Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ironman Boulder re-cap

Training Build
I signed up for Boulder back in September which gave me a lot of time to plan and prepare for the race. It had been 3 years since I had raced an Ironman and my life has significantly changed since 2015 so I was excited to organize my training and I was excited to put in the early morning grind in the basement training room over the long miserable winter.  I thought I was busy in 2014-2015 training for an Ironman, but it turns out I didn't know what busy was back then!

I didn't have a huge recent base of training under my belt for this Ironman, as my training volume wasn't very large during 2017 season (I had raced a couple Olympic and sprint) and I was just getting back into it after being absent from racing in 2016 with twin pregnancy and their birth on July 3/16.

But the consistency was definitely there as well as a healthy body and no injuries, so I worked on building up my volume slightly over the fall, averaging around 10-11 hours per week during Nov/Dec, and first half of January.  Unfortunately I got sick mid January (necessitating taking a sick day from work for the first time in 4 years), which then turned into 3 weeks of barely training (maybe got in 3-5 hrs a week during this time of light/easy stuff and no swim) as it evolved into a bronchitis/respiratory sickness. This sucked!  I was able to get back on track from about mid-February onward but during the setback I considered maybe pulling out of Boulder and switching to Whistler to give me an extra 6 weeks.  But I stuck with the plan and kept my eyes on Boulder. End of February and March I was in the 12-14 hour/week range for weekly volume and in April hit a few 15hr weeks with a big week during vacation in Phoenix at 17.5 hours.  I was able to put together two big consecutive weeks in May of 18.5 and 19 hours. I think my build overall went pretty well.  When I look back, I got in 3 big rides: 5hrs (150km), 5hrs (160km) and 5hr50min (187km) and a few 80-90km rides outside, other than that it was mostly all done on the trainer and I did a lot of 2.5-3 hr rides inside and one long indoor ride at 3.5 hours. Huge thanks to my in-laws for babysitting help for the long rides and of course to Geoff who does so much, caring for the girls.

I really didn't get in a lot of swimming, averaged about 2x a week from mid-February to May, but in March/April/May I started adding in a longer swim once a week (aiming to be once a week anyway), where I would swim the Tuesday practice till 9pm (about 2800m) and then stay an extra 20min and get in another 1000-1200m. Now that I look back, from February to beginning of June, I swam an average of 6000m a week, which isn't very high.  But I was able to dial in my swim during my long taper after I shed all the fatigue and my threshold sets in the week or two leading into the race were some scarily fast times for me (getting down to 1:15’s /100m in my last couple pre race sets). So I knew I was in really good shape going into the race.

Running training went well overall and I was consistent, doing a lot of easy/base/MAF running throughout the winter, with one harder interval or hill session each week.  I actually did most of my running on the treadmill, which in hindsight I should have done more outside on the pavement to ensure the proper musculoskeletal adaptation of running on a harder surface. Next time I guess I will just need to HTFU and get outside to run more often at pitch black o'clock during the cold winter months.

A Confession
From January to end of March, this ended up being an extremely challenging period in our house, probably the second hardest since the twin newborn stage (but lasted longer!).  Geoff and I put the girls in daycare for the first time starting at the beginning of January, for two full days a week. It was an amazing facility with great programs, but within a couple days of starting one of them got sick (coughs/cold), followed by the other one the next day or two, and then frequently recurring fevers and endless coughing/bronchitis, having to take them to the doctor on multiple occasions, and then this continued literally every week until the end of March when we made the tough decision to pull them out.  They weren't sleeping properly at night due to constant coughing and/or fever issues, Geoff and I weren't sleeping with disturbed sleep every night and being up with one or the other or both of them, and they didn't nap properly/at all during this time (this was particularly hard on Geoff as he is their primary caregiver during the workday, and they had previously napped like clockwork, soundly for 2 to 2.5 hours every afternoon.  Geoff would normally utilize this quiet time to get some of his work done).

This was a struggle.  Trying to train for an Ironman with significant sleep disruptions when 95% of your workouts need to start at 5:15am is not an easy thing.  Things were hard. Around this time Geoff and I started realizing that maybe we took too much on, as he had started doing some extra freelance fantasy sports writing, podcasts and shows, and working for a new website in January to coincide with the girls being in daycare twice a week, in addition to his other work.  When I thought about it more, it was a bit crazy for me to be trying to train for a June Ironman, while working full-time at a business development/sales job that requires overnight travel to Calgary about once a month, while trying to manage two sick toddlers, and also while coaching 7 athletes.

We got through it.  We were able to put the really tough period behind us.  We decided at the end of March to pull them out of the daycare as the health issues were concerning and we wanted to get them back to being the very healthy girls that they are.  Perhaps we will try it again in the fall, but it was a really good decision.  People can judge all they want but this was the best decision for us that made the most sense at the time and something that we just needed to do.  The girls bounced back quickly and got these sicknesses and fevers and colds behind them and everything went back to normal in April/May, they are now back to being champion sleepers and nappers and are so energetic and busy and happy little girls.

Despite all of this, I really enjoyed the training and quite liked putting in the solo hours in the dark, early mornings.  This was my quiet 'me' time, getting the work done while the rest of the house was sleeping.  I love the early morning grind!

The Race:
Flew to Boulder on the Thursday before the race, with super Sherpa Ashley, and my other super Sherpa met us there - my sister Alice.  Spent a few days getting organized, doing a few pre-race workouts, relaxing, and meeting some of my wonderful Coeur Sports sisters! It's so nice to finally put faces to names and to be able to meet some of my lovely teammates. This is an amazing tribe of kind and inspiring women and I'm so happy to be a part of it for another year. I got to meet Erin Trail, Libby Dykes, and very briefly say hello to Kristin Goett race morning while walking towards the swim chute, and a brief hello to pro Sarah Jarvis while running by each other in the marathon! I was heartbroken not to get to meet the amazing Triny Willerton but this will happen one day! Triny was hit by a vehicle while training on her bike about a month before the race and suffered serious injuries but she somehow made it out for part of the race to cheer and spectate. I didn't get to see her though :(

Race weekend for Ironman #4 for me ended up being a heat wave (of course, I was racing), with the high for race day of 35C.  This was actually the coolest temperature out of all of my Ironmans, believe it or not!  (IMCDA 2006: 37C; IMCA 2011: 36C, IMCDA 2015: 40C).  I knew it was going to be hard and I planned my bottles and nutrition accordingly.  I prepared 4 of my own bottles (2 on the bike, 2 for special needs) which contained 250 calories each and about 750mg of sodium.  I froze my 2 special needs bottles overnight, and they were still partially frozen when I collected them at the special needs station about halfway through the bike leg despite the soaring temperatures!  The combination of high temperatures and altitude really made for a tough day.

I slept well the night before the race, with the alarm going off at 3:45am.  I had difficulty eating my bagel/peanut butter and could only eat about half. I had a tiny cup of coffee, some juice, and I can't remember what else I ate - I think a banana and then a bag of skratch gummies.

Swim - 55:57
For the swim start at 6:20am, I lined up near the front of the corral, expecting to swim 52-54 minutes.  The start was very tame as it was a continuous feed entry, and nobody touched me.  A few guys got out ahead of me but I stuck to my own easy pace and stayed very comfortable as I didn't want to push the effort given the altitude, the heat that was coming, and the fact that it's a long day.  The water was a beautiful temperature, and the reservoir was nice to swim in.  The course was excellent, with buoys very visible and easy to sight.  It just felt so long, lol!   Also, apparently I need a new wetsuit as I could feel cool water trickling in at my lower back.  Looking at it now and the seam has completely come apart near the bottom of the zipper.  This may have been my last swim in my awesome Orca Sonar!

My lower back and hips started throbbing about halfway through and didn't let up for the remainder of the swim. Perhaps due to a lack of open water training as I did zero OWS other than an Olympic race in Tempe at the end of April.  It is just too difficult logistically and time consuming for me to get out to a lake to train.  Before kids I used to do barely any OWS and I do even less now.

I swam with a couple guys around me for the rest of the swim, with no females ahead of me, but noticed with about 500m to go a pink cap (female) coming by, and I just let her go without altering my pace as I wanted to stick to my own race and plan.  I was very happy to finally get to the swim finish chute with all the discomfort in my back and hips.  Swim time was actually a slow time for me and based on my fitness and shape going in I should have been faster - but can't complain given the muscle soreness!

Transition was seamless and I was in and out in a few minutes - no messing around in there!

Bike: 5:25
The bike course was beautiful, and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately the sore lower back and hips continued when I got on the bike, as I thought it would just dissipate when I got out of the water.  This was frustrating, and I was uncomfortable for that whole first loop on the bike (two loop course).  My legs felt amazing other than that problem and so did my breathing and heart and lungs.  It didn't seem to be letting up, so I took 2 advil about 1:30 into the bike leg, to no avail.  About an hour later, I took one more, and finally after that the throbbing pain went away.  I went through the halfway point in 2:44.  I felt much stronger and pretty amazing on the second loop, and was able to get the second loop done faster than the first and negative split the ride. A lady went by me early during the second loop, and we leap frogged a few times, then she rode ahead after that.  Up until that point I was riding in lead female position for the amateur race.  Right near the end of the bike leg, another lady came by me and came into transition just ahead of me.  They were both in a slight older age group so I ended up out onto the run course in 1st position in my AG (and unfortunately didn't stay there, lol!).

For nutrition on the bike, I drank my own 4 prepared bottles, and once I had finished the first two I continually replaced those with on course water bottles and bottles of gatorade.  When I finished my two special needs bottles, at every aid station after that I stopped and got the volunteers to refill my nice Ironman bottle with water each time and took a new gatorade for my frame cage.  I didn't have my aero sip bottle and I didn't want to throw away the nice bottle so briefly stopping to fill it every aid station was what I had to do!  Overall consumed a lot of fluids.  I ate 2X chocolate Powerbars, 2 Cliff shot blocks sleeves, a Lara bar, and a gel or two, as well as some salt pills - Endurolytes.  Over 2000 calories and plenty of sodium.  I felt I was well fueled and I had no stomach issues.  It was super hot and during the second lap of the bike the winds picked up significantly, to the point where I was pedaling into the headwind and going no faster than 21-22km/hr!

Transition 2 was also quick and seamless, didn't waste any time in there.

Run (walk): 4:41
It was so hot right from the start.  The first 3 or so miles are out in the open on the road and there are some gradual hills even in the first mile.  I had forgotten to use the porta potty when transitioning from bike to run so I stopped at the first aid station at one mile in.  That was the only time I had to go in the race.  The marathon was really tough for me and I had the 'I'm not sure if I can keep going, I might have to stop' thoughts early on at miles 3-4.  My legs became so sore, it was hard to run.  I felt I was actually running quite well when running, but even early on I had to keep walking so much due to everything hurting.  Ugh. A decent marathon in an Ironman still eludes me.  It's daunting to be struggling and still have that much distance ahead of you to cover, but you just keep pressing on and keep moving forward.

The aid stations were wonderful, and the volunteers are so amazing and helpful.  I didn't stop at all, just walked through them all, grabbing what I need.  I remember at one of them when they called out as I approached 'what do you need' and I stated 'Everything!'.  I had to start taking in cola from about Mile 3 onwards, and from there it was coke/ice water/ice at every aid station from there, and some random orange slice at one or two and a gel somewhere along the way, as well as some cliff shot blocks.

The run course is deceptively tough.  It is all on a concrete path which is really hard on the muscles and joints, and there are many little ups and downs going under bridges etc.  It was a fabulous course though, with a big part of the course on the Boulder creek path where there were many spectators out cheering.  There were long sections that were exposed to the hot sun with no shade and those portions were hard.  Hell, the whole course was hard!  But I really enjoyed it despite the pain I was in.  There was a helluva ton of walking, and by the time I was barely 10 miles in, I would start running again only to have to walk again after 30sec to a minute :( I was power walking, though, and seem to be able to walk a decent pace doing that.  My marathon time is almost identical to IMCDA back in 2015.  It was awesome and uplifting to see Ashley and Alice at about 10 miles and again after I turned around to head back out on the second lap, and then again about a mile or two from the finish. 

I finally made it to that magical finish line in a time of 11:09:

A new Ironman PB (by 12 minutes) for me on a tough day!  I was hoping to go faster than this and really wanted to go in the 10's, but given all the struggles during the race I am happy with this time.  It turned out to be a very competitive race, I placed 5th in my age category (35-39), but had previously been listed as 8th - although 3 athletes ahead of me were DQ'd for inadvertently cutting a part of the course.  Which incidentally worked out well for me as I made it onto the podium :) There were 2 Kona slots awarded in my age group, and one of them rolled to 3rd place.  So I wasn't as close as last time. 

Many things to improve upon, as always, but I truly enjoyed the journey and race day and plan to be back out there again sometime (sooner rather than later) looking to smash my new PB and place higher next time (i.e. Top 2). 


Monday, August 7, 2017


Here we are past July!  Well, here goes my first update of the year even though we're already into the second half of 2017...

My girls just turned 1 year old on July 3, and that first year sure passed by quickly!  When I think back to last summer and trying to juggle and manage two newborns, it seems like a lifetime ago.  Last summer was so challenging being a brand new mum to two babies at once!  But Geoff and I are very lucky with these two monkeys, they are super healthy, they eat very well, and they sleep like logs thankfully.  And they are hilarious!  They have been sleeping through the night since they were only a few months old, and they now sleep straight through from about 8:30pm to 8am every night with a 2 hour nap each afternoon.  They started walking at 11 months and now basically they're running!  Will have to find a race for them soon :)

Playing with dad <3 font="">

Recent family trip to Lake Country, BC
Gray Monk winery in the Okanagan!

Work work:
I've been back to full time work as of the beginning of January, when the twins turned 6 months old. The transition went well, and even though I have to travel to Calgary about once a month we make it work.  I continued breastfeeding all throughout this time, which meant multiple pumping sessions during the day (twice while at the office) for months, and extra time pumping first thing when I awoke before working out, and right before bed, in addition to several nursing sessions daily. After starting to slowly taper down in May, I finished nursing about a week shy of their 1st birthday.  I'm proud of myself that I breastfed them for a whole year. It was a bit sad to end but at the same time very freeing!

When I returned to work, I also started doing early morning training sessions at dark o'clock as that was the best time to fit in some training.  I've gotten myself into a good routine since then.  Since January, I've slowly increased my weekly training and generally end up doing about 3 early mornings each week starting at 6am.  My weekly volume has increased to 9-10 hours consistently which works for me and I can easily handle this amount.   I have not been doing a lot of higher intensity/speed/interval training in either bike or run, mostly just easier low HR/MAF running with occasional mile or 1/2 mile repeats worked into a long run, and strength work on the bike with bigger gear and steady grinds, with the majority of my riding done indoors on the trainer (but getting outside when I can, generally about once a week).

We got a run stroller (Thule chariot) back in April and now I run with the girls two or three times a week after their dinner for 40-45min.  I stopped coaching swimming in St. Albert at the end of January, and joined the group instead in February, which was a nice change.  Now I just show up and get told what to do, and it's fun to swim with others in a lane again! Teacher becomes the student...

An early morning spin at sunrise

It's so awesome to be back racing this year after sitting out last year due to pregnancy and having some serious FOMO while everyone around me trained, raced and got super fit.  So far for races, I've done a couple of the MEC 10km road race series in April and May while pushing the girls in the chariot, and another local 10km at the Garrison in early June, and have gotten faster with each race, which was the goal. The April race with crazy hills I ran 57min, and in the May race 50 min on a flat course.  In the June race the girls and I crossed the finish line 1st for women, in 47 min and change - the course was a bit short of 10km though.  Super fun though and a nice, flat route which is good when you're pushing these two!

Geoff and I and the twins at Loops 4 Troops 10k in June, with Ailsa on the right, who won the 1/2 marathon!

I raced Wasa Lake Olympic Triathlon on June 11, which was my first 'real' triathlon in almost 2 years. It was great to get out there and really push the effort and this is truly one of my favourite races, one of those 'grassroots' triathlon races that are slowly disappearing due to all the 'corporate' Ironman and 70.3 races out there.  Support your local races people!!

I ended up placing 4th for women, which I was happy with, in 2:24 (swim 23, bike 1:08, run 49).  Slower than in 2013 when I did this race but not too shabby.

Wearing the sharp and lovely Coeur sports team race kit

Wasa Lake - 4th place female OA

Walking around during one of our stops on the long drive home from Wasa Lake

Then 3 weeks later was the Great White North triathlon, and I raced the Olympic distance.  I had a superb day, and ended up winning the race for women!  It was an amazing feeling to cross the line in 1st place, and it had actually been my 'secret' goal in the back of my mind to win the race.  I felt really strong in the swim (which was super short, I swam 15:30 something, ha!), and also on the bike my legs felt great!  The run was hard, as always, but I held it together for the 10.6 km and surprisingly felt stronger on the second half.  

 Always happy to cross a finish line!

Next up, is my fave hometown race, the St. Albert sprint triathlon on Aug. 13.  I haven't been able to do this race since 2013, so I am really looking forward to it!  This will be my last triathlon of the year.  I was planning to do the Arizona 70.3 in October, but totally missed the boat and didn't sign up, and it sold out!  Note to self, get your butt in gear and register earlier next time :$ We are still planning on going to AZ in October, so I may plan to do a half marathon or something while there. So it was a relatively short triathlon season with 3 races under my belt, which is perfect.  This year was all about just getting back into it and I didn't plan any 'epic' or big races, which was a good plan for me.

Next year, on the other hand, will be different.  I need a big goal to work towards and to challenge myself, and that will be Ironman.  It will be an even bigger juggling act to manage than I'm doing right now, but I am looking forward to it.  Personally, I function well and am more accomplished and productive when my plate is overflowing with things.  I like the daily grind.  And I love everything about Ironman, including the training and preparation, the personal challenge, getting myself as fit as possible, putting together and planning my days and weeks of workouts like a puzzle, I love the entire race day itself despite how much it hurts, and I especially love that magical finish line experience!  I'm currently trying to figure out which start line I will be on.  There are a couple I have my eye on, and I'll decide in the next week or two.  I also want to race a half ironman next summer, as I haven't actually done one since 2013.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The New Normal

Here's my attempt to catch up the last 6 months in one update...

Last few weeks of Pregnancy:
I slowed down a LOT in the final weeks.  For fitness I was basically just swimming a couple times a week, around 2km, and walking the dogs.  I would get out of breath very easily and was feeling quite tired all the time.  I stopped working as of June 1, so I had the whole month of June off and had tons of time to relax and spend with the pups.  The last couple weeks I really slowed down in the pool, must have been due to dragging around all that extra weight haha!  I swam up until about a week before I gave birth.  Total weight gain was about 47lbs.  Luckily I was able to avoid getting stretch marks, I think mainly due to drinking a lot of water each day (like 2-3 L), as well as putting coconut oil on my belly/hips/boobs twice a day starting at the end of the first trimester (try Palmer's Coconut butter oil, it worked awesome for me).

Love swimming in an outdoor pool!

Look at that huge belly!

The twins' birth - July 3, 2016

I had to be induced, which I didn't know at the time is much worse than going into labour on your own!  For twin pregnancy they don't really let you go past 38 weeks.  I delivered a day short of 38 weeks.  These girls were cozy in there and didn't want to come out!  My labour went pretty smoothly and uneventfully, but they had to break my water and it was absolutely awful pain with the contractions immediately after that, like nothing I have ever experienced.  I requested an epidural at that point (had to wait over 90min though!), and was able to avoid a c-section and deliver naturally.  I am really thankful I did not have to have a c-section, as the recovery is much longer.  From the time I arrived at the hospital to them being born was about 11 hours. The twins were 8 minutes apart.  Nola Portia was first and weighed 5 lb 13 oz, and Aisling Cordelia (Ash-ling) was second and weighed 6 lbs 3 oz.  Great weights for twins.  Crazy that there were 12 lbs of babies in my belly.
Whoa mama! Taken in the last week before the babies arrived.  Hard to believe there were 2 little monkeys hiding in there. 

The babies and I were both discharged the following day from the hospital, but Geoff and I decided to stay one extra night.  You kind of feel like how a deer in the headlights looks.  The babies didn't cry all that much the first night, but they cried a bit the second and you really have no idea what to do, I didn't even know how to swaddle a baby in a blankets.

First 6-8 Weeks Post-Partum:

OMG.  This was SO tough and challenging.  Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it was.  I'm sure every brand new mother finds it tough, but with two newborns at once, it was extremely crazy.  Getting home from the hospital was like 'OK, what do we do now'.  Unfortunately there is no instruction manual that you get when you go home with your baby.  Thinking back to this time period now it all seems like a huge blur, but I remember it was so hard.  The hardest thing by far for me was lack of sleep and dealing with sleep deprivation, as I've always been a really good sleeper and a good sleep is very important to me.  After the first couple nights of pretty much not getting any sleep, maybe 30 minutes here and there, and then realizing that a full night's sleep was nowhere in the near future was tough to come to that realization. Geoff and I basically lived in the bonus room upstairs for the first 4 weeks, as the babies' bassinets were in there.  Anyone that came to visit just hung out upstairs with us.  And everyone who visited brought food and meals, which was life saving!

Luckily the girls were such good eaters, and ate and ate and ate (which was really hard for this mama as I was constantly feeding them, still am, haha!) and put on weight quickly.  At their 2 month immunization and check up, they were both 11 lbs already.  Once they hit 2.5 months they both all of a sudden started sleeping through the night from about 9 or 10 pm, with just one feed around 4 or 5am, then back to sleep until 8am.  It was luxurious!  We started putting them in one crib in September for sleeping, then a month or two ago started putting them each in their own crib, as they got so big they both didn't fit in one crib!  They sleep in the cribs in the nursery every night.

This is pretty much what it looked like, sleep deprived and catching some zz's whenever I could. 

The stuff Nobody tells you...
-you're going to still look 5 months pregnant when leaving the hospital.  I weighed myself about a week after giving birth and was still about 20lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight. You don't lose it all during delivery!  The uterus takes time to shrink back down to its size.  Breastfeeding really helps with this.
-the first few weeks of breastfeeding are so tough - painful, uncomfortable, raw/cracked nipples, you're feeding on demand, sometimes cluster feeding, and engorgement is no joke.  It's hard!  Once you get past those first few weeks though, it gets easier and you get into a groove.  You basically have to just tough it out for a couple weeks then it gets better.  I'm really pleased I've been able to make it through 6 months of breastfeeding, and I plan to continue for at least another couple or three months.  At the beginning we had to top up with some formula, but this only lasted for about 4 weeks and they've been fed exclusively on breast milk since then.  However, we just started incorporating some solids last week (mashed banana and rice cereal mixed with breastmilk).
-you kind of go through a mourning period for your old life (I did, anyway).  In those early days I found myself thinking back to previous times when I could just go out for a workout whenever I wanted, or do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, then I would feel guilty for feeling this way.  Luckily this didn't last too long.
-having newborns will test your patience and relationship!  You're going to be short with each other, patience wears thin, irritable, angry, all due to lack of sleep.  Once you can get a routine established, things get better!  I found the most important thing that helped was to ensure we both got to squeeze in a workout of some sort each day, even for 30min.

Now that they are basically 6 months old, we have settled into our New Normal and gotten used to everything.  Lots of changes and adjusting, but life with twins is hilarious and awesome at the same time!  They're now at the age that they're super active, rolling everywhere, sitting, tons of crazy noises, and they're so happy all the time.  I still can't believe there are two of them!  Can't imagine having just one, though.  It's tons of work but super awesome.

              The twins were about a month and a half old in this picture, my 'new normal' (crazy).

2.5 months old!

3 months old!

4.5 months old - in Phoenix!

Post-Partum Fitness
The first week or two after delivery, I just got out for regular walks with the dogs and sometimes with the stroller.  Sometimes I wasn't able to get out with the dogs until the evening just before the sun started setting, but I remember how beautiful it was and how happy and grateful I was to be outside in the lovely fresh air, even for 20-30min.  During this time, I started working on some basic abdominal contractions, then started incorporating some isometric and basic exercises to start the process of strengthening my abdominal muscles that had been stretched during pregnancy.

About 3.5 weeks after giving birth, I went for a 30min run.  I was so slow and out of shape but it was glorious to be out running again after having 6 months off!  Since then I have consistently run 3 times per week, building it up to 45-50min each run.  The first few weeks I stuck to about 30min or so then gradually built up the time.  All the running I've done has been easy, MAF-type runs, slow pace and easy effort.  My average heart rate has decreased to the point where it is now just above 130 for these runs.  The longest I have run has been 60min, not because I can't aerobically  but really just due to time constraints and not being able to sneak away for longer.  My running fitness has gradually improved and I am feeling fairly decent running again, although I haven't done any speed work.

This is what I've been doing weekly for the past many months now:

Running 3X per week - 45-50min each run, MAF effort and HR
Bike 1X per week - 60min with lots of big gear work
Strength or Hot Yoga - 1 session a week - 45-60min (strength/weights at home)
Swimming 2X per week - 30min, about 1600-1700m

It adds up to about 5-6 hours a week, which is all I have time to fit in.  A lot less than I would do previously, and I'm not at my pre-pregnancy fitness yet, but this schedule has helped me to regain some decent shape.  I haven't weighed myself in a few months, but back at the end of October I was about 6 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.  By now I think I have lost a bit more and am likely at or near my prior weight.  I'm going by how my clothes fit, and pleased to report I can fit into all my clothes :)

Geoff and I had some very sad news just after Thanksgiving.  We had to say goodbye to our beloved Hugo, who was only 8 years old.  He had been diagnosed in April with an auto-immune disorder, and the vet had been treating it with some medications and injections every 4 weeks.  Hugo had been doing fairly well, but it was an unpredictable disease.  It was somewhat unexpected but incredibly heartbreaking, and so hard to deal with.  He was our first baby and such a wonderful companion.  We miss him so much.  I'm glad we got 6 more months with him after his diagnosis and that the girls got to meet him and spend 3 months with him.

In November we went on a trip to Arizona, which was the babies' first trip and it went really well.  It was nice to be in some warm weather and wear shorts/tanks for runs, and to take the stroller out with the girls dressed in only onesies with no blankets!  I was able to jump into a triathlon with Deborah, the sprint reverse triathlon I did last year (when I was 6 weeks pregnant, and I knew I was preggers but had no idea it was twins!).  I borrowed my father in law's old road bike and raced on that.  The race turned out not too badly, I ended up 3rd female OA and 1st in my age group, 4min faster than last year.  I was pleased to run around 7:15 pace for the 2 mile run, which was the first leg of the race.

Looking forward to racing in 2017!  I'm thrilled to have been selected to Coeur Sports as an ambassador for the third year in a row.  It's a fabulous team of supportive and inspiring women and I'm proud to represent!

I haven't signed up for any races yet, but planning for sure to race Wasa Lake triathlon (Olympic distance) on June 11, as we will be camping in this gorgeous venue with the babies and my in-laws (in their lovely oversized trailer, anyway).  I will probably do some other local races in July/August (GWN? possibly Invermere Olympic).  I'm hoping to race a 70.3 in October (Arizona), but this will depend on whether I can fit in the training needed to perform well, only time will tell.

The girls will be 6 months old next week (what, seriously?), and I'm heading back to work next week as well.  Can't believe it has been 7 months that I've been off work, time just flies!  Geoff will be staying home and working when he can, while taking care of the babies.  I will work from home one day a week.  We will make it work!  We may have to get some extra help on a casual or part time basis but will see how it goes.  I'll still be nursing so I plan to pump twice at work, nurse in the morning and evening/after work. I feel if we were able to get through those first two months, we can get through anything!

That's all for now.  Cheers and Happy New Year!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bump update - 31 weeks

I can't believe how quickly the time is passing! It's really hard to believe it is mid-May already.  The past 4 weeks has been a little crazy and stressful with a lot going on. 3 weeks ago our beloved Hugo had a sudden seizure at night, and we took him to the emergency vet.  It sounded most likely as though it was a brain tumour, which is not treatable and is fatal.  Brain tumours are apparently common in Boston Terriers.  They kept him for about 24 hours and we were able to take him home when he was stable.  Geoff and I were so upset and distraught all weekend at the thought that we were going to lose our Hugy at such a young age (7 years old). It was basically tied for the worst weekend of my life. We were able to get Hugo in for an MRI scan and appointment with the neurologist in the Calgary CARE clinic a few days later, as we just wanted to know for peace of mind.

The specialist told Geoff after the scan that it was actually an auto immune disorder causing the symptoms - encephalitis which is basically inflammation in the brain.  We were really surprised. It is a mostly treatable and possibly even curable condition.  We were cautiously optimistic, and Hugo was put on some meds and the plan was for an injection protocol every 3 weeks for a period of time, and hopefully start to taper off the meds after 6 weeks.  He is doing well so far, he has lost some muscle and strength but other than that he is doing all his normal activities.  I'm hoping for the best and that he responds to the injections and meds and keeps improving.  Fingers crossed.

Now on to the bump update:

How Far Along: 31 weeks tomorrow

Symptoms/Energy: Since I hit the 3rd trimester, I have been feeling pretty tired!  Not falling asleep all over the place tired, but just overall fatigue.  I get out of breath quite easily.  Still dealing with a bit of acid reflux but got a prescription for Ranitidine/Zantac from the doctor (safe to take) and it has been controlled with that.  Not really any other symptoms or aches and pains - and no back pain.  I think I have strong core and back muscles so I think that really helps you to avoid getting back pain and lordosis when the belly gets big.  Last week my feet swelled up for a few days but then they went back to normal so not sure what was up with that.

Exercise: To be honest, not really doing a helluva lot these days.  I was good through the first two trimesters and able to fit in pretty much daily workouts, but I slowed down significantly once I hit 3rd trimester.  All I have been doing is swimming (2-3x/week) and walking.  Walking the dogs for 20-30min seems to be a workout now.  Swimming is still good, I've been doing about 2000-2200m each workout, but in the past week or two I noticed I am so much slower!  I am still able to flip turn, just have to dive a bit deeper into the turn :)

 Planned workouts sometimes turn into this (more often than not these days)

Playing around during my swim workout the other day

Sleep: I am still sleeping really well.  I keep waiting for that to change, as all I hear is that nobody gets any sleep during the last part of their pregnancy.  I don't use one of those pregnancy pillows, usually just one of the dogs to cuddle with! LOL.  Hugo has been getting up in the middle of every night to go outside to pee, so I have been getting up when I hear him to let him out for that (or Geoff will).  Other than that, I'm sleeping soundly.  I've always been an excellent sleeper so maybe that helps.  

Weight Gain: Two weeks ago I had gained 32 lbs, so by now I'm likely up 34-35 lbs.  I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow so they will weigh me.  Everyone keeps saying 'oh you're so tiny, how do you have twins, etc'.  I've definitely gained a healthy amount of weight so far, and at the ultrasound this past week the estimated weights of the babies were 3.1 and 3.3 lbs, which is how much a singleton would weigh at this stage! So they are growing well.  Hoping they are both over 5 lbs when I deliver. One of the twins gained over a pound in 3 weeks! Of course, these are estimated weights and not actual weights but hopefully they not too far off.  Anyway, all the weight I have gained seems to be in the belly and boobs, and not really anywhere else (other than blood volume, placentas, etc which you can't see), so it must be going to all the right places.  There is constant activity in my belly, with these two kicking, moving around, etc.  They are quiet and sleep at night though :)

 Babies bump at 27 weeks

The babies bump today 4 weeks later - a whole lot bigger than even 4 weeks ago!  Basically I think I'm about the size of what a full-term singleton pregnancy would be!

Work: I am still working at my job, and May 31 will be my last official day.  The doctor said I should be only working part time by now and had originally wanted me to stop working around 25-26 weeks, but there are only a couple weeks left.  There is so much to do and I'm not ready to be off work!  I'm also down to coaching one early morning session a week, on Fridays, plus 3 swim sessions in St. Albert (two evenings, and Saturday morning).  I do all my athlete programs on the weekends.

Looking forward to: Drinking coffee again, red wine, getting back into shape, and meeting these two tiny humans growing inside of me.  I still can't believe we are having twins, it hasn't completely sunk in yet and perhaps it won't until they actually arrive.

Other: Geoff and I are moving to our new house on May 25, so we just started packing stuff here. Our condo still has not sold, which sucks, but we're hoping once we move and it is empty maybe that will help.  So excited to get in our new home, which is only about 5 minutes down the road.  There is a lot to do still! And so little time.

That's it for now... I will update again soon.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bump Update - 22 Weeks

Just thought I would post a little update on how things have been going with this twin pregnancy thing, tomorrow I'll be 23 weeks along.  It's amazing how fast time is moving and the weeks are just flying by.  And crazy to think that there are likely only just over 3 months to go before these twins arrive.  Right now Geoff and I are trying to sell our townhouse (that has absolutely no room for two new additions) and find a new house to move into by end of May, so yes this is a bit of a tight timeline.  Lots to do, so little time...

Was able to [barely] squeeze into my lovely new Coeur kit to grab a team pic at 19 weeks along.  The babies' bump didn't really pop and make an appearance until around this time (18-19 weeks).

The ever expanding bump at nearly 22 weeks, there's no hiding it now!

We found out the sex of the twins at the 2nd ultrasound on Feb. 23 and they're both girls!  Also just a couple weeks ago I started to notice the first movements, and the frequency has increased every week since then.  No strong kicks or anything yet, but more like light tapping and fluttering. There is a daily flutter of activity going on in my belly, which I imagine will just continue to increase!

Aversions - none.  I'm eating all the regular foods I ate pre-pregnancy just more of it.
Cravings - none.  I like to think it's because I am eating a very balanced diet and getting all the right nutrients and food my body needs, so it is not craving anything in particular.  But who really knows?

Drinking tons of water, probably 3L a day or more.  Heartburn occurs daily, but I carry Tums around with me and take 2-3 of them each day which seems to manage it.

Still aiming for 6-7 hours a week of working out in my comfort zone (well lately closer to 6), but some weeks this has been less when I am hitting a wall and feeling extremely tired, such as this past week.
-Swimming has been going well, I still feel really good in the water and can still comfortably swim 1:28's for repeat 100's with easy effort.  Still doing flip turns, I'm not sure when you are supposed to stop these, or if you can keep doing them even with a huge belly?  Not sure if anyone knows the answer to this.  I'll find out for myself in the next few months and report back.
-Still doing a couple power walks on the treadmill each week for 45-50min with 4x5min or 5x5min hill repeats at 4mph, keeping HR around 120-125.  Feeling good in these.
-Biking I have been doing once a week, but my position has become quite uncomfortable and not sure how long I'll be able to keep doing this on my TT bike.  I'll try a few modifications and then may stick the road bike on the trainer instead.
-Strength - about once a week for weights and strength at home, but aiming to bump this up to maybe twice.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty out of shape and I really really miss running, especially now that spring is nearly here and most of the snow is gone!  Haven't run since January 30 :(

Generally okay, but extremely low on some days.  I get winded and breathless just walking up the stairs and I can feel my HR pounding increasing.  During the day I am usually not super tired, but sometimes the evening hits and I feel so tired I nix the planned workout and can barely make dinner.  Days where I am up at 5am to coach are particularly tiring.  Apparently my ferritin levels (iron storage) are low again (just found out this week) so this may partially explain my feelings of tiredness all the time.  My hemoglobin is fine though, so I am not anemic.  I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow again so will figure out if I need to increase the amount of the iron supplement I take every day.  Anemia is actually quite common in multiple pregnancies and is not a good thing.

My sleep is still excellent, I pretty much fall asleep as soon as I hit the pillow and I do have a sound sleep.  Not sure how long this will continue.  I don't get enough sleep on the nights I have to get up at 5am for coaching the next morning (6.5 hours), but I make up for it the other nights and usually get around 8.5-9 hours on those nights.  Sometimes I will wake up early but then I fall back asleep.  Rarely do I have to get up to pee during the night.

Weight Gain:
22-23 lbs and counting!  Feeling huge.  At work I mainly wear leggings and tunics or long cardigan/sweaters.  My yoga capri's/pants and track pants, etc still fit and are still comfortable.  I got a few tanks from Lululemon (cool racerback style) that fit really well since they're long, and I just went up a size higher.  Also ordered a few tees/tanks from Coeur Sports  and again ordered a size higher than I usually wear, and they all fit great.  I love their cute tees, especially this 'I Love Bikes' tank!

Haven't gotten myself too many maternity clothes yet, just a maternity dress from the Bay I needed for a work conference/trade show, but this will change as today I just made a big order of Old Navy maternity tees/tanks/maxi dress/skirts that is shipping to my in-laws place in the States as for some reason they don't ship maternity to Canada.  I am going to need these for the warmer weather that is hopefully just around the corner!  I'll probably continue to wear leggings/capri leggings/maxi skirts/dresses, long cardigan sweaters, and tees/tanks under those and hopefully can get away with that for my work wardrobe.  For the pool I have just this week gone up to a size 34 swimsuit which seems to fit well; sadly, the 32's were getting a little too snug and had to be retired.  I've been doubling up my suits and wearing two at a time which gives better support.

I'm still working full time, coaching 5-6 sessions a week of swim groups and track, and managing my athlete's programs and training plans (those I do on the weekend).  So basically working about 45-50 hours a week, which is maybe a bit too much and probably also contributing to how tired I am all the time.  I'm going to continue coaching the morning sessions until beginning of May, and I will work at my full time job until the end of May.

That's it for now.  I'll post another update in a few weeks at which time it will hopefully be full-on spring mode around here!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Iron baby (x2)

Soo... last week I shared some news via FB/IG/twitter that Geoff and I are adding to our wolf pack, and that there is not one Baby Ulrich but two coming this July.  I am currently pregnant and we are expecting twins.  Surprising - yes!  Crazy - yes!  Overwhelming - yes!  Exciting - yes!  I wanted to write a bit about the journey so far, and I'm hoping to blog regularly about my experiences with this new journey.  I've been getting many questions from many people, the most common of which is 'Do twins run in your family?'.  I'm totally fine with these questions and don't mind answering them, and I'm happy to be open about our experience.  I get that people are curious!  The funniest and most unique one I've gotten so far was: "Was this by fluke or by design?".  Haha!

After my race season ended in 2015, Geoff and I had planned to start trying to grow our little family. We were lucky that it only took a couple of months before I was pregnant.  We found out in mid November at which point I was 4 weeks along (or 2 weeks gestational age).  Then a week or two later we went to Phoenix for a week's vacation, where I started running again (I had taken a month off to try and heal my hip injury).  I did the mini triathlon when I was almost 6 weeks pregnant.  I kept it comfortable and didn't let my heart rate go above 145-150 in the bike or run.  I didn't wear the HR monitor in the water (swim was last), but slowed down my pace and intensity and everything felt good and the race turned out okay, too!
New Year's Eve swim with friends

1st Trimester:
Other than feeling very fatigued, I didn't really even feel much different.  There was absolutely no sickness or nausea, I kept waiting and waiting for it to happen but it never did. I was very lucky to not even have had a day of sickness.  I've had no particular food cravings or aversions, and have been able to eat all my typical and normal foods and lots of it!  I don't think I am the typical pregnant lady, LOL!  Since I had no morning sickness at all, and didn't really gain more than a couple pounds in the first trimester, there was no reason to suspect twins, and it didn't even cross our minds once.  At my 12 week Ultrasound appointment on Jan. 12, we found out there were 2 babies!  This was the shock of our lives to see two of them up there on the screen, as we hadn't even considered the possibility.  At first, when the image came up, I just thought they were showing two pictures of the one baby, then the ultrasound tech said, "OK, a little surprise here..." and we couldn't believe it.  We've had more than a month now to digest the news, but it's still hard to believe.  It's so random, and such a fluke!  I guess it can be more common at my age (I'm 35 now).  The ultrasound dated their gestational age at 13 weeks, even though I was at 12 weeks, which is a good thing as it means the iron babies were growing well.

Twin A and Twin B

Now that I'm well into the 2nd trimester, I still don't really feel that much different, although the fatigue and tiredness are still there!  I'm generally fine throughout the day, but in the evenings, especially on days where I was up at 5am to coach, I can just crash all of a sudden and fall asleep on the couch by 9pm some nights!  I'm sleeping really well though and I now just get more sleep than I used to.

In terms of training in the first trimester when I thought I had one baby on board, I was swimming 2-3 times a week, about 2500-2800m, running a couple times a week, for about 45min (one run was 60min in December), cycling on the trainer once or twice a week for 60min, and doing some strength/weights or a Barre class.  I was aiming for about 8-9 hours per week of working out.  I trained by heart rate and kept my perceived exertion low.  During the first trimester, I was extremely fatigued and got out of breath very easily (i.e. I climb two flights of stairs every day to get to my office and my HR would go up to like 135!).

I did a lot of surfing the net and reading athlete blogs, looking for information and guidelines for pregnant endurance athletes, and there's not a whole lot out there.  There's even less for pregnant endurance athletes carrying twins!  So I came up with my own plan and guidelines.  Here's what I am doing now:

  • Aiming for about 7 hours a week of exercise (no longer calling it training!), none of my workouts are longer than 60min in duration. I usually try to do something every day, and typically 2 workouts on Saturdays. 
  • My week of workouts consists of 3 swims of between 2500-2600m, 1-2 bikes of 60min, and I was doing a couple runs of 45min but at my first visit to the OB at the beginning of February, she advised that I should stop running so I listened to the advice (I was 16 weeks along at that point).  It's too risky when you are carrying multiples.  I had been planning to stop running at around 20 or so weeks anyway, so no big deal.  Now to replace the running I am doing 2 'power walks' a week on the treadmill, consisting of walking at a good pace with sets of hills (usually 5 x 5 min @ 5-7% grade and 3.8mph with 3min recovery at 1% grade and 3.5mph).  Additionally, I'm doing a bit of core work, and a strength/weights workout once a week at home of 3 sets of 9-10 exercises. 
  • Heart rates: while biking my heart rate is generally around 115-125.  While walking on the treadmill my HR can get up to the same range during the walking hill intervals.  Everything feels comfortable.  Swimming I have slowed down and backed off the effort, and I now have 2 paces - comfortable, and easy.  I'm not longer holding sub 1:20 pace on faster/threshold 100's and 200's.  My comfortable pace per 100m is now 1:25-1:28, and I take longer rest intervals than before.  I've been feeling really good in the pool.  I'm doing all the same workouts as I assign my group, with the effort adjusted.  I can still fit into my normal swimsuits (probably not for long!).
  • If I am too tired or don't feel like doing a workout, I simply don't do it.  I will sit on the couch instead and relax either with my book or watching t.v.  And I don't feel guilty about it.  
  • Perceived exertion is really important - I keep all my workouts comfortable and easy.  So far everything has felt really good.  

Coeur bib shorts are perfect for a growing belly!

I'm already on week 19 (just past 18 weeks along).  So far I've gained about 13 lbs I think, and most of my clothes are still fitting, although I have to retire one of my pairs of skinny jeans as I wore them the other day and they're not comfortable to sit in.

That's it for now, I think.  I'll try and post another update soon.


Monday, December 28, 2015


Wow, I don't think I've ever gone this long without a blog update!  It's been months!  I thought I'd better sneak in one last post in before the year is over and 2016 is upon us.  Okay, here goes...

What have I been up to since the summer?  It seems so long ago now and almost moot!  I ended up doing one more race at the very beginning of August, the Chinook pro-chase triathlon, which was an Olympic distance race where my legs somehow forgot to show up.  The women were against the men and had a good head start, like a pursuit race.  Super fun format! I had a good swim and led the women out of the water, then proceeded to crash while mounting my bike (#rookiehour) and the rest of the ride did not improve from there.  I had absolutely no spark that day and struggled through the 10km run, finishing way far back from the leaders and miles from my potential.

Race ready!  At least my bike looked fast...

We stayed in a little cabin right on Sylvan Lake - the views were spectacular!

Me and the mother in law post-race!

After Chinoook, I decided to end my season there, as I was still dealing with a sore heel and a hip problem.  The rest of August was spent biking for fun with friends, doing a bit of running and some track workouts, and I took about a 2 week break from swimming.  

Late summer ride in the hot sun

Late August ride with Ailsa, my awesome training partner

Monday evening track workouts

October was a busy month with travel the first three weekends (combination of work and fun).  On October 9, Ashley and I flew to Louisville, KY to meet up with Ailsa, Barry, and a couple of my athletes who were racing IM LOU.  It was a fun trip, and I discovered that spectating and sherpa'ing an Ironman is exhausting work!  Lots of logistics to maneuver around.  The finish line was incredible, though, watching the emotions of athletes running down the chute to cross the finish.  Made me want to do another one!  Our crew did awesome, with 2 PB's for the veterans, great race for Barry's first ever Ironman, and a Kona qualifier for Ailsa in her first crack at the distance.  She's a natural! 

IM LOU's electric finish line in downtown Louisville

The following weekend, I drove to Banff for my future sister in law's bachelorette party.  My lovely sister drove in from Prince George for the weekend as well, and it was so wonderful to see her.  We had fun catching up!

A long run in Banff - which had been good at this point but then it went south pretty quickly as my hip became very sore and I had trouble the entire second half of the 90min run. 

After the hip problem resurfaced with a fury during that run in Banff, I took a week off running to let it settle, then went to see a sports med doctor a couple weeks later.  He thought it might be a tendinopathy or tendinosis of one of the hip flexor tendons, and advised backing off and taking a rest from running.  So I took a whole month off of running, the longest break I think I've ever had from running.  To be honest, I actually didn't mind at all!  I quite enjoyed the break, eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (I always have to plan what I'm eating carefully around my runs), and instead focused on hot yoga, trainer rides, strength work, and swimming.  My hip improved a lot.  

Geoff and I headed to Arizona on Nov. 23 for a week, for a little vacay.  It was awesome, as always:

My first run back after my extended break - I went stupidly slow and easy and it was great!  Was so happy to be back running again. 

Swims in an outdoor pool in the sun are the best!

Deborah and did a fun little race while in Arizona on Thanksgiving.  It was a reverse triathlon, which consisted of a 2mile run, 12mile bike, and 400m serpentine swim.  It was so much fun!  I didn't bring my bike down with my, so borrowed Gord's old road bike.  And obviously I hadn't run for a month, so just went easy keeping my heart rate at 145 on the 2 mile run and let everyone go.  The bike was 3 loops of 4 miles, so it was fun with all the turns and passing people.  My favourite part was the swim! It was a long course pool, and you went up one lane and down the next until you made your way across the whole pool.  It was fun doing flip turns and pushing off under the lane rope.  I must have made a lot of ground in that short swim as I ended up 1st in my age group!  Deborah won her age group as well!  It was definitely a unique format and I quite enjoyed racing from the back and moving my way up through the bike and swim, as it's usually the opposite!  

Age group winners!

Coming up... looking forward to the New Year, less than a week left of 2015!  Also looking forward to my littlest brother's wedding on Jan. 2.  We have a few relatives coming from Great Britain.  My aunt is staying at my dad's house, and it's been so great to see her as it had been 3 years since I last saw her when I was in Belfast! We had a wonderful Christmas with the family and lots of the usual delicious food and goodies.  

In other news, I am very grateful to have been chosen to represent the awesome Coeur Sports team as an Ambassador for the second year in a row!  This is a wonderful team and community of incredible, supportive, and encouraging women.  I'm so happy to be a part of it!