Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wasaga Beach Olympic Triathlon 2016

Another race report? Who does back-to-back Olympic tris when they are supposed to be training for a half ironman?

Well, when you win a free entry to the second Olympic, what are you going to do, say no? I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the Recharge With Milk racers of the day for Wasaga Beach this past weekend (hilariously, the other racer of the day was Alasdair, Kyra's husband! So we'd be at the same race again for the second weekend in a row! How cool a coincidence is that?)

In addition to the free race entry, they also sent me a pretty sweet prize pack.

I seriously asked the Puralotor lady if she was sure this was the right box when she brought it out of the back room. It was a lot bigger than I expected.

So much swag - and good quality, too. I've been using the giant cooler as my transition bag since it actually has enough room in it for all my stuff, unlike any of my other bags. Hey, it'll work until I get a real transition bag, anyway. The race belt has come in handy already, and I know I'll make use of the arm sleeves this fall. Plus the hoodie, towels, buff-type-thing, etc. Go enter that contest for Lakeside or Georgina if you haven't already! I'm even wearing Recharge with Milk socks as I write this race report!

So enough free advertising for the milk people already. The race report! I didn't have a plan for this race, really, since I was treating it more as a training day. Or that's what I intended. HA. Best laid plans and all.

Usual stuff.
The Olympic had a late start time (10:30) which made for a nice leisurely morning. I had to drive over from the cottage where we were spending the weekend, which unfortunately was basically the exact same distance I'd have had to drive if I'd come from home, so no time savings there. D'oh. But it was an uneventful drive and the race site has lots of parking, which is always a plus. I arrived way earlier than necessary, got my stuff set up, and then killed time saying hi to a couple of the Tri Chicks, my Iron Canucks teammate Kristin, and Kyra and Alasdair (who I ended up parking right next to. We just can't keep away from each other!).

I wandered along the beach for a bit to check out how it looked (sandy, shockingly enough), and heard them announce there had been a course change for the bike. Since I hadn't bothered to look at the bike course maps at any point, or done any research at all on it, that was fairly meaningless for me. I'd have had no idea if they hadn't said anything! (for those curious, due to a lack of police officers, they turned the bike course into a simple out and back).

Swim exit. Note the lack of waves in the water. YAY!

There was also a lot of talk during the pre-race briefing about exactly how the run would work, with the two loops, but I couldn't make head or tails out of it and just figured it'd all be clear when we actually did it. These things generally make a lot more sense when you do them. And it's not like I'm front of the pack and have to worry about leading people. There's always someone for me to follow.

Possibly during the briefing. Possibly just a random picture of transition. I have no idea.
Then the usual - wetsuit, start walking to the beach, have Kyra point out I'm still wearing my hat, back to transition to ditch the hat, etc. Usual nonsense.

The lake was warm and calm, so I swam a short warm up. Even with the minimal waves, the marker buoys still seemed hard to spot, though. But hey, just a training day, right? I did make sure to look at the buildings around the swim exit to try and find something I could use for sighting on the way back into the beach, Oh, a nice bright big yellow awning, Perfect.

This buiding was behind the swim exit. Looks good for sighting, right? Hmmmmmm.....
Hung around for a bit waiting for my wave to start, since my group would be in the fourth wave. Then it was off for one of the calmer swim starts I've had this year. No one kicked me or groped me or anything! I was almost insulted. What, I'm not good enough to swim over?

I'm 37 people from the left. HA. I dunno, in there somewhere in a purple cap.

Swim: 31:59 
Overall: 125/345
Gender: 41/126
Age group: 8/17

The swim out was uneventful. I had to sight a little more frequently than usual just because I often couldn't find the buoy on the first attempt, but I was right on target. Soon enough I made the turn and did the short part of the swim than runs parallel to shore. No major issues here and I was swimming alongside a fairly large group.

And then we turned back towards shore.

Fuck. The buildings in the distance were an indistinct grey blur. I couldn't at all make out the yellow awnings that marked the one by the swim exit, and forget spotting the exit arch itself (I know it's brown because of the whole chocolate milk sponsorship thing, but it would be so much better if it was a bright orange or yellow!). And I couldn't see the next marker buoy because the sun was in my eyes. OK, just start swimming towards shore, eventually we'll get it sorted out.

I rapidly found myself swimming completely alone. I could see the line of swimmers I had been in veering off to the left, and one lone swimmer pretty far off to my right. I was sighting frequently and thought I'd identified the right building on the shore to aim for, and I was on target, but the fact that there was no one close to me and that big group still heading towards the left made me question myself. At one point I even stopped to tread water for a few seconds until I spotted the marker buoy - and sure enough, I was aiming right for it. So I got back to work and soon found myself closing in on the shore. I think a lot of people swam some extra distance, though! Funnily enough when I stood up in the shallows to run out of the lake, my watch read bang on 1500m.

Overall, nothing to complain about with this swim. My first 'real' Olympic triathlon swim, since Goderich (when they have a swim!) only has a 1000m swim.

No, I did not see the photographer. Clearly. FOCUSED.

T1: 2:21

A 2 minute T1 is what happens when I put my helmet on backwards and the official makes me re-rack my bike before I can fix it.

Bike: 1:11:12
Overall: 86/345
Gender: 17/126
Age group: 3/17

So that whole 'this is just a training day!' thing lasted until I made the first pass on the bike.

Bikes are fun. Passing people on the bike is even MORE fun.

Yeah. I had a good time with this. 40k is kind of my racing sweet spot I think on the bike - long enough to be a challenge, but short enough you get to really push hard. Plus, I made double triple extra sure my rear wheel wasn't rubbing or off centre and it just felt FAST. Very happy with this effort on a mostly flat and straightforward bike course!

(I didn't count how many people I passed, but I did count how many passed me. Big fat zero. BOOM.)

(admittedly all the fast guys were in the first couple of swim waves so were already ahead of me)


This would be way sexier if I was in aero. Damn it.
T2: 1:12

Well at least I managed to get through this without attracting the attention of any officials.

Run: 56:48
Overall: 104/345
Gender: 24/126
Age group: 5*/17

*I was initially listed as third, then fourth, and then suddenly when I sat down to write this I was down to 5th. Kind of ruins the whole symmetry I had going with finishing 4th at all my MSC races this year...

Double loop run. Ew. Not my favourite, especially when it's mostly on a fairly narrow shoulder and you have to deal with passing other runners and the people heading back towards the finish. And the scenery was nothing to write home about, since it was mostly going past some fairly derelict looking cottages and run-down motels. This is not a particularly scenic race, to be honest, other than the swim.

Heading out for the run.

I had low expectations for my run performance in general, since this was supposed to be a training day and I'd done a 10 mile long run the day before. I spent most of the run waiting for my legs to notice what we were doing and decide Oh Hell No We Are Done With This Bullshit.

Starting the second 5k and feeling a little loopy...
But it never happened. It ended up probably one of the best feeling runs I've had all summer! The heat didn't bother me at all (it helps that some cloud cover blew in just in time for me to start running), and I felt downright good. Even pushed the pace a bit towards the end. Kind of makes me wonder if I could have gone under 55 minutes if I hadn't run that 10 miles the day before the race!

Total time: 2:44:07
Overall: 102/345
Gender: 23/126
Age group: 5/17

Finish line smile. Can I have a Crest contract now?
So hot damn. Super happy with that finish time! I hadn't really set any goals for this (training day, ha), but if I had something like 2:55 would probably have been it. Under 2:45? Sweet! I really enjoyed the race overall, and would definitely like to do it again. In fact, I really enjoy the Olympic distance in general. It kind of makes me want to focus on that distance for a season. The swim is long enough to feel like a challenge, the bike is long enough to be fun, and the run isn't so long I hate myself. And the 10k run is way more in my wheelhouse than the longer stuff.

Post race/pre jumping back into the lake with Kristin. 

Next up, Barrelman! I'm really glad I won the entry to this race - I was feeling pretty blah and unenthused about training for and doing Barrelman again, but having a great day at Wasaga has reminded me just how awesome doing a triathlon can feel. I'm excited to wrap up the last big week of training this week and then it'll be taper time.

(And then time to think about what comes next, but that's a whole different kettle of cats and let's not talk about that now. Big decisions to make there.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Goderich Olympic Triathlon-oh-wait-Duathlon 2016

Back for another crack at the Olympic distance at Goderich this year. Training has been solid for the last couple of weeks, but I've been lazy and haven't felt like updating the blog. Refunds available on request. Oh wait...

I had glanced at the weather, but had really only just paid attention to the temperature and the lack of rain, so I was pretty excited to have a great race day. Until I got a Facebook notification from Kyra Saturday night asking if I'd noticed the wind forecast.


40 km/hr winds, out of the West?

I was about 95% sure we wouldn't be swimming in those circumstances. Perfect weather for big waves on Lake Huron. And sure enough, when I got the race site as soon as I saw the lake I knew the swim would be cancelled. There's no way the lifeguards would be on board with the number of people they'd have to rescue out of the swells!

It's hard to capture the scale of the waves with my iphone. Trust me, swimming in it wasn't happening. Surfing, maybe!
After confirming the lack of swim, I checked in to get my kit and set up my transition area. Setting up for a du takes a lot less time, since there's no swim gear to mess about with. I felt like I should be doing more as I killed time visiting the bathroom, applying a second layer of sunscreen, and chatting with blog reader Brian-from-Oakville*, who introduced himself to me during the briefing.

*I think. I'm terrible with names. I'm so sorry if I have that wrong! Congrats on what looked like a great race!

Running shoes on at the start? This just feels wrong.
The organizers split us up into three small waves for the start, which was a great move on their part. The run course is on a rail trail, so starting everyone at once would have led to some potential bottlenecks. I was in the second wave, and tried to mentally prepare myself for a solid but restrained 10k. When I'd realized the night before that we probably wouldn't be swimming, I'd switched my mindset on this race to it being more of a training day. Overall, running 15k was probably a better option for my Barrelman training overall anyway, so I wasn't terribly disappointed in the swim being cancelled.

Yeah I was in a good mood at the start. Camera hog! Photo via Heather Bell
10k run: 57:40

An unspectacular run. I kept it easy and relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. Almost lost my visor going across the (rather pretty) wooden pedestrian bridge thanks to the crazy wind, which told me I was going to be having some good times on the bike. Fortunately, the rest of the run course was completely sheltered from the wind. I spent some time contemplating how grateful I was the organizers had put the 10k run first instead of last, letting me get it out of the way early, at least.

About 2k from the finish it suddenly occurred to me I was wearing socks. I don't wear socks with my bike tri shoes, ever. Hmmmmm. Obviously I didn't want to test how socks would feel in them in a race (and my tri shoes are a fairly snug fit even with bare feet), so I figured I'd have to strip off the socks with the shoes and then let Post-Bike Emma figure out the whole getting them back on for the run thing.

Heading in from run #1, salt mine in the background. Photo via Heather Bell.
T1 - 1:03

Man is T1 easier when you are taking off shoes instead of a wetsuit...

Heading out of T1. Photo via my mom.
Bike 42k: 1:29:55

OK so the bike. Ugh. Pretty much my one goal for this race was demolish my bike time from last year, and not only did I fail at that, I was almost 2 minutes slower.

Heading out of transition, and I can't get my $#@$ing left foot clipped in. Photo via Heather Bell.

STILL WON'T CLIP IN. Great start to the ride. Photo via Heather Bell. 
The first part of the bike was fine. After getting the first two bitchy hills out of the way, there was a nice 12km stretch with tailwind. That part was fun.

Guess which segment had the tailwind...

The rest was...not headwind, that's for sure. This bike course is hard. Hard in a way I normally like (rolling hills of fun!), but climbing hills into a headwind...that's a lot less fun. By the time I got back to transition I was glad to see the last of my bike for a bit.

And. Last night when I was cleaning my bike I discovered my rear tire may have been rubbing a little bit. I'm not 100% sure, but AUGH. I didn't check it over that closely when I swapped out the trainer tire last week, so there's a chance. Frustrating to screw up something so simple!

T2: 1:24

Not bad. Had to turn those damn socks back rightside out before I could put them back on. If I'd thought about the duathlon possibility earlier I'd have brought a second pair!

Run 5k: 30:02

I made essentially 0 effort to push the pace on this one. Since I'd decided to treat it as training rather than an all out race, I was pretty unmotivated. The scenery was still pretty nice! And I'm happy with how the run felt overall after the bike.

And done. Yay!
Total time: 3:00:02 (D'oh)
Gender place: 11/33
Age group place: 5/7
Overall place: 43/84

Overall, not a particularly memorable race, at least in terms of my performance. The duathlon format doesn't suit me at all, really. I'm far too average a runner and end up way behind after the first run. You don't lose nearly as much ground as an average swimmer. I did pass a lot of people on the bike, but at a certain point you just can't make up that much ground.

The race organization, though, is fantastic. Race Huron does a great job with this triathlon (duathlon), the course is challenging but fun, and I will definitely be back again. I need to throw down a much faster time on that bike course!

Chatted with a few people after the race, including Kyra and her husband, and had another person introduce himself as a blog reader, but due to the aforementioned sucking at names thing I can't remember his name to give him a shoutout. My Goderich race report is one of the more highly trafficked pages here, I'm sure because there aren't exactly a lot of race reports out there!

Post race with Kyra and Alasdair. I think my hair makes it obvious just how windy it was... photo via my mom
Then after checking to see if I'd won any draw prizes (no, dang) I packed up and headed home. Not exactly the day I'd imagined I'd have at this race, but a solid day of training nonetheless!

Whoever does the graphics for this race does a great job.
Next up...another crack at the Olympic distance. What??! I won the Racer of the Day contest for Wasaga this weekend, so I will unexpectedly be doing the Olympic tri there on Saturday! Fingers crossed we get to swim! I won't be racing this all out since I'm supposed to be peaking my training for Barrelman right now, but I wasn't about to say no to a free race entry + swag. So the approach here will be Catered Training Day With T-shirt. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Barrelman 2016 - week 2

Back into the training groove this week!

Monday: 10k run with Sam
Tuesday: TR Washington +1 (1 hour threshold intervals); 2000m swim
Wednesday: 5x1000m track work; 2000m swim
Thursday: 1200m swim; TR White +2 (1:30 tempo/sweetspot) +5k brick run
Friday: rest day
Saturday: 73k ride
Sunday: 19k long run; 32k ride

Overalll, pretty happy with how that week shook out. It was tough not having my usual Monday recovery day - by Thursday I was pretty much exhausted and really needed that Friday off!

The track work on Wednesday was particularly good. Not so much from a pace perspective (I've lost some speed since last summer), but my legs and butt hamstring feel fine even after some effort, so I'm cautiously optimistic and will try some more track work again this week. To stay on the safe side I'm avoiding doing much hill running, though, since uphills have a tendency to aggravate things.

5 am on the track is dark, yo.
The long run Sunday went pretty well, too, although my legs feel tired today. It's been a while since I've run 19k, plus I did the 'recovery' bike ride after which frankly wasn't overly recovery like. I should start using my road bike for those. It's so hard to resist pushing hard when you are down in the aero bars and there's a tailwind/slow moving cyclists to catch and pass/strava segments. The long run felt good, at least from a physical standpoint. I was bored out of my damn mind through the whole thing, though. I may have to start listening to music again, or podcasts or something if I can't get Nicole or some other willing victim to join me for those.

Post long run picture taking, because I was too sweaty to get back into the car right away.
Saturday's long ride was uneventful up until the very end. I was getting close to home when I passed a slow-moving cyclist, wished him a good morning, and didn't think much of it.

A couple of minutes later, he goes flying past me. Cool, whatever, he was just taking a break when I went around him.

Except no, he gets a hundred meters ahead of me and slows down again. OK. Passed him again, said something about it being a nice day, which he ignored.

And a few minutes later, a repeat. WTF, dude! And then he AGAIN slowed down in front of me. At that point I was turning towards home so I didn't get to see if we'd play the same game a third time, but that was seriously annoying.

So annoying, in fact, that it powered me to a local QOM on the final downhill of the ride. HA!

 This week's plan:

Monday: rest, glorious rest
Tuesday: swim; whatever TR interval torture is on tap for the week. Something wonderful I bet.
Wednesday: run at the track; open water swim*
Thursday: bike to and from work (weather permitting); swim
Friday: run, TR easy ride
Saturday: long bike + brick run
Sunday: long run, swim

*haven't been in open water for a while and really missing it. Definitely going to go this week if the weather cooperates!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Barrelman 2016 - week 1

Well, recovery time is officially over - last week marked 8 weeks until Barrelman, and I was feeling ready to get back into training again. So I fired up Trainerroad, loaded up the 8 week half iron specialty plan, and got things off to a pretty good start.

I'll essentially be repeating the 8 weeks I did before Muskoka. The idea here is to maintain my fitness through to Barrelman in the swim and the bike, and maybe improve things a little bit on the run if my back cooperates. As my husband is now in training for a fall marathon, his training gets to take priority and I'll be fitting mine in around his as much as I can.

Last week's workouts:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 1700m swim; FTP test
Wednesday: track ladder (8k); 2000m swim
Thursday: TR - Gibraltar (1:45 tempo)
Friday: 104k solo ride
Saturday: 2000m swim; 10k run; 40k easy bike
Sunday: 17k run

Monday I saw my physiotherapist re: that damn sciatic thing. Fortunately the post race irritation had largely cleared up by that appointment, so we mostly spent time putting together a rehab routine I can do a few times a week to hopefully strengthen some of the weak spots in my back. And he did some ART that was like magic. For the first time in a long time all my runs last week felt...good. No nagging tugging in the hamstring, no hip pain sitting at my desk, just feeling normal. Fingers crossed we've got this thing figured out!

Tuesday was that little FTP test thing.

It really never gets any easier. Pleased with a 6 watt increase, which is going to make the VO2 stuff just THAT MUCH MORE FUN. Excuse me while I cry for a few minutes. I have a real love-hate thing going on with Tuesday night trainer rides.

Attempt at cute instagram photo fail #1. 
Wednesday I went to the track and did a ladder workout to see how my hamstring would feel. It felt fine! But it was really hot. But I kind of missed doing intervals. So I guess I'll be trying some more speedwork out this week and seeing how that goes.

Attempt at cute instagram photo fail #2. Don't stand in front of the tree, dumbass. A lot of work goes into the insta pic, OK? You can't just throw any old picture up there...

Friday I did a solo century since I had used a vacation day and had the morning free. All things considered I'd rather do those long rides with someone else along to keep me company, but sometimes a solo ride is great for clearing your head. And it's nice not to have to worry about keeping up with someone or that you are going too fast.

Plus I finally got to try out my birthday gift jersey. I want to order all the stuff from Cycology. 
Saturday rain screwed up my plans to do a brick, so I ended up at the pool with Sam instead of biking or running.

Pretty much how Sam and I train.
Then I ended up running at lunch and biking later in the afternoon and I don't know. It was a weird day. Good workouts, though! And Sunday I went up to Milton to run long with Nicole, which is pretty much the best idea I've had in weeks. I have been really unenthused with running, especially long runs, for a while (I blame the heat and humidity. I am so over it). But Nicole and I had a really great run! Getting a solid feeling 17k in has improved my mindset on running about 1000%, and it's absolutely from running with a friend. The miles are so much easier with company. Thanks, Nicole, I really appreciate you changing your run plans so I could join you!

So, what's up this week!

Monday: 10k run with Sam (already done, it went great!)
Tuesday: TR, 60 minutes of some sort of interval horror I'm sure, I don't even want to look; swim
Wednesday: Run trackwork, maybe OWS
Thursday: TR 90 minutes sweetspot/tempo + brick run; swim
Friday: REST
Saturday: long ride
Sunday: long run, swim, recovery bike

As per usual, this is all pretty tentative. Scheduling is complicated and hard sometimes. Especially swimming on the weekends. That one is the absolute worst, although that Saturday morning lap swim Sam and I went to was pretty much deserted for the first 45 minutes, so I might have to hit that one up again!