Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 re-cap

This is a re-cap of my 2010 - a year that included happenings that were good, great, and some downright ugly. If you've already been reading along, this is old news!

It was cold, snowy, with a chance of miserable, as January frequently is in Alberta! That month I focused mainly on consistent training, increasing my long runs and also started increasing my biking to 2-3 workouts a week, as well as more intensity in the pool. January is always tough if you live here, as we are in the middle of winter and generally have at least 2 months more of the cold to look forward to. The dogs HATE winter as they have super short coats and get cold very easily, but Geoff and I try to get them out as much as possible...

More consistent training this month, and the highlight of the month was a weekend trip to Vegas! Also an engagement - it was sometime at the end of February that Geoff and I decided to get engaged!
My new friend from Newfoundland:
A month filled with some grim news, lots of swim/bike/run, and my first race of 2010. My dad and I had a trip booked to N. Ireland, but several weeks prior he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We cancelled our trip as he waited to find out when he would be scheduled for surgery [surgery ended up being booked the following month and was successful, and everything is going just fine now:)]. I don't think I blogged about it as I like to try and keep things as positive as possible on here. Anyways... Earlier in the month Alice and I drove down to Calgary and raced the St. Patrick's Day 10km in mid-March; it was a chilly day and although I felt strong, my time did not show it! I think it was 45-something, which wasn't a PB. I was expecting to run a PB as my training had been going well, but you can't win em all! Sorry, no pics this month :(

This month it warmed up to beautiful temperatures for about one week (mid-20'sC), which happened to be during the weekend that I raced the 10 Miler in St. Albert. I had an excellent race, holding 7:30 pace for every mile, ending with a 1:15 which was a huge PB. Yay progress! It was sort of a 'breakthrough' race where I went completely by feel (no watch), going comfortably hard, maintaining the same pace throughout the whole 10 miles, and was completely happy with my result!

Alice and I at the awards (she volunteered for this one)

I think Edmonton had probably the worst May weather on record, as we were hit with a couple blizzards and no warm temperatures. The day before my first triathlon of 2010, it started snowing, and looked like this in the morning:
Pretty hilarious! The triathlon was subsequently turned into a duathlon (1km swim, 8km run) as it was too dangerous to bike in those conditions. Despite the cold and snow, I had a great race and finished 2nd overall, but 1st in my new age group (30-39), although I was still 29 at the time. I had an excellent run as well, which is always encouraging as I am continually working on becoming a better runner.

Summer finally arrived! Or did it? I raced 2 Olympic triathlons this month: the first was in Hinton, a week after Coronation, which included a pool swim (always challenging to do a 1500m pool swim!). The weather was not warm but at least the sun was shining. I had a fantastic time at this race, as it is a 'local' kind of race, with a small number of entrants and lovely volunteers. I ended up 2nd overall (1st in 30-39, again I was still 29) with a 2:20, which included an extremely poor 10km run. I was feeling terrible during this leg and it didn't help that the run course is among the most challenging I have ever seen! Anyway, they had fabulous prizes at the race- a bottle of wine for 1st place - love it when wine is the prize!
My second race in June was the Chinook Olympic triathlon in Calgary, a beautiful race course and I really enjoyed myself here. I was leading the race until the last 500m or so, and couldn't hold on, ending up 2nd overall (again!) by about 20sec. Final time was 2:19, which was a PB for me! My run was okay, but nothing too stellar (47-something). Time to get back to business and put in more work!
Only one race this month - Great White North 1/2 Iron at the start of July. This race is always amazing, no matter what happens! So many friends and familiar faces at this race, it is a great atmosphere! I had a superb swim (10-20 seconds slower than 2009 but won the swim prime and was 2nd overall out of the water) and pretty stellar bike (3 minutes faster than 2009), but my run fell by the wayside and I struggled during most of the 1/2 marathon, having to walk quite a bit. I think the problem may have been in part due to too much sodium on the bike - with the cooler temperatures, I didn't adjust my sodium intake. Live and learn. Final time was 4:52, which was actually a PB by about a minute!
BFF Stephen came down from San Francisco to race GWN! We had fun times, as always.

Also in July, another trip to Vegas for BFF Jadeen's wedding! 2 trips to Vegas in one year (actually 3 if you count the marathon in December '09), yes, me likes the Vegas! This time it was HOT, with temperatures in the low 40's C! I actually love the heat! What a freakin' fun trip this was...

Included a fun little trip to Toronto for work, complete with a Blue Jays' game, a trip to Calgary for Mike K's wedding, and the St. Albert sprint triathlon. The trips were fun and the triathlon was great! I came away with the overall win, in a PB of 1:07 with my fastest 5km run ever! Alice was the race director and the whole thing was incredibly organized and went off without a hitch. Kudos to Alice!

I raced the Banff Olympic tri near the beginning of the month, and it was FREEZING! The water temp was a balmy 12C, so they shortened the swim to 750m. The day brought pouring rain and temps around 7-10C, so it was a day to put on extra clothes in transition! Despite being completely frozen on the bike and barely being able to put on my run shoes in T2, I ended up having a stellar race with a breakthrough run! I was 4th overall (2nd in my age group), with the top 2 females being elites. Nothing wrong with that! I ran an overall PB for the 10km, even in a stand-alone 10km (45.06) and was stoked about that. Overall time was 2:06, with the shortened swim.
Also in September I participated in a research study at the U of A, which included a VO2 Max, a 10km time trial on the track, and a 10km race simulation on the treadmill, all completed in a week. It was freakin' hard! BTW, I'm STILL waiting for my final results/digital video...

This was a fun month, with a trip to Banff/Lake Louise with the family the very first weekend, staying at the Rimrock resort hotel. My lovely aunt Helen from Belfast joined us:

The next weekend was the weekend wedding extravaganza! We kicked it off with the first-ever Beer Mile with some of the swim group I coach. So much fun! Stephen won the whole thing outright - he is a machine! The next night was a big dinner at Geoff's parents for all of the guests. Then the actual wedding on Saturday was fabulous, and I enjoyed myself immensely, dancing up a storm with all my besties and drinking lots of wine. It was so unbelievably amazing to have all my friends and many of my family members together at the same time, and I will treasure those memories always.

Next up in October was Halloween! I actually put some effort this year into a costume! Fun times with BFF Bonnie:
Hugo and Wylie love Halloween! Actually they love any holiday, or any day for that matter!
I really cannot recall anything noteworthy happening this month. All I remember is that it got cold about halfway through, and has been that way ever since! On to December...

Great month so far, with the Christmas break and having Alice, Donald and Mark all home. Lots of dinners with the Ulrich's and the Graham's, and lots of wine consumed. But no buffoonery this year! Everyone was surprisingly on their best behavior. I have been training quite a bit and certainly not missing any workouts due to the holidays! Alice and I went for a 45 min run on X-mas day!

Christmas Eve at the Ulrich's:Add Image
Add Image

Christmas Day at the Graham's:

Well that about wraps it up! 2010 has been a good year but I'm very excited for 2011 and all it has to offer. Onwards and upwards! Lot of exciting stuff coming up for 2011...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

T'is the season for a fun swim workout

Since this morning was the last swim workout for my group until Jan. 4, I had them do a 'fun' Christmas practice. With this one, you still get in a decent workout, with some fun added to the mix as well - can't go wrong with that! Now, we are limited in that we only have an hour for practice, so this set can be modified to be longer/shorter, depending on how much time you have for your workout. This is what my group did this morning:

"12 Days of Christmas"
12 x 50 on :10R (odd: swim, even: drill/swim)
11 x flip turns (from middle of pool)
10 x 75 with fins on :15R (odd: IM, even: 50 side kick/25 swim)
9 x 25 as 1/2 length scull, 1/2 length swim - with pullboy
8 x 50 pull on :15R (as 25 hard/25 easy)
7 x 'High 5's' with your lane mates (or yourself? if you are on your own)
6 x 50 swim (descend 1-3) on :15R
5 x streamline wall push off, with 2-3 strokes
4 x 25 IM on :10R
3 x 100 as 50 kick/50 swim on :15R
2 x 150 - build each 50 on :15R
1 x 100 easy cooldown

This set can easily be modified however you want - the above workout is right around 3km.

Anyway, it's a good way to get in your swim and the time goes by quickly. I'll probably do this workout over Christmas, similar to the one above; actually I will probably cut it down a bit as I haven't done any swims over 2300m lately! I've been getting in 2 swims a week, and the fitness/strength are definitely coming along, but come January I'll be kicking it up a notch with 3 swims per week and a helluva lot more intensity!

Time for me to go, I have to get ready for a 2 hour brick (90min bike, 30 min run in the snow); I will be sweating away on the trainer while watching the Ironman Hawaii broadcast and wishing I was somewhere warmer :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

when's winter over?

I've been rolling along the past few weeks, getting in some awesome workouts and building up my run fitness, thinking of the 1/2 marathon that's coming up in 2 months. Long runs on Sundays have been going really well, as I've had a great run partner to keep me company (Christina), and I have done every single one of them outside. And it hasn't exactly been warm here! Last weekend I did 1:50, the weekend before was 1:45, and yesterday was only 90 min, as this was a drop-back/recovery week. I was on my own yesterday, though, so I cranked up the tunes on my i-pod and ended up having a great run, despite the -21C windchill.

Last week I ordered a new pair of shoes (Saucony Kinvara), which arrived at my doorstep on Wednesday, just in time for an ez run on the tready. I wore them again for a hard interval set on Friday (10 x 1 min), and then again on Sunday for my long run. They are great shoes! I have not really tried any brands other than Nike in the past 4-5 years, but I must say these are a hit! They are super light shoes ('minimalist') and I felt fast and floaty yesterday, even in the snow.
Other than training, I have really not been up to much (well except for an overnight work trip to Vancouver last week for a Christmas party)... however, that will soon change as I have the entire next week off of work (hells ya!), and my sister and brothers arrive here this Friday and Saturday for a couple weeks! There will be some shopping (on Christmas Eve of course - it's a tradition with my siblings), plenty of dinners, and of course lots of partying! We have been known to be a rowdy bunch at X-mas and New Years! But I do plan to get in lots of quality workout sessions over the holidays! Geoff and I were also toying with the idea of heading to Jasper next Sunday for a couple nights, with a day of skiing on Monday, but I'm not sure if that will actually pan out at this point. We'll see!

And here's some doggy pics for those fellow dog-lovers out there....

2 Boston terriers squeezed into 1 tiny bed on a cold winter's day:

Wylie lying in his toybox, soaking up the last ounce of sunshine left in the day:
Wylie likes to sleep on the very top of a couch, just like a cat:

Monday, November 29, 2010

better late than never

Remember the research study in which I participated in back in September, and promised to write about when I got my results? Well, since I have been waiting for 2 months for my full results from this study (still waitin') and since I seem to have absolutely nothing else interesting to write about these days, I am just going to go ahead and re-cap my experiences, results or no results!

So way back in September, I decided to sign myself up for this research study that was being conducted at the U of A: Effect of Fatigue on Whole Body Mechanics during a Simulated 10 km Race. I thought this would be a great experience to do some epic workouts and get some useful feedback on my running. The first test was a VO2 max test, which is a test to exhaustion that measures aerobic fitness. Turns out all 3 sessions that I was required to complete were to exhaustion! The 2nd session was a 10km race effort on the TRACK, and the 3rd session was a (minimum) 10km on the treadmill, at a race effort determined from your pace on the track. What did i get myself into!

I did the VO2 max test on a Wednesday after work, then I did the track 10km time trial 3 days later, on Saturday, then I did the simulated 10km treadmill run after work on the following Wednesday (so 4 days after that). It was an action-packed week of freakin' hard sessions! The first session also included height/weight measurements, shoulder range of motion, balance tests, and squat test. The VO2 max was hard, but at least it was short. Going in, I was more afraid of the 10km tests than the VO2 max test!

They got me all set up for the test on the treadmill, and you have to wear this mouthpiece that you breathe into which is attached to a hose, which is attached to this sort of headgear thing that you wear on your head so it stays in place. They put a clothespin thingy on your nose, so you are forced to only breathe through your mouth. When the mouthpiece went in (your lips are basically suctioned around it so no air gets in or out), and they put the clothespin on my nose (again so no air gets in or out), I had a brief near-panic moment where I felt almost claustrophobic and had a hard time breathing. I think I just had to get used to the device and breathing only using my mouth, and was okay after about a minute, and then the test started!

The speed got set at a pace that would stay constant throughout the test, and the incline on the treadmill kept getting increased after a certain period of time. I cannot even remember what my speed was, but as the incline went up, it got tough! At this point I cannot even remember how long the test lasted (typically they're not too long, like 12-15 minutes or something). I kept going until finally I could not go anymore. All I know for the VO2 is that my max heart rate was 195 and my VO2 score was 58, which is pretty okay I think and compared well with the other girls in the study. Upon seeing my score for some reason I felt I could have kept going for longer, as I wanted a higher score! But there was no way at that time I could have gone any further.

Several days later I met the grad student at the Foote Field track on a beautiful warm September day (the temperature was 23C, couldn't have asked for better weather!). After a short warm up, it was now or never and I got started on my 10km time trial, around and around and around the track. There were several other athletes training that day, mostly doing sprint stuff and 400's, and I just kept going. If you weren't sure, 10km around the track is 25 laps (each lap is 400m). It was PURE HELL! I was not permitted to wear I-pod or headphones, so all I had were my thoughts. I had to wear a heart rate monitor, and looked at it every so often to check out what my HR was doing, as I never train with one. I didn't feel great from the beginning, so that made the time trial even tougher.

The biggest challenge by far was mentally getting through the distance, going around the same 400m again and again at that kind of effort. Time seemed to stand still. I wasn't sure I was strong enough mentally to keep myself going at that effort for 25 laps. It would be different if I was running 25 laps at an easier pace, but this had to be at a 10km race effort, so as hard as you can go! I struggled and kept counting each lap, and counting each mile every time I finished 4 laps, and watched my heart rate continually increase. It was up to 185 by the last few laps, and I had fallen off my goal pace (can't even remember what that was now!), by about halfway. In the end, I finished right around 45 minutes flat, which was okay for me, considering how crappy I was feeling. I was SO GLAD to be finished! And scared for the final session, the treadmill 10km at race effort! Yikes!

Wednesday came quickly enough and I headed over to the Biomechanics lab after work to endure the torture session. It took forever to get set up for this one, as they had to stick 83 reflective markers all down the side of my body on different anatomical locations and joints, so that my body outline would show up on the digital computer image. This session involved a warm up, then they measured my maximal knee extension force, then the simulated 10km started at a pre-determined pace. After volitional exhaustion was reached (at the end of 10km or just after), maximal knee extension was again measured immediately with no break.

My pre-determined pace was 7.8mph, which started off pretty well, but got harder and harder and harder! I asked before starting how much time I had to be on there, and was told it would be around 48 minutes or so. OMG - I had to run at 7.8 for 48 minutes or so?! I nonestly wasn't sure I could do it. Every kilometer, I had to wear the breathing apparatus/mouthpiece thingy and they used the clothespin thing to plug my nose, and they measured oxygen output for 1 minute. During this simulated 10km treadmill torture session, there was no music allowed, no magazines, no nothing! Again, time seemed to stand still during this session. I basically had to stare at the wall and use my thoughts to push myself. As it got super tough, I just kept saying to myself 'Dig deeper' and imagined those words on the wall in front of me. It was all about using the power of positive self-talk! There was an old research poster on the wall in front and slightly to the right of the tready, which I basically kept reading over and over and over again! The study was about some gymnastics move/jump and the forces required for it or something like that. I should have it memorized by now!

This session was just as hard as the track session, but I'm still not sure which was worse. My HR kept increasing on the tready, again up to about 186-187 by the last part. Near the end, I kept asking how much longer, how much longer, and he kept telling me, 'just a bit more', but no specific numbers! Finally I made it to 10km and was able to make it about 100-200m further than that before I basically hit exhaustion and was able to get off the machine and go right to the leg extension machine. Then I had to do maximal leg extension so they could measure the force when you are exhausted.

Phew! It was over! Good experience, but very challenging! And I'm still waiting for my full results and the digital video! What the grad student was able to tell me was that my form started to suffer a bit as I became exhausted near the end, and that working on building core muscular endurance will aid in maintaining form when you get tired. So that is what I have been working on lately! Once (if) I get the video, I will post it up on here if I am able to, as it will be pretty cool.

Here is a picture of me during the test, with all the markers, etc. I got the grad student take a picture of me so I would have something to document! I must be blurry because I'm running so fast :)
Here's the digital image of me running...

I mentioned before that I was originally planning on racing the Sprint triathlon championships in Phoenix on Nov. 7, but after completing this study and those crazy hard sessions, I decided it was time for a break and I opted out of the race! No more racing until 2011!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

back to business

What's been going on... it's been a busy few weeks. I have been immersed in my work lately, which is a good thing. The busier I am, the better! On the training front, I seem to have gotten myself back into a decent routine and am on my way to being fit again! I've been running 4 times a week, soon to be 5, 1 hardcore strength training session per week with Christian at Body Architects (I'm getting stronger and stronger!), hot yoga once a week or bi-weekly, biking once a week, and I actually swam twice this week!

Got myself and the hubby registered for the First Half (1/2 marathon) in Vancouver on Feb. 13, which will be my first race of 2011. It was ridiculous trying to register for that race - it took me a freakin' hour! The website apparently couldn't handle the amount of traffic and crashed. Luckily I somehow managed to get through and signed up. So the training program is underway and I have 3 months to get fit for a fast half! I have not actually done a 1/2 marathon in a few years, other than in a half ironman. My best time still sits at a 1:45 (from 2007 or 2008?), so I hope to be well under that, barring a catastrophe! In my marathon 'debut' in Vegas last year, my first 13.1 miles was 1:46 (with a porta potty stop), so that should mean I can be way faster (right?).

So far my running has been going well. My long run tomorrow will be 90 mins - I did 80 mins last Sunday, which was a tough day but overall good. It was one of those days during which every direction is uphill and into a headwind. But on those days all you can do is crank up the tunes, put your head down, and just go! You can turn any crappy run around with some good music! That's what I did, I turned it around, finishing the run feeling stronger at the end than I did during the rest. Yahoo! That's all you can ask for...

And better late than never: Here's some fun pics from Halloween!

Went to a house party with this superhero:

The next night, it was all about the 80's - yeah baby! BFF Bonnie was 80's rocker, I was 'Desperately Seeking Susan'. Here we are before hitting up the town:

Hugo was Superman (he got hand-me-downs of Geoff's costume)!

Wylie, the cutest lil' Santa Claus you ever did see:

Bye for now....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More of the usual

Time to dust off the cobwebs and update this thing! My plan to update the blog once a week has apparently NOT been happening! What have I been up to?

Not much... took nearly an entire week off training/any exercise following the wedding, and after that much needed mini-break, I have been doing some hot yoga (maybe this also counts as heat training for Hawaii?), lots of strength sessions, some running but not much, one bike workout (indoor) and one swim. And some of this:

Ha! It is a forgotten past-time and much harder than it looks! A few weeks ago I couldn't even hula-hoop at all but now I seem to have gotten the hang of it again. I know I used to be able to do it as a child. And it is freakin hard! [The reason I even have a hula-hoop right now is because we made guests at the wedding go up and hula-hoop if they wanted the newlyweds to kiss, instead of the standard 'clink the glass' crap. This made for lots of laughs.] When's the last time you hula'ed??

My previous race schedule plan included racing the Sprint Championship triathlon on Nov. 7 in Arizona, but I decided several weeks ago that wasn't happening. And without any imminent goals I was lacking in the motivation department for training/exercising, so I have decided to start training for a 1/2 marathon in February - in Vancouver! Registration starts on Nov. 4 and usually sells out in a couple hours, so it is not guaranteed I will get in, but that's the goal! Geoff is going to do my training plans, and the first workout started today! It was only an easy 40 mins so we're off to a good start :)

The big goal over the fall/winter is to build strength and power. Operation-get-strong! To that end, I have started working with a trainer at a boutique studio for strength/power sessions and hope to continue these workouts once per week. Christian Gannon at Body Architects in St. Albert has been laying down the hammer and making me work! It is going great so far! I'm getting stronger and stronger and hopefully developing those fast-twitch muscle fibers so I can have some speed next season!

A write up on my experience and results from the UofA research study is definitely still coming, I'm just waiting to receive the final results and video, so stay tuned. I didn't think it would take this long to receive everything back but the vivid memories of the pain and epic-ness of the sessions are still with me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The whole weekend was an absolute blast, and I had such an amazing time. I didn't want it to end and I'm sad that it's all over now, but here are a few snapshots of the wedding:

A little drink was needed to calm the nerves
before getting out of the limo:

The bridal party, Greg and Alice:

Time to go! OMG!

My brothers Donald and Mark played the 'wedding song':
Getting all married up:

So happy!
A big hug from BFF Stephen:
Mmm, cake!
The bride danced all night long... the music was so so good!