Monday, April 19, 2010

slowly getting faster

Since the 10km race in March, I have been doing lots of running, including some super hard workouts. Geoff was really confident that in the 10 miler I should be able to hold close to the pace I was able to hold for the 10km. I thought, 'no way, how is that possible to hold a similar pace for 4 more miles on a hilly course?', but proceeded to listen to him anyway. Turns out, he was right!

I race the St. Albert 10 Miler yesterday, which is an awesome race. Organized by our tri club (St. Albert Triathlon & Roadrunners Team), this was the 25th anniversary of the event, and it did not disappoint. The volunteers are awesome and the entire race is so organized it goes off without a hitch. I have the added benefit of having the route literally run by my doorstep, so I was able to train on it whenever I pleased. The course is not easy by any means, as it contains quite a few hills, some short and some long and gradual. But hills by any measure. And I am definitely not a hill person!

Anyway, the weather could not have been better for the race. Sunny and a high of 22C - wow is this April? The day before was actually the first day I took my bike outside and what a beautiful day that was! I did just over 40km and then did a short 20 min run off the bike, during which my legs felt heavy and tired. I was a little worried but shrugged it off. For the race, I did a little warm up and made my way over to the start line. There was no watch allowed again (Geoff's rules), and I was to go completely by feel. After the gun went off, everyone around me immediately began sprinting and I REALLY had to hold myself back and not get caught up in the stupidity of going out too hard. So I went out at a comfortable pace, and the 1 mile clock indicated 7:35 as I went by. Right on target and not feeling too bad!

Just before mile 4 is where my house is on the route. At this point I saw Geoff with the dogs on the sidewalk and began waving and saying hi. My sister was the volunteer at mile 5 with the clock (37:08 split). It was such a fun race as I was able to see so many people I knew at the aid stations and volunteers at intersections.

After mile 5, something weird happened... I didn't fall apart. In fact, I almost felt like I was getting stronger at some points. After mile 6, the second round of the hills started. I kept plugging along, focusing on controlling my breathing. Sometime between mile 8 and 9, I got a terrible stitch in my left rib that took my breath away and as a result my pace slowed slightly. It wasn't the normal cramp that you can run through but the worst kind where you can't get a breath in. I dug my fingers into the area and pushed through it. Luckily it went away as I turned the corner onto the final stretch. I hit the mile 9 clock in 1:08.23, with a lot of the final mile downhill. I went so hard on that final mile, and was so happy to be able to push the effort right through to the end of a longer race, and to be feeling strong at the end (first time this has ever happened in a longer race!). I finished in 1:15.20 or something, with my final mile under 7mins!

The goal was to hold a 7:30 pace, and I ended up sticking to that! I surprised myself in this race, as I didn't entirely believe in myself that I could do that. It's a really good feeling when you prove yourself wrong :) Thanks to Geoff for your coaching, it is definitely helping me!

This was definitely a PB, as the best I've done on that course was a 1:23 several years back. I am very happy with how it went. It is a super competitive and fast race, as 1:15 only put me at 11th place in my age group - man there are some freaking fast people out there! But I'll get there, too, eventually...

At the awards ceremony after with Alice:

For the rest of the day I was exhausted but I had some work to do. Difficult with dogs climbing all over you. Obviously I should pick a better place to set up my computer!

Next up is the Sandy Beach Duathlon on May 2, weather pending. If it's snowing or below 10C, I am going to say no!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Stay up Forever

Time sure flies! I meant to write something sooner but here it is 3 weeks since my last post! From now on, I plan to update this thing once a week, now that we are closing in on the race season. I am very excited that the races are just around the corner!

It's funny, as this winter I planned to go out and buy some new warm running gear (tights, long-sleeved tops, a jacket perhaps) for running in the colder temperatures. It is now April 4 and I bought nothing so far, and it is now no longer needed! I just used my old stuff and all of a sudden we're into spring. I guess it will have to just wait until next year - fine by me! One thing that I really find strange with this LOVELY weather we have been getting, is seeing all kinds of people out running in long tights and jackets! WTF? It's warm out, hello - I take every possible opportunity I can get to wear shorts or capri's. The tights are gone for the year and won't be coming back out. When the temperature is 10C as it has been, why the hell would you be wearing tights and jackets?! It's a mystery to me...

This week has been a very successful week of training with some key workouts, but it's not over yet! I still have a long run to go today, 22km (the Coyote Run), plus 30 minutes of core. I was supposed to do this run with the St. Albert tri group last Sunday at 9am, with a potluck after, but found myself throwing up for half the night Saturday with an apparent case of food poisoning. It was my Saturday morning ritual to stop at Tim's after swimming/coaching and pick up coffee and breakfast sandwiches for Geoff and I. This tradition has now been scrapped as I'm pretty sure the sandwich was the cause of the stomach/digestive woes, which kept me in bed all day Sunday.

I digress. Monday I was able to do an hour of core/strength at home, then by Tuesday I was back to my regular training schedule. On Wednesday I biked on the trainer early and dragged my brother Mark to the Extreme Functional Fitness drop in class at the gym from 7:30-9pm. It was very challenging! There was lots of circuit, plyometrics/calisthenics, stairs, running, you name it! It will be excellent for building strength and power, exactly what I am lacking. We're going to try to make it there every week. My muscles were still sore up until yesterday.

My swimming has gotten back on track, all it takes is some super hard intensity workouts and the speed is slowly returning. I did a set of 10x 50 all out on 1:30 on Thursday with MK, normally supposed to be 2 sets but ran out of time. I was able to hold 35's for all. Saturday morning was another tough set: 5 x 100, 4 x 100, 3 x 100, 2 x 100, 1 x 100, all descending from set to set and on 1:45. I started with 1:19's, then 1:17's for the set of 4, 1:16's for the set of 3, 1:15's for the set of 2, then finished with a 1:13. I was pleased with it and after a few more weeks of killer workouts, should be able to improve on that.

After the swim yesterday, I did a 2 hour trainer ride and a 30 min run off the bike. It was good, although I think I needed a few more calories during the 2.5 hour workout, as I felt somewhat hungry and bonky before starting the run. I'm still trying to get the nutrition dialed in for the longer training/races, and find the 'less is more' approach works best for me. However, yesterday I perhaps was a bit close to the 'less' end of the spectrum with just a bottle of gatorade, some water and 1 gel on the bike. I had to grab half a gel before starting the run and ended up feeling just fine.

And on Friday I went to the track for an hour, the workout Geoff scheduled included 4 x 1 mile (with 2 min ez between). Turned out to be a great workout, hard as the track always is, but my best mile repeats ever. Went 6:55, 6:54, 6:55, 6:52, which is a big improvement over the last time I did this, and quite promising that I was able to get faster throughout the repeats, which NEVER used to happen!

In two weeks I will be racing the 10 Miler in St. Albert. Just a training race. It's pretty awesome as the race goes past our front door, so I can train on the tough, hilly course very easily (by that I mean it's convenient - not that the course is easy:). Geoff likely won't be racing as he had a slight flare-up of Achilles pain that started last week. After that I might do the Sandy Beach duathlon at the beginning of May, some of the Wednesday night cross country races, for sure the Red Deer 1/2 marathon on May 23, possibly Coronation triathlon on May 30, and then Hinton Olympic triathlon on June 6. After that I am going to do the Chinook Olympic distance triathlon in Calgary on June 19 (Alberta provincials), and the big focus will be Great White North 1/2 Iron on July 4.

And just yesterday I signed up for this sweet race in Banff:

There is a brand new Olympic distance triathlon in Banff on Sept. 11, 2010, and I will be racing! It looks really fun. I am sure the water will be quite chilly and there is the potential for the air temp to be cool as well (the mountains in September!), but the sheer beauty of it all will be worth it! I'm not completely sure what the race schedule will be like for the rest of July and August, but after Banff I plan to go down to Arizona to race the Soma 1/2 Iron at the end of October again, as I love that race and missed it in 2009 due to the marathon training. It's looking to be a very exciting year!