Friday, February 29, 2008

Mind over Matter

Well I heard on the radio today that the weather this weekend is actually supposed to be very nice!! On Sunday, the high is 6C. The weather network appears to have gotten the forecast very wrong (surprise, surprise!). Steve (Alice's boyfriend) said one time that meteorologists (or "weather people") is just about the only occupation where they are wrong 100% of the time and still get paid. So true! I am just glad that the good weather is going to hold out until at least Sunday.

I have been feeling very excited to race on Sunday - I am just looking forward to getting out there and being able to run. The route should be quite scenic, so I am going to enjoy my run and do my very best and leave nothing out there. I have set the bar high with respect to my expectations in the race, as I have been feeling confident and believe in myself. I know I can do it, but of course there are factors beyond my control, such as the course may likely be quite icy in places due to the melting that will occur on Saturday and the freeze overnight.

Yesterday I began reading a book called 'Brain Training for Runners', by Matt Fitzgerald. Geoff just bought it and has first dibs on reading it but I flipped through it last night and read the first chapter (or foreward). It looks like a fantastic book and it is exactly what I need. I really have to focus on the mental aspect of training and realize that there is more to it than just the physiological side of things. Mental toughness plays a huge part in success in endurance sports (well all sports for that matter), and is something that gets overlooked more often than not (especially with me). I am looking forward to reading this book and learning as much as I can and applying it to my training and racing. I am sure I can put some of this stuff to good use for the 1/2 marathon in two days!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

They don't call it the Hypothermic Half for nothing!

So I was just checking the weather forecast for this weekend, 1/2 marathon race weekend. Today is a high of 2C, Friday's high is 3C , Saturday's high is 1C, Sunday's high is -9C (low -16C), and Monday's high is 2C! Talk about unlucky! It appears that the race is going to live up to its name this weekend, with the only day below zero being race day (and we're talking well below zero)! It's going to be a chilly one!

Anyway, I have been feeling much better, really only had the cold for a day or two. I have been coughing slightly which continues today, but it has not really affected my training and I have not missed any workouts. Monday was a rest day, I went to bed really early (10:30) and felt much better on Tuesday a.m. when I woke up. I did a somewhat easy 40min run on Tuesday, with some hills - didn't feel the greatest but at least I was running, and then an easy 2300m swim after that. Yesterday was a 60min trainer ride, with some standing intervals and building resistance.

I have been feeling pretty confident this week and am looking forward to getting out and racing on Sunday. I haven't done a 1/2 marathon since 2006, and when I think about it, I have only done two 1/2 marathons in my life (as running races). Not including the three 1/2 Ironmans I have done, which of course included a 1/2 marathon for the run leg. I am hoping for a best time on Sunday, and a solid race overall, where I feel strong throughout.

Yesterday was 3 weeks to the day until I leave for San Francisco to visit my dear friend Stephen. I can't wait!! It will be great to see the beautiful city and some of the touristy places, such as Alcatraz. And the weather there should be very nice at that time (I hope) - nicer than here at least:) We will be doing some run and swim workouts, and the run training there is really good because it is so hilly! I am counting down the days....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mixing it up

Alice and I following the race while shopping in the Running Room, looking pretty tired.
It is a good idea to mix up your training once in a while with a fun race, used as a hard speed workout day. Yesterday was just that, with the Aquathon race series. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather , after spending the first several hours after going to bed coughing and waking up many times. I felt as though I may be getting a bit of a sore throat and cold. First time in 3 years!! Not good timing, either. Anyway, at 8am I made my way over to Millenium Place for the very low-key race (i.e. very few entrants and very stress-free). Alice and I got ready for our swims and set up our 'transitions', which included our running shoes and a towel (and a pair of shorts to throw on).

The swim started and Alice and I had our own lane. There was only one heat and some people had their very own lane to themselves (that was how small the race was!). My swim actually went pretty poorly and I did not feel too strong, rather I felt weak and flat. My 'transition' was not exactly quick though (a bit rusty), and once I made it to the track I knew it was going to be a tough 5km! I pushed through it and counted down the 21 laps. My throat became drier as the run progressed, to a point where I found it difficult to even swallow! Finally I made it to my last lap and pushed my hardest to the timing mats. After I finished I did a couple laps cooldown and my throat felt really sore. I thought 'oh no now I have made myself sick by doing a race'. Luckily, I then had some recovery drinks and some jelly beans and finally felt better. Alice and I had to hit the hot tub for some muscle recovery, too! My planned 80 min run in the afternoon turned into a 70 min run as I felt pretty terrible, with a bit of a headache and the beginnings of a cold. I didn't want to push it too far and make things worse!

As it turns out I was the overall race winner! This is the first time that I have ever won a whole race (never mind the fact that it was such a small turnout). This is very positive and although I did not feel my best and was not at 100%, I can come away with a bit of confidence. My coach has asked me to focus on positive self talk and positive thinking this week, not just in training but in life, too. This will also be what I will focus on for my race on Sunday, any time I feel negative or discouraging thoughts creeping in, I need to channel them out with some positive self-talk and thoughts. This is something that I have struggled with in the past and I will continue to work on. The important thing for Sunday is getting to the start line feeling healthy and confident. The conditions will be beyond my control, so I just have to do my very best with what I have to work with on the day.

Here is a quote I found that is appropriate to my focus this week on positive mental well-being:
Keep your face to the sun, and you will not see the shadows. -Helen Keller

Saturday, February 23, 2008

First 'race' of 2008 tomorrow...

Tomorrow Alice and I are racing the 5750 Aquathon race series at Millenium Place. It will be a fun and hard speed workout, and it is all indoors! The race consists of a 750m swim followed by a 5km track run. I am going to dust off my racing flats and throw them on for the track run - hopefully my calves don't get too sore! I need them to hold up as I also have to do an 80 min run later in the day, as per Coach's instructions. I thought about trying out the Newton racers in the race tomorrow, but I have never worn them before and Geoff warned not to if I want to be able to run later in the day. I have made those types of rookie mistakes before and will play it safe this time!

Since my day of snowboarding last Sunday, I am still experiencing some slight soreness in my lateral lower legs, more so on the right than the left. This is a week later! Hopefully they don't bother me tomorrow. I will post a report tomorrow after the race.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My legs are still sore

It was really nice to get away this past weekend to Banff. After coaching Saturday morning, my family drove up to Banff, dropping Gucci at the kennel on the way. By the time everyone got organized to leave, it was already 11:30am. We didn't get to Banff until the late afternoon/early evening, which gave us enough time to relax and then head down to Diva's restaurant for some food. After this I became so tired that I had to go have a nap in the evening while the others drove into Banff from the hotel (which is located on Sulphur mountain) to rent their ski equipment.

Sunday we got up early and drove to Sunshine for a day of skiing/snowboarding. It was a great day, but perhaps slightly chilly on the chairlift as you get higher up the mountain of course. Check out the pictures from last post to see the views from the chairlift and some skiing pics. We got in many good runs, and found some areas which were deserted compared to the main lifts and runs. Everything was super-busy due to the Family Day holiday, but we managed to have an awesome day regardless .

For dinner on Sunday my dad reserved a table in the Eden Room, the height of fine dining. It was a beautiful restaurant, very elegant, and the view was fabulous. It was an 8 course meal, and the portion sizes were perfect so everyone was able to finish everything and not feel disgustingly full!

On Monday when I got up my calves were so sore that they were nearly cramping up just from walking! They were too sore to even stretch. I managed to get in an easy 30min run in the hotel fitness centre treadmill, and my legs really didn't feel too bad during it. We drove home late Monday morning, and I spent the rest of the evening unpacking and working on work stuff/reports.

Obviously my training was put aside for several days but I am now back at it and feeling pretty good. My legs are actually still really sore today, I iced them last night after my workouts (a run outside for 50min and swim of 2600m) and I am going to have to ice again tonight. The half marathon is coming up on March 2 and my coach wants me to do the Aquatrot race this sunday (750m swim, 5km track run), as a speed workout. Hopefully my legs will be recovered by then!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Banff & Sunshine

View from the chairlift at Sunshine.
View from the chairlift at Sunshine.
Geoff, Alice, Donald, and Mark near the end of the day looking like they are ready to call it a day.
Me at the top of "Short and Sweet" before picking up any speed.
Me, Donald, and Alice outside the chalet after the first run.
The Graham family on our last day in Banff, with the view of the Rockies in the background.
This is the view from the hotel - spectacular!
This is our fine dining experience at the Eden Room - we lucked out and were given the private dining room!
This is the view from our dining room during our fine dining experience. If you look closely you can see the mountains in the background and the outline of the hotel. I couldn't take it with a flash due to the glare from the window.
I will post an update soon, for now all I had time for was the pictures!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Under 20:00!

Yesterday (actually this week in general) was a really great day of training for me. I did a 45 min run at a pretty good pace and was able to get outside as the weather has finally warmed up. In the pool last night, my coach had on my schedule a 1500m time trial. This week in the group I coach was also testing week, so I had them do their time trial for their practice last night (most people did 800m but 2 people, Alice and Kendall, did a 1500m by choice!). We had a smaller turnout than usual (the date of the time trial is known ahead of schedule - which shows the people who choose to come out are very dedicated and tough!). Everyone did awesome and I was very impressed with the results - some people managed to take large chunks of time off their PB so that is always terrific to see. It must be all that band only work we have been doing since January.

I did my 1500m swim right after everyone finished theirs, and several of my swimmers insisted on staying to time me and count for me. I usually don't need anyone to count for me, as I am good with keeping track of where I am, but I welcomed the support. I started out feeling pretty strong, first 400m went great and I was checking the clock every 100m to see if I was on track. My split at the 400m was 5:11, so I was really happy and got an extra boost of energy. After 400m my legs began to feel pretty dead, most likely from the run I did 2 hours earlier. I managed to hold it together and kept pushing to the end.

At about the halfway mark, I was feeling that burning in your stomach that you get when you are pushing yourself to your limits, you know the feeling where you feel like you are close to throwing up almost. I checked the clock at my last 50 and realized that I needed to go under 40 to break 20min! I pushed it as hard as I could and managed to touch the wall just as the red second hand was turning over to 60! I went 19:59, just sneaking in under 20min!! Colleen called out 20flat as I touched but I will consider it breaking 20! This is a PB by 21 sec in the pool for me. I had never broken 20 in the pool before (but in open water I did last year). I had really wanted to go under 20 but wasn't sure if it was possible for me at this point as I have only got in 2 swims per week the past couple weeks. This is a great confidence booster at this time of year.

Geoff has been sick all week, missing work on Tues/Wed, due to sore throat, fever, and cold. Luckily I have not caught it, but I have really not been sick during the past few years at all. I think the last time I had a cold was 3 years ago.

We leave for Banff tomorrow. I am excited to get away for a weekend and go snowboarding on Sunday. I will definitely take some pictures this weekend and post them soon! Happy long weekend (well Albertans anyway)!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Too busy

I have been extremely busy with work in the past week and a half, too busy to even check emails let alone post an update! I have done pretty well with fitting all my scheduled workouts in - and I only missed one run in total. I hate missing scheduled workous but sometimes life/work just gets in the way of training. Last Saturday I decided to brave the cold and ventured outside for my 50min run, which included 2x10min @ tempo pace. I actually became very warm as I layered up for the cold, and the tempo intervals were HARD. During both of them I ended up having to go up a hill, which made it more challenging. After the run (with only about 45 mins to stretch, eat, and recover), I biked for 60mins on the trainer, with some fast cadence sets. I was feeling pretty tired after that.

On Sat. nite, I went out for dinner with Alice, Bonnie, Robert and Becky. Bonnie and I each had several glasses of red wine which was very good. My dinner was a little disappointing, it was almond-crusted salmon but the portion size was about 3 times larger than what it should have been and there were way too many almonds. It is easy to see why 30% of Canadians are obese, just look at the portion sizes in restaurants.

Anyway, on Sunday the weather had turned really cold and windy again so I did a 95 min run on the treadmill, about 17km. I actually had a really good run and the time went by fast for once. My legs were feeling really sore from the hard run the day before, but they didn't bother me during the long run. That evening I did an easy 50min spin on the bike and really noticed how tired my legs were!

This week was tough as I ended up having to stay later each day at work in an attempt to get things completed. Tues. I had to miss my run, and just did a swim. I can't remember now what it was, but it was 2500m. Wed. I did a 60min trainer ride, with some standing and building intensity intervals. I have made some minor changes to my saddle height, which seems to have improved my comfort level while riding. I will still have to tweak it a bit to find the ultimate best position. I have experienced a lot of difficulty with discomfort in the saddle up until now so hopefully I can soon put this behind me and ride free of chafing! Yesterday I did a good 50min run on the tready and my legs felt really fresh after not running for 3 days. My swim was 2400m and I felt lethargic and slow. Hopefully by my next swim I will be feeling refreshed in the water and strong again.

Of course the weather has turned really freezing again as of yesterday. We had one nice day where it was -4 but now today it is back to a windchill of -35, and the same expected for tomorrow. Sunday is apparently supposed to be -15, so if it is then I will probably just do my long run outside. I would like to do an hour and 45 min run and do not wish to do this on the treadmill. I am longing for spring and the snow to melt, perhaps we will be lucky and this will occur in March!

Next weekend my family and Geoff are going to Banff for 3 days, I can't wait. We are driving up Sat. and returning on Monday. Sunday we are going to ski/snowboard at Sunshine. We have to bring Gucci to a kennel for the weekend because unfortunately the Rimrock Resort Hotel does not allow pugs! The only thing is the kennel is closed on the weekend b/c it is a long w/e, so we have to bring Gucci on Friday and pick him up Tues. It sucks he has to stay for 2 extra nights than is necessary. I am going to check and see if there is another kennel that doesn't have to keep him as long. Anyway time to go eat I'm starving.