Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two in One House + Tour de Vic

I posted this picture on Facebook the other day.

I was surprised by how many comments I got – and not Facebook comments, but actual real live comments. Most were along the lines of: “You don’t really go through that many gels every week do you?” or “Is that really what you eat when you train?” or “How long does all that stuff last you?” etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about how much of this lovely “nutrition” Shane and I actually go through on a weekly basis. The short answer: A LOT!

With two people training for Ironman in the same house, man, the bills add up. See this post for an overview – now times all that by two! Yowza.

[Here is another fun article about two triathletes dwelling in the same house… I can definitely relate to about 99.9% of it, haha].

Not to mention the collection of water bottles we have amassed this year.

This is not even 1/3 of them. I should really just take this picture down.
We tend to let all the bottles pile up and then finally one of us will break down and clean them before our next big ride or training weekend.

Oh, and cleaning the house? Vacuuming? I’m not sure either one of us knows what that is anymore. Not really (okay, maybe sorta), but there are definitely things that get neglected during IM training, and well, vacuuming up the ridiculous amounts of dog hair the Rusty loses on a daily basis, is definitely one of those oft overlooked things.

I’m sure we’ll survive living in our own filth until the end of August, we just won’t be inviting any of our friends over anytime soon, haha.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent wasn’t it?

So, moving on…

This past weekend I did the 100km ride at the Tour de Victoria with my Dad. The weather turned out to be pretty much perfect (which was quite a surprise after the rain and wind that tortured the city on Friday and Saturday) and I had an absolute blast! I knew I would have fun, but I didn't expect to enjoy myself as much as I did.

Never having done a “mass participation cycling event” before, I didn’t really know what to expect. As we waited at the start line with the hundreds of other cyclists to begin, I found myself getting a little nervous. Not nervous about the route or riding 100k (I mean, that is pretty much a short ride at this point in the training cycle) but just nervous about being on the road with that many other people.

However, my worries were eased pretty quickly, as the varying speeds and abilities allowed all of us riders to spread out within what felt like a few minutes.

There is something pretty cool about doing a training ride and having no expectations other than to have fun. Also, cruising along on closed roads with hundreds of other people, with volunteers and spectators cheering you on at every corner, simply put - it's pretty rad.

Oh, and the little pack that formed along Lochside Drive and sucked me and the Pops along for a good 5-10k ~ awesome!

On top of that, I think my Dad is one of the best people to attend or participate in an endurance event with. As a spectator, he is an awesome cheerer. As a participant, you can’t help feed of his infectious spirit – thanking all the volunteers, hooting and hollering at anyone with a cowbell. It made the day that much better and I found myself smiling from ear to ear for the majority of the ride – even on the Munn’s Rd hill climb!

Fearing the dreaded Munn's Rd hill climb.
[Really, it wasn't so bad].
So, thanks Dad for a wonderful day and some great new memories. I'm so thankful to have gotten to share this day with you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why I Don’t Pee in my Wetsuit

As a general rule of thumb, I do not pee in my wetsuit.

Nothing against those who do [ahem, Kirsten], it’s just that once (many years ago) when I was surfing, I decided to let the wizz fly and very quickly realized it was trapped – TRAPPED! – in my suit.

I could feel my own warm piss tickling my neck and slowly creeping into my hood. *shudder*

I realize surf wetsuits are more constricting than triathlon wetsuits, but due to that slightly traumatic incident of nearly having my own piddle in my ear, I have always remained firmly on the anti-pee side of things.

This past weekend at the Victoria Half, as I anxiously waited in the water for the start, I realized I had to go. I knew it was likely just a “nervous pee” and would probably go away, but I didn’t want to take my chances. So, standing there, waste deep in water (surrounded by my competitors, hehe, sorry), I broke my rule and let a few little trickles of urine out of my bladder. It never touched my neck (yay!) and seemed to flush out of my suit rather quickly.

Overall, it was definitely a much less traumatic experience than the “surf wetsuit of horrors” and made me rethink my anti-pee position.

Fast forward to Wednesday.

After work I met Kirsten and Shane at Thetis for a swim. I was running a bit late due to traffic, and while I had to take a leak, I didn’t want to hold them up any longer, especially since Kirsten had limited time.

So, I figured “Hey, I’ll just pee in my wetsuit once we get in the water. It wasn’t that gross when I did it the other day.”

Wrong. So very WRONG.

I now have a clear understanding of why I need to maintain my “no pee in wetsuit” rule… but before I share that reason, let’s back up a little shall we?

At work we have a silly rule that if one person is in the bathroom, you need to wait your turn until that person returns before you go (even though there are multiple stalls). Most people in the office don’t really care if you have to pee side-by-side, but we have one very pee-shy coworker (she knows who she is, haha) so we all try to respect this rule.

So, a couple of weeks ago at work, I had just gone into the washroom when pee-shy coworker then entered as well. I jokingly called her out for “breaking the rule” and then we both entered our respective stalls and began to pee (almost at the exact same time). Pee-shy coworker finished up, washed her hands and exited the bathroom before my bladder was even half drained.

When I reentered the office she joked “You’re not only a marathon runner, you are also a marathon pee-er.”

Of course, it was then my turn to offer up some fun (and very useful) trivia, and so I let her know: “It should take at least 12 seconds to empty a full bladder.” [I had recently read that somewhere, I don’t know if it is actually true].

Later that afternoon, pee-shy coworker returned from the loo declaring “6 seconds!” at which point my competitive nature took over, and I realized I now needed to get the stopwatch out and see how long it took me to tinkle.

So, on my next trip to the can, I popped a squat, checked my watch and began to go.

12 seconds passed. 24 came and went. Then 36. I finally finished up at a nice round 45!

Since that day, I’ve clocked more than a few 45-50 seconds efforts, and even recorded a whopping 1:07 PR (and these are only the times I actually looked at my watch… I’m pretty sure I’ve gone longer).

[I should add, I never feel like I’m going to burst and I’m not holding it in. I like taking trips to the washroom throughout the day as it gives me an excuse to go for a little walk from my desk and stretch my legs… I think I just have a really really large bladder].

So, back to Wednesday.

Standing chest deep in Thetis Lake, I decided to break my rule once again and take care of business.

I began to pee. It was warm, but I was confident it would magically flush out of my wetsuit without having to feel it anywhere but on my legs.

But, seeing as my bladder is roughly the size of a 7-Eleven Double Gulp, and I typically wizz for longer than it takes most people to drop a deuce, the pee didn’t stop.

Of course, I wasn’t actually timing things, but I’m pretty sure 12 seconds passed. 24 definitely came and went. Most likely 36 and even 45.

Soon that familiar warm liquid had engulfed my legs, overflowed up through my armpits and was slowing dancing down to my wrists, and *gasp* my piss was once again even circling my neck. I recognized that feeling, and I didn’t like it. Thank goodness triathlon wetsuits don’t have hoods.

And so, lesson learned. The “no pee in wetsuit” rule has been firmly reinstated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Victoria Half Iron – Race Report

Grab a snack, sit back and get relaxed... this is a long one!

Friday morning I woke up about 2 hours before my alarm with a scarily familiar feeling – it seemed I had somehow swallowed a weed whacker in my sleep. I forced myself back to sleep, telling myself that I was just imagining it and all would be fine when I finally really woke up.


Friday my throat hurt like hell. All.Day.
Why? Why-oh-why did my throat hurt like this just two short days before race day?

Thankfully, I had some pleasant Friday happenings to help distract me from this horrible throat business… an early departure from work (how can you not love it when the office closes early on a sunny Friday afternoon?) and a delicious carb-filled lunch with Shane at Pagliacci’s. Bliss.

[Side Note: One thing I quite enjoy about long course racing – the carbo-load].

By Friday night my body was calling for sleep, so after a nice Epsom salts bath I crawled under the covers about 9pm (party animal right here) and slept soundly until about 9am Saturday morning. When I woke up (while groggy from my 12 hours of slumber) my throat was miraculously feeling a lot better.

Sleep and water = two things I’m pretty sure will cure most ailments.

Race-Day-Eve involved the usual pre-race shenanigans….
An easy run to get things firing. A little biking to make sure everything is in working order. A couple practice mounts and dismounts. Bike Check. Package Pickup. Pre-race meeting. Hanging out with a newly Nike-sponsored athlete and soon-to-be Olympian.

Ok, so that last one isn’t really typical of race-day-eve, but it was kinda fun to get to visit with Cam (and my Aunt and Uncle too of course) before he heads to the Olympic Trials and then off to London. Checking out the NCAA National Championship trophies was pretty cool too.

This photo certainly did not take my Grandma and two Aunts almost 10mins to take.
It was not awkward at all, haha.
Dinner and a somewhat early bedtime rounded out the day and before we knew it, the alarm was sounding and it was time. Time for my first Half IM in two years and time for Shane’s first one EVER!

[Spoiler Alert: He killed it... and while I am slightly jealous of his finishing time, I am also extremly proud of him].

We picked up Kirsten and arrived at the race site about an hour before the race start. More usual pre-race activities followed: set up, walk transition a few times, porta-potty stop, wetsuits on, gulp back a gel and head to the water’s edge.

For some reason, the anxiety hit me like a tonne of bricks. I actually felt more anxious than I think I did before IMC 2010. I was shaking and I couldn’t seem to make it stop… and I still can’t tell you why. It was an anomaly.

When the gun finally went off and the race began, I think I actually felt a bit of relief (granted, that moment of relief was temporary).

The wind was pretty fierce on Sunday morning and it was definitely doing a good job of whipping the lake into a frenzy of chop.

I struggled at first to find my place in the pack. I got swam over a few times and did a little swimming over of others as well. I got hit with one large wave (okay, so it probably wasn’t that large, but it felt it) and choked on a bit of water. I won’t say I panicked, but I definitely stopped and popped my head out of the lake pretty darn quick. I’ve never stopped like that in a race before and it surprised me.

Thankfully (and this is something I was actually quite proud of myself for) I reminded myself I’m a strong swimmer and there was no reason to be freaking out. I don’t have panic attacks in open water. I just don’t (and trust me, I know I am very very fortunate that this is the case). So, I put my face back in the water, relaxed my mind and my stroke and forged on ahead.

I swam quite wide and at times thought I was the only one in the lake (there was definitely no drafting happening from me), but was able to find a nice rhythm and steadily made me way to shore, coming out of the water about 3’ faster than my previous best Half IM swim.

When I saw the clock, I was pretty amped.

I saw my Mom and think I uttered something along the lines of “that was a fricken hard swim” before making my way into transition.

T1 was a blur. Helmet on. Bike un-racked. Run. Run. Run. Saw Dad cheering. A decent [read: not great, but better than Shawnigan] mount and I was on my way.

I think I settled into an okay pace on the bike fairly quickly. I was trying to find that nice balance of fast [for me] but sustainable, all the while, just waiting for Shane to blow past me. About 15-20km in, he finally did (never to be seen again).

As the ride continued, I tried to maintain my focus and keep a positive mindset.

I also realized I broke the cardinal rule of “never try anything new on race day” – I wore my tri shorts for the first time on a bike ride of this distance. I’d done a long run in them, and I’d done a few short bikes, but I never tested them out on anything over about 20-25km.

Anyway, I’m not sure if that was the cause or if it was something else completely, but about 35-40km into the bike I felt like something in my groin and adductor was pinched. This pinching radiated up into my lower abdomen and made my stomach cramp up a bit. The main result of this was that I really just did not feel like eating anything, so went about an hour of just subsisting on water and Gatorade before reminding myself that one of my goals was to “nail my nutrition” and I needed to get back on the gel train.

So I did. My stomach didn’t necessarily like me for it, but I didn’t puke or poop myself, so I think that is a win. (I did however get passed by a guy wearing a "Team Puke" jersey, which made me laugh).

I jockeyed back and forth with another girl for a large part of the 2nd lap. I’d pass her on every uphill, she’d kill me on every down and flat. It helped keep the focus.

I think around the 70km mark I swore I was done with long course racing for good (oh, what, I’m doing Ironman this year? Crap.) before coming back around mentally and refocusing for the final push into T2.

My dismount was okay (I think) and much like T1, T2 went by in a bit of a blur. I remember I grumbled something to my lovely spectators (Mom, Dad & Ash) about how "windy" grumble, grumble, “there was nothing easy about that bike,” stuffed some Sharkies in my pocket, clipped my race belt on, slid on the ol’ socks and shoes, and was on my way.

My calves felt pretty crampy for the first 1-2km of the run, but I knew they would loosen up, and they did. Once the cramping subsided, my right foot proceeded to go numb and tingly and I felt like I was running on a stump leg for the next 6 or 7km before a few pins and needles reawakened my dead appendage.

The first 10k lap actually felt pretty good (aside from the whole numb leg thing) and went by quite quickly. [I did however really wish I got to turn right into the finishers chute as I passed it, rather than head out for lap 2].

The second part of the run was more of a struggle and unfortunately my pace began to slow a little.

One bright shiny moment however was getting some unexpected cheerleading from my friend Erin who had just popped down to the trail before her riding lesson. She of course was too kind and told me how great I looked, while I’m pretty sure I just demanded “run with me” and forced her to run alongside me in her jeans and non-running Pumas. It was a great little pick me up.

Other than that, it was pretty much “one foot in front of the other” for the rest of the 20km. The whole time I found myself hoping I could hold off Kirsten and that she wouldn’t pass me in the final 500m or outsprint me across the finish line. Ahhh, the things that keep you going eh?

I finally crossed the line in 5:50:40.

I had hoped to be quicker, but (when do I not wish for that), it was my fastest time at this distance (by about 7mins) on a very windy and challenging day, and so I definitely am not disappointed with the result. I felt like I stayed positive throughout and other than a minor nutrition slip up on the bike, I followed my feed plan pretty well. 

As soon as I stopped, two things happened: 1) I'm pretty sure I told everyone within earshot that I prefer short course racing (more on this another time), and 2) my ankle joint proceeded to completely seize up and cause me a horrendous amount of pain in the process. However, one bonus to this horrific ankle pain was that I barely noticed my tired legs. Yay!

So, where do I go from here?
Well, priority #1a is to get this damn ankle sorted out and fixed once and for all. Priority #1b is to get a good sleep tonight and pound some vitamin C, as my throat is starting to feel a little scratchy again today... and then?

Then it is onward to Ironman.

Penticton or Bust!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Going Long

This weekend marks the first time in nearly two years that I will race anything longer than an Olympic distance race (and really, I only raced one Oly last year, so the majority of my races were actually sprints ~ yowza). It is also the only Half IM distance race I will be doing in prep for IMC 2012.

I’ll admit – I’m nervous.
[But I’m not entirely sure what I’m nervous about, I think it is a combination of many many things - some rational, some completely irrational].

Maybe I’m nervous that I’ll try and go out with the sprint mentality of GO-GO-GO and blow up?

Maybe I’m nervous that I’ll focus on pace-pace-pace and will end up having more to give at the end?

Maybe I’m nervous that both Kirsten and Shane will royally kick my ass and everyone who comes out to cheer us on (Mom & Dad) will be bored waiting around for me to cross the finish line?

Maybe I’m nervous because I’ll probably get an ear infection after this race, because the disgusting waters of Elk Lake usually contribute to at least one ear infection a season?

Maybe I’m just nervous because that is what happens to me before a race of any distance?

So many "maybes".

Anyway, it will be my first time racing the Half IM distance at the Victoria event, but I’m quite familiar with the bike and run routes, so I think it will end up being kind of fun tackling a course that I’m well acquainted with, while still having it be a “first time”. (Also, first time = automatic PB, right?)

In a way, the race has kind of snuck up on me. I feel like in 2010 racing a Half IM was such a huge deal – and that is not to say that it still isn’t, because it very much is – it just feels more like it is part of a bigger picture now.

The distances feel more manageable.

I can confidently swim 1.9km. I can happily bike 86km. And I most definitely can run 20km.

The time that I will spend out on the race course this Saturday will be something I do in training every week and I’m comfortable with it.

During the build to IMC 2010 both of my Half distance races had very different meaning and very different expectations and, I suppose, this race is somewhat different again. As noted above, I feel much more confident in my ability to conquer the distance, so perhaps I want to push a little harder and see what I'm capable of. That said, at the end of the day, my goals are also somewhat similar.

I want to nail my nutrition.

I want to push the bike as hard as I can without compromising my run.

I want to run well and feel strong mentally.

And maybe most importantly, I really want to have fun and not worry if the day doesn’t go exactly as I want or expect it to.

So, am I ready? Yes, I think I’m ready. Now just to prove it on race day.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Whirlwind Weekend in Penticton

Shane and I headed up to Penticton this past weekend for a mini IMC training camp of sorts.

As we headed to the ferry on Friday morning, the forecast seemed so-so. I was excited for the trip (and a long weekend), but was also not looking forward to the possibility of riding the IMC course in the rain. I know you need to be prepared for anything come race day, but I really wanted a taste of summer; I wanted that scorching heat of the Okanagan desert.

Thankfully, the rain that was called for never fully materialized and the drive up was pretty dry. We passed through a few showers and some major fog in the mountains just past Merritt, but as we pulled into Penticton and looked at the car’s dashboard thermometer a whopping 25degrees stared back at us. Oh yeah, and blue sky too!

We headed up to Doug & Di’s place and got changed into run gear for a little 30’ shakeout run. The wind was pretty constant, but the heat was nice and we were both sweating pretty good within a few minutes.

From there, it was down to the golf club to meet D & D for dinner. After a horrendous day of eating that included the ferry breakfast buffet (hello greasy potato pancakes) and a gas station smorgasbord (chips, M&M’s, Mike & Ike’s, etc. etc.) some real food was definitely a welcome addition to the gut. Salad, with real vegetables ~ oh my!

[What is it about road trips that make me think I can eat like complete crap and not pay for it later?]

As we sat eating dinner watching the wind whip the weeping willows into a frenzy, the weather forecast once again started to make me nervous. The dreaded “red screen” weather advisory flashed up on the club’s TV, saying showers and wind were on tap for Saturday.

We went to bed early, hoping for the best…

When we woke up Saturday morning, the sky actually looked pretty blue and the only clouds in the sky seemed to be of the “white fluffy” variety and not so much the “ugly grey rain” type.

We decided to forgo our swim as the lakes in Penticton were so cold that they made Thetis seem like a hot tub, and instead, got right into our day of biking the IMC course.

What can I say about the IMC course?

I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with parts of this course. The parts I think I’m going to hate, really aren’t all that bad, but the parts I tend to block out (ahem, the rollers) are what beat me up mentally.

Anyway, from the beginning I suppose.

We set out from Skaha marina (rather than riding through town) and fairly quickly settled into a nice rhythm.

The hill at McLean Creek Rd is of course the first little challenge. With legs not fully warmed up, the steep (but relatively short) climb burned the ol’ quads a little more than I would have liked and made me slightly fearful of the big beasts (aka. Richter & Yellow Lake) that lay ahead, but the sun was shining and the lovely downhill into OK Falls was a nice little reward for the initial climb.

After a quick pee stop in OK Falls we carried on through Oliver and onto Osoyoos. The time flew by and before I knew it we were stopped at the Husky refilling drink bottles and emptying our bladders in prep for Richter’s Pass.

As the climb began, Shane mentioned a slight feeling of dread in his gut, a feeling as if he was headed off to battle. He then smoothly and steadily pulled away from me and I was forced to settle into my own rhythmic pace, trying to work the climb as much as possible while reminding myself to keep the legs turning over at a steady and consistent effort.

There were a few people who had begun the climb before us, and it was nice to pick them off one by one (definite confidence boost). Shane waited for me at the top and upon my arrival, high-fiving ensued. Photos were taken and then the fun of the descent began.

Unfortunately the fun couldn’t last forever and soon we were onto the rollers. Whoever decided to call this section “rollers” was sorely mistaken. This section is not so much rollers, as it is seven(?) seriously sinister hills, complete with massive headwind and soul sucking monotony.

Umm, yeah, so I hate “the rollers” – could you tell? It’s where I had my flat in IMC 2010 and it’s the part of the course that I tend to always shove to the back of my mind in hopes that somehow it will flatten out before the next time I have to take it on. Also, why is there always ALWAYS a headwind in this section?

I found myself trying to barter with Mother Nature, at the same time cursing Shane for making it look so easy.

As we finally made it through “the rollers” and headed into Cawston and toward the out and back turn off, I commented to Shane that I was feeling a little discouraged by how great he looked and how awful I felt. He assured me he was in the same boat, and was actually really struggling at that moment too.

So, as we made the turn off for the start of the out and back, we decided to stop and eat some PB & J sandwiches we had packed for the day. I don’t know if it was the food or the brief respite from the wind, but it seemed to perk us both back up and soon we were rolling along again.

One more short break due to a flat tire on the out and back and we were finally into the last 45k and headed for Yellow Lake.

Yellow Lake is a beast of a climb. It was slow (for me that is - Shane was cruising and once again quickly pulled away from me as we climbed) and it was hard, but it was okay. My legs were turning over, and slowly by surely, I was making progress.

One thing about Yellow Lake that I love and I think is my absolute favourite sign on the IMC course (aside from the Finish Line that is) is the “Lane Ends 200m” sign as you near the top of climb. It never fails in perking me back up. You know if the lanes are merging, a downhill is imminent. I like how in that moment, you know that the big climbs are almost done! It really is one of the sweetest sights.

From Yellow Lake on it was a bit of a blur. Lots of fun descents, a couple little ups, and a bit of wind as we headed back into town. The day was almost perfect weather-wise (minus the wind) as it wasn’t too hot, but it was definitely warm enough and the rain that was in the forecast was never really seen or felt.

We did a short 15’ run off the bike and then gave our legs some much needed icing in the frigid waters of Skaha Lake before heading home to an absolutely delicious meal prepared by Di… and an early bedtime.

Sunday, of course, was long run day and we were up and at it fairly early in order to get our run done and get on the road home.

We dropped our car at the finish line of the IMC course near Okanagan Lake before being shuttled out to the run turn around in OK Falls… and then we ran.

It wasn’t fast, but the km paces that ticked by on my Garmin were very consistent and steady. The day was a little more grey than the previous one and the wind sweeping off Skaha and into our faces as we moved along East Side Rd definitely made a few moments feel like a grind, but even with the wind, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the time ticked by.

We talked, we ran, we were silent, and we ran. We passed the Cherry Lane Mall and crested the last little incline on Main Street before heading into the “City Centre”. Memories of the last time I ran down Main Street came flooding back. It got me excited and it made me nervous.

And then we were done.

Yet another big training weekend in the books. It was a great one, with a great partner - the only thing that was missing was Kirsten.

We are now 12 weeks out from IMC. This is where the real work begins. I know my legs won’t feel fresh until August and I’m pretty sure my tummy won’t stop growling until sometime in September, but, well, I love it!