Monday, June 23, 2008

Moving, tough workouts, and a trip to Calgary

I am in Calgary and was glad to find out that the hotel has free internet connections in the room! I better make this quick as I have to meet Leslie in 30 mins for dinner....

Since my last post I have regained my motivation and I have done some amazing workouts this weekend. Friday of course was my day off, which I took full advantage of by eating 5 slices of pizza and 2 cupcakes with my brothers in the evening. I made up for it on Saturday, though, with a long scheduled brick workout. It turned out to be 29C on Saturday and I headed out to start my 2hr45 min bike/55 min run right in the middle of the heat at 12:30pm. The bike went really great, as I felt strong and held a good pace even with the winds. I ended up doing 85km in 2hr43min, and really enjoyed the beautiful weather!

Of course, I am not used to the heat yet this year (considering we have only had one nice day of 28C this year and all of my races have been in the rain/snow). The run was a toughie - I started out with 10 min ez, then transitioned into 40min steady pace, and planned to finish with 5 min strong. I brought a water bottle along (which I had put in the freezer in the morning and it was nearly frozen), which I stashed after about 10mins. By the time I made it back, I was so looking forward to that frozen (or by that time just cool liquid) bottle that I nearly choked on it. The last 5 mins were more like a shuffling jog, and the water bottle was done within a minute. Unfortunately during the last 10 mins I began to experience the warning signs of a migraine (this weird 'aura' thing with my vision), but I didn't realize that was what it was until I made it home. I only get about 2 migraines a year. All I could do was quickly mix up a recovery drink, drink it, take a 600mg Ibuprofen and a Pepcid, and then collapse for a few hours. No stretching and no eating. Luckily the migraine was not quite as bad as it usually is, and not half as bad as they used to be in my teens.

So I didn't get to go out for my birthday after all on Saturday night, but instead just layed around for the evening. On Sunday of course it ended up pouring rain all day (we rarely get more than one nice day in a row here). So I headed out for a 70 min run in the rain, and ended up having a fantastic workout. The legs felt surprisingly fresh and overall I felt close to getting that 'effortless' feeling.

Sunday night I got to celebrate my birthday at Geoff's family's house (with my family as well) with a wonderful dinner and some lovely gifts. Thank you Deborah and Carol! It was my favourite meal - steak!

This morning I squeezed in an 80 min ride on the trainer, some packing and then headed up to Calgary where I now am. If you are wondering about the moving business - Geoff and I are packing up our house as we are moving on Saturday - only 5 minutes away! We bought a townhouse and will get possession on Friday - first-time homeowners! I will hopefully post some pics once things are organized. Anyway, gotta run as I don't want to be late to meet Leslie and I'm not quite even sure where the restaurant is where we're meeting...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unmotivational

If that is in fact a word, it is exactly what I have been experiencing this week. Mostly with work, as things seem to have slowed and I am not currently super-busy. I guess I work better under pressure... I am lacking the motivation to do what little work I have, it is a weird feeling being all caught up for once. I prefer to be busy, I think.


[A side note on getting more busy at work: I will be going down to Calgary next week on Monday through Wednesday to do some marketing for my company: Leslie/Chad/anyone- if you are around we should get together for a run or swim or dinner (Mon or Tues evening?)...]

Training-wise I have been getting all of my scheduled workouts in but slogging through them with a lack of determination. Hopefully this does not continue past today, as I am sure there are going to be some long bike and run sessions scheduled this weekend, which require a higher level of motivation than my current one. I think I just need to snap out of it and come Friday (tomorrow) that should be the case as Friday is my day off training! That said, by then I anticipate being ready for some good bike/run/or both workouts this weekend! I will also definitely be ready to have a few drinks and some good food with a few good friends on Saturday to celebrate turning 28!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Breaking the Barrier

I have now pretty much recovered from the race last weekend. My lower legs were pretty trashed and were extremely sore for nearly the whole week. I took 4 days in a row completely off following the race, as I needed a bit of a break both mentally and physically, and I needed to re-group before the next block of training starts. I am now preparing to race the Sylvan Lake 1/2 ironman on July 26 and I am excited (I haven't done a long course race since 2006)!

Thursday was an easy (sort of) 45 min run, during which my lower calves tightened up a lot and became really sore. I did an easy 2400m swim on Thurs. evening, an easy 90 min trainer ride on Friday, and another easy 2km swim on Saturday, after an 80 min run. The run was really good for the first 45 mins, then my calves became quite sore and tight again. I stretched really well and used the trigger point therapy roller on my calves, which really helped. On Sunday I was up early to volunteer(7:30am) for the Kids of Steel triathlon in St. Albert, as a lap counter/timer in the pool. Very fun! The 7 & unders did a 50m swim, with some of them wearing life jackets!

Saturday evening Geoff and I went out for dinner to Earl's with Bonnie and Robert, and the food was actually really good, especially the Spinach artichoke dip! Sunday afternoon I had a 2hr 15 min ride to do, which I went outside for even though there were rainstorms. I ended up in a few downpours and again my bike is covered in sand and dirt and grime. Time for another cleaning! The ride was really good, though, I felt strong and managed to do 68km in 2hr 10min. I am feeling almost close to comfortable (gasp!) on my bike now with my current position and Adamo saddle, which is amazing because now I actually quite enjoy biking, instead of being in pain and discomfort for the entire ride.

I have reflected a bit on the Vancouver race, and while overall I am completely satisfied with how it went, I have been thinking about my general feelings/effort during each of the 3 disciplines in my races. During the swim and the bike, I can push myself to my limits and it does not hurt like it does during the run. During the run, I rarely seem to feel good and it is a huge struggle to keep going at the pace I want to hold. A lot of time, I have to back off and my pace slows due to feeling like crap. I usually end up getting a lot of very sharp stitches in my ribs and neck. On the run in a race, I never seem to feel as good as I do on the swim and bike when pushing myself as hard as I can. I was thinking to myself that really fast runners probably feel the same way when they are running hard as I do when swimming hard - comfortably uncomfortable, almost effortless.

There seems to be a pain barrier I experience when running hard that I have not yet been able to shatter. I am not exactly sure at this point whether this has more to do with the physical or the psychological. Any thoughts? Is it technique or is it mindset? I want to be able to run fast and feel good and comfortable ('effortless') while doing it. I want to become a 40 min (or sub 40) 10km runner. I don't see any reason why physically this is not possible. Is it all psychological and mental? Of course I have already improved my run this year quite a bit but I am looking for much greater improvement so I can piece together a completely solid triathlon, and not have to worry about getting passed during the run. I would like it if I did not have to do damage control after getting out of the water (or this year, after getting off the bike). This year is already a little bit different, as my biking ability has improved and I am much stronger so I am not getting passed on the bike too much. I want to be able to race with a strong run and not worry about the top athletes catching up to me during the run.

This is something that I am going to really try and focus on mentally in the next while, because I do think that the barrier in my case is a bit more psychological than physical. Of course, physically I am going to work on it, too, as I am motivated to train really hard again after a nice little break!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Some race pictures...

All but the second last 2 photos are courtesy of ASI Photography. And the second last 2 are courtesy of Kelly B. (Stephen's sister).

First out of the chilly water!
Trying to power my way through the bike.
And onto the run... (ouch!)
Sprint finish (whoo-hoo, that's me on the left)!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some of the STARRT group (St. Albert Tri and Roadrunners team). Stephen, Christina and I at the team lunch (above and below). Stephen running during the first 3km run in the duathlon. I am really glad that I didn't have to do a duathlon!
Stephen and I right after he finished his race. Note the patch of blue sky in the background. A couple hours too late!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Photos - more to come when I get organized

This is around where the race start was. The tide was all the way in when I started, so I didn't have to run through all the rocks and algae.
Not exactly the greatest picture, but at least we're all decked out in our Team Canada gear - the Orca jackets were surprisingly very nice (me, Stephen, Christina). Christina and I at the Team Canada lunch, where they not only ran out of chairs, but out of food as well. We are still smiling though...


This picture was obviously taken just before we ventured into the water on Friday, as we are all still smiling. We were certainly not smiling after we came out of the 11 or so degree water feeling hypothermic. I didn't wear a neoprene cap during this test swim, but borrowed one from my coach for the race and it definitely helped.


Here is us again in the line up to get into transition the evening before the race. It was a 30 minute or so wait in the line to get into the transition to drop off our bikes. Lovely.


I have some pictures on my camera (only a few, for some reason I was not really into taking pictures on the weekend), so I will download them and post them later. These ones were courtesy of Christina (thanks by the way). I am also waiting for the race pictures to see if there are any good shots of me - if so I will

Monday, June 9, 2008

World Champs report - A 'World Class' Event?

Saturday was the age group world championships race in Vancouver. The weather leading up to the race was very chilly and rainy, with very cold water temperatures in the English Bay. Unfortunately there was a lot of disorganization with the event, from the Team Canada 'lunch' (for which we had to pay $20 and during which they ran out of food and did not have enough seats for everyone), to the cancellation of the pre-race briefing, and many other details in between that I will not get into here. Sadly, it was quite apparent that the event was hastily thrown together and that all of the focus and planning went into the Elite race (which took place Sunday), with little attention directed to the age group race.

All things aside, I turned out a great race on Saturday and was quite happy with the result. On Friday we went out for a practice swim at the race site to test out the waters. I could not believe how cold it was (hovering around 11-12C). Wading in, it was very painful on the feet, a throbbing type of pain that almost made you scream. We were in less than 10 minutes and I didn't come even close to warming up. I wondered to myself how I was going to swim 1100m in the race the next day (the decision was made to shorten the swim course from 1500m due to the cold temperatures).

Anyway, I awoke Saturday morning at 5:15am to drizzle, gloomy skies, and 11C. The winds picked up but the rain held off for the race. Just before my start, I waded into the water to get used to the shock, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it did not seem as bad as the day before. I lined up on the starting pontoon mat and waited for the start. Once the gun went off, I sprinted into the water and started swimming. I got out fast, and the start was not rough in the least bit. I was anticipating that my goggles would be ripped off and people would be running into me. I ended up with open water and found myself in the lead. The waves became rougher and I was getting thrown around a bit. I ended up swallowing so much water (nearly every stroke), that I began to feel ill. I swam the entire swim alone, with a couple people trailing by about 5-10 secs. It was tough sometimes to see the buoys because the waves were high but I did a good job of sighting and didn't swim any extra than I had to. The cold also wasn't a factor at all - of course I was freezing and my feet were numb, but it didn't interfere with my swim.

I was first out of the water, and had a good transition and got onto my bike for the shorter than 40km bike leg. I went pretty hard but unfortunately I was feeling sick for most of the bike portion, and didn't really feel good at any point. I was passed by quite a few in my age group and finished the bike in about 10th place. I wore arm warmers, which I had kept on under the wetsuit, and wasn't really cold at all during the bike. I found I lost ground on the hill during each of the 4 bike loops, so I know that is something I really have to work on.

Off the bike, I had another smooth transition and went out fast on the run. I didn't feel great, but I was going at a really good pace. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off a bit during the second lap and I began to struggle. I managed to stay strong and push the effort, but the pace definitely slowed a bit. I was confused during the run as well because I thought I might be done at the point where there was a 3.6km lap to go, but I kept asking people as I was running about how many laps we were supposed to do. As I went out on my 3rd lap, I thought maybe I was going to be running an extra lap but thought better of it and just kept going. This is where a lot of the confusion transpired, because it is now apparent that many athletes simply went for the finish at this point instead of going on to complete their final lap.

During the last lap of 3.6km, I felt a bit better and was able to pick up the pace a little again. As I rounded the final turn into the finishing chute, I realized that another girl was just behind me and just about to pass me, so I began to sprint and it turned into a sprint finish between the 2 of us. Luckily I edged her out by about 2 tenths of a second (and she was in my age group). I finished in 2:10, which is quick b/c of the shortened swim, but still a best time by a lot if you factor in the extra time. The unofficial results state that I was 21st (out of 95) in my age group, but this may change as some of the girls above me had some speedy run times of 26 minutes (indicating that they may have missed a lap on the run). Hopefully I should move up at least a couple of spots.

Overall I am definitely pleased with my result and was excited to learn that I had the overall fastest swim time in the entire race! Only females aged 54 and under were able to complete the swim. After the 50-54 women went off, the swim portion was cancelled for the rest of the field, which included women over 55 and all men. The decision was made based on the water temperature and the choppy conditions. Check out the insidetri.com webpage or triathlon.org for articles about this. The race for these age groups was turned into a duathlon with a 3km run replacing the swim portion. Honestly, it didn't seem so bad when I was swimming it but I think the main reason the decision was made was that there were not enough rescue kayaks and they were getting thrown around in the water.

That is all for now, I will not write any more about the nature of the 'organization' of the event, because frankly I am sick of hearing about it from everybody. I did find it to be a bit of joke, but I made the best of it and enjoyed myself and didn't let it stress me out as it did many others. I managed to put together my best possible race despite the conditions and circumstances and I am completely satisfied with my effort. Also, it was really great to finally meet my coach and to have him there supporting and cheering during the race and taking pictures! Thanks for all your help and encouragement Mark!

Pictures to follow when I have more time and energy...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Alice's Little Big Run

On Sunday Alice raced the 10km Little Big Run. The race started at 8am, and I made it there just before the start. It was really nice to be a spectator cheering and to not have to worry about racing! (Which will change this coming weekend, of course.)

Here is Alice just starting out in her race. Since I didn't see her before the start, she yelled out as she ran by to ask if I could grab her sweater, which was under "a bench". Turns out I found the sweater pretty easily (or what I hoped was her sweater). Once I saw Alice at the end she confirmed that it was in fact her sweater, so there were no angry people accusing me of being a klepto...


The weather was perfect, a cloudless sky and nice temperatures for running (high teens in the a.m.). It was much nicer for spectators than the triathlon was the previous weekend (8C and dark clouds). Alice did an awesome job and ended up where she wanted to be, and placing pretty well in her age group, too.
Here is Alice rounding the last bend just before the finish (in the red tank top):


Alice and I just after she finished, enjoying the festivities.

The rest of my Sunday was spent cleaning and going to the pool for an easy 1500m recovery swim. No running or biking! Which was nice. Saturday I did a high intensity brick intervals workout (warm up on the bike and run, then 4 sets of 6min tempo bike, 3 min tempo run, descending the efforts). It was a toughie!

Oh yeah, and Sunday evening I went with Alice and her friend Crystal to see the Sex & the City movie! I really enjoyed all 2.5 hours of it and would see it again!

I am into a full and complete taper right now and gearing up for the big race on Saturday! Yesterday was an easy bike (75 min), which included 5 x 2 min race pace efforts, and dealing with cross winds the whole time. I felt like I had to lean to the right side just to stay upright! Today is a 40 min run with some 90 sec efforts, and then an easy swim with a set of 4x100 fast. I leave tomorrow for Vancouver at 6pm, so I will work half a day and then get organized!

The work is done; right now it is all about sharpening and tuning and getting ready to produce the best race possible. Anything can happen on race day and it is all about dealing with the unexpected and overcoming the challenges. I am working on mental toughness and confidence this week so that I am ready to face whatever comes my way on Saturday.