Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lost in a Sea of Change

It's weird, I don't think I truly ever went through the post-IM blues this year.

We had specifically planned for an early season IM with the intention of taking the summer 'off'. To swim, bike, run – all for fun – without the structure of a training plan. To be in the moment and enjoy all that our beautiful island had to offer.  And… if I'm honest, in the back of my mind I knew that I'd likely race the Victoria Half Marathon in October, so really, I did have a goal to look forward to.

The summer was great. The half in October was great. But now that it's done, I feel kind of lost.

Post-IM blues 3.5 months later? Or is it post-half mary blues? I dunno, but it's definitely something.

Shane and I have a lot of big changes happening in our life right now. I'm sure these changes are part of the reason I'm feeling a little off-kilter (hell, I know they are)… But, I think the fact that I have not set any sort of specific plans or goals for next year is contributing to this lost feeling as well.

Pretty much since I started triathlon, picking a goal and training for something specific has been a constant in my life. I've always had a pretty good idea of what was coming next in my athletic life even when I was taking a bit of a break or soaking up the off-season. There has always been a New Goal for a New Year to look ahead too.

Now, when I'm asked “what's next?’ (which is still a question I get a TONNE) I don't have an answer. I have a few things in mind and a few things I'd like to try (learning to mountain bike, joining a running or triathlon club, etc. etc.), but nothing concrete.

I was out for a run the other day, just kind of plodding along, feeling a little down on myself  and like the run had no purpose. I shook myself a little and tried to remind myself that not every run – not every workout – needs a purpose. Sometimes, just getting out the door and being active is enough. 

So I'm holding onto that. Trying to find my new rhythm. Swimming, biking, running, just because. My purpose right now is fun. My purpose is to stay active and to stay healthy – both physically and mentally.

It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 Victoria Half Marathon - Race Report

I started writing a post on Friday (and then again on Saturday) about the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend – which of course also means MARATHON WEEKEND in Victoria!

Whether I'm racing or simply spectating, this is probably one of my favourite weekends of the year. I feel like it sort of signals the end to one “season” and triggers the start of the next – in athletics and regular life. (Plus all the obvious Thanksgiving-y goodness of time with family and friends and lots of yummy food).

This year, I was trained up and ready to run the half marathon. It would be my first time since 2010 that I've done anything longer than the 8k on marathon weekend. For the past four years, cheering on friends and family has been higher on the priority list.

Anyway, my now abandoned post started something like this…
“Confession. I'm nervous.”

I didn't get much farther than that.

It seems the nerves I was feeling leading into Sunday's Victoria Half Marathon were enough that the idea of writing about the race – before it happened – was just too much. And so, that blog post got ditched.

Funny how a distance you've run countless times can suddenly feel so intimidating.

Actually, that's a lie; the distance wasn't intimidating at all. I knew I could run it just fine. I suppose the fact that I had declared a time goal, and knew it was going to take some work to achieve it, well, maybe that was the intimidating part?

Anyway, as usual, I'm rambling. Let's get to the race report, shall we?

After a restless ‘sleep’ on Saturday night, I woke up way too early and did my usual pre-race routine before heading down to meet up with the parental units and Kirsten so we could all drive into town together.

I was quiet and a bit grumbly and a little unsure of why I was feeling so anxious.

When one of my folks asked if I was okay and I nearly started to cry I had to remind myself that my best races this year have been when I haven't given a crap about time (or, should I say, time wasn't the main focus), but instead was more concentrated on finding the joy and fun in the day… because let's face it, I do this for the fun and the challenge, I'm never going to make a living running races.

Thankfully, this little thought snapped me out of my nerves (for a brief moment) and reminded me that the world was surely not going to end if I didn't make my goal time. No one would care, other than me. As my Dad later said, he would have been disappointed for me, but certainly not disappointed in me.

Almost as soon as I stepped into the starting area and found the 1:45 signage I heard my name and looked back to see fellow-triathlete Lesley. It was a nice distraction to have someone to chat with while we waited for the official start.

Soon enough, it was go time.

I bobbed and weaved a bit through the start. Cursing the few walkers who really should not have been starting so close to the front and wondering how so many people were so bad at self-seeding, but soon enough I had some space and was moving along at a comfortably strong effort.

As the first few km ticked by on my watch, I noticed I was slightly faster than my goal pace, but nothing too too crazy. I was feeling good, so I decided to just go with it. I was running strong but comfortable and I was feeling confident.

To be honest, most of the race is a bit of a blur in my mind now. I know the course so well, that I knew when little inclines were coming and knew when I'd be able to relax into a bit of a downhill, etc. etc. I think I was in autopilot a bit.

I attempted to take a gel around the 12km mark – not because I wanted it, but because I felt like I probably needed it. But, it was actually kind of grossing me out, so after sucking about half of it down, I tossed it at the next aid station.

My pace was steady and about where I wanted it to be right up until 16/17k. I knew the hill on Dallas Rd might slow me down a little, and sadly, it did  just ever so slightly, but enough to sap a bit of my energy and momentum.

Through this little uphill stretch my brain just kept saying “Maintain. Get to Terry. Maintain. Get to Terry.” [The road starts to hit a bit of a downhill at the Terry Fox statue and I knew I could make back a few seconds per km on that downhill stretch – I just needed to get to Terry first!].

I also saw Shane along here. It was nice to see him, but I was definitely in my “Maintain. Get to Terry.” world, so I think I pretty much just grunted at him as he cheered for me.

I pushed as hard as I could through the final few km and did my best to keep a consistent pace. I tried to pick it up a little, but just didn't have a lot left to give. I crossed the finish line in 1:44:28. I was definitely happy to come in under 1:45 as that is the goal I laid out at the start of this year and again at the start of this training cycle.

Oddly enough, post-race, I did feel a slight disappointment. I'm not sure if it is because deep down I maybe thought I could run a little faster (I feel like I had a 1:43:xx in my head) or if it was just because I knew I slowed a little in the second half and think I could have executed a slightly better race.

As Kelly said when we chatted after, “positive splitting a race always leaves one wanting for more.” I think he is probably right, had I run stronger in the second half, I may have felt a little more complete.

But all that said, at the end of the day, I really cannot be disappointed with a 5+ minute PB!! I set a goal and I accomplished it, and for that I am absolutely thrilled.

Once I had my finisher photo snapped and collected some chocolate milk, Shane, my parents and I headed out to cheer Kirsten on along the marathon route. She didn’t PB (but wasn’t trying to) and ended up running a really great, well-paced marathon, accomplishing everything she set out to do.

Really, she said it best on Facebook post-race “Sometimes not fading from the front and not crying in Oak Bay is as good as a PB! Overall a great day at the Victoria Marathon, stand-alone marathon #10 done!!”   

Yeah, it was a good day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I looked at my training calendar today and kind of had a *gulp* moment. The Victoria half marathon is in less than 2 weeks. How’d that happen?

As I was sitting there in that shocked *gulp* state, I also realized that I really have not written much about my actual training through this cycle. I suppose that could be due to the fact that is hasn't been a particularly long training cycle, or perhaps because it has been rather uneventful (in a good way)… but still, a little word here or there on how's it is going is never a bad thing. Right? Right.

I suppose the fact that it hasn't been a particularly long training cycle could be why it feels like all of a sudden it is upon me. I haven't had time to really get tired of running or training or overwhelmed by thoughts about my goals. On top of that, I still haven't really given much thought to “what's next” so my focus has actually stayed fully with this race. I'm present in this moment, focused on this goal, with no worries about base training for next year, etc. etc. Staying focused in the present. Hmm, what a crazy notion that is eh?

Anyway, I ramble.

For the most part, training has been going very well. I'm putting in the work and having fun while doing it. I've been running quite a bit (as you do when training for a running race), supplemented with some cyclocross (which I am loving so so much), as well as hitting the pool for the odd swim here and there.

On the running front, I think some speed is creeping back in. After months and months (years and years?) of long slow, iron-distance pacing, it’s been nice to go out and push myself at a 5km or 10km effort and see what happens. I think my body is adjusting and adapting, which is good.

My long runs have included a lot of “goal race pace” efforts/tempos and while there have been a few days where I question how I am going to hold that pace for 21.1km and not just 7 or 8km, it is getting easier. Looking through my training calendar, I've noticed I've used the word “controlled” a lot lately, which I think is a good thing. I've been in control of my pace, in control of my breath and really, in control of my mind when I might be hurting during a workout. I hope to carry this through to the actual race.

As for cyclocross, I'm so incredibly happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the Cross Club. I still don't really, truly know anyone, and I still get a little anxious on Wednesday nights as I head to the venue, but the joy I get while ripping around on my bike outweighs any of the nerves and anxiety.

I did my first actual race (since 2011) on Sunday and had a blast. I placed about mid-pack in the beginner women's category, so there is still definitely room for improvement, but I find my main focus with cross is to improve my bike handling skills, get in a good (short but hard) workout and have fun, and you know, each and every time I've been on my cross bike this year, I've accomplished those things, so I think that is a win.

But yeah, I'm rambling again.

So, let's recap…
Running is going well. Cyclocross is super fun. Life is generally pretty darn good.

Until next time. Peace out homies.