Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's c-c-c-cold out there

I am not sure what it is (maybe the lack of daylight at this time of year?), but lately I have had such a difficult time getting out of bed for work in the morning. The alarm goes off at 7am, then the snooze button is pressed 3-4 times until it is 7:30am, at which point I finally drag myself out of bed. Today and yesterday, after 5 days off work and as many days of lazy sleep-ins, it was 7:45am when I mustered all the strength I had and rolled out of bed. Funny thing is, I was not any more late for work than usual (yes, I am pretty much late for work every day, but nobody's perfect). I suppose less time was spent lolly-gagging in the kitchen and getting ready than is typically.

This running challenge thingy is going well so far - I have had a couple weeks now of 5-runs-a-week.
Some good things about it:
-shedding the couple of extra pounds put on after taking a nice break in November of doing nothing.
-improving my fitness/endurance
-how come I can only come up with two? Can anyone think of more?
Some not-so-good things about it:
-wearing out my running shoes faster
-more laundry to do
-have to carefully plan what I am eating before running 5 days a week
-more chance of injury?
-running in the cold/poor footing outside
Are there any I am missing?? I can't think right now.
I have been making myself go outside for at least a couple runs a week, with the rest on the tready, as I can't bear to do all of them inside. Sunday's run was 90 mins in the windchill-ridden cold. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? Let's hope so because this chilly weather is here to stay for at least another week...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas has come and gone and now it is nearly 2009. This year with the way the holidays fell, I had 5 days in a row off of work (today sadly being the last of those), which I absolutely enjoyed. On Christmas Eve my whole family had dinner at Geoff's family's house, which was fantastic. We brought Hugo and it was of course non-stop action the whole evening, with him and the 2 Bichon's.

I spent Christmas Day at my dad's house and had a lovely day. Hugo and Gucci played continuously for the entire day, with neither of them having a nap, which is unheard of. As a result, Hugo spent the better part of Boxing Day and the next day asleep. The challenge of the day was keeping Hugo and Mo the cat ('Mo Money') apart. In the past 4 or 5 years, my sister Alice and I started a tradition where we go running together on Christmas. In 2005 there was no snow on the ground, it was 5C, and I wore shorts. This year happened to be the coldest so far (about -18C), so we braved the cold and went out for a short one (3.8 miles). I know the exact distance thanks to the fabulous gift that I got from Geoff - a Garmin 405 watch, so I will now know how fast and far I am running.

We had a wonderful dinner and ate way too much. The evening was spent playing Balderdash - which is always hilarious. The alcohol consumption this year did not come close to measuring the amount consumed last year. I only had a couple glasses of wine and a beer. Last year was a tough year so perhaps the alcohol was more needed. [This is the second Christmas without my mom and my brother.]

Undoubtedly, the best part of the holidays was spending a lot of quality time with the family. We played some card games (Asshole) after dinner on Boxing Day, which was super-fun. Boxing Day dinner was a second turkey dinner at my dad's house, which was just as good, if not better, as the first. With all this lavish food, I have been dilligent with my training this week and have not missed a single workout. I am going to have to brave the cold today to do a long run (90mins), as I am not in the mood for a long tready run.

I work Monday-Tuesday, then on Wed. my family is off to Banff for 2 nights to enjoy New Year's out of town. The plan was to ski/snowboard on Jan. 1, but the forecast is not looking too promising, with a high of about -25C that day. I will not be snowboarding in those kind of temperatures. I will remember to bring my camera this time and take some pictures. Bye for now!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The deep freeze continues...

So I picked up my BRAND new bike last week from Way Past Fast... more on that later when I actually have time to take some pictures and download them.

After several runs in a row on the tready at home (Wed, Thurs, Sat), I decided to mix things up and headed to the gym with Geoff yesterday. I ran on the treadmill for 40mins then headed up to the track for 30mins. Sometimes it's annoying on the track as I find I need to just check my pride at the door, when I get passed by people looking like they're not-so-in-shape. I'm not exactly trying to run fast as it is a long run, but then I start to wonder why exactly the person is going faster than me - is it faster turn-over, is it a longer stride length, or is it more powerful push-offs? Is there another factor that I am forgetting that could contribute to faster running?

Geoff wisely pointed out when I complained to him about feeling slow that right now I need not worry about how fast I am going as I am doing base mileage, and also it could be possible that these people were doing a couple fast laps around the track as their entire workout or it was their first run in weeks and tomorrow they won't be able to walk as they went too hard in their run today. The point is - don't jump to conclusions, and don't assume. If you assume, you are an ass (good old analogy used in law school, I am told).

This is definitely something I need to work on - not automatically assuming something of a person I don't even know or have never met.

I only got one swim in last week, and I am blaming it on the $h!tty weather we are having. After spending 60-75 mins driving home from work every day last week, I could not face going out again in my car to the pool (another 30mins one-way, as the local pool is closed). It is dangerous driving anywhere on the roads these days. Black ice, blowing snow, snow drifts, wind, arctic cold, you name it - we have it. It is a huge undertaking to even make a lane change, with the pile ups of snow between each lane. Anyway, long story short, on my way home from work on Friday, I stopped at a pool and did my swim there, sharing the 'Fast' lane with 3 others (who all, incidentally, seemed to have a distorted perception of their current swimming abilities) for the first 30 mins.

Today and tomorrow I work full days, then I am not working the rest of the week. Christmas Eve is the Graham kids annual holiday shopping trip. That's right - we get all of our Christmas shopping done the day before Christmas. It works for us - that way we get everything in one go and there is no need to get stressed out!! I don't understand why everyone gets stressed out this time of year - it is supposed to be a special time of year that is relaxing and spent with your family.

I never get stressed out at Christmas- in fact, I make a point of purposely NOT getting stressed out and worried about gifts and shopping, etc. I am going to ENJOY my days off and spend quality time with my family and friends.

[I did make a few donations to some local charities (SPCA, Hope Mission), as I feel it is very important to help others less fortunate than you. It's not just at this time of year (I make donations year-round), but sometimes this is the season where it is needed the most. I have just realized that my donations for 2008 to several charities have now passed $1,000 (including the following: sponsored child -World Vision, Suicide Prevention, IFAW, Hope Mission, and SPCA).]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It snows here every day

We are right in the middle of a cold snap here in Edmonton. I guess we can't really complain as we had a beautiful fall and great weather up until Dec. 1, but it is definitely hard to get used to. The main thing I don't like is the traffic situation. I have been spending almost double the amount of time in my car compared to usual, driving to and from work. Yesterday it took me an hour to get home, and this morning it took me nearly an hour to get here. I can think of better ways to spend my time.

I have been running on the treadmill lots, which can get boring at times, but it is good for the mental toughness aspect. I say if you can run on the treadmill for 90 mins then you should be able to last 'mentally' for the duration of a race. Yesterday evening I ran outside in not-too-bad temperatures of about -15C (-20 with the wind). It started snowing heavily during my run but I ended up having a really good workout nonetheless. My runs outside are always WAY better than the ones I do on the treadmill, they don't feel as hard and I just feel in better shape or something. It probably helped that I had a bit of a nap before running yesterday. After being in the car for an hour driving home from work, I was too tired to get my run completed right away, which is what I needed to do in order to swim at 8:30pm at Coronation. Instead I had to nap for a bit and didn't end up going running until 7:45pm, which left me skipping the swim. Oh well, I really just need to focus on running right now anyway and not worry about swimming. The run challenge has begun - this week I am doing 5 runs!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

70 or 80 runs in 100 days

I decided to take on the slow-twitch challenge (not the crazy 100 runs in 100 days) but a toned-down version of it. So I will be aiming to do 70 or 80 runs in 100 days, not sure yet which one it will be but 70 is looking a bit more realistic. Here's hoping the boost in run mileage will give me a boost in speed. It's looking like my running workouts for this coming weekend will all be done in the safety and comfort of the indoors. The always-accurate weather people are calling for highs of -25C and lows of -31C for Sat-Sun. Yikes! I'm not ready for that (are we ever ready for that kind of cold?).

I am looking forward to a little break from coaching swimming, which starts next week. The annual pool-shut-down starts this Saturday and goes until Jan. 4. While I love coaching swimming, it will be nice to have a little bit of extra time for a few weeks (which, as an afterthought, will likely end up being spent running anyway). Our club's Christmas party is this Saturday, which should be fun. Good food and wine - count me in!

Tonight I will definitely have to swim, after skipping my swim on Tuesday night, despite being fully geared up in my bathing suit on deck while coaching swim practice. I simply didn't have the motivation to get in the water, so I just left after coaching, walking sheepishly out with my swim bag over my shoulder. I'm not sure why we have to get down on ourselves for missing a workout. When I skip a workout I feel lazy (even though I had barely finished my 50 min treadmill run on Tuesday by the time I had to leave for the pool to coach). There's just something about this time of year where you feel like you can almost justify missing a workout, as the races seem so far away. But the feelings of laziness will always be present when skipping a workout (which I of course plan not to be doing too much of from here on out).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whatever happened to the courtesy wave?

courtesy wave:
After signalling, being given room to change, and changing lanes, a driver should wave, indicating 'thanks' for the room given.
It is becoming increasingly dangerous (and not to mention annoying) to drive in this city. Lately, it seems that people have forgotten the concept of a courtesy wave. I'm sure you're all familiar with the situation: next to you someone wants to merge into your lane to get into the far left lane during rush hour, because they're too stupid to plan their lane change in advance. You kindly let them in to the protest of the drivers behind you. And then - no wave, no smile, no acknowledgement whatsoever.

If you are waiting for someone to let you into another lane, and I am nice enough to let you go, then give me a little wave to show your appreciation. If you are rude and you cut me off instead of waiting for me to let you in, then also give me a little wave to show that you are in fact aware that you are an a$$hole. If somebody gives me a courtesy wave after doing something to piss me off, then most likely I will not get angry and utter obsenities. A courtesy wave will go a long way.

Yesterday I had a terrible run, but an okay swim. I ran on the treadmill because I couldn't face the cold outside (it's really not even that cold right now, we have just been spoiled with mild temperatures lately and now that it is -10C, it is hard to handle). I suffered through 40 mins (cutting my planned 50min short), as I was experiencing a sharp pain in my right hip flexor area for some reason, and also I felt really out of shape. My swim was just average, basically right now I am swimming 3 times a week just to stay in shape, and I have not been doing any hard sets or fast stuff.

I woke up today with such a sore left side of my neck that I can only rotate about half as far as I normally can. This made for a painful experience when shoulder checking during my drive to work this morning. For some reason this happens to me about once a year - I sleep on my neck weird and wake up the next day with a very sharp pain in one side, and then I can't turn my head very far. Instead I have to rotate my whole body. Today if I went swimming I would not be able to breathe to my left side. Usually in a day or two I will be back to normal.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shanghai Surprise

This must be the longest week in the history of the world. I even took a flex day yesterday and didn't go in to work, and it is still only Thursday today. Nothing too exciting has been going on here. Oh wait - they have brought back the cheap toilet paper in our office building. You know the kind that is so thin it is transparent, it feels like actual looseleaf paper, and rips off one square at a time because it is not strong enough to unroll like a normal roll. Consequently you have to manually unroll the paper over and around the roll until you get the desired amount, just like those TP dispensers they had back in grade school that were locked and didn't roll a full turn so that the troublemakers could not unroll the whole roll and clog the toilets. This proves to be somewhat time consuming, which right now isn't really too much of a problem, with me not being busy and all (at work). It should be assumed that one who has enough time to spend writing about the woes of toilet paper probably has a fair amount of time to spare in the first place.

Running has been going well. It is very strange that I have been feeling great during my runs this week, when I am clearly out of shape. Funny how that happens. I signed up for the Hypothermic Half marathon on March 1, here in Edmonton. For some strange reason this race fills up very quickly, and there are actually two of these races (the other is Feb. 15), each with an early morning and late morning start. Typically the weather here in Edmonton is nothing to be desired during that time of year, hence my confusion with the sell-out of this event(s). Last year I did this race on March 2, and the temperature when I awoke was -28C with the windchill. Hopefully this year it is milder, which makes it more enjoyable. I am doing this race again so that I can beat my time on the exact same course, not because I enjoy the bitter cold.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It appears that the people of Edmonton seem to forget that they live in Alberta (where we have winter each year), as soon as the first snow occurs. Yesterday, we awoke to a mere 1cm of snow and slippery roads due to the freezing rain that fell overnight. Traffic was a nightmare and I ended up in my car crawling along for an outrageous 90min commute to work, due to the bumper to bumper traffic. I finally arrived at work at 10am, an hour late. It is scary to think of what will happen when it actually gets cold and we get our more typical snowstorm!

I came across this piece of news yesterday in the Journal and was quite dissapointed, to say the least:

Those passengers considered morbidly obese may now be given an extra free seat on domestic flights. Are we as a society no longer going to discourage this preventable condition? This decision does not promote healthy lifestyles and fitness, but instead tells us that it is okay to be morbidly obese. Is obesity a disability? In some cases, maybe. But right now there is talk of making a change to list severe obesity (those with a BMI of >40; normal BMI should be between about 19-25) as a disability in legal standards. This is not a move in the right direction - we need to instead try and turn the obesity epidemic around, not encourage it.

On the other end of the spectrum (well, maybe halfway down the spectrum at this point), training has been off and on. I ran for 40 mins on Thurs, on the treadmill. I am definitely out of shape, and I am okay with that! That workout was enough to get me motivated to start running more regularly. This will start today! I already swam this morning, and I will probably run for an hour this afternoon. It is time to start the run training and begin my quest to become a fast runner!

Here are a couple pictures at my sister Alice's place last night - it was her birthday yesterday and she had some of her friends over for drinks before heading out to Suede Lounge for a few cocktails. I copped out on going out to the lounge, and was home at midnight (I was tired and wanted to get up early for swimming this morning).

Hugo is back home and already back to his usual self, even with his 'lampshade' on:

These pictures were taken in order, and he seems to have gained more energy each time!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lazy days and 'lofty' goals

These days I have been struggling with finding the motivation to exercise or train. It has been a little over 3 weeks since my race and since then I have not really done a whole lot. The plan was to take a nice break and not worry about training for awhile. Done and done! However, a lot of the time lately my good intentions to go running have instead been re-shaped to look like me sitting on the couch, channel surfing, and eating chips.

I have made a small goal for myself for this week - some form of a workout every day this week. It is all about stepping stones. Monday was full body weights and abs, yesterday was a 2300m swim (my plan to run did not pan out), and today will either be a run or the extreme fitness class (or I might be a little crazy and do both).

Poor Hugo is going in tomorrow for neutering. He is not going to be happy with us. Geoff is taking him to the dog park today in order to burn off some of his energy. We took him to the park on Sunday and he ran non-stop, at full speed, the entire time we were there. He was quite tired that evening!

Something random and funny that I realized at the end of my race season this year - I didn't get any flat tires this year, in training or in racing. I hope that doesn't mean that I am soon due for one!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Greetings from La Crete, AB - Population 7

Here I am in Northern Alberta, where winter is already in full swing. I am here for work to perform an assessment on a claimant who lives all the way up here. La Crete is a quaint little town about 800km north of Edmonton. The trip here was not without its drama. The case of equipment I had to bring with me for the assessment turned out to weigh 115 lbs (think of the size of a bike case and then add about 75 lbs), and when I called the airline yesterday at 6:30pm to check if there were restrictions (I know, I should have been more organized and checked into this earlier), they advised that it was not guaranteed to get on the plane, and that even if the 18 seater plane was not full they could not guarantee the bag.

Geoff helped me (thanks to you babe!) and we found out that Greyhound had a bus leaving at 11:45pm that night to High Level, which is where my plane was landing. The lady on the phone said that we had to be there before 8pm in order to ship the case. It was 7:15pm and the station was on the south side of Edmonton (about a 30min trip). We scrambled and left immediately. Geoff was speeding like crazy and we ended up in luck, arriving just before 7:45pm). I paid for 'Priority' in order to have the bag shipped out on the next bus and then had to remove 20 lbs from the case as it was much too heavy. Done. The extra 20 lbs of equipment would go in my suitcase.

I was so relieved it had all worked out and that I wouldn't have to attempt to manage that monster of a bag on my own at the airport the next morning, along with my suitcase, my laptop, and the other smaller bag of equipment. The flight this morning was easy, and it turns out there were only 11 people out of 18 seats, so maybe the bag would have got on after all. My relief was short-lived, however. I arrived at the Greyhound station in High Level in my rental at 11:45am. The lady there said the bus wasn't in yet but that I should come back at 12:15pm. I came back at that time and guess what - the bag wasn't on the bus! They said that it 'probably' would be on the next bus, which wasn't arriving for 24 hours. The equipment would be useless to me at that time as my flight home leaves tomorrow at 5:15pm. I nearly freaked out but decided to just drive to La Crete and complete the initial portion of the assessment, and wait for a call from Greyhound.

Luckily, it turns out to not be a HUGE worry as I figured out during the hour or so drive to La Crete that I can make do with what I have in the smaller case - which contains sufficient tools for me to do an accurate assessment. Disaster narrowly averted.

I am looking forward to going home tomorrow as it is a lot warmer than it is here! Last time I checked it was -9C with windchill and there is a whole lot of snow here. I am thinking that I should just bring that damn bag to the airport and see if it will get on the plane, if not, then maybe I'll just bury it in the snow somewhere here and claim it was stolen?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I love my bike...

But the time has come to move on. We've had some good times over the past 5 years, and some bad. Most of the good times came during this past year when I finally learned how to bike!

I am soon going to be upgrading to a new and improved machine (Cervelo P3). It will be nice to finally upgrade to a carbon frame! This good old aluminum frame has certainly done the job but I am excited to see how the carbon frame will ride. Tom at Way Past Fast was kind enough to add on a few nice upgrades to my new bike. I'm not a huge gear geek so I'll be happy as long as it looks nice! Also, I have never ridden a time trial bike so that will be interesting as well. I will be keeping my old road bike as a back up for training and the occasional race, depending on the course. I'll probably get the new bike in the next month or so... pictures to follow at that time!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Extreme Functional Fitness

Perseverance is failing nineteen times and then succeeding on the twentieth try.
-Julie Andrews
On instruction from my coach I am supposed to continue my break this week and not do any swim/bike/run. I did actually swim on Tues, and I plan to swim Thurs, just for exercise. Yesterday I decided to make use of my dormant gym membership and I went to a class from 7:30-9pm, Extreme Functional Fitness. It was a really fun class and a great way to get exercise other than the usual swim-bike-run. It consisted of anything and everything - sprints, agility drills, lunges, squats, circuits, push-ups, sit-ups.... all I can say is I am sore everywhere today!
Also I have been enlightened to the fact that I have absolutely no strength or speed! Endurance - no problem! But me trying to do 50 push-ups in one session is another story! I haven't done a push-up in ages, and then I do 50 (but I wouldn't call most of them complete push-ups). I didn't have a problem with the Burpees or sit-ups, though. This was a super-hard class but I will probably be back for more next Wednesday. I'm not usually a big fitness class person but right now I am trying to branch out and explore new ways of doing fitness. So far it is fun! I have not run since the race on Oct. 26 and this is not a problem for me! I will probably start doing weights again soon. On Monday I am going with Geoff to a Yoga class for runners/triathletes! Should be fun and hilarious at the same time!
Nothing else new and exciting to report here. Back to work for me!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What did you do with your extra hour?

I used it to catch up on sleep. What a lazy weekend this has been! Yesterday I did a whole lot of nothing, just worked a bit on some reports for work and took Hugo for a walk. In the evening I went out for a few drinks with my friends Bonnie, Robert, and sis Alice. It was fun! I only had a couple drinks and was home relatively early.

Geoff is away this weekend in Calgary attending Part 2 of the triathlon coaching course and it has certainly been quiet without him here, although Hugo has been keeping me entertained! He loves the weekends when there is someone home to play with him non-stop.

I have not done even a scrap of exercise since the race last Sunday. I was definitely thinking about going for a run yesterday, but the thought did not actually become an action. Today I really should get off my A$$ and do something, if for no reason other than I have been eating WAY too many mini chocolate bars and they are being stored on my hips. That's the one thing that sucks about the off-season - losing your fitness and gaining a couple of pounds! I plan to get back in the pool this week, swimming about twice a week. Running will be my main focus over the next few months, in hopes that I will magically transform into a runner! Unfortunately I will no longer be able to run on the trails near my office after work as all my runs will now be in the dark - damn time change! The bike will remain in its new spot for a little while longer - in pieces in the garage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It hurts to walk down stairs

The Soma 1/2 ironman on Sunday was AWESOME. I enjoyed myself and had a lot of fun out there (well at least until about 5km into the run). It was a fabulously beautiful day with not a single cloud in the sky.

I have never been up earlier for a race as I have on Sunday. The alarm went off at 4:25am! I actually had a terrific sleep, going to bed around 9:15pm. It was so weird because I woke up at one point and thought it was nearly time to get up, then I looked at my clock and the time was only 10:10pm! Then again I woke up later, thinking that it was morning, and I looked at the clock and it was only 11:30pm! I felt rested when I got out of bed. We left the house at about 4:50am, as the drive is about 45 mins to Tempe Town lake from Geoff's parents house in Sun City Grande.

It was still pitch black when we arrived at the race site at about 5:40am, a first for me! I got everything organized in transition and was out of there when it closed at 6:15am. The sun came up right around 6:40am. I didn't have time to do any warm up before the race. My wave started at 6:56am (women 14-34). The pros went at 6:40am, then another wave started at 6:50, then 6:53. It was a deep water floating start, my favorite. I started at the very front of the line and got away without any aggression from anyone - there was no pushing or shoving. The swim was a bit chaotic with all the waves leaving only several minutes apart. It seemed like there were people all over the place, including way off course! The course was a rectangle, and it was very difficult to see the buoys on the way out as the sun was shining directly in your eyes.

I felt really good during the swim and probably could have pushed a bit harder. I may have swum a little longer than 2km as I realized at 2 points that I was slightly off course. Anyway, came out of the water first in 28:43 and had a quick transition onto the bike. The bike leg was my strongest and most powerful ever. I felt amazing during the ride and was able to push really hard and still feel great. The course was 3 loops, and very technical with a lot of turns and a lot of u-turns. The course became a little congested in the second and third laps but I had no problems with that. I have never gone that fast on the bike, even my first 40km was a PB (1:05)! The best thing about it was that I did not get passed by a single woman during the ride (another first for me)! Bike split was 2:26 which was 3rd fastest of the women (5th overall if you count the 3 pros). The course was actually a couple of km's short, but nevertheless this is still an amazing time for me.

I came off the bike in first with about a 3 min lead and had another good transition to start the run. I felt pretty good the first few k, but my toes and part of my feet were numb, which was a weird feeling. After about 5km I started to come apart at the seams. The first woman passed me about 4 miles in. The run was 2 loops of 10.5km, and a really nice course but with little shade. My stomach started cramping a bit at this point and I had to start walking the aid stations. My first loop was 55min, and I thought if I could do that again then I could still run 1:50, which was 5mins off my goal of 1:45. I went through rough patches and good patches (the good patches were unfortunately more rare). I couldn't believe how thirsty I was. Every aid station I would walk through and take about 4 cups of water or gatorade and even that wasn't enough. It was super-hot out during the run, at least 30C. The high for the day was 33C.

My left toes were really hurting by the last 3 miles, and I thought I may have some blisters. The last 2 miles I started feeling good again and was able to pick up the pace a bit. It was so nice to finish! They had a slip-n-slide just past the finish line, which was really nice, except that I only slid about 2 feet before coming to a stop, so I had to pull myself through the rest of the way. Final time was 4:53, a huge PB for me! (Run split was 1:56 which was about 10mins off what I wanted but I am not going to complain about it as the rest of my race makes up for it!).

Overall, I placed about 8th amateur female. The results have me as 9th but one of the people ahead of me has a 1:57 bike split which is not feasible, considering the fastest pro male bike split was 2:01. In my age group I was 3rd, but got the 2nd place prize as the first place female in my age group was included in the top 3 overall prizes. They gave out bottles of wine instead of medals!

My feet are in rough shape with bruising and blisters on 2 of my left toes, and I have a lot of sore muscles!

I have a lot of work to do for my run still and hope to improve it a lot before next season. But first I am looking forward to a good week off to recover! I will definitely be back to this race next year as it was a great experience.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunny Arizona

It is absolutely beautiful here in Arizona, not a cloud in the sky and warm temperatures. The high for Sunday is 34C, but it is actually somewhat cool in the morning (14C) and the high is not reached until the afternoon. The race starts super-early (i.e. before 7am!).

Yesterday I went for an hour ride in the morning along the desert. The only mishap with my bike travelling here was a lost screw for my aerobar. When I opened my bike box to unpack my bike Thursday night, I found a 'Notice of Baggage Inspection' card in there. I am guessing the screw fell out during the search. While riding yesterday one of my aerobars was moving up and down on every bump, so today I need to find a replacement screw. The flight over here was uneventful apart from the fact that Geoff and I were each charged $125 for our bikes to fly!

We have Olympian Paul Tichelaar staying with us, he is also racing the half on Sunday. Should be a good race!

I am heading out right now for a short easy run, and then we are all going to head over to the race site for registration and to check in our bikes. Between 1 and 3pm the lake is open for swimming, so I will probably jump in and do a short easy swim. I will try and get some pictures uploaded sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How lame can you get

I received this email the other day from the race director for Lake Chaparral triathlon (Aug. 17/08), as I had inquired via telephone as to why I had not received my swim prime cheque in the mail (we received our medals at the beginning of October, a month and a half after the race - this might give you some insight as to the level of organization):

Hi Lisa, I reviewed the results and the swim preme went to Bo Simpson. Unfortunately we didn't offer premes split by gender.

AWESOME. Especially since they had announced just prior to our swim start that they were offering swim primes. Thought I would share that with everyone.

Anyway, it is only 2 days till we leave for Arizona. I am so excited and can't wait to get out of here for a few days. I need a break from work. I can't believe how hot it is there right now (32C). This will make for a super-tough run on Sunday! Oh well, I'm not complaining - I'll take that over cold and rain any day! I am going to enjoy every minute of it out there and my main goal is to have fun! No stress or pressure, just a fun time.

Geoff raced a 5 miler on Sunday, his first race in over 2 years! He did awesome, low 29min and 2nd overall. He wanted to go 28, and was pretty close. Not bad for your first one back! He was using it as a hard tempo workout. I brought Hugo along and we went for a long walk while everyone was racing. He wore his sweater as it was a little chilly. There were lots of dogs he saw, and each and every one of them growled at him for some reason. Maybe they are jealous of his sweater?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Sweater

Geoff and I had to buy Hugo a sweater because he is a baby and starts shivering even if it 10C out. Here he is modelling it for us.
Here he is with Gucci, who wouldn't be seen dead in a sweater.
Rest time in the baby bed.

Rolling along...

Well it has been a little while since my last update - but I have been so busy I have not even had a chance to think. I can't even remember what I have done in the past week other than work, sleep and train. Oh, yeah, nothing! There is simply no time for anything else! Actually there were a couple other things I did, including going to the Body Worlds exhibit on Sunday after dinner (I was not overly impressed as it was nothing new to me!), and a Thanksgiving dinner at my Dad's on Sunday, and at Geoff's parents on Monday.

Training is going well, I am in the last stages before my race next Sunday in Arizona. The volume is slowly starting to decrease. I did a long indoor brick workout on Saturday (2.5 hours), while watching the Ironman live in Hawaii. It was very exciting!! I hope to one day race there. I did my last longer run on Sunday (90mins), it turned out to be really good. My right hip didn't hurt until the very end, when both my hips became tight and sore, but it was not the same type of pain that I had before. The little hip issue seems to be getting better. The Trigger point massage ball is a miracle ball! It hurts like a beeawwtch but it does wonders. I basically just lie my sore glute/hip on it and then put most of my weight on it and roll back and forth. The other day I did the same to my non-injured left side, and it seemed to help the overall picture, b/c the next day I ran pain-free!

This morning I was up at 6am (actually I was awake at 5:30am when Geoff's alarm went off so he could go and coach), and then I biked for an hour inside. I had to fit that in as I am doing a 60min run after work and didn't want to do the 2 workouts back to back. Tomorrow I am going to have to do the same thing - a 60min trainer ride at 6:15am, b/c I have a massage at 5pm and can't fit the bike in before coaching at 8pm. I think the only workout I could possibly do that early is bike inside on the trainer. There is no way I could run at that hour. I am so tired and stiff and feel like crapola so the run would definitely suck. For some reason I can sit on the trainer though.

We leave for Phoenix next Thursday - I can't wait! Geoff is signed up for the Olympic distance race, it will be his first triathlon in over 2 years. His training has been going well, especially running. It will be exciting! The Olympic race starts at like 6:30am, and the 1/2 iron starts at 7:30am (there are several waves for each). Apparently it is going to be hot at this time, as the high there this weekend is 35C!! I love doing hot races although they don't usually turn out so great on the run for me. Oh well there is a first time for everything! My bike workout on Monday was not exactly conducive to heat training, as I went outside for 40km, and it started raining 20mins in, the winds picked up, and it was about 7C. I was freaking freezing when I made it back home, and jumped right into a hot shower. I don't think I'll be doing any more rides outside.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

out of this world

These are my new shoes - the Nike Lunar trainer. They rock! They are lightweight trainers and I plan to wear them in the half ironman in a couple weeks. The lunarlite foam was apparently developed by NASA. The shoes are almost as light as a racing flat but has more cushioning, and are similar to the Nike Free. (I was too lazy to take a picture and download it to the computer so I got this from Ebay, which is where I got the shoes anyway).
Training has been hard as usual and I am freakin exhausted. Another long weekend of training just passed - again 6 hours of training in 2 days. This ends up making me tired for the entire next week at work. Then the weekend rolls around and instead of catching up on rest, I do half of my week's total training volume. The early morning thing on Mondays is also killing me. Getting up at 5:30am, coach from 6-7am, work all day, then try and muster up the energy for a workout (luckily yesterday I had a day off training, and I got a massage, which turned out to be crap - more on that later). It also proves to be more expensive, as I need more food to sustain being up for almost 2 extra hours.
The massage yesterday was quite unsatisfying. I couldn't get in with my normal MT so I had to book in with another one, who apparently has not heard of deep tissue massage. When I go for a massage, I expect it to be deep and painful, and yesterday I got neither one. I can handle deep - and I'm not going to cry. Lightly pressing on the muscle with no pressure is not going to help me. Also there was no good conversation with the therapist either, I like to go to people who I get along with and can chat away, sometimes about nothing, with no awkward silences. Silences are fine, as long as they are not awkward.
Enough of my rant, it's time to get back to my overwhelming pile of work. Now that I have spent a few minutes typing this update, I am further behind. Really looking forward to a 3-day weekend!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekend overload

Well I'm definitely back into the training, after my last post stating that it was taking a backseat to my job last week. Spoke too soon. In total last week, I did about 9 hours of training (i.e. Monday to Sunday), with 2 days off that week (Monday and Thursday). 6 of those total hours were from Saturday-Sunday alone. Yes, it was all about weekend-overload.

Saturday I did a 3 hour brick (2.5 hour ride, 30 min run), with Christina. I am really appreciating the fact that Christina is training with me right now. You see, Christina is not actually training for anything specific right now, but she ended up doing 5 hours of workouts with me on the weekend. This is the type of person you want to be able to train with - she enjoys it enough to do long workouts for fun! The ride on Saturday was really hard - there was a huge headwind for the first half and it was on the cooler side. My legs were really feeling it. We did a 30 min run off the bike, which surprisingly felt good. We didn't finish the workout until nearly 7pm. Mind you, we didn't get out on our bikes until sometime after 3:30pm. Late start for a long workout.

It was a different story the next morning, when I was up at 7am, meeting a couple others at the pool at 8am, then on the road to Elk Island Park, and arrived at the Blackfoot Ultra trail by 9am. This is a cross country trail (25km long), which happens to be the course for the Birkebeiner X-country ski race, as well as the Blackfoot Ultra foot race. Christina and I did a total of 2hrs 5 mins of running, about 20.5km. The trail was quite challenging, all up and down the entire way, and grass. I had some trouble with my right hip, otherwise I would have done the whole 25 km loop (which took the others about 2:25). There is a sharp pain in the hip/glute area, and now I am a bit worried about it.

So 5 hours of training in just over 12 hours took a toll on me. I did a swim Sunday afternoon, which wasn't anything to write home about. Monday was a tough day, I was up at 5:30am to coach and my legs were feeling fatigued and slightly sore all day. Monday was also a day off training - luckily!

Tuesday after work I had to do a track workout, and it was the first time I've been to the track in over a year. This turned out to be a scary sight. The main set was 5 x 1km, with 400m ez jog between (which I took the liberty of turning into a 200m painful walk/shuffle). My 1km times were pitifully slow- in fact, they were even slower than (or equal to) my splits in my last 2 races (the 10km and the 5km). I struggled to break 4:30's (my best one being 4:27). This is not the type of times you want to see if you are hoping to go a 42 min 10km or faster (at some point). My right hip was acting up again but I don't think this is what was holding me back. Maybe my legs were tired from the weekend's workouts. Probably. But a negative workout nonetheless. However, I will put it behind me and worry about it no longer. The upside was that it was 27C at the time of my workout.

Looking forward to some amazing weather this week, hopefully it carries over into the weekend. I'm going out for a 90min bike workout today and I might get to wear a tank top. The only thing I have to worry about is starting early enough to not get stuck in the dark (which now happens at 7:30pm).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Training on the back burner

This past work week my training has unfortunately had to take a backseat to my job. Sometimes life just has to get in the way of training. I was in Calgary from Tues-Thurs, and returned to the office yesterday to discover that being out of it for 3 days was a very bad thing. Our office right now is busier than ever, and it is going to take a while to catch up (if ever). Anyway, no need to bore you with the details.

I got in a nice 45 min run on Tues evening with my brother (who now lives in Calgary as he is attending UofC medical school), then we went and offset any calories burned with a huge dinner at the Keg. While eating my pre-meal caeser salad, I found a hair mixed in with the greens and dressing. Awesome. Donald made me announce this to the server, which resulted in a free dessert. I may have been inclined not to even mention anything, in order to avoid fuss and potential awkardness, but it actually worked out well as the Keg has Creme Caramel (my favorite dessert ever).

I got in an hour run on Wed, which included 20 mins of hill repeats on a steep hill that took 1.5 min to climb. Good run except for some aches and pains in my knees and right hip. Hopefully nothing to worry about. I had to make Thurs. my day off (instead of Friday) due to travelling home. This week was scheduled as more of a recovery week, anyway, and in hindsight all I missed on the schedule was a swim. I suppose I haven't actually swam since last Saturday, but swimming is not the main focus and the important thing is that I have been consistent with running.

Today I am planning on doing a long brick - 2.5 hour ride and 30 min run off the bike. Too bad the weather is not cooperating and it is only 11C and quite windy. I am hoping for a miracle in the next couple hours so I can go outside without freezing my butt off. The hopes might be in vain, though, as a trainer ride is looking likely. Tomorrow will be a long run and a swim. All I am doing this weekend is training and finishing a report for work that needs to be completed by Monday morning. Maybe I'll even do some house cleaning as well (oh the excitement).

This upcoming week is looking fantastic - over 20C every day, which will be great for training! Can't wait, I love this type of weather in the fall.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Recovery Tools

With all this training that inevitably takes a toll on your body, it is necessary to take care of your body so it doesn't break down and become injured. If I don't stretch after every run, my muscles become super tight and I will notice all the niggling aches and pains a lot more. Here are some of the tools I use regularly to avoid injury and keep myself healthy:
After a hard workout, I mix up an Endurox shake for quick recovery and to replace lost electrolytes during the workout. It has a mixture of carbohydrates and protein to repair damaged muscles and to help you recover faster. Not exactly cheap, but I find it really helps.

The Trigger Point therapy tools are really helpful. I mainly use the calf roller to loosen up tight calves. It is a painful feeling not unlike that of a deep tissue massage. Ouch! These tools have also doubled as puppy toys (much to our dismay -these things are not cheap either!).

The foam roller is an excellent stretching tool, which I use mainly for IT bands and to roll out my back. Not the most comfortable thing, but definitely useful! You can notice that one end of the roller has been chewed, courtesy of Hugo...
Geoff recently ordered this stretching book - 'The Wharton's Stretch Book'. It is awesome. The technique is called 'active isolated stretching' and you hold a stretch for only 2 seconds so the myotatic stretch reflex is not initiated. Good stuff - following the program takes a bit of time, but is worth it so far. I have noticed an increase in my already hyper-mobile joints.
When my legs get sore, ice is the best thing! I use bags of frozen peas (they mould really well around any area), and medi-cold ice packs for smaller areas like achilles. Here is Hugo helping out with the ice:

That's it for now - off to do a 90 min run!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Thursday Bonk

There seems to be a pattern emerging during my Thursday runs after work. Last week and this week the run turned into a bonk-fest. Not sure if it is because I am tired from the week or what? Both runs I ended up getting that shaky feeling and almost having to walk. Almost but I didn't. My legs have still been sore every day this week from the race on Sunday, and during my run yesterday they were full of aches and pains. Today on my day off, they are feeling a lot better. Figures. I did a 60 min run in total. I have been driving to Gold Bar park after work and running then, instead of driving all the way home and wasting time lounging on the couch before running. Plus, the trails around there are fantastic. My 70 min fartlek run on Wednesday was super challenging, as I ran on the route with the crazy hills.

This running focus stuff is hard! I don't know how all you runner-types do it. This week will be close to 5 hours total of just plain running, which is a lot for me, especially when 3hr 10 min of that is from 3 workouts between Tues-Thurs. Other than that, training is going well. Never mind the fact that I am exhausted all the time. Sunday morning I plan to sleep in late and catch up on some much-needed extra sleep.

Things are super busy at work right now. I am in Calgary from Tues to Thurs next week. Leslie/Chad - if you are reading this and feel like joining me for a run/swim on Tues or Wed, let me know!

That's all for now - gotta get back to work!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A fun race

After my 10km 'participation' race yesterday, I discovered a few things about myself. Firstly, I should always have coffee before a race. I have done this my last couple races this summer, but before that in all my races I had made a conscious decision to not drink coffee before a race. But if I drink coffee every day anyway, why not do it before a race? It certainly wakes me up! I will now always have a cuppa coffee before racing.

Next, I seem to race better when I am not tapered and when I am training through a race. Same thing happened for the St. Albert sprint tri, and I felt AWESOME during that race. This week I did a lot of running and my legs were fatigued and dead (or so I thought). On Saturday, I did an hour swim workout, and then at 3pm went for a 40km ride (easy of course). My legs felt great in my 10km race on Sunday at 8am! I was able to continually push myself for the duration of the race, and I didn't 'die' or slow down (that much)!

Thirdly, doing a race for fun and not being all serious and thinking it is such a huge important race is definitely beneficial. All races should be like this!

To describe the race - I went out controlled and soon found myself running with Deborah (Geoff's stepmom) for the first 5km, side by side. There was one lady within our sights, and for some reason she was wearing long tights, and a long sleeved shirt! In contrast, I was wearing shorts, a tank top, and some arm warmers. It was quite chilly at the start (maybe 7 or 8C), but I couldn't imagine wearing full tights!! After going through 5km in 22:35, I pulled away and had the first place girl in my sights the whole rest of the race. I couldn't close the gap though and ended up 2nd overall female, in 45:30 (first was 44:40), with the second 5km in 22:55. I felt awesome during the race (very rare for me in a foot race!), and was able to hold my pace and not fade. I had fun out there and kept myself in a good mindset the entire race - not letting any negative thoughts creep in.

A bonus was that top 2 females/males won prize money! $300 for 1st, $100 for 2nd place. Never thought I would be winning prize money in a running race! I decided to donate my cheque to the cause of suicide prevention, as it will be put toward good use and I wasn't expecting to win any money, anyway.

There was also a half marathon going on at the same time (started 10 mins before the 10km), which turned into quite the gong show. The lead group of 20 or so missed the first turn and kept going straight, realizing soonafter that they were going the wrong way. They decided to turn around and return to the start of the race, and made it back after completing about 4km. The race director then announced that they would re-start the race at 8:30am (for those who came back to the start, anyway). Geoff was in the half but opted out of this, instead running the rest of the course as a training run with another guy in my swim group (Dave), and ditching their chips and race #'s. Some of the leaders in this new wave again ended up getting lost and the lead guy who came in took his chip off before crossing the timing mat, as he knew he had unintentionally cut part of the course. The unfortunate thing was there were not enough volunteers out there and the course was poorly marked so it was easy to miss a turn. This is really too bad. The unanimous decision between the half marathoners was that the prize money would be donated to the cause of the race (suicide prevention), and everyone will get a free entry for next year.

Anyway, it was still a fun morning despite the confusion! There was some confusion during the 10km as well, with some runners going the wrong way, including my sister Alice, who ended up doing 12km! Hopefully next year they will have more volunteers and sort out the course markers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Plan

After having a nice relaxing week pretty much off training last week, this week I am starting back into the training! It is now official - I am signed up for the Soma Half Iron on Oct. 26 in Arizona, and the plane tickets are booked! My run focus block of training starts this week, with what looks like a lot of running planned! (Today, tomorrow, Thursday...). I feel completely rested and refreshed and ready to train hard and long!

I am very excited about extending my triathlon season and the chance to race a late-season half ironman, it will be a first for me as I have never raced a triathlon past the first week of September. Part of the bike training may end up being on a trainer when it gets colder outside, but I am one of those weird people who actually doesn't mind riding the trainer!

Geoff is hopefully going to be racing the half ironman as well. We have booked our plane tickets to leave Thurs. Oct. 23, and to arrive home on Mon. Oct. 27. His parents own a house there (well about 40 mins from Tempe town lake - race venue) and will be down there at that particular time, so we are staying there (this saves on hotel costs!).

This Sunday is the Rotary Run for Life (5km, 10km, 1/2 marathon) in Stony Plain, starting at 8am sharp. Alice and I are doing the 10km race, and Geoff may do the half or the 10km. I am not doing this race to be competitive but rather to simply participate. We support this race every year now and try and collect donations as the proceeds go to suicide prevention. Some of you may or may not know that I lost one of my younger brothers to suicide in May 2007, therefore this race is very important to our family - not so much to race it but to raise money and support the cause. Last year we ended up raising about $400 between several of us. The race is quite sad as they have 'memory mile markers' along the course, which are posters that have been created by families of loved ones lost to suicide. It is also sad during the post-race brunch as they have bagpipes playing for a procession of family members who have lost someone to suicide, and then a moment of silence. While watching last year, this moved me nearly to tears. Last year our family did not participate in this, and will likely not this year, either, as it is too sad.

Anyway, I don't like to leave a post on a sad note, but I should really get back to work (yawn, yawn)...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hugo the Bull

I took this of Hugo the other day - he is apparently practicing to be a bull in a rodeo show.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Win!

The St. Albert sprint tri was this morning, and overall it was a super-fun day and I really enjoyed myself! When I awoke at 6am it was still slightly dark out, and the temperature was 5C!! This brought a new challenge of figuring out what to put on for the bike. Luckily there were no clouds and the sun soon rose. I was in a good mood all morning, as I knew a lot of athletes and volunteers. A lot of the STARRT athletes from my swim group were racing and it was great to see everyone. It was great to drive to a race that was 5 minutes from my doorstep.

I set up my transition and went for a 20 min warm up jog, feeling quite good. Waited around a bit, and then got ready for my swim wave (this race was a pool swim by the way). I did a couple hundred meters warm up in the other pool just before we started. The lane assignments were great, it was just Kendall and I in a lane so it was very uncrowded. My swim was not the greatest, for some reason I have never had a pool swim race where I felt good. Today was no different. I pushed through it though, and made it to the timing mat outside in 10:42 (swim was faster but they include the run outside in your split). My first transition must have looked quite comical. It felt like I was there for at least 2 mins, struggling to put on a pair of tri shorts over my bathing suit, then struggling to squeeze my hands through a pair of arm warmers. Normally my transitions are very speedy but not today! But with the arm warmers and tri shorts, I wasn't cold at any time on the bike, even though the temperature was probably less than 10C!

On the bike, I pushed huge gears the whole 10km out and then on the return trip, keeping my cadence at low 80's, and trying something new. Prior to this I always made a conscious effort to keep cadence at 90rpm on the bike, but Geoff suggested after the Lake Chaparral race that this might be conducive to tiring out your muscles used for running faster. Today was a chance to test out this theory. Geoff, you were right! I felt super strong and very powerful during the ride, but I worried a bit about the 5km run since my legs felt like they were becoming very fatigued and tight. My bike split on my computer was 34 mins, but with the extra transition time it ended up being 36min.

Transition 2 was very smooth and as I started out on my 5km run my worry of fatigued legs disappeared. I felt completely awesome during that run!! I was able to push myself and not once did I feel the usual pain that that causes negative thoughts to creep into my mind, of me wanting to start walking and having to give up. This is how a run is supposed to feel in a race!! And it was the only time this year I have had this during my 5 triathlons! My run split turned out to be 22min, but I truly felt like I was running 21mins. I am hoping the course was a couple hundred meters long. Regardless, I am really happy with how I felt though on the run, so this overshadows any time splits.

Overall time was 1:09, a PB by 4 mins in a sprint, and good enough for the overall female win (and 6th overall including men)! This is the first time that I have won an entire race and it definitely gives you a great feeling. I have been 2nd overall and 3rd overall but never 1st overall. I couldn't be happier.

For the rest of this week I will be getting fat and being lazy, as all that is on the schedule until Saturday is a swim on Thursday. I am looking forward to this mini-break, and then next week I am starting a run-focus block, so I can hopefully turn into a runner!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby pics

Here is Hugo trying to beat up his big bad blue baby bed.

He got a hold of Geoff's wallet and went after not the credit cards but the leather wallet itself. I guess he hasn't learned just yet.

Tired out from all his shenanigans, and cuddling with his new hippo, which has since been ripped open and the stuffing slowly oozing out.

Some random thoughts for the day:

- I was thinking of having a 'puppy shower', you know, instead of a wedding or baby shower. I have been to countless numbers of wedding/baby showers, and have spent countless amounts on them. I figure it's time I had one of my own, but not the traditional kind. Everyone is invited, and gifts are not required.

- Why does my brand new car have Braille on the steering wheel controls, the console controls, and the window/door lock controls? I understand that in this day and age things are to be politically correct, but should the visually impaired really be driving? I'm not trying to be rude, but it makes you kind of worry.

- I am happy to report that the situation regarding my work woes has been completely resolved as of yesterday. Now I can again look forward to going to work in the morning and enjoying my job.

- Why are we expected to tip just about every profession nowadays? At my massage therapy clinic they now have a tip button on the interac keypad. I am not a cheap person but it seems to be getting a little out of hand. And it makes you feel awkward when you don't leave a tip. Obviously at a restaurant I always leave a tip for good service, but now you are expected to tip taxi's, hair dressers, nail manicurists, coffee baristas, and the like. But massage therapy? This is a form of healthcare treatment and I don't feel tips are appropriate. Do doctors and dentists get tips? Soon we are going to be expected to tip cars that are stopping to let us cross the street.

- Sometimes in order to see the rainbow you must first endure the rain...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Go Canada!

What is going on? We had zero medals the entire first week of the Olympics, and all of a sudden we have 17! Wow - way to go Canada! We have surpassed the medal count of Athens, and there are still at least a few medals expected to be won in the remaining days of the Games. All of the critics were saying during that first week how this was going to be the worst Olympics in history for Canada - boy did the Canadian athletes prove those nay-sayers wrong! GO CANADA!

Another medal for Canada in the men's triathlon (silver) - a very exciting race to watch!

This week for me has been a struggle for many reasons. I am feeling over-fatigued and exhausted, not sure if it is from work or simply the racing and training of the year catching up to me. Probably both. I feel like I need an extended vacation or even simply a leave from work - there are some things going on (actually people) that I am getting really sick of and I am at the end of my rope of patience. This has got to stop! I prefer not to be more specific as this is a free and open blog so anyone could be reading it!

I am pretty sure I am going to do the St. Albert sprint race next weekend, but this could still change. I haven't done a sprint tri in a while, so it would be fun. The plan for this weekend is to do some biking and running, and a swim or two (hopefully 2 to make up for the swim I skipped yesterday due to feeling tired and unmotivated). I really need to clean the house this weekend, too, bring on the fun!! Speaking of fun, tonight I am going out dancing somewhere with Bonnie and her nursing friends to celebrate her birthday and turning 28. Happy Birthday Bonnie!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A good day of racing

Yesterday I raced in the Lake Chaparral Olympic tri in Calgary. It was a great day for a race. The weather was beautiful (hot on the run though!), up to 30C and no clouds. The race venue is also awesome, it is in a lake community in the south of Calgary. The race course was also good although each discipline was long!

Geoff and I drove up to Calgary on Friday evening, and once we arrived at our hotel (Travelodge), we decided that we were going to stay in another hotel for Saturday night. I'm not usually that picky, but the hotel (or motel I would call it) was pretty raunchy and not too clean. We had (well I had) decided to cheap out and take the $100 per night room when booking. I was worried that there were bed bugs and other scarier things. We managed to book a room at the Carriage House Inn (a couple blocks away), and it was well worth the extra $60. After doing my easy 15 min run the next morning, we checked out and got the hell out of there.

Race morning I awoke after a terrible sleep (maybe 4 hours of sleeping - tops) feeling surprisingly good. I did my race warm-ups and got ready for the start at 8am, which ended up being 8:15am. The water was so warm there was no need for a wetsuit. The swim turned out awesome, I got out fast and dropped the pack in the first 200m, finding myself all alone out there, which I prefer most. I felt really good the entire swim, and built a lead of just over 1 minute on the next gal! Swim was a bit long, my time was about 21:24 and it was definitely a sub 20 swim for me. They announced just before race start they had added $100 primes for swim/bike/run, so that was a sweet bonus.

I really enjoyed the bike course - it was 5 loops of about 8km with a good uphill, many tight and technical corners, and a left turn near the end of a downhill. The first lap was awesome as I had an escort motorcycle leading the way for me (the course was a bit confusing), and I felt like a PRO! On the second lap a woman passed me and I stuck with her, ending up passing her again on the flat section. On the 3rd lap, the eventual race winner went by and I was unable to keep up with her. Also the pro from Australia (Rebecca Preston) passed me during this lap, and I tried to keep her in my sights. She got away, though, and I just tried to maintain a good pace. I felt awesome during the whole ride. Bike time (including transitions) was 1:12 (3rd fastest overall), and the bike course was about 41km.

I came off the bike in 3rd place and started the run. I didn't feel awesome on the run and wasn't able to hold it together the entire time. It was a good pain-fest and I suffered through some sharp stabbing stitches in my upper trapezius/lateral neck and in my ribs, which leave me short of breath. I had to slow my pace due to this. The run turned out to be about 11km!! There was no need for it to be this long, it could easily have been accurate, and what's more annoying is that the course was advertised as being 9km!! I was expecting to run around 40mins and the time just kept ticking along! My run time ended up being 50mins. The fastest woman ran 43:57 or something. On the last stretch I was passed by the woman who had originally passed me first on the bike and was unable to keep up. I ended up in 4th overall (less than a minute behind 3rd place), and just out of the prize money. [I am hoping that there is a slight possibility that perhaps the first place female may not get the first place prize money (there was a trip given away for first place amateur), and also I am hoping that perhaps the Pro may also not be eligible for prize money in that race??]

They did not hand out the awards after and instead advised they would be mailing out the cheques, so maybe I will get a surprise and get an extra cheque!

Final time was 2:24, which really isn't too bad considering the course was long. I am very happy with my race even though I didn't feel great on the run. I enjoyed myself out there and pushed through the pain and didn't give up.

Next up - I plan on doing a sprint on Sept. 1 in St. Albert, which should be a fun race!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Things you simply can't look cool doing

In an effort to add a little humour to this blog, I am creating an extension of the list of things you cannot possibly look cool in doing (this topic was started some time ago on the Sonic radio morning show in Edmonton). Feel free to add to the list anything you might consider applicable.

- Standing by while your dog is doing his business on a busy street corner with cars driving by, then having to pick up said business in a plastic bag while cars continue to drive by.

- After doing your business in a porta-potty, walking out of the porta-potty and past the huge line of people waiting for their turn to use it.

- J-walking across a street and getting stuck on the median halfway across the road, and having to wait (until it is clear) on the median while cars drive by.

- Stumbling or tripping when wearing any type of heels (this can apply to men, too). This applies even more if you actually fall down. This would also apply even further if you are not wearing heels.

- Choking on food or drink while in a restaurant or anywhere else in public for that matter.

Those are all my contributions for now. My brain is fried as I am sitting in an office with heat coming out of the vents and it is 29C outsisde.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crashing and burning

I have been having a rough past week, with a lot of negativity surrounding my mood and my training. I had a tough time in my bike workout on Wednesday, just over a 2 hour ride with some hard 10 min tempo intervals. My hips became really sore and tight partway through the ride and as a result I started to lose power. My lower back also tightened up and was really sore during the last 30 minutes. This is strange as I have not made any changes to my bike position in a long time. This happened again on Saturday during a 90 min ride (which was followed by a 30min run off the bike). Luckily it is not an issue when running. Rather, my issue during running since Thursday is that my legs feel dead and I feel out of shape. My back is still feeling tight and sore.

I have decided (well Geoff' idea) to scale back my planned workouts for the next few days in order to attempt to regenerate and hopefully get back on track for racing next weekend. I am in trouble next weekend if I feel like this in the race. Tomorrow I have a chiro appointment for ART (I had one this past Tuesday and feel like it really didn't help me much) and then a massage. I will probably just swim after those. Tuesday will be just a swim, and Wednesday just a bike workout.

I am thinking that perhaps my body has not responded well to the change to the half ironman training mid season and now the switch back to an Olympic distance focus. Next year I am going to focus firstly on the half ironman and the Olympic distance races second.

Hopefully this upcoming week is better. I am taking Friday off work which I am really excited about because during this negative funk I am also annoyed with certain aspects of my job. I get really irritated with a certain employee in my office and also the air conditioning unit is broken and has been deemed un-fixable by the 'repair-man' who came out Thursday to fix it. This past week it was over 30C outside for a few days, and the system is so ridiculously broken it does not turn off, even though it is switched to 'off'. It actually blows warm air through the vents, so it is a frickin sauna in there. The thermostat reader was as high as it could possibly go, at 29C. Not an ideal work environment. I brought a fan from home (used when on the treadmill or indoor biking) which provides a miniscule bit of relief. It is supposed to be hot again later on this week, and I don't know if I can handle sitting in that furnace for even one more day. Don't get me wrong, I love love love the hot weather for training and everything else, I just really don't like it when hot air blows through the vents all through my office and I am sitting there disgustingly hot in my work clothes. Something has got to be done this week about it!

Anyway, on a more positive note - here is sweet Hugo yesterday, waiting for Geoff to come home, and looking a bit like a frog with his legs splayed behind him.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The calm before the storm

This has been a very relaxing weekend for me, filled with some solid workouts. I have really enjoyed having the extra day off (today) and could get used to such a schedule. Saturday was a 90 min ride with the first half into an extreme headwind (honestly I was riding at about 20km/hr, that's how slow it was), with the second half into such a tailwind I almost felt uneasy riding in my aero bars at some points (going nearly 50km/hr). I also did a 45min run later on, with 20min at tempo pace (5km pace in this case), where I went super-hard and felt awesome.

Saturday evening I went out for dinner to Lazia with Bonnie, Robert, Robert's friend, and Geoff. Amazing food! I had the jumbo shrimp and scallop and surprisingly there was room for dessert (creme brulee - yum!). It was nice to get out for dinner and I really love this restaurant. Everything there is good (I am not joking).

On Sunday I did a 60 min run as a negative split/build run, followed by 4 strides at the end. I felt amazing during the run and felt like I was running really fast. I have no idea how to gauge my speed, though, and am unsure of at what kind of a pace I was running. I don't use a heart rate monitor nor a GPS monitor. The important thing was that it felt fast. I was very pleased with how this run turned out.

I saw the new Batman movie last night. While I did fall asleep for a short portion during it (in my defence it's 2.5 hours and I was really tired), it was quite good and I came away from it with a memorable quote: "The night is darkest before dawn...". This made me remember back to several nights ago when I was pulled out of bed by Hugo's cries to go out at 4:30 in the morning , wanting out to do his business. I took him out and sat down on the deck, waiting - it was a beautiful morning, just before dawn, very calm, very peaceful, and very quiet, and I couldn't help but think to myself 'what an amazing time of day to be up'. Of course, I do not plan on really ever being up at this hour voluntarily but it was a nice experience nonetheless.

Tomorrow is back to work but a 4 day week which is awesome! Also, I plan to take next Friday (Aug 15) off, which means the next week is also a 4 day week! And that Sunday is the Lake Chaparrall triathlon!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The enjoyment of running

I feel as though I am pretty much recovered from the half ironman. Yesterday I did my first run since the race. I changed into my run gear at work, and drove to the Capilano Bridge and parked near there. I ran on a new route on a beautiful trail alongside the river, filled with many large hills, and loved every minute of it. There is a vast amount of undiscovered territory in the river valley here in Edmonton. We are really lucky to have such a trail system in this city and I plan to take more advantage of it. My run yesterday turned more into a focus on the enjoyment of running as opposed to a training session. This route will definitely become one of my regulars, just for the sheer enjoyment of the beauty and challenge of the trail.

I am also excited to get out on my bike this weekend and look for a new route to ride. I get sick of the usual routes (really only two) that I ride on from St. Albert, and my goal this weekend is to find a new one! It is possible I may even get to do an open water swim workout on Saturday at Summerside - that would be amazing!

My next race is in 2 weeks (Lake Chaparral), and I am really looking forward to going at full speed for an Olympic distance race. Should be a competitive field due to the prizes they are offering - I am excited to see what I can do and hopefully dust off the competition!

This weekend is a 3 day weekend - whoo hoo!!! I really feel like I need a bit of a break from work and even one day at this point will do! Wouldn't it be nice to just work part time and devote the extra time to recovering and training?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just not my day

Just to warn you - this is a long one!

The Sylvan Lake 1/2 Iron did not turn out exactly as I had planned. For some reason I had it engrained in my mind that I was going to have the perfect race and my performance was going to be nothing short of amazing. I learned several things after the gruelling event: No matter how great shape I am in and how amazing I feel leading up to the race, I can still have an 'off' day and not perform to the best of my capabilities. Second, I can still pull off a decent swim after doing absolutely no open water swim training this year (aside from the Vancouver World's race - which is not really open water swim training). Living where we do, there is just really no open water readily available in this area to train in. Lastly, you can't really switch gears from an Olympic distance focus for the whole year to a Half Iron focus in the past 5 weeks and expect to pull off a fantastic result.

I felt like the lead up to this race was perfect and I was feeling very confident going in, based on how my training had gone and how I was feeling during my week taper. Geoff and I drove up Friday around 3:30pm (I worked the morning until noon) and attended the pre-race dinner and meeting at around 6pm. We relaxed in the hotel in Red Deer for the rest of the evening, and went to bed around 10:30ish. I had a decent sleep, only waking up several times. I felt calm and excited to race in the morning, not really too nervous at all.

The weather turned out to be fantastic and I couldn't have been happier about it. The forecasted high was 26C, and it was blue sky and sunny when we stepped outside of our hotel. Once at the race venue, I set up my transition and did all the usual preparation type stuff - body marking, get timing chip, run warm-up, porta potty, put on the wetsuit.

The water was a good temperature, not too chilly and not too warm either. I got off to a good start, with the exception of some tool swimming into my left side for about 10 seconds, until I gave him a good shove and luckily never saw him again. The rest of the swim was spent swimming side by side by some guy in a sleeveless wetsuit (no idea who), and pulling 2 others behind us for the duration of the 2km. I could have tucked in just behind the sleeveless guy but I prefer to swim my own swim race and set the pace on my own. Unfortunately I never really felt too great during the swim. My stroke felt choppy and my turnover too fast and my hip flexors became very tight and fatigued in the water for some reason. Nearing the swim exit, it was me, the sleeveless guy, and the 2 others just behind, and I ended up standing on some algae-covered rocks to the right of the exit, and promptly slipping and landing right on my left shin on these rocks. I scrambled up as fast as I can, realizing there was another female behind me and thinking to myself 'I am not going to lose the swim prime because I fell!'

I regained my composure and ran up into transition, picking up the $100 prime and a time of 27 something. My transition was fast and smooth, at least until I was running my bike out of the transition area. I lost my grip on my bike on the gravel and it went crashing down. Half of my aero sip drink (filled with Carbo pro) spilled out and onto the ground. I picked it up quickly and hopped on my bike, realizing shortly after that my left brake hood and lever were completely bent in toward my aero bars. Turns out it was okay and didn't affect the shifting! But now I am going to have to take it in to be fixed before riding it again.

The bike was super-tough. I couldn't push as hard as I had wanted to, and for some reason I had problems with both hips for most of the ride. They were really tight and sore, and threatened to cramp up on me at various points. The course was quite hilly, but the worst hills were contained in the last 25 kms, which turned out to be into a headwind. My 90km split was 2:39, but the ride continued on for 3 more kms until it was completed. Inaccurately advertised courses are frustrating to me, especially when it could have been completely exactly 90km (due to an out and back section). Oh well. Off the bike in 2:45, and 7th place. Not what I had planned, as I had a goal of a top 5 placing, and now my 2 best events were completed.
My second transition was quick and easy, too, and off I went. I felt not too bad, and tried to remain smooth and controlled. The run terrain is very varied, and after a few kms you have to run through a forest with roots sticking up everywhere. I was okay until about 8km then it seemed to fall apart. After about 6-7km, the route emerges onto a small highway, and it was all up and down on this stretch. My stomach began cramping very painfully after about 8km, and my pace slowed. At the 11km mark aid station, I began walking. On the return trip home, I walked up a lot of the hills and struggled along. This was one of my most painful runs ever, and it was definitely the hardest run course I have done (right up there with Invermere anyway). The stomach cramps continued until the end. I am not really sure why I felt so terrible and what exactly went wrong, as I was in great shape and thought I had a good taper. It was tough mentally for me as I had been convinced that I would run myself a PB for the half marathon.

Finally I crossed the finish line and was never so happy to be done a race, and for the first time ever, my legs were instantaneously sore. My run turned out to be 1:59, which was not so bad for how much walking I did during the second half. Overall time was 5:13, about 13 minutes shy of my goal of breaking 5 hours, and a best time by 13 minutes. I was passed by 3 women on the run, ending with 10th place female overall. If I had raced to my capabilities and done what I thought I could do (low 4:50's), I would have placed 5th or 6th. The womens field was very competitive and based on how terrible I felt and the fact I had an off day and how hard the course was, I am satisfied with that. I know I should not complain as this is a PB, but I did have very high expectations of myself for this race and wanted to break my PB by a lot more.
I plan to focus more on half ironman now and I am now determined to do well at this distance. It was nice to take a break from the long course for 2 years as it gave me a renewed passion for it. Next up is Lake Chapparall Olympic tri on Aug. 17, then possibly St. Albert sprint on Sept. 1, then who knows after that? Stay tuned...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hugo is here

Geoff has finally started up his blog again after a brief hiatus. He has recently started back running after struggling with some chronic injuries over the past year and a bit. Hopefully we will be able to do a race together in the fall (either a half marathon in Victoria or perhaps the half ironman in Arizona in October). He will probably be aiming for an Ironman next year, and I will think about whether I want to do one after I race this weekend at the half!

We have a new puppy at home! As of yesterday Hugo the Boston Terrier is the new addition to our home. Geoff and I moved into our new house on Thursday, and Hugo arrived just yesterday. We drove to Airdrie to pick him up and it was a very tough decision as there were 3 puppies left to choose from. We were there for quite a long time! Hugo is the cutest, sweetest little thing I have ever seen (but of course I still love Gucci!). You can see for yourself in the pictures! Last night Hugo was very good and he slept through most of the night. Geoff was up with him at about 6am to take him out but then he settled back into his bed for another hour and half till I got up.
I didn't want to go to work today because it's more fun to play with Hugo but I went anyway and was excited when I finally got home. We brought him over to my Dad's to meet Gucci and they got along immediately and wouldn't stop playing and jumping on each other (of course we had to make sure Gucci didn't squash Hugo because he has a good 20 lbs on him).
Today all I had to do was an easy hour bike and I just did that on the trainer. The rest of the week is very easy and I hope to get my energy back and sharpen up for Saturday. It is looking to be a nice hot week and I am all over that, as I have not done one race this year in nice weather. Bring it on!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This past weekend was a very draining weekend of training, both physically and mentally. After my workouts on both days, I felt much like this fellow here, and all I could do was lay on the couch for the rest of the day watching t.v.

Saturday I was up at the crack of dawn (well, 7:30am), and left for my long brick workout by 8:30am. I met a group of 3 others, who were plannning on a 2 hour ride. I had to do 3:15 but wanted to ride with people for at least part of that, hence the getting up early. For some reason I felt nauseated and sick for the whole first hour, and like I was going to throw up. As a result, I had no power or energy and kept getting dropped. Finally I began to feel better after turning around and getting to ride in a complete tailwind for the way back (i.e. 45km/hr without really trying). After 60km, I dropped the group off and then continued out on my own on another road. I ended up doing 100km in 3hr 10min, averaging 31.5km/hr so I was happy with that. My run off the bike consisted of 40min, with 25min steady, 15ez. I felt like crap. Usually I tend to feel quite good in my transition runs, but this was not to be on that day. I again felt somewhat nauseated and was unable to take in a gel while running, and came close to bonking. The last 15 mins (ez) were done more or less as a shuffle and I nearly collapsed after finally finishing (3hr50min total workout). This was my longest workout since 2006 and it took a lot out of me.

On Saturday night at 2am, Geoff and I were rudely awakened by the home alarm system wailing in our ears. Jumping up in a panic, I tried unsuccessfully to find the light switch in our room for what seemed like minutes but was probably only seconds. If you've never heard the sound of an alarm going off, it is a deafening and screaming noise and makes you feel like you may be having a heart attack. After I eventually found the light, ran upstairs, and turned off the alarm, it occurred to Geoff and I that we didn't know why the alarm actually went off. Generally when it has been triggered in the past, it is the fault of someone in the house opening a door before the alarm has been turned off in the morning. Since we were both sleeping, this was obviously not the case. We decided to search the dark upstairs for any signs of unwanted guests. Luckily, there was nothing up there. Geoff (smart guy) made me find the # for the alarm company and he called them to find out what had set off the alarm. It turns out it came from the door to the garage - we still haven't figured out why. Apparently sometimes air pressure can set it off. We still think it had something to do with crazy Moe (the cat), because his litter is in the room leading to the garage and I saw him skulk out of there around the time the alarm was turned off. The next morning, Geoff got up early to feed the animals and opened the side door before remembering to deactivate the alarm - the deafening alarm once again went off. Geoff was quick and turned it off within 5 seconds.

Sunday I had a long run to do (90min to 1hr45min) and I was feeling so tired after being up the night before dealing with the alarm. I slept in uncharacteristically late after the debacle of the alarm going off again in the morning, so I didn't start my run until about 1:30pm. It actually turned out quite good, and I did 1hr40min, finishing really strong and negative splitting the run again. The thing that got me through that was telling myself that this was my LAST long run before the race. I had to skip my planned swim later that afternoon due to a lack of energy and instead lay on the couch for many hours watching useless t.v. programs. This was me after finishing that run:

My race is coming up next Saturday and I am quite excited but really need to re-charge my battery and get some energy back. This will hopefully be accomplished through the taper that will be starting this weekend. I am really hoping that the weather is sunny and warm for the race - I do not want to do another crappy weather race! I am keeping my fingers crossed...