Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back home and back at it

I've been back from my holiday for over a week now and back to the daily grind.  We took the red eye flight home from Hawaii, my first one ever (and last?) - left Kona at 9pm on Friday, arrived in San Fran at 5am (local time), 3 hour layover there, then made it back to Edmonton at 12pm on Saturday.  Somehow I managed to sleep sitting upright in the cramped seat for most of the completely full 5 hour flight to SF, which made the time go fast!  Same thing for the next flight, which surprises me as I've never been one to sleep on planes. 

Not too much exciting going on here.  Training this week has been good, although the weather here has been anything but.  I did 4 bike workouts this week, none of which were outside, so that meant nearly 6 hours on the trainer - including a 2.5 hour ride yesterday.  But it turned out great.  I had a strong workout and felt good on my 30 min transition run off the bike.  Wednesday I made my way over to Stony Plain with Larry and Dave, for my first lake swim of 2011 in Alberta (I did another lake swim in April which was actually the race in Phoenix), second time in the wetsuit!  I was expecting the water to be ridiculously cold, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was quite manageable, I would venture to guess about 18-19C. However, lake swimming in Alberta after swimming in the beautiful waters of Hapuna Bay in Hawaii for 10 days is probably not unlike swimming in a cesspool.  Hubbles lake is dark and scary, and whenever I swim in it I try not to look down.  It's not like you can see anything past your hands, but still... I can't help but wonder what is down there and sometimes my imagination gets the better of me.  Anyway, the swim went well and we did 2 x 1km loops and that was plenty.  I'd like to get in at least 2 more lake swims prior to the GWN race on July 3. 

Thursday's run workout was extremely tough and I went to the well during that one!  It was a 50 min tready run, with warm up then 3 x 8 min tempo with 90 sec easy between.  Man those were killer!  I kept it at 7 min/mile pace for the whole set and the sweat was just pouring off me.  It was a super hard workout and I will be revisiting that one mentally for inspiration when things get tough at GWN! 

Here's a few pics of some scenery from the Big Island:

Took this one from the car while driving across a bridge on our way to Akaka Falls, near Hilo - the view's not so bad here!
 At Akaka Falls national park - the waterfall is amazing:
 Stunningly spectacular...
 It's a BIG drop from here:
 Driving by the lava fields:
 Volcanoes!  Very cool place to visit...
 If you look closely, you can see the mini-smoke plumes coming out of the surface.  Wow!
 Beautiful trail that leads all the way down to the bottom:


That's it for now.  Another focused week, then taper, then it's race time again!  Happy training!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hawaii 70.3 - the details

I have been enjoying myself so much on vacation in Hawaii that I haven't even had time to post an update about the race yet.  So, here it is!



Race morning arrived quickly with a 4:30am wake up call.  I slept really well and wasn't really at all tired in the morning, just fired up and ready to race.  I ate my usual breakfast which included a bagel with one side peanut butter/one side jam, a glass of milk/a glass of juice, and poured myself a cup of coffee but sadly only got to drink a few sips before had to hit the road!  The traffic wasn't too bad coming into the Hapuna beach entrance, and we arrived at transition with more than enough time to spare, nearly 90 minutes.  Geoff dropped off Stephen and I, then went to park the car.  Bikes were checked in the night before, so we didn't have to worry about that.  I got everything organized on my bike fairly quickly, tires pumped up, and a few moments later had an "OH, $H!T" moment when I realized I had left my tri shorts back at our house!  You see, I was wearing my bathing suit, and had planned to swim in that and throw on the tri shorts in T1 for the bike, because let's face it - who the hell in their right mind would do a 1/2 ironman in only a bathing suit.  OUCH!

I was preparing myself for a very long and painful 90km ride wearing only a bathing suit when I suddenly saw Geoff, who kindly volunteered to drive back to our resort and pick up my tri shorts.  A big Mahalo goes to Geoff, who chauffered us around to the race, helped out with equipment, and spectated on a very hot day, and not to mention drove all the way back to our condo and back to get those damn tri shorts, with enough time for them to be placed on my bike!  Phew - disaster averted!

Race start was 7am sharp, so I got in a few minutes early to swim a few strokes, which was the entire extent of my warm up.  Stephen and I then swam over to the race start, which looked ridiculously crazy with the 1500 or so athletes assembling themselves for the mass start.  It ended up being a disorganized mess, with about 50-100 swimmers well past the start line, and several announcements being made for everyone to 'move the hell back or we're not starting this race'.  I moved myself back to the proper start line and assumed the other massive group would as well.  I wanted to play it fair and not cheat by starting far forward of the actual start line.  Apparently this was my first mistake in the swim.  The announcer kept telling everyone to get back or they wouldn't start the race.   All of a sudden the cannon blew!  Race was underway!

-Swim: 29:06 (3rd age group, 7th female overall)
The swim was pretty rough, and it took me quite a while to get some clear water.  I ended up swimming a terrible line to the first buoy, as there was a surprising number of swimmers around me and ahead of me.  I'm pretty sure this was partly due to the head start that massive group got.  Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on that any longer.  Anyway, my swim didn't go very great and I was shocked to see 29 mins on the clock as I really should have been about 2 minutes faster than that, and at least 5-6 female placings higher!  I was swimming phenomenally going into the race and expected much more of myself than that.  The other annoying thing was that apparently a large number of the field (notably all the women ahead of me in the swim) were wearing swimskins/speedsuits.  That's all I'm going to say on that topic... Anyway, I was pretty disappointed overall in my swim and will plan to redeem myself at the GWN!

(Photo credit for some of these pics goes to FinisherPix - thank you for those!)

Have no idea who this guy is, but that's me in the pink cap and that darn bathing suit...

-Bike: 2:38 (not sure of the placing overall, but was off the bike in 8th female overall, 1st age group)
My transition was pretty seamless and I was onto my bike in good time, tri shorts and all!  I honestly did not feel great for about the first 5-10 miles.  It was cooking out there, there were lots of little hills, and my legs didn't feel like they were showing up to the party.  So I focused on being in the moment, told myself to just ride within myself and keep pushing, and kept repeating to myself 'smooth pedal strokes, smooth turnover', and just sipped my drink from my aero water bottle.  However, after about 10 miles, I suddenly started feeling powerful, strong, and just great overall.  After that, I had a fabulous ride!  I really enjoyed the bike course, it was actually quite challenging with lots of rolling terrain and gradual climbs, as well as breathtakingly beautiful, with just a little bit of wind.  I had mentally prepared myself for much, much worse, and so was pleasantly surprised at the conditions.  Don't get me wrong, it was freaking hot out, but those crazy cross winds that I'd heard so much about just happened to be on the milder side.

I feel like I was able to really race the bike, and kept one or two girls in sight (leapfrogging several times) the entire time.  The course is anything but fast, as I had a fantastic ride and my bike split was like 9 minutes slower than my split last year at the GWN.  There was some drafting going on during the bike, but I just did my own thing and rode my own race, content with the fact that I was riding well all because of me and not a cheating draft pack! During the ride, I took in 3 cliff shot blocks after an hour, another 3 after 2 hours, about 4-6 endurolyte tabs, and 2 bottles with around 1.5-2 nuun tabs/carbo pro/2 endurolytes in each.  At each water station, I grabbed a water bottle and had a few sips each time, and at the last one I filled my aero drink with some Perform electrolyte drink but honestly didn't end up needing it.



-Run: 1:56 (no clue on the placing but there were a lot of girls who ran faster!)
I was really glad to be getting off the bike, but had that long 13.1 mile run in the heat on a HARD course looming over me.  My transition was really quick, and off I went!  They weren't lying when they said this was a beautiful course through challenging terrain of a golf course!  For the first time ever, I spent some time in the several weeks before the race mentally preparing for how difficult this run was going to be, and I had assembled a mental toolbox to draw from when the going got tough.  I remember Geoff saying that there was a good chance that we weren't going to feel very good the first mile or two but that we'd settle into a good rhythm after that, and so this came to mind during those first couple miles as sure enough, I wasn't feeling very great!  The first mile or so was on the grass of a fairway, which was a lot tougher than I'd anticipated as the grass was soft and spongy.

After a couple miles of just taking in water at the aid stations, I began to drink coke and water at each aid station for the first time ever (I know I know - nothing new on race day; wrong!) and discovered this stuff has magic powers!  I started feeling much, much better, and really settled into a good rhythm and pace.  It was dreadfully hot out, but I didn't notice the heat too much and just focused on running well and enjoying myself the best I could.  I drew on that mental toolbox I had stashed in my mind when things got tough, and that really helped me to get through those 13.1 miles.  I walked through the aid stations, drinking coke, ice water, pouring ice water on my head, and pouring a cup of ice down my suit each time.  The ice was a life saver!  When I came upon a hill (and there were lots of 'em!) I kept repeating to myself 'remember all those hill repeat workouts you did and how much harder they were', and this got me up and over the hill without walking.  When I started feeling not so great, I would say to myself  'smooth and controlled, no tension in the upper body, bring your head up and let the oxygen flow into your lungs and muscles, keep the legs light and springy'.  For the first time ever for me in a half ironman, Negative Nancy was not invited to the party!  I kept my mindset positive and encouraging, and just kept pressing on, and the only time I walked was the aid stations. I have never done a 1/2 ironman where I haven't had to walk - seriously.  And walking the aid stations during this race was not a big deal - it was progressive walking.  Next time, there won't even be any walking of the aid stations!

The final 2 miles were extremely tough!  I thought to myself  "that's 8 laps on a track, you can do that, it's basically the amount you warm up when you do a track workout", and then I just kept visualizing getting through the laps around a track.  The final mile was painful - I kept saying to myself "less than 10 minutes to go, you can do this, just keep pushing!" and FINALLY the finish line appeared!  The final bit was on grass which was hard to run on.  I had no idea where I was, time or place-wise, but ended up at 5:08 and sooo happy to be done and even happier to have executed a solid race overall on a super hot day on a super challenging course.


Finish pic with Stephen!  Very happy that it's over!

With Geoff later that day, a little sunburnt but happy!

-Final time: 5:08 (6th in age group)
I thought about sticking around and taking a roll-down spot for the 70.3 World championships in Vegas in September (if it even rolled down to 6th), but after learning that they weren't doing roll-down until 4pm, decided against it.  We would have had to sit around in the 30C heat for several hours, and it was a bit of a logistic mess to get to the car (a mile or two away), and then to our condo 10 minutes away, then back.  And also it would have cost $350 for the race entry, not to mention the trip fees to Vegas and dealing with another overcrowded race.  So I will plan to do a race in Alberta instead!

That's it - sorry for the crazy lengthy post and kudos to you if you got this far!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pre-race Honu 70.3

Just a quick post with some pics before race day tomorrow - I can't believe it has finally arrived!.  So, we arrived on the Big Island Wednesday evening, and so far I absolutely love this place!  We are staying in a 2-bedroom, 2-storey townhouse in the Waikoloa Beach Resort, which could not be more perfect.  There were some travel hiccups, as we discovered in the Kona airport that Stephen's bag unfortunately didn't make the plane :(  However, after several delays on Thursday, the plane eventually arrived and with it the bag!

Yesterday Geoff, Stephen and I made our way over to Hapuna Beach, which is the where the race starts.  The water is fabulous!  It was quite windy yesterday, so there was a lot of chop and current in the water.  I loved it!  The ocean is amazing - if I lived here I think I would be in it every single day!  Definitely paradise, with the crystal clear waters, warm temperatures, and all the ocean creatures!  Today we did a quick little tune up swim at Waikoloa beach, which is a little rockier than Hapuna, and had the pleasure of seeing 2 giant sea turtles just floating around!  It was breathtaking!

Stephen and I did a 20 min jog/build yesterday afternoon - you can really notice the humidity here, and of course the heat!  It's going to be a HOT run tomorrow!
 

Today was spent doing pre-race stuff, including getting the bikes race ready and checked in, and run gear dropped off for the 2nd transition.  This race has 2 separate transitions.  Geoff's was awesome today and helped with gear stuff and making sure the bikes got dialed in, etc.  He's our race sherpa and keeping us organized, and doing a good job of it!

Morning view from our condo:

We had some visitors this morning... so far there have been 4 cats who have wandered over to our patio!



Just after our short swim at Waikoloa beach today.  I was planning to wear the one-piece 2XU suit to race in but have changed my mind and am opting for my bathing suit (sports bra underneath), and throwing on some tri shorts in T1.  Wetsuits are not permitted as the water is so warm.  I think I'll be more comfortable in that!

So, race starts at 7am local time (11am MST), and if you want to track me on www.ironman.com I'm racer #1550, in W30-34 age group!  I'm so excited to race - it's going to be hot, humid, windy and hard, but BRING IT ON, I'm ready for the challenge and whatever the day may bring!!