Monday, November 6, 2017

Road to IMMT: October training recap

A little late with this, but might as well note down some numbers. October went pretty well - I didn't have a firm plan, but just aimed to swim 2x a week, bike 3x a week, run 4x a week, and lift weights at least twice a week.

Swim
12 swims; 23,950 m

Hmm more focus on the shoulders in the weight room might be called for...


No complaints on the swim! I've been enjoying having a club membership that lets me go use the lap pool pretty much whenever I want, and generally having a lane to myself. I'm not exactly getting any faster (dang) but I'm enjoying my swims. For November I will continue to aim for swimming at least twice a week (preferably 3), and I want to get in at least one 3000m swim this month (I've been maxing out around 2200m or so so far and it's time to bump that up a bit).

Bike
13 rides, 563.84 km




Mostly on the trainer using Zwift, alas, but some solid bike time to at least keep the legs moving and the heart healthy. Still not quite ready to get back into any sort of plan, so November will be aiming to increase the volume a bit and do some longer Zwift rides. And still hopefully get outside a couple more times!

Run
17 runs, 169.7 km

this was the most glorious morning run with the sunrise. It's hard to convince myself to get out early and start running in the dark, but one of my very favourite things is running along the lake as the sun starts to come up. It's magical.

way too excited about running at lunch
Oh running, how frustrating you can be. Still working the low heartrate. Pretty pumped that the paces are coming down (I've even seen some sub 6 minute km recently! woo!). Slowly, achingly slowly, but progress is happening. And with the cooler temperatures running is just flat out more enjoyable. For November I'll aim for at least 4 runs a week again, maybe adding in a 5th if I can, and continue to aim for an average number of km per week of 40-50k. Hopefully building a really solid aerobic base right now will pay off in the long run (ha).

Strength training

If you aren't going #asstograss on your squat, why even bother

checking deadlift form. deadlifts are fun. Who doesn't like picking up heavy things and putting them back down again.
I'm not quite motivated enough to add up the number of strength training sessions, but I know I went at least twice a week all month (and I think 3 times most weeks!). I'm a little surprised how much I've been enjoying it, especially now that I've built my squat weight back up to more than just lifting the bar. I did take last week off due to life getting in the way and being really tired and feeling like I just needed a break. I do not recommend having your child be born on Halloween - it makes that whole holiday just a huge ball of stress and work, what with Halloween basically being the ultimate kid holiday for overwrought sugar-fueled excitement. Adding a bunch of birthday presents on top of that? I'm surprised the child doesn't just spontaneously combust due to the sheer levels of EXCITEMENT. But now that that is all over, I seriously can't wait to get back in there tonight and get back to lifting!

So, steady progress, onwards and such. Oh, and we have a condo booked for Mont Tremblant now, which I think means this is really going to happen, and aaaiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeee. After watching my friends finish the Hamilton marathon yesterday I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around doing one of those PLUS swimming and biking first, but I assume this will somehow all come together. I hope. Ah. What have I gotten myself into here?!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Oakville half marathon, plus now what?


I don't have much to say about Oakville, really.

Stocking up at the Oakville Expo
It was hot.

Taking pics of the sunrise was pretty much the highlight of the day


It kinda sucked.

It was annoying.

I gave up on putting in any sort of effort about 2k, although that didn't stop my heart rate from being a billion beats per minute.

Expressing my feelings to Nicole at the finish.

In no particular order the things that irritated me:

1. The woman I kept crossing paths with who had her iphone in an arm band that was not only announcing her pace to everyone in the area at 30 second intervals, but SHE ALSO HAD HER MUSIC BLARING. Good god, no one wants to listen to your shitty race music (because let's face it, we all make poor decisions when it comes to our race music), and they especially don't want to listen a tinny version of Despacito blaring through your crappy iphone speakers.

2. The woman who said 'you are almost there!!' at the 4 km mark.



(In retrospect, when I reached about 10k it occurred to me she meant the small incline we were running up. And yes it irritated me enough I was still thinking about it 6k later...)

3. Seeing a somewhat well-known local runner drop an aid station cup on someone's front lawn when we were a good 2k past the last aid station and no where near the next one. I still regret I didn't scoop it up and hand it back to them with a snarky 'I think you dropped this'.

4. It was SO DAMN HOT.

5. The gel I grabbed at the aid station was coffee flavour. Blech.

But I got to see my girls (yay!) and I did meet a guy running his first ever half and gave him a high five at the finish, and now we follow each other on Strava, so hey, some good came out of it.

The crew! Yay!
One last sunrise pic. That group of swimmers had the right idea. I was wishing I'd joined them instead of racing!
And now what.

Well, I think I'm going to revive the whole training log aspect of this blog. I'm probably going to want some records to look back on when this whole Ironman adventure deal is done. I will probably start with monthly updates and move back to weekly once the real training starts in the new year.

For now, the plan is to have a solid October. Roughly speaking, that means each week I'm aiming to swim twice, bike three times, run four times, and lift weights (!) twice.



On the swim, I had a chance encounter at the pool with one of the better swimmers in my club, and she was nice enough to hang out for a few minutes, watch me swim, and give me some feedback. It wasn't my imagination, my stroke had gotten wonky this year (I mean, it was fairly obvious given I got slower...) and she gave me some advice about my catch phase that almost instantly brought my times per 100m back down to where I was last year. Woo! So I'm spending some time working on really locking that in, and also a fair amount of time with my fins, since practicing kicking seems to be helping my overall body position in the water a lot.

Whoa I haven't taken many bike pics lately. Here's Christina and I after a rather chilly early September ride.
For the bike, a couple of sessions on Zwift during the week and some outside riding on the weekend while the weather cooperates. Nothing really planned, just maintenance and keeping up the calorie burn.



Running, slow and steady, hopefully keeping that heart rate aerobic and building towards getting a little faster in November (the hills in my neighbourhood are not helpful. I have no problem keeping my heart rate down on flats, but any incline just disrupts everything. So annoying). Not worrying about too much beyond just laying down some miles and keeping injury free.

My 'I can't believe I'm really doing this' face. The DOMS after the first day of squats was...unpleasant.
And weights! I've done it four whole times now! I was cautious to start (mostly doing bodyweight/very light weights) but I'm ready to move back to the proper bar for squats and deadlifts and maybe even start working back to the point I can do pull ups. Although that mostly requires some weight loss, which in the post-40 world is proving to be a slow and profoundly annoying process. But now's a good time to work at it, and work at it I shall.

So, I'll be back in a month with an update on how October went. And probably some sunrise and fall colour pictures, because really that's the best reason to get outside this month!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tri season is over, now what?

Well, tri season is over.



How I spent my summer
All in all, it was a great summer. I managed to age group place in most of my races, even doing it twice with ‘legit’ 3rd place finishes rather than those slightly odd 5th place ones (I mean, I’m not turning down those medals, but it is a little weird). If Subaru ever updates the points standings I think I ended up placing second overall in the points total for my age group, so that’s kind of neat, even if it is largely because only a handful of people shell out the $$$ to do at least 3 races! I really did enjoy doing the shorter races over the summer, which I think are a little more in my wheelhouse than the longer stuff, if I’m honest.

So obviously the thing to do next year is an Ironman.

I think I almost fainted when that arrived in my inbox.

Still kind of in denial that I really went ahead and signed up for it, but here we are. My focus is now pretty much completely on that beast of a goal and what I need to do to get there healthy and properly trained. I have a rough idea of how I plan to train for it (essentially, focus on the bike and have a strong bike leg to leave myself lots of time for the marathon), but nothing is concrete or written down or official yet. I’m going to spend the next few months building a solid swim/bike/run base, strength training (!!), and having some fun with things. Like bike rides to check out the fall colours and lots of running planned largely around taking pictures of the sunrise, even if I can’t begin to compete with my little brother on that one.



Which brings me to the fact I’m running the Oakville half marathon on Sunday. Which I can’t say I’m feeling super enthusiastic about. I signed up for it way back when because I needed something to motivate me to start building my long runs beyond the strugglebus 8ks I was doing back in June, when every run felt awful. It worked. I slowly (both in terms of # of weeks and the actual paces) worked back up to half marathon distance, focusing largely on keeping my heart rate down and adding 10 minutes or so onto the long run each time (other than race weeks, which sort of acted as cut backs).

I appreciate the sentiment, Waterfront Trail, but I think we can all agree I wasn't looking particularly good 10k into that run.
Running feels decent enough, I guess, and my pace on the 16k I ran this Sunday was down to a not entirely embarrassing 6:14/km, but with no speedwork or high effort stuff in there at all, I have no idea what’s going to happen at Oakville. Clearly I am not aiming for any sort of PB, and the weather forecast looks more like July than September. High of 26, feels like 31, WTF? - and we all know how well I deal with heat, HAHA. Although at least we start early so it shouldn’t be quite that bad during the race.



So my plan is pretty much to flip my watch onto the suffer score screen so I can’t see my pace, keep an eye on my heart rate, and whatever happens, happens. Really, goal #1 at this point is don’t aggravate my sciatic nerve - I had a flare up after Guelph Lake II that is now under control, and after a whole summer blessedly free of back pain, I’d like to get back to that. Slow and steady running seems to be the ticket, so I’ll be sticking with that for a while yet.

So, don’t expect too much excitement in that race report next week. Except for the fact that Sam and Ivanka are also running the race, and Amy and Nicole are lead cyclists! And a morning spent with friends is always a good time. Fun beats out chasing PBs right now for sure.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Race report: Guelph Lake II sprint triathlon

OK, Subaru series, I love your races, but kind of feel like your graphics person ran out of energy by the time they got to this race...
Last triathlon for this year.


It was a good summer, with lots of steady progress after having my training in the winter so rudely interrupted by the death flu/bronchitis. So I was happy to have one last chance to string together a solid sprint distance swim-bike-run, and hopefully improve my series points from the 10th place age group in Milton (best three races count towards the series, and 10th doesn't get you many points...)

Leaving home at the crack 'o dawn

I left too early and scored a sweet spot in transition
It felt ridiculously cold when I got the race site, and after picking up my kit and getting transition set up, I started sizing up everyone carrying a Tim Horton's cup and debating who I could take out and swipe their coffee just to have something to hold to warm up my hands.

Swim start

transition photo I'm too lazy to rotate
Fortunately, before I could get myself arrested for grand theft coffee, some of my Iron Canucks teammates arrived and I was able to distract myself chatting with them and soon the sun had warmed things up enough I was no longer concerned I was getting frostbite on my fingers.

We were all debating back and forth what to wear on the bike - the lake temp was quite warm, but with the cool air temps I wasn't sure how that first few km on the bike would feel. I settled on leaving a set of arm warmers in transition and making the decision on the fly in T1.

Then it was off to the lake to warm up, where I stayed in the water until after the first wave had started, since the water temp was warmer than the air!

Swim - 750m
Time: 16:55.9
Overall: 125/482
Gender: 27/167
Age Group: 6/26

I positioned myself in the second row close to the start flag, and soon we were off. It was a surprisingly violent swim - I think I was on someone's feet almost the entire time (including one girl who I swear was deliberately switching to breaststroke and trying to kick me when I'd occasionally brush against her - WTF?! We are all getting groped and grabbed out here! No need for that!). It also ended up being a little bit choppy, and at one point I turned to breathe and unfortunately got hit in the head by another swimmer just as a wave hit my face and I got the fun experience of swimming and coughing at the same time. Yay!

(uh, to those now thinking 'fuck that I'm never doing a triathlon' it's not usually like that! I swear! You don't have to swim in the pack!)

Overall, it was a solid swim - I was out of the water in just over 15 minutes. The time looks longer because it includes a long run up a hill to the timing mat at transition.

T1: 2:13

I felt pretty warm as I stripped off my wetsuit, so I didn't bother putting on my arm warmers. Most of the bikes in my age group seemed to still be on the rack, and I also saw Fab one rack over and aimed to beat him out of transition, because what good is a friendly rivalry if you don't use it as motivation? He'd started a wave earlier so had a three minute head start, but seemed to be busy eating a three course meal or doing his nails or something and I ended up beating him out of T1.

As I exited, the announcer called my name and added 'she's been on the podium this season'. Whoa. That was a weird feeling.

Bike - 30k
Time: 57:28.6
Overall: 93/482
Gender: 13/167
Age Group: 3/26

Ah, the same old story on the bike. Going super fast, loving life, thinking wow I am going to have a fantastic time today!

And then hitting the turnaround.

And discovering the tailwind now turned headwind.

How did I not realize??!


I could see Fab was really close behind me at the turnaround, so kept pushing even into the wind and over the craptacular pavement of the last 5k back to the park, expecting to hear him come up behind me at any second. Sure enough as I reached my transition rack, I heard the announcer call his name and knew I'd have to hustle to get through transition ahead of him!

T2: 1:15

There were two bikes already on the rack (d'oh) but with Fab hot on my heels I didn't pay much attention and switched my shoes as quickly as I could. Would have liked to have had this one under a minute; not sure why it took so long. And I totally forgot to grab my run visor, too!

Run - 7k
Time: 37:54.5
Total time: 1:55:45.4
Overall: 111/482
Gender: 17/167
Age Group: 3/26

The run felt pretty awful, and I'm kind of surprised it took Fab a full km to catch me. Damn. I chased him for a while just trying to keep him in my sight, and listening to the footsteps coming up behind me to see if they sounded 'female'. Mostly it was guys (it usually is), but no girls in my age group went past me. At least as far as I could tell - at least one of the bodymarkers had put on the age groups in miniscule numbering and they were impossible to see!

Spotted Marlene heading for the finish looking great, and sort of marveled at how much smaller the hills seemed compared to running them at the Olympic back in June. The difference in temperature really made a big difference in how painful it felt!

It wasn't a comfortable run but I got it done, and I'm pleased with how steady I held the pace.



Not bad!

Crossed the finish where Fab was waiting, grabbed the nonachoholic recovery beer, took a sip, remembered I loathe beer and got rid of that in favour of a water bottle instead. Checked the results to find myself 3rd for age group! It felt pretty well earned. I raced hard and I'm very pleased with how that last race of the season went.

Iron Canucks Gang

With the very inspiring Esther post race. She just did IMMT and decided at 5 am she felt like doing a triathlon and showed up for GLII!

Awards

Lame attempt at artsy bling photo ruined by overexposure. Ah well.
Now, on to other things. Like that BIG GIANT addition to my race schedule up in the corner. That deserves a whole separate post...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Race Report: Iron Girl Canada 2017




I'd been looking forward to this race for a while, knowing my girls Amy & Sam would be there, along with a whole crew of Tri Chicks, coach Nancy and Natalie, and a few other assorted people I know (Janice, my friend from Milton Kristi, Jana, other people I'm sure I'm forgetting). Annnnd...well to be honest I'd looked at previous years results and had an age group placing on my mind. A hard effort on the bike and a not-entirely-sucky run would likely do it to hit the top 5.

Up early to go pick up Sam and drive to the race, snag a parking spot, and fortunately we got there early enough I was able to get a decent spot on the rack in transition. As I memorized the location of my rack, I started counting and realized there were five full racks of bikes for women 40-44. Holy crap. I've done races where there have barely been five racks for all women total! It was at that point the sheer size of the race started to sink in, and I was feeling some pretty heavy doubts about that age group placing thing. Really, you think you can be a top performer when there's this many people here? Over 700 women and over 180 registered just in your age group? Come on!

The Iron Canucks racing - Amy, Sam, some girl who looks weirdly tall in this picture, Louise

Can you spot Sam setting up her stuff in the background?

It's like 'Where's Waldo?' but with Iron Canucks around here.

So many 40-44 year olds
The news from the L.O.S.T race in Oakville the day before had been 8 degree water (yikes!) so we went to check out the swim exit and get our feet wet. Fortunately, because wind patterns weather blah blah blah stuff I'm sure a meterologist could explain, the Grimsby section of Lake O doesn't roll as often as the northern shore of Lake O, and it was downright pleasant. Probably 20 degrees (doable without a wetsuit, although I wore mine because security blanket).

So much calmer than at Niagara two weeks earlier!
Since the lake was looking calm we decided to swim the 500m from the swim exit to the start as a warm up, which I'm really glad we did. I was a little panicky feeling at the start and it gave me time to get my nerves settled down, plus observe the landmarks on the shoreline so I'd have some sense during the race about distance.

Shook out my pre-race nerves, watched the first wave start from the shore, then got in the water to make my way out to the deeper part of the start area. Floated (and let's be honest here, peed - we were all doing it, guaranteed) while the next two waves went off. I wanted to start further out from shore since the race encourages weaker swimmers to hug the shoreline and walk when they need to, and Coach Nancy had told us to make sure to stay further out with the stronger swimmers, and we'd be less likely to be caught up in congestion and flailing limbs.

Swim
Time: 10:26.9 (2:05/100m)
Overall place: 152/704
Age group place: 53/143

10 second warning, and we were off. I started at the front which was the right move - didn't get tangled up on anyone, and no one swam over me. Wasn't able to latch on to any fast feet, unfortunately, and just focused on trying to swim straight for the distant swim exit buoy. It was a very undramatic swim, except every time I turned to breathe towards shore I could see what looked like a seething mass of yellow and white swim caps. I was very glad I was clear of that!

At the swim exit I hit a bit of a traffic jam and used the opportunity as I was standing there waiting for the exit to clear to hit the lap button on my watch. I was a little disappointed to see I'd been longer than 10 minutes on the swim - I had tried to swim pretty hard and was hoping to be 9:xx. Ah well. My swimming remains competent and unspectacular!

I have no memory of Coach Nancy taking this picture. Post swim delirium?
T1: 1:48

Achieved my goal of beating my T1 time from Niagara two weeks ago (same transition set up, right down to being on basically the same bike rack in both races!). It felt like everyone else in my age group had come out of the water at the same time and it was kind of mayhem. Wetsuits and swim caps flying everywhere. I skipped putting on socks, which saved some time, but my wetsuit is still a huge pain in the ass to get over my feet. I really need to try some surgery on it to see if I can't improve things there.

Looks like I'm about to drop my bike here. Thank you Danielle for the picture!
Hit another bottleneck leaving transition when the two people taking up the whole road in front of me were sauntering towards the mount line like they were taking a Sunday stroll. I managed to sneak around them and get safely mounted and on my way. Eventually.

Bike
Time: 36:03.9 (speed 33.27 km/hr)
Overall: 17/704
Age group: 2/143

And this is where I really felt the difference between a mixed gender race and a women's only race.

I said 'on your left/thank you' a lot.

No one passed me.

It was pretty awesome. Although my legs were like 'um you know we have to run after this, right?' and my heart rate, once my HRM finally started picking it up properly, was up in scary 'how long do you think you can really hold this?' territory. Shut up legs, just push as hard as you can and we'll worry about the run later.

Heading out on the bike; photo via Ted.
I was definitely in my happy place. Once I hit the turn around, the number of people in front of me had really thinned out, which made things a lot easier - less having to pass clumps of people, more just passing individuals. I hadn't been able to see the numbers on anyone's legs due to the bright sunlight, but I was pretty sure I'd made good headway through my age group. Coming in towards the finish there was one woman wearing a brown tri suit who caught my attention because she looked really fast, but I couldn't quite overtake her and she got into the chute slightly ahead of me. Then we both got tied up behind someone who had full on dropped her bike on the ground. Bike in and out was just not destined to go well for me!

T2: 0:59

Transition was empty.

Like, really empty. I surveyed all five 40-44 bike racks.

No bikes.

WHAT.

The Tri Ontario official standing near my rack saw the expression on my face, laughed, and gave me a thumbs up.

Oh boy. Time to fly through this transition and see how long this lasts..

(I was, in fact, second off the bike - that woman right ahead of me coming into the chute? She was in my age group, and also a cancer survivor, so her bike was racked on a special rack for survivors right by the bike out/in, which I think is a pretty awesome thing for the race organizers to set up! Survivors also get special bibs and swim caps, and an awards category to themselves as well).

Run
Time: 26:13
Overall time: 1:15:29.8
Overall: 21/704
AG: 3/143

I got out of transition before the woman in the brown tri suit, but she caught me pretty quickly, running at a blistering pace. She didn't have an age written on her leg, so at the time I didn't know she was in my age group, but I had a feeling (she ended up winning not just our age group, but also the survivors category as well). I settled in to what felt like a maintainable pace and braced myself for a stream of people to start coming past me - but it didn't really happen. In mixed gender races I can count on a pretty much never ending series of guys blowing past me, but without the men, I found myself actually catching up to and passing people! That just does not happen to me on the run!

I wasn't looking at my watch (although I did take a few looks at my heart rate monitor until I decided that that was information I was perhaps better off not knowing, because dear god how am I not dead?!), and just focused on trying to catch the people in front of me. I could see someone not far off who I was pretty sure was Jana and focused on her, trying to slowly reel her in. At the turn around a woman with a 41 on her leg went past (damn - but she was motoring and I mentally congratulated her) and then shortly after I saw Natalie heading the other direction, looking unbearably cheerful and like this was the greatest thing that had ever happened to her. 'This is so FUN!' she yelled to me. I was like WTF dude no it isn't it HURTS SO MUCH. But knowing she wasn't far behind did help motivate me to maintain my pace. If they are going to catch you, I said to myself, make them work for it. Don't make it easy!

Amy wasn't far behind Natalie and we high fived, and then I was looking for Sam but somehow missed her completely. Probably too focused on not having my lungs forcibly exit my body. Sucks I missed her, that's the best part of the run out and back! Getting to tell your friends how much racing sucks!

I caught Jana around 3k in. I can't remember exactly what I said to her (something about it hurting, probably), but she seemed to agree with me on the subject.

Finally I was into the final km and coming up the hill that is way bigger on the way back than it was on the way out. Coach Nancy was waiting at the top to yell encouragement at me, which I was completely incapable of absorbing because all my brainpower was being used to just keeping my legs moving and all I managed to say was 'can't.....breathe....' and then she left to encourage a TriChick going the opposite direction while Ted took my picture.

This actually looks a lot better than I was feeling at this point. Note Coach Nancy is ON A MISSION to motivate everyone. She's the best!
And then I was sprinting for the finish and I could hear people yelling my name and Oh Thank God that's over.

Heading for the finish, pic via Danielle and the awesome Iron Canucks cheer squad.
Guys. You guys, these splits.



I mean, on the one hand, I've run a half faster than that pace, but after having to completely rebuild my run fitness since March? I'm over the moon happy about running that speed over 5k after a hard 20k bike. And negative splitting! Things are starting to come back together!

I downed the bottle of water I was handed at the end in about 12 seconds, got my medal, got congrats from Danielle, waited for Natalie and Amy and Sam to finish, and checked the results.

Age group place achieved, and almost cracked the overall top 20.


Wait for it...

Amy, me, Sam, back in the lake after to try and cool off and de-stink a bit before the drive home. I was terrified the entire time we were taking this picture that Sam's phone was going to fall in the lake!

Picking up the Big Bling (thank you Amy for taking the pic!)
Enjoying the podium a little too much (pic via Nancy)
Sparkly!

You guys the back is engraved! I didn't even notice until this morning!

Still can't quite believe it, really. I'm pretty proud of this race. Swim was fine, I pushed hard on the bike, and I didn't blow up on the run.

So of course I signed up for Guelph Lake II. I'm not ready to be done triathlons for this year, and these shorter ones are just too much fun! One more go around at the whole 750/30/7 deal until I pack up the wetsuit for this year!