Friday, June 26, 2009

A New Path

June 26 was officially my last day working for NRCS Inc. A short time ago, a wonderful opportunity presented itself to me and I made the decision to pursue it. During the past 3 years at my job, I have learned an awful lot and I have acquired invaluable skills and experience. However, the time has arrived to move on and I am very excited about this new position. On July 6, I will start my new career as a Business Development Consultant for Medisys Health Group. (Which means I am off for the entire next week!!) This is definitely an advancement for me and I am really looking forward to this challenging and exciting role. My first week will be spent in Vancouver for training and orientation.

My last day at work was actually only a half day (yay!), since one Dr. Esmail took Kim and myself golfing for the afternoon. We played at Blackhawk Golf Club, which is an amazingly beautiful golf course, one of Edmonton's best.

Here is Kim on hole 4:

A fierce storm rolled in on hole 5 and we got soaked;

but on we played; and true to Alberta's climate (where you can have all 4 seasons in one day), the sun was shining again by the end of hole 6!!
I had a fantastic time playing today and very nearly sunk my first-ever hole in one at hole 8 (par 3)!! It was awesome! I seem to play much better when I don't warm up at the driving range or take practice swings before I tee off. Hmmm..... certainly not the way it works in triathlon at all!!

This is seriously where my ball landed - no kidding! I actually sunk the putt for my first birdie (well sort of... technically I missed it the first time so I put the ball back where it was and then re-shot and hit it in)!
Now I have 9 days in a row without having to work! I can be lazy! This is taper week before the Great White North next Sunday, so the training volume is significantly decreased and I can put my feet up! I am looking forward to relaxing with Geoff and Hugo, and Stephen arrives on Tuesday so we will have a blast this week!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sometimes rest is the best plan

This has been a very challenging week for me in terms of experiencing an overwhelming sense of fatigue as well as soreness in my legs. It was supposed to be a higher volume week but so far I have had to make some modifications to my workouts and schedule. On Wed. evening I got on my bike trainer to start my workout, and not 2 mins into it, I stopped pedalling and decided that I needed a day off. My legs were feeling so dead and sore that I just could not proceed with the session. On top of that, I was experiencing very low motivation to do my training.

After my long sessions from the weekend and the race the previous weekend, I think my body was telling me that it needed a rest! I shortened my planned 70 min run to 55min after work yesterday, which still completely sucked as I felt like a big piece of crap. Then I skipped my swim last night and instead went to bed early. I felt pretty good this morning and got up at 6am for a quick easy 60min spin on the trainer. My legs feel better already and my energy is coming back.

Sometimes you just have to listen to what your body is telling you, even if you don't agree with it! Hopefully this weekend I will be back to feeling good while running again!

Monday, June 15, 2009

97km of solitude and a 2 hour run in the hot hot sun

This past weekend was a HOT weekend of training (and I mean temperature-wise). Highs of 28C each day and nothing but sun!! Saturday was an early morning swim with my group, during which I felt so fatigued and energy-depleted. After re-fueling, relaxing, and a bit of house-cleaning with Geoff, I headed out on a solo bike ride at about 2pm. I hadn't gotten organized ahead of time in order to gather up any other potential riders so I was on my own!

The ride was good but tough. I only have room for 2 water bottles on my bike (one aero-sip and one cage on the frame) so I rode out 35km to Bon Accord and stopped at the Husky to buy a bottle of gatorade. Then I turned around and found a different isolated highway on which to do an out and back section.

After about 60km of riding I became soooo incredibly thirsty and a bit grouchy. I was craving COLD water and nothing else - same thing that happened in the race last weekend. I have come to the conclusion that these sickly sweet sports drinks and the salt tablets, although full of electrolytes and such, cause crazy thirst-cravings!

I had put my I-pod in my back pocket but hadn't used it thus far so out it came and I had music for the remainder of my journey. After about 65km, I remembered that there was a little independent gas station on the road near the Garrison, which was very easy to get to. I made a quick stop there, which was about 80km into my ride. I bought a very large ICE-COLD water and a freeze!! These things have never tasted so good! The freeze was done within moments and after downing several large gulps of the water, I filled up one of my water bottles and was on my way.

It turns out I added the distance wrong on the out and back section because I had planned to do a 90km ride but by the time I made it home it was actually 97km! 3hr 5min of riding and I was done and done!

Sunday morning Geoff and I were up at 6:45am to volunteer for the annual Kids of Steel triathlon in St. Albert. It is always a lot of fun and the kids are adorable, some of the 7 and unders even wear lifejackets for their 50m swim! We made it back home by 11am and then a few hours later (after some food and a 30min nap), I set off for my LONG run in the blazing heat. It was quite a challenge! I became so hot and so thirsty and managed to find a water stop after 80mins to fill one of my fuel belt bottles and to down some water in an attempt to quell my ever-increasing thirst. I ran out of water with about 20mins to go and considered asking a lady hosing her front garden if I could have some of that water. But instead I slogged on and had to throw in a walk break before the end! When I arrived home I was sweating so profusely that I had to stick my head in the freezer to cool off for a couple minutes! Geoff kindly asked me to please refrain from doing that so I obliged and used an ice pack instead.

I found some pictures from the Oliver race (courtesy of ASI Photography) but they are really really small and I can't figure out how to get them any larger!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oliver half-ironman race report

My first half-ironman of 2009 was this past Sunday in beautiful Oliver, BC. The weather leading up to race day was fabulous with temperatures reaching into the low 30's. Race day was ideal, with some clouds in the morning and the high reaching about 22C.

Here's how it all went down...

Race morning I woke up 5 mins before my alarm went off at 5am. I had a good sleep and only awoke one time, so I felt refreshed and ready to go in the morning. Hugo and Gucci got up with us and were running wild around the house, very excited to be up early! We planned to leave the house at 5:45am, but Geoff misplaced the car keys and we had to search around for them a bit, putting us out the door about 10 mins behind schedule.

We arrived at the race site with plenty of time to spare. Bikes were checked in the night before, which is always a good thing. The rest of the hour was uneventful except for me losing my timing chip on the walk from the chip table to my bike. I backtracked all the way to the table, where someone informed me that a volunteer had found it and was looking for me. So I headed back to my bike where the kind volunteer who had found my chip was patiently waiting.

The men were scheduled to start at 7:30am, the women at 7:35am. Geoff and I wetsuited up and headed over to the lake, which was a looonngg walk from the transition! There was a slight delay in starting the race, so I made use of the time by swimming around a bit and getting warmed up. I was very calm and not nervous at all, as my main goal for the race was to have fun and enjoy myself. 5 minutes after the men started, we were off!!

Swim - 2.0km
The swim was fantastic. This was the best-marked course I think I have ever swum, as there was a buoy set up at least every 300m, so it was very easy to sight and navigate for the one loop. I went out hard and had clear water at the beginning, until I began to catch the tail-end of the men's wave at about 300m in. After this, I settled into a good rhythm and the rest of my swim was spent focused on passing the men as efficiently and quickly as possible. This becomes a new sport in itself as you have to pick the best line to pass each swimmer, and anticipate which way the swimmer is going to go, as many people do not swim in a straight line so they can cut you off as you are passing!

I felt very comfortable during the swim and pushed it at a decent pace, coming out of the water with a lead of a few minutes.

Swim - 26:50 (1st female) This was a PB for me for a 2km swim. *I found out later that the swim course record is actually 26:49 so I missed it by only 1 second!! D'oh!

The run to transition was very long, about 500m! I felt surprisingly good while running, and once I made it to my bike my transition went very smoothly.

Bike - 93km
I went as hard as I could from the get-go! I felt strong and powerful the first part of the bike and focused on passing men or keeping the men who went by me in sight. The highway section had a nice tailwind, but then the back country road section was all into a headwind, which was of course stronger on the second loop! All of the hills were contained in the second section. The bike course is deceivingly hard and started to take its toll on me during the second loop. I did not see any women until about 42km in, when I was passed by a very speedy lady (who ended up breaking the bike course record)! I didn't see any women after that until about 8km into the run. More on that later.

My second loop of the bike was quite a challenge, as my quads became very sore and my left hip nearly cramped up at one point, and I noticed my lower back was super sore after only about 40km. With my legs being that sore, I wasn't sure how the run was going to pan out! I definitely slowed down during the second loop and felt like I didn't have as much power and strength. I was glad to roll into transition and get off my bike in second place! The transition was quite funny as there was a lady with a videocamera filming my transition and asking me questions about how my run was going to go while I tried to tie my shoelaces (I forgot to put speed laces on my shoes, so I wasted some time double-knotting my laces!).

Bike- 2:41.14 (10th female, 2nd in age group)

Run - 21km
There was a lot of support the first km out onto the run with many spectators cheering, it was awesome! I felt pretty good the first couple km's, which was unfortunately short-lived! I was so incredibly thirsty throughout the run, and my main goal turned into making it to the next aid station so I could drink some water! I kept taking my salts in and tried to have Gatorade at the aid stations. I soon began walking through the aid stations. I experienced the usual stitches/cramps in my ribs and stomach, and the very familiar overall feeling of overworking at a pace that did not match my effort! The run course is 2 loops and there is one hill about 9km in. I got passed by a woman between 7 and 8km and was happy that I made it that far without anyone catching up!

I continued to press on and work through the discomfort I was experiencing. This time even though I struggled (again) throughout the run, I kept a good mindset and didn't worry or become preoccupied each time a woman went by. Normally it is very demoralizing and disheartening for me to gain a lead in the swim/bike only to watch it slip away at the end of the race during my weakest discipline; when there is nothing I can do to stop it from happening as the people passing are stronger runners than I. I had a different attitude about it this time, as I knew I was doing the best I possibly could and could not do any more.

Near the end, I saw a woman who had previously gone by me just up ahead who appeared to be struggling more than I was. With about 100m to go, I started to sprint (actually I'm not sure if you would call it a 'sprint' or not) and went by her! I felt so happy to be done and proceeded to make my way over to the table with drinks and fruit and drink as much water as I could to quell my thirst.

Run - 1:53.08 (8th in age group)

Total: 5:06.00 (10th female overall, 1st/42 in age group)

I found out later that I won my age group! Technically I was 2nd, but the first place winner got bumped to the top 5 overall for the prize money category. We didn't stay for the awards as the dogs were there and they weren't starting for a few hours, but I found out they had some sweet prizes for winning your age group - I won Oakley sunglasses and wine glasses! Cool!

Overall I'm very happy with my race. It was a challenging day but a good one! Geoff had a tough day out there but finished strong and will be ready to kill it at the Great White North in a few weeks! And my brother's friend Bill finished his first half-ironman and was happy with his race!

Sorry I have absolutely no pictures to go along with the post but I will try and post the race photography pictures when they are available.

Bye for now!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Game face on

We arrived in Penticton Wed. evening after about a 12 hour trip. It could have been shorter, but with 2 dogs there were a lot of stops with mini-walks and bathroom breaks! So far it has been wonderful to be here, I have really been relaxing and very lazy the past few days, and really enjoying my time off work! Geoff and I have done a few laid back workouts, including a swim in the lake yesterday which was certainly an ideal temperature, around 20C.

The weather has been phenomenal. Yesterday it was about 31C, the day before was around 30c. Today it is about 26-27C but the winds sure picked up today as it was a challenge while out biking! They were forecasting for rain tomorrow but I think it has been revised as the showers are not supposed to come until the afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed that it does not rain!

I am very excited to race and plan to really enjoy the course and the scenery along the way. It is fantastic that my whole family is here, as this just makes the trip all that much more fun. My brother's friend Bill is also doing the race with us, and my dad and brothers have been enjoying their time each day on the beautiful golf courses in Osoyoos, Kelowna, and Vernon. My sister Alice arrived just last night and she will have a nice relaxing weekend here as well. She is going to do her long run tomorrow morning during the race.

My main goal tomorrow is to have fun and enjoy myself! I will not be preoccupied with placings, or results, or any of that jazz. Bring on the fun!

Sorry, I have taken no pictures while on this trip yet - my laziness has got the best of me and I have not taken the camera out!