Friday, July 15, 2016

Training Update

Oh hello, friends!  I've been pretty quiet, but I've been putting in (some) work at least to prep for my next big race (one of two "A" races of the season), which is rapidly approaching next Saturday!!  I'm a bit nervous for this one and I had a bit of an "uh oh" moment this week when I realized that I have no clue what my race plan is for next week.  The last time I completed an Olympic distance race was September 2014.  Last year at Nationals, I was just coming off my stress fracture, so I didn't run, which meant I didn't have to worry about nutrition or pacing the bike.  Soooo I'm a bit stressed out at the moment.  The summer seems to have flown by and I just can't actually believe that it is already time for Nationals.  You'll find me scrambling to get my act together this weekend so I am ready to race.

Finishing a hot, humid run in the hammock...

 On to the update: 

Swim: I've been in the pool only a few times since Tremblant, with an open water swim thrown in for good measure.  For some reason, it has just been especially hard to motivate myself to swim this season.  In general, I'd say that I'm lacking motivation this year, but it has been nice to have a more relaxed approach to training.  It means that I can't focus on results, because I frankly haven't put in the work.  But I think that I'm okay with that right now.

Rainy ride in the country



Trans Canada Trail!

Bike: I've missed a few long rides lately, so will be playing catch up the next few weeks as Timberman approaches (geez, time is flying!!). I did have a lovely 60k ride recently from Almonte to Ottawa. It was about 50% dirt / crushed gravel road, which was quite an experience and it poured for about 45 minutes at the start of my ride, but it was so peaceful to be out in the country and it was so cool to ride on the Trans Canada Trail.  Last weekend, Jenn and I completed a very wet swim-bike brick at race intensity (it would have been a mini-tri, but a crazy storm rolled in as we finished our bike ride, preventing us from doing the run).  It was good to push a little bit!

Long runs in the heat of the day

Run:  It has been hot and humid lately.  Like we are living in the jungle or something.  I've been trying to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of crazy heat at Timberman (especially after watching friends race at Tremblant in the 30+/super humid weather) by going out for my runs at ridiculously hot points in the day. I started to carry water with me again after one run where I was so thirsty that I stopped at every single water fountain I could find.  Time to log some more miles!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Race Report: Mont Tremblant Sprint



Second race of the season.  Second attempt at the Tremblant Sprint.  Second place finish!

Two is a good number for me this season.  Now, I'd obviously prefer #1, but #2 means that I have lots of lessons learned from this race.



Pre-Race: 

On Thursday night, I had quite an adventure with Dave trying to get Pistol Annie set-up for the race.  The aerobars had been put on too close together, and they are quite difficult to adjust on my Argon 18 E-117 Tri+.  After about 4 hours and 3 shifter cables later, she was ready and I was feeling badly for wasting Dave's evening when he should have been packing for his own race in Tremblant.  Very thankful to have good friends who are generous with their time and knowledge!

On Friday, Adam, Jes and I drove to Tremblant.  We had a detour for our Costco run, since it was a holiday on the Quebec side of the river, but eventually we made it to our AirBnB.  We quickly unpacked the car, then drove down to the village for packet pick-up and a little pre-race activation for me. It is always so exciting to be in the village on race weekend.  Ironman and the village of Mont-Tremblant bring out all the bells and whistles for the weekend. It is amazing how supportive the community is of the races!

We went back to our cottage to relax and make dinner - salmon, chicken, roasted veggies, and salad.  While we waited for Jenn and Gilly to arrive, I organized my race gear, painted my nails, made my breakfast of overnight oats, and foam rolled.  We also enjoyed watching USA Gymnastics Nationals and on Saturday USA men's gymnastics Olympic Trials (so incredible and inspiring)!  I got in bed around 10:30, a little later than I'd hoped, but good enough.

The alarm went off at 4:15 and before I knew it, I was back in the village setting up my transition area among the sea of athletes competing in the sprint and 5150.  A short walk to the swim start, a long time getting my Roka Maverick on, and a little warm-up were all that stood between me and my second race of the season. 




Swim:


The swim was pretty uneventful.  I positioned myself near the far right edge of the beach, hoping to get a good line to the buoys.  There were two girls slightly in front of me, but I knew that I had a good shot of slipping between them and getting out front.  After a few big bounds into the water, it was time to swim and put the pedal to the metal to take a lead.  I swam pretty hard for the first 150m, then settled in a little too much to a pace that was probably not hard enough. It didn't feel like I was moving particularly fast, but that is definitely an indication of my current swim fitness.  Unlike the previous year, I had no problems swimming through the wave ahead of me and there was little to no contact with any other swimmers.  Turning toward the exit, I had to de-fog my Roka goggles, because the sun was so bright that I could no longer see the buoys.  It felt like the beach would never come, but then I was suddenly out of the water and running the long path to transition.  It was awesome to have the support of the crowds lining the path and of course to have my own personal cheering squad - Jenn, Gilly, Adam, and Jes!




T1:  Moral of the weekend -- I need to work on my transitions.  This one was especially slow as I had a hard time getting my helmet on over my braid.  I lost a lot of time struggling with it, but was finally on my way.  With my new bike, I hadn't had time to practice flying mounts enough to be comfortable trying one in race.  So I ran with my bike shoes on and actually felt like that part was pretty fast (and no trouble clipping in at the line).


Bike: 

Oh, Duplessis. How I loathe thee... The main reason for signing up for the sprint again this year was to avoid having to ride Duplessis twice in the Olympic.  It's 10k uphill.  The hills are relentless with changes in pitch and a pretty significant gain in elevation.  On one of the hills, I met Will as I was trying to pass him and not get caught drafting (geez that is hard on a hilly course!).  Will told me that I was the first woman and to pick it up.  I tried, I swear!  But around the 8k mark, Stephanie passed me.  This is where I learned the lesson that I need to start "racing" my races.  When I saw her, I really tried to pick my pace up a little bit, but it was hard to do that and climb at the same time.  Anyways, leaving those excuses behind is what will get me to the next level.  Racing is supposed to be hard right!  In the end, I was super happy with my bike, because it was nearly 6 minutes faster than last year!! Woot!! Oh yea, I LOVE my new bike. Pistol Annie is a dream to ride. Thank you Dave for spending so much time helping me to get her ready on Thursday night!


T2:  Not much to report except that perhaps my race laces are too tight on my New Balance Vazee Pace shoes.  A bit of a struggle to get them on properly, but I got on my way quickly and I didn't forget anything important, like my bib or my watch... 

Run:

Holy hills! There are 7 hills in 5k on this run - 3 on the way out, 3 on the way back, plus an extra hill for good measure up into the village.  Over the past while, I've been practicing my downhill running, so I felt pretty good attacking these hills and taking advantage of the free speed on the way down.  I knew I had one girl ahead of me, so tried to just go for it on the run.  At the turnaround, I also saw the girl in third close on my heels, so I knew I had to really pick it up on the way back to the finish.  However, I felt like I could have put the jets on a little bit more and actually "race" this one.  That is something to work on for the future.  It was so nice to have lots of friends cheering out on the course and those cheers and the great volunteers helped me to the finish!  The finish line at Tremblant is pretty awesome and makes you feel a bit like a rock star coming down the chute with the announcer calling your name and the flashing strobe lights and music blasting.  Canadian multi-Ironman Champion Lisa Bentley presented me with a finisher's towel and medal after I crossed the line.

Heart and Courage all the way!

Post-Race: 

After the race, I was exhausted.  Sprints may be short, but they sure are hard! It was a really fun race and I was so happy to have been able to finish.  I'll take some lessons ahead to Nationals on July 23 - particularly the need to dig deep and actually "race." I admit that I'm a bit disappointed that I only finished 45s back from 1st, largely due to my transitions, so that will be another area to work on over the next few weeks.

Overall Female Podium

Women 30-34 Podium
In the end, I had a great weekend at Tremblant and I'm happy with the result.  Thank you to my sherpas for the day, my training partners, friends, and Team Coeur Sports.  Photos are a mixture of official race photos (Finisherpix), race photographers, and our own. Thank you to all for your beautiful photos!

The crew on Sunday for Jenn and Gilly's 70.3!




Friday, June 10, 2016

Training and Life Update: End of May / Early June

Things have gotten away from me again on the blogging front.  It's partly to blame for a few busy weeks and partly just a lack of training.  Due to the concussion, I missed a bit of training given that I was barely sleeping.  For about two weeks, it felt like I was trying to just keep my eyes shut all night, hoping that it would mean I would fall asleep eventually.  I took Melatonin and that worked a few times, but then it also didn't work a lot of the time.  So for two weeks, I felt like a zombie and training isn't exactly beneficial when you are already exhausted all the time.



Swim:  

Swimming fell off the deep end in May. With the lack of sleep, I certainly wasn't waking up to go swim.  Most mornings I was finally falling asleep around 5 am, so I couldn't imagine getting up to go to the pool at 5:30.  We did get our first swim in at Meech Lake though last weekend and it was just as magical as I remember it being.  The lake was surprisingly warm and so busy! All the triathletes in Ottawa must have had the same idea.  Looking forward to many more open water swims this summer!

Sweet new Ottawa Triathlon Club jersey!

Bike:  

The bike has definitely been the most consistent part of my training and it seems to be starting to pay off... either that or my new Argon 18 E-117 Tri+ is even more badass than I thought.  The bike has a new nickname - Pistol Annie - and it has been a lot of fun to ride.  It makes me feel so fast!  Our HPS group has enjoyed a lot of fun and challenging rides together at the parkway or in Gatineau Park over the past few weeks.  And I've done a few long rides with friends.

Me and Pistol Annie - Stylish Speed thanks to Argon18 and Coeur Sports!

Run:

I stopped stressing out about the run after the Early Bird Tri.  It is what it is, and I was pretty happy with my run during that race given that I hadn't even done any speed work since the fall.  Last Sunday though, I did a very challenging "track style" workout on a treadmill (why!?) because it was pouring rain and I felt like I had to do it.  Beyond bringing some speed back, I also need to really focus on getting my long runs done, but hopefully things will start to come back together soon.

Brick with the HPS crew along the Ottawa River! 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Race Report: Early Bird Sprint Triathlon



My first race of the year went off without a hitch, though I was fully prepared to not even race.  Why? Well, a little clumsiness had led me to sustain a concussion a week from race day, which lead to a week of little to no training and a few half-days at work to give my brain a break from the glare of a computer screen and the severe headaches that resulted.  I rested a lot, tried my hardest to actually sleep (something that seems to still be evading me), and crossed my fingers for the clear to race on Saturday.

Friday afternoon, I was feeling well enough to go pick up our race kits at Carleton.  It is so nice to race so close to home!  After grabbing my kit, I went for a quick shake out swim, since I hadn't been in the water in over a week.  Then I realized I forgot to get Jenn's kit, so I ran back to the transition area for my "run activation" and caught the end of Geordie's pre-race orientation. I got to chat with quite a few OTC friends, including Stephanie, who would be completing her first triathlon!

Before I get into my report, I just want to say a few words about why I decided to race on Saturday.  I was not taking it lightly that I had sustained a concussion and had been really trying to take care of myself all week.  Concussions are very serious and I am really lucky that mine seems to have been a minor one.  The concussion was obviously on my mind, but so was the desire to race and benchmark my fitness. Training this winter/spring has not been ideal and at times, I have really lacked motivation and inspiration.  There have been times when I have forgotten how magical triathlon really is and so I knew that I NEEDED to race.  I've said it many, many times, but the very best part of triathlon is the people and I knew that the Early Bird would be a huge reminder of that.  Not only would I see tons of familiar faces out on the course, but I would also get to witness a ton of people experience the magic of triathlon for the first time ever, and I did not want to miss out on the experience.  I knew going into Saturday that there was the possibility that I might have to pull out of the race, but I did that a lot last season with my stress fracture, so I was fine with it. I also knew that I would be so sad if I didn't line up at the start with my friends and fellow athletes.  Plus happy chemicals are helpful for recovery, and there would be plenty of those emitted during the race! In the end, I am so glad that I got to race.  It was a blast and a pretty good confidence booster at this point in the season.

Race Morning:

Jenn and I got up at 5:30ish. I had overnight oats with berries, almond butter, and nuts, which has been my breakfast for a few races now and seems to work for me.  I skipped the coffee for this race, given that caffeine isn't great for concussions.

We packed up the car and arrived at Carleton by 7.  The race site was already getting crowded, but Jenn and I found decent spots in transition to set up our bikes.  We got body marked and then jogged over to the pool.  Because of the long T1, we left our shoes outside the pool exit along with the other participants.  There was plenty of time to say hello to friends and take a quick splash in the diving well to warm-up.  I had a snack in the back pocket of my jersey that I forgot about until I jumped into the warm-up area, oops!

Swim:

Somewhat intimidatingly, I lined up 3rd based on my Early Bird time from two years ago. And the nerves officially kicked into high gear!

It was not my strongest swim performance, but that was to be expected given my lack of swimming this winter/spring. It will definitely serve as a kick in the butt to get back to the pool!  The swim was fairly uneventful, except for being passed by a very young kid (who started at least 2 people behind me).  The end of the 500m could not come soon enough, and I very, very cautiously walked out to find my shoes. (There was no way I was chancing a fall on the stairs!!)

T1:  After exiting the pool area, I found my shoes, but then struggled to get them on my soaking wet feet.  The run to the T-Zone felt strong, but it also felt so long (nearly 500m).  Once at my bike, I took my time getting my helmet, glasses, and shoes on before running to the bike exit.  I decided not to try a flying mount, since I was riding my new bike for only the second time ever!



Bike: 

Wow! I LOVE my new bike.  The bike has felt like the strongest part of my training this season, so far, and it felt like that work paid off at the Early Bird.  I didn't look at my watch, but once, and rode based on perceived exertion.  I paid special attention to how my head was feeling and tried my best to keep a steady effort all throughout the course.  Just after the turnaround at Clegg, a man passed me, then slooooowed down. I wasn't pleased, so I passed him again on the hill by the locks and tried my best to keep him behind me until the finish.  There were admittedly a few times during the bike where I suffered a bit, but all in all, it was a fun ride.  My new bike is a dream, though I think I'll have to continue to adjust the fit.  In the end, it was probably my fastest bike split ever, so I'm extremely happy with the result.

T2:  A fairly quick, though again cautious T2 given the mistakes I have made in transition in the past.

All business coming down the chute!

Run:

A week or so before the race, I did a practice run on the grass up the hill that appears during the first kilometer of the run... so I knew what to expect.  My plan was to keep things steady, pay attention to how my head felt, and just do my best to hold it together.  I expected a pretty slow (for me) run based on my complete lack of speed training.  However, I was happy to glance down and see a 7:30/mile pace at one point.  On the run, I did what I always do to keep the motivation high - I cheered for almost everyone that I came across.  It is always nice to have names on the bib, and hopefully my words of encouragement helped the people that I saw as much as they helped me!  About 2ish kilometers into the run, I was finally passed by a very speedy young lady.  She was flying, so I knew that I just had to hold on for second place (and hope that the staggered start meant there wasn't someone else behind me that was faster).  The downhill into the finish was awesome and I was very happy to be finishing the race!

Oh right... I'm supposed to smile for the camera!

As expected, race day was a ton of fun! In the end, I am really happy that I decided to race.  I was able to complete the race with no headache (pre-, during, or post-).  It was a huge boost in confidence at where my training is and a good indicator of where I need to go next.

Thank you so much to the amazing crew at Somersault Events, the volunteers, Geordie and the Ottawa Triathlon Club family, and all the awesome people who found themselves out on the course last Saturday.  Thank you as well to Coeur Sports for keeping me looking very stylish and comfortable in my team kit! And thanks to Ottawa Fit and Mopify for the fantastic race photos!

Overall:

Swim (500m): 8:25.7
T1: 4:24
Bike (22k): 36:57.9
Run (5k plus T2): 22:30.5

Final Time: 1:12:17 (2nd OA Female, 1st AG, 11th OA)


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Training and Life Update: Week of May 9

Another week of training in the books, and look, another post! The pieces are sort of starting to fall together.  It was another week of consistency and fun, and that is what will get me to race season in good form.   However, we are approaching race season VERY quickly, as the first race that I'm signed up for is the Early Bird, this coming Saturday! Yikes!

Monday: Run commute - 6.8k. An unplanned rest day (minus my commute of course).

Tuesday: Swim - 2500m, Run commute - 6.8k. A long course swim in the "fast lane" was a lot tougher than I had hoped it would be, but I sort of survived.

Photo Credit: Kirsten

Photo credit: Kirsten

Wednesday: Morning run commute, Evening Brick.  The OTC group met out at the parkway for some intervals and a brick run.  I got to ride my new Argon 18, but it was giving me some issues, so I missed part of the ride so that Dave could help me fix the shifter (thank you!). The run with the group felt pretty good, though my legs will need some getting used to the new TT position!

Photo Credit: Kirsten (Prettiest sunsets along the river here!!)

Thursday: Run - 8.7k.  I extended my run home again for another long-ish loop.  It felt awful.  I don't really understand my body or heart rate training it seems, given that the pace that I held was significantly slower, at the same heart rate, as my run on Wednesday night.




Friday: Swim - 2500m.  I postponed my swim again to Friday this week, since I was exhausted on Thursday morning. Our main set went 2x50, 100 + 50, 2x50, 200+50, 2x50, 300+50.  It was on whatever pace we felt like holding. I aimed for 1500 pace for the set.


Saturday:  Bike - 90k. We had an awesome group ride out to Alice's Cafe with great friends.  It was perfect weather to start out and nice of the boys to let us draft off of them a bit.  Unfortunately after a long stop for snacks at Alice's, the weather was not so kind on the return to town.  The last 6-7k were in the pouring, freezing rain.  It felt like I had a gallon of water in each shoe and I even had to wring my socks out when we got back to the car. Wild! All in all though, it was a great ride and a nice send-off for Colin as he departs for his new adventures in the wild west! (I wore my new Coeur Sports cycling shorts on this ride and they were MAGICAL. So comfy!!)

A little bit muddy and wet after that ride!
Sunday:  Skills and drills at the Bytown Storm Drafting Clinic.  It was nice to see lots of familiar faces on a very chilly Sunday morning.  We practiced a lot of drills for balance, cornering, contact in groups, and drafting / pacing.  While I don't actually have a draft legal race on my schedule, I am always up for learning better bike handling skills!  Thanks to John and Adam for leading the clinic. (Sorry I left early due to frozen fingers and toes.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Training and Life Update: Week of May 2

For May, I am going to get back into posting about my training.  I'm hoping that this consistency in posting will also help me with my consistency in training.  It's definitely easier to hold myself accountable if I imagine that someone out there reads this blog!

Last week was actually an amazing week of training. It was tough and it was at times frustrating, but I'm pretty proud of myself for getting in pretty much all of the workouts that I had planned for myself.  This self-coaching business is taking a lot of getting used to and I definitely had many periods over the last week of doubt and worry about my fitness level and about whether I will be "ready" to race in a few weeks.  But consistent workouts and following the plan are helping to boost my confidence.  Add in a few workouts with some good friends and the fun factor was covered off as well!

Monday: Run - 8k. I tricked myself into a longer run by purposely heading in the opposite direction of my house after work (I'm still run commuting for now, though revisiting whether I will continue much longer).  Normally, I pass by our house about 3.5k in if I head toward home, and it can be very tempting to just go into the house.  So, I ran over to the Quebec side of the river first, which forced me to extend the run by quite a bit.  The run was not great - heart rate way too high, some gastro discomfort, etc.  But I did it!  And then I got to go pick up my bike from FedEx.



Tuesday: Swim - 2200m.  I made it back to ROCS!  This was a big win for the week.  Now, mind you, I actually cried on deck when I realized that it was long course.  It was never long course on Tuesdays last year.  But I forced myself to get into the pool, and it wasn't so bad. (Swim demons obviously still linger.)

Coach Dave and I after the HPS ride!

Wednesday: Bike - 1:00ish.  We had our first outdoor ride of the season with the HPS group.  It was a lot of fun and a good challenge.  My bike fitness may be the bright spot in my training at the moment, but it is always a humbling experience to bike with this group. I'm telling myself that it's good for me to be at the back of the pack, because I have one of the first aid kits this year. Jenn and I missed the brick run, because she was being a Good Samaritan and helping out a guy who had blown both of his tires.

Thursday:  I turned my Thursday into my rest day, as I wasn't feeling a 6 am (long course again) swim. Plus in the evening, I had to be home to meet Adam from Velofix Ottawa for my new bike!


Friday:  Swim -  2650m completed. I pulled myself out of bed for my morning swim with ROCS and was glad that I did.  While I am definitely far off the times that I need to be hitting, they seemed a little bit closer at this workout.



Saturday: Trail run - 8k.  Jenn and I took to the Wolf Trail for a "hard effort" run.  We had contemplated signing up for a local 10k trail race, but in the end decided to do it on our own. Man, trail running is hard.  Running hard is also hard. My body was in utter shock after the lack of hard effort training lately.  I also ate it and ended up with a bruised and bloody left knee after a fall (on a flat section, of course). The second half of the trail slowed us down quite a bit, as it was steeper, muddier, and rockier on the descent.  We finished off with a little dip (toes only for me) in Meech Lake, which is definitely not warm enough yet for swimming! It was like an ice bath, though it felt amazing after a hard run in (finally) warm temperatures.

I need a pedicure... frozen toes in Meech Lake post-trail run!

Sunday: Bike - 64k.  Jenn, Dave and I braved some crazy wind on our ride out to Carp.  At times it felt like we might be blown sideways off our bikes, and then at other times it felt like we weren't actually moving forward.  We stopped for a nice snack at Alice's Cafe (a great reward for the windy ride), then turned around to head home.  It was mostly smooth sailing on the way back and we completed the distance in about half the time!  Always nice to have good company when the riding is tough!


A few things that resonated with me this week: 

On resilience: "Emotion into Execution: My Path to Resilience" by Loren Rowney

On running: "Why I Run" by Nick Triolo

On owning your strengths: "Stop Using Qualifiers" by Carrie Cheadle

Friday, May 6, 2016

Gratuitous Bike Post

My new Argon 18 E-117 Tri+ arrived and Adam from Velofix Ottawa put her together for me!  I just need to get a bit of a fit done (so much adjustability to this bike) and she will be ready to ride! (And then we will give her a name.)