and be out there cheering them on! I’m so glad I got to be there when they crossed the finish line – even with all that rain, haha.

So, CONGRATULATIONS Mom and Dad! What’s next? ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Re-Birth Day to Me

It’s been two years.

Today marks the “anniversary” of my PE diagnosis ~ my “re-birth” if you will.

Okay, so that may sound a little dramatic, but well, whatever – I’m allowed to be a little theatrical every now and again aren’t I? (I do work in the arts after all)

The approach of this day on the calendar has not loomed over me in the same way it did last year. Sure, I’ve been keenly aware of the date and have been awaiting its arrival for the last week or so now, but it’s been different. Last year, there was a nervous anxiety in the pit of my stomach for a long time leading up to “the day”. This year, no nerves. I haven’t been waiting in the same way.

So, May 16th. Here you are. Again. It’s so nice to see you.

I have not been tearing up at odd intervals throughout this day, and yet, my mind has still been a little preoccupied. Absorbed in memories of what this day held two years ago. Lost in the recollections of what has transpired in the two years since.

I can confidently say my PE is in the past. It’s a huge part of who I am, and who I will continue to be, but I’ve conquered it.

I suppose I am just thankful for what my PE started. I’m healthier, [although, perhaps not this week, as I think I’ve contracted the plague. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I’ve been rocked by a cold this hard], I’m fitter, I’m stronger (both physically and mentally) and as clich├ęd as it may sound, I just have a completely different appreciation for and outlook on life. I’m thankful.

So, to you May 16th – I will always hold a special place in my heart for you. I can’t wait to see you again next year.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BMO Vancouver 8km – Race Report

The weekend of May 1 brought about one BQ and two PBs.
[Seeing ‘BQ’ made me think of ‘DQ’ which kind of made me want some ice cream… but that is a topic for a whole other day].

So, before I get to my race report, first and foremost a HUGE congratulations is in order to Kirsten for an outstanding marathon PB and a Boston Qualifying race! YAY!!! So proud of you Kirsten.

Anyway, the morning began by finding stellar parking just across False Creek, only a short (10min or so) walk from the start line. Once at the race site and after standing in the porta-potty line twice through, it was time for Kirsten and me to go our separate ways. Off she went into the masses of the starting chute. I won't lie - she looked nervous. I tucked her clothes into my backpack and made my way up to where I could see the 3:40 pace bunny, hoping to cheer her on as she left on her 42.2km journey. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be - even though she was in a bright yellow t-shirt, many others were too and I was unable to spot her in the crowd.

From there, I quickly went and checked my bag at the gear check and headed back outside to do a short warm up for the 8k. During my warm up, I did manage to see some of the marathoners around the 1-2k mark, but (in what would become the story of the day) I must have just missed seeing Kirsten, as the first pace bunny I saw was the 4:00 rabbit.

As for my 8k, well… overall, it was a pretty good race.

When I got into the starting chute, there was plenty of room. I slowly walked up to the front, and for the first time ever in my racing career, there was not a mad crush of people and I found myself almost right at the starting tape with a big gap in front of me as the gun went off. It was weird… but a good weird. Because of this I will admit to going out a bit fast (it’s hard to pace yourself when everyone in front of you at the start are total speedsters) but I was feeling pretty good and nicely relaxed, so I just tried to maintain it.

Everything I read about the route said it was a “fast and flat” course (and for the most part it was) but there was definitely a bit of a gradual climb and a decent sized hill right near the turn around that took me a bit by surprise. Unfortunately when the gradual incline and hill hit, I definitely started to fall off my pace a bit.

The weirdest moment of the race came about the 6.5-7k mark... I don’t know if it was a bug or just a big ball of phlegm, but I inhaled something horrible and starting choking really badly. I probably had a minute or two where I was really struggling to get my breath back, so that made the end a little more challenging (although must have looked really funny).

Once I finally managed to get my breath back, I gave one final push and felt strong heading toward the finish line. Shane, Tyler and our friend Ash had crawled out of bed [extra hung-over after the previous night’s Canucks game that they had scored tickets to at the last minute] and were cheering me on as I rounded the final corner.

I came in with a chip time of 38:43 (gun time = 38:45). That was good enough for 88th overall and 4th out of 123 in my age group (which was a pretty satisfying result). It was also a PB for this distance, but only by about 15seconds. I say but, because in hindsight, part of me thinks I could have pushed myself a little harder, and I will admit to having slightly higher expectations for myself time wise (what with the “fast and flat” course) but overall, it was a good race and I was pretty happy with the outcome.

The remainder of the day was spent trying to find Kirsten on the course to cheer her on and just missing her (we kept seeing that darn 4:00 pace bunny). We managed not to see her once out on the route, but thankfully, we were at the finish line in time. She crossed the line, looking strong, in a time of 3:38:15.


So, next on the CHEER schedule is rooting for my parents as they tackle the Oak Bay Kool Half Marathon this weekend.

Next on the RACE schedule for me will be the Shawnigan Sprint on May 29th. My home race! I’m really looking forward to it, but am starting to wonder if I will even attempt a lake swim before that weekend? Haha. Time will tell I suppose.

In the meantime, I really just need (and want) to shake an awful whopper of a cold that has been plaguing me for the last few days. I never get sick and this is the second cold I've had since March – blech.