Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lucky Me!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's been a whirlwind three days of festivities and gifts and good cheer shared with family and friends.  On Thursday evening we hosted our annual open house.  It was a small affair with friends dropping by for drinks and appetizers.  The blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and my white chocolate candy cane cheesecake were the biggest hits of the evening.  Lola even got in on the action with people bringing her gifts and treats.  We were all spoiled and had a wonderful, low key evening with everyone.

Christmas Eve day found me at the pool for a swim workout.  I was feeling a bit sluggish still from donating blood two days before (I'm a weakling I guess) and because I went to the 11:30 a.m. session I was a little off for when I should have and what I should have eaten before.  It was a tough workout and my stomach was growling half way through.  I've realized that I need to pick some books up on nutrition for athletes (I'm an athlete - haha) and learn about what I should be eating and when and how much.  Now that I'm doing focused training with a coach for a half-iron distance I don't think I can just fake it anymore!  Funny thing happened getting out of the pool though.  I grabbed my towel off the chair and was waving good-bye to the two lifeguards when one of them came over and asked me if I used to swim for the Windsor Aquatic Club (our city's competetive swim team).  He thought he recognized from there.  I almost fell over because really, me?  A WAC swimmer?  I just learned to swim last year! I felt pretty good about it though as obviously my storke and overall swimming must be improving!

In the evening we gathered at my sister's house for our family Christmas.  There was plenty of food and drink and kids all wound up from too much excitement.  To add to the chaos was their 5 month old Goldendoodle puppy that is SO cute and SO energetic.  The kids loved all the gifts and Paul and I scored some gift certificates and new pyjamas.  My mom and dad got us gift cards to Lowe's so that we can get a closet organizer for the cycling room (or nursery as it's become known) that is our latest redecorating project.

This morning Paul and I opened gifts with Lola.  We spoiled each other as usual and I got some awesome gifts!  Some of my favourites include a Road ID, DeSoto triathlon shorts, a cycling jersey, Le Sportsac bag, Betsey Johnson watch, PUMA jacket and socks, a triathlon pendant necklace, and new heartrate monitor for my Garmin.  There's so much more that I can't even catalogue right now.  Paul seemed really happy with all of his gifts, especially the Cervelo Test Team jersey, bib shorts, and winter jacket that I got him.  This year was a real swim, bike, run themed Christmas!

The rest of the day includes the annual viewing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and a whole lot of lounging around!  I'm making a prime rib roast for dinner and we'll probably take Lola to the park at some point to play with her new glow in the dark ball.  Tomorrow I have a one hour moderate run on the schedule and then we're going Stateside for some Boxing Day sales! 

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday and that the coming year brings health, happiness and PBs for everyone!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Now How Did That Happen?

Christmas is here.  Really soon.  Sydney said something at work Wednesday about Christmas being next week and I said, "What was that?".  Next week?  How did that happen?  We left for Cozumel on the 24th of November and it was mild and normal around here.  We returned on December 01st and it was like we landed in the North Pole by mistake.  The temperature had plummeted and all of sudden there were Christmas lights and carols and all things Christmas everywhere!  It was only the first of December though and the actual holiday seemed so far away still.  Well it's not far away anymore.

To be honest I'm not all that into the Christmas spirit this year and that's weird for me.  Paul and I both LOVE this holiday.  We even got married on December 02nd because it was the closest we could respectably get to Christmas.  I think it might have something to do with what we've been through this year and that I had a VERY different idea of what our family would (or would be about to) look like when the holiday rolled around this year.  Not meant to be though and I need to remember what a wonderful life I have.  Paul and I have wonderful jobs that allow us to indulge our love of triathlon and travel.  We are in wonderful health.  We have family that love us both (most of them anyway) and friends that are like family.

In any event the gifts are purchased save for one or two I'll finish up tomorrow.  The tree is trimmed and the house is decorated (thanks to Paul).  We have our annual Christmas open house on Thursday which will allow us to enjoy some Christmas cheer with good friends.  It's going to be a good holiday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ironman Cozumel Slideshow Party

Before even leaving for Cozumel Sydney had planned an Ironman Cozumel Slideshow party to review all the pictures and as a true end of season get together.  In addition to the slideshow Sydney wanted to put together a movie trailer to send out as a bit of a teaser to everyone attending the party.  My job while away was to ensure that there was enough in the way of video clips - both during the race and during the vacation - to put something cool together.  Sydney took everything I brought back and did an awesome job on the trailer.  Unfortunately I'm a bit of a boob and can't figure out how to imbed the youtube video.  However, if you are so inclined, click here and it will take you to the video (title: Ironman Cozumel Redux).  

Saturday evening we all gathered at Sydney and Andy's place for some great food and drinks.  The slideshow ended up being a big hit and was a really awesome tribute.  The wine, martinis and Prosecco were flowing and the family room ended up turning into a dance floor.  There was a yoga-off at some point (we're very competitive) and someone had their wits about them enough to pull out the camera and take photos that can be used in the future for blackmail purposes.  It was an awesome night and alot of fun but unfortunately, we can party as hard as we train sometimes and Paul and I ended up being driven home at 4 a.m.  Very, very drunk.  Oops.

Saturday evening's shenanigans resulted in a doozy of a headache/hangover on Sunday.  Paul went out into the snowstorm to get us Big Mac meals (my hangover meal of choice) and then we had to go pick up our car at Syd's place.  Paul's car is a Mustang convertible that's not so hot in the slush and snow so we needed to pick up the SUV before the snow got really bad.  Since we were already out we went to pick out our Christmas tree.  Once that was done I hit the couch and put in a movie while Paul went grocery shopping.  I was supposed to do a run workout that included hills but needless to say that didn't happen.  I'm not sure that even if I hadn't been a hot mess I could have got it in considering the snow storm.  Yep, I'll go with that.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Swim, Bike, Run and then Swim Again

My training last week went much better than the week before.  This cold has abated for the most part (still stuffy but not suffering) and I'm feeling a little bit of energy returning.

On Wednesday I had a swim on the schedule and went to the pool in the evening.  Paul was out of town and Sydney had gone to masters swim in the morning so I was on my own.  A couple of my other triathlon friends had talked about joining me there but that didn't end up happening.  To be honest, it was totally fine by myself and I was able to concentrate on my workout and bang it out in a really good time.  The workout was listed as 45 minutes but I was worried that because I'm (REALLY) slow in the water it would take me alot longer to do than it would the average person.  In the end it took me 48 minutes!  I was pretty satisfied with that.  I love the swim workouts and left feeling that awesome combination of tired from a good workout and satisfied with how I did.

Thursday's workouts were a bike with strength training session.  I had hoped to get up in the morning and crank out the bike workout but it just didn't happen.  Instead I hopped on as soon as I got home from work at 5:15 because it called for an hour workout and I had to pick Paul up from the airport at 7:30.  This workout was really hard!  It called for intervals at different rpms and I was having a bit of an issue with my bike trainer.  I think the wheel at the bike is too tight because I had trouble finding a gear that didn't burn my legs out quickly.  Coupled with the fact that my seat needs to be raised because of my new, shorter, crank arms it made for a miserable workout.  I got it done though, and now that Paul's raised my seat and I've figured out how to reduce the resistance on my back wheel I'm looking forward to the next bike workout.  After picking Paul up and getting some dinner out I had to crank out the strength session.  I'm glad to have all of the equipment at home that I need because I can assure you that I would not have dragged myself to a gym at that point.  I also learned that it's way better for me to just get my butt up earlier and get what I can done in the morning if I can help it.

On Friday Sydney and I got together to do our run workout together.  We were supposed to warm up for 15 minutes then do fartleks.  It was so cold out but we headed out onto the slippery sidewalks in the evening to get it done.  We took turns picking random spots to increase our speed on.  I wouldn't go so far to say that it was fun but it certainly made the time go by quickly.

Saturday called for another swim and this time Sydney came with Paul and I to the municipal pool in the morning.  We had another great workout scheduled that included 4 x 50 where the focus was on distance per stroke.  My first 50 saw me take 54 strokes.  By the last 50 I was down to 50 strokes.  I thought that was pretty good until Syd reported that her stroke count was 36!  WTF?  I thought maybe I was counting it wrong but Sydney reminded me that she is 10 inches taller than I am and therefore has a wider wingspan.  We also had to time ourselves doing 100m at a vary hard pace.  My time for 100m was 2:16.  I'm anxious to see that number come down over the next few months!  Altogether we did 1500 meters and were done in about 45 minutes.  It was great timing since the pool started to get busy towards the end of our workout.  It's a bit of a strange mix of people that go there given the location.  There are no lane markers so people are a little all over the place and people show up to do some strange things.  The older European couple making out in the shallow end was definately the weirdest thing Saturday.  After a good breakfast I did 45 minutes of strength training while watching the finale of The Apprentice on the DVR.  The rest of my day was spent out Christmas shopping and preparing for Sydney's Ironman Cozumel slideshow party.  The party was awesome and deserves it's own post - stay tuned.

Overall last week's planned training was 6 hours and 55 minutes of training and I completed 5 hours and 35 minutes.  An explanation of why I didn't do my planned Sunday ran and recovery spin will be included in the post about the party. ;-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

Today's plan consisted of a 35 minute run followed by drills.  Sydney and I set out at 6 a.m. and it was COLD out.  We've been running outside, year-round for the last two years so I'm not unfamiliar with how badly it can suck at first but as long as I'm properly outfitted things normally warm up pretty quickly.  Paul thought I was nuts to go at all since I was baking like a dog all night from my cold but I was determined not to miss another workout.  I'm nothing if not bull-headed.

It was about 16 degrees F with a bit of a windchill.  By the ten minute mark my legs were frozen.  I obviously  need to invest in a warmer pair of running tights!  How have I gotten by this long?  I couldn't feel my fingers either as my Nike running gloves are more of a spring/fall weight.  Other than that misery I actually felt surprisingly okay.  My running lately has been pretty pathetic with my being unable to breathe even at the slowest paces and having to stop to walk multiple times.  Other than developing a bit of a cramp from having to breathe only through my mouth (because my nose was so stuffed) I was feeling okay.  Granted we were doing a REALLY slow pace but I'd rather build from that than try to go out blazing and have to stop to walk.

I have to admit that it was really strange to run a set time instead of a set distance.  We've always done our runs based on how far we wanted to go that day and however long it took us we'd go that long.  We mapped out a pretty good route though and ended up doing a loop that put us in front of my house at 35 minutes.  After a couple of minutes to catch my breath we started our drills.  2 x 50 yards of butt kicks, high skipping, grapevines and sprints.  After those we did 20 jumping squats.  My legs were quivering by the time we were done and my chest hurt from the cold but I was happy to have completed it.

I'm determined to do this plan 100% but don't want to end up pushing myself so hard that it's detrimental.  How do you know when to back off?

Week 1 Training In Review

I returned home from Cozumel on December 1st and was greeted with Christmas in full force.  Trees, lights, and Christmas music on the radio.  I love Christmas and other than lamenting how behind I am in shopping for everyone other than Paul I'm happy to see all of the Christmas fare.  As much as I love Christmas though I was more excited to find my new training plan, from my new coach, in my email's inbox.  My plan was to start on the 2nd with swim and strength training workouts.

We landed in Toronto at 7:30 p.m. and by the time we got our bags, cleared Customs, and caught the shuttle to the hotel where the cars were parked it was after 9 when we started the 3 hour drive home.  With only one quick stop for food we were home by 12:30 a.m.  Sydney had let me know that she was going to the Masters swim at the college in the morning but there was no way I was going to make a 5:30 a.m. swim.  I thought maybe I'd swim at the municipal pool and do the strength session after work.  I woke up in the morning to a seriously sore throat and stuffy nose though.  Uh oh.  I haven't been sick all year!  I thought I'd work through it but by 5:00 I felt really horrible.  Sydney and I did the strength training session but I skipped the swim.  Nice start. 

Friday's workout was a one hour spin on the trainer with one legged drills.  Wow.  That ended up being way harder than I expected and weirdly harder on the right than on the left.  You would think I was a lefty.  I worked up a good sweat and relished the tired feeling in my legs when I was done.  Paul and I went out for a late dinner with Sydney and Andy to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.  I was feeling pretty wiped out and my cold had hit with full force.  I couldn't breathe and unfortunately couldn't taste much of the delicious looking steak in front of me.

Saturday called for a 35 minute run with some drills done at the end.  Sunday's workout was a 1 hour session on the trainer.  I emailed Mary to let her know that I was pretty sick.  She confirmed that I should rest and get better and that although I was disappointed to be off to such a crappy start it was better that it happened now and not closer to race season.  Her point was well taken and I gave myself a break.  I spent the majority of the weekend catching up on stuff on my DVR and working my way through a box of tissues.  Paul was a trooper and went to the drugstore for me and made dinner.

The Ugly Truth
Planned workout time for the week ending December 5th = 4:15.  Actual training time = 1:45.  Definately not how the rest of this season is going to go.  Promise.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ironman Cozumel Spectator's Report

I'm back from a week in Cozumel where three of my closest friends completed their first Ironman race!  Here are some highlights:

Pre Race
The travel day ended up being long and a little more stressful than it probably should have been.  The travel agent that my friend used to book our trips had incorrectly told us that the airline did not charge to ship a bike as long as it was your second piece of luggage and the case was within the size restriction.  Turns out that wasn't the case.  There was a bike fee, an oversize fee (if the case was oversized), and an overweight fee if the bikes were more than 50 pounds.  Lesson learned.

Our flight ended up having 48 athletes travelling with 48 bikes and only 30 fit on the plane.  The pilot announced that the bikes that didn't get on would be on a later flight and delivered to the respective hotels.  This of course caused alot of buzz on the flight and people were anxious to get to Cozumel to see if their bikes made it on.

Unfortunately all three bikes we travelled with were left behind and that resulted in an hour and a half delay once we hit Mexico to allow missing baggage reports to be completed.  We made the best of it though ordering Margaritas and Coronas from the conveniently placed Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville bar that was at the hotel.

Confusion ensued the following day when the airline emailed us to advise that they had decided to NOT deliver the bikes to the different hotels but to go to one hotel and have the athletes pick them up.  As we were trying to make arrangements to get to the other hotel the representative at our hotel called the airline and confirmed that they would in fact be bringing them to the different hotels.  Much confusion, but the bikes finally arrived at the hotel at about 9:00 Thursday night.

We went into downtown Cozumel to register and attend the expo.  I was really disappointed with this expo!  There were about three vendors and worse, no CO2 cartridges to be found.  The representative at the race meeting made some comment about equipment being the athlete's responsibility (duh!) but they knew that almost every racer would be travelling in (mostly by plane) and could not bring CO2 cartridges on the plane.  They only brought 2,000 to sell to about 2,500 athletes.  There was also no place to rent wheels.  Dawn's front wheel was out of true and none of the mechanics were equipped to fix it.  Unlike Clearwater, where wheels for rent were everywhere there was nothing to be had in Cozumel.  She ended up riding with her front brake open and it all worked out.

Race Day
Because we were at one of the host hotels there were buses in the morning that shuttled us to the race sight.  The swim start was at Chakanaab park.  The pros went off 15 minutes in advance of the age groupers which I thought was a little strange.  I thought mass starts at the Ironman races applied to everyone.  The racers had to walk out onto the pier that surrounded the area where the dolphins performed and jump into the ocean.  I was disappointed that we were so far away but it was still something to see when the cannon fired and the washing maching started.  This also cued the dolphins to perform a little routine for us. 

My friends all had awesome swim times coming in almost 30 minutes before they expected to.  Dave was in at 1:15, Nicole came in at 1:20 and Dawn was in at 1:22.  It was so exciting to see them go by.

Rather than head right downtown we decided to head back to the resort because downtown would be crazy and the bike course went right by out resort.  This ended up being a great decision as there were only a handful of spectators there and this allowed us to get some great pictures and they were able to see we were there.  Once three of them went by we went in to grab some lunch and come out to see them go by for the last time.  Dave was killing the bike course and had an awesome time going.  We were concerned once Dawn went by because she said that there was a problem with her bike.  She was hearing a clicking sound and couldn't figure out what was wrong.  It turns out that he equipment bag had come loose the strap was clicking on the wheel.  She was a little sheepish when she explained this to us after since it really made us worry.  Her thinking there was a problem with her bike ended up being a great thing since she decided to hammer it to try to get as close to T2 as she could in case it broke down.  She ended up with a negative split and an awesome bike time.  Nicole looked great and relaxed and like she was out for Sunday spin.  What really surprised me about the bike leg was the drafting.  Entire pelatons of bikes were going by with up to 12 racers all in a group.  The pros were actually in a paceline the one time they went by.  I saw only one official out on the course the whole time we were out there.

After watching Nicole go by for the last time we took a taxi downtown to watch the run.  We got there in time to see Dave head out onto his second loop.  He looked awesome and had a great pace.  Dawn (who's a really strong runner) came by and told us that she wasn't really enjoying herself that day.  Nicole had a strong first lap but everyone suffered eventually.   

Dawn and Dave ran it in together at around 11:45 and Nicole came in at 13:33.  Dawn was 11th in her age group (rockstar for her first Ironman in my opinion)!  My biggest disappointment is that you could not anywhere near the finish line and so we had to watch our friends come in on the Jumbotron.

I came to this race partly to decide whether Cozumel would be where I would do my first Ironman race.  I've decided against it for a couple of reasons.  The sun and heat are just crazy and the course is cruel.  Three loops on the bike is not necessarily terrible but three loops on the run where the turn around is about 100 metres from the finish is just wrong!

Post Race
Our last two days in Cozumel were spent relaxing on the beach enjoying drinks and talking about the race.  We booked a catamaran to take all 12 of us on a snorkeling excursion where we went to three different reefs and saw some amazing coral, a sea turtle, a stingray, and other amazing sea creatures.  I'd never snorkeled before and loved how peaceful it was in that water.

I've returned home with a nasty cold but excited to start my 70.3 journey.  My training plan started yesterday and I'm like a little kid at Christmas looking at what's on training peaks and excited to get to it.

Dave, Dawn, and Nicole you are Ironmen!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Turning Back

Ironman 70.3 Steelhead.  Guess who's all signed up?!  I am!

We had a little pre-Mexico get together last night with lots of good Mexican food and Margaritas!  Inevitably the discussion turns to future races and Steelhead next year.  All of our friends are signing up and racing to support me and Paul and Sydney in our first half.  Next thing you know the laptop's out and we're signing up!  I'd already decided this would be my big race next year so it's not as if this was some sort of drunken double dog dare but actually completing the registration and paying the entry fee felt like a big step! 

$225 paid.  There's no turning back now!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday Swim and Stateside Shopping

Paul, Sydney, and I headed to the pool for an early morning lap swim yesterday.  I had a 1000m workout printed from but mostly Sydney and I wanted to video ourselves swimming to send to our coach.  That video of me reinforces just how much work I need to do.  My body wiggles all over the place and I can just see all the energy I'm wasting!  Watching Sydney she's so smooth and rolls side to side with no effort. 

The 1000m workout consisted of a 1x100m warmup, 1x25m one arm (6 left, 6 right) then 1x25m catch ups - done 4 times, 12x25m freestyle (kick every 4th 25), 6x50m pull, and ending with 1x100m cool down.  1000m swim is not a huge workout by any means but I'm just getting back into it and with the drills thrown in I felt like it was a decent workout.

Dave and Nicole, two of our friends doing Ironman Cozumel were there as well.  After our workouts we had some fun reinacting the swim start and the crowded conditions that they're going to face on the 28th.  The pool we were at doesn't put up lane markers so we were able to pile into the deep end and simulate an inwater start.  Sydney, Paul and I started in front of them to help them with getting past people in front and as they went by pulling on them and bumping into them.  We also did a couple of lengths of swimming side by side up against them.  Paul really got into his role and knocked Nic's goggles off of her at one point.  They appreciated the practice and it was fun too!

After getting cleaned up Sydney and I went Stateside for a little shopping.  I found an awesome pair of tall black leather boots at DSW, we had a delicious lunch at Panera, and we hit REI to stock up on Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews.  If you haven't tried these you need to go out and get some.  Of all the energy chews, bars, gels, etc. that we've tried Paul and I definately love these best.  The consistency is really good so you're not prying them out of your teeth or choking them down.  The flavours are delicious - cherry blossom is my favorite but you can't go wrong with any of them.  They're dairy free, gluten free, and certified organic.  No weird ingredients that you can't pronounce.  I've turned a couple of friends on to them and I ended up buying out what REI had on the shelf.  I picked up a couple of the bars to try and would like to try the gels eventually. 

When I got home I helped Paul with some outside work.  He had put the Christmas lights up, taking advantage of the nice weather, and we bagged some leaves and branches.  We still have lawn furniture put away and some more work to do but we got a nice start.  In the end, it was a perfect day for me.  A nice workout with friends, fun shopping, and some work around the house.  Monday morning I'm joining Nicole at a new yoga studio for some pilates.  It's my first time doing it and I'm worried but looking forward to getting my butt kicked!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance Day Ride

In the spirit of tradition, and because we've been blessed with gorgeous weather this week, I tried to organize a group ride for the Remembrance Day holiday thursday.  I'm lucky enough to get this day off but unfortunately, most of the rest of the world still had to work so the group was smaller than usual.  Four of us that had the day off headed over to Kensington Metropark, about an hour over the border, in Michigan.  Kensington is a popular training spot for triathletes where I live because it is comprised of continuously rolling terrain.

The weather on Thursday was gorgeous for riding.  50 degrees and sunny and clear.  No wind to speak of but the climbing would make up for that.  I wore my new Cervelo jersey that Paul got me for my birthday with my lululemon arm warmers.  I had the matching bib shorts on but pulled on a pair of tights overtop as it was too cold to have just the shorts on.  This ended up  being the perfect outfit for the weather of the day.

We rode for three hours and I learned alot about riding hills.  I learned to make sure that I kept the weight off of my hands and relax my shoulders.  I tend to lean forward with my weight on my arms to "attack" the hill but it turns out that just tires me out easily.  Leaning my weight back slightly helped to keep me from tiring out and keep my heart rate down.  The end of the ride saw us climb the two biggest hills of the day.  On the first climb Pete slowed down beside me to coach me through it.  My quads were burning with every pedal stroke and I was slowed to the point of almost falling off the bike.  He kept reminding me to keep my head up, relax my shoulders, and keep pedaling.  I was down to 8 km/h but as long as my legs kept turning I kept going.  I really did not want to get off and walk!  My legs were numb from the effort but at the top came sweet relief!  The downhill scared the crap out of me.  I really have to work on my fear here.  I was going so fast that I just felt like I was going to lose control from going over a bumpt.  I hit 52 km/h and tapped the brakes.  I'm such a chicken!  The second hill was worse than the first.  A steep climb about twice as long as the first with a curve to boot.  Again I didn't think I'd make it and wobbled from going so slow and not being able to feel my legs.  I made it to the top though!  I was so proud of myself!  At the top of this hill was the parking lot where our car was and Paul and Nicole were waiting for us.  Paul was surprised that I had made it up without having to get off my bike and I got a big hug from Nicole.  What a satisfying way to end a great ride.

A quick change (the restrooms in place were spotlessly clean!) and we were off for some food and drinks.  We went to an eco-conscious restaurant in Rochester called Mind Body and Spirits.  This restaurant serves locally grown/produced, organic food.  They even have their own greenhouse that you walk through to get to the restrooms.  We shared some amazing appetizers (bacon wrapped dates - soo good) and drank an organic chilean wine that was delicious.  Our meals were really good - I had the fish tacos and for dessert we had chocolate coconut vegan ice cream (made with coconut milk).  I would definately go to this place again as there were alot of things on the menu I would have liked to order and the service was great! 

I did have to get up for work today but my legs felt surprisingly great!  Tomorrow it's an early morning swim followed by some Stateside shopping to spend a "Happy Birthday" coupon I got from DSW.  Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, November 5, 2010


In the form of a black and pink bikini.....

It's my birthday tomorrow and Lola the dog (okay, more like Paul the husband) gave me my gift early.  She got me the above pictured black and pink QTKini by De Soto Sport.  SO cute.  I love the drawstring waistband that will keep me from worrying about my bottoms coming off in the ocean and the top is really flattering.  Wow though.  Nothing like a brazilian cut bikini bottom to kick the workouts back into high gear.  This might be just what I need.  Thanks Lola!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Off Season

I'm new to this off season stuff.  Considering that this year was the first that actually saw me devote a large percentage of my time not spent working, training, and I raced more this year than last, this is my first off season.  Two weeks into it and I have to say, I'm not a fan.  Maybe I need to find an off season sport? 

It has become blatantly obvious that I need some type of goal, or race, or event to train for to stay focused.  I used to be a gym rat - working out at least 4 times a week but let me say this - I HATE THE GYM!  And since finding triathlon I just cannot make myself go back there.  I haven't had a gym membership in two years and have (well had this summer anyway) the best body I've ever had.

Since the half marathon October 17th though I have done a handful of (pathetic) runs, a couple of rides and swam once.  What the heck?  I can't even take any satisfaction in having caught up on all of the things that have been neglected around my house.  I unpacked my fall/winter wardrobe, packed the summer stuff away and that's about it.  My house needs a deep cleaning, the spare room is still only partly transitioned into our cycling room and the ensuite bathroom renovation is still not done (ahem - Paul).

Oh yeah.  And I feel like crap.  It didn't take long for the doughy, bloaty feeling that had disappeared by the end of the season to rear it's ugly head again.  And have I mentioned that I'm going to Cozumel at the end of November?  With three Ironman Cocumel participants?  My friends Dawn, Nicole, and Dave are racing it this year and I'm going as support crew/cheerleader/observer.  And to enjoy the beach (my favourite place in the world) of course.  I just can't wait to hang out in a bikini next to Dawn and Nicole, in all their Ironman muscleness.

Maybe I can take up mountain biking again? 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Devil's Night Ride

Our local mountain bike/cyclocross group called Bike Sabbath held a Devil's Night ride Saturday night.  The plan was to cycle the Greenaway path 25 km to a bar in the county, have a couple of drinks, then ride back.  "Explosives" and libations were promised.  A group of about 40 riders (last year there were 10) started out at 4:30 and headed down the path straight into the winds.  The trail is packed gravel so I pulled out the old mountain bike.  My mountain bike is a 16 year old Kona Hahanna that I used to do a lot of off trail riding on.  I haven't though, spent alot of time on it in the last 10 years or so. 

What a fun ride that ended up being!  The group stopped every 5km or so to have a drink from the beer keg that was on the ride (some of these guys are resourceful with their bikes!) and those stops really helped me to recover.  It was windy and my legs and lungs were burning from the effort.  What a difference from the road bike!  I was missing being clipped in as well (who would have ever thought) as every once in a while I could feel my foot come off the pedal on the upstroke and all I could thing of was "What a waste of energy!". 

It took a little over an hour with all the drink detours to get to the bar where we stopped in for even more drinks!  I should have ordered some food but did manage to scoop a couple of french fries from David's plate.  It was after dark when we started back and I didn't have a light on my bike.  Paul and I stuck with Pete and Dave, who had lights and were fine.  The ride back, in the dark with the lights, and the fall leaves, was amazing.  I was having so much fun!   Instead of drinks on the way back (most on the ride had already had too much) the stops involved fireworks. 

A tailwind helped me with the effort but I was really starting to get chilled by the time we got back.  A group of us headed out to a local restaurant and indulged in some fabulous stone oven pizzas, red wine, and dessert.  So good and just what I needed!  The evening ended late and I drank more than I should have.  This came back to bite me in the ass on Sunday during our ride but at the time I was having too much fun to worry about the next day!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I ran tonight.  Our little Thursday evening running group headed out to do 10k.  250m into it and I was already wheezing like I smoked a pack a day.  What is up with me?  Is it because I donated blood yesterday and am still wiped out from it?  Fortunately Sydney was nice enough to offer to cut the route short a little bit with me and get 5k in.  I suffered the whole way.  The hardest part is that I thought I had turned a bit of a corner with my running but I guess sometimes it just gives you a kick in the ass.  Sydney compared it parenting.  Just when you think that you've got the kids figured out, they throw you a curve ball and you're back to square one.

So for tonight it's running - 1, tri like mary - 0

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back In The Pool

Today marked my first time back in the pool since July (!).  Other than one or two masters swims sessions the only swimming I did after the middle of July was open water.  We are blessed with a few options for open water swimming where I live and I so prefer it to swimming in the pool.  I know that I need to find a balance since the pool offers better options for drills that will help me with my stroke.  And believe me, I need help with my stroke!

Paul and I were at the pool and ready to go by 6:45.  I brought a workout with me that I printed off of  I discovered that website last year.  You can sign up for a free account, let them know what your goals are, the length of workout you want, and the tools you have (pull buoy, kickboard, etc) and it designs a plan for you.  As you progress you can update with time trials and other information and it will update the plans. 

Today's workout plan was for 1000m and included drills like one arms and catch ups.  I felt really heavy and slow for the first 300m.  Between that and having to stop every 50m to adjust leaking goggles (grrrr) I was worried that I wouldn't get through 1000m.  Things started to loosen up though and although the goggles haunted me the whole time I finished the workout.  I was finished by 7:25 and other than some soreness in my lower back (note to self -strengthen my core this off season) I felt pretty good. 

I know I have alot of work to do in the pool this winter.  Of the three sports I'm least confident in my swim and I'm sooo slow!  I'm committed to it though.  I put a swimp3 player on my Christmas list this year to help me get through the workouts.  I enjoy how the pool workouts make me feel but I have to be honest that the repetetiveness of it gets to me sometimes.  Maybe some music will help me through it?

The ride I had planned with my friend Nicole for after work was foiled because of high winds.  We were under a tornado watch this afternoon and had off and on rain.  We opted instead to do the "cardio ripper" workout from P90x.  Stay tuned for a post about that craziness.

Syd's out for our usual run tomorrow mornning because she's sick so I'm planning to go with Paul.  I hope it's better than Monday's run.  Ugh.  One week after the half marathon and I feel like I've lost all running fitness.  At one point on Monday I looked at my watch and couldn't believe we were only running 6:30/km.  How did I average 5:50/km over a half marathon distance while feeling awesome the whole time?  What happened to my legs over this last week? Running with Paul will kick my butt tomorrow since he slows for noone.  Maybe that's what I need to get back to where I was.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It Was Windy Today

And I rode.  And I suffered.  I have to admit that I almost stayed in bed since I've been feeling a little under the weather since Friday and woke up with a massive headache this morning.  Instead, I dragged my behind out of bed and met up with Sydney to ride out to the spot where we were meeting the rest of the group.  I was a little unsure of how to dress since it had been raining in the morning and was still pretty cool.  I went with a short sleeve cycling jersey with arm warmers and cycling shorts.  I also wore my pink Zensah compression (calf) sleeves because I wasn't sure how my legs would feel.  It turned out to be the perfect choice of outfit as I was comfortable temperature-wise.

Unfortunately, we had a pretty substantial head wind almost the entire ride.  Where I live it's famous for crazy cross winds that change direction on a whim (or so it seems).  Luckily for me I ride with some pretty strong riders who provide great wind protection for me and who are always looking out to make sure everyone on the ride is okay.  After 25 kms riding straight into the headwind we stopped at a convenience store to refuel since the rest of the group had been out for almost 60k (Sydney and I had joined them an hour into their ride).  What sweet relief that stop was.  I split a Snickers bar with Sydney and massaged the cramps out of my quads.

I felt substantially better on the way home due to the Snickers goodness and some tailwind relief.  Once we got back to our meeting spot I considered finishing the ride with the rest of the group.  My head was still pounding though and I was worried that I would be holding them back.  So, I packed it in and Sydney and I rode home.  At the end of it all I had ridden 60km at an average pace of 28.8 km/h.  Not bad for such windy conditions.

The rest of the day entailed sitting on the couch and watching stuff on the DVR.  For dinner I cooked an awesome chick pea curry that was served over basmati rice with a side of sauteed broccoli. Tonight will be a relatively early bedtime since the plan is to run in the morning.  This will be the first run since the half marathon and we're planning about 6k.  Cross your fingers that my legs hold up! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week in Review - Looking Forward

I decided to take the week off from any training this week so it's been pretty uneventful.  The half marathon on sunday was my last scheduled race this year so I thought a rest week was in order.  It wasn't 100% activity free though since I play volleyball twice a week from October to April.  Monday nights it's women's leaugue and Wednesday nights it's coed and I play with Paul, Sydney, and Andy.

Three of my good friends, who are doing Ironman in Cozumel at the end of November, have a 6 hour ride scheduled on Sunday.  I'm planning to join them for maybe half of it as long as the predicted rain holds off.  Truthfully, I'm feeling a little lost right now with respect to training and what I should be doing on a regular basis.

November's shaping up to be pretty busy.  I have two work trips planned and Paul and I are going to Cozumel for a week with our friends to watch them race the Ironman (and get some sun/sand/drinks!). 

I'm excited for December because I start my new plan!  With my new coach!  I'm really excited to start working with Mary at TriMoxie Coaching.  I've been following her personal blog for a while and really like her style.  When I decided to do the Half Ironman I decided that I wanted to get to the starting line fully prepared and as confident in my training as I could be.  I looked at a lot of options and debated the benefits of going with a local coach versus someone online that I just felt would be really cool and "get" me (yes - I got this feeling just from reading her blog!).  Exchanging emails with her sealed the deal.  I got's me a coach!  I'm her first Canadian athlete too which I think is really cool.

Stay tuned for lots of excitement to come!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Detroit Free Press Half Marathon 2010

The Detroit Free Press Half Marathon was yesterday.  The alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. because we had to make our way over the border into Detroit.  Luckily, I had gone to bed at a decent hour the night before and had slept like a baby.  We packed up a couple of peanut butter and banana sandwiches and hit the road at 5 when Sydney and Andy picked us up.

The border crossing went pretty smoothly and we were able to get a spot in the parking garage that we had lucked into last year.  $5 to park in a garage that overlooked the starting line is pretty sweet.  There was also a line up of port-a-potties on the side street beside the garage that never had a line last year.  We were there by 5:45 so had alot of time to hang out and use the port-a-potties (more than once) and, for me anyway, start getting nervous.  I was a little vexed about to wear for this race.  Last year it was COLD but yesterday morning it was already 52 degrees at 4:30 a.m.  I had my New Balance compression tights and the long sleeve race shirt they had given us at the expo.  I also had my pink and black stretchy gloves that I had bought at the dollar store and could toss when/if it got too warm.  My main worry was about headwear.  I had brought my lululemon run brisk toque but I was worried that would be too warm.  When my head gets too hot it's game over for me.  I made the decision to go with my run cap and it worked out perfectly for me.

Once we heard the national anthems playing we made our way into our start corrals.  Sydney and Andy were in a different corral from me as they had signed up later than I had.  I was supposed to meet my friend Sharon who was running her first half and we were going to run together.  Paul and I get into the corral and looked all over for her.  i couldn't find her!  I started to panic a little because I've never run even near that distance by myself and I hadn't brought my iPod because I was expecting to run with Sharon.  I knew I couldn't run with Paul because he had a goal of finishing in two hours and that wasn't happening for me.  After a couple of minutes a got a hold of myself and told myself that it would be good mental training for the half ironman for me do it alone. 

The atmosphere was pretty fun with music blaring.  At 7 a.m. the gun went off and we started moving towards the start line.  There were 19,000 people running this race and it took almost 20 minutes for us to get to the start line.  I felt great from the start and hoped that it was a sign of things to come.  My goal for this race was to improve on my time of 2:20 from last year so I decided to run by feel, only checking my watch rarely to see where my pace is at.  From the start line we headed out towards the Ambassador Bridge.  We ran around the bridge plaza and then started the long climb up toward the peak of the bridge.  Unfortunately this year there is construction on the bridge that closed one lane and the runners were limited to one lane as the traffic going in both directions had the remaining two lanes.  This caused a major jam up of people on the climb and we actually had to walk alot of it.  Despite the slow down I still enjoyed the experience.  The sun was just starting to come up and the views from the top of the bridge is pretty cool.  I still can't get over that I got to run over an international border crossing that I've crossed hundreds of times in my lifetime going back and forth to the U.S. 

Once off the bridge we ran towards Riverside Drive that runs along the Detroit river between Windsor and Detroit.  The run along the river was awesome with so many people out cheering on the runners, local school marching bands, and announcers over loud speakers getting the crowds riled up.  I was feeling really good at this point as we made our way towards the Windsor-Detroit tunnel to head back to the U.S.  The entrance to the tunnel is mile 7 and the world's only underwater mile.  The first half of the tunnel is downhill but it instantly got really, really hot.  There were alot of people stopping to get their pictures taken between the Canadian and U.S. flags where it becomes the U.S. again.  The incline towards the exit of the tunnel was tough and the heat didn't help things.  I concentrated on keeping my legs turning over at a good pace and keeping my breathing even.    Coming out of the tunnel we were greeted by U.S. Border Patrol making sure that everyone's numbers were visible.  This international race requires that everyone is pre-cleared to enter both countries so they're pretty diligent about making sure that everyone coming back in has been through the proper procedures.  Running out of the customs plaza and toward Jefferson Avenue is the best part of the race.  There are hunders of people lined up at the wall overlooking customs and along that curve going to Jefferson and they are just going CRAZY!  It makes you feel like a total rockstar.  I was still feeling realy good (we at 8 miles by this point) and the crowd helped put a little spring in my step.  There were alot of signs and some of my favorites were:

"Pain is temporary.  Pride is forever."
"Your feel hurt because you're kicking so much ass!" and
"In our heads we're all Kenyans"

Once I hit mile 10 things got a little more difficult.  In looking at the stats from my Garmin I actually  managed to complete the final 3 miles faster than the first three (by a little - but still).  When I reached the point where the full marathon participants went one way and the half runners went the other I couldn't help but wonder whether I'd ever be able to do a full.  I was so done by then.  My legs felt like they were ready to give out.  I had in fact skipped the last water station because I wasn't sure I'd be able to start walking again (I only walked the water stations because I haven't managed to learn how to drink and run at the same time).  I couldn't even drum up a sprint to the finish line because I was convinced that I would fall down.

I remembered to keep my head up and smile as I crossed the line so that I might be able to get a good photo.  I collected my medal and took a mylar blanket before setting off to look for Paul.  I was so proud of my race and excited to find Paul.  He was surprised to see me as he wasn't expecting me for another 5 minutes!

My stats-
Total time - 2:08:31
Overall place - 3363/8816
Division place - 208/844
6.2 mi - 1:01:24
7 mi - 1:09:27
8 mi - 1:18:53
12.2 mi - 1:59:24
Tunnel - 9:26
Pace - 9:49

That's a 12 minute improvement over last year!  I also managed to keep a really consistent pace throughout the whole race.  I'll take it!  Paul was also able to make his goal of finishing under 2 hours with a time of 1:57!   Here I we are with Sydney and Andy at the finish.  I'm the short one. :-)

I was in bed early last night and surprisingly my legs feel better than expected today.  Quads are a little sore and I'd love to spend the evening with my feet up and relaxing.  Unfortunately I'm playing volleyball tonight -  that should be interesting!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicago Sprint Triathlon 2009 Race Report

The Chicago triathlon in late August was my "A" race in 2009.  My first sprint distance triathlon.  The only triathlon I was signed up for in 2009.  What I had "trained" for all year.  All my triathlon eggs in this one basket.  I will end the suspense now but getting it out there that this race was a DNF for me.  A big, fat, DNF.  In retrospect I could call this race "The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Race".  I was not prepared for this race mentally and was out of it before I even got my wetsuit on that frigid morning.

The Day Before
We drove into Chicago the day before the triathlon and had lucked out with an awesome rate at a Hilton hotel that was walking distance to the host hotel, the transition area, and the swim start.  Once we settled into our hotel we took a walk down to the swim start to have a look at the preparations.  The swim is a point to point, 750m swim in the Monroe Street Harbour.  We walked from the swim exit to the start and all I kept repeating is "I can't swim this far.  Oh my God, I can't swim this far".  I was a fairly new swimmer.  I had taken a learn to swim class in March and had not spent a huge amount of time in the pool after that.  I had been out doing open water swims but spent alot of time with my feet down (the lakes where we swim have alot of water that is only about shoulder deep).  I was not confident in my swimming abilities but had been convinced that I could do the distance on my back if I needed to.  I was starting to panic but felt like there was no turning back.

We met up with Sydney and Andy at the expo where we picked up our race kits.  The Chicaco triathlon is the largest triathlon in the world (their claim, not mine) and the expo certainly reflected this.  Miles of triathlon porn everywhere.  I have to say that this is by far the best expo I have ever been to.  This topped even the expo at the Half Ironman World Championships in Clearwater.  After picking up our packets and race shirts (one of the ugliest and worst fitting I own by the way) we did some shopping.  Sydney bought a wetsuit and some triathlon shoes.  I picked up a cool t-shirt from Athlete3 but otherwise was a little too overwhelmed. 

After shopping we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant that was packed with people with black marker numbers on their arms eating pasta.  We had a lovely dinner and parted ways for the night after making plans to meet up at the swim start in the morning. 

Race Day
My alarm was went off at 4:30 in the morning.  I had packed a peanut butter and banada sandwich that I had planned to eat while walking to the transition area with my bike.  Paul and I headed over in the dark and were quickly swallowed up but the swarms of people making their way to transition.  The swim waves started at 6 a.m. and I was scheduled to go around 6:15.  I racked my bike and set up transition as best as I could in the dark and met up with Paul to make my way to the swim start.  The nice thing about the swim course is that since it is along the harbour wall it was very spectator friendly.  The not so nice thing is that being in the harbour, between the boats and wall meant that the boat fumes were really strong.  I was feeling sick from fear and anxiety as I got my wetsuit on (borrowed from a friend) and was worried because Sydney was running later than expected.  She finally got there right before we needed to start lining up and the next thing I new we were lining up in our age group waves.

Each wave had to jump into the water and had about two minutes before the gun went off.  When it was my turn to get into the water I positioned myself at the back and to the right of the pack.  The water was 61 degrees and took my breath away when I jumped in.  As soon as I hit that cold water my hands and feet went numb and my heartrate skyrocketed.  The gun went off and I tried to put my face in the water only to get a swift kick to the side of the head.  Between that and the cold water I started to freak out.  I couldn't catch my breath and my heartrate was out of control.  I tried to flip onto my back and backstroke but my calf started to cramp.  This had never happened to me before and I didn't know what to do.  The scariest part was the feeling of my heartrate being so out of control.  I had never felt that before and honestly thought that something was seriously wrong with me.  I was freaking out on my front, I couldn't doggie paddle, and was I was freaking out on my back.  To add to the anxiety I heard the gun go off for the next wave and could see a wave of swimmers coming straight for me.  At that point I looked over and spotted the police boat.  I waved my arms and they came right over.  As soon as I set foot in that boat I started to cry.  Why had I given up?  My whole race over in two minutes.  I was so disappointed in myself.  The carted me over to the wall and I got off where all of the athletes were still lined up waiting their turn.  These two really nice ladies put their arms around me and were trying to comfort me.  They encouraged me to turn in my chip but finish the bike and run legs, assuring me that it would make me feel better to not have it be a total waste.

I started walking towards the transition area looking for Paul and looking to find a volunteer where I could drop of my chip.  I found Paul along the wall scanning the swimmers looking for me.  When he saw me I started crying again (I'm such a baby).  I told him what had happened and what the ladies had suggested.  He encouraged me to do it so I made the decision to go ahead and finish the rest of the race.  I found a tent with volunteers and explained what happened and turned in my chip.  I ran into transition and hopped on my bike to do the bike course.

The bike course runs along Lake Shore Drive.  Lake Shore is still open to traffic but reduced by one lane for the bikers.  We were instructed both during the pre race meeting and in the race information to ride on left side and pass on the right.  Of course there is to be no drafting and no riding alongside one another.  I have to say that this bike course was extremely frustrating with people who did not know what the heck they were supposed to be doing.  I passed alot of city cruisers and mountain bikes with people either riding on the right side or in some cases riding next to their friends and chatting.  I don't have an official time and had not bothered to turn on my Garming but I felt like I had a pretty good ride for me.

The run beginning of the run is just the biggest mess.  You come out of transition and run through the park area on a path.  The problem is that this path is not marked off and runs straight through the area where spectators are milling around.  You had to dodge people walking across the path and not paying attention to the fact that the racers were coming at them.  After my race was done I saw a pro run into a guy with a dog on a leash that had wondered across the path right in front of him.  Once you got out of the park area it was a nice course.  I was feeling good running wise but this just caused me to beat myself up even more mentally.  Why had I given up?  I had waited for this race all year! 

I came across the finish line and the volunteers put a medal around my neck despite my trying to tell them that I didn't deserve it.  I found Paul and Sydney and started crying (AGAIN!).  Sydney had had a great race though and I was so proud of how she did.

We had to walk a couple of kilometers back to the transition area to get our bikes.  When we got there we learned that because there were still waves of athletes going off and through transition we would have to wait to get our bikes.  We sat around for more than an hour before being able to get back in again.  I was happy that I had left my warm pants and jacket with Paul before the swim.

I beat myself up about this race for a long time.  I did learn alot from it though.  I know now that when my heartrate skyrockets like that in the swim it's anxiety and adrenaline.  I've learned how to talk myself down from that freaking out and just remembering what it felt like to step onto that boat helps with that.  I'm now torn about what to do about this race though.  Part of me feels like I need to go there again and kick it's ass.  Another part of me doesn't want to go back because there was so much about this race that I thought sucked (apart from my performance I mean) and had I not DNF'd I wouldn't even think about going back again.  What would you do?

What I'm Doing Tomorrow

I'm running the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon tomorrow.  I'm nervous about the race in that I want to finish with a better time than last year and know I will be disappointed if that doesn't happen.  I'm excited though because this is such an awesome race!  It starts in Detroit, Michigan and the route takes you over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada.  The route goes along Riverside Drive in Windsor and then we go through the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel (the world's only underwater mile in racing by the way) back into Michigan.  There are 19,000 people registered to run tomorrow between the half, the full, and the relays.  There are always thousands of people out cheering and the atmosphere is amazing!

We went across to the expo last night to pick up our race kits.  Considering the number of people registered to race the pick up process was really smooth and we were in and out of line in less than 5 minutes.  I was really excited when I saw the shirts - they're awesome!  The picture above is the back of the shirt.  I love that they're black and the fit of them is really flattering.  I have a drawer full of oddly coloured race shirts and so many of them are the oddest sizes that I never really end up wearing them.  This one was a nice surprise.

We have an early wake up call tomorrow since we need to leave at 5 to head across the border for the 7 a.m. start time. 

So, for the rest of the afternoon and evening I will be sitting around in these....

watching playoff baseball (go Yankees!) and eating our traditional "night before the race" meal of pasta with french bread and ceasar salad. 

Race report to come after the race.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkey Day - 100k!

It has become a holiday tradition (well as much as something done three times can be considered a tradition anyway) among my group of cycling friends to do a long ride on the holidays.  My first 100k on my bike happened in July on Canada Day.  That was a tough ride and struggled through alot of it.  I required a helping hand on a few occassions with a couple of my cycling buddies riding on either side of me with a hand on my back and pushing me forward to bring me pack into the fold.  I'm lucky to have some very strong riders for friends!  We finished that 100k with an average pace of 27.9 km/hour and I was so damn proud of myself!

This is me and Paul at the end of that ride (with our old bikes).

The next holiday was the Civic Holiday in August when our little group decided to ride out to Mitchel's Bay.  We rode out, splashed around in the lake for a bit and had lunch at a great place by the lake.  By the time we came back we had done 135k.  I actually felt pretty good during that ride except for the half hour after lunch - until I let out a huge burp!  Paul really struggled that ride.  We did that ride at an average pace of 27.5 km/h which was pretty good considering there were only seven of us in the group that day, it was so HOT, and one of our two guys had done a half-ironman race two days before!

Paul at the end of the ride (I just noticed he's wearing the same cycling jersey!).

It was Thanksgiving in Canada on Thursday so a nice long ride was in order.  The weather is starting to turn and there are a limited number of good cycling days left.  We planned a 100k ride followed by a Thanksgiving potluck dinner at Dave and Kathy's to give thanks for our wonderful triathlon family.  The weather was perfect for riding yesterday.  We had two flats in the group during the ride which has never happened before and served to really delay us.  Andy joined us for what was his first 100k.  He was a trooper too!  The pace ended up being a little bit quicker than what was advertised to him but he hung in there like a champ.  He really struggled after 70k (right where I hit my wall the first time) but we ride which some an awesome group that really did everything to help him and he finished with everyone.  We averaged 29.6 km/hour for the 103k.  I fet great through the whole ride and was able to keep up!  I'm really proud of how far I've come since that first 100!  I'm also really proud of Andy for hanging in there and finishing it. 

Now I'm hoping for a really warm fall so we can have a repeat on Rememberance Day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Am I Ready?

The Detroit Free Press Half Marathon is next Sunday.  I've been following a training plan I found for free online.  As always, when I get to the point where mileage is being reduced and the race is around the corner I start feeling the doubt.  Have I done enough?  Will I finish in a faster time than last year?  Will I finish?

Runs like this last Thursday evening certainly don't help my neurosis.  12k was on the schedule.  I was running with Paul, Sydney, Andy, and another friend Jodi.  We set out at 6:30, which is truly kind of late for me for runs, and from the first step I thought, "Uh oh".  I was not feeling it.  My legs were killing me.  Was it the two nights of volleyball I had played that week (fall volleyball has started)?  Was my crappy lunch to blame?  I didn't know.  What I did know was that I was hurting and we were less than 1k into it.  I was tempted to hang it up for the night but the overwhelming sense of dread at not being ready for the race won out.  I managed to slog through the entire 12k.  Our average time was pretty good too (6:24/km?) but I haven't had a run like that in a long time. 

Cut to today when the plan calls for 13k.  I couldn't run with Sydney and Andy as they ran yesterday and I couldn't swing it.  I went with Paul to Malden Park so that we could get a few hills in as the race has a couple of climbs (over the bridge and through the tunnel).  I wouldn't be running with Paul as his pace is quite a bit faster and he wasn't planning on dialing it back today.  I brought my iPod to help make the time go by and we set off.  I finished 10k.  I just couldn't do anymore.  Physically I felt fine but the monotony of doing circles around that park made me want to blow my brains out.  Paul loves it because he loves the challenge of the hills and trying to get up them faster than last time.  The loop around the park is about 2k though and I just kept going around, and around, and around.  There are trails that go off into the conservation area but I'm not familiar with them and didn't want to venture in alone.

So here I sit worried about whether I'm ready.  Worried about whether I won't improve on last year's time.  This is exactly why I've decided to hire a coach to get me to my first HIM next year.  It's too important of a race to get to the start line with anxiety about whether I've done enough.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Bikes

After my first Try-A-Tri in 2008 I decided that I was hooked on this sport and new that I would have to buy a more suitable bike.  In March of 2009, just before the start of the season I decided to pull the trigger.  On a whim one Saturday I decided to go to my local bike shop and "look".  I explained that I was new to triathlon and needed something other than a mountain bike to train and race on.  I didn't want to spend more than $1,000 and new absolutely nothing.  Given my height (I'm only 5' tall) they had one bike in the store that would fit me.  A black and pink Specialized Dolce.  It was on sale for $850 and they told me it would be perfect for what I was using it for.  If I stayed in the sport, I could look at perhaps getting a tri bike in a couple of years.  I must admit, I was smitten.  It was black and pink!  With flowers!  I paid my money and brought her home.

I didn't spend a great deal of time riding in 2009 but 2010 definately saw a huge increase in my mileage.  Sydney and I had joined the Windsor Triathlon Club and had started going out on WTC group rides.  We were double-dating with our husbands every Sunday and riding.  Our long rides started out at 40k.  Then we did 60k one Sunday.  Then on Canada Day we did our first 100k ride with a local group.  We rode 135k on the Civic Holiday.  And I struggled.  And I fell out of love with my bike.  The fit never felt quite right no matter how many adjustments were made.  All of my height (hahahaha) is in my legs.  My shoulders and upper back ached from reaching for the handlebars.  I couldn't ride in the drops for any legth of time because I couldn't reach the brakes and the Shimana Sora shifters meant that I had to click a lever with my thumb up near the hoods.

Paul, being the research fiend that he is had been reading all he could get his hands on about bikes, and components, and group sets, and fit.  He had also bought an entry level bike and was researching what the next step should be for us.  Near the end of the season we had the opportunity to go on a Cervelo test ride that was being held at a bike shop in Michigan that was about 30 minutes over the border from where we live.  I test rode a Cervelo S3 with Zipp wheels.  Heaven.  I wanted to marry that bike.  It had SRAM Red shifters that worked like butter.  No more heavy clunking of gears to shift from one to another.  The aero road bike design suited my build and frame perfectly.  Unfortunately, the S3 with Zipp wheels would be about $10,000.  A little out of my price range.  Instead, an S2 was in my future. 


She's a 2010 48cm Cervelo S2.  Full carbon (including the handlebars).  Shimano Ultegra groupset.  Fulcrum 5 wheels.  I added carbon fibre aero bars and had the Look pedals that Paul had bought me for my birthday last year (the red matched perfectly!).  I love her.  I big, red, puffy heart her.  The day I picked her up from the bike shop we went on a group ride and I instantly felt like a different rider.  I know that you still need the talent and horsepower to back things up.  I know that an expensive bike doesn't make you a better athlete.  In this case though, this bike just FEELS better.  I'm more comfortable.  The shifting is effortless and I can ride on the hoods, in the drops, or in aero and not feel my shoulders seize up.  I WANT to be on this bike and I've reached speeds on her that I didn't on Dolce.

I got my bike at the end of September and was only able to do a few rides and one race on her.  We have a 100k group ride planned for Monday but unfortunately the cycling season is coming to a close here.  I'll spend some time on the trainer this winter but I'm really looking forward to seeing what next year brings!

And now, I need a name for her.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

5k Goal Time - Check!

5k in under 30 minutes has been a goal of mine for a while.  I was close at the last triathlon I did this season with a 30:05 but I'm always around the 32-33 minute mark.  Well today I ran 17k with Andy and as we were setting off he told me his "plan".  He wants to get Sydney and I to our 5k in under 30 goal and thought that perhaps today we could try to run the first 5 of our run under 30, and then the remaining 12 at whatever I felt comfortable at.  I'll be honest, I wasn't sure I could do it but agreed to give it a shot.  We set off at a pace Andy said would get us there.  I avoided looking at my watch because although I love me some technology it sometimes holds me back mentally when I constantly check to see how fast (or slow depending on your frame of reference) I'm going and see I've matched the mental barriers I've set up in my head.  Less than a kilometre into the run I was uncomfortable.  I could tell this was going to be hard, especially as we were running into a really tough headwind, and I was hoping I'd be able to pull it off.  Andy was trying to make conversation at first but realized that the talking would have to resume once we were back to a more reasonable pace for me.  He let me run in my "cone of silence" while giving me encouragement every once in a while and letting me know we were still on pace.  At 1k left Andy told me we were going to make it and I was thrilled!  We hit 5k at 29:23 and a new PB for me! 

The remaining 12k went really well.  It was really windy (in seemingly every direction - what is up with that) but Andy and I chatted the whole time and the kilometers just ticked by.  We hit 17k at 1:46:39 which is a 6:15/ km pace.  If I can run that at the race on the 17th I'll definately improve on my time from last year and have a new PB for the half marathon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

How Much Is Too Much?

I love triathlon races.  I love the atmosphere and the anticipation and the feeling of crossing the finish line.  I completed 4 sprint distance races this summer and I wish I could have done more.  I'm starting to look at the calendar for next year and was wondering how many races I could reasonably do without burning myself out and what the distances should be considering that my "A" race next year is the Steelhead Half-Ironman race.

So I turn to you, Internet peeps, for some advice and guidance given the following:
  • The Half-Ironman race is August 14, 2011.
  • I've never completed a race longer than a sprint distance.
  • There is a 10-mile road race that I'm running in April.
  • I will be in Italy at the end of May for a weeklong cycling trip (HOLLA!).
Should I shoot for doing an Olympic distance race before the Half-Iron?  If so, how soon before is too soon?  All advice and guidance is appreciated!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is It The Mountain Air?

I have been posting the race reports for my past races.  I apologize for any boredom that this may cause anyone but I wanted to get them written and posted on the off chance that people start following me (Hi Mary!).  I know my favourite part of reading blogs is the race reports so I didn't want to leave them out. 

Anyhoo, onto training.  Paul and I have been on vacation on the West Coast for almost two weeks now.  He has a brother who lives in Bellingham, Washington with his family and I have a sister that lives in Salmon Arm, B.C. with her family.  We spent a week in Washington and have been in Salmon Arm since last Friday.  I couldn't go without training in some way for two weeks!  Besides, I'm signed up to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon on October 17th.  I ran the half last year for the first time and would really like to beat that time. 

Where I live, in Southwestern Ontario it's flat.  Really flat.  Like doing "hill repeats" on the bike means driving over and back the 401 highway overpass.  For real.  The prospect of running while on the West Coast actually worried me quite a bit.  Actual mountains?  Could I do it?  I had one long run each week along with the other maintenance runs scheduled.  Couple this with my running alone (I usually run with Sydney) and I was nervous.  I must say though it hasn't been so bad.  My average pace is actually faster than at home and although my quads hurt like a mother the first week my legs feel fine now. 

I've done both of my long runs at a faster pace than I planned, depsite the hills.  Today I ran 8km and averaged 6:31/km.  I ran without looking at my Garmin because I wanted to just run by feel.  I attacked each uphill and concentrated on keeping my form and lifting my feet (I'm a bit of a shuffler).  On the downhills I concentrated on keeping my body upright and controlling my pace.  Mostly it was a really pleasant run that went by quickly while I enjoyed the mountain views and the horses and cows that I passed.

We get home Saturday afternoon and my next run is 17k with Andy on Sunday.  I'm anxious to see how/if this translates.  Then again, will jet lag and the time change have a negative effect?  Stay tuned...

Tecumseh Duathlon 2009 Race Report

Tammi talked me into it again.  Signing up for a race when I probably had no business doing it.  Again, I had been working on my swim but was too intimidated by the distance to do the Sprint Tri.  I thought about doing the Try-A-Tri again but when Tammi called and said she wanted to do the full distance Duathlon I said "why not?".

This race was held August 09, 2009.  This day turned out to be the hottest, most disgusting day weather wise that our area had seen in a long time.  I had spent the entire day before with my neice at the Kids-Of-Steel (her second year!).  It rained ALL DAY and her wave kept getting postponed because there would be thunder and lighning and they'd have to wait it out.  The next day, the day of our race, was a stinkpot of heat and humidity.

Again, I arrived early to set up my transition and get my chip timer and body marking (still my favourite part).  The race didn't start until almost 10:00 which became a problem as the day got later and the sun got hotter.  Paul was doing the bike leg of the Duathlon relay with Sydney's husband and another girl they knew.  He had just bought a road bike because he was thinking of also getting into triathlon but had literally ridden it once.

Run #1
This was a 3k out and back.  I tried to stay with the herd but the pace was really fast for me.  I quickly dropped off but still managed to finish the 3k in good time (for me).  Tammi was already well and gone into transition by the time I got there.

Run time - 16:39 (5:33/km avg)

T1 + Bike + T2
I grabbed my bike in transition and because I still was not using clips I was off pretty quickly.  The bike was a 30k, two loop course.  I tried to pay attention to what was written on people's calves to see if they were in the Duathlon and more importantly in my age group when I came upon them or when they were (more often) passing me.  I did pass one girl in my age group but it was no consolation as she was riding a city cruiser with a basket in front (for real!) and wearing an iPod.  She was literally almost completely upright!  I passed Tammi about half way through the first loop as she was on her mountain bike and already starting to struggle.  The way back was brutal.  There was a headwind the made me want to cry.  I kept watching my speed on my Garmin and I was down to 8 kph at some points!  Back to the race site and we had to turn around and do it again.  I hate two loop courses!  Much of the same on the second loop except by this point the heat was starting to get to me.  I'm not the most confident rider and not good at getting my water bottle out of my cage while I'm riding.  As a result I don't drink enough.  I didn't have anything to drink during this bike leg.  Bad idea, especially considering how long I was out there.  I finally came into T2, grabbed a gel and threw on my run hat before heading out.  I literally wanted to cry I was feeling so crappy.

T1 + Bike + T2 time - 1:21:56 (22 kph avg)

Run #2
The second run was a 6k course that wound it's way through the surrounding neighbourhood.  This course had NO shade and there were only 3 water stations.  I took a gel at the beginning of the run but I think I was already dehydrated.  It wasn't long before I started to walk.  I didn't feel so bad because alot of people were walking.  It was awful.  It was approximately 114 degrees with the humidity and it was almost noon at this point.  I shuffled/ran/walked and tried to just get myself through it.  At about the 4k point there was a water station and when I was about 50m from it I saw a guy pass out.  By the time I reached him the ambulance was there already and when they left with sirens screaming I remember thinking, "wait, take me too!".  That guy actually was in a drug induced coma for a couple of days while they treated him for multiple organ failure.  He was a fairly good triathlete that was pushing for a podium spot that day.  Scary!  Throughout the run I was playing cat and mouse with a girl from my race and age group.  She passed me then stopped to walk and I would pass her.  At 5k I told myself to suck it up and I would run the last kilometer without stopping.  I needed to get it over with!  I finally saw the finish line and was running up the chute.  About 10 feet from the finish I feel someone whiz by me.  NOOOO.  I thought it was her.  Fortunately it wasn't.  It was my friend Dawn who was doing the Sprint Triathlon and is an awesome athlete.  She won the women's masters (over 40) division.  I came across the line and Paul, Sydney and her husband Andy were waiting for me.  I started to cry.  It was so hard.

Run #2 time - 48:17 (8:03/km)

Total time - 2:26:52
Overall - 89/105
AG (F35-39) - 3/4

I got an age group award.  How funny is that?

Belle River Do-A-Du 2009 Race Report

My second multi-distance race was held May 31, 2009.  I signed up for this race with my friend Tammi who doesn't train on any kind of consistent basis but enters races like this anyway.  She's crazy!  This event also included a sprint distance triathlon but I didn't sign up because I did not feel ready for the swim.  I had taken an Adult learn to swim class at the local college in March and had finally learned to do a proper front crawl but I was not nearly at a point where I could complete the entire sprint distance swim.  And so, Do-A-Du it was.

I got to the race site early (shocker) and set up my transition area.  My husband Paul came with me and I remember how cranky he was about how early he had to get up and going.  I was beyond irritated with it but whatever.  Over the winter I had also purchased a new road bike.  A black and pink Specialized Dolce.  I was beyond excited about this bike.  Mostly because it was black and pink.  I literally walked into my local bike shop, told them I needed a bike for triathlon training, didn't want to spend more than $1,000 and there she was.  To be honest, she was the only bike in the shop that was small enough for me.  Needless to say I was excited to see what the difference would be like to race on a road bike compared to a mountain bike.

Run #1
We all lined up at the start line waiting for the word to start the first 2.5k run.  Unfortunately there was some confusion about when we would go.  At one point they told us to go, then stop, then it was GO GO GO!  This run was pretty uneventful.  I tried keeping up with Tammi  and her friend but their pace was way fast for me (I'm a really slow runner).

Run time - 15:49 (6:20/km)

T1 + Bike + T2

I ran into transition and grabbed a drink of water and my bike.  I wasn't using clips yet so I didn't need to worry about changing shoes or anything.  Uneventful T1.  I mounted my bike at the line and took off.  I felt really good on the bike and started passing a couple of people.  I caught T and her friend who were on mountain bikes.  One thing I learned on this course was that I would have to spend some time on bike learning how to use my gears!  This was a 15k out and back course.  There was also a Sprint Triathlon and Dualthlon going on at the same time.  They did not have any volunteers at the bike turn around for our race.  Luckily, I happened to notice a spray painted turn around arrow in the middle of the road and made the assumption that it was the turn around.  I yelled at T when I saw her to watch for the arrow but she didn't hear me and she and most of the Do-A-Du participants missed it and ended up riding the entire 30k course.  I got back to the race site, dismounted and ran my bike into transition.  Again, uneventful.

T1 + Bike + T2 time - 40:59 (22 kph avg)

Run #2
This was another 2.5k out and back.  Shady in a lot of spots.  What struck me most was alot of the full Duathlon and Triathlon athletes that were passing me were saying very nice and encouraging things.  It's something I try to do to the (few) people I pass in races now.

Run time - 16:55 (6:46/km)

Total time - 1:13:42
Overall - 10/15
Age Group (F35-39) - 1/1