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!