Thursday, September 27, 2012

I love my bike, but…

For the past week or so, my motivation to get on my bike has been very low. I’m not sure why or how this came about, but lately I seem to be able to find any excuse and am able to justify to myself why it is okay to skip or slack on ‘this bike workout’ or ‘that bike workout’.

Take for example the past two days.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I had a 75’ aerobic ride on the agenda.

On Tuesday evening I decided that I would ride to and from work, as lately traffic has been making me very angry and each day I’m stuck in the car, I wonder why I’m not riding my bike (I’ve been quite road-ragey in fact. It is really not pretty). Anyway, once I drive down the Malahat, it takes about 30’ each way on my bike, so I figured I would ride easy on the way into work and then do the full 75’ after.

The ride into work was good. Cold, but uneventful. [Note to self: it is time for knee warmers in the morning – shorts are not cutting it anymore. Also, gloves.]

About midday yesterday, I decided it would be okay to only ride 45’ after work, justifying this by the fact that I would have ridden 75’ total on the day, even though it wasn’t all at once. Besides, I told myself, I swam immediately before my ride in to work, so that was about 75’ (or more!) of total aerobic activity this morning. 45’ on the way home was totally sufficient.

By 4:00 (30’ before departure time) I was both happy I had ridden my bike and sad at the same time. Happy I had ridden, because I knew if my car was in town, there was no way I would be riding for any length of time that evening. Sad, because I really didn’t want to ride, but had to if I wanted to go home (which I very much did).

The ride home was fine. My legs were tired and my heart wasn’t in it, but it too was uneventful (and warm enough for shorts and short sleeves, so that was nice).

By the time I got to my car (about 30’ into the ride) I decided to pack it in. My latest justification being that I had a “45-60’ aerobic on the rollers” ride on tap for the next morning (aka. today, aka. Thursday) and I would just make sure to do the full 60’, making up for the 15’ I was missing out on my 75’ aerobic.

Totally logical, completely reasonable and absolutely justifiable I told myself. Totally.

Fast forward to this morning. My alarm goes off. It’s time to get up and ride those damn rollers for 60’. I generally really like the rollers, but this morning at 5:30am, well, not so much.

So, what do I do?

Contemplate things for a few moments in a semi-awake state, then promptly set my alarm ahead one hour and go back to sleep.

My excuse du jour?

I’m tired. I’m just listening to my body. Rest is good for me. I can ride tonight when I get home from yoga and if I’m too tired, then I will ride Friday after work… or maybe Sunday. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Yeah, you get the idea. That 45-60’ on the rollers probably isn’t going to happen.

So that’s where I’m at. Essentially 3 weeks out from one of the biggest races of my life and I can’t seem to get past this awful mental block about riding my bike. I only need to put in 3 more weeks of hard training and then I get some down time and a wicked long break exploring an awesome new country. Won’t it be so much better if I work hard for it? Gah, I’m not even tapering and I’m already freaking out. My mind is surely messing with me, right?

Okay, minor freak out aside and on a more positive note... I had a pretty good fartlek run the other night. I may have had (okay, totally did have) the assistance of gravity via some dowhills to help me, but managed to clock a few sub 4:00/km paces on the ol’ Garmin. Gravity assisted or not, it was a pretty good confidence boost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brain Dump

Some random thoughts for a random Wednesday…

1) This past weekend I participated in the 2nd Annual Fun Runners Super Sprint Triathlon presented by Westshore Triathlon.

The emphasis for the event was FUN and well, it delivered.

There were no timing chips, no race bibs (although we did get nicely body marked), no batons for relays, no awards, but there definitely was a great sense of community. (I think the number of volunteers actually rivaled the number of participants). Everyone brought a potluck item to share post “race” and there were even homemade finishers medals. It was pretty awesome.

Kirk and Stephanie (Westshore Triathlon) put on a great little event, bringing together everyone from experienced short course racers and Ironman finishers to triathlon virgins who completed their very first race!

For me, it was a great chance to see how my body would respond to pushing hard and fast without the real pressure of racing… and well, it wasn’t too bad. I felt pretty pooped coming off the bike and bagged out a bit on the run, but it didn’t really matter. While I know there is definitely some work to be done as I build toward Auckland, it was great to feel that intensity again that comes with short course racing and it left me feeling pretty positive about where I am at. (Even if I was a tad sore the next day, haha).

2) Saturday’s “race” was followed on Sunday by a more aerobic set of workouts (bike and run). Both were to be kept in the easy aerobic range, but were to be “hilly”. I’ve got a lot of hilly workouts on the horizon over the next few weeks and at first I couldn’t really figure out why (as I believe the course in Auckland is rather flat), then I saw this picture and it all made sense.

You're not fooling me Kelly Guest.
3) I rode my bike to work yesterday. I’ve been doing this fairly often lately and every time I ride through one stretch of the Goose I think to myself, this is a roadie’s dream.

Fresh asphalt on a secluded trail...
... definitely one for The Book of Awesome.
4) As you can see from the quality of the above photos, the camera on my phone is pretty lackluster. I have one of the original Blackberry Curves (complete with roller ball). I drop this bad boy about 100 times a day and it is still keeps on working. It’s like a tank. A very small electronic tank.

That said, my contract has hit the point where I can now upgrade my phone and I feel torn. Part of me thinks I should just keep rocking the Curve until it goes kaput, but I am also tempted to upgrade to something with a fancier camera and more functionality (you know, something that can do more than text, email and brick breaker... although I do love me some brick breaker).

But now I have a dilemma: iPhone vs. Blackberry vs. Android.

What do I do?!

Which is better? Which will suit my needs? Which has a higher quality camera? Which one will stand up to being dropped 100+ times a day? Which can resist a small coating of sweat from being in my back zipper pocket while I run? Which one will stand up to being dropped 100+ times a day?

Oh loyal blog readers, please weigh in. What should I do?

5) While we’re on the subject of comparing things, I’d just like to state that in my opinion SPEEDO > TYR.

Why, you ask? Well, for years I wore this Speedo suit…

It was great; however, a little boring and the thick straps would cause some chaffing on my neck. Aside from looking like I always had a hickey, I didn’t really mind and I really liked the way the suit fit. Not to mention, in 5 years of triathlon-ing, I only had to replace it once.

While in Boston in April, I came across this Tyr suit…

I’m a sucker for anything tie-dyed and while it didn’t fit like a glove, it fit ‘well enough’ and was cheaper than I could buy a suit at home (or so I thought), so I bought it. I quickly discovered that the thin straps meant no chaffing on my neck! It was like a revelation. Unfortunately, the suit barely lasted the summer and is now so stretched out I can’t wear it without mooning the entire pool with each push off the wall. What up with that Tyr?

So, the other day, I went in search of a new swim suit figuring I might get lucky and find something on an end-of-season sale.

I ended up buying this bad boy…

I love it! As soon as I put it on, I could feel that trusty Speedo quality. The suit fits my body shape perfectly. Not to mention, it has a fun pattern and thin straps – so no neck chafing! Oh, and because it was on sale, it was actually cheaper than the Tyr suit I bought it Boston. Win Win Win. I’m hopeful (and confident) it will last just as long as my boring old blue suit.

6) I’ve totally been shopping for jeans this week. Apparently this is a no-no. I'll admit it, I am definitely having a hard time resisting the urge to dress my post Ironman body. I haven't bought anything yet, but today could be the day.

7) Last but not least. As I alluded to in a previous post, I am trying to win Sister of the Year honours for 2013. (See #2 here). And yeah, THIS is officially on tap for 2013 (I just threw up a little in my mouth). I’m still not fully talking about it (I need to get through NZ first), but I’m getting there. It’s going to be fun. Crazy, yes, but fun.

That said, this is what Shane thinks of Kirsten’s and my plans for next August.

And I think that is all for now... HAPPY HUMP DAY!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is happening?

My legs hurt.

A lot.

Like, A LOT a lot.

I can feel every sinew in my adductors and hips and quads and when I squat I involuntarily let out a little groan.

Man, what is happening to me?

Oh right, I took nearly two weeks off from training (the minimal amounts of swimming and biking were more just to keep me from going insane I think) and now that I’ve reintroduced some weight bearing exercises (think running and strength workouts) and am back at the whole two-a-day grind, my body is talking a little more loudly to me than it has in a while. (Although, I think it might just be asking for more cookies and grilled cheese, non?)

Don’t get me wrong, the two weeks of very little structure was absolutely needed. It was a perfect mental and physical break after Ironman and I find myself more and more excited for New Zealand. I’m happily looking ahead and no longer looking back.

So, even though I may groan each time I stand up from my desk at work, the stiffness in my legs is welcome. It is definitely a good hurt and I know by week’s end, my body will likely have reignited and things will be decidedly less painful.

That said, it does feel a bit strange to still have a race to focus on and train for. While most people in the Pacific Northwest are putting their tri-suits away for the season, my second ‘A’ race of the year is just around the corner. The air has a distinct fall chill to it and most Victoria area tri-geeks probably don’t have a lot of open water swimming on the horizon.

I however, have not packed up the wetsuit quite yet. I read recently the water temperature in Auckland on race day will likely be in the 14-16C (57-61F) range. Granted, I usually have no idea what the water temperature is around here, but well, 14-16C seems kinda cool, don’t cha think?

I believe Okanagan Lake measured somewhere in the 21-23C range this year for IMC, so I’m guessing 14-16C will be similar to the chill that we experience in Shawnigan each year in May (of course if anyone reading can correct me, please feel free). So yeah, Thetis (and perhaps even the ocean) will remain on my list of training facilities until at least October 14. Brrrr.

[Tangent Alert! Shane tells me that 14-16C is perfect “great white shark temperature”. I have a slightly irrational fear of sharks and can’t stop replaying (in my head) a story I saw on Shark Week about a guy in Australia’s Sydney harbour being attacked by a shark. The swim in Auckland just so happens to be in a harbour too. Eeek! Of course, this is good incentive to work on swimming really fast, so that I’m out of the water quickly. Besides, my odds are better in a big group right? I just need to make sure I don’t fall off the main pack, haha].

Another reason it seems a bit strange to still be focused on triathlon, is that last year around this time I discovered how fun cyclocross can be. Getting muddy and dirty and throwing yourself around a crazy biking obstacle course = awesome.

Part of me thought I would take part in the fall cross season again this year before heading to Auckland, but after a women’s only CX clinic on Monday night, I realized it is probably best to avoid the cross bike until after NZ.

Don’t get me wrong, the clinic (put on by the amazing Mical Dyck) was an absolute blast! I learned some great new skills (like how to dismount and mount while still wearing my shoes, how to properly carry my bike, plus much much more) and I don’t think the smile left my face the whole time I was there. Man, what a silly and thrilling sport!

[Fun fact: Mical hates bananas, but is an awesome teacher when it comes to all things CX].

That said, I also learned that the whole time I was trying to corner down a hill or slalom through some cones, the World Champs were in the back of my mind, and I was tentative. (I hit the chicken switch a lot on Monday night). I fell a lot last year as I attempted to learn to cross and I realized I was very afraid to fall and hurt myself before Auckland. I think injuries normally happen when you are tentative, so, mounting the ol’ CX bike is going to be put on hold until November – at which time I plan to hit the parks and trails and truly learn to get wild on the cross bike.

So, what lies ahead as I get back into training? Well, something I’ve not done a whole heck of a lot of this year. Sprinting. Speedwork. Hard~Steady~Fast efforts! A return to the PAIN ZONE.

It terrifies me a little. I find myself really nervous about the type of work that I need to put in over the next 5 weeks or so. I know I've got the fitness, but now I need to teach my body how to fire again and I need to embrace the hurt that I so often shy away from.

Thankfully, I read Katie’s Rev3 Cedar Point race report this morning and she posted the most amazing quote: “ 'My heart is afraid it will have to suffer,' the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. 'Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.' ”

I love this so much.

So yeah, if you see me out swimming or biking or running over the next little while and I look like I’m suffering – well, that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Snippets of Ironman Week

Just over one week out from Ironman and the view ain't so bad. Sure, the race didn't go exactly as I had hoped, but disappointment is giving way to pride. Ahhh, perspective ~ it’s a wonderful thing.

Besides, lots of other fun (and/or interesting) stuff happened during Ironman week, so why focus on just the race, right?

So without further ado, some random tidbits and photos from IMC week...

1) On the drive up to Penticton, somewhere between Merritt and West Kelowna, Shane had to 'go' really badly. Unfortunately there was not a rest stop in sight. So, we found a road to pull off on and, napkins in hand, he set out to find a nice bush to squat behind and take care of business.

Once in the bush, he heard a clicking sound, which quickly became a rattling sound. Yes, rattle snake!!!

He high stepped it out of there as fast as he could and found a more appropriate location to fertilize the land. Once back in the car, covered in sweat and adrenaline pumping he looked at me and said "that literally scared the shit out of me." It made me laugh.

2) Shane and I had decided to do our last training run on the Thursday before the race separately. Just before dinner, I set out along the channel hoping for a nice mellow run. As I passed the foot bridge near the golf course, I came across a large slithering creature myself.

I ran past it very calmly and then proceeded to do the most awkward jazz hand style, heebie-jeebie body shake. (The people tubing in the channel probably thought I was crazy, but hopefully my little dance provided a good laugh).

I thought I was going to be able to top Shane's rattle snake story, but turns out it was likely just a very mature (non-venomous) bull snake. It did not scare the shit out of me, but it definitely freaked me out something fierce as I was very unaware there are large snakes in Penticton that aren't rattlers.
I did not have a phone/camera with me, but the bull snake I saw looked very much like this.
3) Last year while in Penticton for IMC, Tyler bought a new one piece tri-suit. The tri-suit came to be known as the onesie and we all joked that we expected to see him running up Yellow Lake beside us in the onesie.

Sometime during this Ironman week, Ty got it into his head that he needed a sombrero to complete the ensemble. A sombrero is not an easy thing to find in Penticton and by Saturday I think we were all starting to think the onesie would have to stand alone.

Enter the Main Street Farmers Market...

On Saturday as we were having our final pre-race meetings with Kelly, Ty spotted a sombrero in one of the stands (I think they were selling some kind of Mexican food??). Unfortunately, those sombreros were for decoration and were not for sale. Fortunately however, a lady at the stand overheard Tyler asking about them and said she had one at home that he could buy.

And so, Tyler proceeded to trek about 15' from town with a total stranger, to her house, so that he could buy his sombrero...
... and what a glorious sombrero it turned out to be.
The full ensemble!
Not Tyler, but next year's Yellow Lake costume perhaps??
4) Mom and Dad made some awesome signs for the race this year, however, just before I came out on the run, Dad met a guy with a pretty hilarious sign that he ended up borrowing for when I passed. It read "Run Faster! (I just farted)".

If you know anything about me, you know one of my favourite things in the world is a good fart and/or fart joke [ask me sometime about the most epic "awesome" Boston fart - you won't be disappointed]. It was great, cause even though I wasn't feeling the best, it definitely made me smile.

Proud Parents and our No. 1 Fans!
High 5's for Energy!!!
Because you can never have too much Rusty. 
5) Kirsten and I have made the trek to Penticton every year since 2008 to be part of Ironman week in one form or another (be is purely spectating, racing or volunteering), and yet before this year, we had never been there at midnight to see the final participants cross the finish line.

Seeing as this is the last Ironman Canada in Penticton, we figured it was about time we took it all in. Awesomely, as we arrived back down on Lakeshore after showering up and having a bite to eat, one of the first people we saw cross was Sister Madonna. It was pretty awesome. She is such an impressive and amazing woman.

Sister Madonna is in this blur somewhere.
And well, fun times were had by all...

Signing In!
Nervous already? Or just confused.

Ty and the Giant Peach.
Steve King at the Welcome Dinner.
Weeee Fans.
Some people were so proud of us, they just gave us a baby!

In the week since the race I have eaten my weight in cookies and other fine delicacies such as pizza, grilled cheese and ice cream. Oh, and did I mention cookies?

I've tried to fight a cold, given into the cold, and I think *knock on wood* pretty much shaken my cold.

Oh, and did I mention that I have eaten a lot! Like, A LOT a lot.

I’ve also slept about as much as I've eaten, but still found time to clean the house!

I have managed to get to the lake a couple times for some easy swimming, and have even reintroduced my nether regions to my bike seat. All in all, it has been a good week.

All my slacking (and eating) has been great. I've given myself the week for guilt free binging, but am definitely ready to reintroduce some vegetables to my diet, and while training will stay very light for another week, I am starting to feel that itch to get back at it and get into a routine.

New Zealand is finally starting to feel really real (Shane and I watched the New Zealand Departures episodes this weekend) and I'm starting to get excited. Although, I think I've been focused more on the travel part of the trip and haven't given much thought to the race. I'm seriously considering Zorbing.

Anyway, once I'm back into training full on, the focus will shift to speedwork. It both scares and excites me.

New Zealand or Bust!