Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An uphill battle

Things here have been ridiculously busy for me in the past week. I will leave it at that because it is all due to work and I don't want to ramble on about that topic. I haven't had time to write blogs, or even read others blogs, so I have some catching up to do.

On the weekend I had some really good workouts. My swim on Saturday morning was great and I put in a good effort. The main set was 1500m and I was able to finish the set with a hard 200free with a good time for this point in the year (2:32). I went to the gym in the afternoon and did some upper body weights, for the first time in months, then I ran on the treadmill for 45 mins, building up to a good tempo pace. It was really freakin cold out (i.e. -25C) so I thought i would stay inside and out of trouble. I did a longer run on the treadmill in our basement on Sunday, building the pace for the last 20 mins. I actually felt really good during this despite battling exhaustion and unmotivation prior to starting.

As it turns out, the treadmill in our basement is actually evil. When running on the tready on Saturday at the gym with the incline at 1%, it seriously felt like I was almost running downhill. On our tready at home, even putting the incline at 0% makes every workout super tough, and it feels like you are running uphill the whole time. After some careful inspection and problem solving (on Geoff's part), it appears that the mats the treadmill is sitting on have sunk down at the rear, causing a permanent incline, even with the belt at 0% grade. So basically you are always running uphill. Which makes the treadmill workout, which is hard enough as it is, even more challenging.

I am going to brave the evil machine tomorrow morning to do a set of 6 x 3 min intervals at 10k pace. Then I drive to Calgary for just the day, which is why i have to fit the run in early tomorrow, as I won't return home till 9pm. But while running, I will probably be wishing I was wrapped up in a soft blanket like Hugo, and I'll probably also be thinking this while driving to and from Calgary.

Bye for now...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The time is now

Just a quick update as I am completely swamped with everything in my life right now and there simply isn't time to write with detail right now. Work is a near-disaster, as I am responsible for the work equivalent to about 3 people at this point, so working late and coming in early has become a harsh reality in my life. Which doesn't bode well for being able to fit in all of the workouts I would like.

This morning I was up at the crack of dawn to complete my interval run workout, which I did on the tready. This workout really suffered due to my lack of sleep lately and exhaustion and fatigue. It probably doesn't help to finish my swim the night before at 10pm. But really there is no other way, as I really want to do that extreme fitness class this evening. I had a set of intervals planned (6 x 1:30 @ 10k pace), and feeling the way I did when I literally had to drag myself out of bed at 6:15am offered little promise of a great workout. It was super crazy and after the first one I actually had to stop and hold onto the railings to catch my breath (HR was >180). Didn't think I could make the rest of them, but somehow I managed to knock off the other 5 and finished the 45 min run feeling all the worse for wear.

Geoff saved my butt as he picked up Tim Horton's on his way home from coaching so I had a large double double and a BELT (bagel with sausage/tomato/cheese etc) waiting for me when I was ready to eat after showering and getting ready, and my stomach had settled down after that crazily hard effort. THANK YOU babe! And Geoff is a running machine! With his run today, Geoff capped off a 95 km week of running - wow high mileage! I could only imagine running that much. That is awesome and I am very proud of him! His first race will be the First Half marathon in Vancouver - Feb. 15. Can't wait to come along as a spectator and support crew!

Okay, so it turns out that I am unable to write a short update...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A double dose of fun

This morning I got up earlier than usual (6am) in order to fit in my run workout before work. I am definitely not an early morning workout person, but it is strangely exhilarating to complete a tough workout before going off to work for the day. My scheduled run workout happened to be intervals (5 x 2 min at 10k pace, with 2 min ez b/w, total run time of 45 min), which I of course did on the treadmill (I'm not a huge fan of bundling up as soon as I awaken and stepping into cold arctic conditions to run, so I am very thankful to have the option of using a treadmill). It was a challenge but I got 'er done! I was proud of my effort (considering the hour of the day) and happy with the pace I was able to hold.

After a long day of work, I finally left at 5:30pm and arrived home an hour later. It has now become regular custom for my commute home to take a minimum of one hour, due to traffic delays. This is very frustrating and it is definitely a challenge to remain positive and upbeat when crawling along in bumper to bumper traffic, the cause of which is not apparent. People seem to forget that this is Alberta, and that winter happens here every year at the same time!

Anyway, my second planned workout was at the gym - Extreme Functional Fitness from 7:30-9pm! This is my second time attending the class, and I plan to make a valiant effort to go every week. The class is super-fun and consists of strength, power, agility, and speed training - ALL of which I need to improve! And I am certain that improving these aspects will ultimately benefit my triathlon performance.

Today one of the sets on the menu was ..... you guessed it - INTERVALS on the track!! Yay! Umm, OUCH! The set was 6 x 300m, on 3mins, so lots of rest but it was still crazy hard! My legs were definitely burning but the whole experience was fun as there were 30 other people suffering as well! The rest of the class included LOTS of push-ups, static strength exercises of the core, harness pulling (this was my personal favorite), 6 x 100m sprints, squats, and drills. My muscles were shaking and vibrating by the end and will surely be quite sore tomorrow.

I plan to make this a regular fixture in my weekly routine. I am ready to get STRONG, build POWER, and get some SPEED from this class!!

As promised (a while back), here is a pic of my lovely new bike. I need to get a new stem but other than that it is great! Love it!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Slow down... and enjoy the ride

The other night I had a lengthy discussion with GU after expressing my frustration with how my running has been progressing lately (or should I say lack thereof). I have been feeling as though I am not really making significant gains, and this is the discipline in which there is a lot of room for me to make big improvements. It was during this talk where I seem to have had an awakening, and I now feel as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Geoff is always so wise and rational compared to me and he constantly manages to pinpoint the issue and offer practical solutions. This is one of the (many) reasons why we are such a good team. In a nutshell, what has really been happening is I have simply been going too hard in most of my runs, including the EZ ones, which is clearly not beneficial (this is Base training phase, isn't it?). This problem was not so difficult to uncover and the solution is even more obvious. But the real eye opening moment for me occurred when Geoff asked me a very simple question regarding my reasons for doing the sport, and was I having fun in this training considering I seem so caught up in the numbers?

Everyone has their own specific reasons for participating in this sport. It seems that lately I have been so preoccupied with improving my running that I have lost sight of the most important reasons for which I participate in triathlon.

Yes, being competitive in my age group and going fast times and PB's is important to me. But by no means is it at the top of my list or even near the top. I do this sport because it is so much FUN to race, because I LOVE being FIT and in great shape and HEALTHY , because there are so many FUN people to hang out with and I have so many wonderful FRIENDS in this sport, because of the contagious POSITIVE atmosphere enveloping a race weekend, and because I get to enjoy the beautiful OUTDOORS in the spring/summer/fall and explore neverending new routes on my bike and on foot.

I definitely had fun at all of my races this year, but I had my BEST races in terms of performance when my main goals were to have FUN and enjoy myself. Incidentally, it was before these races that I did not become nervous or worried at all. Why should you be nervous or worried for something that you LOVE to do?

A few weeks ago, I typed out my 2009 goals for triathlon, most of which, I now have to admit, involved results (placings and times). Yesterday, I added this goal to the very top of my list, in bold and in larger font, to indicate its vital importance:

We mustn't lose sight of the genuine reasons for doing something we love to do. Sometimes it is easy to get become entangled in the web of numbers regarding pace, distance, time, results, etc. These things are not important in the long run. It is the experiences you get to live and enjoy, the people you get to meet, and the places you go, which will be etched in your memory a long time from now, a time when nobody will care if you came 1st or 30th, or went sub 40 for a 10km. Instead you will remember a conversation with a best friend that had you in tears of laughter, the steepness of a hill on the bike, the beauty of the backdrop as you ride a new route, the exhilarating feel of your best run ever. The memories from these experiences will live on, while placings and results will fade.
In the meantime, I'm going to just slow down and enjoy the ride.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wine, and Chocolates, and Laziness - Oh My!

"Confidence doesn't come out of nowhere. It's a result of something... hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication."

-Roger Staubach

The time has arrived for the days of long sleep-ins, gluttony, and channel surfing to come to a halt. Today I am back to a normal working schedule, and so the laziness must end. I am not talking 'lazy' in the sense that workouts were missed or anything, but it was more a case of me doing not much else. The above quote outlines the fact that it is going to take a lot of hard work and consistency to improve and to become fully confident in your abilities.

I have been getting in all of my run workouts (5 a week, except last week, which was 4). Last week was an unloading week, so no long run on Sunday. I am looking forward to a long run this Sunday, especially if the forecasted warm weather actually occurs. I have been biking 1-2 times a week, on my new bike. Pictures will follow soon, I promise! I am really liking this fabulous bike so far, but I do require a few adjustments to be made, such as a longer stem put on.

I will be back to swimming 3 times this week, compared to only once per week over the holiday season. I am thinking about soon adding in one extra swim every week or every second week, a longer volume workout (i.e. like 4000m). If I was to swim 4 times a week at least twice a month, it would be very helpful.

Anyway, this evening I have a massage booked, which is a good thing as my lower legs are still sore from snowboarding last Thursday. I might do a light bike workout or weights after, then back to running tomorrow! I hope the weather keeps warming up so I can do more runs outside :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Banff trip!

Just got back yesterday from Banff - it was a great trip and nice to get away! Hugo and Gucci were with us for most of the 4.5 car ride, as we dropped them off at the kennel in Canmore (which was in the Veterinary clinic - very good facility).

The dogs were so good in the car on the way there!!

Check out the size of the icicles - wow!

New Year's eve: All dressed up and no place to go...

New Year's eve was not especially exciting, as we kept it low-key, but this was fine with me! It's nice not to start the new year off being hungover! We enjoyed dinner and drinks in the Diva's bar in the hotel (I had 3 La Bambas - you should try these cocktails!).
Geoff and Mark in Diva's bar - the walls are covered with photographs of beautiful women (models, actresses, and singers). Can you spot the Diva in the background?
After dinner and drinks, we decided to play some Balderdash back at the room. Near the start of our game, I was in dead last with no points (see the blue piece on A); however I redeemed myself and racked up some points so that I was in 3rd when we stopped playing.
Skiing on New Year's Day!! Mark, Alice, and Donald on the chairlift - it gets cold up there!! We didn't make our way to Sunshine until noon, so we paid the half day price and still got 3+ hours in with no breaks! My whole body is now sore, with my lower legs taking the worst beating! Snowboarding is really good exercise!!

A shot halfway down Gladerunner - it turns out moguls are actually no fun on a snowboard!!
Mark and I just after completing our last run of the day:

On our way to dinner on New Year's Day. The dinner was fantastic, and apparently the food took so long that they brought us a free bottle of wine! Funny thing is, nobody really noticed or complained that it was taking so long!

Last day of the trip, Geoff is patiently waiting for everyone to get organized to leave:

This gingerbread house was entirely made out of real icing and gingerbread! Yum!

But you're not supposed to eat it...

Fun in the car on the trip home:

Hugo really wanted to say hi to Geoff and my Dad but he had to stay in the back!

Gucci really looks like a French bulldog if you lift his ears up.

All tuckered out after his trip - Hugo spent most of the car ride home sleeping on Mark's lap: