Monday, August 29, 2016

Race Report: Timberman 70.3 2016

It's been a week since Timberman, and I think I'm still on an endorphin high from the race.  It was hands down my favourite race of my triathlon career (Cornwall last year is a close second).  The day turned out spectacularly thanks to a few key factors: 1) perfect plan execution, 2) fun maximization, and 3) excellent organization.



1) Despite significantly under-training by most standards, I spent the final few weeks of preparation for Timberman honing in on a plan for race day.  I practiced my nutrition and hydration by creating close to race simulation conditions (time of day, heat, pre-workout meal timing, intensity, etc.).  And I made sure I knew what my race pace effort felt like, as I planned to use perceived exertion on race day.  Then, I wrote a plan for the day in terms of pacing, nutrition, hydration, and the mental side of things.  And I wrote a plan for dealing with adversity.  Then, come race day, I stuck to the plan.

2) A very big part of the race day plan was to have as much fun as possible.  The race was a huge success on that account.  I smiled a LOT, if not the entire way.  I thanked volunteers. I interacted with the amazing spectators.  And I just constantly reminded myself how beautiful the day was and how lucky I was to be out enjoying it doing the thing that I love the most.

3) Timberman is a great race, and one that I would highly recommend.  The town and surrounding area is very supportive, and the spectators and volunteers were top notch.  The run became very hot, but the aid stations were well stocked with water, ice, cold sponges, etc. for us.  I also had an amazing race sherpa in my mom! She was super helpful all weekend and definitely helped to take a lot of the race day stress off my shoulders.

Now that the summary is out of the way, please bear with me, as this will be quite a loooong report because I have a lot to say about this one!

Pre-Race: 

We began the drive to Timberman on Thursday night after work, then finished up on Friday morning, arriving in Gilford around noon (it's about 6 hours from Ottawa).  The first stop was packet pick-up at Gunstock Mountain Resort.  It was smooth sailing through a short line and before I knew it, I was in possession of my first racekit for a Half Ironman!  We made the customary tour of the merchandise tent, picking out a "names" tank top for me and an "Ironmom" t-shirt for my mom.  After registration was complete, we drove about 15 minutes to our cute little cabin in Alton Bay.  If you're doing Timberman next year, I highly recommend the Winn-a-bay Cottages. The owners were super nice, the cottage was minimal but very clean, and the price was great.  Alton Bay is really cute too, and has lots of options for post-race ice cream!  We checkedin, then had a quick lunch, before heading out to do our grocery shopping for the weekend.  Friday flew by!!

On Saturday, I did my pre-race activation bike and run in Alton Bay.  During the run, I had a terrible side-stitch for the first time in years!  It freaked me out a little bit, but stayed away for race day.  I had breakfast, then took my bike for a check-up (the only hiccup was that the bike mechanics had moved to the state park, but we didn't know that so drove up to Gunstock Mountain).  The bike was fine, of course, but I wanted to be 100% sure.  While we waited on the bike, I did a warm-up swim in the beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee.  There was a lot of discussion among the athletes swimming there, because the swim start had been moved to an area of the beach that had a very shallow, rocky bottomed stretch of about 50m before we could reach water we could actually swim in.  We all wondered whether and how we would run across those rocks if the start was a beach start.  We also wondered how warm the water was and whether we would have a wetsuit legal swim!  Luckily, I got the answers at the athlete briefing - water was currently wetsuit legal and the start would be an in-water start. Big sighs of relief!!

After the athlete briefing, we returned to our cabin to make an early dinner and prepare for Sunday's race.  I laid out my gear carefully, then packed it all up as we grilled our delicious dinner (no stove at the cabin, but we made do by throwing it all on the bbq) of salmon, chicken, veggies, and sweet potatoes.  I painted my nails "mermaid" shades after dinner with a teal and a blue/green sparkle polish.  We were in bed around 9:30.

Race Day!

Up and at 'em for race day at 3:45!  My swim wave was scheduled for 7:04 am, so I wanted to make sure that I had my 3 hours before race time to eat my breakfast.  We loaded up the car and drove up to Gunstock Mountain to catch the shuttle.  It was a smooth process and within no time, we were on site for the race.  I got set up in transition and made a few stops at the port-a-potties before making my way to the swim start.  Mom came over with me to keep me company and to take my morning clothes and bag from me.  It was so nice to have her there, although I was a bit nervous and probably not the most fun to be around as I waited for the day to start.


Swim: 27:51

Before I knew it, wave #10 was lining up to head under the swim start arch.  We watched the men leave in front of us, then were given the go ahead to wade out to the start line.  The women in my wave were all chattering in a nervous, but friendly manner as we waited for the horn signifying it was time to swim.  With the blast of the horn, we were off into the crystal clear and calm lake.  My plan was to get out ahead during the first 200m or so, so I took off at a sprint.  I couldn't help but think to myself how lovely it was to be swimming almost alone in this beautiful lake on a gorgeous morning.  I kept the buoys in my sights though and focused on catching lots of water.  Around buoy three, I saw another white cap pull up to me, then pass me.  I tried to keep her in my sights, but by that point was having to dodge a lot of men in the wave ahead of me, so eventually lost her.  The water had become a bit choppier as we got further out into the lake, so I tried to keep my focus and swim my own race.  The swim simultaneously seemed to take forever, and to fly by, if that's possible.  I was feeling strong and confident as I approached the swim exit, swimming until the last second as usual.  Running out of the water, I realized there were two other women from my wave with me.  But, my plan for the day involved not worrying about anyone, but myself, so I took my time in T1 - getting my wetsuit stripped, putting my socks on, drinking some water, etc. to make sure that I was comfortable and READY for the bike.


Bike: 2:46


Pure joy. That is how I can sum up my bike ride at Timberman.  It was the most enjoyable part of the race.  I stuck to the plan of focusing on my own race, staying hydrated and eating every 10-12 minutes, and having as much fun as possible.  The course was hilly and windy (in both directions?).  At times it was crowded, and at other times, I felt like I was out on a nice long bike ride by myself.  I got to say hi to Brian, Alan, and Amy though and those moments helped to fuel the journey.   On one downhill, I whooped with joy, probably terrifying some of the people cheering on the side of the road, but I was so happy to be riding my bike that I didn't care (the way up that hill though had been my only moment of wondering what I had gotten myself into... so the way down was very sweet).  My bike handling skills have always been a bit weak, but I am proud to say that I managed two very successful bottle grabs at aid stations to refill my front water bottle (regretfully, I missed the fourth and final aid station, so spent the last 15k with only a few sips of water). Most of the race was spent uber-focused on how my body felt, what my legs were doing, how far I was from the next rider, etc., but I also had some thoughts of how much fun I was having as well as the lyrics of Sia's "Unstoppable" running through my head (my new favourite pump-up jam after CBC's tribute montage to the Team Canada women from the Rio Olympics).  At 30k, I was surprised to see that I was well ahead of my dream pace, which set off a little spark of hope that I could hold onto that pace for the remaining 60k.  My legs were on board with that spark of hope it seems, and I finished way ahead of my highest expectations.  All in all, Pistol Annie and I had an awesome time out on the bike course; I still LOVE riding this bike and together, we are damn fast!


Run: 1:55:56



The run was tough, but still pretty fun!  The course has two hilly loops along the lake shore through a residential area.  There were tons of spectators all the way along the course and what seemed like endless aid stations (thank goodness!).  The sun had come out at about 60k on the bike, and it was getting quite warm at that point, so on my way out of T2, I had some young volunteers slather my shoulders and arms with sunscreen.  I also got to say  hi to my mom right at the start of the run and again at the halfway mark - yay!  My goal for the run was to hold on to a reasonable pace and keep my heartrate low.  Given my run training this year, that pace isn't quite what I would like it to be, but I just wanted to finish the half marathon in one piece and to run the whole thing, so I knew that I had to be realistic. I carried a bottle with my leftover Osmo and I took a cup of water or ice at almost every aid station (some water in my mouth and some over my head).  I also took two sponges to put in my tri top to help me stay cool.  After ending up with heat stroke at Nationals, staying cool and hydrated was my top priority!  At 7k, I had to stop, remove my shoe and massage my foot, since the ball had gone numb and tingly.  It seemed to help clear it up, and my foot felt relatively normal the rest of the race.  However, my left glute really didn't seem like it was doing its job, so that will be something to work on for next time.  I got to see more friends out on the race course, including Magali who was crushing it.  The run passed rather quickly and with about 2k to go, I thought, "I'm doing this. I'm almost done my first half ironman!!"  It was a great feeling and helped to power me toward the finish line with quite possibly my biggest smile ever.  Crossing a finish line is always a great feeling, but this time was especially exciting.



Overall Impressions:

I loved this race, and I surprised myself to discover that I truly enjoyed every second of it!  If you had asked me how I felt about the distance in advance of the race, you would have heard a lot of trepidation in my voice, a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of doubt that I would even want to do another half iron-distance race ever again after I finished Timberman.  Well, I was wrong.  I love the 70.3 distance.  It was a blast.  Now, my day went extremely well and I know that it probably couldn't have gone any better, but it could have gone a lot worse.  There are so many factors and elements that have to fall into place to have a good day out there and they all seemed to fall perfectly for me.  The weather was gorgeous, the spectators and volunteers were fantastic, my hydration and nutrition was spot on (at least for me), and I beat my expectations in terms of times.  I know that it might not always work out so well, but that's the beauty of it and the challenge we take on when we race.  I'm very excited to see where I can go with the 70.3 distance (particularly if I train properly for more than a month), and I'm so grateful for my experience at Timberman.

Thank you to my super sherpa Mom!  Thank you to Coeur Sports for your support and amazingly beautiful team race kit, for bringing cool/inspiring women into my life (hi Amy, Julia, Olivia, Denise), and for hooking us up with some other awesome sponsors (Roka Sports and Argon 18)!

Final Stats:

14th AG (30-34), 69th Woman

Swim: 27:51
Bike: 2:46:57
Run: 1:55:59
Final Time: 5:15:16

Friday, August 12, 2016

Training Update: One week to Timberman!


With Timberman now just over a week away, it's definitely time for an update on my training.  Since Nationals, I've really put my nose to the grindstone and have felt pretty good about my focus and my progress (even in the middle of moving houses!).  Over the last two weeks, I've gotten in a few key sessions that have built some confidence going into the race.  That said, I'm still just focused on finishing the race with much lowered expectations after a pretty mediocre summer of training.  I do have quite a bit of extra motivation though lately thanks to the athletes crushing it in Rio at the Olympics!!

Swimming:  I've finally brought some consistency to my swim training, getting in two to three swims per week over the past few weeks. It's starting to slowly come back and I'm hoping for at least a decent swim at Timberman. The open water swim last Friday morning was definitely a highlight! I also had a great practice two weeks ago where I crushed 20x100s (1 each on descending intervals 1:40, 1:35, 1:30, 1:25, five times through).



Biking:  The bike has felt really good too.  I have had two good long rides since Nationals.  One solo and one with Jenn (on a hilly and windy route).  Both left me feeling strong and more confident that I can handle 90k in a race.  On both rides I practiced my nutrition and hydration strategy as well, and I think I found something that will work for me (sorry for not letting us stop for coffee in Wakefield, Jenn!).




Running:  And I brought my distance up to one last long run at 18k earlier this week.  My running needs a lot of work in the off season, because I feel like I've totally lost my running form and fitness this summer, but I should be able to get through Timberman.  It won't be fast or pretty, but I think I can get it done!

So there you have it, it's mostly taper time with one more big ride on the weekend, and lots of rest / foam rolling / focusing on nutrition.

Oh yea, thanks to the Ottawa Triathlon Club, I got to go to see the Ottawa RedBlacks play last weekend! Gorgeous night for a win!

What events do you have left this season?  How is your training going?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Race Report: Canadian Standard National Championships (Ottawa Triathlon)

Smiling after the race, despite all the suffering during the race.


Brutal.  

That's the main word that comes to mind when I try to describe my experience at Nationals (the Ottawa Triathlon weekend included the Canadian Age Group Standard National Championships).

I'm going to do my best to keep this report as positive as possible, though I admit that is hard to do. The best thing that I can say about the race though is that I learned a lot.

But first, let me get the negative stuff out of the way: it was not a fun day.  It was hot, miserable, and not even a triathlon. I have a lot of work to do on my running, which has suffered from a change in my training that never really got followed through on when I lost my coach in April.  That's my own fault though, and I am definitely not afraid to own my mistakes.

Going into this race, I had really lowered my expectations.  It's hard to explain why, but I've felt very little motivation over the past few months.  My training hasn't been very consistent.  And I haven't been very healthy.  I caught a cold or something after Tremblant that lasted for weeks, then I thought maybe I had strep throat at the beginning of Nationals race week.  Not ideal.  Anyways, despite lowered expectations, I was still looking forward to racing in Ottawa and I was excited to be out there with so many familiar faces on the course.

As race day approached, the nerves started to set in though.  As much as my motivation has been lacking, I do care a lot about triathlon and I want to do as well as possible (obviously being realistic as well).  Jenn and I did a pre-race warm-up on Friday morning, then I went to the office with my coworkers well aware that I would be leaving early to prepare for my race.  After work, I cleaned my beautiful Argon 18 E-117 Tri+, then Gilly and I rode over to drop our bikes off and pick up our packets.  We flew through pick-up, then caught a ride home (thank you!!) with Joe and Jen. It was a dreadfully hot day and we weren't really looking forward to running/walking the 3k home (but how great is it to live so close to the race site!).  When we got back to our house, we had a nice dinner (grilled chicken, roasted veggies, grilled asparagus, and quinoa topped with guacamole - yum) with Jenn and Evelyne.  I painted my nails while we relaxed after dinner, then packed my gear before bed.  My dream of an early bedtime somehow slipped away, and before I knew it the clock was past 9:30.  We had a very early 3:35 wake-up call, so I had been hoping for a bit more sleep, considering I couldn't sleep at all on Thursday night. Oh well!

Race Day: 

We made our way to the race site bright and early, but the day started to go off the rails immediately after stepping foot on site.  A guy walking by said, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they've just made the race a duathlon." Cue panic.

The swim was meant to take place in Dow's Lake, which had always been a source of anxiety for pretty much every athlete ahead of the race.  Dow's Lake is definitely not known as a place you'd want to swim. It's part of the Rideau Canal, and after a very hot summer with not a ton of water flowing through, it was looking quite gross.  But the race organizers kept insisting that it was fine for swimming and had passed all the required water safety hurdles from the ITU.  So as much as I didn't really want to swim in Dow's Lake, I had accepted that I would be swimming there come race day. Not to mention, I rely on the swim to put me in a good position for the bike and run. Coming out of the water near or in the lead helps me stay focused on my own race, rather than get caught up in chasing other girls.  But the water quality test results didn't come in on time, and the organizers had to cancel our swim (as well as a few other races).  Eventually, the test results came in and the water was fine, so later races did include the swim, which was very frustrating for me.

Run #1 (2.5k):  


This was my very first duathlon (and likely my last). I had no idea what to do pace wise for the first run, particularly since it was 2.5k. So I mistakenly did what I always do in my swims, I sprinted to get out ahead of the pack.  That lasted about 3 minutes, then the group caught up to me and a few girls started to pull away after we crested the hill. They had us doing one lap of the run course for our first run, which was a lovely 2.5k loop with a hill to start. I definitely took that out too hard.

T1: 

The great part of a duathlon is the transitions are significantly simpler. Take off running shoes. Put on bike helmet and shoes. Go. No bibs in the race since we had sweet race number tattoos, so that helped too. Also thanks to Jenn for reminding me that I could loosen the internal straps on my aero helmet, so it was much easier to put on than in Tremblant!

Bike: 

I'm pretty familiar with the bike course, since I run it or drive it several times a week.  The road was not in great shape though, so there was a lot of pothole avoidance going on and by the end, my aerobars had come completely out of place so I could no longer shift properly. Yikes! BUT, the bike was a success for me.  The 40k went by quickly, I felt strong the whole time and tried to just stay consistent.  From what I heard, the lead girls were doing a bit of drafting, which is kind of unfair, but not much I can do about that.  I also likely went a tiny bit too hard, given that I knew I had girls ahead of me, but overall I'm really happy with my bike fitness. My cycling has come a very long way over the past few years, and I'm proud of that.  It was great to see some familiar faces volunteering along the course, and my the course was beautiful.  The canal really is lovely, and being able to race along it made me appreciate the fact that I live in such a beautiful city! Nutrition: 1 water bottle, 1/2 bottle with electolytes, and 1 Gu Roctane in Chocolate Coconut (first gel in about a year and a half, so that was an experiment).

T2:  Another quick transition to the second run. Not much to report.

Run #2 (10k): 


This face tells the story perfectly... sufferfest! Thanks to Rachel for the photo.

From the first step, I knew this run was going to be a disaster.  My legs were not responding at all and it felt like I was barely moving. Starting the run uphill didn't seem to help, and it was really only the fact that I saw lots of friendly faces (Ottawa Triathlon Club volunteers, Simon's family, Aaron, Stephanie - THANK YOU for cheering!!) that I was able to finish.  At times, I allowed myself to be mentally defeated in addition to physically exhausted.  It was very hot and humid by that point in the race, and things just did not feel right at all.  I ditched my hand held water bottle at the top of the first lap, because it felt like it was throwing my body off since I hadn't trained with it, but I really wish I had kept it since it had some electrolytes in it and I think I needed those.  I also took a gel at the top of the first lap, which really didn't seem to do anything at all. The whole run was a struggle and I just could not wait to be done.  However, I did try cheer for my friends, to remind myself that I was lucky to be out there running and to be grateful for the opportunity to race with friends surrounding me in my home city.

But I did get a smile in! Thanks to Stephanie for catching this one. 

The finish finally approached, but I had nothing left in the tank so I got passed literally at the line for 5th in my AG.  It was the first time that I couldn't even muster the energy to smile for the finish line photographer, and that makes me pretty disappointed in myself.

After grabbing water and some oranges, and finding some friends, I realized that I was really not feeling well at all.  So I walked over to the med tent to lie down.  My heart rate was pretty elevated (this was now about 10 minutes post-race) and I couldn't breathe.  So I rested with some ice packs and chatted with the really friendly doctors and medical volunteers for about half an hour.  Finally it was time to head home!

Post-race Reflections: 

There are a lot of good things to come out of this race, so I'm working on focusing on those.  I had a great bike ride.  I didn't have to swim in Dow's Lake (yuck).  I had so many friends out racing and volunteering, and therefore lots of encouragement along the way (thank you again and again). I got to practice overcoming adversity and adapting my plan on the fly.  And I got a kick in the ass to focus for the next month so that I'm ready for Timberman 70.3.  It was a humbling experience, and reminded me to respect the need to train and prepare properly!  Over the next month, my plan is to focus on my nutrition and hydration plan for Timberman, as well as get my butt running more!  Crossing my fingers that my 5th place finish is good enough to qualify for Worlds after the age adjustment.  Congratulations to everyone who participated in the inaugural Ottawa Triathlon race weekend. It was a small, but very competitive field of talented athletes!

Thank you to all the volunteers, to the race organizers (though I would suggest maybe moving the race next year to avoid the Dow's Lake issues), to my tri family, and to Team Coeur Sports!  As much as I suffered out there, at least I looked good doing it in my team kit.

Final Results: 

5th AG/26th woman

Run #1 (2.5k): 9:12
T1: 1:13
Bike (40k): 1:11:18
T2: 1:08
Run #2 (10k): 47:05
Overall time: 2:09:54

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)