Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tour D'Alberta

This past weekend was a huge training weekend for me, both in terms of volume and my longest ride ever! Saturday morning I recruited Alice to come with me to the pool at 8:30am for a 4km swim.  Here's what we did:

-warm up: 2 x {200 swim, 200 drill/sw, 200 pull
-5 x 100 as 25 kick/50 swim/25kick
-2 x 1000 broken: {as: 200 pull on :30rest
                                   4 x 100 IM on :20rest
                                   2 x 200 free ez on 3:15
-300 cooldown

In the afternoon, after some food and dog walking, I headed out for a 2 hour run.  It was my first run in brand new shoes (same kind as before - Saucony Kinvara), so it felt fabulous!  The first few times I run in new shoes they always feel awesome, and I really noticed the difference between the pair I was previously wearing.  My old pair really felt worn out, even though they were brand new at the beginning of May!  They have been through 2 half-ironmans, I guess.  It does get pricey switching shoes every 2.5-3 months but it's necessary!  The lightweight shoes seem to wear down faster, but I won't wear anything but. 

I had to be up at 5:45am on Sunday morning as the 185km route for the Tour D'Alberta started at 7am sharp in Morinville, so it was early to bed for me on Saturday night. 

I woke up to a beautiful sunny day and as it turned out, we couldn't have asked for better weather!  Wow - what a gorgeous day it was.  I was so glad as it would have been a lot less fun to ride 185km in rain and/or cold.  The route started in Morinville, then went through St. Albert to Villeneuve, then through Westlock, through Legal, and finally back to St. Albert.  There were 7 rest stops/aid stations and I ended up skipping about 2 of them, and the stops were mostly about 20-30km apart.  The whole event was fantastic!  The volunteers were amazing, the route was well marked, the aid stations were stocked with a variety of stuff, including trail mix, chips, gummy candy, fruit, bars, etc.  The stop in Westlock was a lunch stop so they had sandwiches/cookies etc in addition to the other stuff. 

The ride for me went great and I actually felt strong throughout the day, and the weird thing was that I felt like I was getting stronger as the day progressed and I remember feeling amazing by the time 165-170km rolled around.  There were no clouds in the sky, a slight wind, and comfortable temperature of about 23C, and the scenery was beautiful, so I really enjoyed myself out there and was happy with how the ride went.  I even had a riding buddy the whole time whom I had just met out there.  Chris and I started riding together about 30km in, and we were going much the same pace, so we continued on the rest of the 185km.  We had 2 other guys with us through St. Albert and Villeneuve, but they dropped off the pace just before Westlock so our 'team' became just two for the remaining 80 or so km.  Didn't get a chance at the end of the event to thank Chris for the company so I will thank him here! Our ride time ended up being around 5:51, so a pretty decent pace, and of course that didn't include the aid station stops, which probably added another 30 mins.  The last 10km stretch to Morinville happened to be in a headwind so we just pressed on through it and finished off that monster ride!  It was definitely tough but the day was so beautiful and I was in a really positive headspace, so I honestly didn't even notice.

I saw a few peeps from STARRT at the end of the ride (those who had done the 100km route), so it was great to catch up with them and share our experiences.  There was also a fabulous lunch provided, and it was one of the best post-race meals I've ever had (not that it was a race).  They even had pina colada popsicles! 

Can't believe it is Thursday tomorrow already!  I was up at the crack of dawn on Monday morning for a 7:40am flight to Vancouver for work and back last night, so Mon/Tues went by fast.  This weekend means we're only 4 weeks away from race day - it's creeping up on us! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

How to train for an Ironman in 7 weeks

Well, I'm not too sure actually, ask Geoff - he's taking care of all my training plans.  And so far, things are going great!  Only 6 weeks to go.  After GWN, I enjoyed an easy recovery week and ended up with a 3 hour trainer ride to do the following Saturday, due to the miserable weather we were having.  To be honest, it wasn't bad at all!  I just put on the Sex & the City movie, which is nearly 2.5 hours long, so the time passed quite quickly.

Last week was a focused running week, which meant runs on Tues/Wed/Thurs/Sat/Sun.  My legs felt pretty junky during the week but I had a massage on Friday (most painful one ever!), which did wonders for my weekend workouts.  It certainly was a big training weekend, and included a 4 hour ride/30 min on Saturday, and a 1:40 run and 3800m swim on Sunday.  The bike ride on Saturday actually went pretty awesome.  Larry rode with me for the first 100km so I was very grateful for the company!  The first half of the ride was grey skies and slightly cooler temperatures, but as soon as we turned around, the skies cleared and we had beautiful hot sun for the remainder of the ride - which was so enjoyable!  I made a couple changes to my position last week, which included lowering my seat a notch and tilting the saddle slightly downwards.  I felt really strong and powerful on that 120km ride and also much more comfortable.  My neck didn't get as sore as it normally gets, and my legs felt great.  I know it's a given that there's going to be a lot of discomfort during 180km in the race, but I'm really glad to have experienced those improvements from making just a few small adjustments. 

My run yesterday was hot hot hot!!  I loved it.  However, I was off to quite a late start, having been out super late the night before with my friends and siblings, as BFF Jadeen was visiting and we had a fun night out planned!  So I didn't get my lazy @$$ out the door till 1pm, but my legs actually felt really good despite the long workout the day before, and I ended up having a really strong run workout.  After stretching, cooling off, and refueling, I headed to the pool around 5pm for a solo 3800m easy swim.  I tried to recruit big sis Alice to swim with me but she was tired after winning her age group and getting 3rd overall at the Wetaskiwin triathlon that morning - stellar race!  She is going to do my other long swims with me though for the next 4 weeks, on Saturday mornings.  Probably not the best idea to jump immediately from doing a maximum of 2200-2400m this entire year all the way up to 3800, but it worked out just fine and I'll continue to do one long swim a week, between 4-5km. 

Today was a recovery day!  I did a strength/core workout at home for 45 min, caught up on some laundry, and am now watching the Bachelorette with Alice.  And I even had time for a self pedicure - you can barely even tell that I am missing nearly 4 toenails on these feet!  My apologies that a shot of my feet is the only pic for this post...

Next weekend I'm riding in the Tour D'Alberta, which will be a 185km supported ride on Sunday.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to get used to being on the bike for that long and to practice the nutrition piece and hopefully get that dialled in.  Looking forward to it, as some of the STARRT members will be riding as well (most in the 100km option).  Let's hope for some hot sunny weather!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

GWN 2011 - when things don't go as planned

So, my race on Sunday definitely did not go according to plan!  But it's all about adapting and the thing about triathlon racing is that sometimes (mid-race) you have to re-group and adapt to/deal with whatever challenges are thrown your way, all the while making sure to keep your mind and head in a good place.  I got some really good practice at this on Sunday!

The week leading up to the race was a good taper, I went into the race feeling like I was in pretty great shape and with high confidence that I was going to race fast!  Race morning arrived with a 5:30am wake up call.  One of the (many) great things about GWN is the fact that I get to sleep in my own bed!  And waking up at 5:30 ain't so bad...

Stephen and I made our way to the lake and arrived with just over an hour until the 8am start.  I got everything set up pretty quickly and chatted to a few friends, leaving a bit of time to wander into the water and swim a couple strokes.  I was feeling ready and fired up to race by the time we made our way to the start line. 

Swim - 27:00 (2nd female)
-The start went pretty well for me and I was lucky not to experience any pushing or shoving from the men around me.  I got some clear water right off the start, with several guys just ahead.  I tried to sit at their feet/hips to get a draft, while keeping an eye on the yellow caps (females) around me and making sure that none were ahead of me.  After the second buoy, I went around the guy I was drafting and swam the next little bit with clear water in front of me - just the way I like it!  Second loop was tough, I was redlining all throughout the swim and was aware that there was a yellow cap only about 5-10 seconds behind me, who seemed to be gaining on me.  Yikes!!  I was swimming scared!  With about 200m to go, she caught up and we were swimming neck and neck, and I was basically sprinting (if you can even call what I was doing sprinting at the end of a 2km swim!).  As we came toward the beach, we both stood up at the same time....

And then I stumbled as I stood up and she got me at the line by 1 second!  D'oh!  So I missed the swim prime.  And know now that it's time to practice my exit a little bit more!  I was still pretty happy with my swim, and thinking to myself that if I had the race I was capable of, there was a chance I could make the top 5 overall in the race.  My swim time ended up being 10 seconds off my 2009 PB there. 

Bike - 2:58
-I was onto my bike first woman and powered up the little hill right out of transition.  Once I turned the first corner, i was powering along pretty good and feeling strong.  All of a sudden, and all of 8 minutes into my bike ride, I heard this crunching and crackling noise as I found myself riding through a pile of broken glass, which I regrettably did not see ahead of time, and BOOM!  I had a tire puncture.  Somehow, I managed to switch into a much lower gear as I was slowing to a stop (I was in the biggest gear possible when I hit the glass), as I was thinking about when I would start biking again, and didn't want to be in my biggest gear.  Don't ask me how this came to mind!  I guess it's good to be always thinking ahead! 

So I got off my bike and discovered it was the rear wheel that was completely flat.  I got to work on removing it, and proceeded to remove the tire, and the tube, and changed it in pretty good time (for me!), managing to keep relaxed, composed, and in good spirits.  Everything went really smoothly and I had no problems at all with my CO2 cartridge.  Yay!  However, I did check the tire and to my dismay, I saw a huge gash/hole in it, but was hopeful that maybe there was a chance I can still ride on it and would be okay.  When I got back on my bike, I think I had only been on the side of the road for 12 minutes, so I was pretty darn proud of myself for that!  As I got rolling, it was only a few seconds before I heard PHEWWWWW, and the wheel was flat again.  I got off my bike and checked it, and saw the shredded tire and then knew I was in trouble, as the tire was completely unusable and I had no tubes left.  By the way, I should note that this was the FIRST time in all my entire 9 years of racing triathlons that I have EVER had a flat in a race - and now I had two!  Well, I guess I got that out of the way now...

I wasn't really sure what to do, so I just started walking with my bike towards the lake, while the whole field whizzed by.  A motorcycle eventually went by and I was able to flag them down - they turned around and I asked if there was a tech support vehicle.  They were able to call one that was still at the lake, and 5-10 minutes later, the support vehicle arrived and saved the day!  I would like to say a shout-out and huge thank you to Tom from Way Past Fast, as he provided a new tire/tube, and helped me to change it.  I'm really grateful and lucky to have had the opportunity to be able to get back on my bike and finish the race.  I also sent him a thank you/appreciation note.

By the time I was back on my bike, I had been at the side of the road for nearly 30 minutes.  I thought to myself, if Mirinda Carfrae can do it [2 flats and losing 20 mins at IM New Zealand and still salvaged a good race], so can I!  Once I got going again, I was riding like I was possessed and proceeded to ride through as many people as possible!  It is certainly a much different dynamic not starting the bike out at the front.  Normally I know exactly where I am in the race, and what place I am in when people pass me on the bike.  So this was fun for me - focusing on passing as many people as possible, and not getting passed once after my lengthy stop.  My computer didn't work anymore after the multiple flats, and I don't wear a watch, so the rest of the ride was done by feel. 

Run - 1:48
The run turned out awesome for me!  I didn't feel very good the first couple of km's, but settled into a good rhythm and pace after that, and started feeling great for the rest of the half marathon.  I felt like I was flying along, smooth/light/fast, and felt like I was able to keep my pace consistent without slowing down.  And I didn't walk at all, apart from an aid station where I walked a few seconds in order to drink a full cup of coke, as I had been continually spilling half of each cup down the front of my jersey!  So to sum up, this was the first half ironman in my life where I:
 a) didn't feel the need to walk, b) didn't blow up, c) didn't feel like crap, d) was able to pick up the pace the last km and finish strong, and e) passed a lot of people in the run! 

Based on how amazing I felt, I was actually quite surprised at my time of 1:48, because although it is a PB by a couple minutes, I honestly felt like I was running way faster than that, like for sure sub-1:45.  I don't understand how that works?  You're feeling amazing and fast and smooth and don't have to walk, and then your time doesn't reflect it.  Maybe I should have worn a watch. Anyway, no use wondering about it; the things to focus on were the positive points a-e that I mentioned above. 

Final time: 5:14.02 (17th in age group)

I'm so glad I was able to complete the race despite the tire issues, and feel like I salvaged a decent race.  It was so wonderful seeing and cheering for so many friends and new faces out there on the course and at the race dinner.  This is what racing is all about.  The atmosphere out there was electric as always and huge kudos goes out to Wade for hosting such a spectacular race for 20 amazing years.  I was quite saddened to hear he is stepping down as race director but it sounds like his new protege will be able to carry on the legacy that Wade has created. 

Onto other news - one of my goals leading into this race was to qualify for Ironman Canada 2011.  When I was on the side of the road dealing with the flat tire, the thought crossed my mind that I would likely no longer be able to get my spot.  But - I DID get a spot at the awards dinner and so happy to announce that my next race will be IM Canada on Aug. 28!  Yes, time is tight for training, but I love a good challenge!  I'm excited to do some longer stuff and to get out there and race on the beautiful course next month. 

Sorry- no pics whatsoever of GWN race so i will leave you instead with these wonderful words of wisdom: 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gearing up for GWN

Happy Canada Day!

Can't believe it is this time of year again - Great White North is this Sunday! I just arrived home from the pre-race carbo load dinner, and really enjoyed catching up with so many friends and familiar faces. This is hands-down my favorite race, and Sunday will be my 4th time racing here (also raced 2004, 2009, 2010). The organization is always flawless, it's a super competitive race - but at the same time it's got that 'local' feel, and so it's no wonder that 2011 is the 20th anniversary!  I love love love this race and I'm so excited to get out there and go as hard as I can on Sunday!

Training the past couple of weeks has been consistent, with some hard run interval sessions, lots of trainer rides, a couple strength workouts, and some solid swims.  I made it out to Hubbles lake again on Wednesday evening, and swam just 1 loop of the course, which went well.  The water had warmed up even more and wasn't chilly in the least.  It looks like it is going to be gorgeous weather for the race, 26C and sunny is the forecast so that means hot!  I'm sure the run will be a scorcher but I plan to enjoy it :)

Today Stephen and I did a really easy 20 minute run, and I also took my bike out this morning for an easy 20km to make sure the bike and race wheels are running smoothly.  Now it's feet up time, and tomorrow mostly resting and taking care of some last-minute details such as dropping our bikes off at the race site and getting gear/race nutrition organized.  And then the 5:30am wake up call on Sunday will be here before we know it!

Here are a few pics taken from the underwater camera during Hawaii trip:

At Waikoloa beach on our last day in Hawaii, playing around; the water was a little cloudy that day:

Giant sea turtles at Waikoloa beach - so close you could touch them (but you're not allowed to touch them, it's the law):

The view at the bottom during the snorkeling adventure :

Waikoloa beach:

Swimming deep on our snorkeling adventure:

We saw this pod of dolphins while on the boat on our way to our snorkeling adventure - such beautiful creatures and fantastic swimmers! They swam along with the boat for quite a while, which was an amazing sight, to say the least.