Friday, December 26, 2014

New stuff

Some cool stuff has been happening up here lately.  First of all, I am happy to report that I was chosen to represent Coeur Sports as a Brand Ambassador for 2015.   This is an awesome opportunity and I'm very excited to be a part of this fabulous company.  The meaning of their name is 'Heart and Courage', their mission is to create the best fitting, functional, and comfortable women's clothing in endurance sports, and their main objective for the Ambassador team is to encourage more women to get active and involved in endurance sports.  They have really cool and funky gear, too, and I'll be racing in one of their stylish race kits for 2015.  This will be a really neat experience and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.  Bring on 2015!

I'm on here! Can you find me?

I've been slowly increasing my training hours, mostly in swim/bike/weights/yoga.  I haven't been running too much as I'm still nursing a sore heel.  I'm being very careful as I have a self-diagnosed case of mild plantar fasciitis and I don't want it to progress into anything worse.  So I've only been running about twice a week, just shorter easy recovery pace runs (45min or so), no long runs and no speedwork.  I've been managing it myself with some strengthening exercises on my own, icing, and rolling/stretching.  My background is in exercise rehabilitation after all, so I figure I should be able to handle it myself.  The heel doesn't actually hurt when I run but I'm being cautious and taking this opportunity to work on my biking and swimming.  

My swimming has started to come back around after the lazy break I had in the fall, and I'm feeling good in the pool with some speed showing through again.  I did a sprint set the other day and was quite pleased with it - 2 sets of 10 x 50 all-out effort on 1:30, holding 34-35 for all 20.  Sprint sets are not my favourite but they are certainly needed to push that max speed up.  But I'll take a longer distance set at threshold over sprints any day!

I've been biking quite a bit, and working hard on the trainer.  And, I picked up my new bike on the weekend, and have ridden it a couple times now.  It's pretty awesome!  I will do a separate post on my bike soon, but for now here's a little sneak peek:

 Looks fast, even from this angle

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Training and stuff

Since my last post, I came up with a plan for racing next year, actually just one big race so far - and that race is Ironman Texas on May 16!  I've always wanted to visit Texas, and am very excited about the opportunity.  Yeah, it's pretty darn early and most of the training will have to be completed indoors, but I just so happen to like suffering away on the bike trainer and on the treadmill.  So it should be fun!

I've just recently gotten back on my bike (indoors, of course - it's freezing and snowy here all of a sudden!), and boy was that a bit of a shock!  I didn't touch my bike for about a month and a half, and it's amazing how quickly your fitness disappears.  But I'll be leading every 2nd Sunday ride for Aerobic Power, which will whip me back into some decent shape pretty quickly.  I've already done two rides and they are always tough!  I'm nursing a couple of niggly sore spots right now, and trying to manage them on my own, with lots of stretching and icing.  Hopefully I can keep them under control so I can pick up the training volume a bit in December, as I signed up for a half marathon in Arizona on Feb. 15 - the IMS Arizona Marathon and 1/2.  My running is not quite where it needs to be right now, so come December it's time to roll up the sleeves and get to work.  I am hoping to do a lot of treadmill speedwork in preparation for this race so I can run a PB, so these nigglies need to be kept at bay.

In other news, I'm shopping for a new racing bike!  The time has come to upgrade my beloved P3.  I've ridden it for 6 seasons now, and while it has carried me to some awesome bike splits and it is still in superb condition, it's time for a new pony in the stable.  And I've found a super bike that may just be perfect.  More info on this later - stay tuned!

Also exciting is that I have a new part time job!  At the end of October, I took on a contract role (20 hours a week) as an Exercise Specialist with the Aspen Primary Care Network.  This position fits perfectly with most of my coaching schedule and suits me very well.  I am really enjoying it so far!  It is a brand new role that was created, so it is essentially a 'blank canvass' in terms of creativity.  As an Exercise Specialist, I'm working with the physicians in the area in regards to their chronic disease patients, and they can refer patients to me for exercise consultation so I can design and prescribe a home exercise program to improve their health and functioning. So far I am really enjoying this work!

That's it for now, more to come....

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The race that never happened

After Worlds, I took some recovery the next day with a hot yoga session and then headed straight to Jasper with Ailsa on the Wednesday for one last cycling trip in the mountains.  We wanted another quick training block consisting of climbing, climbing, and some gnarly climbs.  As soon as we arrived, we ate quickly and then got on our bikes for the 3+ hour ride up to Maligne Lake, and despite it being just 2 days after my race, I felt amazing! The following day was the hardest ride of my life- just under 5 hours and just under 7000 feet of climbing!  Crazy.  We rode all the way up to Marmot, and then all the way up to Edith Cavelle.  The 3rd and final day was a shorter ride (2 hours) up to Miette Hot Springs, which was an incredible ride!! I loved it, other than the fierce winds we had to contend with that day.

A family of mountain goats were just hanging out on the bridge, and scattered when I rode by.  

 That was my last big week, and my 2 week taper began right after that.  We.Were.Ready.

We left for Lake Tahoe on the Wednesday before the race (with a 3:15am wake up call, my earliest one ever), and driving from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe we encountered this:

 Looking pretty ominous

It was crazy - lots of smoke due to an intentionally-set forest fire pretty nearby.  We were a little worried but assumed everything would be fine.  Once we arrived at our townhouse, which was just under a mile from the beach/transition 1, we got settled and unpacked, and picked up some groceries (and wine!).  The travel day was also a rest day so the rest of the evening was spent making dinner and relaxing.

On Thursday we hit up the Ironman expo and registration at Squaw Valley, and immediately noticed the thick layer of smoke that was blanketing everything.  I was surprised that they didn't allude to the smoke and air quality at all in the athlete's meeting, it was kind of like the 'pink elephant' in the room.

Friday was beautiful, though.  It seemed the smoke had cleared up and it was warm and sunny.  On that day we checked out the beach and swim course, and did a little pre-race swim of about 20 minutes.  The water was gorgeous, crystal-clear and pretty chilly when you first got in.  Not bad at all though.  One of the volunteers at check-in warned me that the water was 'so cold' but once I was swimming it was completely fine, probably 17 or 18 degrees.  Cold, schmold! She was from California, after all!  

Ailsa and I took our bikes out for a quick little spin on Friday as well, 20-30 minutes.  One or two of my gears were skipping a bit, which always happens when I switch to the race wheels, but I figured I would just get the mechanics to quickly check it down at the race site the following day.  Normally it's just a quick adjustment and I can do it myself most of the time, but I couldn't get it dialled in perfectly, and I wanted it to be just perfect, given I'd be riding it for 180 km!

During the day on Friday, we brought Ailsa's bike to a bike shop in Tahoe City, as she was having an issue with her brakes.  I really should have brought my bike, which could have gotten fixed up and squared away, but no - I decided to leave it until the next day. Why everything always last minute...

A little pre-race snack/meal on Friday down at Tahoe City's Brewery!  Yam fries and some other good stuff...

On Friday evening, I was reunited with BFF Stephen, whom I hadn't seen in over 3 years!  He drove up from SF to hang out and support crew us.  We had so much fun catching up and it was so great to see him.  

After a pre-race shake-out run on Saturday morning with Ailsa and Stephen (Barry also joined in for the fun but is MIA from the pic for some reason- probably because he took the pic! Geoff had studying to do so he was also MIA)

 Saturday was a gorgeous day, sunny and blue skies, and around 26C and no smoke to be seen anywhere.  The bike drop at T1 and run gear/special needs bags at T2 was to be completed between 10-3 pm.  It's remarkable how disorganized I was that day, it was of gong show proportions.  We drove the mile down the hill in the van with our bikes and run gear/special needs bags, and once parked and getting out of the car, I saw that Ailsa had her swim to bike gear bag as well.  I had a brain fart and didn't think we needed to bring it till the morning, so didn't have it with me.  Ailsa was pretty sure we needed to check it in. We decided to walk down to T1 to double check that we needed to check that bag in.  We did.  Oops.  Also, I figured there would be a tent with bike mechanics down at T1 so I could get them to quickly adjust my gears.  There wasn't.  Okay....

Turns out there was a little bike store just a few blocks away, so the new plan was that Barry drove me quickly back up the hill to our house, I ran in and gathered up my swim/bike gear bag (which of course wasn't packed so I had to quickly organize and pack it), and at the same time, Ailsa and Stephen would bring my bike over to the bike shop for a quick adjustment, and we'd meet them back down there very shortly.  However, the bike shop told them that there was a reason the gears weren't all lining up properly and that was because there was a 9 speed cassette on the wheel and my bike was a 10 speed.  #amateurhour

Rewind a bit here... after Worlds I wanted to switch up my 23 cassette for my old 25 that I took off the race wheels last year, due to the course being so challenging.  I must have grabbed the wrong cassette when I brought it to Element to get it put on (the cassette that I used when last racing my 9 speed road bike in 2012), and unfortunately here we were at 1pm on the day before the race with no options, as this little bike store unfortunately did not have any cassettes I could have used (not really a specialty tri store), and I hadn't brought the 23 cassette on the trip with me.  And there wasn't time to take my bike to that other shop in Tahoe City to get a new cassette, and drive back in time to make the cut off bike drop time.  Should have just manned the f up and kept that 23 on, in hindsight.  Sigh. Oh well.  I was a bit worried but figured I could make it work as it didn't really seem so bad when I was test riding it the day before.

Race morning the alarm clock went off at 4:45am. I had the worst sleep of my life, not being able to fall asleep and getting maybe a couple hours, tops.  We quickly checked outside on the balcony and didn't smell any smoke.  We planned to leave the house at 5:30am, but got a bit behind schedule.  Luckily we were only less than a mile to the race venue.  Down at the transition, the air seemed clear.  The swim was supposed to be a self-seed continuous feed, with the first waves of athletes starting at 6:40 (pro's started at 6:30).  I was planning to start in one of the first 'waves' as I hoped to swim around 55.  Ailsa and I got our transitions all set up, and I had to visit the bike mechanic for some help with my rear tire as I couldn't get a seal on the valve extender to get enough air pumped in.  He got it fixed up and good to go (and while he was working on it I started putting on my wetsuit as time was running out), and once my bike was back in my transition spot, Ailsa and I started to make our way down to the beach just before 6:30.

As we were walking over from transition, a bunch of athletes were walking back toward us.  It didn't cross my mind that there was a problem, I just figured maybe they needed something out of transition.  I heard someone say "race is cancelled" but thought it was a joke.  A few other people mentioned similar things.  Ailsa gave me a hug and said 'Good luck!', as she needed to find a port-a loo quickly, but then I said, 'maybe we should just find out what's going on first'.  I asked the next guy walking towards us what was going on, and he told me they'd just announced the race is cancelled due to hazardous air quality elsewhere on the course.  We were shocked and started walking towards the start line where there was an announcer talking about details of athletes needing to get shuttles back to Squaw Valley and everyone needing to pick up gear bags and get their bikes out of transition.

The atmosphere was so surreal, people were walking around confused, some were upset and crying, others angry.  We found our support crew shortly thereafter and then started getting our bikes out of transition, and there was a huge line to check your bike out of there.  After that we found our van and made our way back up to our house.  I was still wearing my wetsuit when we arrived home.  The mood was sombre, and nobody was really sure what to do.  I passed some time trying to find updates and news on the cancellation.  Soon after that, the smoke indeed rolled into the area where we were and you couldn't even go outside to do anything.  I just wanted to go home that day, but our flights were scheduled for Tuesday from Sacramento and we couldn't change them, so we were stuck there.

It was a bit sad having to go and pick up our run bags and special needs bags, but as you can see from the picture, there is absolutely no way the race could have been held in those conditions.  

We had to pick up our run gear bags later on in the early afternoon down at the finish/T2, which was not a fun experience.  It was kind of depressing, really.  But one thing was for sure - the smoke was thick and it was everywhere.  It was awful.  That was the one thing that sort of validated the cancellation - at least it was obvious that the right decision was made in pulling the plug on the race.  But it didn't make it any less disappointing.  It was a huge let down, having planned the whole year around this race and dedicating so many training hours and resources toward it, and then having it taken away from you while essentially standing on the start line.  It really did suck.  However, that disappointment pales in comparison to the residents in surrounding areas affected by the fires, some having had to evacuate, and not to mention all the wildlife and critters affected, killed, and displaced.  I felt almost selfish, being so crushed over something so trivial as just a race, when some people were in danger of losing their homes.  An update on the King fire says that it is now 95% contained, so it sounds like it is under better control at this time.

 You got that right!!

So what's next?  The WTC provided the athletes some options to register for other races, some of them in the remaining months of 2014, and some of them discounted options for a select number of 2015 races, or an entry into Lake Tahoe 2015 (for $100).  At first, I was really motivated to squeeze in another race in 2014, but the only race that could have been feasible was IM Arizona in November.  They only opened up 50 spots though, and those sold out in about 5 seconds.  Now that a few weeks have passed, my motivation levels have plummeted and I'm totally ok now with being done for the season.

It's time to switch gears  and refocus my energy and motivation for next year, and start making some plans for 2015 races.  I am likely going to use my credit/discount for one of the early-season IM races they offered us.  I wasn't really planning on doing an IM next year, but as it didn't happen this year, I need some redemption.  Also, I am going to start my 2015 season with a 1/2 marathon in Phoenix on Feb. 15 (IMS Arizona Marathon).  I haven't raced a 1/2 marathon since Feb. 2011 so I will be setting a really aggressive goal and will start planning out a training schedule to target that soon.  Also, I may jump into the Fall Classic 10 Miler on Oct. 19, depending on how I feel.  Motivation levels are waxing and waning, so we'll see how it goes over the next 2 weeks.

Training for 2015 starts.... now!

Monday, September 8, 2014

ITU Worlds recap

Now that the exhilaration and excitement from Worlds has finally worn off, it's time to sit down and dust off the cobwebs from the ol' blog! Things got away from me this summer a bit and unfortunately blogging got pushed out for other priorities.  Like training!

After Chinook, I put in some really solid and consistent training blocks in the remainder of June, July and August.  The main focus was to do well at both Worlds and Ironman, which are 3 weeks apart.  It is definitely challenging to design and schedule a training program to be able to peak for an Olympic distance race and then 3 weeks later an Ironman.  Heading into Worlds, I was a little worried I hadn't done enough speed training with all of the big volume stuff I had done preparing for the IM.

The Grand Final weekend was absolutely amazing and everything I could have imagined.  The atmosphere was simply magical and it was such an honour to be able to compete in an event of this magnitude in my backyard, with tons of friends and people I knew racing as well.  The organizers and volunteers did a phenomenal job and should be commended for their long and tireless hours spent preparing for the races.  It was really awesome knowing so many of the volunteers at the registration, the welcoming dinner, during the races, and at the closing dinner.  Simply amazing!

Since the age group standard race was on Monday, I spent the days leading up to it on my feet at the other races.  Friday was the age group sprint race and I had some athletes racing so I was there cheering and providing support.  On Saturday I made my way to the venue so I could take in the Women's Elite race, which was very exciting.  By Saturday evening I was feeling really tired and my legs were actually sore from all the standing around and walking I'd been doing.  I decided to just drop my bike off at transition first thing on Sunday morning, squeezed in a 30min jog on the trails near Hawrelak, then came home and sat on the couch the rest of the day, really needing the rest.

Race morning was pretty chilly, about 8C.  I got my transition set up quickly as it closed at 7am, and as my wave was starting at 7:56am, I made my way over to the swim check in and got my wetsuit on.  We had to report to check in 30min before the start, then get shuttled through the corrals to await our start.

I'd practiced some starts from the pontoon on Thursday during the age group swim practice time and lined up right on the number I had planned - #55, which was a clear line to the first buoy.  The lake was actually beautiful this year, they spent a lot of money cleaning it up and getting it ready for this event and it really showed.  When the horn went off, I had a strong start and immediately had clear water, with nobody touching me.  Women's-only starts are so much more civilized than men's!!

One girl got off ahead of me and I was unable to match her pace.  I swam in 2nd for the remainder of the 2-loop swim, feeling very strong and comfortable in the water.  There were a lot of people to swim through from the previous 2 waves (they started at 7:50 and 7:53), but this didn't slow me down too much.  I guess I was towing another girl around for the swim and she came by me during the last 200m and exited the water 2 sec in front of me.  My swim time ended up at 20:36 so a little over 30 sec off of where I should be.  During the long run to transition, I passed the girl who came out ahead of me in the swim, had a smooth T1, and got onto my bike in 2nd.

I loved the bike course!  It was changed a bit from last year, now 2 loops (down from 4).  I felt I was riding strong on the first loop, passing a bunch of girls from previous waves, and leapfrogging with one or two - eventually leaving them behind.  I may have slowed down a bit on the 2nd loop, as at one point I realized I wasn't really even breathing that hard and heart rate didn't feel very high, so I had to kick it up another gear and get my ass moving!  It wasn't congested at all, and other than several guys passing me, I rode entirely on my own.  It was nice to see a bunch of draft marshals out on motorcycles handing out penalties, keeping things fair.  I don't think I was passed by any girls during the bike leg.  Bike time was 1:04.57.

It wasn't until I came into transition and racked my bike that I realized I was freezing!  My hands were numb and I couldn't undo my helmet strap as I couldn't feel it! It finally came off and at the same time I was having issues stuffing my frozen, numb feet into my flats.  Once my shoes were on, I started off pretty fast and wasn't feeling too bad.

It was difficult to know who was in what age group so any time I was passed by a girl I had no idea how old they were.  I just focused on the task at hand and ran as hard as I could, just me against myself.  The new run course is awesome.  Half of it is on a dirt trail and the other half on the pavement.  I had a small twinge of worry during the first 5km as I was going really hard and didn't want to blow up, but my mind quieted this thought, instead thinking: 'This is Worlds, you have to take some risks and not be conservative, see what you can do!'.  I felt strong but it was a really hard effort and once back onto the paved portion I could hear all the cheers and people calling my name and it was the best part of the race.  I didn't look over at anyone, just tried to keep my laser focus and every time I heard my name I tried to figure out whose voice it was.

I probably slowed a bit during lap 2 as I got one of those sharp stitches in the upper trapezius muscle that takes your breath away.  It dissipated after a bit and I was able to push the pace again.  I remember  a girl from Mexico went blazing by me around the 6 or 7km mark, turns out she was in my AG.  Some Swiss girl passed me in the last 500m, and she was in my AG as well.  As I rounded the last curve before the final turn to the finish chute, I heard so many cheers and familiar people and this is what got me to the finish.  That last 200m I was in so much pain but pushed it to the very end and was so happy to come across that line!  And I ran a PB in the run - 43:40!!

The best part was after the race in the recovery area, as Geoff, my dad and brothers, friends, and more friends were all there and it was wonderful to see them.  I had no idea of my time or placing at that point but was pretty sure I'd gotten a top 10.  The results were posted pretty quickly, about 15 minutes later and I was ecstatic to find out I'd finished in 2:14.24, 5th in W30-34, and top Canadian in my AG!!

I'm thrilled with this result, and with a solid race overall.  My goals coming into this event were to beat my time from last year (2:16 - even though the course is different), and to get a top 10 in my AG.  To come out with a top 5 is awesome.  My super-secret goal was to get a podium, and it turns out I was only 1 minute out of 3rd place.  I got passed by 3 girls in my AG on the run, which a few years ago would have been 10 or even 15 in a race of this calibre.  And there's still a lot of room for improvement!

Now, to switch gears and get ready for the one of the most challenging Ironman's on the circuit in 2 weeks... IM Lake Tahoe, here I come!!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Update - Long Overdue

Well, it's been two months since I last posted - getting lazy here!  Or just plain busy.  I've done a lot in the past couple months, too much to comment on in one post so I'll try and capture the most important stuff.  

In early May, I had the opportunity of attending a bike camp with Aerobic Power/TCR in Penticton, which was awesome.  The biking there is amazing.  We got 4 days in - the first 2 days were long, 100-110km, the 3rd day we got rained out after about 50km, and the last day I got in about 50km riding out to Naramata, one of my most favourite rides.  This camp was great in order to build a good base of biking for the season, riding with some fast people! I'd only been outside on my bike twice before this camp so it was a good wake up call!

 Building bikes upon arrival in the hotel parking lot

 getting ready for Day 1 riding

Running on the beautiful KVR trail

Later on in May, I headed to Jasper for 2 nights with my incredible training partner Ailsa MacDonald, her bf Barry, and Geoff.  We got in 2 full days of solid riding in the mountains.  It was pretty frickin' awesome.  The hill climbing there is fantastic, and just what we need to get ready for the monster Lake Tahoe course in September.  You can't train on anything like that around here!  We'll likely aim to do another 2-day trip out there this summer, maybe two.

Looks chilly but we lucked out with the weather - barely any rain and no snow!  LOL

 Partway up the Maligne Lake climb, with Medicine Lake in the background

We even got Geoff out riding - he did the Maligne Lake climb!

With Barry, Ailsa's bf

Just last Saturday, I raced my first triathlon of the season - Chinook Triathlon in Calgary.  My training has been going really well since January so I had some high expectations mixed in with some uncertainty of how I would perform.  Sometimes even though you're confident in your training, predicting race performance can be a bit of a question mark.  I felt that my fitness was at a pretty decent level but I ended up surprising myself a little bit!  

Deborah and I drove down Friday afternoon with Nadia from STARRT, and hit the pre-race dinner and package pick up.  I got a sweet deal on some rooms at the Marriott downtown, always nice to stay in a 4 star hotel!  There was no breakfast in the morning so we hit the road at about 7:00am and made a beeline for a Tim Horton's drive-thru for bagels with peanut butter and coffee.  It was a bit rainy/drizzly in the morning and quite cool, perfect for me.  

Ailsa said I look bald in this picture... WTF I kind of do!!!

 Post-race smiles - happy to be done with PB's all around, and looking forward to some wine!

While we were doing a little swim warm up, the rain finally stopped but the sky stayed overcast for the rest of the race.  The water was a pretty nice temperature, but after doing a short swim warm-up and standing around in knee deep water, I got really cold and my teeth were chattering.  I was glad to finally get the race underway! 

Swim - 21:10 (1st female)
The start was uneventful and so was the rest of the swim.  I went out hard and then settled into a good pace after about 400m.  Then I probably got a bit too comfortable.  I dropped the pack that was drafting me and didn't keep up with the couple of swimmers ahead of me, and swam the rest of the swim on my own, which I quite like.  Nobody around to touch me!  I was happy to hear someone call out 'first female' as I exited the water.  Although I'll need to step it up and start swimming more than twice a week so I can get my swim fitness and speed up a bit.  

T1 - 1:32
The first transition was uneventful - no mishaps = a success!

Bike - 1:03.31 (3rd fastest female)
After the first few kilometres, I wasn't really paying attention and saw a guy up ahead turn right to do down an off ramp.  It wasn't super well marked, and I sat up and was really sure that the course went straight there, and almost just kept going, but at the last moment I turned right.  Good decision!  That was the correct route to go.  Phew!  Dumb-ass moment averted!

The first 10km or so of the bike I was feeling really fatigued and kind of crappy, with that lactic acid feeling in my legs.  We had a bit of a headwind on the way out.  I kept an eye on my garmin, which I had strapped to my bike, for distance and pace, although the pace is stuck in minutes/km and I don't know how to change it.  I've actually gotten quite good at calculating km/hr from the min/km pace, though!  I told myself that my legs would eventually come around and to just keep pushing.  The legs did come around!  I was able to push a bit harder going into the turn-around and noticed that we had a nice tailwind coming back.  

Another girl passed me at about 30km, and we leap frogged a couple times but then she gapped me a bit and I kept her in my sights.  With about 5km to go, Kelly Marcotte went by me looking super strong after having just had a baby in September.  You go, girl! I hit transition just behind Kelly with the 1st place girl just a bit ahead. 

This ended up being my best ever bike split by about 3 or 4 minutes.  I can't believe it! This is the exact same race course as I did 2 years ago and my bike split at that time was 1:08.54 (including both transitions).  So a huge improvement even with taking off the 2 transition times.  All those trainer spinervals and biking in the mountains is paying off!

T2 - :52
Quick and smooth, nothing more to report!

Run - 44:02 (5th fastest female)
I got out of T2 in second place and wasn't sure how my legs would be holding up after biking so hard, but they stuck around for the run!  I pushed the pace as much as I could and kept seeing the first place girl up ahead.  The run course is awesome and I knew there was a large hill to run up around 8 or 9km.  I was running scared and thinking there were girls close to me just running me down, which kept me motivated.  There is a little out and back section around 7 or 8km which is when I got a glimpse of the next girl (Kelly), maybe a minute behind me.  During the last 2km I started getting a twinge of a hamstring cramp, which has never happened to me before, and I was concerned that it might turn into a full on cramp.  My pace slowed a bit during the last couple of kilometers and I felt like I was shuffling up that hill!  I was so glad to finally hit that finishing chute and was quite shocked to see the time up on the clock!

This was my best ever run split in a race, and a PB on this course of over 2.5 minutes.  I think I must have been on target to run a 43-something, if I hadn't slowed a bit near the end.  This is awesome for me!  Also awesome is that I didn't get passed by a single person (male or female), during the run.  WOOT!

Total time: 2:11 (2nd female OA, 1st 30-39)
This ended up being a 5min PB for me in Olympic distance on an honest course.  I'm thrilled to start the season off with this result! Everything sort of came together on the day and I raced as hard as I possibly could.  I had to take the first half of last week as recovery, doing very little, as I really felt that race.  

Next race for me will be the Heart of the Rockies tri in Invermere on July 13, another Olympic distance race.  The training volume will be picking up now, keeping the Ironman in mind for September.  I'm not sure what I'm doing in August yet for races, but September will be the ITU Worlds and Ironman Lake Tahoe.  Lots of exciting races ahead!


Friday, April 25, 2014

10 Miler race re-cap

Last weekend I raced the St. Albert 10 miler, which was the start to my 2014 season.  My run training has been going very well since January and I was looking forward to getting out there and seeing it translate to a good race.  My main goal coming in was to beat my personal best (on this course) from last year - which was a 1:14.  I had run a 1:11 back in October at the Fall Classic race, but that is a pancake flat course and the St. Albert course is quite hilly and challenging in comparison.

My week leading into the race was pretty sub-par, I ended up missing a bunch of workouts due to increased work hours/schedule, and although I hadn't planned on really tapering, this is how it ended up.  The weather turned crappy in the days leading into the race, cooling off significantly.

Race morning was chilly, below zero, but the sun was shining and so I opted for my Lulu capri's, with a long sleeve top + t-shirt, gloves, and headband to cover my ears. I got in about a 10 minute warm-up but didn't feel overly great.  Race start was 9:30am sharp, and in typical fashion, everyone around me and ahead of me started out very fast.  Not sure what it is about this race, maybe it's the slight downhill start, but the majority of people go balls out from the very beginning.  It's not a short race, and I've learned the hard way to hold myself back during the first couple miles, be patient, and just let everyone go.

This ended up probably one of my best run races ever. My first mile was easy, and somewhere around 7:25.  Just after the first mile, I spotted Stephen Murley from STARRT up ahead a bit, and I made it my goal to catch up to him and run with him.  I caught him around mile 2, and we proceeded to run the entire rest of the race together, pushing each other along.  It was awesome! We kept targeting people ahead of us, picking them off, and putting them in our dust.  When one of us started to fall back a bit, the other would provide encouragement until you were back on the pace.  We passed a LOT of people from about 3 or 4 miles until the last mile.

I only looked at my watch twice during the race, once at the halfway point (5 miles), and at the 10K marker.  Our 5 mile split was 36:15, and I remember saying to Stephen, "We should hopefully be able to make it into the 12's still".  I wasn't entirely sure, though, as I knew all the bigger hills were in the last half.  Stephen had a Garmin watch on and occasionally would let me know a split, and some of our mile splits were around 6:50, which was faster than I had ever run in a 10mile race (and maybe even in a 10k)!  Somehow, I kept getting stronger and stronger throughout the race, and by the time we reached the last mile where they have the time clock running, I started to realize we hadn't really slowed down at all!

Lots of STARRT peeps post-race - Tari, Stephen M., Nicole, Dave (back), Larry, me, and Steeven J.

The last mile was super speedy, and super painful.  My finishing time was 1:11.37, and Steve finished 3 seconds ahead of me.  This was a great time for both of us!  A PB by almost 3 minutes, and a negative split by almost a minute! Definitely surprised myself with that.  All that speedwork seems to be paying off.  Next goal will be sub-70min for this distance, it's within reach...

There's plenty more work to be done, but this is a great start to the year.  Next race will be the Mother's Day 10km on May 11.  Looks like the course and location have changed, so hopefully it won't be 10.5 or 11km like it usually is!  LOL!

Happy training!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Getting the Work Done

I've settled nicely into my new life outside the corporate world and so far am enjoying every minute! Lately I've thrown down some quality training weeks and feel like my fitness and strength are climbing to new heights.  As I'm only working part-time right now - yay (and will definitely enjoy it while it lasts, which will not be forever) - I have been getting in some killer workouts with plenty of recovery mixed in.  Compared to previous years, I'm definitely doing more than I usually would at this time of year, in fact it's about the same type of volume as what I typically manage over the summer.

This happens to be a recovery week, which my body desperately needs. Here's hoping that my legs will absorb the previous hard training and things will come around.  I've really been focusing on both biking and running, with swimming taking a backseat, as I've only been getting in the pool twice a week for 2K-2.5K.  Time to increase that to 3 swims a week, starting this week.  My running volume has increased quite a bit over the past 6 weeks, I'm running 4x a week but my total time per week is now up to 4.5-5 hours. And lots of speed work! My legs are really taking a beating.  With the insanely crappy winter we've had here, I haven't gotten outside as much as I would have liked, but the treadmill is a great tool and I have been on it a helluva lot.  All of my speed sessions and hill work have been done on the treadmill (and a couple at the track), with some crazy hard sessions, including this one:

 Ladder workout on the treadmill - can you say ouch?  But I skipped the middle 10 minute interval as the workout was long enough as it is. Even with leaving that portion out, the workout was still 70 minutes!

I've also religiously been going to hot yoga once a week since October, and my body is thanking me for it! I find it really helps to strengthen my hips and spine, and everything feels better when I go to these regular sessions.  Moksha flow is where it's at!  2-3 hours of strength and or yoga a week is what I aim for, and for the most part I've been hitting that target.  

With all this training, I need to make sure I am fueling for performance, rather than just 'eating'.  I love to cook and eat mostly whole foods, having cut out most of the processed and convenience crap I used to like to eat. I love making easy meals from scratch, like this one:  

Cooking up healthy meals - slow cooker beef stew.  Just throw everything in there and leave it for 4-6 hours!  I'll usually bake up a batch of cheese scones or baking powder biscuits to go along with the stew.  They're heavenly when still warm from the oven!

I also like to bake delicious sweet things like this - heart shaped cake with Cinnamon buttercream frosting for Valentine's Day. 

Look what I found! This little cutie is the newest addition to the family - Deborah's mom's new puppy! He doesn't yet have a name, is only 10 weeks old, and weighs 4 lbs.  Aww!

Other than that, I haven't been up to a whole lot.  Just registered myself for the St. Albert 10 Miler on April 13, which will be my first race of 2014! The past 2 years it has been $h!t weather with wintry conditions, so perhaps this year we'll be spoiled and it will be shorts and tank top weather. I'll be gunning for a PB this year.  My old PB on this course was last year in 2013, so we'll see what happens.

And with that I'll leave you with this gem from #FlashbackFriday last week.... a pic from my very very first triathlon, circa 2002 - enjoy!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Gig

Last post I indicated I had some news to share and that it was coming in early January.  I guess it's early February now, my bad.  Anyway, it's good news and exciting at the same time - I left my corporate 9-5 job!  I had been miserable there for quite some time, and made the risky decision to remove myself from the corporate rat race.  My last day with the company was Jan. 17, so it's only been a couple of weeks, but I couldn't be happier so far!

Concurrent with my decision to leave, some new opportunities landed my way.  I have been lucky enough to join up with Aerobic Power Training Systems as one of their assistant triathlon coaches.  I'm loving it thus far!  Things are already quite busy for me.  I've been  leading computrainer sessions each week, and as of this week we've started up a new swim program for the club which I'll be coaching, and I am also coaching a 12 week newbie triathlon program - called 'Learn to Triathlon' (4 sessions a week).  APTS is an amazing team full of incredible and supportive athletes who work their butts off to reach their goals and enjoy themselves in the process.  A big shout out to head coach Kevin Masters as well, he has been very welcoming, supportive and helpful to me, and I have loads to learn from him!  Very excited to be involved in this journey and finally working in my passion!

I've got a few other work projects on the go to keep me busy as well.  I'm doing some contract work for the company I just left, which is working out great as I can do that on my own time at home.  My new schedule is awesome as I have lots of flexibility now and I am in control of my hours during the day.  I'm now coaching at 6am four mornings a week and slowly getting used to those 5am wake ups!

I've been able to structure my own training a lot better and fit in more quality workouts during the day.  I'm already getting stronger and starting to increase the volume and hours a bit.  I feel like my fitness is coming back.  At the beginning of January, I ended up getting the H1N1 flu, which first started as a respiratory illness and lingering cough.  I took a couple days off, got back into training too quickly, and then a week later was sidelined with a more severe case of flu, and literally couldn't get out of bed for 2 days.  I actually had to take 2 sick days from work - my first 2 sick days in over 5 years!!  This happened during my last week of work with my company, not ideal but what can you do.

For races this year, I've committed to racing IM Lake Tahoe on Sept. 21!  I haven't done an IM since 2011, and I'm really excited to tackle this craziness again and will be able to prepare properly for this one.  This course/race is more challenging than many, but the harder the better!  I've recruited an awesome training partner to do this race with me - Ailsa M.  She's a wicked fast runner and strong biker so our strengths complement each other really well.  We've been doing some spinerval trainer rides, runs, swims and strength workouts together already, and we live only about 5 minutes from each other which is really convenient.  Awesome to have a training partner for this!

Go BIG or go home!!

I'm still racing ITU age group Worlds on Sept. 1, which is 3 weeks before the IME, but I think the timing will work out okay for me.  Other than that, I'm planning on a few local Olympic distance tri's this summer, maybe a 1/2 marathon in May, and I have no plans for a 1/2 Ironman this summer.  

Happy Training!!