Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rear View

There seems to be a lot of “year in review” posts and articles floating around the ol’ worldwide web at this time of year. That, combined with two very slow days at work, gave me the grand idea to read back through all of my 2011 blog posts.

2011. It’s been an interesting ride.

Anyway, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and so here is my 2011 recap – in short form and links!

I PB’d the 8k distance for the first time in 2011 by outsprinting an unsuspecting competitor, (who in fact actually beat me in the race if you base it on chip time) and followed it up with a winning day of training.

I did some time trials, learned that a 14’ workout can be sheer agony, gave some thought to my bucket list, celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary, spent some time in the Whistler ER with my bestie Laura and wiped the eff out on a curb attempting another 5k time trial.

Shane’s anniversary present finally arrived in the mail.

Bobble Head Shane

Also, I PB’d the 5k distance, but was still kind of disappointed in the race. In fact, I still am, I know I can run 5k faster than that.

I began a “Battle of the Sweets” at work, and mostly won (until this December hit – YIKES!). I set some quarter year resolutions and even played the alphabet game.

D is for Dog. H is for Hope.

May was a big month. Kirsten qualified for Boston! Let me just say that again – KIRSTEN QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON! I PB’d the 8k distance for the 2nd time in 2011. My parents kicked butt over 21.1kms on one of the soggiest days in the month of May.

Wet Happy Finishers

I tasted the ‘age group’ podium for the first time in my life as a triathlete (even with a horrific effort on the run)… and well, May 16th came and went - and I must say, I’m still very thankful to be alive and able.

Training was great. I definitely embraced the swim, work, run, eat, sleep, bike, work, run, eat, sleep, swim, work routine and loved it. I was super excited to race the Victoria Sprint at Elk Lake (and get the new hoody) and then was kinda disappointed in my race. [Side Note: Reading back all these posts, I’m sensing a theme here – I don’t ever seem to race to what I feel my full potential is. Must work on that in 2012].

I was originally planning to race in Vancouver, but life happened and a trip to the mainland wasn’t in the cards, so instead, Kirsten, Tyler and I had a little mini “Simulation Race” of sorts. It was probably my best performance of the year to that point, haha. I watched a lot (A LOT) of the Tour de France and then Shane and I jetted off to Orlando (for work and PLAY) where I won my very first (albeit not super competitive) 5k race! Woot!

Also, Lego Dog lives in Orlando!

I raced more. I wrote more. I made it onto the ‘age group’ podium for a 2nd time in 2011 and then had a race that just kind of happened. I questioned my ongoing anticoagulation and most importantly and excitingly I had the best end to August that any tri-geek could ask for! I qualified for the Age Group World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand next October and signed up for Ironman Canada 2012!

Registration Complete!

September brought along some indecision, the start to my yoga teacher training and plenty of things to be thankful for.

I tried to keep my mind off the fact that I decided not to run the Victoria Marathon. When the big day rolled around, I gave my cowbell a workout and played the role of [jealous] cheerleader. The next day it was all about CYCLOCROSS! Oh, and I dressed Rusty up as a dog-chicken for Halloween :)

Dog Chicken

Vegas Baby! Oh, and a DNF. But I still love cyclocross. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. SO.MUCH.FUN!

My Vegas Running Buddy

It’s been both a great month and a challenging month. I’ve struggled a little to find my rhythm with training, but I’ve also had some great workouts, some great yoga moments and a wonderful Christmas season with plenty to be thankful for. I turned 31 (and had trouble blowing out all the candles?!) and got spoiled rotten.

And now, here we are - the end of the year. While 2011 hasn’t had the epic-ness of an Ironman, it’s still been a pretty great year. I’ve learned lots and challenged myself in new ways. My main triathlon goal was to get faster, and I can say I have accomplished this.

On the training front, I’m currently enjoying a bit of downtime with a couple weeks of active recovery. It is just what I needed, and I'd say I'm definitely starting to feel a little bit more recharged. I'll admit, it has taken me longer to get to that state than I expected (and I don't know that I'm fully there yet), but I am definitely starting to feel a bit lazy and definitely kind of antsy, so I think that is a really good sign.

As the New Year dawns, the BUILD begins. I’m actually really looking forward to it (and am only a little bit nervous).

And with that, I bid 2011 adieu. I have a sneaking suspicion that 2012 is going to be one hell of a year!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Time is Here

Well, after last week’s whiny “poor me” post about how training has been a bit of a struggle lately, I figured a happy post was in order… and what is happier than the Peanuts signing Christmas songs?

Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest.

Anyway, now that that song is completely stuck in your head and you have a happy holiday smile on your face, let’s recap shall we?

So, thankfully, I feel like I am slowly pulling my way out of my irrational “oh-my-gawd-I’m-burnt-out-already-and-it’s-only-December” mindset. I won’t say my motivation is as high as it has ever been, but I have actually enjoyed going to the pool this week and my run this morning wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t a hard effort by any stretch of the imagination, but it was solid, so that was nice.

Last weekend was pretty okay too. After that much needed day off on Friday, Kirsten, Shane and I swam at Panorama on Saturday morning (a decent 3k effort for me) and then headed to the Lakes for a 90’ run. The run felt really difficult to me and I think our pace was pretty slow, but as we talked, it turned out Kiki and Shane were feeling the same too! So (this may sound terrible) it kind of made me feel better about myself to know I wasn’t struggling on my own.

From there, Kirsten and I capped off the training part of the weekend with a 105’ bike on Sunday along West Saanich and the Lochside Trail. While it was chilly, it was a beautiful day and the ride seemed to almost get easier as we went along. I think just getting out and spinning the legs was the perfect thing for both my mind and body.

So, I guess, I’m trying not to let one bad week eat at me and am instead enjoying over-indulging in Christmas treats and realizing that I’m in a good place physically with lots of time before IMC (35 weeks this Sunday!) - and, well, I have lots to be thankful for.

Christmas time is here, and it is my favourite time of year!

Merry Christmas loyal readers! (aka. Mom, Dad and Mandy) :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can you tell me how to get, how to get off Struggle-me Street…

I remembered reading a post from Adam Campbell earlier this year about being on “Struggle Street”. I remember sort of relating to the post at the time and since then, the term has just kinda stuck with me. Unfortunately, this week, I thought about that post a lot.

Can you guess what is coming next?
Yeah, you got it – training this week has been a real bitch, I mean struggle. ;)

I’d say overall it has definitely been more of a mental struggle than a physical one, but after a hard trainer session on Wednesday night that lead into some very unimpressive workouts and a very negative attitude on Thursday, I kind of had a mini meltdown.

I actually had a moment in the pool when I stopped my watch after a 400 ‘steady’ effort where I wanted to cry. My time was so slow and I felt like I was working soo hard. Silly right?

Even sillier – I then had to choke back tears for a second time in one day, when about 20’ into my 55’ run things weren’t going as I wanted them to. At that point I finally packed it in (yes, I quit my run), jogged back to where I started, got cleaned up and treated myself to a coffee instead of finishing my fartlek.

I think the struggle and my general lack of mental fortitude this week just kind of freaked me out. Deep down, I know it's really early in the year and for most people it is still the off season, but I think I just had this slight panic that if I'm feeling burnt out like this so early in the season, what the heck is going to happen come May or June?

I know we are all entitled to bad days and/or weeks, but I’m really hoping this one passes sooner than later and that I can side-step Struggle Street for the rest of the season [wishful thinking? maybe].

Anyway, after a good “vent” via email (sorry Kelly), a good night’s sleep, and a day off today, I’m feeling a little more positive about what’s to come and less like a totally whiny, over-the-top drama-queen.

Fingers crossed that feeling lasts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just run until the sun comes up...

As I rolled over and cracked my eyes open to look at the alarm clock, a bright red 5:33 shone back at me. Not bad I thought, 5 more minutes until the alarm goes off. I might as well get up now. In actuality, the 5:33 on my clock is about 5:15 or so in real time. I always set my clock ahead by 15-20mins. I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better to think I’m getting up later than I really am. So I rolled out of bed, stretched a little, let out a sigh and made my way across the dark bedroom to the washroom to brush my teeth and throw on my swim gear.

My usual pool (JdF) is closed for maintenance for the next two weeks, so my plan was to head into Crystal Pool for 6am. I figured I had enough time to get a solid 3k swim in and then bang off a 45’ tempo workout on the treadmill before work. Usually, when I have two workouts in a day I split them up, but I knew today was going to be jam packed as I need to go to the blood lab at lunch and then have a long overdue movie date with one of my favourite peeps (and her ever growing fetus) tonight.

I chipped the ice off the car, slammed back some water and o.j. and began the drive into the city. About 40min later I pulled into the vacant parking lot at the Crystal Pool. It looked like a ghost town. I guess I should have checked the schedule – Crystal is also closed for maintenance for the next 4 weeks! Le sigh.

So, even though in my last post, I talked about how I enjoy a rigid schedule, today called for flexibility and adaptation – and I actually didn’t mind. (That said, thank goodness I had my run gear or I would have been pissed!)

I had about 2.5 hours before I needed to be to work, so I drove down to my office, popped inside just quick enough to use the washroom and change out of my swim suit and into my run gear and off I went. I figured I would just head out and run as long as I felt like going or until I ran out of time.

The city was dark and still very much asleep. It was peaceful and quiet, cold, but not icy. My mind wandered a few times and my imagination got the best of me when I saw a couple of Victoria’s homeless population shuffling along. They looked eerily like ‘walkers’ from “The Walking Dead.” Considering my sleep the other night was filled with zombie nightmares, I have obviously been watching too much of that show.

I need to keep reminding myself: Zombies are not real. Zombies are not real. (yet)

Shaking the zombie thoughts from my mind I carried on. I started to see a few other runners out and about and some walkers (of the human variety) with their dogs. I made my way along Cook Street and out to the waterfront on Dallas Road before winding through the big houses near Ross Bay Cemetery and into the Fairfield area. Slowly, the city was coming to life... About 45-50’ in I was still feeling great, so decided I would head back to the waterfront and just run in the general direction of work until the sun came up.

I didn’t run at a hard pace, just comfortably aerobic, but it was nice. After about 85’ and just over 15k I decided that was good enough for the day - a spontaneous and unexpected “long run” in the books.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yoga for Swimmers

Time seems to be flying right now. Between being back to a more rigid training schedule [I should add, this rigidity is by choice – I figure if I’m paying for coaching, I might as well stick to the plan laid out by the coach, and I find I train smarter and more productively when it is structured] and doing my certification to become a yoga teacher, I feel like every time I blink right now another weekend has passed, the laundry is overflowing and the house needs vacuumed again. I’m hoping a little time off from work and Yoga Teacher Training over Christmas will help things slow down a little.

All that said, even though time is flying, I’m enjoying it. Doing this yoga certification has definitely been a great experience and I’m quite happy to have Kelly back in my life writing up my training calendar as well. It’s nice not to have to think too hard about anything other than the end goal(s).

Now, back to the title of this post… Yoga for Swimmers.

This past weekend I presented/taught my “certification class” to my fellow yoga teacher trainees. If you hadn't already guessed, the class I designed was a ‘Yoga for Swimmers’ class.

It was important to me to teach a class with a theme that interested me, and I knew it would be easier to instruct a class based on something I truly enjoy doing and am knowledgeable about. I figured if I had picked a theme about chakras or mudras (while totally wonderful themes), it may not have been quite as personal and may have been a bit more forced, as the more spiritual side of yoga is still somewhat new to me.

So while maybe a little more physical than spiritual, I think my ‘Yoga for Swimmers’ class went really well.

I began my class with an explanation as to why I chose the type of class I did. In short, for me, it was natural – yoga and swimming use a lot of the same skillful breathing techniques and have many similar meditative qualities. I could go into more depth about pranayama and pratyhara, but well, I’ll save that for another time.

I had practiced my class (to myself, my family, my co-workers) many times before I was set to teach my fellow teacher trainees. I felt confident and ready.

When it was finally time, I stood up in front of the class and the nerves rolled in! My stomach was jumping up and down, my voice felt like it was trembling at times and the sweat began to pour off of me.

Valuable lesson learned. Wear tank top to teach yoga.
T-Shirt + Nerves = Pit Stains.

I think it was something about being ‘graded’ and also something about teaching to a group of girls who are all learning the same thing as I am. I think it was knowing that they would likely be more aware if I screwed up or botched a cue. Really, I know this is silly, as it is a great group of girls who are all super supportive and I did notice lots of friendly smiles from the group as I taught my class. But, well, you know?

My nerves settled a bit as I got further and further into the class and before I knew it, it was time for Savasana and our final relaxation. I was soo happy to be done. Euphoric almost.

I received some really kind words from all of my classmates and my instructor Laura, followed up with a great “report card” – in the end (nerves and all), I passed my certification class with flying colours! (Yay me!) Now all that is left is completing my 200 hours of class time and passing my anatomy exam - two things I’m pretty confident I can handle.

So, look for me in early February – perhaps teaching at your local yoga studio or incorporating something new into your masters swim club :)