Monday, June 19, 2017

Race report: Guelph Lake I 5150 2017



When I originally decided on Guelph Lake as my A race for the triathlon season, I was picturing 2017 going in a very different way. Yes everyone is totally sick of hearing about Emma's Alarming Influenza, followed by the Spring of Painful Coughing. I'm sick of talking about it too! While I've settled back into my usual 2:00/100m or so for swimming, and biking is pretty much feeling back to normal, running has, to put it bluntly, been pretty shitty. Getting your run fitness back after a break sucks. Especially when you weren't exactly a strong runner in the first place!

So once again, into a race with low expectations. But I was looking forward to it, too, since Sam and Ivanka would be there, and a bunch of people from Iron Canucks signed up, and it's always a good day when you get to see your tri friends. Plus, having done the duathlon at GLII a few years ago, I was somewhat familiar with the course and knew the bike, at least, could not be better suited to my strengths - lots of rolling hills, but nothing too long or steep. Enough to keep it interesting, but not enough to force me to redzone.

And I was pretty pumped to have Bad Wolf off the trainer and ready to go. The road bike is fun, but the tri bike just wants to go fast. At the very least, I knew the bike leg would be good times.

I got to the race really early after allowing myself way more time than I needed to buy gas. It was opposite land from Milton, in that I scored a parking space about 50 feet from transition rather than two counties away. So things were looking good from the start!

When you arrive early, you get a primo space on the rack.

Kit pick up

Transition setup, just proving I did in fact remember how.

The suckers My awesome friends I talked into doing this race when they could have been getting Lululemon medals and donuts at the waterfront 10k. Uh, yay triathlon?
Usual pre-race nonsense, and what initially seemed like a lot of extra time disappeared somewhere in all the set up, sunscreen applications, and saying hi and chatting with the various people I knew. Suddenly I was half in my wetsuit, walking across the VERY ouchy on the feet gravel road and down the loooooooong hill to the lake, without enough time for a real swim warmup. So I settled for getting water into my suit while I floated around with Sam for a few minutes, and then we got out and waited for our wave to start.

Swim
Time: 31:50.3
Overall: 200/390
Gender: 49/111
Age Group: 5/23

This race had a beach start, which I think is only my second time doing one of those. Felt a little weird, to be honest, running into the water, and there were an inordinate number of people all trying to hang back and not be in front! That's my territory, jerks! (I have to stop thinking like that, since at this point I'm clearly midpack). Somehow, I almost immediately had clear water, despite starting from the side closest to the buoys and with the most direct line. Very little contact, so I settled in, followed feet when they seemed useful, and focused on just getting to the next buoy, nice and relaxed.

I felt like I was swimming slowly (my arm turnover felt really slow and lazy), but I was pretty comfortable and focused on sighting every 10 strokes and catching feet when I could. Especially in the back half of the swim I was able to latch on to some faster swimmers from the last wave to pull me for short periods, which was extremely helpful because that was also when my sighting went completely to shit and I kept pulling hard to the right when I wasn't checking every other stroke. Very weird. But overall, an uneventful swim and I was out of the water with 31 minutes showing on my watch - pretty much exactly what I expected.

(the actual time is different because the timing mat was way up the long ass hill at the transition zone, which mucks up the swim timing a bit)

When I made it up that stupidly long hill, I was pleasantly surprised to see they'd covered the gravel road with a carpet. Nice work, Subaru series - I had been dreading running across that, because they were pretty sharp and pointy little rocks. This princess's feet are far too delicate for that nonsense.

T1: 2:39

I noticed my age group's bike rack was still almost full, but I didn't think much of it at the time. Plus I was distracted trying to get my wetsuit off over my giant calves. I have got to practice that, because the damn thing is practically glued to my legs. Now I see I was fifth, which I think is my best swim age group placing ever? All the fast swimmers must have been at Nationals in Ottawa or tapering for Tremblant!

Bike
Time: 1:16:48.9 (31.24 km/hr)
Overall: 157/390
Gender: 28/111
Age Group: 2/23


Bike was good, happy place, passed lots of people, blah blah blah blah usual. I like bikes.

Well, ok, except for the last 5k. The road surface was a complete disaster, which wasn't as noticeable on the way out because it was slightly uphill plus fresh legs. But on the way back, ouch. My shoulders were getting sore from gripping the aero bars and all the bone-rattling bumpiness. I was pretty glad when we got to the conservation area and back onto some smooth road again for the last few hundred meters!

T2: 1:28

My thoughts entering transition: Why is there only one bike on the W40-44 rack??! Is there another rack somewhere?? Is it possible I'm actually second off the bike?!

(I know now that yes, yes I was, and in fact I had the fastest bike time in my age group. But I didn't totally believe it at the time)

Run
Time: 1:00:59.2
Overall race time: 2:53:44
Overall: 204/390
Gender: 37/111
Age group: 5/23

The whole second place off the bike thing lasted about 12 seconds. I had literally just crossed the timing mat to leave transition when a woman from my age group flew past like she had rockets on her back. You go girl, I thought to myself, as I clutched the gel I planned to take and reconsidered my life choices.

It was really, really hot. I think we all know by now how well that goes for me. Add to that the fact my longest run since March was a painful 10k last weekend, well, let's just say I didn't have a super great time on the run course.

There were a lot of long gradual inclines, that sucked, and then gradual declines where running felt easy but I sort of hated them because I knew, given that the course was out and back, I'd have to run back up them and that sounded like a terrible idea. I talked myself into eating the gel at about 4k, and that helped, and walked the aid stations to drink and fairly pointlessly splash water on myself (I mean, I was still wet from the swim somehow, so it didn't really make any difference).

I did enjoy spotting my teammates and other friends along the way. At around 7k a guy I'd traded place with a few times (he'd walk, I'd run, I'd walk, he'd run) exclaimed, after I exchanged about my fifth high five of the day with someone going the other way, "do you know EVERYONE out here?". Which was almost immediately followed by me spotting a Tri Chick and yelling encouragement at her. Why yes, it seems I do know everyone! I think my socializing annoyed him enough that he picked up the pace and I never saw him again.

Midway or so I got passed by another woman in my age group, but I was well past caring at that point. Although it did sting a little when yet another woman passed me with about 300 m to go, and she was running way too fast for me to even think about keeping up with her. I really miss being able to run faster, and hopefully over the next few weeks I can regain some of that!

The Iron Canucks cheer squad was waiting at the top of the finish chute, so I grabbed some high fives and wrapped the thing up. Although not before some dude doing his best Andre Degrasse impression went flying past me. I never quite get those guys - if you have the energy to lay down a 100m sprint like you are trying to qualify for the Olympics in the sprints at the end, maybe your pacing sucked the rest of the race!

(I'd put a finish line picture here because my pics are actually pretty good, but I'm far to cheap to pay $50 for them).

Waited for Ivanka to finish, since I knew she was not far behind me, and then wandered up to join the rest of the team and cheer on everyone else finishing.

Iron Canucks cheer squad + sweaty race finishers

Sam heading for the finish line

More sweaty racers + cheer squad. We smelled fantastic, I assure you.
 I checked sportstats on my phone and confirmed that I'd finished fifth for age group (I was pretty sure already, but still was sort of wondering if there'd been another rack of bikes somewhere!), and we headed for the awards because Ivanka had finished 2nd for her group in the duathlon, and Subaru goes 5 deep on their medals if there's enough people registered for the age group. If there's any chance I'm getting some bling, I'm going to the ceremony. Frankly I think Multisport Canada owes me some 4th and 5th place bling from last year!

(ha not really. I'm not exactly sure what kind of metal is supposed to be represented by 5th place - dulled bronze? rust?)
I swear I rotated this photo like six times and it's not going to take, so screw it.

if you give me a medal, I'm going to smile big

So standing on the podium was pretty cool, but also a little frustrating. If my run wasn't such a mess right now... well I doubt I could have held onto second, not with the speed the eventual second place winner went past me. But I could have held fourth and maybe even third. Could woulda shoulda whatever. Curse you flu!

At any rate, on to the Niagara sprint! No more of this running 10k nonsense. 7k seems so much more reasonable. And then Iron Girl, which happens to be 8 weeks away, which happens to be enough time to do a Trainerroad block... New A goal, perhaps?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Race report: Milton sprint triathlon 2017





My expectations heading into the Milton Sprint Tri were not really bottom of the barrel. More like if you took a shovel and dug down 30 feet below the barrel. Not very high, is what I’m saying. While I’m now back to being fully healthy* (yay!), I’ve only got a couple of weeks of real training under my belt, and running in particular has felt mostly awful.

*except for the seasonal allergies. Stupid trees.

So I wasn’t exactly super enthused about this race, and was really regretting having signed up for it. Especially when Sunday morning it was pouring rain. It was soooo tempting to just stay in bed.

But I’d paid good money and at the least wanted my t-shirt, so off on my triathlon training day (that happened to have announcers and several hundred other people participating). Milton is the closest triathlon to home for me, so it was a pretty relaxed morning with no need to rush out the door at a crazy early hour. 20 minute drive to the race site? I’ll take it!

Given the forecast, the thermos of hot and heavily sugared chai seemed like a good idea. And it was. I am a race prep EXPERT now, yo.

Waiting to get into Kelso in the rain. Yeah, this is definitely better than sitting at home in my PJs eating bagels and fruit with the kids. Obviously.
Because the Try a Tri started first, the nearest parking lots were all full, and I basically wound up parking back at home and then doing the long trudge to transition hauling all my gear and bike in the rain. Enthusiasm level, EVEN LOWER. But I checked in, organized my stuff, got that big old ‘40’ marked on my leg (pretend there's a grimacing emoji here), and realized that despite the rain I was feeling somewhat overheated in my sweatshirt and jacket. Hmmmmmm. I’d been concerned about being cold on the bike, but maybe this wouldn’t be so bad.

At least we don't have to climb up that?

But my birthday isn't until the end of the month! Waaaaaaaa!
(There would be a pic of my transition setup here but I covered it with a garbage bag to keep my shoes dry, so it would be a weird looking picture. Also I forgot to take one.)

Watched the start of the Try a Tri, hiked back across the province to the car to drop a few things off, and then it was time to struggle into the wetsuit. Chatted with Kristin, Anna, and Kyra (& Alisdair!) at various points, and realized as I waded into the lake that the rain had stopped. Hey, this might be alright!

Try a Tri swimmers swimming. Swim courses always look so very very long.

I was in the second to last wave, so there was a lot of standing around waiting. The water was nice – not too cold, but not overly warm; about perfect for wetsuit swimming. I was starting to feel positive and optimistic about this whole triathlon thing again!

Swim (750m)

Time: 16:20 (2:10/100m)
Category: 11/17
Gender: 58/116
Overall: 236/424

Eventually they counted us down and we were off, with only a little kicking and grabbing until we thinned out enough to get clear water. The overcast day meant the orange buoys were easy to see, and my sighting was decent. I just tried to keep relaxed, follow feet when I could, and not scream like a small child every time I grabbed a handful of weeds or had some sort of hideous water grass slime its way across my face. So many weeds in the first half of this swim, which I was not expecting at all! Usually those are just closer to shore, not out in the middle of the lake!

Informative Strava Screenshot. Yep, it's a box.

After what felt like about 40 minutes, I was finally on to the beach and running up to transition. I don’t know why that swim felt so long (first race of the year?), but it went well and I can’t complain about any of it. Except the slimy face-grabbing weeds. Those I could do without.

T1: 2:21

Training day, remember? I’m surprised it’s only 2 minutes, considering I took the time to dry my feet off with a towel and put on my socks and road cycling shoes!

Bike (30k)

Time: 1:00:32 (grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr damn that 30 seconds!) (average speed 29.74 km/hr)
Category: 8/17
Gender: 46/116
Overall: 228/424

About 30 seconds into the bike, when I made my first pass, I remembered why I do this.

I really, really love bike racing.

30k of fun. I decided a few weeks ago I’d use Foxy (my road bike) for this race, since she has better gearing for the Big Fucking Hill that comes at about the 4.5k mark of the bike course. Then I saw the weather forecast and that confirmed my decision, as I wanted to have hands on the brakes if it was pouring rain during the race.

Bike course elevation - let's just say the second half is a lot more fun than the first half!
Of course, it totally cleared up and the sun even came out during the bike (!), but I was still glad to have Foxy for the hill climbing. I could really feel how much fitness I’ve lost over the last few months on the climbs, so having the lower gears was a help. I pushed fairly hard, trying to keep as close to a 30 km/hr average as I could, and although I didn’t quite get there, I’m really happy with how this bike went. The base is still there; the speed and strength will come back. 

(If I had any sort of bike handling skills at all I’d consider actual bike racing, but I seriously suck at cornering so I’ll stick to triathlon, thanks.)

T2: 1:59

Taking my time, Sam style. Definitely in no rush to start the run.

Run (7k)

Time: 41:58 (pace 5:59/km)
Overall time: 2:03:09
Category: 10/17
Gender: 60/116
Overall: 279/424

Took off out of transition, sucking on a gel, and was surprised to feel pretty good.

That lasted about 500 meters, where I encountered the first steep climb on the run course. The Milton run doesn’t have any particularly long hills, but hooooooo boy were there some steep ones. I just tried to run steadily and not look at my watch, grabbed water at the aid stations, and started really wishing the run course had been 5k. Or 3k. 3k would have been great.

So it wasn’t a super enjoyable run…but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been expecting. I had enough mental energy to trade jokes with a guy who was behind me most of the race (lots of short out and backs on the route, so we saw each other a bunch of times). If I'm being sarcastic out loud instead of just in my head, it can't be that awful! I was really expecting to have to walk a lot more, but I kept the walking to the aid stations and the couple of really steep climbs. But I was mostly able to run, and I didn’t feel like death! I will absolutely take that as a victory!

(trying not to think about having to add 3 more km onto that in two weeks at Guelph Lake. That’s Future Emma’s problem)

Post race smiles are the biggest smiles.

So, all in all, I'm really glad I did this one. I remembered how much I like this stuff, and although I can feel my lack of fitness and it's driving me slightly crazy, it's a nice confidence boost to have a decent result after not a lot of training. Guelph Lake is still going to fall on the side of  'let's just have some fun and get through this thing in one piece', but I'm kind of eyeing Iron Girl in August as a potential 'let's go all out and try and puke at the finish' sort of race. And I might just have to tack Guelph Lake II onto the schedule. Stay tuned!

Oh nice got the thumb in the shot. I ain't editing it at this point.




Monday, May 8, 2017

This has not been the spring training I planned.

Oh hey there Internets.

So, what's up with me?

Well, not a lot of training. After having the flu before ATB, I immediately caught a really nasty cold, which then turned into bronchitis, which has just been delightfully fun, if your idea of fun is coughing so hard you pull muscles. Pretty sure my lungs were trying to make a break for it there for a while.



It hasn't been the best few weeks. My lung capacity is totally shot, but I've been able to start doing some light swimming and biking again, and this morning my resting heart rate was finally back down to normal, so I think I've turned the corner and I'll be back to healthy soon.



It has been very weird to have so much free time over the last few weeks. I may have gotten a little too comfortable with it, since the thought of getting up early now is somewhat less than appealing. In order to maintain sanity without my favourite hobby, I picked up some paintbrushes and paint and did a little painting.

Wait, this was a palette knife painting. No brushes. LIES!
And then I did some more painting.



And then some more...




And still more!


Yeah it's turned into a whole thing. Keeping me busy (I had to stop working on canvases because we don't have that many walls - now I'm mostly painting in a journal since it takes up less space. And saves money). I started a separate instagram account if you are curious to see more of my work. It's mostly out of Youtube tutorials right now, but I'm starting to work on more original stuff (all of the above paintings are from tutorials by either Painting With Jane or The Art Sherpa - check them out, if you've ever wanted to try painting, they are very good teachers). Plus, painting occupies my hands and mind and reduces the amount of bored snacking, which is pretty key when you aren't burning an extra zillion calories a week through exercise!

This week I did get in a few swims without drowning and a couple of bike rides that didn't feel terrible (once I remembered you have to calibrate the Computrainer - geeze no wonder that first ride felt SO HARD). I'm eager to add some running back in sometime this week, hopefully. Obviously this isn't the training cycle I envisioned, peaking with an attempt at an Oly course PB in June. I'm very much in the 'just doing this for fun' mindset for the next few months. It's purely going to be about just finishing the races and having a good time doing it. Depending on how things go health-wise, I'll look at some sort of big running goal for the fall. This has dragged on so long it's a bit hard not to feel like I'll never be healthy again!1!!! (dramatic hand flail), so I'm not going to commit to anything just yet. My goals at this point are smaller. Like 'complete 2 swims and 3 bikes this week without feeling like dying at the end of any of them'. And 'run 5k without running out of oxygen'.

It's good to have goals, even if they have to be scaled back a bit!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

The race report that won't be: Around the Bay 2017

So, my first ever DNS.

Going all out with the photoshops today
Back it up two weeks. My piriformis syndrome was acting up a bit, and after tweaking my knee during a run off the bike, I decided to pack it in on running for a few days (look at me being all smart and shit).

But I wasn't feeling great. I was getting headaches every day - nothing major, just enough to be annoying, and feeling just kind of blah. And given the minimal running, my Trainerroad workouts were feeling oddly hard. Last Saturday in fact, I woke up, looked at the 3 hour TR workout I was supposed to do, and just knew there was no way. I subbed in a 90 minute tempo/sweet spot workout instead, and had to drop the intensity by 10% when I couldn't get my heart rate and breathing under control. That's pretty unusual for me.

I just figured it was taperitis (is there an ICD-10 code for that?) and didn't think about it much. If I'd looked at my resting heart rate info on Garmin Connect, maybe I would have realized sooner what was going on. Maybe.


Monday night I was in the middle of making some baked eggs when I essentially had to flee the room because the smell was unbearable. Lying in bed, the alternating fever/chills, body aches, and pounding headache kicked in.

Yep.

Influenza.

So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday essentially became complete writeoffs, and I got really sick of Netflix asking me if I was still there. And also the colour of my bedroom walls. Yesterday was better as the fever and aches subsided and I was able to move around the house without needing to take naps after each outing to another floor, and today I feel pretty OK other than a lingering cough and sore throat. But it's pretty obvious that running the race tomorrow would be a terrible idea and an unpleasant experience (honestly, I probably wouldn't even make it 5k).

So that sucks, But I'm not even really upset about it. This would have been my sixth ATB, so it's not like I'm missing out on my first time ever doing the race. I am going to miss getting to hang out with my running/tri friends, but there will be other chances for that. It's a little annoying to have spent the money (and I wasn't able to get the deferral option before the deadline), but sunk costs and all. I don't think I was in shape for a PB, but I got what I wanted out of training, which was to start to feel fast again. So really, it's OK. Now I can focus on resting after this stupid illness and then getting ready for Guelph Lake.

(I may look at the Mississauga half as a sort of consolation prize, if I can get in some solid workouts - might as well take advantage of my current conditioning, after all. However, not making any decisions until I'm more fully recovered from being sick)

That said, since I'm feeling much better other than the cough, I still want to support my friends and teammates in some way. So I'm going to try my hand at a bit of race photography and hopefully get some semi-decent pics of the people I know (and I won't even charge as much as the race photographers!).



(Although I reserve the right to bail out of this whole idea if it's pouring rain. In that case, y'all are on your own).

Good luck to everyone I know running, and look for me staring with puzzlement at the DSLR I only sort-of know how to use most likely somewhere between the 16-17k mark*. Give me a wave and I'll and take your picture!

*possibly the 19k mark instead if I get down there and the lighting won't work for what I have in mind at that location. One or the other.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

*taps microphone* This thing still on?

Time to blow the dust off this thing and maybe play a little catch up, shall we?



Now, what did I write about last? Right. Road 2 Hope. Where I set up my training paces for ATB. Which is now about 3 weeks away, so sort of missed blogging that entire training cycle. Oops.

Obligatory run proof picture.
I've been primarily focused on running, trying to get back my speed. Thanks to a killer training plan from Coach Z, I'm feeling pretty good. The paces that were oh-so-hard back in December are getting easier and easier.

Run volume is up over the last few years - even the year I was marathon training!

It's been a lot of volume, compared to what I've done previously, which has made for some interesting very early morning runs and even the occasional evening run when that was the only time I could fit things into my schedule. I don't enjoy evening winter runs - it's just so hard to talk myself off the comfy couch to go out into the cold, and the darkness plus heavy evening traffic makes me nervous. The sheer volume of drivers who can't be bothered to use their damn turn signals is astonishing. Fortunately due to the relative mildness of the winter, I was able to use the track for some of those runs, where even though it's dark at least no one is going to make a left turn directly into me!

Night runner attemps to set up cool instagram photo and has total fail. This was the best of the lot. I should just stick to taking pictures of food, really.

So yeah, definitely haven't been slacking on the running. Nor have I been slacking on the cycling. Just finished the high volume Olympic base training plan on TrainerRoad, which was good if occasionally painful fun.

Rearranged a whole level of the house and now I have a real paincave.
I started the build plan this week, although I will take a break from it around ATB to allow for taper/recovery. The main triathlon goal race this year is Guelph Lake I in June, with the Milton sprint beforehand as a warmup and Niagara in July because if I'm going to do two Subaru series races, I might as well add a third to get in on the series point thing. Then Iron Girl in August for fun. I'm not sure at this point if I'll do any late season triathlons. Since the current plan is to maybe possibly think about running a marathon (!) at Road 2 Hope in November, I will probably want to focus more on running at that point. Dunno. That second half of the year is a bit up in the air.

Trainer selfies all basically look the same.
Swimming is...well I've been to the pool, usually twice a week. Occasionally three times. Sometimes once. Holding pattern there; basically just maintaining fitness. Pool hours are a pain in the ass to schedule around, and I lack the motivation to really put in the kind of effort that would be required at this point to make significant improvements to my swim. So, I play mermaid a few times a week and call it good.

The band is an evil torture device.
So that's the catch up. Lots of run and bike, a little swim, and a big race coming up. I'll be back with a race report in a few weeks.

Oh, goals? You want to hear about my ATB goals?

Well, the answer is I don't know. Although this training cycle has gone really well and I'm feeling pretty strong and in good shape to match last year's effort, a lot will depend on how my back is feeling on race day. I've been diagnosed with piriformis syndrome - a somewhat dubious diagnosis for various reasons, since the evidence base for its existence is somewhat, shall we say, nonexistent.  The cluster of symptoms is real (and I have all of them!), but the exact underlying cause is somewhat questionable. But that said, identifying that my 'hamstring' pain really originates in my low back has been a gamechanger in treating it - rather than weeks of pain, with the right treatment I can get it calmed down within a day or two, using stretches, foam roller work, and my best friend the heating pad.

But when it's flared up speedwork can't happen. So if I'm in a rough patch around the race (or it flares up during the race), well, speed will be out of the question. So at this point I'm largely planning to keep my training partner Fab from going out too damn fast over the first 10k, then will see how things are feeling. Hope for the best, but prepared to jog it in if I need to. I've certainly run this race enough times now that I don't have anything to prove to myself - and my main goal this winter was to regain my run speed, which I already know I've done. So no matter how the race ends up turning out, I'm happy with where things are right now.