Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The party's over...now get back to work

My 5 day Vegas vacation was the first in a very long time that was not a triathlon or race related trip. A true vacay! It was fun! I was lazy, ate well, drank, and didn't really exercise, save for one 27 minute run in the 40C heat, during which I had to actually walk a few times! BFF Jadeen got married at Valley of Fire on Wednesday, in a very small, private ceremony in the desert. As you might have noticed from the pictures in my last post, it was good times!

However, I'm glad to be back to the daily grind, working and training and working some more, and enjoying what's left of the summer. The work tends to pile up when you are not in the office to do it! And for once I (mostly) did not work during my trip, although I have to admit I did check emails on the Blackberry once or twice, much to Geoff's chagrin.


My fall race schedule is now up in the air. I was planning to do the Soma Half Iron in Arizona on Oct. 24, but since this happened I will be opting out, as I have no desire to race a 'Half Iron Duathlon'! But I still REALLY want to do a fall triathlon (i.e. October), so I have no idea which race that will be. I'm not even sure what the options are and will have to look into it further. My next race is the St. Albert sprint tri on Aug. 8, which will be more of a fun race (as after my lazy/lush/party week in Vegas I am certainly not in racing shape), and after that I am racing the Banff Olympic tri on Sept. 11. I'm really motivated to train long and hard again and get back to decent shape by Sept. 11!


Went for a solo ride this evening, didn't leave until after 7:30pm, but still managed to get in 45km. Here's a picture from near the beginning of the ride:
Looks like there is still a lot of sunlight left, but after about 30 minutes the beautiful sun dipped behind a never ending cloud and was not to be seen again. So it became a race against daylight. Turns out I made it home with plenty of daylight to spare :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GWN!

Well, Great White North 2010 has come and gone. I love this race, it definitely has to be one of my favorites (if not my favorite overall). This year did not disappoint!
Woke up to sunny skies race morning and only slight winds. By the time we started the swim, the clouds had rolled in and the winds picked up. Darn! Race morning was not without its craziness, as our house guest Bill forgot his helmet at our house. Geoff saved the day and found a spare helmet from another athlete at the race.
Anyway, here is a race recap:
Swim:
I had mentally prepared myself for a REALLY rough and chaotic start, as that was what had happened last year. I lined up on the left side at the water's edge, and there was a group of 4 or 5 people standing in the water several feet in front of all of the other athletes. I assumed they were going to be told to move back and start with the rest of the group, but all of a sudden these people began to start, and others around me began to go, so I went too! Didn't hear the start, though - it must have been really quiet! I was told that the gun wasn't working (?).
I got out fast and immediately had clear water, with one guy near me on the right and another guy a little ahead on my left. I was anticipating being hit and clawed and grabbed (like last year), but surprisingly none of this happened! Luckily I ended up with clear water the rest of the way, even around all the buoys! Just the way I like it. My second loop I relaxed and slowed down a bit... in hindsight should have kept up the same pace as the first loop as my swim could and should have been faster than last year. I thought I would relax a bit and 'save' myself a little for the bike leg :)
Came out of the water 1st female - won the swim prime - and 2nd overall, and based on the results my swim time was 27:08, about 18 seconds slower than last year. I know it could (and should) have been faster by at least 30 secs. I am happy with how my swim has gone this year, based on the amount of swimming I have done - compared to last year I have definitely done less. [Most of my workouts have been around 2000-2200m, and none longer than 2500m.]
My swim to bike transition was less than ideal as I could not pull my zipper down on my wetsuit as I ran to my bike, and as you can see by the picture below, I don't even have my swim cap off nor my wetsuit down to my waist despite the fact that I am already at my transition! Lost a few seconds there, but got onto my bike alright and set off for a hard 90km ride!

Bike:

Overall, the bike leg was tough! I rode pretty hard and felt strong, for the most part. I found the winds to be challenging. Led the women's race until somewhere close to 10km, then tried to keep Kristina S. in my sights, and was able to accomplish this for only a slight while, but a slight while nonetheless! Ended up being passed by about 5 women on the bike, and didn't try to go with anyone, repeatedly telling myself to "stick to your own race and don't worry about anyone else". I managed to pass ONE person on the bike, and that was the lead male swimmer! That is the trouble with finishing at or near the front in the swim - you don't get to pass too many people, if anyone!

My hips, legs, upper back and neck got really sore after about 50km and I worried that maybe I was going too hard? I put that thought out of my mind and kept pressing on. Then just after about 50km as I was going down a hill, my race belt suddenly broke and my number blew away! It was a crappy, old race belt that I'm sure was bound to break sometime, but in the middle of a race? I was concerned as we did not get body marked and there was really no # on our bikes, other than a teeny sticker on the stem. Fortunately there were no issues with this and I just had to call out my number to all the volunteers on the run course who were recording runners at the turn around points.

The next incident occurred at around 55km as I was powering along on a flat section, when all of a sudden my chain fell off! I had to come to a stop, get off my bike, and while I was getting off, my right hamstring/glute cramped up! Deja Vu of the Chinook race! WTF! It's apparently time to get a new chain! Anyway, I was able to fix the chain quickly and get back on the bike and continue on.

My bike split, including transitions, was 2:32. I think it was around 2:29 without the transitions. I was about 3.5 minutes faster on the bike portion this year, and it was windier, so I am very happy with that.

Run:

Onto the run, I started out at a fairly comfortable pace, and made sure to ask myself, "is this a pace that I can hold for 21km or even build on?". The run was NOT GOOD. Unfortunately, my stomach was not feeling good at all, and my legs felt very fatigued. Despite my hopes, these things did not improve over the course of the run, and in fact deteriorated! I had stomach cramps and upset, and I couldn't believe how sore my legs got! I made it to the turn around without having to walk, then the next aid station I walked through, and the next, and the next... Surprisingly I was not passed by any women until about 14 or 15km. At that point, it didn't bother me who passed me or how many went by as I was in too much pain to care. I ended up having to walk when not at an aid station several times in the remaining 6km. Mike K. went by me around 15km and I was unable to stay with him (he ended up only about 40 secs in front of me at the finish :)

When I hit the 20km mark, I told myself "you CANNOT walk, you only have 1km left!" and I did not walk again! And finally I was running up the last little section of road before you turn right and have less than 100m to the finish line:

I did not wear a watch in this race and was completely unaware of my time; I assumed I was much slower than last year, based on how I felt during the run. Then I turned the corner and saw 4:52 on the clock, and was pleasantly surprised! Last year I went 4:53. This year I had a TOUGH day and finished a little faster. So I can't be disappointed with that! My run was 1:52, which was 2 minutes slower than last year. I finished 11th woman overall, and 6th in my age group.

Ouch! I was pretty hurtin' in this picture below. Soon after I finished, I was close to fainting and had to sit down for a while.

My BFF Stephen had a solid race overall, despite some setbacks leading up (stress fracture early 2010, bike crash several weeks ago), and was able to complete the race using a borrowed bike! Way to go Squeeven! And big congrats to Alice, who took 14 minutes off her time from last year! There were many of my swimmers out there doing their first half iron ever, and everyone did amazing and had a fantastic time. I think most of them are definitely going to sign up again next year!


I had a lot of fun out there despite feeling like crap (again) on the run, it really helps to see so many people you know on the race course (racing and spectating), and the volunteers were absolutely wonderful, as usual.
A quick analysis of my splits/placing shows the following:
Swim: 27:08 - 1st female overall [2nd overall including males]
Bike: 2:32 - 6th female overall
Run: 1:52 - 52nd female overall
What is wrong with this picture?!
I was expecting to have a strong and solid run in this race and should have run about 10 minutes faster. Especially with the cooler weather we had. I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but something sure wasn't right with my body on the day. Fitness was definitely not the problem. I've got some work to do on the bike and probably did not do enough hard, long rides in training. But... instead of being disappointed, I am now more motivated than ever to get fast and have it all come together on the run!
This marks the end of the first half of my season, now I'm taking a little break this week and very excited to train and race the second half of the season! The plan is to do the St. Albert Tri on Aug. 8 (volunteering as well), then the Banff Olympic Tri on Sept. 11, then hopefully Soma Half Iron in AZ at the end of October.