Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011

Here are a few images from throughout the year, a quick recap of racing/training in pictures.  It was a great year, but 2012 will be even better!  I'm excited to be racing a 26.2 in a couple of weeks (Jan. 15, 2012), and I can't believe it's almost race day!  Where did the time go?  After the marathon, I'll probably take a little down time from running to recharge the batteries, and will switch the focus back to swimming and biking for awhile.  I'll be back in the pool this week after a couple week's hiatus from swimming, which was just what I needed to rekindle the motivation levels.  After a few weeks of easy aerobic workouts in January, I'll start adding in some faster, harder sets so I can build my speed back, as right now it is definitely non-existent!  

As for biking, I've been doing one easy trainer ride per week during the past couple months, and I'll focus on more rides per week and more volume after Phoenix.  I'm still working on finalizing my race schedule for 2012, but I am planning for some new exciting races this year, as well as some old favorites.  More on that to come...

Race morning for the Vancouver First Half 1/2 marathon in February- ran a PB of 1:39!

With mother-in-law Deborah after the Phoenix triathlon in April- we were both age group winners!

Enjoying a glass of red in Arizona

Little bro Donald's graduation from U of Calgary med school - May 2011 

June 2011: Big Island trip to Kona for Hawaii 70.3 

The last painful 400m!

Happy to be done! 

Post-race with hubby - a lil' sunburnt

Deep sea adventure - snorkeling on the Big Island

Akaka Falls, HI

With BFF Bonnie celebrating my birthday on June 17

Ironman Canada trip to Penticton - Aug. 28, 2011

Bonnie and I all the way up in our condo at Apex 

Carnage on the marathon course

Barrhead Queen of Hearts triathlon - Sept. 17/11 - as the overall winner, I was Queen of Hearts!

Alice and I at the STARRT X-mas party in December- as you may have noticed, it was a hat party!

Christmas 2011 - with Geoff

Boxing Day puppies with auntie Alice:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to become a faster swimmer

For some triathletes, the swim portion of a triathlon can be a source of anxiety and frustration.  But it doesn't have to be!  I have been swimming for a great number years and was a competitive swimmer in a past life.  I've stared at the black line on the bottom of the pool for many hours, swam thousand's of kilometers, and had my fingers turn to prunes on many occasions.  I like to think of myself as a strong and experienced swimmer.  Here I've come up with a list of guidelines and tips so that you too may become faster, stronger and improve your swim times.

1.  Get flexible.
-Improving the flexibility in your shoulders is very important if you want to become a better swimmer.  More flexible shoulders equals a bigger range of motion, which directly affects the mechanics of your stroke.  With better flexibility, you will be able to reach further, pull deeper, and not drop the elbows on the catch phase.  So start stretching your shoulders/chest muscles regularly, while watching t.v., brushing your teeth, or working at the computer.  Every bit helps!

2.  Get thyself to a pool.
-This one may sound obvious, but if you don't put the time in, you won't see the results.  You can maintain fitness on 2 swims a week, but you'll be able to improve your fitness and times on 3 quality swims a week.  If you really want to see results, aim for 4 swims a week (doing proper quality sessions, of course).  Normally, all my workouts are somewhere between around 2200m and about 2600m (except when I was training for Ironman, then I did one long swim a week between 4000-4500m).  

3.  Do kick - and lots of it.  
-Contrary to many triathlon coaches' beliefs, it is my philosophy that the kick is a very important part of the overall stroke, and therefore time must be spent practicing it.  A strong kick allows you to achieve a higher body position in the water and more efficient stroke.  I don't buy into the theory that you need to 'save your legs' in the swim portion of a triathlon, so that you will be able to bike and run better.  You are using different muscles while kicking in the water compared to on land, and you are non-weight bearing in the water.  In most workouts, I include a specific kick set (usually between 400-600m, sometimes with swim mixed in; e.g. 4 x 150 as 50 side kick/50 fly kick/50 swim or 4 x 100 as 25 kick/50 swim/25 kick).

4.  Use gadgets properly.
-A lot of triathletes will use a pullboy or fins as a 'crutch', and start to rely on them on when they start getting tired.  These types of tools should always be used with a purpose in mind - fin sets should be hard, and specific to working on kick and body position.  Pullboys should be used for specific sets as well, including longer aerobic sets, hypoxic breathing sets, pull with paddles, etc.  DON'T grab for your pullboys or fins when you are in the middle of a hard set and you are struggling - you certainly can't slap on a pullboy in the middle of a race!  Also, if you are pulling, make sure to wear a band around your ankles - you should not be kicking at all when using a pullboy.

5.  Ask a coach.
-Find a knowledgeable coach or experienced swimmer and ask them to critique your stroke, in order to learn what you should be focusing on to improve stroke mechanics and efficiency.  If you didn't come from a swimming background, it's difficult to know what may be off or what you could change in order to improve your stroke.  Getting a pair of trained eyes to check out your stroke can be very beneficial. 

6.  Socialize!
-If possible, swim with your local Master's or triathlon swim group.  Swimming all on your lonesome can be tedious and boring, and it's always more fun with a group.  Also, if you are meeting others at the pool at a scheduled time, you become accountable and less likely to skip your session.  However, there is such a thing as too much chatting - you still need to put the work in!

7. Embrace IM.
-And by IM, I mean individual medley, not ironman! Many people think that since the swim leg in a triathlon is all freestyle, you should only do freestyle all the time in your workouts.  But doing an IM set once in a while can be really beneficial, as you're working other muscle groups in the other strokes, and not to mention it can break up the monotony!  Make sure to get some instruction from an experienced swimmer or coach on  proper stroke mechanics for fly/breaststroke.  Some examples of IM sets I use on a regular basis are: 4 x 100 IM (25 fly/25 back/25 breast/25 free); 6 x 75 as odd: 25 fly/25 back/25 breast, even: 25 back/25 breast/25 free; 8 x 50 IM order. 

8. Flip turn.
-Learn how to do a proper flip turn/push off/breakout, and do it at every wall!  There may be no flip turns in an open water triathlon, but there are flip turns in a pool swim, and lets face it - many of us Albertans will typically be doing at least one pool swim triathlon a year! Additionally, flip turns allow you to swim more soundly and efficiently, they prevent you from 'resting' at the wall, and they are much faster! A quick, efficient flip turn should take off at least a second per wall compared to a 'touch turn'.  If you're doing an 800m time trial, that's 32 seconds off your overall time right there, just from cleaning up the walls!  Also, work on your 'breakout'.  And by that I mean your push off and streamline off each wall, where you should aim to be taking a stroke before breathing and coming up for your first stroke off the wall right around the flags.  This takes time to practice and become a habit, but you'll be more efficient overall if you do so.

9. Work hard in the water.
-Avoid doing all your workouts/sets at the same pace.  If you want to get faster, some of your workouts/sets need to be really hard!  Typically the total distance of the main set in my workouts is between about 1200m-1800m, comprised of different interval distances depending on what the workout is targeting, and sometimes so hard you feel like you're gonna puke!  If you are looking for some hard, focused workouts to try, let me know and I'll be happy to send you some.

So there you have it!  Let me know how it goes... Happy swimming!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Puttin' the miles into the bank

Since my last post, which was now ages ago, things have been busy and the days feel like they're flying by.  I've been training hard for the upcoming 26.2, working like crazy, and making sure to fit in lots of essential recovery and filling up with nutritious food (well, for the most part - there may have been a few cheezie/candy binges thrown in there!).  There have been a couple of 3 hour runs, some tempo sessions, and a set of mile repeats on the treadmill earlier this week that was so hard it will make the race seem easy!  Those 3 hour runs are just killer.  I completed one 2 weeks ago (32.5km) and another one yesterday (32km), and they really take a lot out of you! 

The first one went a little better than yesterday, perhaps it was just a matter of me not being as tired or fatigued going in.  Two weeks ago, I made it through 2.5hr still feeling really great, but then started to struggle a bit the last 30 mins with soreness creeping in in the hips/legs/back.  Yesterday I was already hurtin' only 2 hours in, which made the last hour especially challenging.  The thing that really got me to the end of it yesterday was knowing that this was going to be my last 3 hour run!  [I must say that I've been extremely fortunate thus far, weather-wise, as I've only had to do one long run so far in bitter cold (which got shortened to 90min), and all the others have been in very mild temps for this time of year.  Also, there hasn't been an insane amount of snow (yet), so the footing outside has actually been really good.]  

Although the 3hr runs ended up being a struggle during the last 30-60min, the important thing is that I made it through those runs and put the work in the bank.  Following those sessions, I made sure to spend some time doing some quality stretching and icing, and relaxing on the couch, not really able to do much else for the remainder of the day!

Of course, I can't help but occasionally entertain a slight worry in the back of my mind about the actual marathon distance, just how difficult that last 10k is going to be, and how I'll be able to maintain the same pace when the legs and body start really complaining.  BUT, I really just need to push those thoughts out of mind and instead focus on getting through these last few weeks of training and be confident in all the quality training I have already accomplished.  

There are only 5 weeks left now until Jan. 15 - race day!  This upcoming week will be a drop-back/recovery week, which my legs really need after yesterday's many miles.  So the long run next weekend will 'only' be 2 hours - pretty funny that I no longer think 2hrs is not crazy long.  Then the following weekend I'll bump the long run back up to about 2.5 hours, and since there will only be two weekends remaining after that, those two remaining long runs will be tapered off in distance/time but likely done at race pace.  So in essence there are only two long runs left.  I like the sound of that!

In other news, I've attempted to tune into my 'artistic' side, if that even exists!  As part of a recent work team building activity, we had the opportunity of getting to try splatter painting, which was a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of mess!  I'm not an overly artistic person by any means, but I definitely enjoyed this activity.  But it is possible that more paint may have landed on me than on the canvas!

Here's the finished masterpiece:

And this is a really cool piece of artwork that was up on the wall in the store.  There's a hidden *something* in the picture.  I couldn't see it at first, but when I took a picture on my phone and then looked at it again, I got it!  Can you see it?  Very cool!

Stay tuned for my tips on how to get faster in the pool!  Bye for now!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It makes me tougher

OK, time to dust the cobwebs off the ol' blog!  Seems like it's been awhile...

As much as I wanted to deny it's impending arrival, winter has finally arrived in Edmonton, as of last week.  Now, everything here looks like this:

Boo!  There was of course a storm on Thursday, the day I had to travel to Calgary for work.  That drive was not fun!  But I made it there safely and was very excited to see my brothers, who came and met me at the hotel for a gym workout and then dinner afterwards.  My drive home Friday night was white-knuckle-free, as the roads were clear!  Lots of travel for me lately since the week before last I was in Vancouver several days for another work trip/team building stuff.

My long run last Sunday was 2.5 hours, and it was one of those trying workouts that causes you to really have to dig deep and go to the well, both mentally and physically.  It wasn't horribly freezing yet (like it was this weekend!), but I probably should have had an extra layer as the wind was fierce!  25km/hr winds when it's just below zero feels really cold!  I started off that run not feeling overly great, but just kept pressing on and ended up on some deserted secondary highways north of St. Albert.  There is no shelter from the wind out there, and as soon as I turned back around after reaching the 'out' of my out and back, I was hit with a very strong headwind.

This was an excellent workout for me, as it forced me to work on the mental aspect of training and face the pain and suffering head on!  It's pushing through these tough moments and workouts that makes you stronger.  If it's easy-breezy conditions in training all the time, then you have no experience to deal with those challenging situations and tough times that are undoubtedly going to arise in the race.  The last 30min of the 2.5hr were at marathon pace, so I picked it up at that point despite being freezing and into a headwind, and was able to nail my goal marathon pace for those 30min.

If last Sunday's run was a test in mental training, then today counted as a senior level course in mental toughness!  Along with the first major snowfall of the season on Thursday came the arctic temperatures!  I was originally planning to do a 30-32km run today, but had to adapt the schedule due to the cold.  I was contemplating doing an indoor run on the treadmill, but didn't want to run that long inside, so I waited until it 'warmed up' to -18C (-22 with windchill) early this afternoon, then headed out for a goal of 2 hours.  Made it through 90min and called it a day.  It was freakin' cold!  My fingers were switching between the various stages of freezing, numbness, warming (short lived), and freezing again.   The wind, when it was in my face, was cold and vicious.   I was so glad to get inside after that to thaw out and warm up!  I made myself a hamburger and had a scalding hot shower for 20 minutes, which did the trick.

I'm a firm believer that this kind of $h!t makes you tougher.  When things get tough in that marathon, I'll think back to these couple of runs and recall how hard they were, and remind myself that I was able to get through those while still feeling strong.  Us Canadians living in these cold prairie provinces have access to free mental training in the form of winter running - might as well take advantage!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marathon change of plans

My original plan was to run the Las Vegas marathon (Strip @ Night) on Dec. 4.   For the first time ever, this year's race starts at 4pm, which would have been pretty cool!  But alas, my plans have changed.  The trip was just going to be too pricey, as there have been no good sales on flights, and then add in hotel plus food (and food in Vegas is never cheap!).  So Geoff came up with a new idea last week, and I am all in...

Instead I'm going to race the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona marathon on January 15, in Phoenix!  This will be a lot cheaper as G and I can stay at his parent's house, so we just have to pay for a flight.  Also, I will have 6 more weeks to train and prepare!  It will be more relaxed being there for the race as it's familiar surroundings (we've been there lots) and we can sleep in our "own" bed and cook all of our food.  The only bummer is that I had already gone and registered myself for the Vegas marathon, and they will not transfer my entry or refund any part of it, even though it's the same company (rules are rules!).  Oh well, hopefully part of the entry goes to a charity or something and not all into their deep pockets.

In terms of training, my running has been going well.  The long run today was 2.5 hours build, about 28km.  It was a gorgeous sunny day and I had a super stellar workout.  As usual, I started out really easy and did a build, with the last 60 minutes at close to marathon pace (~5:10-5:15/km).  I finished feeling strong, and my legs and hips did not feel like they were breaking down, like they did 2 years ago when I was training for that other marathon.  Actually back then, my hips and joints would become extremely sore and tight halfway through those long runs. My legs, hips, and core are so much stronger and healthy now than they were back then :)

The afternoon consisted of refueling and couch time (and a 30min walk with H & W), then I dragged myself to a 90min hot yoga session at 5pm.  It was hard to go after that long run, but well worth it.  Today's class was the hot yin version, so all stretching compared to the usual strengthening one I go to, which was perfect for my needs!  

After that workout, some serious food was in order!  Lately I have been exploring my culinary horizons, and actually branching out and cooking some different things in the kitchen.  It's not like I'm making anything fancy, but compared to what I previously used to do in the kitchen (i.e. not much) this is a miracle.  Tonight I made organic burgers [although I didn't make the patties from scratch tonight], pasta with olive oil and lemon pepper/dill seasoning [sorry Julie I don't think I'll ever be able to give up pasta!  Haha!], and greens with olive oil/balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yum!  And not to mention, a glass of malbec to wash it all down:

Mmm, it was good!  Geoff and I have been eating burgers a lot lately, they're so good!  Last week I actually made the patties myself with extra lean ground beef, an egg, oats, and some oregano and basil - first time ever!  Made a rookie mistake though when freezing the 3 leftover patties - I used tinfoil between the patties!  Whoops, didn't realize there was a reason this shouldn't be done.  I had a heckuva time prying them apart, and peeling off little tiny pieces of tinfoil that got stuck to the frozen burgers!  LOL!  Live and learn!

 I'll leave you with a cute doggie pic where Wylie thought he would use a sleeping Hugo as a chair...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Re-defining hard

Well it's been a busy past few weeks, including lots of work/overtime, and of course lots of running!  I've continued my routine of fitting in one hot yoga workout (90min) and one 60 min strength/power workout every week, for the past 6 weeks or so.  These sessions have really been aiding to build the strength in my hips and core muscles, and allowing my joints to absorb the miles without breaking down and becoming sore on longer runs.  I wish I had known just how beneficial it is a few years ago when I never used to do any strength training at all!

Lately I've been thinking about my perceived running pace vs. actual pace and for some reason my perceived pace generally seems to be a lot faster than my actual pace!  I feel like I'm going faster than I actually am.  I'm not sure why this is, but I was talking to Geoff about it and he said 'why don't you just try going a bit harder?'.  So on my 70min run on Wednesday, I decided to follow his suggestion and 'up' my hard pace.  The last 25-30min were supposed to be a build/marathon pace so I decided to just pick it up a little more than I normally would have thought I could handle.  What I noticed was that I felt great, and like I was running at a good clip - faster than usual on that kind of a run - although I have no idea what pace that was.  All I know was that my heart rate didn't seem to be out of control, and I don't think I was at lactate threshold as I didn't feel that lactic acidy feeling in my legs (I don't train with HR monitor so never know what my HR is at).  But it was certainly manageable.

So maybe I just need to push myself a bit more in some of my running workouts, and surprise myself about what paces I am able to handle.  The easy, recovery days will still be done at a super slow pace, but on long runs/interval sessions/tempo, etc, it's time for me to raise the bar.  I'm 're-defining' hard.

I'll keep that in mind for the duration of 25k tomorrow morning, with the beautiful fall colors in the background.  Can't say it enough - I love fall running!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's that simple

I love this little diagram that my boss sent me recently - so simple and so very true!  I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm already doing!

Not much going on here, other than working a ton, spending time with hubby/friends/family, and enjoying me some fall running!  I really do love running at this time of year - beautiful sights and perfect temperatures.  Summer arrived to Edmonton in September, we had a bunch of 30C+ days which was awesome.  After those couple of races I did a few weeks ago, my focus has since been on running, strength training, and hot yoga.  I've been consistently getting in one hot yoga session (90min), a strength/power session (back to one on one training with Body Architects), and 5 runs a week, with 1-2 easy swims.  No cycling!  Ha!

It seems every year at the end of the race season I end up taking a few months completely off biking.  Only got on my bike once in September, and that was for the sprint triathlon.   Maybe not the best idea, but some time off is a definite must for me.  I'll probably set my bike up on the trainer very soon and start doing 1-2 easy trainer rides a week as recovery.  Before next year's triathlons I really need to focus a bit more on cycling, as there is still loads of room for improvement in that discipline. [and of course there's still tons of room for improvement on my run but that is always a work in progress]  So starting in December/January, I will plan to do a bit more volume/intensity/focused rides (on the trainer of course as it's cold and snowy here!), and aim to improve my bike times for next year.

But first, back to the work in progress... I heart fall running!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Queen of Hearts crown

After IMC, I took a nice break which included a week off training and exercising (okay so I did one hot yoga class the Friday after the race) and started back into some strength training and easy running.  I took 2 weeks off swimming and didn't bike for 3 weeks.  I had planned for a long time to do the Rotary Run 10km on Sept. 11, more to just participate and support the race than to actually 'race', as I've done this event every year since 2006 (the cause is close to my heart).  Even better was that my bestie Bonnie and her sister Becky came out to do the 5km race, which was their first race ever!

The Rotary Run turned out pretty awesome!  I ended up running a PB for the 10km, just under 45min (44:59 to be exact), so only a few seconds but a PB is a PB!  As I had taken a week off running and hadn't done any speedwork at all, I was definitely happy with that!  I was surprised my legs came around and I actually felt really good out there.  I ended up placing 3rd female O/A in the 10k and won a Timex watch for that, so that was cool!  Also, Bonnie and Becky did great in their 5km and were even talking about a 1/2 marathon next year (Vegas?) - haha!  

During the week after the 10km I decided to get back in the pool for a couple easy swims, and did some strength and some easy runs.  My mother in law, Deborah, kept pushing me to come and race the women's-only sprint triathlon in Barrhead on Sept. 17, so finally the day before I decided to sign myself up.  My bike had been sitting there for 3 weeks since Ironman, unridden, but hey - my race wheels were still on it so it was all ready to go.  And I had even done 2 swims that week, so why not jump into the Queen of Hearts triathlon?

Deb and I had a blast at the race!  It was super fun doing a women's-only event, and it was a well organized race and great course.  The distances were a 750m pool swim, 20km bike, and 6.2km run.  

We both ended up having great races, with Deb placing 2nd overall and me taking the overall win!  They even had the mayor doing the medal presentations...

On our way back to St. Albert, we stopped at the Hudderite colony and picked up some fresh produce, jams, and baked goods.  Yum!

I'm so glad I was able to squeeze in another tri for the season - almost forgot how much I like sprint races!  Now it's time to enjoy this second summer we're so fortunate to be having, and get back into a fall run focus.  Depending on how things go, I may even do a 1/2 marathon on Thanksgiving weekend.  

Happy training!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ironman Canada 2011 - 'Quitting is not an option'

Well, so Ironman Canada did not go exactly as I had envisioned.  But then again, when does an Ironman ever go as expected?  It's such a long crazy distance, anything can happen, and anything is possible.  

Race morning started with a 4:20am alarm wake up call, and we were out the door at 5am for our 30min drive into Penticton.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, cloudless sky and forecasted high temps in the mid-30's.  Geoff and Bonnie dropped me off at the race site and went to find parking, and I did all the usual morning pre-race stuff (body marking, set up transition, etc).  I put my wetsuit on early and made my way down to the lake and into the water about 30mins before the 7am start, to ensure I would have a good starting spot.  I swam around a bit, chatted with a few people I knew, and watched the pros go off at 6:45am.  Then I lined up front and centre and prepared myself for the long day ahead!  

I had been a bit worried about the mass start of 2800 people, but it was not as rough as I was expecting, and other than a few guys swimming into me, I was not punched/kicked/pulled under etc!  The first 400m or so were chaotic as there were still lots of people around me, but a while later, everyone started to fall off the pace, and I had clear water pretty soon.  I kept the swim pretty controlled and was feeling good. 

After the 2nd turn buoy on the far end of the course, I was leading a pack of swimmers, and we continued this way all the way to the swim exit (although one guy sprinted ahead of me and exited the water before me).

Me leading this pack in just before the fnish...
Swim: 55:28
The swim was a little slow for me, as I had been expecting to swim about 3 minutes faster.  I think I either swam a couple hundred meters extra, or the course may have been a little long (fastest male pro time was 50 min, so it may have been).  Either way, it doesn't matter. 

I was 2nd female out of the water (some super swimmer chick swam 51 mins!), had a quick transition where the wonderful volunteers slopped some extra sunscreen onto my arms/shoulders, and headed out onto the bike course for a beautiful 180km ride!

Bike: 5:53
To sum up, the bike course was freakin' challenging!  Heat, hills, and headwind galore.  I was riding really well in the first section, where we had a bit of a tailwind for the first 40 or so km, and passed the lead swimmer about 10-15km in, then was passed by another female shortly after.  Another girl passed me around 45-50km in, and i kept her in my sights for a while.  I was feeling pretty great for the first 60km of the bike.  I had no speed or distance feedback, just time of day, as my computer was not working (and I did not wear a watch), so I had no idea how fast I was going.  It was good that there were mile markers in various places so I had an idea of how far along I was. 

The first big challenge of the day came just after we rode through Osoyoos and hit the Richter pass climb, which is an 11km climb at around 70km in.  That is one tough climb and there are absolutely no hills around where I live that would come even close to preparing you for that.  It was really heating up outside at this time and I could feel the heat radiating during this climb and my legs were feeling the climb!  I made it up to the top, and saw Wade Church with a big cheering crew at the top so I gave a big smile and wave and continued on my merry way.  

After that, we were treated to some lovely headwinds and some more crazy hills (i.e. the section that everyone calls the "Rollers" - however, my definition of rollers before this race was a lot different than these so i wasn't expecting them to be as long/steep/hard as they were!).  I felt like I was going nowhere, and kept looking down to see if my brakes were rubbing - that's exactly how it felt.  After about 90-100km, I was still riding in 3rd female overall and wondering where the heck everyone was.  I felt like I was going soooo slow and then figured perhaps maybe other people were having a tough time too.  But a woman went by me shortly after that, and then more kept going by for the remainder of the ride.  I started to really struggle from this point on in the bike.  The hills, the heat, and the headwind were really getting to me and sucking the life out of me.   I kept thinking that we should definitely have a tailwind on the back section and as each bend we rounded brought us to yet more headwind, I became frustrated and discouraged at the conditions - which is not a good thing as they are completely outside of our control.  I realized after about 100-120km that I had to throw my time and placing goals out the window and instead just focus on the task at hand: getting through the rest of the bike in one piece and then running a marathon. 

Just past 120km, after hearing a mysterious rattling noise on my bike for some time (thinking it was just my water bottle cage), a screw suddenly flew off my bike and bounced on the road behind me.  I had no idea what it was or where it came from and had a brief thought that I should maybe stop and go back and get it, but I just kept going.  I was a little worried when thinking about the remaining downhill sections in the race, and thoughts of my bike coming apart and me going flying off it while going 70km/hr downhill flashed through my mind.  But, nothing happened and everything was fine.  And I still don't know where that screw came from (?). 

The rest of the bike was extremely tough - I felt like I was going super slow, everything hurt, and the hills kept coming!  Yellow Lake (2nd biggest climb) happened around 145km and the crowds cheering there were super awesome!  They really helped me get over that hill (mountain?).  That climb was actually not quite as hard as I had been anticipating, as I had heard many people talk about how hard it was.  Once back in Penticton, the last stretch of the bike along Main street was of course into a headwind, and i just wanted to be off my bike.  I dismounted at the line, started running with my bike, and before I knew what was happening, my bike started going the other way and I totally bailed, landing hard on my right knee/ankle, my left calf hitting the big chain ring.

Just before the dismount line - my little spill happened a mere moment after this picture was taken!

I stood up, collected myself and picked my bike up off the ground, and started running again.  I think I was more embarrassed than hurt.  I handed my bike off to a volunteer and ran to the change tent, where I sat down for a few minutes and tried to get my $h!t together while I was treated to 2 lovely volunteers helping me.  The volunteers in the change tent are so incredibly helpful and kind, I just wanted to stay in there all day!

war wounds:

Run (*walk*) - 5:40
As I headed out onto the run course, I didn't feel too bad, but unfortunately this lasted only minutes.  I definitely went to some dark places mentally during that run.  My legs/back were feeling dead and aching, I was having trouble breathing, and feeling as though I might faint.  The stomach cramps started a little later on.  I saw Geoff and Bonnie 1 mile in, and just stopped and went over to them.  I became emotional and kept saying "I can't do this, I'm feeling so awful.  How can I possibly run 25 more miles feeling like this?"  I couldn't fathom doing 25 more miles in that state.  I was seriously contemplating just dropping out right there.  Bonnie was awesome, saying "You're doing so great, you can do it!", and Geoff was practical and said "See if you can just try walking to the next aid station, and then see how you feel and see if you can keep going".  So on I went. 

And I just kept going and going.  Mostly walking, but occasionally running, and feeling oh so terrible the whole time.  It was tough.  I started chatting with a young age group guy who was also walking around 7km in, he had had a great bike but was having a really tough time on the run as well, but he was very cheerful.  Something he said just clicked with me, and helped to change my attitude.  He said something like, "We still have all the way until midnight to finish this, so we could walk the whole thing and still finish!"  Then I realized that he was completely right, and I resolved to stop being a baby, to stop dwelling on how much pain I was in, and start focusing on getting this thing done, even if I had to walk the whole darn thing.  After that thoughts of dropping out didn't cross my mind again, instead I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and getting myself further and further on.  The rare times when I was actually running, I was running really well, but unfortunately these stretches were few and far between.  I stopped a few times to stretch along the way, my muscles and body completely aching and hurting, and with about 7km to go I stopped at an aid station and had to just sit down on the curb for a few minutes to collect myself.  But I got up again and made it through the next few miles, and suddenly I was on that last out and back stretch where you get to run the last mile along the shoreline with cheering crowds on either side of you. 

Struggling along during the marathon:

The final stretch - you kinda have to run this part with all those crowds cheering for you, no walking allowed no matter how much pain you're in!

Finally, I saw the finishing chute and was actually pleasantly surprised to see 12:37 on the clock. Without a watch on, i felt like I was going soooo slow on the run (I mean walk) that I anticipated my finishing time was going to be at least an hour slower than it was.  I felt like I was out on that run course FOREVER.  I stopped caring during the run about how slow my time was going to be and about my placing, I was simply focused on finishing what I started and getting to that finish line.  I was incredibly happy to cross the finish line after such a hard day! 

So that was my 2nd Ironman.  This really is a spectacular event, with an extremely challenging course, awesome volunteers, and fantastic crowd support.  While I'm not proud of my time, or my place, what I am proud of is the fact that I made myself keep going and finished it off, when I really just wanted to quit because I was feeling so bad.  And that is why I'm not disappointed with my race!  I know I can go a lot faster and do a lot better than that, so this experience has lit a fire of motivation within - I've got some unfinished business with this ironman thing! 

Geoff, half of my race sherpa extraordinaire team (Bonnie made up the other half!), took care of driving the whole way to Penticton and the whole way home.

Now the off-season is upon me and I'm still in the mood to race!  It's now time to focus on strength/hot yoga, and fall running, which I love!   Perhaps there will be some fall running races on the schedule for me...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ready to Race

So it's less than 24 hours to go now before Ironman Canada starts tomorrow - wow!  We arrived in Penticton late Thursday afternoon (Geoff, my bestie Bonnie, and I), then drove 30 minutes up the crazy-steep, winding Green Mountain Road that leads to Apex mountain, where our quaint little condo is.  It is so quiet and deserted up here, and very nice to be away from all the chaos and gong show that goes on around the race site!  Here is the view from our window:

There's a bunch of cows that seem to just wander around freely up here, kinda funny as we see them walking by every morning, just grazing on grass. 

 Bonnie and I before heading down to the race site this morning to drop gear/bike off.  Bonnie and Geoff have been great support and will be my cheering squad tomorrow! 

 My race machine, all ready to go (sans working computer - unfortunately my bike computer stopped working the other day and despite changing the batteries and fiddling around a bit, can't seem to get it working.  Will have no speed/cadence/distance, but oh well...).

Organizing all the gear bags is like a sport all on its own!  Swim to bike bag, bike to run bag, bike special needs bag, etc, etc, etc!  Think I got everything...

Anyway, I'm number 2471, and racing in W30-34 category if you are tracking online at .
Good luck to all my friends and blog/twitter peeps racing tomorrow! 

Feeling great, and ready to tackle the challenge tomorrow of 3.8km swim/180km bike/42.2km run in the heat of the Okanagan.  Bring it on!! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Who stole my tailwind?

It's hard to believe that IMC is only 1 week away!  The time has really flown by since I signed up for the race; of course, it has only been about 7 weeks, but still!  Today was my last 'long' ride, which ended up being around 80km, with a short 20 min run off the bike.  Funny that 80km is not considered a long ride anymore - but it certainly was before for me! 

I didn't want to jinx it by saying something earlier, but now that all the long biking is done I can say it - the weather has been gorgeous for all my long rides on the weekends!  There was only 1 day that I had to do a long ride on the trainer (3 hours), and that was the very first weekend of my IM training in July.  All the other days have been warm and sunny, and I feel very fortunate and lucky for that, as you never know what you're gonna get here in Alberta in the summer. 

Today's ride ended up being on the most beautiful day this summer has seen - we reached 30C today for the first time since May 2010!  Today was so spectacular it nearly makes up for all those rainy and mosquito-infested days we have endured this spring/summer!  It was not without its wind, though, as the first 40km of my ride ended up being in a wicked tailwind, which meant the whole 40km back was a fierce headwind!  It was very challenging with the wind and heat, but another good opportunity to toughen up!  All my usual riding buddies were either away or racing today (as well as last weekend) so I was on my own today, just me and my I-pod!

This is one of my favorite roads for cycling: basically a 14km stretch of quiet road, where you normally only see a couple of cars go by.  It takes about 30km to get to this road, but it's worth it...

Enjoying the sunshine and heat on my solo ride!

Overall I've been feeling pretty good mentally and physically, but occasionally a thought will creep into my mind, like 'How am I going to get through 180km on the bike and THEN run a marathon', but I just push those thoughts away and be confident in my preparations.  Doubt and worry - the party's over, there's no room for you here!  It's undoubtedly going to be a long, tough day out there but I plan to enjoy the day and the experience and give it all that I have.  Anything can happen on the day so you have to be prepared to adapt to and deal with whatever obstacles arise, and just keep pressing on. 

Leaving on Wednesday...will update from Penticton!