Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Race Report: MEC Spring Flyer 10 Miler

On Easter Sunday, I completed my first race of the season!  It went really well and I'm very happy with the result.  The MEC Race Series is a super affordable, well organized series of races throughout the summer.  There are various distances and formats (road, trail) to choose from.  For this race, my coach suggested the 10-mile distance, which was new to me.  As someone who uses mile pace, it was easy to wrap my head around what pace I wanted to hold for the race and where my finish time would fall based on that pace - easy math is always fun.

I was also really excited, because my parents are in town visiting to help me with my move to the condo that I recently purchased and will take possession of very soon.  So mom, dad, and George got to come to watch the race!  George ended up mostly staying in the car and away from the runners.  He isn't quite sure yet about runners, and often gets scared and barks at them.  But since the course was an out and back, mom and dad had plenty of time to distract George and still watch the start and finish of the race.

The course itself was very mentally challenging, because it is a course that I ride at least once a week (with multiple loops), so I know every curve and every little hill like the back of my hand.  The 5 miles to the turn around were definitely a struggle, as was the last 2km to the finish.  Luckily, I made a friend and had a nice chat during the first part of the race for a few kilometers.  Eventually, he bid me a good race and took off like a rocket.  After the race, I thanked him for holding back to chat with me.  Toward the end of the race, I had a girl to chase which helped keep me focused.  I had seen her at the turn around and thought I would be able to catch her since she seemed to be slowing down a bit.  Unfortunately, I also slowed down slightly in the last 1.5km and another woman passed me, so I ended up finishing 8th overall despite my efforts.

In general, I am really happy with how this race went.  It was the first time in a long time that I held 7:30/mile pace over that distance, so it is a good sign that my run fitness is coming along and that the speed and tempo work that my coach has me doing is working!

The best part of the race though was definitely the Camino dark chocolate bunny that we received as our finisher's prize! Yum!! Thanks to MEC Ottawa for a great race.  Thanks to Coeur Sports for the very stylish and multi-purpose race kit (my aero tri top worked well for the weather we had on race day). Thanks to mom and dad for all their help this week and for always being the best cheering / photography squad!

Final Time: 1:15:05 (8th woman overall)

Camino bunny! Very appropriate for an Easter day race! Yum!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Training Update: March 2017

Somehow it is the end of March... things have been a whirlwind this month in literally all aspects of my life.  Despite also being sick and missing a full week of training, my training was pretty consistent for the rest of the month.  And I feel like I'm starting to make some fitness gains because of it!

Here are a few highlights...

Related to swim-bike-run life, I participated in an NCCP Community Coaching course for triathlon along with many of my co-coaches from the Ottawa Triathlon Club.  The course happened while I was sick, so I didn't quite get as hands-on as some of the other participants, but I had fun and learned a lot from our facilitators and my peers.

Swim:  Swimming is still a weak spot, but I've committed to joining a triathlon swimming program starting this coming Saturday. I'm hoping that having a set time and place to swim, plus a group to hold me accountable, will help get me back in the pool on a more consistent basis.

Bike: My rides have started to get longer and more frequent in recent weeks as I build toward Victoria 70.3 in early June.  I did an FTP test last weekend, and felt awesome and so strong.  Hopefully the snow and ice melts soon, so we can get out on the road!

Run:  My runs have also started to get looong and more intense.  I feel like this is the area where I had the most work to do, and I'm finally starting to feel like my running is coming back.  It's exciting to hit paces that I haven't hit in a while and to do it comfortably! Plus, George is getting old enough to run with me!

So, things are trucking along and I'm trying to balance it all.  Life is busy, but good!  How is your training going?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Training Update: February 2017

Things are starting to click again in training. At least that's what I like to tell myself.  I'm getting most of my workouts done and I'm finding ways to fit things into my new schedule of being a dog mom. The past few weeks I have missed a lot of swimming due to a significant run-in with a food processor blade (*ouch*), but I finally got back in the pool yesterday.  After a few days of contemplation earlier in the month, I've also come up with a new plan and new goals for the season which have me much more excited about training and racing than I had been with the original plan.  A separate post on those is due to hit the blog as well as an update on some exciting developments.  But for now, training:

Swim:  As mentioned, I spent a few weeks out of the pool.  Cutting my finger so significantly was unfortunate timing, since I had finally gotten back in the pool after a very long break.  But I swam yesterday, and hopefully will make it a more consistent habit now that my finger has healed.

Strength work at OTC Wednesday nights!

Bike:  Our Wednesday night HPS group has had some fun rides lately with lots of "sweet spot" time as well as a longer ride last week.  We have a great group this year, and it is motivating to coach and train with them.  At home, I've made the Saturday trainer ride a consistent habit.  Lately it has been my excuse to watch lots of Netflix, and I'm loving the Archie comics inspired "Riverdale" for my rides.  If you haven't checked it out, and especially if you read Archie as a kid, you should give it a watch!  The new episodes come out on Fridays, so it is perfect timing for my Saturday rides (though I usually need to watch something else since each episode is only about 40 minutes).  This past week, a new kit from Coeur Sports added some stylish motivation to get on the bike!

Run:  While I've struggled to get in all of my runs, mostly due to some personal stuff going on the past few weeks, I'm enjoying running again.  It has also been fun to get out on snowshoes for a few runs recently (including a particularly slushy, warm, sunny run yesterday on the SJAM Winter Trail).  I also made it to my first outing with Run-to-beer-Ottawa, a fun group that starts and ends its runs at local breweries in celebration of community, running, and delicious craft beer.  We had a great time, and I met some "internet friends" for the first time - Ashley (the leader of the beer and running /  yoga movement in Ottawa) and Katrina.  We also ran on probably the worst weather day of the winter, but the blustery, blizzard type conditions didn't stop us!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Back on the Train: Weekly Training Update

For the past two weeks, I have actually been pretty consistent with my training!  Last week was my first week with an official training plan, and the week before, I was motivated by the fact that I had my plan starting to get out and start early.

I'm working with a new coach this season - David Harding - of DEKK Coaching.  He is a local Ottawa runner and triathlete, and his resume includes multiple Boston qualifiers and a recent trip to Kona for Ironman World Championships.  Of course, I'm not a marathoner or an Ironman, but my desire to get my running back on track this season led me to Dave. I'm looking forward to having the accountability and structure provided by a coach for this season.

So with that, I commenced my 2017 official triathlon training last week!

Monday - Okay, so I didn't really start off on the right foot.  Waking up to swim at 6:30 am wasn't happening and then the day just got away from me!

Tuesday - 6k run with my new running buddy

Wednesday - I'm coaching HPS with Dave again this year, and we had our Lactate Threshold Test last week.  The gang crushed it and worked so hard.  We have a fantastic strength program this season too from Coach Jenn, so we hit our upper body and core along with lots of mobility work.

Thursday - Another run, but this time on the treadmill.  I am still not a huge fan of treadmill workouts, but I got it done by watching Harry Potter as I ran.

Fridays will be my official rest day this season

Saturday - 60 minutes on the trainer in the basement while George watched me with intense curiosity.

Sunday - 10k along the Rideau Canal

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bullet Journal Life

I am a list addict.  And I like to write my "to do" list down by hand.  After years searching for the perfect planner, I discovered the bullet journal method last summer and retired my planner.  For years, I was posting sticky notes of to-do lists in my planners anyways, so a bullet journal seemed like the best choice for me.  Since July, I've used mine religiously and it has definitely helped improve my organizational skills and productivity.  The best part of the bullet journal is that it is completely customizable. Yes, it requires a little bit more work than traditional planners, but it is totally worth it in my books.

So, what is a bullet journal?  It's the simplest form of planner.  

Step 1) Buy a blank notebook - lined, unlined, gridded, anything that suits your fancy

Step 2) Start making lists

Okay, you can have a few more steps than that.  The main principle is that you create daily lists of tasks, meetings / events, and items to remember.  Each item gets a special bullet and when completed, each item gets an X over the bullet.  Items that are not completed are migrated to the next day's list.

It is recommended that you number your pages and create an index with a few blank pages at the front of your notebook, so that everything is easy to find.

Further, I like to create a "monthly overview" page and each week, I have a "weekly overview."  This is where I can write down events and things to remember for the coming month and then in slightly more detail for each week.  I do my weekly overview on the Thursday or Friday in advance of the next week.  I also include a "goals and bucket list" page next to my monthly overview.  Finally, you can add any other lists your heart desires - movies to watch, books to read, places to travel, money spent during the week, weekly workouts, meal plans and groceries, etc.
With everything contained in one place, you can stay organized and on top of everything!

For the athletes out there (this is a triathlon blog after all), tracking your workouts is another thing you can do in your bullet journal. I'm going to start this for the new season, but it is something I have done in the past.  I like to write out the workouts for the week, then leave space to write out what I actually did and how I felt, plus any other notes about the workout.  While there are obviously a lot more high tech options, and I use those as well, having my workouts in the same place as my other tasks allows me to maximize my schedule and foresee any barriers to my workouts in advance (e.g., a surprise birthday party the night before a big trainer ride).

My notes: 
- Currently using a Moleskin lined notebook
- Purchased a Leuchturmm1917 dotted notebook (they actually make an "official bullet journal" version as well) for when my Moleskin is full
- I use a set of Artist's Loft Illustration Pens, because I like to make my journal look pretty
- You can fall into a black hole on Pinterest if you search for bullet journal ideas.  I am not an artist and I don't have time to actually illustrate my journal. Figure out what works for you by experimenting and don't get caught up in the hype created by the internet on this stuff. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kicking 2017 off with Whole 30

The push to do Whole 30 could not have come at a better time.  I spent the last week of December and first week of January at World Juniors (Go Canada!! Silver!), which meant eating out every meal and drinking a lot of Molson Canadian and wine at the games.  Combine that with my severe lack of training and general indulgence over the past few months, and my body was screaming at me to kick my junk food and booze habits.  I literally got a funny taste in my mouth after eating candy on January 1st and then had a bathroom break reminder not to eat candy (sour jujubes are soo good though) pre-run in Montreal (yikes! and sorry for the TMI).  Anyways, Whole 30 will give my body the reset that it needs to start the year right.

For those unfamiliar, Whole 30 is a 30 day plan that prohibits added sugars (even natural sweeteners like maple syrup), dairy, legumes, and all grains.  It is not meant to be continued strictly beyond 30 days, and is not a "diet."  Other restrictions include not being allowed to weigh yourself during the plan (which I never do anyways and didn't do before starting) and no recreating "junk" with approved ingredients. Here are the Whole 30 rules.

I usually keep a pretty solid nutrition plan going, where I limit sweets and refined grains and eat mostly veggies, protein, and complex carbs from sweet potatoes, oats, and fruit.  I have lots of healthy fats in my diet as well.  However, I eat a lot of dairy, though I've cut back a lot on that over the years, I usually have Greek yogurt at least once a day.  Lately though, things have gone south with the sweets and the alcohol, plus some not great food choices - pizza, I love you, but really shouldn't eat you more than once a week! So I'm mostly using this challenge as a way to hold myself accountable to getting back on track. It is really helpful to have my Coeur Team sisters doing it too! (See #CoeurWhole30Challenge on Instagram). And I'm hoping to see how I do with no dairy and no sugar.  Plus, reducing my alcohol intake isn't a horrible idea.

Note, while I understand that Whole 30 is meant to be followed to a T, I am just going to do my best to stick to it 90% or more of the time.  I'm on day 5 and I've already had two glasses of wine and a few tortilla chips during taco night on Tuesday.  Am I a failure? Not in my books, though the die-hard Whole 30 crew may disagree.  For me this challenge is mostly just to get back on track with my eating and not to determine if I am actually allergic to any foods.  So I'm doing my best and t that will be that.

Here's to feeling better inside and out, and to a healthy, happy 2017!

The key to Whole 30 is eating delicious, nutritious and varied meals.  I'm taking this as a great opportunity to get back to my food blogging ways, so I'll share all of the recipes that I make for this month!  Starting with week 1...

Week 1 Recipes: 

Mexican Meatball Soup - modifications were to use all broth in place of broth/water combo and to use sweet potatoes, as my store was sold out of butternut squash.

Crockpot Sweet Potato Chipotle Chili - modification was to cook this on the stovetop in my Le Creuset.  I cooked the meat first along with the onion and then added spices as it was close to finished cooking, then I added the remaining ingredients, brought it to a boil, then turned the heat down and simmered for about an hour and a half.  Serve with avocado for some healthy fats!

Chorizo Egg Cups

6 eggs
1 link chorizo sausage (ask your butcher if it has sugar in it!)
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped spinach
Salt and pepper

Remove the sausage from the casing, and cook over medium heat, breaking the sausage up as it cooks into small pieces.  When the sausage is nearly done, add the diced red pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir the spinach into the sausage and pepper mix. 

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with salt and pepper. 

Grease 6-8 cups of a muffin tin with coconut oil, then divide the sausage and vegetable mix evenly between the cups.  Divide the egg mixture between the cups (I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup and poured the egg over the sausage and veggies).  Bake 18-20 minutes or until the muffins are firm to the touch.  Cool and store for up to 4 days. 

Date Balls

1 cup dried, pitted dates
1 cup nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon almond butter
Himalayan salt

In a food processor, process nuts until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until a ball starts to form.  Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes, then form into small balls. Return to either the refrigerator or freezer for storage.

Some other things that I've been snacking on include dried figs, apples with almond butter, nuts, and Coconut Barnana!  While snacking is also not technically recommended on Whole 30, I have allowed myself snacks between meals.  I'm trying to get better about grazing, and I am going to work on reducing my reliance on dried fruit and fruit for sweets next week after a better meal prep this coming weekend for week 2!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Another 2016 Review: Goals

I'm not sure where my motivation is these days, but I'm really working hard to find it!  I realized that I even took a lazy route in my 2016 recap by ignoring the fact that I had set some goals and intentions for myself.  So as I struggle to define my goals and intentions for 2017, perhaps a look back will help me figure out what is next!

Here were my 2016 goals: 

Goal: Qualify for Age Group World Championships (Olympic Distance)

My goals were pretty detailed, listing out the "why" and the "how," along with how I would measure the achievement of the goal and by when. I'll give you the short version. I did qualify for Age Group World Championships in the Olympic distance. I had a horrible day out on the course, which was turned into a sort of duathlon and meant I lost my strongest leg, the swim. I ended up in the medical tent too, which isn't really how you want to end your race. But I did it! I was happy with my bike split and I am excited to be on Team Canada for another Worlds! Rotterdam, here we come! (See my race report here).

Goal: Qualify for 70.3 Worlds (2017) at Timberman

The field at Timberman was supa-dupa fast for my AG and I knew it would be, so no I did not qualify for Worlds. (I'm trying to remember not to set goals that rely on other people's performances for 2017!!)  But I had a fantastic day at Timberman. It was so much fun! I executed my race plan from start to finish, and my mom was there to cheer me on all day long! I will be doing another 70.3 (or more) this season, with my next one at Victoria in June! PS crushed my swim and bike goals at Timberman! (See my race report here).

Goal: Learn new skills!!

I liked the "why" behind this one:
  • Diversifying my athletic tool kit will allow me to have more fun with friends and be a more well-rounded athlete! 
  • Learning new things helps to push me outside of my comfort zone 
  • Learning new things requires me to practice patience and to believe in myself 

And I also achieved my goals, both in spirit and in measurement. I really pushed out of my comfort zone and had to be very patient with myself by learning to skate ski, which was a very foreign activity for me. And by the end of last ski season, I was really starting to get it, which made it a lot of fun. Snowshoe running was also a source of joy, and I'm excited to get back out on the trails, and maybe even race again this winter.

As always, the #1 goal was to have FUN! And that was definitely achieved!!

A big thank you to some of the best ladies on the planet too for allowing me to be part of their amazing team - Coeur Sports - in 2016. My 2016 was definitely more fun, stylish, and fulfilling because of this team and company! And they have me very excited about the new year and season as well.