Friday, October 30, 2015

Niagara Falls International Half Marathon race report & what comes next

So that didn't really go as planned.

It was a little windy for the half marathon. And to be honest there's not much more to say about it than that - my legs didn't have the pace in them, and I finished in 1:55:08, well off my goal time and PB for the half distance. But given how little running I did after Barrelman, and the weather conditions, well, I'm reasonably satisfied with the whole thing.

And hey, we had a really amazing weekend!

Our room got upgraded. So this was the view from our balcony. HOLY CRAP. I just regretted I didn't bring my DSLR to take some decent pictures!

I am far, far too lazy to figure out why this picture is the wrong way around. Good swag bag at this race!

Laid all my stuff out...realized I forgot a sports bra. Fortunately I did bring my bikini, which is a lululemon swimwear thing that's basically a sports bra, it just has a bit of a history of unpleasant chafing. But given that Clifton Hill has a distinct lack of sporting goods stores, that's what I had to work with. It ended up find - the chafe issues I've had with it in the past all happened while wearing a wetsuit, so it seems to be fine for running. And that concludes way more info than anyone needs about my bra situation.

I took approximately 9 million pictures that all look exactly like this.

Antica wood fired pizza. Go there next time you are in the falls! Amazing!

Being tourists.

OMG I met wax Katy Perry!

Just the view from our room. Again. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.


Nicole, Sam, me, Ivanka. Yes we dragged the girls up to the room to ADMIRE THE VIEW.  I just don't know how I can ever stand to stay in a regular Niagara Falls room now...

We had crappy races.

But at least the medal is nice!

My girls. And the falls. Good times! Even when the race sucks we have a lot of laughs.
So that's pretty much a wrap on 2015. We have the Egg Nog Jog in a few weeks, but that's a fun thing, not a goal race. So I'm going into recovery mode (so far 4 days off completely and going for a 5th!) and then base building.

Working on a PB for non-injury related rest time over here. Go me!

Why the base building? Because the plans for 2016 are starting to come together, and that base is going to be VERY important.

Yes, I signed up to tackle the beast. Once. Not the full Ironman. The peer pressure was getting intense on this one! I'm really, really excited about this. Hopefully I can get out there in the spring to ride the course in advance so I know exactly what I've gotten myself into!

Tangentially related, I changed the name of my new bike. Shut up, it's my bike, I can do what I want. I had one of those moments on one of our few rides together so far where I just knew I had the name wrong. Her name is now Bad Wolf (yes all my bikes are female), which for those of you with less nerd cred than me, is a Dr. Who reference. And I think a bike named Bad Wolf is appropriate for tackling the beast for the first time! I may have to rewatch those episodes on the trainer this winter so she knows what she has to live up to (omnipotent reality warping abilities would come in handy. I'm just saying).

So now another few days of laziness, and then base building starts next week. Eyes on the prize this summer!

Monday, October 12, 2015

So now what?

Hey, I'm still alive! And actually feeling pretty damn good! Assorted thoughts, coming up:

Random fact: I ran the half marathon at Barrelman faster than I ran my first ever half back in 2012. And also faster than my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th half marathon. Kind of nice to have that comparison of my progress! Although the 4th one isn't really fair since I sprained my foot during the training and used it as a training run rather than racing it.

Yes, I have taken the hat off since the race. Once or twice.

(people who know me: um, are you going to talk about that new bike?)

One of the things I thought about a lot leading up to Barrelman was how the recovery would go. I found, through the summer, that race recovery from tris feels pretty quick (certainly faster than running races that last the same amount of time). But I always have that awful recovery process after the Mississauga Marathon in the back of my mind.

Fortunately, it went pretty smoothly. The Monday night after the race was rough, but it was just standard post-race muscle soreness. No scary injuries or worrying aches and pains, just my quads and hamstrings letting me know how hard they worked. By Thursday I was feeling normal, and now I'm back to running and biking and feeling good.

Angry Lake Ontario. No swimming there until next year!
(but what about the new bike?)

So the big goal of the year is done, but I have one more goal race left for the year: a half marathon. I'm going to attempt a new PB. Note I say attempt. I'm pretty much in the best shape of my life right now (half ironman training is awesome), but I won't really be doing any specific training before the race at Niagara, because frankly I'm kind of burned out on speedwork and effort and all that jazz. In fact I'm sort of going the complete opposite direction and running painfully slowly to keep my heartrate in that aerobic zone. Right now I'm pretty sure this is going to be a replay of Hamilton last year - go out at PB pace for 12k or so, then blow up. But hey, I won't know unless I try!

Some days you just have to wear funky pants.
(Get to the new bike already!)

Then I move into training for next year, basically by spending the entire month of November (and much of December) keeping things easy. Easy easy easy SUPER easy. I need a little recovery/base building, and now is the perfect time to start experimenting with low heart rate training. I'll commit to 6-8 weeks of that and see what happens, then decide if I want to continue.

Hopefully I can get back to the pool soon, too. My lunch hour pool is closed until January, which is making it really difficult to fit in swim workouts! I miss open water.

(seriously, are you not going to talk about that NEW BIKE??)

I did accomplish a big goal this weekend - my first ever imperial century ride! (um, that's a sensible thing to do when you are supposed to be training for a PB half marathon attempt). 165 km of good times. Zindine asked me to join him and a couple of other lovely folks from his tri club, and we went from Georgetown up the Forks of the Credit and then over to Cambridge and then all the way back. It was super fun! And I felt a lot better through the ride than I thought I would (the route helped, with lots of nice downhill towards the end). Key, of course, was Irina acting as our support crew and appearing with bananas and water at the perfect moments.

All photos via Irina! This was one beautiful ride. The fall colours are spectacular right now.
With Zin at a bakery stop early in the ride, but after conquering the Forks of the Credit. Happy the hardest hills were done!
What am I even doing here??!! Perhaps contemplating the magical bananas Irina gave us at 120k. Perked everyone right up!
Great group for the ride! Looking happy because only 40k (hahahaha) to go!
BIG thanks to my husband on this one - he not only was stuck with the kids all day while I gallivanted around the countryside, he cleaned pretty much the whole house while I was gone. AWESOME. Love that guy.


Next year's plans are largely still up in the air. The only sure thing right now is ATB, to get that damn sub 2:45. Then I'll probably do a spring 10k (maybe Oakville?), and then it'll be tri season again!

Tri season is very much a question mark. Before Barrelman I was considering focusing on sprint distances next year, but now having done long course I'm not sure I'd happy with that (the bike leg is just so short...). And it's hard to choose races - to some extent I want to revisit the same races again, to see how I can improve, but then I also want to try new ones. And all of this has to be balanced with my work and family life. So it's all a bit complicated. Stay tuned.

FINE. There's also this.

Yeah. I got a new bike.

Let me just reiterate how awesome my husband is for going along with THIS craziness.

Like a little kid on Christmas morning.
Her name is Epona, after the Celtic horse goddess, and also a character in a book I loved as a kid who had a white horse. I figure a horse goddess would probably be pretty cool with bicycles. (note: I changed her name! Update coming on that. Hey, it's my bike, I'll do what I want.) She's definitely a far different ride than my road bike; the position is completely different, I'm having to re-learn how to climb hills, and the bar end shifters are definitely taking some getting used to. And I don't have any of the hydration accessories yet to let me take her on long rides.

But oh, the speed! Hot damn can we ever go fast.

I've made a few tries for that QOM. Took 19 seconds off my best time first try with the tri bike!
So I'll be squeezing in a few rides before it gets too cold. And getting seriously pumped up for tri season next year!

Might have to pay another visit to this generous apple farm, too!