Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

On 2014...

I've been trying to think about something insightful to say, but to be honest, I'm still working out my feelings on 2014.  It was a great year in so many ways, with lots of lessons learned, fun adventures, and new friends.  However, I'm still processing it and thinking through my approach to 2015.  So, for now, I'll keep it short and sweet.  I already posted my lessons learned from my 2014 season and you can find links to all my race reports, but here are a few highs and lows from my racing life and my real life since I only started this blog in July.

January:  I officially joined the Ottawa Triathlon Club with the start of training with the High Performance Squad.  I didn't know it at the time, but this group would become my Ottawa family. I know I sound like a broken record, but I can't stress enough how amazing triathletes are and how many cool people I have met through the sport.  It will always be the number one reason I use when recommending trying a tri to someone new.

February:  We skated on the canal, celebrated a Seahawks Super Bowl win, and went to the Jason Aldean concert.  I trained a lot too.

March:  My grandmother took the whole family for a cruise to the Caribbean for her 80th birthday!  It was one of the best trips of my life.  We had such a great time and I'm so thankful to my grandma for taking us all! 

April: I turned 28!  Then I won my very first running race (and peed my pants during it... yes, I did and I'm not afraid to tell you about it.  I was in line for the port-a-pottie and heard the gun go off to start the race... so I had to race to the start line.)

May:  My first triathlon of the season included an indoor swim and lots of familiar faces out on the course.  It was a tough one mentally, but it taught me some lessons about the true point of the sport - to have fun!  I also started my training to become a barre instructor at iNSiDE Out Studios! (Also very challenging and totally took me way, way outside of my comfort zone... good stuff.)

June:  My family joined me in Chicago for the World Triathlon Series race.  They were the best cheering squad and it was so much fun to have them there with me.  Plus, Chicago is one of my favorite cities and I got to preview the course for 2015 Worlds!

July:  #1 goal of the year achieved at Trimemphre-Magog.  I qualified to represent Canada at 2015 Worlds!

August:  Officially my worst race of the season at the K-Town Triathlon.  Always check  your brakes before heading out on the bike course!

September:  My first Olympic Triathlon at Montreal Esprit and an awesome roadtrip with my triathlon sisters Jenn and Dale.

October:  A weekend in NYC to visit my best buddies from university over Canadian Thanksgiving.  And another fun roadtrip to Massachusetts for my first half marathon ever!  It was great race and a fun weekend with friends.

November:  I got to meet Ironman legend Scott Tinley and participate in a fun, informative coaching clinic with the Ottawa Triathlon Club.

December:  We took an amazing trip to Arizona for our family Christmas. I got to ride a bike and swim outside in December and it reminded me that I love cycling and swimming.  I also hired my first coach and am loving it.  Finally, I found out that I am a member of Team Coeur for 2015!! #heartandcourage

There are good things ahead in 2015! The past few years have been quite a journey of personal growth and I am excited to continue that journey in the new year.  In the next week or so, I'll share some of my goals for the coming year.

Happy New Year to you all!! May you look back on 2014 with fondness and look forward to 2015 full of excitement!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of December 22

Last week was an awesome week of training!  I felt great and I had two breakthrough sessions - a bike and a swim - where I felt so happy and invincible. The swim has been a struggle lately, but that swim made me really appreciate my body and my abilities.  The bike has always been a source of a little bit of anxiety, but the two bike rides I went on in Arizona were so awesome!!  Flying down a mountain with beautiful desert scenery and meeting super nice fellow cyclists made me appreciate how far I've come in the past 2 years and made me excited for continued growth on the bike.

Monday:  I still had my rental bike (Specialized Roubaix) from Arizona Outback Adventures until noon, so I took it out for one more spin on the hill from Sunday's ride.  It was one of the most enjoyable bike rides that I have done and I think the two days in the desert have actually made me love cycling!! That is a win in my book! In the afternoon, we went on a hike and I ran up the hill! It was steep (almost 13% grade).  I had to take a few rests on the way up, but it was really fun.

Sporting my Coeur Sports Fleet Foxes jersey!

I ran up that!
Tuesday:  OUTDOOR SWIM!!  We drove down to Tucson for the day and my family was kind enough to let me swim.  Like the bike ride, this swim was magical.  It was needed after the stress that swimming had brought me earlier in December.  Something about swimming outside in the sunshine in a bromine pool took me back to my days at Santa Clara Swim Club and made me really happy. After the swim, we had an awesome lunch and a nice little hike at Picacho Peak.

Wednesday:  A fun progression run for Christmas Eve (which was actually our Christmas).  I did 2x10 minutes with 5 minutes at marathon pace, 2.5 minutes at tempo pace, and 2.5 minutes at 10k pace.  The run felt good. I followed it with 2 rounds of a strength workout.

Thursday: Rest day for Christmas!

Friday: A long recovery run at sunset.  It has been a bit of a challenge to slow down and really do my recovery runs properly, but I keep reading about the benefits of having a significant gap between your hard and recovery paces, so I'm trying my best!

Saturday: Travel day home to Ottawa.

Sunday: I took a barre class, then I taught two.  After sitting on the plane all day on Saturday, my psoas was a little tender, so I skipped my run.  I also took some time in the evening to prep meals for the next week and work on my goal setting in my new Believe journal!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Race Report: Jingle Bell 5k

The transformation is complete. You know your life has changed when you look up races to do for fun while on holiday with your family.  When we decided to go to Arizona for the holidays, I made a special request of my family to do a 5k run with me while we were there.  My mom agreed to do the race with me!  So off we were at 6:15 on a Saturday morning during vacation - mo, dad, sister, and Ralph, the puppy.  We had an hour plus drive to the race venue at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix.

When we arrived, mom and I picked up our race bibs and shirts (impressive since we had registered the day before).  I did a bit of a warmup run around the parking lot and some A's, B's, C's and strides.  By that time ewe had only a few minutes to go until the start. I had lost mom in the chaos of the start line, but I made a new friend and we chatted about holding a 6:45 pace or faster.  We also talked about taking it out easy, but he forgot about that at the start.

As the race started, I reminded myself of the plan: get faster each kilometer and try not to go out too hard. We pretty quickly turned onto a hard dirt path, which would be the run surface for the vast majority of the race. It was a little muddy in spots due to the rain a few days before, but we were blessed with gorgeous weather. It was cool and sunny with mist rising off the desert plants.

The first mile went well and right on pace. I stayed relaxed and held back. As we started the second mile, things got a bit harder with a run through a gully - up and out- twice and lots of twists and turns that made it harder to keep the momentum going. As we hit the start of the third mile, I reminded myself that I could do anything for less than 7 minutes and that I really ought to pick up the pace!  With a quarter mile to go, I passed a girl wearing lime green compression socks. I was feeling good. But then she surged past me just as we approached the last turn to the finish. The announcer said, "here comes the first female finisher!" And I wanted to kick myself for passing her too early and letting her beat me!  In the end, I finished second for women with a new personal best of 20:56.2. I met up with dad, sister and Ralph at the finish, grabbed some water and went over to watch for mom.

I saw her come running around the bend and she shouted to me that she had been running the whole way. I was so proud of her!  After I saw her, I took a shortcut to the finish to watch. She finished with a time of 32:20.4!! It was so exciting. She crushed it and came in 10 minutes faster than her goal. This was her first real run in a long time, but she is in good shape from working out regularly. I'm so glad she ran it with me and excited that she also plans to do a triathlon in the summer!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!! I hope you're all having a lovely season and cherishing time with your family and friends!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of December 15

Greetings from sunny Arizona!

Monday:  Our final Tour de France spin class.  We had some climbs and a few sprints to the finish. Post-class we celebrated with holiday treats.

Tuesday:  My lingering cold kept me in bed in lieu of going to swim practice.  Instead I laced up for an easy 30 minute run down by the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal during my lunch break. For the first time in a long time, I wore my heart rate monitor (I sometimes wear it at track, but not often) during a run.  It's kind of fascinating to see whether my perceived exertion - heart rate - and pace are or are not aligned.

Wednesday: A final trainer ride before my holiday vacation.

Thursday: Travel day

Friday: Easy shake out run with a few strides in the desert to get ready for Saturday's 5k. Then we went on a nice family hike.

Saturday: 5k Jingle Bell Run with my mom! I was so proud of her for running the Mk whole thing and coming in at 32 minutes. She did great! I came in 2nd for women and had a new PB of 20:56.2!!

Sunday:  Nice long, outdoor (!!!) bike ride in the beautiful Arizona desert.  The local bike shop had an organized group ride, so I joined them for the sake of fun and safety. It was a really nice group and we had a gorgeous 24 mile ride in the desert! I rented a Specialized Roubaix from Arizona Outback Adventures and it was a nice, smooth ride.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of 12/8

Last week started out strong, but a lack of sleep and solid nutrition took me down on Friday and I spent the weekend fighting off a cold.  Remember that the season is long and if you are feeling down and out, take some time off now and rest.  It can be hard taking the rest we need, especially when we have fun and exciting training in our schedules, but it is totally necessary. I am feeling 100% better today (though my voice still makes it sound like I'm sick), and I'm excited to get back to training tonight. 

Monday: Hour long spin class at the OTC for stage 19 of the Tour de France (2013 version). Another night full of long climbs!

Tuesday: Swim - approx. 4000m with a main set of hard 100s on decreasing intervals (1:30, 1:25, 1:20).  I did about 40 minutes worth of strength and stability work after the swim.  After this practice, I posted my thoughts about swimming.  Just to confirm, I don't hate swimming. In fact, triathlon has helped me to really like swimming again. I just need to stay focused on the positive aspects of swimming and not be too hard on myself in the pool, to make sure that I continue to like swimming.
Wednesday:  First session on my indoor trainer of the year - 20 minute warm-up (z1 building to Z3), 10 minutes Z4, 5 minutes recovery, 10 minutes Z4, 15 minute cooldown. I pumped the Christmas tunes and actually really enjoyed this ride.

Thursday:  Beautiful, slow and easy run down by the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill.  It felt great to get out at lunch and enjoy the fresh air.  I admit it is hard to hold back and go "easy" sometimes though.

Friday:  Woke up sick and decided that sleep was a better idea than a swim.

Saturday: Still just as sick, so I had to miss track practice.  I still taught my two barre classes and spent a lovely hour bundled up, walking through the snow at the Arboretum in the afternoon.

Sunday: Coach advised me to take one more day of rest to feel better. We had our annual book club cookie exchange in the evening and I made it out to the OTC swim meet to cheer on my teammates!  No swimming for me though this year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interview Sessions: Dale

Happy Friday! I'm going to share one more interview with you before a little hiatus for the holidays. As I've mentioned many times before, the biggest reason I love triathlon is the people that I have the pleasure of meeting through the sport. 
Dale is one of my other favorite training partners! She joined our HPS group around the same time as Jenn and between the two of them, our training was really stepped up a notch.  Dale has been competing in triathlons since she was 14 and her speed, grace under racing pressure, and ability to dig deep are inspiring. I'm so excited to see where the sport takes her! She is also a nurse and is going on a medical mission to Haiti in the new year (if you'd like to donate to the mission, here is the link to Dale's fundraising page.)

Let's get to know Dale!
How did you get into the sport of triathlon?
My aunt was an avid triathlete and inspired me to do my first tri at age 14. Triathlons quickly became a family event: my cousins, siblings, aunt and my mom would all compete together. I've been hooked ever since!
What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

Everyone has to start somewhere and that somewhere can be with basic equipment and minimal training. You can learn to swim, improve your running, and be more efficient on the bike, you just have to be dedicated and believe in your self. Joining a club with other beginners is always helpful and more motivating. 

What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

Finishing my first Olympic distance and competing in my first sprint distance after talking a 5 year hiatus from the sport.

What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?
My biggest challenge has been to stop making excuses.  There is always time for a workout you just have to make it happen.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?
Meeting new friends, coaches and of course that feeling crossing the finish line!

How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?
Life as a triathlete has made me more motivated, time efficient, and given me a positive attitude towards challenges in daily life. 

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?
I lay out all my things the night before, and make sure to arrive early before the race to set up. I mix a drink with half Gatorade and half water and always eat peanut butter and banana with just one sip of coffee before the race. The night before a race I carbo load with some type of pasta dish (my fave is linguine with clam sauce).
What is your dream race?
My goal is to work my way up to completing an ironman one day... somewhere warm would be nice! ( Hawaii, Mexico, Miami)

Swim, bike, or run?

Swim and run are my strongest and favourite. The bike is growing on me slowly, but surely.

Favorite motivational quote?
Just do it ✅

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Swim - My Love / Hate Relationship

This week, I broke down in tears at swim practice.  Why?  Because I am afraid of hating swimming again.

For 90% of my swimming career, I loved to swim. I loved to practice (even though it was usually insanely hard), I loved to race and swimming contributed to my happiness.  But there came a point in my career where I hated swimming.  I dreaded going to practice, I dreaded meets, and I just wanted to quit.  So, I quit.

I spent 7 years away from swimming.  For the first 3 of those years, I didn't even go in a pool.  Then, I signed up for a triathlon.  And it was back to the pool for good.

With triathlon training, I was able to take the emphasis off of the swim, because I had and still have so much work to do on my cycling and running.  I was lucky that years and years of staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool meant that I was able to quickly return to form and get back into swimming.  By no means will I ever be back where I was, but my swim is good enough to put me near or at the front of the pack in my races.

At first, I only swam when I felt like it, maybe once or twice a week with only about 600-1200 meters of high intensity.  But I decided to commit to a more intense swim program this fall to help prepare me for Worlds and to take my swimming up a notch.  With the increased intensity has come the return of my intense feelings toward swimming.  When I was only swimming on my terms, I was able to avoid those feelings.

So... what do I do?  Well, with my tears at practice, my coach pulled me out of the pool.  We had a productive chat and he understands what I'm going through.  We agreed that I'm going to try to have more fun with swimming and he said his mission is to make sure that I like swimming still. 

I'm going to try not to be so hard on myself and to calm the internal negative chatter. 

I'm not going to stress out. 

I'm going to practice PMA (positive mental attitude). 

I'm going to smile more at practice and have more fun. 

And most of all, I'm going to believe in myself and my abilities. 

This blog is called the Happy Triathlete. Triathlon is for fun, which means swimming, biking, and running need to be fun.  Sometimes, we have to do that stuff we avoid because it is hard - and for me that is the mental work required to ensure that swimming is contributing to my happiness.  It's helped to revisit my happiness rules and think about how to apply them in the pool!

Do you have a love / hate relationship with any aspect of the sport?  Do you have any mental exercises that help you maintain a positive attitude? 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of December 1

How is it already December?!?! Seriously, when did that happen? Last week was pretty successful.  I got a coach (more about that later) and I figured out what was up with my psoas with the help of Jenn. I also made it to both of my swims!

Monday:  Tour de France - Stage 18: Gap to Alpe d'Huez, hills and more hills

Tuesday:  Morning swim was 4675m
600 warm-up
5x200 pull with paddles, descend 1-5
4x50 descend, 100 easy, 4x25 sprint
Main set: 3x (2x100 easy, 100 all-out, 2x100 easy, 75 all-out, 2x100 easy, 50 all-out)
200 cool-down
Strength session was 3 rounds of this stability workout

Wednesday:  A short 1.5 miles in the snow to test out my winter running shoes and to see how my psoas was feeling.  Shoes were awesome and psoas felt pretty good.  As  I mentioned in this post, I went to see my friend Jenn.  She is an Athletic Therapist and I think we've figured out what's up with my psoas! Woo!

Thursday:  Rest day.  The psoas was super tender from the release Jenn did and I was exhausted, so I napped instead of going to a spin class and yoga class as planned.  I taught the 6 am barre class too.

Friday:  Swim in the morning - 3450m.  Main set was 30x50 (2 easy, 1 all out). I held 33's on my 50s, so I was pretty happy with that consistency.

Saturday: Track practice and a flow yoga class. I did my best to not get caught up in the excitement of everyone else at track - they were doing a 3k time trial and I was wishing I was too. But instead, Mike had me do the smart thing and hold back.  My workout was 3x (800 at marathon pace, 800 at 10k pace) with no rest between 800s.  It felt good and my psoas didn't bother me until I stopped running, so that feels like progress. The evening brought the OTC end-of-year party and the M2M end-of-year party - both were lots of fun with new and familiar faces.

Sunday: Planned rest day.  I likely would have done something, but my new training plan has Sunday as my day of rest :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Interview Sessions: Erik

It's Friday, so that means it is time to feature another one of my triathlon friends.  I hope you're all enjoying this little series.  I love getting to know these athletes a little better and have taken lots of great advice away from reading their answers to my questions!
This week, we meet Erik.  Erik is one of my Ottawa Triathlon Club friends. I only really got to know him during the Newburyport Half Marathon road trip weekend, but now I'm happy to call him a friend.  He has a great attitude and is a pretty hilarious guy.  He and Brent definitely kept An and I entertained during our two 8 hour car rides to and from Massachusetts. Thanks for sharing Erik!
Let's meet Erik...
I was born in Stockholm, Sweden where my father was posted working for the Canadian government's foreign service.  I have always called Ottawa home though growing up I have also lived in the US and Germany as well.  

My background in athletics has varied throughout the years.  I discovered my love for swimming right from a young age spending summers taking swimming lessons at my Dad's cottage in Muskoka, Ontario.  My parents were also avid downhill skiers so naturally I would partake in this as well in the winter seasons.  Generally, though, sports was not really my thing at first.  I started playing organized team sports at the varsity level during my later academic years, beginning with basketball in high school and then volleyball in university.  Since then being physically active has become a very large part of my life.
My typical triathlon race distance to date has been Olympic, though I don't really yet have a favorite or "specialize" in anything.  I actually only completed my first sprint distance races this year, one individually and one as part of a relay team, after only having done Olympic distances in the previous two seasons.  Other than that I also like to participate in a variety of other athletic events with friends such as half marathons, Spartan races, Tough Mudder and various GranFondo bike events.
1) How did you get into the sport of triathlon?
After deciding to end my marriage in September 2011 my divorce got messy quickly.  I needed an outlet, something I could focus my energy on that would help me from succumbing to the stress that my divorce was putting me through.  I had heard about triathlons and the majestic Ironman races before but never actually considered doing one or really ever looked into them.  I was athletic in school, sure, and had even done some running and cycling post-university for this thing called "cardio" but never before had considered doing something that would combine three sports into one. (That's just crazy talk, right?)  

So finally on Christmas day of 2011 I sat in front of my laptop and thought "Ok why not!" and signed up for my first triathlon in Cornwall, Ontario for the following year in August 2012.  I chose the Olympic distance to give me something really big to shoot for.  I had no idea how to train for something like this or even what I had just gotten myself into, but immediately after clicking "register" on my online submission form I felt a surge of renewed energy... a determination that nothing was going to hold me down and no one would tell me I couldn't.  Since then I have never looked back.  I am now fully hooked into the sport, so much so that I will be participating in my first Ironman 70.3 race at Mont Tremblant on my birthday in June next year. 

2) What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?
Many little things:
* Support, support, support!  Surround yourself with like-minded people who will encourage you and motivate you to keep going.  I wish I had known about the Ottawa Triathlon Club sooner and am glad to have found my new family. (not a shameless plug.  I promise!)
* Respect the process and keep focused on the bigger picture.  Things take time.  As my wise, good friend Brent once said in an interview...there will be good days and there will be bad days.  This is true both in training and during actual events.  Each time, good or bad, will teach you something.  What that something is and how it affects you is up to you. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." (Charles R. Swindoll) 
* Keep things relative: don't worry about where others are in the sport or what they are accomplishing.  It's easy to get intimidated by what you see other people doing.  People who are either new to sports or generally not very active often talk to me about their athletic goals or accomplishments and will typically always add "...but it's nothing compared to what you do or where you are."  Just remember we've all had to start somewhere.  Learn from the experiences of others.  Focus on your plan and what you are doing to get there. "All things are difficult before they are easy." (Thomas Fuller)  
* When things get tough, remind yourself why you are doing this.  "Fun" should always be one of, if not the first, answer to this question.
3) What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?
Being called an inspiration by my friends and family, simply for daring to try something new.  The word "crazy" typically gets accompanied with that as well.  LOL!
Fundraising through athletic events is something I am also quite proud of.  In 2010 and 2011 I raised money for both the American and Canadian Diabetes Associations while also participating in cycling and running events with each organization.  I also raised money towards cancer research for the Ottawa Hospital Foundation in 2012 and participated in their annual "Ride the Rideau" event.  My favorite fundraising experience, however, was raising money to fight cancer and participate in the 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer from Toronto to Niagara.  I hope to do this again someday soon.  

4) What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?
My brain.  Overcoming mental blocks.  This past season has been a great teacher for me regarding this.  One event in particular that I participated in taught me valuable lessons in a rather unpleasant way where I struggled significantly, both physically and mentally, for really the first time since starting into the sport three years ago.  I got very down on myself about it afterwards, but what really helped me overcome this particular situation was the wonderful people in my life...friends, family, and especially even my triathlon family...all rallying around me with words of encouragement and support.  It helped me see that even in a negative situation there are positives that can be drawn from it and used to better myself going forward.  I have learned from the experiences shared with others.  It's still very much a work in progress, but knowing I have some awesome peeps backing me up and supporting me makes me smile knowing that I am not alone. 
5) What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?
Discovering what I am capable of: "If we did everything we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." (Thomas A. Edison) 
This quote is so true of me.  It all started when I dared to sign up for and complete my first triathlon.  Since then I have been astounding myself at almost every turn with new lessons learned and discoveries of what I can do.  A year or two ago the thought of doing an Ironman or even a half marathon seemed impossible to me, and now I have completed three half marathons and will be participating in my first 70.3 race next year.  Am I crazy?  Where's the limit?  Is there even one? Time will tell I guess.  LOL!
Watching others dare to try: as a new hire instructor at my work one of the greatest rewards for me is seeing people that I have trained succeed and knowing I played a part in that.  Though I am not a triathlon coach (not yet, anyways) the same is true for me in the triathlon world in that I get to share in people's triumphs, whether I played a part in it or not.  It could be anything from someone signing up to do their very first event, or someone achieving a well-earned personal best result.  There's something about being part of this community of like-minded, "crazy" people that is so rewarding and yet somewhat tough to describe.  I love it!

6) How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?
Time management for sure!  The focus and planning that it takes to train for an Olympic triathlon has been quite the eye opener for me.  As mentioned earlier I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for my first race but, in doing so, this has helped me be able to plan backwards from my goal to see what steps I needed to take in order to get there.  This has translated directly into my work life as well as my personal life as it has helped me manage my time better and not spread myself too thin to the point where I am exhausted and something gets missed.

7) What is your dream race?
Escape from Alcatraz 2015!!  I was bouncing off the walls when my name got drawn in the lottery draft for this race and now next year I will be racing with 300 of the world's top triathletes in San Francisco on June 7th at one of the world's top triathlon bucket list races. #GiddyUp

8) What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?
Typically anything pasta related the night before, though it's not a must.  I generally try and stay away from anything that could upset my stomach and mess things up for me on race day (chicken or seafood that could be under cooked, spicy food, etc).  On race day my morning meal is typically a bagel with peanut butter along with a banana, a Clif bar and some Gatorade.

Pre-race rituals: I probably check my race gear a thousand and one times the day before the actual event, and then again on race day.  I like to get to the event at least an hour and a half ahead of time to a) not have to worry about something going wrong on the way there, and b) to set things up and quietly prepare myself mentally for the start of the race.
9) Swim, bike, or run?
Cycling will always be my first love.  I love being able to get on my bike and set off on an adventure for parts unknown.  Sure I will always have a general idea of where I am going, but I love the freedom of being able to deviate down a new road at any point along the way.  Plus let's face it...when you get tired you can still coast forward and rest instead of just stopping.
10) Favorite motivational quote?
Way too many to count or pick just one.  I love quotes!! (could you tell?)  
Here are a few of my faves:
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." (Lao Tzu)
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands at times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at moments of challenge and controversy." (Martin Luther King Jr.)
"Even if you are on the right track you will get run over if you just sit there." (Will Rogers)
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." (Henry Ford)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My First "Injury"

*Knock on wood*  Until this fall, I had never really been injured.  Yes, there was that time that I broke my finger playing floor hockey, and that totally sucked, but I didn't really like floor hockey anyways.  In my 11 year swimming career, I was fortunate to never have to deal with shoulder issues, which often plague swimmers, and I was terrible at breaststroke, so I didn't have knee problems either. 

The downside to never really being injured, is that I didn't really know how to deal with it when I felt what seemed to be an injury coming on in the fall during my half marathon training. As I ramped up my mileage for my half marathon training, I began to experience a dull pain in my lower right abdomen that sometimes extended down into my right groin.  This pain was most prominent during and after runs and when I did any sort of core work at barre or yoga class.  For a while, I kind of ignored it (not advised to ignore your body when it's trying to tell you something!).  After the half, I took some rest from running (as evidenced by my fairly lackluster training over the past month) and that seemed to help things.  Well, the second I started running again, the pain was back. 

So I finally went to see an Athletic Therapist (Jenn!) about it.  And I'm so glad that I did, because I had already self diagnosed the worst case scenario (lesson 2, don't try to self diagnose by reading horror stories on the internet!).  She determined that my femur was shifted forward on the right side, which meant that when I lifted my knee, the femur wasn't sliding back into the hip joint enough and was instead putting pressure on all the muscles along the front of the hip, including the psoas.  So, not the worst case scenario! Yay!  She moved my femur back into its home and then released the fascia along my right core, including the psoas (ouch!!!) and then she gave me some exercises to work on keeping the femur in place.

I definitely waited too long before seeing a professional, but I'm so glad that I finally did, because now I have some peace of mind and a path forward.  I highly recommend not waiting if you think you are injured at all.  Things are never as bad as they seem, but they will potentially get bad if you ignore them!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of November 24

Last week shall be forever known as the #workoutfail week.  There are really no excuses and there is no reason to dwell on it.  It's time to just move on and make this week awesome instead!

Monday: Wasn't feeling awesome, so I took a rest day.

Tuesday: Rest day. Taught two barre classes in the evening.  We got some photos back from a photo shoot we had done for the studio's new website and they were amazing. I'm so lucky to work with such beautiful inside and out people! Credit for the photos goes to Miv Photography. If you're Ottawa based, come meet us at the barre - iNSiDE Out Studio!

Wednesday: A quick 5k run at 7:22 pace out in the cold.  I was practicing "recruiting my glutes" throughout the run.  I love experimenting with making a mind-muscle connection to see how it changes my run speed or how my body feels during / before / after my run.  I'm hoping that improving my glute recruitment will help my psoas issue as well.

Ready for the cold!

Thursday:  I set up my bike trainer! It took me so long though that I had to go to my yoga class, and didn't actually have a chance to get on the bike.

Friday: Rest day... I set the wrong alarm clock and woke up after swimming had already ended. #fail

Saturday:  Track practice in the morning.  My psoas was bothering me a bit at the beginning of practice, so Mike had me do an easy 20 minute run instead of a main set.  Held approximately a 7:30-7:35 pace throughout the 20 minutes (going easy is hard sometimes when everyone else is doing a hard workout).  After track, I taught two barre classes, then made my way to a hot flow yoga class.

Sunday: Hot flow yoga class.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Interview Sessions: Jenn

Let's meet my friend Jenn today! She is one of my favorite training partners, not only because she is fast, but she is also a lot of fun to be around.  I was so excited when she joined our training group this summer after she moved to Ottawa from Oregon.  This sport is awesome that way... you can move to a brand new city and potentially find a new group of friends fairly quickly if you join a training group.  It's an automatic group of like-minded individuals, out to have a good time!

Jenn and I at the Montreal Esprit
Let's meet Jenn...

My name is Sister Christmas. Well, technically I was born Jennifer Bushell (Jenn), but, 'tis the season! :)

I grew up playing whatever sport I could get my hand on. I fell in love with running. I battled through some pretty brutal stress reactions in my tibias (shins) for most of my high school and university running career. I was always a strong swimmer and lifeguard. Thus I ended up in North Carolina doing Ocean Rescue for a couple years which combined my love of water, running, adventure and healing. I am a Certified Athletic Therapist as a profession, in which I specialize in preventing injury as well as returning athletes to competition and maximizing their performance potential as fast as possible after injury (as well as every day active people). We are best known as the persons who provide immediate on-field emergency care of professional and elite athlete.

Some unknown force inside me thought it was wise to buy a road bike when I moved to Oregon. thinking I would use it to commute to work aaaand if I had one of those I may as well start doing triathlons (I moved to take on a full time job and masters in my profession). I never looked back. Two years later, I have qualified for Age Group Worlds in the Olympic distance and have the most interesting and best friends across North America.

What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

To the new ones about to make the leap or having strange thoughts about becoming a triathlete. Make the leap.  It is not often you regret anything when you abandon fear and take a leap into the unknown. especially one with a support group built in. You will find your kin here. Much of what keeps me going are my triathlon friends.

What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

I think my proudest moment is also my most embarrassing. Due to work travel for 3 months, I found myself wholly out of shape, but dumb enough to race collegiate nationals in the US, where I was living. I felt a sense of obligation to the team and thought I can at least add points for us for competing. Well, I won that race. Overall. It was the worst race I have ever had, ( I told a 12 year old water boy I may be dying and when does this end?!?), but boy was it crazy fun. I was so proud - but not of myself.  I was proud to be able to put our team on the podium. Personally I felt undeserved and selfish. I saw the other racers who had poured their hearts into training and deserved to be on that podium more than I did. This has added a lot of training incentive for future races. If you are going to do it, at least earn it... but no matter what have fun!

What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?

Combining my demanding career with my demanding sport is my biggest challenge. When your job requires you to be on the road every other week, often without warning or predestination and no time for yourself, it is hard to train. but working with amazing athletes everyday is a lot of motivation for when I find my own time to go get at it.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?

Honestly, the most rewarding part of this sport is the people. The camaraderie that comes from sharing a similar brand of crazy. We are individuals who are part of a greater team. I never thought I would find such altruistic people in life. Also, the beer at the end of a race or hard training session is an excellent reward!
How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

I now have blubbered on a lot. There is so much to say about how and why a person found and stayed in this sport. I feel like that is what translates to other areas of my life. I am more disciplined, time managed, motivated, kinder and happier!!
What is your dream race?

Taking up a sport comes with dreams. Qualifying for worlds was a hope and desire. That race is now my current and looming reality. My dream race is to race with family and friends watching. I never had family present at any of my university or national level races in my various sports. I have had some friends present, fellow athletes who were not competing in that race. I am hoping I have people come support me at worlds. (Big training incentive too!). A dream is a destination triathlon. My dad and step mom live in Cancun, Mexico (oddly enough neighbours to another incredible triathlete). I would love to go there and race, the beach is in my soul (remember my ocean rescue background), the weather is great, the scenery is unreal. Most importantly my dad and step mom are the most understanding and motivational people, just because of their unconditional love and humour. (They are also going to be the best post race celebrators with me haha).  Kelsey is joining me in this destination race - right Kels!?! [Editor's note: YES OF COURSE!!]

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?
I read motivational quotes before races. I did that once for a university track meet and ran a PR, so it seems to have stuck. Plus then I race feeling happy. I also listen to Disney motivational songs (the bike is long, and if you are going to have a song stuck in your head it may as well be happy, catchy and inspiring!). Oatmeal is always my pre race breakfast - I know it keeps my tummy happy (or as happy as a tummy can be pre race!) plus isn't it legend to "stick to your ribs" so I know the energy lasts haha.

Swim, bike, or run?

I favour the run. It is my strongest background, so its super fun to start passing people, there is more of a chance to shout encouraging words and have them be heard! it is also the last segment - power through this and you really are done! the beer is so close!

Favorite motivational quote?

It depends on the time in season as to which quote gets me the best but right now it is, "a 22 min mile is just as far as a 6 min mile" and the song lyrics from the Disney movie "Brave". I began racing triathlons in Oregon. Mostly cold, wet, hazy early mornings (hence oatmeal as the pre race meal) Why must races happen at ungodly early hours?!? The song is super upbeat and very motivational. I recommend you turn it on as you read these words:

When the cold winds are a-calling
And the sky is clear and bright,
Misty mountains sing and beckon,
Lead me out into the light...
I will ride, I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky,
I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky...
Where dark woods hide secrets,
And mountains are fierce and bold,
Deep waters hold reflections,
Of times lost long ago..
I will hear their every story,
Take hold of my own dream,
Be as strong as the seas are stormy,
And proud as an eagle's wing
I will ride, I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky,
I will fly,
Chase the wind and touch the sky...
And touch the sky,
Chase the wind, Chase the wind
Touch the sky...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide for Triathletes

If one thing is for certain, there is always something a triathlete may "need" for their sport, from big ticket items like a bike to the little things, like gels to keep them fueled.  Last year, as my first year as a triathlete, my entire wish list for the holidays was triathlon related... and well it is pretty much all triathlon related this year as well.  My mom even said I needed something "fun / non-triathlon related" on the list, and I had to say "triathlon is fun!" in response because I couldn't think of anything else that I might want.  Here are a few ideas based on some of my favorite things and what I have asked for this year or in the past.

1) Trigger Point Foam Roller - I love/hate my foam roller.  It is such an important tool for recovery and I always feel amazing after a rolling session.

2) Race Belt - A race belt is a necessity in my opinion. It makes the T-Zone a much easier place, especially for races that require you to wear your race bib on both the bike and run portion of the race.

3) Coeur Sports triathlon apparel - Coeur makes stylish and comfortable gear for running, cycling, and triathlon.  The Fleet Foxes print is my favorite.  All of the clothing is made in L.A. and the company is run by some amazing women.

4) Smart Wool Socks - Smart Wool socks are my favorite running socks.  They keep my feet dry and comfortable.

5) Zoot Ultra Tri Bag - I love my transition bag from Zoot that I got for my birthday last year.  It fits all of my gear, including my bike helmet, and has a special wet bag for my wetsuit. There is even a list on the inside to help you stay organized!

6) Believe Journal - After seeing this journal on Lauren Fleshman's Instagram and on a few other blogs, I quickly added it to my list.  I love writing my goals and my training plan out on paper and from what I've seen, this journal is perfect in every way. It also includes special chapters on topics like goal setting, nutrition, race preparation, with space to write race reports.

7) Podium Chill Water Bottle Quick Grip - I like carrying water with me when I run (and even when I race).  This bottle keeps the water nice and cold and the carrying strap has a zippered pouch for gels or your ID.

8) Road ID - Safety is always important, especially for triathletes who train on their own

9) Gels and other nutrition - A great stocking stuffer!  I love the Honey Stinger gels and fruit chews (although I eat them like they are candy).  They are made with natural ingredients and taste delicious!

10) Garmin Forerunner 920XT - This is a Cadillac of a multisport watch.  I have the 310XT and I dream about this version (especially since it matches my bike).  If you are a data freak and love to analyze your training and races, this is the watch for you.

Experiences and Feel Good Gifts

Race Entry Fees - Every triathlete loves to express their fitness, but racing gets expensive pretty quickly.  I put race fees on my list, and I will compete being so grateful for the person who gifted me the race.

Challenged Athletes Foundation Donation - The Challenged Athletes Foundation provides support  for the athletic endeavors of physically challenged athletes

Reflective Iron Ons to Support Imerman Angels - A great stocking stuffers for their favourite triathlete or outdoor winter enthusiast. Be safe, be seen and wear some high visibility ION reflective Iron Ons.  Use code BRENT2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of November 17

There are 42 weeks until Worlds!  Yes, I counted yesterday.  My goal this week is to really figure out my plan for the season to make sure that I am well prepared for Worlds.  I did a little analysis of where I was in Chicago vs. where I want to finish at Worlds, so I now have a few very specific goals to work toward.  Now, I just need to figure out a plan on how to get there.

Last week's training was pretty good.  It was one of the busiest weeks so far during my "off-season" (though technically I'm now in my "base phase.")  The workouts felt great and I'm super excited especially about running right now. Over the weekend I also finally got a tire so I can set up my trainer and "pain cave"!  (I need to figure out how to take more pictures this week!)

I like to write my goals and post them where I can see them!

Monday:  Spin class at OTC.  Stage 14 and 15 of the Tour de France meant a huge climb!  Glutes were burning by the end of class.

Tuesday:  Early morning swim practice for 3800m.  Main set was 6x500m descending 1-3 with 40 seconds rest.  Followed the swim with a strength and stability session. 

Wednesday:  Rest Day

Thursday: A 5k run in the evening with Jenn and a Yin/Yang yoga class.

Friday: Strength and stability session in the morning and a barre class in the evening.  Now that I'm teaching barre, I often forget just how hard it can be!

Saturday: Track practice with Mike Woods and crew  at the Louis Riel Dome.  We did an awesome warm-up.  I've decided that I have to keep going back because I need to learn how to do hurdles and not feel like I'm flailing around like a fish out of water.  Main set for Jenn and me was 4x5 minutes at 10k pace (working on staying just at / under aerobic threshold), with one minute rest in between. We kept a pretty consistent pace throughout.  Overall it was a great workout and I'm excited to go back again this week!

Sunday:  A nice, easy 10k with friends followed by delicious coffee and great conversation.  The weather was so nice compared to the frigid temps that we have had and it was great to connect with some of my favorite training buddies.  In the afternoon, I had my hardest / sweatiest yoga class yet.  My legs were so tired and could barely hold me up through the class.  It was awesome!