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!