Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Race report: Welland long course 2016

Detail on the women's race shirt
The big question Sunday morning from absolutely everyone: How are you feeling after yesterday??!

The answer was - fantastic. I honestly felt like I hadn't even raced the day before. Realistically, the sprint distance is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall hours/miles I've been putting up, so it wasn't that surprising that I was feeling fine. But there was a nagging worry in the back of my mind: at what point would the effort from Saturday catch up with me on Sunday? Because it seemed likely that at some point the fatigue was going to hit. But when?

Sunday morning my husband decided to come along, and so he drove us to the race (which made it a lot easier to eat my breakfast, such as it was. Race morning food is tough to swallow. Literally.)

Setting up in transition. Photo credit: Irina. If you happened to be at the race, you should check out her flikr set in that link - she might have captured a picture of you!
Pretty much a repeat of the day before. Pick up the kit, get the shit organized, say hi to friends, tell everyone, yes, yes, I feel great right now. There wasn't even really time to be nervous.

I have to pause and acknowledge here what a huge, huge support this guy has been as I lost my damn mind and trained like a fool over the last six months. Thanks, S, I couldn't do this without you keeping the kids happy and me sane. And helping with the never ending pile of laundry! Photo credit: Irina

With Sam and Zindine. Photo: Irina

Finally a picture with Fab! we trained together so much last year and somehow never ended up in the same photo! And Natalie wearing the wrong uniform but we'll forgive her. Photo: Irina

The amazing Mellen who kicked my butt in the age group competition. She's such a sweetheart I can't even hate her for it. Photo: Irina

Just did a dynamite job rubbing in the sunscreen, clearly. Photo: Irina
Total sense of deja vu as I got into my wetsuit and headed for the canal for the second time in two days. The swim exit was in the same place, but it would be an in water wave start, with my age group going in the very first wave after the pros. That didn't worry me at all because Barrelman had been the same way, and it wasn't an issue there. (FORESHADOWING)

Me and Sam waving to Irina from the spot we'd staked out over one of the cables that runs under the surface of the canal. I was determined to sight off the cable this time around.
I lined up towards the back of the wave, but along the cable, and then we were off!

Blue cap wave heading out. The Flatwater centre is a really spectacular place to swim. Photo: Irina
Swim (2k): 40:28.1
Overall: 157/283
Gender: 52/105
Age group: 6/9 

Violentest. Swim. Ever. I've been in mosh pits* where I had less physical contact with people. What I hadn't realized was the waves at Barrelman were sent off 5 minutes apart, so it took longer for the fast people to catch up. In this race, they were only 1 minute apart, so it took next to no time for the speedy orange caps from the second wave to start overrunning us more average swimmers.

*I used to be cool

The other factor was at Barrelman I didn't have the confidence in my swimming to stay on the guidewire, knowing other people would be doing the same thing. Last year, physical contact in the swim made me nervous so I tried to steer clear. This year, I'm a lot more confident and I was NOT giving up my place on the wire! Although that did mean I swam straight into three of the orange marker buoys. In a row. Turning your head and getting a face full of orange nylon is a little bit disconcerting.

In spite of all that, it was really kind of fun. And more than two minutes faster than my swim at Barrelman! One of those rare times you really can compare directly, because the course was identical (it's not often you can be sure a swim course is the same from year to year and race to race).

I'm not in this picture, but let's take a moment to appreciate how freaking amazing this venue is. Photo credit: Irina
I can't even begin to figure out that expression. I was happy! I swear! Photo: Irina
T1 - 2:21

Bike (56k): 1:47:43.6
Overall: 143/283
Gender: 36/105
Age Group: 4/9

Transition was a bit of a gong show this time around. My chip came off when I took off my wetsuit - thank goodness it didn't fall off during the swim, it was barely hanging on! I know I fastened it well at the start so it was nearly a causality of that violent swim. I got that back on and into my bike gear, but it took a while. Longer races make me a lazy transitioner.

Heading out of transition.
Settled in on the bike. It didn't feel as good as Saturday, that's for sure. Physically it was fine, but there was a lot of wind (a lot of cross wind in particular) that was seriously annoying, and I didn't have the mental 'YAAAAAAAAAAAAAH let's go GET THIS!!!' that I'd had during Saturday's race. I couldn't remember how far we had to go before we got to turn down towards Lake Erie and with every km that passed into the wind with no turn in sight I was getting more and more restless.

Plus, I was worrying about the run. It was going to be stupid hot and I have never run well in the heat. I think I've mentioned that once or twice before. HA. 

Finally the turn came and after riding into yet more wind, we got a short stretch with less wind. This is also when I attempted to refill my aero bottle.

Takeaway lesson: Make sure the lid on your second bottle is screwed on properly. When I tried to empty it into the Aerodrink, all the water squirted out the side of the lid and all over me and the guy who was unlucky enough to be behind me. At least it was water and not some sort of sticky sports drink!

So I hadn't been planning to use the bottle exchange at the halfway point, but given that I was now out of fluids I got to practice that. Yay!

In addition, while flat courses are super appealing on paper, riding one again reminded me that in practice they are just a different sort of challenge than a hilly course. Holding your position for that long without a break is mentally and physically hard. I was relieved when we entered the last stretch and I knew it was almost over.

Heading back to transition. I may even be smiling!
Although that meant it was time to run...

Overall, I'm satisfied with the bike. I was holding back to half iron effort, and it felt good. Comfortably uncomfortable, as they say. And I was a couple of minutes faster over the common segment between this race and Barrelman, so that's good to see. I definitely want to tackle that distance again without the fatigue of a sprint tri the day before in my legs!

T2 - 1:39

Run (15k): 1:29:12.3
Overall: 135/283
Gender: 34/105
Age Group: 4/9

I wasn't in a super hurry to start the run. Have I mentioned how freaking hot it was? Something like 32C plus humidity. Yay!

Hi Irina! I'm pretending to be super excited about this run thing!
...and I just squirted most of the gel I was carrying all over my hand. Off to a fantastic start!
I ran out of transition and immediately stopped at a porta potty. I took in a lot of fluids on the bike. It was not optional.

I was happy to see all the aid stations - 4 of them on the 5k loop! - and grabbed water at each one. Some to drink, most to dump over my head. The course had a small out and back section, and I was on my way back when I saw Zindine. He caught up to me in short order and I believe my exact words were 'I hate everything about this'.

It was hot. My legs hurt. I was regretting many, many things, like being talked into doing two races back to back on a really hot weekend. WTF was I thinking? As I approached the fourth aid station, I was picturing myself falling into my husband's arms as I finished the first loop and sobbing that I just couldn't go on. I had serious, serious doubts I was going to make it through 15k.

But then something wonderful happened.

When I arrived at the fourth aid station, a volunteer said 'ice' and without really thinking about it, I grabbed the cup. Sure! I'm running on the surface of the sun here, ice sounds pretty good! And again without really thinking it through I dumped that cup of ice inside my tri top where most of it landed in my bra.


Big takeaway #2 from this race? Ice in your bra. If you don't wear a bra, I can't help you, but for those of us who do OMG TRY THIS. It cooled me right off and by the time I was coming through the end of the first loop, I was feeling much, much better. My husband was yelling at me to push harder, and I didn't feel like cursing at him, so I knew I was going to be OK.

Although I did still yell 'This fucking sucks' at Irina.

Fake smile for Irina! (Man, check out that venue in the background. Seriously, it's awesome).

(Also, you can totally fish the ice cubes out of your bra and suck on them between aid stations. ZERO SHAME. It's far from the most gross thing a triathlete has ever done.)

The second loop felt so much easier than the first. At the first aid station I grabbed another cup of ice, and this time it went half in the bra, half down my back. YOU GUYS. Amazing. I was also taking water and the occasional cup of coke, because coke is my jam during triathlon runs.

The wind, which had been a major hassle on the bike, suddenly seemed like a friend. Since I was drenched with water from the sponge bath volunteers and the melting ice, the strong breeze had a fabulous chilling effect. And by the end of the second loop I knew I'd be able to run the third no problem. 10k in roasting hot weather and I'm feeling...good? Who am I?

Starting the third loop, and my hair is like, yeah, we're done up here. 'Scuse us while we get CRAZY. Photo: Irina

Not even a little bit sorry about including all these pictures. Irina, you rock!
The third loop felt pretty good. I even picked up the pace a bit! I think all those miserable runs at lunch in the full heat and sun paid off, because the heat didn't wipe me out completely like it usually does. This is a huge confidence boost going into Muskoka - if I'd had to, I know I could have run another 6k on Sunday. I'm glad I didn't have to, but I could have. 

Because of that, I'm glad the weather turned out like it did. Getting that hot weather race experience and seeing that I can handle it is a really big deal for me.

As I closed in on the finish, my husband joined me for a few strides and encouraged me to push hard. Thanks honey, I forgive you for stealing all the change out of my car to buy a drink during the race. 

Fairly sure I'm heading towards the finish line here. The smile is a dead giveaway.
And just like that, back to back races, done! And done pretty damn well, too!

Total time: 4:01:22.6
Overall: 135/283
Gender: 34/105
Age Group: 4/9

Fourth again! It was a fourth place sort of weekend. And missed my goal of being under 4 hours. If I'd lollygagged less in transition I'd have had it. Well, something to aim for the next time around.

Takeaways? Swim is feeling solid so nothing to worry about there. My nutrition plan worked well, so that's set. I feel like I have a good handle on what my effort level should be on the bike. The run I'm a lot more optimistic about now - the first part of the run on both days sucked hard, but I eventually settled in and felt good. So I know not to be discouraged by a shitty first few kilometers. And based on the fact that I had only a touch of DOMS on Monday (which was pretty much gone by Monday evening), I am in really damn good shape right now. This training plan has kicked my ass right into the best shape of my life. Thanks to Zindine for the suggestion to do these back to back races - they really did turn out to be a terrific way to do the final peak weekend before taper. I learned a lot and had fun doing it!

After finishing I met up with my husband and then jumped back into the canal to cool down (BEST), and then we ran into one of the guys from my tri club who told me there were finisher shirts for us inside the flatwater centre. Finisher shirts!! I wasn't expecting that. And thank goodness he told me because otherwise I probably wouldn't have gone in there.

Detail on the shirt. So cool!
We cheered Sam into her finish, chatted with Irina & Zindine & Mellen about their races (Mellen also eats ice out of her bra. NO SHAME.), and then it was time to pack up and go. What an amazing weekend!

One last photo from Irina, after I'd changed and was retrieving Bad Wolf from transition. The hair is out of control!
And then it was time for food.
Now it's taper time for the goal race. I got my bib number and full team kit yesterday (yes, I will have matching shorts for Muskoka!). This is going to happen, and it's going to be awesome.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Race report: Welland sprint triathlon 2016

Yes, that's two swim caps and two bibs. Why do just one race when you can do two?

When I was thinking about my race season this year, I knew I wanted to go back to Welland again. The timing lined up well with Muskoka, it was my first triathlon last year, and I was eager to revisit the race with a year's experience and training behind me. The fact they shortened the long course from a half iron to a sort of 30% iron meant it would be a good way to get in a last intense training weekend before taper.

Then Zindine suggested also doing the sprint (which was also shortened this year, to a 750/20/5), and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. By doing both races (sprint on Saturday, long course on Sunday), the total distance would be close to a half iron, I'd get some experience on the second day racing tired, and the chance to practice transitions twice. Brilliant. Sign me up!

(somehow, I was the only one he convinced to join him in this plan. What the hell?!)

Prepping the gear Friday night. The cat is an essential component of pre race preparations. Or possibly he was just wondering if I was going to feed him dinner any time soon.

Saturday - Sprint triathlon

I was certainly more relaxed than my first time through this race! With a lot more race experience I didn't feel like I was going to jump right out of my skin. Just normal race nerves. Everything went smoothly with getting to the race site. I didn't forget anything or have any last second screw ups. And I found $20 in the parking lot! Not a bad way to start the day! (although sucks for the person who lost the $20).

I swear I rotated this picture. Oh well. It looks like every other photo of a transition setup taken ever, really.

Pre race selfie!
I met up with the handful of people from my tri club who were also doing the race, and of course Irina and Zindine, who were both doing the sprint.

The smiles of people who have not yet tried to run a fast 5k in 28C weather.
Got into the wetsuit, hit the water, and swam to the start dock. This race uses a time trial start in order of age, so I had some time to kill (last year I got to start as 101 - this year 145. Geeze I only got a year older! A lot more people did the race this year, though).

Spotted Meghan, one of the new triathletes in our club this year, waiting her turn in line. Thanks to her husband Norbert for the picture! She did her first ever tri last weekend and just had to do it again - how awesome is she? 
Swim (750m): 13:28 (includes run up to transition)
Overall place: 136/368
Gender: 45/158
Age group: 9/25

The swim went really well. The time trial start meant there was pretty minimal contact with other people, my sighting was right on target, and it was overall uneventful. That's definitely how I like my swims!

Ugh how do I get this thing off again?!
I can't directly compare against last year, since the swim venue moved to the flatwater centre and the timing mat wasn't right at the swim exit this time. However, it is nice to compare my placings. Last year I was 138 out of 240 people (58th percentile) so being 136/368 (37th percentile) is a big improvement!

T1 - 1:34

Into transition, out of the wetsuit with no problems, and onto the bike. Not a bad transition although I could definitely be a little more efficient there.

Bike (20k): 36:47
Overall place: 84/368
Gender: 11/158
Age group: 3/25

Gosh I wonder what my best sport is. HA.

There was a really long run out to the mount line after the timing mat, which since this distance is so short lowered the average speed a surprising amount -Sportstats says my average speed was 32.62 km/hr, which was only a hair faster than my average speed from last year, when I rode 30k. But because of the long run out, it's not really a fair comparison. The Strava segment someone created that covers the majority of the course is a better representation - over 34 km/hr. Basically, as soon as we got to the main road I settled into aero and commenced passing everyone I could see.

In my happy place
It was awesome. Touch of tailwind on the way out, touch of headwind on the way back, but I was loving life and bikes and the sun and my hydration fluids and birds were singing* and it was glorious. Even the slight burning in the legs was awesome. Pretty sure no women passed me, either, which is always my secret goal in shorter races!

*that was probably actually the sounds of aero wheels as the fast dudes passed me.

Norbert caught me heading back into transition. Yay IronCanucks!
It was almost over too quickly, and then back to the long run into T2. I may not start doing flying mounts this season, but I really need to start trying flying dismounts I think. That run into transition would have been a lot easier if I wasn't still wearing my bike shoes.

T2 - 1:10

Run (5k): 26:16.7
Overall place: 111/368
Gender: 27/158
Age group: 4/25

Ah the run, always the part of every tri that makes me question why I do this. But this run was only 5k, so how bad could it be?

Well, to be honest, the first km felt awful. But then I started to settle into a groove, and to my surprise the heat wasn't really bothering me much. By the time I reached the turnaround, I was feeling downright...good.

And I just kept pushing and the pace got faster. And before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line in front of the grandstand and shaking John Salt's hand.

Hey! Get out of my way!
And feeling really, really amazing.

Total time: 1:19:15.8
Overall place: 110/368
Gender: 26/158
Age group 4/25

Since I've never done that combo of distances before, hello PB. Kind of sucked to miss out on an age group place (in fact I was listed as third for a while, but because of the time trial start a late registrant who started towards the end eventually bumped me off the podium), but I honestly wasn't expecting to be that close. When I saw how many people were registered in my age group I thought I'd be farther back. So it's disappointing but in a very mild sort of way. And far outweighed by how happy I was with the execution of the race, and the fact that when it was over, after a refreshing dip in the canal, I was feeling energized and excited to tackle the long course the next day.

Sweaty post race hugs with Irina (who really left it ALL out on the course, heh). I think this was before we jumped back into the canal to cool off. We must have smelled delightful.
Not a whole lot of time to bask in the glory, though, as I had to pack up my stuff, head home, and immediately commence eating and rehydrating to be ready for the long course tri on Sunday!

Jelly beans are a key component of all good nutrition plans.

Race report on Welland Part II: The Wellanding coming up soon!

Muskoka 70.3 specialization plan: week 6

Two weeks until race day! Time to start the taper!

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 1700m swim; TR Sierra (65 minutes threshold/VO2max intervals)
Wednesday: 8k run; 2000m swim
Thursday: 1000m swim; TR Echo +2 (1:30 tempo/sweetspot) + 5.5k brick run
Friday: Easy 20k ride to check bike set up
Saturday: Welland sprint triathlon (750m + 20k + 5k)
Sunday: Welland long course triathlon (2000m + 56k + 15k)

'workout' is transitions from the races this weekend

This will be a short and sweet update because the good stuff will be in the race report on the not one, but TWO triathlons I did over the weekend. Spoiler: I'm thrilled with how both races went and feeling pretty confident about Muskoka in two weeks!

(also, there may be a lot of discussion about the various places one should store ice during a hot triathlon run. Cups of ice are my new favourite running accessory)

So Tuesday Trainerroad kicked my butt with the usual set of ridiculous intervals. Wednesday a decent run and a solid swim.

Random forest on my Wednesday run.
Thursday I went to the pool more to support and provide a little advice to a friend who has decided to jump into this crazy triathlon thing (YAY!!) so didn't swim long or hard at all. Paying it forward is what triathletes do.

Short and sweet ride in the country to check the bike setup
Thursday night's workout was fairly tough, but felt good. And then an easy ride on Friday to check I'd put my new tires on my bike properly and that I hadn't messed up my gear indexing mucking around with it during Thursday night's ride. Everything was smooth sailing for the races on Sunday. Stay tuned for what is likely to be a really, really long race report with about a hundred pictures in it.

This week's plan:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: swim; TR Sonora (60 minutes of hell*) + brick run
Wednesday: easy run; maybe OWS, maybe pool
Thursday: TR Boarstone (2 hours aerobic). Swim if I didn't swim Wednesday
Friday: easy holiday bike ride with the girls + brick run
Saturday: long easy ride
Sunday: swim, long run

*same workout as the last two weeks but the rest intervals are only 1 minute. It's for sure a good idea to do the hardest workout in the whole damn plan two days after back to back races, right? Like this can't possibly fail. And how is this a taper, Trainerroad?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Muskoka 70.3 specialization plan: week 5

This week was likely the peak of my mileage for my Muskoka training. Overall, another really good one as we build towards the race.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 2000m swim; TR - Elwell (70 minutes threshold/VO2 max intervals)
Wednesday: 9k run; 3k open water swim
Thursday: TR Polar Bear (2 hours tempo) + 4.5k brick run
Friday: 8k run
Saturday: 138k ride
Sunday: 16k long run; 1700m swim; TR - Townsend (90 minutes aerobic)

That was the most mileage I've done in a week, ever. And I feel really great. Let's not discuss the food situation, but I am getting pretty pumped up for this half ironman!

Tuesday's trainer workout was every bit the sufferfest I expected. I held on, but my god it was hard.

And the best part is I get to repeat that workout again this week - but the rest breaks are all one minute shorter.

So yeah, just super excited about THAT.

Wednesday I ran and threw in some tempo pace intervals that felt great. Running is what it is right now. Some days it feels great, some days it doesn't. Just going with the flow, really.

Hey they cleared all the weeds out of the garden in front of my office! Nice!
Then at OWS Wednesday night Laurence said he wanted to do three loops for 3k total, and it wasn't like I could let him do that alone. I am easy to convince of these sorts of things. So, a solid 3k swim!

Swimmers hitting the water at Gullivers

Thursday a great ride on the trainer - holding tempo effort felt a lot easier than the last time through that one, so that was good. Short brick after because I'm a triathlete and I'm supposed to do that sort of thing occasionally.

June flowers!
Friday... Friday I decided not to do my planned trainer ride. I had a big ride planned for Saturday and wanted to be fresh for that, and also I figured since it was an easy ride it would make a good recovery on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday Emma was not very happy with Friday Emma. Friday night Emma can be a real bitch sometimes.

Saturday's ride was, to quote my 11 year old, Totally Epic. I had mentioned to Laurence that I wanted to ride 120k, he came up with a mildly terrifying route (1100m of climbing? yay?), and we set off at dawn. We missed a turn and ended up riding 138k instead (oops!), but it was completely awesome. Under 5 hours ride time, minimal stopping, and a nice average speed of 28.3 km/hr.

I did spend some of the ride hoping Sam and Irina were also having a good time - I'd come up with a route for them that was, um, kind of hilly. I think we're all still friends but I need to buy them chocolates or something. Hills are how I express my love, you guys. And I really love you.

(I'm not sure they are going to buy that)

At any rate, my second longest ride ever and it was fantastic. I have gotten a lot stronger this year, that's for sure!

Sunday, to fit things in, I had to start my run really early. Which at least means sunrise pictures!

I love how this turned out. Especially how you can see my giant calves that make buying fashionable boots in the fall a huge pain in the...well, the calf. 
The pictures from the long run make it look a lot better than it felt. The phrase 'hot garbage' has been used quite a few times to describe it. That's how it goes sometimes.

Doesn't that look all idyllic with the birds and all? Yeah, I was standing on the Burlington Pier, which was just covered in garbage from the Sound of Music festival the night before. There were what seemed like about a thousand seagulls squawking and fighting over food scraps right behind me. It was disgusting and loud. Instagram lies, yo. 

I survived the run, and managed to fit in a short swim (in the outdoor 50m pool, yes!). I cut the last couple of hundred meters off my swim to offer some help to a guy who was trying out a wetsuit and had managed to put it on inside out. I think I earned some triathlon good karma by letting him know and then giving him some tips for getting into it! And that aerobic bike later in the day to finish it off. Whew. No wonder I had two breakfasts this morning. And I'm currently contemplating 2nd lunch.

This week, the mileage will drop but the intensity remains high. Peak week before the taper! (such as a Trainerroad taper is, anyway. They take that 'maintain intensity' thing seriously)

Monday: rest:
Tuesday: swim; TR Sierra (65 minutes threshold/VO2 intervals)
Wednesday: run, OWS
Thursday: TR Echo +2 (90 minutes sweet spot/threshold) + brick run
Friday: Short outside ride to test my new tires
Saturday: Welland sprint triathlon (750m swim; 20k bike; 5k run)
Sunday: Welland long course triathlon (2k swim; 56k bike; 15k run)

Racing!! Yes!! Shit I should probably have practiced transitions more. Oh well. The plan is to go all out at the sprint on Saturday (intensity!), then do a hard effort in the swim/bike on Sunday and hopefully run a half iron type pace. Although realistically the run on Sunday will more likely be 'whatever pace I need to survive'. The forecast is, as is typical for triathlons I'm participating in, hot hot hot. Yay! Super pumped to be back to racing again.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Muskoka 70.3 specialization plan: week 4

Four weeks down, four weeks to go. Time to really dial in the nutrition and pacing plans for the race, and work out key details like how to carry my flat kit on the bike, what I'll be wearing, etc.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: TR Sisters -2 (60 min threshold intervals); 2200m swim
Wednesday: 9k run
Thursday: 1700m swim; TR Leavitt +2 (1:20 tempo/sweetspot)+ 4k brick run
Friday: 8k run
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 2k swim + 60k bike + 14k run (half iron effort)

So, that was fun. Lots more rest than usual, capping it off with a race effort workout in all three sports.

Trainerroad, as usual, took the so-called 'recovery' week and laughed at it. OK, only doing 3 x 6 minute intervals Tuesday was kind of recovery compared to 4 x 8 minute intervals the previous week. Still tough, though!

Cool looking sky leaving swim Tuesday night.
Running felt good again this week, probably due to the temp dropping about 10 degrees and the humidity blowing away. So that was good for my confidence, but not really helpful for the whole heat acclimation thing. How the run ends up going at Muskoka is going to be really dependent on the weather I suspect. But it's heating up again this week so I will continue to slog away outside and hope that at some point - preferably before the race!  - I adjust.

Running on the rail trail on Friday. I think the purple flowers are an invasive species but they are so pretty...
The main event of the week, though, was my tri club's Muskoka training day on Sunday. I was really looking forward to this as a good way to test my fitness, try some nutritional strategies, and have a little fun with my teammates, too!

I'm fifth from the left, orange cap. Thanks Coach Nancy for the pic!
We have a big group (someone said 17 people!) doing Muskoka this year, and a huge turnout for the training day. Not everyone who came out Sunday is doing a half, so we also had people practicing for their sprint and Oly tris. When I got to Gullivers at 7:30 I actually wondered if there was another tri club also doing a sim, there were so many people there - but no, everyone was from either the Iron Canucks or one of Coach Nancy's other programs, the Tri Chicks! It was such a good vibe having such a big group.

My swim was solid. Two loops in 39 minutes, again. That's fine, but it's getting a little frustrating that I seem to have only one speed in open water. I was trying to go a little harder but it didn't really translate. That said, though, I'm significantly less fatigued after 2k of swimming compared to last year, which can only help on the bike and the run. So although I'm not seeing a big speed gain in open water compared to my greatly improved pool times, I've definitely got improved endurance. Next open water swim I'm going to take a little more time to get the wetsuit on exactly right and see if that makes any difference.

Then it was off on the bike.

Hands on hips, LET'S GO ALREADY.
Oh yeah.

I don't think you can see just how huge my smile is in this picture. 

No question on the gains on the bike. There were some wicked cross and headwinds on this ride, and 422m of elevation gain. And I averaged 30.3 km/hr. Which includes having to slow down a few times for stop signs.

I was a little bit pumped up after that ride! And the best part was my legs felt totally amazing. No tiredness at all. Could  I have maintained that effort for another 30k? No doubt at all in my mind.

Awesome ride calls for pulling out the guns. Thanks to Natalie for the pic!
The run went pretty well too. The first few k felt pretty sluggish and ugh, but then I warmed up to it and eventually was knocking out a pretty solid 5:40/km pace. Very pleased with that, and although I was glad to get back to Gullivers and stop running, I could have kept going. So overall, a very confidence building day!

Now my legs are a little tired today, but I am so darn pleased with myself it's a bit ridiculous. But it also isn't race day yet - a few more weeks of quality to really sharpen up and be ready to tackle the beast.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: swim; TR Elwell (70 minutes of WTF I CAN'T EVEN. What the hell is that, TR?)
Wednesday: run; open water swim
Thursday: TR Polar Bear (2 hours tempo) + brick run
Friday: run, TR Townsend (90 minute aerobic)
Saturday: longass outside aerobic bike ride
Sunday: long run, hopefully swim

This is one of those complicated and hard to schedule weeks. Hopefully I can find a way to shoehorn another swim in there. Just have to take it day by day and see what happens!