Monday, June 22, 2015

Welland: Post race

So what have I been up to since I finished my first triathlon?


Yeah, that's a half iron distance tri. 2k swim, 90k bike, 21.1k run.


I've been thinking about this for a while, from back last fall when I decided I was going to pursue triathlon this year. Granted, my original thoughts were roughly along the lines of OH HELL NO.

But my thoughts on the subject gradually changed along the way. The main sticking point, of course, being that whole business of having to swim 2 kilometers, which even 4 months ago seemed like an insanely ridiculously silly sort of thing to be thinking about doing. But now that I can easily knock out 2k in the pool, and since I've rapidly become pretty comfortable with that whole open water swim thing,it is on like Donkey Kong.

Wednesday night open water swim PB. SO CLOSE TO 2k.

Back in the fall I did a 100k ride with Nicole and Sam, and at that point I wondered about the wisdom of ever doing a 70.3 - I mean, I barely wanted to walk anywhere after that ride, much less run a half marathon. But my winter of training really built a solid base - I did 100k at the Ride for Heart a few weeks ago and although I wasn't exactly looking for my running shoes at the end, I could see that running would have been theoretically possible.

Possible if it wasn't for the pouring rain and the fact I couldn't feel my feet. My clothes were literally dripping when I changed after the ride.
In addition to building a really solid bike base over the winter, training for ATB has left me feeling like a much stronger runner on far fewer miles per week than I ever could have predicted. And since biking and swimming are sucking up so much of my workout time, that's a good thing! I know with my base, I can put in a really solid summer of training and be ready to really give this race my best effort. I'm looking forward to the challenge - to a large extent I prefer the training/buildup to the actual racing part, and this one is going to require some serious training!

Big thanks to this guy, too - it's not always easy balancing the schedules of two parents who work full time jobs, both want to work out 10+ hours per week, and 2 kids who aren't yet old enough to be left home alone. But we pull it off, even if it often involves a lot more getting up at 4:30 am than either of us really enjoys.
I've got a few short tris coming up in July & August to use in the buildup as practice, and I've worked out what I think is a pretty solid plan to get me through this strong and healthy.

I have goals. Most of which involve getting faster in all three disciplines.
I will, of course, be using Run Less Run Faster for my half marathon run training, with some modifications suggested by Coach Zindine. And the good guys at Trainer Road were kind enough to answer a few questions via email (thanks Trevor!) so I'm set for my bike plan as well (although I'm using that more as a rough guide - given the work/family stuff some changes and modifications will be inevitable).

Obligatory post long run #selfie I have no real reason to include except I think they take away my blogger license if I don't meet my selfie quota.
On the swim, I'll be aiming to get in the water three times a week, with at least one per week being open water if I can manage it. And one swim including (gulp) intervals. The 50m outdoor pool near my house is now open for the summer, which seems like a good place to start throwing in some fast 100 metres to try and improve my swim speed a bit. I've now been told by three separate people that my swim stroke is 'very smooth', although frankly I'd trade smooth for faster!

I have a feeling this pool won't be this empty all summer.
So, here we go. 13 weeks to my first half iron distance tri. This is going to be fun!

Foxy the bike and I met up with an actual fox on our ride on Saturday. Feels like a good omen.
(Not sure I will do weekly training updates, but maybe bi-weekly, for all 3 of you out there who don't follow me on Daily Mile or Strava)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Race report: Welland sprint triathlon

First races are always special. The first road race, first half marathon, first marathon...

And now, my first triathlon.

My nerves were completely shot in the days leading up to this race. I can't remember the last time I was that nervous before a race. Maybe for the duathlon last fall, but this, with the addition of scary scary swimming, was on a whole different level.

Physically I was feeling pretty great, but mentally, not so much. Which was silly, because I totally knew I could do the distances with no problems, but still. Race nerves. Not fun.

The lighting in my living room kinda sucks for photos. Next time I'll use a more well-lit staging area!
Friday night I organized all my stuff. It is NUTS how much crap you need to take to a triathlon.

I also wrote myself a note so I wouldn't forget a key item (I forgot it when I did the Ride 4 Heart two weeks ago, although fortunately I remembered when I was only two blocks from home and was able to go back and get it).

Note to myself stuck to the front door. I wanted to leave it on the charger overnight to make sure it was fully charged for the race.
Then this conversation happened:

And I had to make an addition to my note:


Arrived in Welland bright and early (with my bike, whew), and on pulling into the parking lot I immediately spotted my tri club teammates Michelle and Danielle, which somehow helped me relax. It's always nice to be in these things together.

It seems like so much less stuff when you get your transition area set up. Like where did it all go?

Figured out the logistics, mentally rehearsed transitions and which direction to go for the bike and run exits, picked up my pretty sweet race shirt, got my transition set up, and sort of aimlessly passed the time chatting with teammates and visiting the bathroom until it was time to squeeze into our wetsuits and head for the water.

The canal wasn't as cold as I was expecting, and I did about 200m of swimming to warm up and hopefully help alleviate the inevitable Swim Panic, and then it was time to line up for the time trial start. As #101, I was the first blue cap after the first 100 people were in yellow caps, which was kind of fun, plus made it super easy to know where I needed to line up!

750m in 16:25 (2:11/100m pace)
Overall place: 138/240
Gender place: 49/90
Category place: 11/13 (freakin' fast age group I'm in)

The time trial start (a swimmer every 5 seconds) was extremely efficient, and before I knew it I was off and swimming.

And panicking.

But just a little bit. I got it under control within about 200m and just focused on sighting the next buoy, and then getting to the green turn cone. Pretty much I Kimmy Schmidted it.

By the time we turned to come back towards the start I was almost enjoying myself! I took this very easy, as I'd planned. No sense swimming myself into hysterics in my first race. Someone grabbed my ankle early on, and I did get lightly kicked in the face at one point, but the time trial start meant there wasn't a lot of contact with the other swimmers. I got passed by a ton of people in blue caps (who would have all started behind me, since I was first blue cap), but I also passed a bunch of yellow caps, who started ahead of me. Kind of balanced out.

Is this photo of me exiting the swim in the distance better or...
Or this one where I'm only half in the picture? Thanks for hogging all the photographer's attention, Greg!

Swim exit run up: 1:49

Swam up to the exit where a friendly volunteer hauled me out of the water, and then off on the loooooooooooong run to transition. That's about the only thing I didn't enjoy about this race - it's a good 400 meters from the swim exit to transition, and although it was over pavement, there were parts that were pretty rocky and rough on the feet. I did see a volunteer sweeping as many of the pebbles off the path as he could, which I appreciated! And one advantage of the long run up was I had plenty of time to strip down the top half of my wetsuit. Next year this race will be at the new flatwater center and probably won't have the long run to transition, which will be nice if I do it again.

T1: 1:38

Transition went smoothly, other than when I was trying to pull my wetsuit off my left foot and it JUST WOULDN'T GO and then I realized I'd hooked my fingers onto my timing chip. D'oh. Got that sorted and off on the bike. Kind of surprised my transition time was under 2 minutes, I was expecting it to be longer!

Pre-race photo of the bike out, just because I need some more visuals in this post.

30k in 55:17.8 (32.55 km/hr)
Overall place after the bike: 85/240
Gender place after the bike: 23/90 (11th fastest bike time for females)
Category place after the bike: 6/13 (3rd fastest bike time in age group)
(hey, my bike is my strength, I gotta check these things!)

My favourite part. Always. Bikes are awesome. I got off to a rough start when I forgot to start my Garmin for 500m (I didn't wear it for the swim and left it on the bike), and then when I got up to speed my bike was vibrating in an odd way. I ended up stopping briefly to try and figure out what was wrong, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary, and when I started again the odd vibration was gone. So I don't know what that was about, but I'm glad I took the few seconds to stop and make sure everything was OK.

Settled into my aero bars, brought my cadence up, and commenced passing people. The best part! When I glanced down at my Garmin I was seeing speeds like 34, 35+ km/hr and it was blowing my mind. All that training had clearly paid off bigtime!

And then I reached the turn around.

Oh. There had been a tailwind.

So my speed slowed a bit, but I kept it up above 30 km/hr for the rest of the ride. I could have pushed a little harder but I wanted to save my legs for the run. Look at me being all sensible and saving the suffering for the end of the race!

All smiles coming into the finish of the bike course!
One kind of interesting thing is this was by far the flattest ride I've ever done. I don't think there was any elevation change at all! Way different than the terrain where I usually ride. It was quite a change to just try and hold the same power for a long period of time, rather than having to modulate my effort for hills. Frankly I think I would have liked a hill or two just to change things up a little bit. But overall, just an awesome ride.

T2: 1:12

Got back into transition (I have got to practice doing proper mounts and dismounts, this having to come to a dead stop to get off the bike is not ideal), and again I'm surprised how quickly I got back out again. It felt longer. Changed my shoes, changed headgear, grabbed my garmin and water bottle, and out the run exit. Very nice.

7.5k in 41:03 (pace 5:28/km - although I like what my watch says better, which was 7.8k and a pace of 5:14/km!)
Total time: 1:57:22.3
Overall place: 98/240
Gender place: 24/90 (36th fastest run for gender)
Category place: 6/13 (9th fastest run for age group - again, holy fast age group!)

The run went really well! I felt like I was running through molasses, and if I'd had to guess I would have said I was running 6 minutes + per kilometer, but my watch was showing crazy things like 5:08, 5:15, and so forth. Sweet. Because the day was overcast there was no horrible sun to deal with, and pretty much ideal conditions to run. I stopped at two water stations to grab whatever sports drink they were serving (Heed, maybe? It's all a bit of a blur; whatever it was I would have preferred something sweeter) and walked briefly to drink, but other than that I just kept pushing and trying to maintain pace.

It sure wasn't comfortable, and there was a really depressing moment when we reached the duathlon turnaround and I was all 'but...they get to turn...I have to keep going???? UNFAIR!!!', and the triathlon turnaround felt like it was maybe located in Windsor and we'd never ever get there, and then the last kilometer took FOR FREAKING EVER, but overall this run was really good. I saved enough energy from the bike that it didn't become a death march, but by the end I was D. O. N. E. Overall I think I paced the race about right.

The final run to the finish line was sweet. I enjoyed every step. I've been working towards this triathlon for months now - basically since I first got into the pool back in December and could barely swim 25 meters without stopping for a rest - and having that work pay off felt amazing.

And I have a new favourite finish line photo. Thank you My Sports Shooter and MSC for the free race photos!
Before the race I had generally worked out how long I thought each part of the race would take, and my unspoken/unshared goal was to finish in under 2 hours.


And I'm a triathlete. I did it!!!

And I can't wait to do it again! So much fun. So excited to have this whole new world to explore and push my limits. Time to get stronger, faster, and maybe see if I can't find myself a podium spot at some point...

But seriously how nice is this race shirt?? I love it!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Race week random thoughts - first triathlon

This Saturday I will be doing my first triathlon at Welland. Yep. That's a thing I'll be doing.

Some random thoughts that have been bouncing around my head as I lead up to this thing.

You know what happens a lot at my house these days? Laundry. Between me and my husband, there's just SO MUCH activewear laundry.

1. The swim

Well, for starters, this happened.

Wetsuit selfie
Yep, I have a wetsuit now (after a bit of a lengthy ordeal involving an extreme lack of communication from the wetsuit company, although the end result was I got a nicer wetsuit than I paid for, so it all worked out). I've even worn it into an actual lake twice! And it was fun! The process of getting into the suit is kind of hysterically funny - come on out to an open water swim some time and watch 20+ triathletes all squeezing themselves into their suits - like watching people try to put toothpaste back into the tube. Wetsuits are not a flattering look on anyone. Although I did take notes from Sam's experience and didn't put it on backwards.

I swam all around this lake! No action shots because sorry, not quite talented enough to be in two places at once. I'm working on it.
As far as the actual swimming, there was some panicking and at one point a strong to desire to just switch all my race registrations to duathlons because there's this deep lizard part of my brain that reacts to swimming by demanding we NOPE the hell out of there ASAP, but I've learned to shut that bit off. Give me 10 minutes in the water and I'm good. The wetsuit makes a huge difference - so buoyant! So much less effort required than pool swimming! I am never doing a non-wetsuit legal swim, ever!

#proof courtesy my old GPS watch jammed in my swim cap. Who knew that would work. I learn so many interesting things from the Internet.
To think that in December I couldn't swim more than one lap without having to stop and catch my breath! I've got a lot of room for improvement in my swim, but right now I'm just so thrilled with how far I've come. I swam around a lake! Plus I can now pretty easily knock out 2 km in the pool at lane swim. Really happy with the progress in something that is so new to me and so far outside of my comfort zone.

2. The bike

So I did that whole 8 Days in California challenge of pain and suffering in the quest for some rapid bike improvements.

Was it worth it? Um, yeah it was.

Zindine: Round it to 230!
Although now my trainer workouts are just stupidly hard.

But hey, I did the work and I'm seeing the rewards...

Even if I did get an email message a few hours later that someone had already stolen that QOM from me. Damn it. Strava fame and glory is fleeting.

But me and the bike, we're good. I have aero bars now loaned from Zindine (and perhaps more importantly, I can get in and out of them without falling over!), and a quick release mount for my Garmin so I don't have to turn my wrist over to see my cadence/speed/etc (trust me, that move has led to some serious wobbling around the road in the past). I even did a metric century in the pouring rain at the Ride 4 Heart, and dragged some friends on an allegedly 'easy' ride around the countryside (apparently my definition of easy is not necessarily the same as other people's...). So the bike is awesome. And fun. And pretty much my happy place. Anyone want to go for a ride? How do you feel about hills?

My punishment for the hills on that 'easy' bike route? First flat tire of the year. I was hoping it would be my only flat, but then later that week I blew out a tube while swapping my road tire for my trainer tire. #loser

3. The run

Early morning at the track. Fortunately it was unlocked and I didn't have to hop the fence. Such a rebel.
Two weeks back on the Run Less Run Faster plan, and so far I'm pretty much killing the workouts. And they feel really good. I don't have a lot to say about running, except that it's nice to see such serious improvement after kind of floundering around and not getting anywhere last year. This plan just really seems to work well for me - the only drawback, of course, is the lack of easy runs. I do sometimes miss just running for the sake of running and not being a slave to the paces on my watch.

Hurry up, Garmin, we have a tempo run to do!
But that said, I'm very results focused right now and this is giving me those results. My paces are improving, and I just feel so much stronger. Longer runs at faster paces are coming easily. I think I could really kill a half marathon this fall if I'm willing to stick to the training that long. But that's getting ahead of myself. My focus right now is getting into great 10k shape for the run at Goderich.

Running early in the morning means gorgeous sunrises all over the place. Makes the early mornings/passing out in exhaustion at 9 pm a little easier to take...
4. The race

Oh right, that race thing. Which is on Saturday. And involves stringing all three of these sports together, one after another.


This is where goals and pace plans and such would go, but honestly my main goal is to just finish this thing successfully. I have some times and paces in mind but I'm not willing to commit them to paper, (even electronic blog paper!). This is a big enough step into a new sport without putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform to a particular level. I like to be well prepared for this sort of thing, and I feel like I'm not quite there yet, especially with the open water swimming. Going in with only two (or three if my plans for tomorrow work out) swims under my belt is not ideal for me, from a mental standpoint. I know I can do the swim, it's just in a perfect world I'd have done a lot more swim practice.

In addition to the lack of open water practice, I'd have liked to do a few more bricks. I've really only managed 2, just due to scheduling issues. So my transitions are likely to be a bit of a gong show, but hey! All part of the fun and the learning experience. And this tri really is about being a learning experience.

Post-brick, after testing out my tri club top. I did put speed laces in my shoes after this workout (why not before, I don't know - didn't even think about it until I was looking at my shoes after I got off the bike and thought, dang, now I have to tie those).
So I have an idea of what I might be capable of, and I plan to push my limits on both the bike and the run, but my goal for triathlon #1 is to finish with a big smile on my face. The details will take care of themselves.

5. After the race

Yes, there's an addition to my upcoming race schedule up there on the sidebar. If that moves out of the 'tentative' category into the 'holy shit I'm really going to do this' category...well I'll deal with that then. Stay tuned...