Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Counting Stars

It's kind of hard to believe that 2013 is almost over.  I'm not sad to see this year go, as overall it's been a pretty okay year but at the same time it was a struggle, in terms of my professional life.  I did have a really great racing season, though, and nailed some big races and goals, and had a blast at all my triathlons and running events.

There are several exciting things I have planned for 2014 (including races!).  The first is that I've decided to focus more on my passions - coaching and triathlon.  I've decided to expand my coaching expertise and start offering personalized triathlon coaching to a small number of athletes.  I have a handful of athletes already signed up and I couldn't be more excited.

I have more news to share, and also plan on doing my annual post on a review of my 2013 races.  You'll have to stay tuned to find out!  Coming in early January.  2014 is going to be a fantastic year.  DREAM BIG!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Wow, where did the time go?  It's nearly been 2 months since my last post.   A lot has happened but not much has happened.  

After the Lifetime Tri Arizona, I took a little break to recharge and refresh.  I find I need a certain amount of time off the general swim-bike-run every year, at the end of the season.  Otherwise, I'd go crazy.  I focused on working on strength, hot yoga, running, some intervals, and a swim or two here and there.  I still haven't touched my bike since the race.  Maybe I'll get on it in the next few weeks.  I don't quite understand those who are riding 2-3 hours on the trainer this time of year (with no race on the horizon).  To each his own...

I decided to race the Fall Classic 10 Miler race again on Oct. 20.  I really enjoyed this race last year (ran 1:12.26), and my running this year was going well heading into the race, as I made sure to fit in an interval workout and a tempo run each week for about 4 weeks.  It turned out to be a great day!  The weather was slightly cool (just above zero in the morning), but I went with shorts, t-shirt, arm warmers, and gloves.  It seemed like most people were wearing long tights and jackets, but I get really hot when racing so didn't question my decision.  

This turned out to be one of my most strategic and well-run races of the year. I held back at the start, soon settling into a steady pace, a 'comfortably uncomfortable' pace.  After a couple of kilometers, i noticed i was running stride for stride with a guy.  We continued in this fashion for the rest of the first 5 mile loop, at which point I finally said something - "Great pace! Now we need to do that again", or something dumb like that.  Our split was around 35:30 or so.  During the second and last loop, we chatted a bit, kept each other motivated, and pushed each other, still running stride for stride.  When the pace started slipping, we were able to pick it back up.  I felt incredibly strong and like I was in control of my pace.  Don't get me wrong, it was friggin' hard, but I was able to really push myself and not fall off the pace that had been set.  

It was awesome to have someone pushing me along and keeping me motivated the whole race.  I'd never met him until during the race (found out his name was Keven), but learned he was running a lot faster than he had last year, and was in for a big PR.  It was great teamwork!  We crossed the finish line in 1:11.30 (he was 4 seconds faster in the results, must have started behind me), which was a 1 minute PR for me, and an average of 7:09/mile!  I was thrilled with the result and my overall execution of the 10 miles.  Next stop, sub-1:10!  

What else has been up?

We had one of the most beautiful Falls I can remember, with vivid colors.  Maybe it stood out so much because we actually got an Fall this year?  Mostly we just skip right from summer to winter.  Regardless, Fall is ancient history now - we just got totally slammed with Ol' Man Winter this weekend... boo

I got to spend some time with my lovely sister in Vancouver in October.  I had to be there for work for a couple days (actually flew out the same day as the Fall Classic race!), and I stayed with Alice, as she lives right downtown.  Enjoying ourselves at a cute little wine bar...

My little munchkins on Halloween! 

That's it for now.  I plan on being a bit more consistent with updates so you'll definitely hear from me again soon!

Happy training!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lifetime Tri Tempe

 Back in July, the opportunity to race the Lifetime AZ tri in Tempe arose, so I grabbed it and registered for the race.  My in-laws were going down there, as Deborah wanted to race as well.  We headed to Phoenix on the Tuesday before the race (Sept. 17), and had the rest of the week for biking, swimming, running, and enjoying the hot sun in Surprise, AZ.

Deb and I got a couple of decent rides in, 80km on Wed. and 50km on Friday.  It was freakin' hot, too - almost 40C most days - so we rolled out the door at 7am for these rides.  The overnight lows were around 25-27C!  I'm generally not an early morning workout person, but there's something about being there that makes it really easy to get up at sunrise and get your workouts underway.   I think it helped that I went to bed by 10pm every night! #earlytobedearlytorise

 Sunrise - the sun comes up at about 6:20am and strangely enough I was up before that on most days! 

Another beautiful sunrise in Surprise

On Thursday we had a triathlon of sorts on tap: shop all afternoon, then a splash n dash race in Tempe!  The race started at 6pm, and consisted of a 1500m swim, then a 5k run.  Sunset right now is approximately 6:20pm, so we had the sun in our eyes the entire swim.  The swim felt incredibly long and was so hot, it was like swimming in bathwater.  I've never swam in water that warm!  However, I felt was swimming well, and I came out of the water in 2nd overall (1st female) with one dude ahead of me.  

The 'transition' area was so low-key and relaxed, with everyone just putting their bags and running shoes wherever they wanted on the grass.  No fighting for spots on transition racks required!  Onto the run: I had a strong run and felt pretty good, despite the fact that the air temperature was about 37C, and the air was so dry my throat became parched.  The sun had gone down so it was dusk and very pleasant.  About halfway, a female came charging past me like I was standing still (she ended up running about 2 minutes faster).  So I ended up 2nd female, and 3rd overall including males.  I think my swim was around 22:19 and my run 22:37.  I felt like I was running faster than that, but considering the heat, I'll take it!  The swim was definitely long.  

 Pre- Splash n Dash, with the sun still ablaze, and the oversized hot tub (aka lake) in the background

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:30, which is pretty darn early!  I checked the weather and it was already 28C!  The high for that day was only about 34, though, so it was considered a 'cool' day!  We grabbed some toast with peanut butter and a coffee for the road, and headed out the door by about 5:20 for the 45min drive to Tempe.  My wave (#13) was scheduled to start at 7:41, so I had plenty of time to get my transition organized and pump up the tires, etc.  All the waves were exactly 4 minutes apart. 

Swim - 23:15 (fastest amateur swim - female)
Whoa, not sure what happened there!  Ridiculously slow time for me, by about 3 minutes.  The course felt long.  It was a deep water floating start, and we weren't allowed in the water until the horn for the previous wave sounded.  It was females 39 and under in my wave.  I had a good start, and set off on the rectangular, counter-clockwise loop.  We were very fortunate that some clouds decided to cover up the sun for the entire swim, otherwise it would have been very difficult to see.  Within minutes, it became very congested as I started catching up to slower swimmers in the earlier waves, and it was like that for the rest of the swim, dodging bodies.  Perhaps that is why the swim times were slower for age groupers?  I looked at the pro swim times and they seemed to be accurate, but then again they started first and had a clear course.  Not sure how much of a difference that makes.   Anyway. 

One girl parked herself on my feet for the entire swim.  I really didn't feel like pulling someone along the whole course, so I tried several times to surge and shake her, but she was stuck onto me like a leech.  I made sure to finish and get out first as you're certainly not getting a free ride from me and then getting to the timing mat first... haha.  She got out to the mount line ahead of me but then I took off ahead of her on the bike, wanting to put some time into her.

Bike - 1:07 (3rd fastest amateur - female)
I love this course.  It was 2 technical loops, with a whole bunch of short out and back sections, turns, u-turns, and crossing a few bridges.  I was hoping to be faster (like a 1:05), but I guess all the slowing down for the u-turns and other turns slowed me down more than I thought.  I was happy to see that virtually nobody was drafting.  All the volunteers were awesome, and the course was well organized.  The course got a little crowded with all the earlier waves and having to pass some slower cyclists, but it was very safe and there were no issues.  

I rode hard, with a goal of not getting caught by any girls.  This didn't quite happen though, as halfway through the first loop some girl came blasting by me.  I tried to keep her in sight, and did so for the remainder of the loop, but she put some time on me during the 2nd loop and I didn't see her again after that.  

 So many tight corners, turns, and u-turns on this course!  I love this kind of bike course. 
 My race number kept flapping around, so I had to move it around to my front while biking.  I hate having to wear your race belt on the bike. 

Run - 46:30 (? AG placing)
Starting the run it was HOT!  There was an aid station just outside of T2 and I grabbed 2 waters and drank one and dumped one over my head.  I repeated this at every aid station for the rest of the run.  The run is 2 x 5K loops, crossing over 2 bridges in each loop.  I loved the run course!  There was one hill in it as well as some smaller hills to get up to the bridges, but nothing too crazy.  Somewhere between mile 1.5 and 2, the girl who had gotten a free ride from me in the swim went bounding by me.  She was running in a different time zone than me, so there was no hope of staying with her (she ended up running a high-39).  Before this happened, I had still been in 2nd place OA for females, so this bumped me down to 3rd.  I focused on rhythmic breathing and tried to push the pain and discomfort out of my mind.  There were definitely some (a lot of?) rough patches but I managed to press through them and maintain a consistent pace with a positive mindset.  

Once the first loop was over, I knew I only had 5K to go, which I could break down into portions with smaller goals of getting through each one.  I had no idea where anyone was behind me, so I was running scared.  Sometime around hitting the 4 mile mark, I started getting a headache, presumably from sodium depletion.  Also, I felt like I was almost going to puke.  It was a tough run!  I managed to keep up my effort and concentration, though, and was so happy getting to the end of that second bridge because you can see the finish line on your right, then you have to wrap around and run about 200m more till you hit the finishing chute.  

 Good thing the finish line is just up ahead, wasn't sure how much longer I could go

 Finishing - so happy to nearly be done!! 

Ouch!  Nearly puking... needed a minute to compose myself 

Final time - 2:19.13
Placing: 3rd Amateur Female OA (1st W30-34)

Happy to be finished!  Deb won the 50-54 age group!  BTW, those white towels were FANTASTIC!  The volunteers draped them around you after you went through the finish line, and they were soaking wet and freezing!  Awesome touch.

The nicest medals/awards I have ever seen!  Every finisher got a medal, and athletes who podiumed got a plaque with your placing/category on it.  The medals fit right into the plaque to make a giant medal!  Love it!

I was very pleased with this race for a number of reasons.  Normally, I don't perform well in the heat, but this time I was able to pull off a solid run (effort-wise, anyway - I had hoped to run a 45 but considering the heat, I am happy with a 46).  I had 3 'loose' goals for this race, which were as follows: 

-Sub 2:20 overall time - check! (even with the very slow swim, my final time was 2:19)
-Top 3 overall female placing - check!
-To maintain a solid focus/concentration and effort during the race, not give up, and push myself to my limits as far as I could.  This was the most important goal for me as it was within my control to accomplish, and I felt like I gave everything I had on the day, left everything on the course, and could not have gone any faster.  That in itself is a huge accomplishment for me.  

My preparation leading into this race was far from ideal, as about a month before the race, I had to take a few weeks off training (3 weeks off swimming, 1 week off everything else) following a minor medical issue/procedure.  Everything is fine, but there was a definite disruption to my training, so I had to adjust my expectations somewhat, which I why my goals listed above were considered 'loose' goals.  I am thrilled to have accomplished all of these goals despite a sub-par prep.  

And with that, my 2013 triathlon season is finished.  I'm happy that it's ending on a high note!  It almost didn't end here... with a podium placing at Lifetime Tri Tempe, you win an entry into the Lifetime Tri Oceanside in San Diego on Oct. 20.  Racing there isn't going to happen this year, but I am going to see if I can roll the entry over to next year, which would leave a lot more time to plan, because that would be an awesome race! 

I'm kind of glad this was my last race, as I don't really feel like biking much anymore, and I've had a solid and consistent season.  My plan now is to focus on running and strength training, and some yoga!  

Bye for now,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

summer days

It's hard to believe it's nearly the middle of August and the end of summer is creeping up on us :( The past few months have just flown by.  I'm a little sad that our days of sunshine, cycling outside, and shorts/tank tops are limited, but at the same time I am looking forward to Sept/Oct and fall (not winter!).  

After GWN, I took nearly a week off, with only 1 or 2 easy workouts between Mon-Fri, then got back into some training that weekend.  I decided to jump into the Leduc Victory triathlon (Olympic), as my sister signed up for the sprint last minute and Deb was racing the Olympic, and I knew it would be a super fun time racing and hanging out with them.  And it was!  There were a couple other STARRT team members who raced as well, so it was good to see some friends out there racing.  

 Leduc Victory triathlon - Kelly, me, Alice, and Deb

I had a great race overall but the 1500m pool swim was tortuous!  I had a crappy swim.  And then my stupid saddle fell down again in the first few km of the bike.  It's totally my fault, as I adjusted it the night before and must not have tightened the bolt enough.  I was still able to ride halfway decent, but certainly could have been faster.  The run went awesomely, I felt strong and smooth the whole time and had no issues.  I ended up fastest female overall (2:11, run course was a tad short), and won a bit of cash as they had $ for top swim/bike/run splits and I had them all for female :) So that was nice, as it paid for my race!

This past Sunday, I raced one of my all-time favorite races - St. Albert sprint!  This was also the 2nd year STARRT put on the Newbie Clinic, which is a 7 week program of swim/bike/run for brand new triathletes, and culminating with the race.  I really enjoy coaching this group (swim portion), and it is so great to see such motivated and keen people, eager to try their first triathlon.  Everyone did awesome and more importantly, enjoyed themselves at the race!

My race went well - I ended up 1st in the 30-34 AG, 3rd OA female.  I was really hoping to snag the OA female win, but it didn't quite work out that way.  However, there were only about 35sec separating the 1st-3rd female, so it was definitely close!  My time was 1:07.25. They changed the run course this year and made it way harder with many hills, and despite this, this is a slight PB for that distance!  Nothing wrong with that...
My finish - apparently I just keep on running even after the finish chute/timing mat (lol)

I've got some more exciting races planned for the remainder of the year - likely just one more triathlon and the rest running races, but stay tuned for further details!  

Trying to get a little creative in the kitchen - with watermelon cake!  It's very simple.  The icing is the cream from coconut milk (store in fridge overnight), whipped with some honey and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.  Side topping is sliced almonds and shredded coconut.  Top with fruit and you're good to go!  

Friday, July 19, 2013

GWN - the race that used to be

There is a reason why you should post a race report shortly after the race is finished.  It's been nearly 2 weeks since GWN and a lot of the details and defining moments have now disappeared from my mind.  However, here's my best shot at remembering the day:

My alarm went off at 4:55am, which gave me plenty of time to get organized and eat before my ride arrived at 5:40am.  We arrived at the lake super early and I ran into my buddy Julie Anderson right away, which was awesome!  We chatted a bit then headed to our own transition areas to set up.  I got everything organized quite quickly and then decided to hit the porta potty line up.  30 minutes later, it was finally my turn.  Kind of annoying, but it wasn't a big deal as I had arrived so early.  

 Julie and I walking down to the transition - she ended up having an awesome day with a big PR!  (BTW, I 'borrowed' this pic from Julie's blog - hope she doesn't mind haha!)

I was looking forward to racing on the new course, which had been changed into a 1-loop swim, 2-loop out and back bike, and 2-loop run.  After I got wetsuited up, I made my way over to the swim start and swam around a bit for my half-assed warm up.  Race start was 7:30am this year - why so bloody early - and the race started precisely on schedule.  

The swim start was fair and I had no issues or contact with anyone.  There were a lot of fast swimmers around me and it stayed this way until we'd gotten past the first turn buoy.  I settled into a good pace after that and swam on the heels of another woman (who turned out to be Kristina Schultz), with a guy right beside me the whole rest of the way.  One thing I would suggest they could improve on would be adding more buoys.  2 single buoys on a 2km course doesn't quite cut it.  2 more buoys would have been great and i can't imagine that would increase costs very much, if anything. 

I came out of the water just behind Kristina and learned later there were 2 girls ahead of me, one who I passed just at the beginning of the bike, and the other was the eventual race winner.  My swim time was 23:47 so the course was definitely shorter than 2 km, as nice as that would be!  
Starting out on the 90km ride

Anyway, onto the bike, which went well for the first 20-30 km, anyway.  After that, the struggle fest began! I felt like I had no power, and there was a headwind in every direction.  I honestly looked down a few times to check if my brakes were rubbing or something.  It was one of *those* days.   The bike course was about 10km to the transition area, then 2 x 40km out and back sections.  Lots of hills, and that damn wind seemed fierce to me!  I maintained 4th female position until about 70 km, and then proceeded to get passed by 3 women in the next 10-15 km.  I felt like I was going nowhere, overall very uncomfortable and not in a happy mindset.  My quads were barking at me, they were extremely sore and fatigued, which is unusual.  I kept finding myself really forward on my saddle and having to continually slide back, and found out when I got home later that there was a good reason for that!   

Also, the turnaround point on the bike was stationed at the bottom of a huge hill, just before the railroad tracks on Hwy 779.  I was shocked to find this out on the first loop, as you had to brake the whole way down the hill, then do a sharp 180 degree turn, which got a little crowded on the 2nd loop with some of the slower athletes on their first loop.  Putting a turnaround at the bottom of a hill is a huge safety issue and liability and frankly, I'm surprised it was done.  I do not agree with that at all.  

I came off the bike in 7th with a bike split way slower than what I had anticipated and well above what I know I'm capable of.  Without transitions, 2:37, and with transitions it was a 2:39.  Should have been faster than that...

This is what i noticed when I got home after the race - my saddle must have been loose and tilted itself during the race.  This helps to explain why I was so uncomfortable and not riding well! 

With the way my legs were feeling, I had no idea how I was going to run a 1/2 marathon.  I didn't feel great for the first couple kilometers, but then my legs surprisingly came around and I started running pretty well.  I definitely liked the new run course, with the double out and back.  Around 9km, I had to duck into a porta-potty as I had to pee soooo bad and simply couldn't hold it anymore.  At the '10 km' marker sign, my watch said 45:36, which was only 10 sec slower than my ITU race 10k time.  However, I went through the halfway point (i.e. 10.5km) in 50:xx, so the 10K sign must have been in the wrong place, as I doubt I took 5 minutes for 0.5 km.  So the 10km marker was in the wrong spot.

Pretty much right after the 1/2 way point is when I sort of hit the wall and really started struggling.  Sharp side and upper trapezius stitches/cramps, and stomach cramps.  Ugh.  I had been taking only water and some gatorade at the aid stations, and decided to take a gel.  This crappy phase went on for about 5km, and I had to walk through 2 aid stations.  At the final turnaround aid station, around the 15km mark, is when I discovered coke at the aid stations. BAM!  I hadn't seen any before that.  This turned things around for me and I was able to pick it up again and run strong all the way to the finish, something I've never been able to do in a 1/2 ironman.  When I passed the 20km marker, I looked at my watch and the time was 1:36, so I started getting really excited that I'd be doing a HUGE run PR, but the minutes kept ticking by and there was still a fair amount of distance to cover till the finish chute.  So the 20 km marker was totally in the wrong spot.

I ended up with a 1:45 run (so apparently my last kilometer was 9min?? Yeah right), and a 4:48 overall finish, 9th for females.  I was glad to have a top 10 finish, although I had really been aiming for a top 5.  There was some disappointment but it was all because of the crappy bike ride, as my swim had been strong and my run was a 3min PR for a 1/2 iron run split.

Overall, I felt the race had kind of a weird vibe and for some reason it wasn't as fun as it's been in the past.  I must say I liked the "old" race a whole lot better, it seemed to have more of an intimate community feel to it and this time around was much different (and not in a good way).  It used to be such a great race.  While I can say that I did like the new course, there were issues such as the turnaround at the bottom of a hill on the bike, which didn't sit well with me.  I'm not sure that I'll do this race again for a while.

Next up is a fun little local race, tomorrow morning, in Leduc.  I'm so excited as my sister just got back from up North a few days ago, and signed up last minute!  Also Deborah is racing and a few other STARRT members, so we'll have a lot of fun.  It's a pool swim and I'm doing the Olympic, so the swim will be HARD!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Edmonton ITU

Last weekend I raced the Edmonton ITU triathlon, which is always one of my favorites.  We had great weather leading in, and race day arrived with sunshine and temperatures in the low 20's, just perfect for a race!  I didn't do a lot during the week leading up to the race, not because I was necessarily planning a structured taper but more so was lacking in motivation for some reason.  I even took the monday prior completely off - cause everyone's allowed a day off on their b-day!

Race morning I had planned to do a short 15min jog as a warm up after getting my transition together, but as time got away from me I realized as transition was near closing and having worn my racing shoes (with no other shoes with me than flip flops), that it would not be possible.  So no warm up it was! #justgowithit

The best part of this race was getting to see so many friends and STARRT members.  That makes the race so much more fun!  

Christina and I pre-race - tried to get the transition in the background of the pic but didn't work out so well

Swim - 19:10 
This year for the swim we were allowed to wear wetsuits, which was comforting news, as I wanted as little skin as possible exposed to the water.  Last year with a non-wetsuit swim, I ended up with a bunch of red bites on my stomach and back in the days following... EWWW!  However, this year the water was somehow pretty nice!  I lined up at the front with many friends around me.  The start was clean and I ended up swimming beside a guy and right behind another guy.  We swam like this the entire first loop, and on the second loop I was able to pull away and have clear water for the rest of the loop, perhaps pulling the others along but nobody was touching my feet so it didn't bother me at all.  I felt fantastic during the entire swim leg but had no idea what my time was until the results were posted as I didn't have a watch on.  

The course was probably a bit short (not sure how as that course is always accurate and it's such a small lake) but I would say not more than 50-75m.  I've been swimming really well lately and knew I was capable of a sub-20, but a 19-high would be more realistic.

 Swim lap 1 - courtesy of Marathon Photo

 Swim finish - courtesy of Marathon Photo

Bike - 1:07.52
My transition and the bike was uneventful.  This year I strapped my Garmin watch to my bike so I would have some feedback - distance and pace in min/km.  I aimed to be under 17min per lap which would mean I'd beat last year's time of 1:08.  I was hoping to ride a 1:06 and I'm satisfied with a 1:07; although I know I can be faster than that.

It's hard to know where you are on a course like this - 4 laps with different wave starts - but I didn't get passed by any women on the bike except Kristina Schultz, who is always in a league of her own out there! 

Run - 45:26
I didn't feel great starting the run, my legs felt heavy and fatigued.  Halfway through the first out and back 2.5km, Mel MacDonald went by me - she's a friend and just joined STARRT this year so I've been coaching her in the swim.  She was running a good pace so I decided to try and stay with her, and we proceeded to run the rest of the 10k together.  It was fun to have a run buddy out there!  Hopefully she wasn't too annoyed that I was breathing down her neck the whole time! I actually started feeling not too bad and was able to hold a decent pace.  I had grabbed my watch in T2 to wear just for the run, and didn't look at it until 5k in, and my split there was 22:36.  Mel got away from me in the last kilometer or so and I wasn't able to go with her. 

Mel and I - go team!

Doing work

Why do I always look so ungraceful while running?

Finish: 2:16.13 - 1st W30-34, 5th female OA
-->4min faster than my PB on this course (last year)!  Even with the swim a tad short, it's still a big improvement.  I also qualified for Worlds 2014, which is here in Edmonton, and decided to take my qualifying spot.  It's the opportunity of a lifetime to race the Worlds in your own backyard, although the substantial fees associated with it certainly made me think twice about it. At least I won't have to pay for travel and accommodations - imagine, getting to sleep in your own bed for Worlds!  Also, tons of STARRT members and other friends also qualified so it will be incredible to have so many familiar faces doing that race next year!

 W30-34 Podium - I look like a giant compared to the rest of the podium!

Watching the elite race with STARRT friends Christina and Tari - glad to be done!

Next up is Great White North on July 7.  I'm excited about this race as I haven't done it since 2011 when I got the flat tire(s)!  This year the course has changed so we'll see how that unfolds.  I put in a really good week of training last week, with some solid workouts.  This week I'll be tapering down and resting going into the race.  Today I had to fly to Toronto for work (July 1-3), which is less than ideal the week leading up to a big race, but c'est la vie. Hopefully my legs come around for Sunday and the travel/time changes don't screw me up too much!

I'll be taking my bike in to Cam @ Element on Thursday to get a new chainring and chain installed, a 54 tooth big ring as I currently have a 53.  A big thank you to Joel Maley and Andre Ratte for their useful advice and input.  I'm hoping this new set up will be a positive thing for me.  We'll see what happens next weekend!

And now breaking news - just found out a few days ago that Geoff was accepted for his transfer to U of A law (from U of S), so he won't have to move to Saskatoon again at the end of the summer! It's such a relief and I'm so happy that he will be able to finish his degree here, while living at home.  From September to the end of April it was really tough for both of us with him away, and it has been so nice this summer since he's been home.  I had been mentally preparing for him to have to move again at the end of August, and still almost can't believe that he will be staying put at home after August.  Best news ever! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wasa Lake race report

This is a race that has been on my must-do list for years and years, but for some reason it has just never worked out.  I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to compete in this awesome race.  I've heard many great things about it, and it did not disappoint!  It's incredible in many ways.  Gorgeous venue, fun course, and very well organized.

I traveled to the race with Deb and Gord (my in-laws), and we 'camped' out at the Wasa Lake Campground in their trailer. I'm not much of a camping person, but I enjoyed myself immensely!  Okay, so a trailer is not considered *real* camping, but it's pretty darn close for me!  It was awesome to be out in nature, cut off from distractions like technology, internet, and social media.  We arrived on Friday, around 6-ish, but Deborah and I actually got dropped off on the side of the road, about 40k from the campground, did a quick change into biking gear and just biked all the way to the campsite.  It seemed like a perfect way to get in our ride for the day.  Of course, it ended up that we had a headwind the entire 40k, but that's just how things work out sometimes.

 During the trip out, we saw this mother bear with her baby bears on the side of the road, munching on dandelions.  The 2nd baby is hidden behind the mama - the babies couldn't have been more than a week or two old!  Crazy

My home for 3 nights/days, complete with Bella and Dante, the bichon's! 

Saturday was a day for some light pre-race workouts, including a 30 minute run and a lake swim, but there were some gong shows with Deborah's bike which necessitated a trip into Cranbrook (about 40km) to get some tech help at Gerrick's Sports.  By the time we arrived back 'home', got the run done, and ate lunch, it was well into the afternoon and we still hadn't done our lake swim.  I absolutely needed to get in the lake to try out my wetsuit, as it was brand-new and I had never even swam in it.  We finally got in the lake at 5pm!  A little late to the party, but no worries.  A 20 minute swim and we were all set!  The lake was absolutely gorgeous, with clean, clear water and a balmy temperature of 19C.  I was happy and relieved that my Orca Sonar wetsuit turned out to be just perfect.

Race morning arrived and it was pretty awesome to just walk our bikes and gear over to the transition, which was about 1km away from our campsite.  It was an incredible day with blue skies and blazing sun, and a high of about 26C I think.  The men's wave was starting at 8:30am, with the ladies scheduled to start at 9am.  I loved that set up - we had 30 minutes separating us and the men, which meant the course was completely clear and open for us.  So much better than the typical 3-5 minutes at other races, which means the faster females have to swim through all the slower men.  

Swim - 1st Female - ??Time??
I had a great start and had clear water immediately, and no contact with anyone else.  Women are so much more civilized than men when it comes to swim starts - lol!  I swam the entire 1-loop course on my own, and put some distance between myself and the 2nd swimmer, just the way I like it - clear water and not giving anyone a free ride!  Haha

Unfortunately I found out later I didn't actually get a swim time for whatever reason, probably the timing chip malfunctioned or something.  I did not wear a watch (until the run), so I'm not sure what time I was but figure it was probably 21-high?  No clue, that's just speculation.  The course may have been about 100m too long as I know I should be faster than that and I felt great.  Anyway.

Bike - 1:07 - 2nd off bike
The bike course was awesome, it was basically a short out and back, and then a large out and back section with 3 decent hills on that portion.  There was a headwind coming back.  I tried to focus and concentrate, and got some idea of who might be creeping up on me at the out and backs.  It's hard to gauge that sometimes.  In the last few kilometers of the bike, I was passed by another female (Tanya Salomon), so came off the bike in 2nd place by a few seconds.  

On a side note, for a while now in races I've been noticing that I'm always running out of gears on my bike, and most of the time I'm in my absolute biggest gear. I only use my small chainring on the steep uphills.  Is this normal?  I feel like it's not, so I decided after I arrived back home that I need to get a different cassette.  I talked to Geoff about it and it turns out I have an 11-25 (whatever that means?), so I'm going to get an 11-23 put on my race wheel and see if that makes any difference.  I'll report back with an update on how it turns out! 

Run - 45:56 - 4th after run
My transition from bike-run was smooth and quick, and I ran out of transition just behind the 1st female.  I probably went out a bit too fast and started paying for it a bit later.  I would say I ran well for about 5km of the run, and struggled for the other half.  The first 8km is an out and back on a beautiful trail along the lake, and then you wrap around the transition for an out and back section for the last 2km.  After a few km's, another girl came zooming by me, running in a different time zone.  Turns out she ran like 37-something and won the race!  Wowza! Anyway, I was running in 3rd for a while, and after the turnaround saw 4th place coming for me. She ended up passing me around 6 or 7km? and she was in my sights for a little while but that was when I was feeling like crap with those sharp stitches in my upper trapezius and ribs.  I was under 45min pace the first half, then slowed down the 2nd half.  

I managed to hold off 5th pace (she was around a minute behind at the finish) and ran through the finish chute in 4th place!  They had prize money for the top 5 overall females, so I ended up with $200 in my pocket, which was great as it paid for my trip. 

Finish - 2:16.50, 4th OA female

This was an awesome result for me, and a PB at Olympic distance by several minutes, on an honest course.  My run could certainly have been better, and I think my bike should have been faster as well.  So lots to improve on for next time! 

There was somewhat of an awkward moment at the awards ceremony, when they announced a prize for the fastest female swim, and called someone else's name, the 2nd place swimmer! I was like, 'hmmm, pretty sure i was first girl out but i'll just wait and go up to say something at the very end'.  But Deborah had other ideas!  She went up and talked to Steve King and one of the race organizers 'behind the scenes'.  Steve King knew I had been 1st girl out of the water, but my time had not registered and they had to go by the results.  But a little later on, they made a special announcement about the female swim times/placing, and presented me with another beautiful flower planter.  It was a bit embarrassing but I was very happy to receive the gift.  Not sure where they got a second one from (the first one had been presented to and accepted by the 2nd female swimmer).  And it was HEAVY!  Like 50 lbs or something.  It was lucky that Deb and I decided to drive the truck back to the awards as we were tired and didn't want to walk, as there's no way we could have walked back carrying that thing!

OA Women's podium, with 1st-5th lined up from far right to left

Deb and I at the awards ceremony - she cleaned up and was the winner of W50-54 age group!

Our 'pad' all decorated with the flower planter.  Some guy walked by and said "wow, you really went all out in decorating your campsite - you even brought flowers!" LOL

So the first triathlon of 2013 is in the books!  This race kicked off a series of 3 races in a 4 week period for me.  Next up is the Edmonton ITU this Sunday!  


Monday, June 3, 2013

Jasper Cycling weekend!

Two weekends ago Geoff and I headed to Jasper for a cycling weekend with STARRT.  The cycling there is absolutely fabulous! It was my first time biking out there and I had a blast!  We arrived on Friday evening and there were 2 planned rides - Saturday morning leaving at 10am from Sunwapta Falls, and Sunday morning leaving at 9:30am from the hotel.  Geoff was just planning on doing some trail running as he didn't bring his bike.

Since it was May long weekend in Alberta, the weather could pretty much be anything from each of the four seasons, but we really lucked out!  No rain (or snow!) the whole weekend.  Day 1 we drove about 40-50km out to Sunwapta Falls and started from there.  We rode all the way to the Columbian Ice Fields, including a massive climb up a crazy mountainside.  It was so steep and winding and I was running out of gears.  Approximately 50km after starting at Sunwapta, we made it to the turn around point of the Columbian Ice Fields.  It was a little chillier there and after waiting a bit for some STARRT peeps to catch up, I was happy to get back on the bike and begin the journey back.

Columbian Ice Fields - living up to its name! 

Sunday was an out and back ride from the hotel to Maligne Lake, which was awesome!  It was basically just under 50km to the top (47 to be exact), pretty much all uphill with some steep climbs thrown in there.  I loved all the climbing and the view at the top was pretty sweet.  The STARRT support van had all kinds of food and a bbq at the top, so we loaded up with some food and then started on the descent.  After I arrived back, Geoff and I hit the road for home.  It was nice to get home by 6pm and cook dinner, then have the entire next day off work and at home.

 Maligne Lake - turn around spot on Day 2, 47km from the hotel, pretty much all climbing!  But the view from the top is totally worth it! 

 I think this is called Medicine Lake but I may be mistaken.  It was about halfway up the mountain towards Maligne Lake

 The whole group of us STARRT peeps and STARRT acquaintances (photo courtesy of R. Masik)

 Leading the charge with a smile on Day 2.  Why do I always end up looking like such a dork? (photo courtesy of R. Masik)

 Lots of wildlife was spotted during the weekend - I didn't catch any 
There were grizzlies spotted!  (photo courtesy of R. Masik)

At the lunch stop with Tari and her son Shae on Day 1 - we climbed that mountain in the background on our bikes! Just kidding - but we climbed a REALLY big hill close to that

Monday, May 13, 2013

spring in Alberta - blink and it's gone

So it seems we went directly from winter to summer, skipping spring completely in the process, and I'm not complaining one bit! In the first 2 weeks so far of May, it's been gorgeous.  I've finally been able to get outside on my bike, and have already been out for 5 rides.  The maiden voyage last Saturday was not without its drama- we'd planned for 60k, then ended up inadvertently doing 75k, with everyone running out of water in the process.  I only brought one water bottle.  It was a hot day, too - about 25C!  I managed a 25min "run" off the bike, feeling like death.  My quads were so sore and I could barely move.  Brutal!

Last week I had a solid week of training, which ended with the Mother's Day 10K yesterday.  I went in with tired and sore legs, and planned to use the race as a tempo workout with some good hills.  i had a 3.5 hour training day the day before.  On Friday, I also did my first track workout of the year (a reasonable 5 x 800 on 5:00), which made my legs pretty sore!

On Sunday, I felt like a total piece of crap while I was warming up, and wondered how I'd even make it through the course. I decided to go out really easy for the first kilometer.  This turned out to be a great strategy, as I ended up feeling stronger as the race went on, and I didn't die on the hills, like last year! My legs surprisingly came around.  And while my time was terribly slow and nothing to write home about (48:xx), I placed 5th female OA and 3rd in my AG, which I'm very pleased with.  Not that it's a competitive race at all, but who cares!  Also, I was over 1.5min faster than last year on the same course (WTF was I doing last year?). Oh yeah, I went out way too hard, completely died and felt like $h!t.  It's important to note that this course is not accurate, it's looongg- between 10.5 and 10.7k.  I always thought that measuring out an accurate course would be a simple and straightforward procedure, but apparently it's rocket science.

So anyway, things are on a good track, and I have just under 4 weeks from now to get in shape for my first 'real' race of 2013 - Wasa lake triathlon.  And just under 8 weeks to get in shape for a 1/2 Ironman - GWN.  Right smack in the middle of Wasa and GWN, I'm planning on racing the ITU race.  After GWN, I have no idea what I'm doing.  I honestly have nothing planned and should probably get on that.  I feel like I'm in a better spot fitness-wise than I was last year, especially considering I skipped town right around this time last year for a 2.5 week European vacation where I didn't get to swim or bike the whole time.

This weekend is the annual Jasper cycling trip for STARRT.  I'm excited to be going this year!  There's a crapload of peeps from the club going this year, something like 30 or 40!  I'll have lots of awesome riding partners for the weekend.  Geoff and I will drive up on Friday evening, then long rides are planned for Sat-Sun (90-100km).  We're going to head home late Sunday afternoon and Monday's a holiday so it will be nice to have that full day at home.  I also took this Friday off work so 4-day weekend for me, yippee!

I'll update on the Jasper trip after we return.  Sorry no pics this time - I know, how boring!


Friday, April 19, 2013

St. Albert 10 Miler

I'd planned to get this race review up earlier, but I've been so consumed by the news coverage this week on the Boston Marathon bombings, a write up on my silly little race seemed so insignificant.  This tragedy certainly hit close to home for runners and triathletes everywhere, and it's still hard to believe.  But here is my write up, anyway:

Last weekend I ran the 10 Miler.  This is one of my favorite races and it's pretty awesome living only 5 minutes from the start line, not to mention the fact that my house is right on the race route (around mile 4).  I joked on the start line to some friends that in case I was having a completely crap race, I had my key with me so I could just duck into my house.  You can't say that at most races!

I picked up some new shoes the day before the race while volunteering at package pick-up - only $80, can't beat that deal!  

The course for the 10 Miler is deceivingly hard, and anything but fast.  There are some strategically placed hills, some during the first 3 miles, and then the rest when you hit around 7 miles, so right at the point when you're exhausted and pretty much ready to be done.  I ran the first 3 miles with one of my training buddies from STARRT (Larry), which felt pretty controlled, then he fell back a little and I did my own thing.  I felt comfortably uncomfortable until about halfway, then it started getting harder.  I went through 5 miles in about 36:40, so I thought in the 13's was within reach if I didn't have a major slowdown.

From about Mile 7-9, I really struggled and my pace slowed considerably.  My legs were sore and I started feeling like crap, which just so happened to coincide with the start of the hilliest part of the race.  Awesome!  I managed to make it up the hills and then finally got to the last mile, which is all flat/downhill.  When I turned the corner to the finish line, a lady ran by me and I said to myself, 'Hellz no, you're not beating me!', and started to SPRINT my ass off.  Not sure where that came from or how, but I did cross the finish ahead of her and then proceeded to nearly throw up.  My legs were pretty much instantly sore, no DOMS action this time around.  

Training partners from STARRT - Larry on the left, Dave on the right; Larry ended up about 20sec behind me and Dave was miles ahead

My final time was 1:14.00 - damn you 1 second - for 6th in my age group.  I'm pretty pleased and I can't complain at all, this is a ~1min PB on this course for me (last year was my previous PB at 1:14.57).  I'd wanted to run in the 1:12's like I did on a flat course back in October, but forgot how hard this hilly course is.  This is actually pretty decent for my haphazard, unstructured, fly by the seat of my pants training this past winter and past few months.  

Next up: not sure yet!  Maybe a 10k running race in May for Mother's Day.  Time to get serious about training and weave some structure into what I'm actually doing.  Let's hope we can start getting outside biking soon - it's utterly ridiculous that it's nearly the end of April and I haven't gotten to ride outside even once!  

And in other news: Geoff arrives home tomorrow for at least the whole summer, can't wait!


Monday, March 18, 2013

back on track

Soooo... training has been going well lately and my fitness is quickly moving in the right direction.  Finally I am back to where I need to be in the pool.  To get my swimming fitness back, it typically takes several weeks of consistent workouts (3x/week) with some hard sets and then I am able to settle back into a good pace and get my feel for the water back.  This occurred all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago, when i was able to hold 1:15-17 with a little bit of effort, feeling powerful and like I was swimming on top of the water.

In other swimming news, I bought a new wetsuit!  Since I got my last wetsuit in 2006, I thought it was about time for a new one, and there was a deal too good to pass up at United Cycle.  My old one (a Blue Seventy Energie) served me very well, and still happens to be in mint condition after nearly 7 years.  Do wetsuits normally last that long?  The new one - an Orca Sonar - is super frickin' tight so I'll have to practice in it a few times to get used to it and hopefully stretch it out a bit!

Brand spankin new!

My first race for 2013 will be the St. Albert 10 miler, which is 4 weeks from today.  I love this race!  It will be a great training day for me this year, as the course is challenging with some hills.  I will definitely be looking to beat my time from last year.  Last year the weather totally sucked so hopefully this time around Mother Nature will be kind to us and keep the snow away.  Here's hoping.  We just got pounded with 20-30cm of snow in the past few days so it feels like we have gone back in time and it's January again!  Boo.

I also just signed up for Wasa Lake triathlon on June 9.  I've wanted to do this race for years but it's never worked out, so I'm stoked to have this one on my schedule for 2013.  I have heard nothing but good things about this race, and it will be fun to go with my in-law's Deb & Gord and camp out in their trailer!  I am sooo not a camping person, but perhaps a full-service trailer doesn't count as fully camping!  The rest of my race schedule is not set in stone and will likely evolve as we get closer to spring/summer.  I'll mostly be sticking to the local stuff, though - no major trips planned this year.

Here's a couple hard treadmill workouts I have been doing lately:

6's & 7's Hill workout:
20 min W.U.
4-6 x {90 sec @ marathon pace and 6% grade
           60 sec ez
           60 sec @ marathon pace and 7% grade
           2 min ez
*This workout is FREAKIN hard!  I went at 7.5 mph for the hills (which is about a 3:30 marathon pace), and that was tough! It's a great workout for hill training.  Make sure to start moving the incline before the interval starts, so that it is at the proper grade when you are supposed to start the next hill.  You can even do more than 6 sets if you have a lot of time and are crazy, but I've mostly been doing 5 sets as that way the total run time ends up being around 50-55 min.

Pyramid workout:
20min W.U.
1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 4:00, 3:00, 2:00, 1:00 - all fast with 1 min ez between.  I locked it in at 9.0 mph for all intervals, which is a hard pace for me (6:40/mile).  This workout is actually supposed to have a 5:00 interval between the 4's, but I've just been doing up to 4:00 then back down.  Next time I'll add the 5 min interval.

Happy training!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't count down the days, make every day count

For the first time in nearly 6 months, I'm taking a vacation day.  Actually I'm taking a vacation week, which means I have the entire rest of this week off.  Ding dong!  Geoff is off this whole week for Reading week and I have a crap-load of vacation time just sitting around collecting dust, so what better way than to make a stay-cation out of it.  

I have massive goals for the week: sleep in every day, bake, read, train lots (train-cation?), try some new recipes, get a pedicure.  And of course enjoy as much quality time as possible with my man and my two little munchkins.  So far, so good.  I could get used to this!  

In between all the sleeping in, baking, reading and cooking today, I only made it to a 75 min Moksha class.  I'm not really sure where the rest of the day went, and how it is now 10PM (?).  Earlier on I had a tentative plan in the back of my mind of doing a trainer ride this evening, but that never materialized.  Maybe I should actually nail some goals down for the week, and the upcoming race season.  I should probably sign up for some races as well...

find your strong!

In the past couple weeks of training I have hit right around 10 hours, so perhaps this week I'll aim for 13-15.  It is only February still and 15 hours is generally my max even in the summer, and then I don't even do that much all the time.  My running so far seems to be going OK, I've been consistently doing a long-ish run of 90 min every weekend as well as intervals every week, and consistency is key.  But I want to really focus on increasing the cycling volume and making that a priority.  

 flowers from my Valentine

 my contribution to Valentine's day - starlite yellow cupcakes with pink vanilla frosting and gummy hearts on top

Hugo so happy Geoff is home!

I made Peanut Butter balls today, for the first time ever. They're still setting in the fridge, but they are going to be good.  Instant-Diabetes good (according to Geoff).  In case you want Diabetes as well, the recipe is right here ... I didn't have any butter so I made them with margarine and I'm sure they'll be just as good, maybe even better cause they'll be a lot healthier (hmm- there's not much healthy about these bad boys).  

Just dipped in melted chocolate, now we hurry up and wait while they set in the fridge...

We want spring!

Also, I want to give a shout out to my big sis Alice, who has a med-school interview in Calgary this Saturday.  She is the smartest person I know and she is going to kill it! 

That's all for now.  One of my goals is to write at least 2 blogs per month so you'll be hearing more from me in February...