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!