Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Get Comfortable

I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately. I look at it and think about posting. Then I usually reread some previous entries and eventually move on to other blogs and lose myself in other people's adventures and training rambles.

Inevitably, I come back to my blog again, think about writing some more – I think maybe a training recap or a good “random facts” post is in order – and eventually, I once again forget what I was thinking about and move on to something different.

All those recaps of my weeks, the grand posts detailing my inner most training thoughts and silly rambles that I write in my mind while I run never seem to materialize in printed form.

Anyway, since I've always enjoyed looking back on my training through the years and seeing where I was at “this point” in the build or with “that many weeks” out from Ironman, I decided I'd better get a little something written down. I've done a lot in the last few weeks, so get comfortable, this might be a long one...

1) Racing. I have not raced yet this year. Kelly has had a couple days in the calendar where he has wanted us to ride to one of the Vancouver Island Race Series events and run there, but instead Shane and I have been doing mini races/time trials on our own. Partly because we are being cheap and don't want to pay to race, and partly because it sometimes just seems easier to do our own thing on our own time.

One of these skipped-races-turned-time-trials was the Bazan Bay 5k a couple weeks ago. Usually when I race at Bazan Bay it looks a little something like this: short warm up before the race. Gun goes off. Go out way too fast, try to hold on, slow down a little in the middle, grind it out to the end. Skip cool down to head to the finish line food and eat way too much considering I just ran a 5k and not a marathon.

Our little 5k time trial was similar in many ways  although we did a much longer warm up and cool down and my recovery nutrition was more aimed at recovery and less at shoving my face with various treats like some kind of animal.

We had a good warm up. A solid, steady, comfortable 5km outing. Longer than I would normally warm up for a 5k, but really, getting in a bit of a long run was more the plan than anything.

The positives: I ran this TT like I would run a race and was only about :30 off my 5k PB. The run was on a gravel trail, and without the pack of people around me to help find that extra little edge that you get in a race, overall, I was happy with my time.

The negatives: I ran it like I often run a race and went out WAY.TOO.FAST. I blew up around 3k (cramps in both my calves and a side stitch) and slowed down way too much. I regrouped a bit (which was a positive), but man, I was hurting!! (That also happened to be right around the time Shane blew past me, as he started a bit behind me, so it was a bit of a blow to the ego as well).

So, in the end, I felt like I could have run this much smarter and probably had a better time to show for it, but at the same time, I was happy that I treated it like a race and gave it everything I had without actually being in the race atmosphere.

We did another 5k to cool down and round things out to 15km for the day. The cool down wasn’t quite as comfortable as the warm up, but overall, it was a solid day.

2) Shit happens. Literally.

This sign is on one of the walks I often do on my lunch breaks.
It never fails to make me laugh. 
[Disclaimer: skip this section and move onto #3 if you aren't into poo talk]

Lately, while running, any time I do a really hard effort over 5-ish km, it results in a sudden and desperate need to find a toilet about 5mins into my cool down. I'm not sure if it is something in my diet, or just something in my brain, but I have had some very close (and unpleasant) calls as of late.

It all started a week or two before our 5k TT when I had an ‘8x 1km @ 10k RP’ workout. This was probably one of the best running workouts I’ve had in – I dunno, ever! It was amazing. I felt strong, smooth and relaxed on every repeat ~ and I was nailing my paces to boot. I could do no wrong!

I had done my repeats in Beacon Hill Park and then headed back down Dallas Rd to Oswego to start my cool down and head back to my car and home for the day. It was a gorgeous evening and lots of people were still out and about on the streets of Victoria.

Then it happened. My guts dropped. I had to stop. I had to walk. I needed to find a washroom. Stat! The first one I tried was closed. I zero’d in on another. Locked. And another. Locked as well. At this point, I had covered a decent distance and realized I was only a couple blocks away from the mall and that, since it was a Thursday, it should be open still.

I jogged/walked/clenched my way there and have never been so relieved in my life. That bathroom will likely never be the same again though. Apologies Bay Centre. Apologies. 

The 5k TT mentioned above in #1 was much of the same. 5mins into our 5k cool down and I was in a state of sweaty panic. Thankfully, we were in the middle of nowhere and it is much more acceptable to run off the trail to relieve oneself in the woods then it is to do the same thing on someone’s lawn. That day marked my first time pooping in the woods.

Also, I just realized this entire point about poop, is #2. Awesome.

3) SufferFest. We have the odd weekend marked “SufferFest” in our calendars – these tend to be a big brick workout at the end of a big(ish) block of training (but not always). Sadly, the last one we had got snowed out, which kinda sucked.

This weekend's SufferFest was a 100km bike followed by a 21.2km run on Sunday. Saturday was a more chilled out day, in that we were supposed to treat it as a pre-race day, so I worked on that routine, got my bike stuff in order and yadda, yadda, yadda. Also, I did a strength workout, which is not a typical “day before the race” event for me. 

Anyhoodle… Sunday. Short version: it was awesome. (For me at least. Shane may have a different version of events).

I planned out a bike route that would tour us all over the city, mixing some scenic and somewhat flat sections with some rollers and some decent climbs. Overall, I think it was a pretty challenging route, and one that I will likely revisit again.

As for the actual riding, I felt like I rode quite well and like I was riding really strong through the whole thing. Sometimes when I ride with Shane I feel slightly guilty as I think that I am slowing him way down, but I think I held my own on Sunday and our pace stayed at a pretty good and consistent average the whole time.

Within the last 10-15km my legs were starting to get a bit fatigued and my hips a bit achy but for the most part, it was great to be out on the road and I was super happy with the day so far.

Also, I totally nailed my nutrition! Win.

We met Kirsten and my Dad at the lakes to get into our run. Transition time was probably equivalent to a slow Ironman transition. So, you know, not overly quick.

I had to pee like mad, so Kirsten and I pretty much tempo'd the first km or so to the washrooms, but after that we regrouped and settled into a nice rhythm. Thankfully, the feeling I had on the bike remained and overall, I felt good. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my legs were certainly heavy and I had some achiness in my hips, but it was a good day for running. Actually in general my running feels strong right now and I’m really enjoying it, so hopefully that lasts through the end of June *fingers crossed*.

Kirsten and I picked it up a bit for the second loop. We definitely weren't breaking any records, but I felt like we were running well and there were even times where I thought I could probably have been moving a bit faster. Who am I?

Also, I totally nailed my nutrition! Double Win.

Days like these in the build to Ironman are invaluable I think. I felt strong throughout, like I was really on top of nutrition, and got a nice little boost to the ol’ confidence from it. Something I’m realizing this year, is that in doing TransRockies last summer, 6-days of go-go-go really taught me how much I am capable of and made me realize that my ability to suffer and withstand pain is much higher than I once thought.

4) Gear. I got a new trisuit the other day.

Rusty and I showing off our new rear ends (and a messy bedroom).
Last summer while I was in Colorado for TransRockies, I stopped by Tribella Multisport with the hopes of finding something perfect, as I've never really had a trisuit that I've been truly happy with. Unfortunately, they didn't really have anything in my size at the time, and the owner mentioned I should hold off for a bit if I didn't need a suit right now, because there was soon to be a new company starting up that I should keep an eye out for.

I patiently stalked the internet waiting for their release and once that happened, I think I read every review I could find. They all said the same thing, Coeur had the most comfortable chamois in their tri-shorts. (Why they don’t list “magic chamois” as the first thing on their website when talking about their shorts, I don't know… but whatevs, the info is out there to be found if you look).

So, after much indecisiveness and multiple texts to my family and best girlfriends seeking opinions on which colour/style to buy, I finally bit the bullet… and, so far *knocks wood* I could not be happier.

I donned the new suit for my SufferFest this past weekend and the amount of chafing was, well, zero! Yes, you read that right  ZERO! I usually ride in bike shorts, so I think it will take a bit of adjustment getting used to the slightly less padding in the seat (I could feel my sit-bones a little more than normal), but I can easily adjust to that.

Also, I know it was only one workout, but it was a big one, and yeah – NO CHAFING!

I’ve also been rocking some new footwear on my long runs recently (Hokas) and while I’m not 100% on the Hoka bandwagon yet (they need a wider toe box in my opinion), I’m enjoying them for outings over 20-25km. The extra cushion leaves my legs feeling a little less throbby at the end of a few hours pounding the pavement. My shorter runs and faster workouts still belong to my Kinvaras (which I love) and having the two different shoes to switch between is something I’m definitely digging right now.

5) Gold Star. I just realized that this is probably the longest post I’ve ever written that is not a race recap. So, if you’ve made it through the whole thing, please know that I think you are truly awesome and I thank you.

This is for you, dear reader.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3 months +

I had a bit of a jaw-dropping *yikes* moment the other day when I was looking through my training calendar and realized that we are just over 3 months away from IM CdA. Like 3 months and 17 days or something crazy like that.

That is really soon.

I guess having only trained for a late August Ironman in the past, I had fooled myself into thinking there was still tonnes and tonnes of time. There would be months upon months of sunny happy training weather to come… But yeah, unfortunately this is not the case when you are racing an early season IM. Who knew? ;)

Training has been interesting lately. My use of the word ‘interesting’ makes it sound bad, but it has not been bad, just a bit different than years past. 

There have been some good things and some not-so-good things. Days of great motivation and days with NO motivation.

I definitely feel I'm in a better place in relation to how training impacts the rest of my life outside of triathlon (not that there is much of one, but go with me here) and I feel like I have found a better balance and integration with work/family/friends, etc.

I don't live and die by my training calendar as much as I used to. This isn't to say I don't follow my workouts, because I definitely still do, I'm just not quite so anal about it. The first time I trained for an IM I followed the schedule almost exactly, worried that if I skipped or altered a workout, I would fail on the big day. Now, I have a better understanding of what needs to get done and where I can be a bit more liberal and flexible. Also, I've gotten much better about letting go of the odd workout when it just doesn't fit in with my life. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, I haven't felt guilty about it, I just 'X' it out and let it go. That is a big step for me.

That said, unfortunately, I definitely feel like there have been areas where I have slacked a little. I'm getting the majority of my workouts done each week, but I feel like the snowy and/or rainy weekends that plagued much of February and early March have hampered my biking and, admittedly, I've been a bit of a fair weather rider.

We were so spoiled through January with cool, sunny, dry days that getting in the long bikes on the weekend were not a problem. February and March however, I've been spending a lot of time on my trainer. I like the trainer, so this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm just not logging the same hours I would/should as if I were outdoors (2.5-3hrs is about the max I can do indoors). I'm not the strongest biker, so getting out and getting that saddle imprinted in my nether regions for 5, 6, 6+ hours is something I really need. Hopefully in the coming weeks I can log a little extra mileage.

On a plus, I feel like I have been running very well lately. I've had some solid workouts and I feel strong and connected most of the time. I'm not necessarily feeling fast, but I do often feel I can go and go and go.

My swimming is somewhere between my bike and my run. It has been consistent. I don't know that I'm getting any faster in the pool, but I'm not getting any slower either, and at this point, I'll take it.

Other than swim/bike/run, I've actually been following my strength program about 100x better than I have in years past ~ and I've been enjoying it! Go figure eh? It only took me 6/7 years to realize just how important a little strength is, haha.

So, that got rambly quickly, but that's where I'm at… 3 months and 17-ish days to go until Ironman #3.