Monday, August 24, 2015

Barrelman: The countdown is on!

Back when I signed up for Barrelman, I had a few other events coming up and it seemed very far away. It was easy to just focus on the next race and ignore the lurking September gorilla.

Now all the events are done and it's only 4 weeks away. Oh boy. Nothing else between me and the race, other than my tri club training camp day where we will swim/bike on the actual course. Where did all the time go?

The time was put to good use, anyway. Wonder if I'll beat that 288k week this week or next...
I'm feeling good about it. Last week I took Mon/Tues/Wed easy to allow for recovery from Goderich, then went back to regularly scheduled training. Everything is feeling great! In particular I did a really solid 60k ride followed by a 12k run on Saturday that was a big confidence builder.

Scheduling out the next two weeks

Now I'm planning out the next two weeks, as they are my last chance to get in some big numbers before taper. My nutrition on the bike is getting dialed in, I have a new pair of running shoes to break in before race day, I'm feeling confident in my swimming. It's all coming together nicely. Here's hoping the next two weeks goes well!

Some random pictures because I don't have much else to say:

Gotta love a solid trainer ride

Swimmer in Gulliver's Lake


Hydration is serious business

Sweet race shirt

Monday, August 17, 2015

Goderich Olympic triathlon: race report

Loads o' photos in this race report -  my mom came to the race and took a ton of amazing pictures. Thanks mom!

I was pretty excited for this race - my first Olympic tri! I was not excited about the weather, which was hot hot hot with a side of humid and then a little bit more hot.

I spent the night before the race at my parent's house, and got up bright and early to load up my stuff and head to Goderich. That also let me drive a little bit of the race route on the way, so I knew what I was in for in the first 10k or so of the bike - two substantial climbs and a long stretch of false flat. The rest of the course would largely be a mystery.

The race site was bustling, but parking was easy and it took very little time to pick up my kit, get marked up, and set up in transition.

Ready to roll. Loved those sweet transition box/bike racks.

Then I wandered down to the beach to check out the swim situation. 

Scoping out the beach.

Waves. BIG waves. The pictures really don't capture it, but there were pretty massive swells rolling into shore. 

"Well that's going to be interesting" I thought to myself and then put it out of my mind, since hey, can't control the water.

Listening to instructions, half into my wetsuit.
At 8 we were welcomed by the mayor, and the race director gave us a few instructions. I used that chance to do the squeeze into the wetsuit. Then it was down to the beach to attempt to warm up and face the waves.

Look! The paparazzi!

Well that yellow buoy doesn't look so far out. Oh, that's for the tri-a-try...

The water was the perfect temperature, but the waves! It was like jumping into a washing machine, and that's without adding 100 other triathletes. I swam a bit to try and get a feel for things, and commiserated with other triathletes in the area about how "interesting" the swim was going to be. And then we lined up to start.

Off we go! (it was an in water start which surprised me a bit - I thought it was a beach start. I like in water better any way, though, so I wasn't going to complain!).

Swim (1000m)
Time: 26:06
Overall place: 48/83
Gender place: 20/32
Age group place: 6/10

Overheard after the race: "I knew there were hills on the bike course, but I wasn't expecting hills on the swim!".

Which pretty much sums that up. It was crazy waves that I'm pretty sure got bigger further out from shore. And I think my slowest open water swim ever. And yet, somehow, this was one of my favourites. I was completely calm, cool, and collected the whole time. Sure, I couldn't see shit when I was sighting because at least half the time I'd pop my head forward to look and all I'd see would be a bigass wave about to smack me in the face, I was way wide of the course a couple of times, and there were points where I'm not sure I was even moving forward because the waves were pushing me back. 

I'm the one in the white cap.
But it was fun! Sort of me against the lake and I just kept on pushing, and it worked. My stomach got a bit cranky towards the end as the waves were coming from behind me and really knocking me around (honestly I think I was starting to get a bit seasick - I've always been sensitive to motion sickness), but other than that this swim was kind of amazing. I never could have imagined swimming in those kind of waves and enjoying it back when I did my first open water swim in May. I'm so glad I've made a point to swim open water at least once a week - I've gotten so comfortable with it that a rough swim like that was not really a big deal.

I survived! And I found the pull strap on my wetsuit zipper, so everything is pretty much aces.

Wait, I'm supposed to be taking the wetsuit off. Damn it!

T1 - 1:43

The race organizers had a couple of shallow tubs of water set up at the entrance to transition so we could rinse our feet, which I have to say was a really nice touch that I took advantage of. Got through transition painlessly and with no screw ups.

Helmet first! Always!

Bike (42.5 km)
Time: 1:28:08
Overall place: 39/83
Gender place: 9/32
Age group place: 3/10

The race website gives this elevation map of the bike course:

Looks harmless enough, right?


I plugged the route into Strava and the Strava elevation profile gives a much better indication of what you are in for on the bike:

Yeah, it was pretty hilly. Two big ones right off the bat, then a long false flat, than endless rollers, then finally in the last 8k or so some sweet downhill (and one nice climb) back to transition. 

See you in 42k!

So pretty much my kind of bike course. Loved it. I kept my effort in check and succeeded in keeping my average heart rate to 167, and I got down all my planned nutrition without any issues (currently using Skratch and Gu gels, which I will likely also use at Barrelman). Overall a great ride! Leaving aside the issue of the hills, it's quite a lovely bike course. Perfect smooth pavement the entire way, volunteers at every turn to guide you, pretty country scenery, and very minimal traffic to contend with. Really enjoyable.

I'm back, mom! You can stop worrying about me now!
T2 - 1:04

Into T2, quick change, and back out. I was feeling pretty good at this point - my legs certainly didn't have the totally dead feeling I had at Niagara, so I knew I hadn't overcooked the bike.

Heading out on the run. I mostly just like how my arm muscles look in this picture. #shallow
Run (10k)
Time: 1:01:38
Overall place: 50/83
Gender place: 16/32
Age group place: 4/10

So on the one hand, my time here is pretty craptacular, compared to my open 10k time. But I'm honestly pretty happy with it.

It was brutally hot on the run course, and as I may have mentioned once or twice, I don't like running in heat, not one little bit. So just the fact that I ran most of this is a victory (I did walk the water stations, and two nasty short little climbs right near the end). The other thing with this run course is that the 5k out is essentially a long gradual climb uphill, and that really makes things difficult. It's just enough of a grade to make you wonder why it feels so difficult, because it pretty much looks flat to the naked eye.

On a cooler day I would have loved to try and take advantage of the downhill back, but on a day like this, I was just aiming to get through it.

(Clearly I need to take up winter triathlons or something. Or only do early June/late September races in the hopes of having a cool run!)

Finish close....

Time: 2:58:36
Place: 45/83
Gender place: 13/32
Age group place: 4/10 (damn, just out of the medals - OR WAS I?? #foreshadowing)

I see the finish! Big smile time!

Under 3 hours - not too shabby. The swim took significantly longer than I thought it would, although since everyone had to deal with that I think most people's times suffered there (the overall race winners this year both also won last year - and this year they both had swims 3-4 minutes slower). The bike was about what I expected, and the run also took a little longer than I thought. But I'm very happy. First Olympic, done!

Yay me! #narcissism

Then it was back down to the lake for a quick cooldown (I was daydreaming about this for about the last 3k of the run).

Best. Feeling. Ever.
After the race, I met someone who reads my blog, which is a first (I mean, someone other than my friends and family). Sorry, stranger, I didn't even think to ask your name! But thanks for reading, and I hope you and your husband had great races. Naturally he was the one who saw me emerging from the bushes on the run when I had to make a pit stop. I'm a classy gal.

The results weren't posted anywhere, so I hung around for the awards ceremony on the off chance I'd pick up a door prize or a medal (although I didn't think there was much chance of that). I was pretty surprised when my name was called for 2nd place W30-39 - I thought at the most I'd maybe have been 3rd, but I was pretty sure there were too many women ahead of me for even that.

Once I got home and saw the official results it made more sense - because the overall 1st and 2nd place finishers were in my age group, I got bumped from 4th to 2nd for the awards and earned myself a nice piece of bling. Hey, I'm not going to turn down a medal!

This was a really great day. Fantastic race (one I definitely want to do again), a new distance done, and a confidence builder for Barrelman (still not thinking too hard about the run though).

Race swag! Did you know that Garneau makes gels??? Me either.

LOVE this shirt! It's cotton instead of tech, but frankly I have enough tech t shirts. A nice, well fitted cotton shirt is something I will wear often.
So that leaves just one more triathlon this year. Bring on the last few weeks of training! (But maybe a little bit of rest first, because my legs are tired!)

Fuel for my training - caramel rice krispie treats the kids made me as a post-race reward. Love those little punks, even if I'm pretty sure they had ulterior motives. 

Goderich tri: supporting Julie Sawchuk & Share the Road

I'll be posting my race report later today, but I wanted to post about something else first. This is a link to the information and fundraising page for Julie Sawchuk, a teacher, triathlete, and mom, who was badly injured when she was hit by a car last month while training for the Goderich tri. The proceeds from this year's event are being donated to help her family. I made a donation on site at the race and bought a few of the bumper stickers they were selling in support - if anyone local to me would like one, let me know and I'll set one aside for you.

Best wishes to Julie and her family - they were on many people's minds during the race yesterday.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Goderich - pre race

Almost time for my first Olympic tri! Which was originally going to be my main goal race for the year, but has now become a stepping stone to Barrelman. I'm getting really excited for Barrelman - we just booked a hotel room so my husband and kids will be able to spend the day in Niagara Falls while I race, and they will get to come support me on the run and see me finish. I am so excited they will be there!

But that's a few weeks away yet. First I have this Oly to do. How am I feeling about that?

I get it, lazy cat.

Really really happy I'm tapering this week. After Niagara things got pretty intense, training-wise, which has been a lot of fun because I love training, but oh boy I am tired and ready for a few easy days.

Well that's a bit ridiculous. 745 kms of swim-bike-run in 3 weeks.

After Niagara, I did a 15 hour week, an 11 hour week, and I just finished a 14.5 hour week. That's a whole lot of swim-bike-run. It's been going really well. Putting up some big numbers, and starting to feel like this half iron thing isn't quite so crazy.


Things are clicking along here. I'm not setting any speed records, but I'm enjoying the swimming and I feel like I've really gotten the hang of the open water thing. And my most recent pool workouts have felt really good, too. Nothing to complain about here, other than how temperamental Lake Ontario is, with the suddenly flipping from perfectly nice to too damn cold to even put your feet in. YOU ARE MAKING IT HARD TO PLAN THINGS, LAKE ONTARIO.

I had plans to swim this day. Not so much in those waves.

Some solid long rides, some shorter more intense rides, and just some general fun. More importantly, perhaps, I'm zeroing in on my nutrition and pacing plan for the bike, which are going to be key to having a good race at Barrelman. I now have an aero bottle to make it easier to take on fluids, and I've experimented with a few different hydration products to see what I can stomach (both in terms of taste and in terms of getting in enough calories and not having my digestive tract rebel).

I'll also be pacing the bike by heart rate - I experimented with that this past Saturday, doing a 96k ride where I tried not to let my heart rate go above the sweet spot zone (although it was a hilly ride, so there were some inevitable spikes), and then I followed up the ride with a 5k run that felt a lot better than I was expecting. After Goderich I'll move my long rides to a flat route so I can both get in more practice holding my aero position and get a better sense of the heart rate based pacing on a flat route.


No complaints about the run. Mostly following my plan, although there have been a few total fails on a couple of the workouts. Oddly, while last time around I had the hardest time with the intervals, this time around it's the tempo runs.

Seeing lots of sunrises at the track. So happy the local track is finally done being resurfaced!

I'm not bothered by not nailing every workout, though. I'm getting in the miles and the intensity, and most importantly, I physically feel great. Running three days a week really does agree with me.

Plans for Goderich

Hell if I know. The distance is new and the pacing somewhat of a mystery (although I found this article that seems pretty reasonable).  My current plan is to take the swim smooth and controlled and keep it easy (it's also only 1k instead of the more usual 1.5, so that's a plus). For the bike I will aim to keep my heartrate just below threshold, although the course elevation (and some race reports I've read) indicate rolling hills, so the trick will be not to burn too many matches on the inclines. The 10k run could feel awfully long (especially since the first 5k is a gradual uphill) if I go too hard on the bike. If I can resist my natural urge to bike like a bat out of hell and instead keep the bike controlled, hopefully I'll be able to lay down a reasonably fast 10k run (and take advantage of the last 5k of the run being mostly gradually downhill!).

The current weather forecast looks hot, but that could change. Hot weather will likely mean a miserable run no matter what, but I can't control that. My main goal here is to pace the race well and practice my fueling strategy. Obviously it's not the same distance as the half iron, but it should still help me figure out what's going to work (and what might now work).

For now, though, I taper and enjoy not doing a zillion hours of training this week! Hooray for sloth!