Monday, August 25, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 18

Another week of training in the books. This one was a bit of a slacker week, but that is okay, because I was out enjoying the last bits of summer.  Life is about balance right!  I realize that I didn't get a single swim workout in and I also missed out on my long run. This week will be better! Only 2 weeks left til my first Olympic!

Monday: Quick 20 minute bike ride.  With nightmarish traffic and a dinner party to get to with my triathlon girls, I only had enough time to check out my bike and make sure the brakes were the only issue that needed fixing. It felt great to get out in the park and ride though, back to normal, and speeding along!

Tuesday: Track practice!  We did a 400m time trial.  I was quite pleased with my time of 1:08.  Then we did 1600 at 10k pace, 2 minutes rest, 800 at 5k pace, 1 minute rest, and 4x400 at 3k pace with 30 seconds rest between each. While the time trial felt great, the rest of practice felt not so awesome.

Wednesday: Yoga on Parliament Hill during my lunch break with a few hundred other people, then another rainy, rainy workout in the evening! This time we were out on our bikes for about an hour and 10 minutes (roughly 36k) doing intervals and time trial pieces.  I was soaked to the core by the end, and wasn't sad at all to realize that I had left my running shoes at home, so would have to miss the run portion of the workout.

Thursday: I taught 2 barre classes, then came home to do PiYo "Drench."  I was certainly a sweaty mess by the end and so far, I can say that I like the way that I feel after doing a PiYo workout. Nice and stretched out.

Friday: Unintentional rest day.

Saturday:  I taught 3 barre classes, then drove out to the cottage.  My friend Jenn and I did a 20k bike ride. We attempted some intervals, but I think we were a little distracted by the thought of beers and s'mores back at the cottage!

Sunday: Another unintentional rest day. Feeling a bit worse for the wear after a little too much fun at the cottage!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I recommend training with a club

A free event hosted by the OTC for club members

Triathlon is ultimately an individual sport.  It's up to you to put the effort in during your training, because you are the only one who can complete your race.  But in my mind, triathlon takes a village.

I trained for my first triathlon by myself.  It was fine, because I was able to set my own schedule and train when it was convenient for me.  But after completing my first race, I knew that I needed to join some sort of training group.  I needed people to push me and I wanted to make some friends too!  That's when Geordie, the head coach of the OTC, suggested that I join the OTC swim program and consider joining the Triathlon Training Program (TTP).  I had met Geordie earlier in the summer at the Triathlon Clinic, and had learned a lot from him in just one afternoon.  Plus, at my first triathlon, I couldn't help but notice all the people wearing their blue and yellow OTC gear or signature orange t-shirts, cheering for each other and socializing post-race. So I joined and now I want to tell you why I think you should find some training buddies too!

1)  Accountability

Joining a training group means that you will have at least one, maybe more, set workouts during the week.  You know your group will show up and you will get a great workout in, so you make it a priority to show up yourself.  It is way harder to slack off and skip your workouts when you know there are 5-15 other people that are going to be there putting in the time.

2)  Friendship

You get to meet lots of cool people if you join a training group.  You will all have at least one thing in common.  Some, or maybe all, of these people will become your friends!  I've been really lucky to meet a lot of awesome people through not just my group, but through the entire club, and I'm happy to call them friends as well as training buddies.

3)  Inspiration

Most triathletes are inspiring to me.  The sport takes a measure of determination and dedication. You will meet people from all walks of life working to achieve their goals - whether that be to improve their overall health and fitness, complete an Ironman, qualify for an event, etc.  These people will have incredible stories of obstacles, injuries, and illness overcome. They will be passionate and training with them will inspire you to be a better athlete and human being!

4)  Knowledge

There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned from your coaches and fellow athletes.  For a beginner, this can be an amazing resource!  These people have been there and done that.  They can share tips on training, racing, bike maintenance, the best equipment, cool races to go to, what not to do, etc.  The more people you meet and train with, the more likely that someone has faced whatever issue you are wondering about or can help you find the answers to your questions.

5)  Challenge

It is likely that you will train with people who are stronger, faster, and more experienced than you.  Training with those people will also make you stronger and faster. Don't be afraid to push yourself or to start out at the back of the pack.  Let yourself be inspired to work harder.

6)  Fun!

Duh! It is way, way more fun to train with other people.  You get to chat, laugh, and share stories.  These people will become your friends (see #2) and you will actually look forward to seeing them every week, because they make training more fun. And maybe you get to grab a beer together after practice (wink!). Plus, you'll have lots of people to cheer you on and to see out on the course at local races.  Our club has a team uniform, so it's easy to recognize club members during a race and give them a high-five or a shout out as you bike or run by each other!

So, you're a new triathlete, what do you do?  Go find a local triathlon club.  If you don't have one in your area, look for running groups (often running shoe stores have groups) and masters' swim teams.  This is the time of year that most programs are getting started, so be on the lookout now! (If you are based in Ottawa, OTC programs open for non-members on Monday, August 25.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 11

Another week closer to my first Olympic distance triathlon! Another week of solid training in the books. 

Monday: I love swimming at Meech Lake in the evening. It is so calm and peaceful.  The water there is really nice for swimming. I can't believe how lucky we are to have such amazing places to train just outside the city.

Tuesday: It absolutely POURED all through track practice.  By the end, we were covered head to toe with mud! Despite the rain, we had a pretty strong workout! 12x400 (@ 10k pace, 5k pace, all out - repeat 4 times), 1200 at 5k pace

Wednesday: My first time doing all three disciplines in one day of training!  In the morning, I went to try out a swim club to see how I liked it.  I did my hardest and longest swim since my university varsity days: 4400m (600 WU, 3x400 pull with paddles descend, 6x300 descend 1-3 with first and last 50s fast, 100 easy, 6x100 kick descend 1-3, 100 cool down).  The evening was my usual brick with my HPS training group. We rode for about an hour and 15 minutes in Gatineau Park, then ran for 20 minutes.  It was another tough slog and now I know why!! My coach took my bike to look at on Thursday, and it turns out that my brakes had shifted, so I've been riding with a lot of extra resistance lately because the brakes have been on at all times.  I have a feeling it happened the week before the K-Town Tri, because I drove my friend home and we put her bike on top of mine in the back of my SUV. Thank goodness!!

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: Failed attempt at a run. My shoes were still wet from Tuesday's track practice, so I put my old running shoes on and my knee started to hurt almost immediately. Since I had a long run planned, I decided to bail rather than risk injuring myself by pushing through it. So I went home and did my first PiYo workout.  I'll be doing a review for you all after about a month of doing PiYo, because it is supposed to be great for runners!

Saturday:  Long, rainy, dreary run through the Experimental Farm (see my cow friend below!).  I ran for 8.2 miles at an average pace of 7:55/mile (or 7:45/mile if I don't count my warmup and cooldown). I tried another gel. This time it was Lemon Lime and it again seemed to have a positive effect. The rest of the day was spent helping prep for a huge dinner my roommate hosted for her childhood country club in the 1000 Islands. It was also her birthday!

Sunday: Rest day.  I had planned to go on a bike ride after arriving home from the 1000 Islands, but it started to completely pour just as I was about to walk out the door. 

Sunrise in the 1000 Islands

Overall, a pretty heavy week, especially my Tuesday and Wednesday.  I really needed to get in another bike ride, but had trouble motivating myself to get out there even though I want to try my bike out now that the brake issue has been resolved!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Race Essentials and Packing List

Race day can be intimidating enough, but for a first time triathlete, it can be downright overwhelming.  What do you need to bring? How do you get it to the race site? Having everything you need to race and being organized can make your race day a lot smoother.  There is a list of what I bring to each race below, and the following are a few of my "essentials" that make my life a lot easier and happier on race day!

Race Belt:  For most races, you have to wear your race bib during both the bike and run portion.  Often you wear the bib on the back for the bike and the front for the run.  A race belt allows you to quickly and easily spin the bib from front to back without losing precious seconds in transition.

Bungee or elastic laces: No need to fumble while trying to tie shoe laces in transition. Make sure you put the bungees in early enough that you can get another pair if you break them... I learned that one from experience at the Early Bird Tri, when I tried putting my laces from last season in my shoes, only to realize they had totally fallen apart.  You can cut your bungees to size too, just use a lighter and burn off the cut ends to make sure the elastic doesn't unravel.

Water bottles with squirt tops:  You want to be able to easily drink while on the bike.  If you don't have a hydration system or an aero bar water bottle, you may want to look for water bottles with squirt tops. I really like the CamelBak Podium Chill. It fits in my bottle cage and keeps the water cold!

Body Glide: Put wherever you think you may experience chafing. I like to rub some onto the heel of my running shoes, as well as the spot inside my running shoes that sometimes gives me blisters.

Baby Powder:  Pour some into your bike shoes and your running shoes to help dry your feet.

Plastic grocery bag and gardening gloves:  I have used the plastic bag trick to help put on my wetsuit, and recently learned that wearing gardening gloves helps prevent you from tearing your wetsuit as you pull it up!  Place your foot in the plastic bag, then slide your foot into the leg of the wetsuit, once you have your wetsuit adjusted to the right height on your ankle, remove the bag.

And to make sure that you have everything you need, here is my ultimate Race Day Checklist!

Tell me, is there something that you can't live without on race day?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 4

Another week of training and the first solid week in a while. I felt pretty good about how my training went, and I'm excited to keep pushing myself as I prep for my first Olympic distance race.

Monday: It was a holiday, so I had the day off of work with plenty of time to recover from my weekend in Kingston for the K-Town Tri.  After the rain and thunderstorm passed, I met my friend Jenn for a swim at Meech Lake... the perfect recovery workout!

Tuesday:  I took a barre class in the morning. Then in the evening, track practice with the OTC was 1000m for time. I ran it in 3:22 as the fastest girl. All of the girls from our HPS group beat the old record of 3:30. Unfortunately, I had to miss the rest of practice.

Wednesday: Bad weather forced us inside for our TTP workout. We did 20 minutes of strength and mobility, 60 minutes on the bike, and finished with a 20 minute run.

Thursday: Rest day!

Friday: Up early for a 2500m swim at the university pool (300 warm-up, 200 kick, 200 IM drill/swim, 400 pull with paddles, 2x(200 fast, 2x100 fast), 200 cool-down).

Saturday: 30k bike ride in the countryside. It was another struggle fest, so I really need to figure out what is going on with my body and/or bike. Post-ride ice cream from Carp Custom Creamery was a necessity (chocolate and double vanilla coconut, yum!).  And I got to rock my new Coeur Sports cycling jersey, which I totally love!

Sunday:  I decided to tackle the hills of Gatineau Park on foot and ran 7 hot, hilly miles.  I was quite happy with my pace, even on the hills, and I tried out my first gel, since I plan to potentially use gels during my Olympic distance race in September.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Nutrition Philosophy

In a nutshell:  Nourish and fuel your body.

The longer version:

When I was a swimmer growing up, I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I was hungry, in whatever quantities I wanted.  I gave no thought to what I put in my mouth. Thankfully my parents had instilled some pretty good habits in my sister and I, e.g., always eating breakfast, limiting soda, eating lots of veggie, sitting down together every night for dinner, and packing us balanced lunches the majority of the time for school. With a 20-hour per week training schedule and a growing body to fuel, it made sense to eat pre-morning practice meal, breakfast, snack at break, lunch, pre-afternoon practice meal, and dinner.  I'd estimate that I consumed nearly 4000 calories a day back then, no big deal.

Fast forward to my post-swimming and pre-triathlon life... it took a while to adjust my diet down from 4k calories a day of whatever I wanted to something a bit more realistic for a somewhat sedentary life in an office.  There were a few years where I definitely didn't workout much, yet I was still eating basically whatever I felt like eating until about a year and a half ago.

A year and a half ago, I started to think about what I ate and I started to notice a lot of changes in my body.  I started trying to eat 5 meals a day in order to have sustained energy throughout the day.  I started to cut out overly processed foods, sugar (and cheese), focusing on real ingredients and whole foods.  I've always cooked a lot for myself, but I started to swap out ingredients for healthier options. I started to focus on eating more lean protein and more veggies.  And I started to focus on drinking lots of water. Then I started to notice that these changes made me feel great! More energy and less "hanger" were definitely bonuses.

For a while there, I was limiting my carbs and doing a form of carb cycling, which was great and helped me achieve a weight loss goal.  Now, I've added some carbs back into my diet, mostly in the form of oats, sweet potatoes, fruit, sprouted grain bread, and quinoa.  I know that my body needs these carbs for energy as an athlete, but I also know that white flour and some simple carbs make me feel really icky.  Don't get me wrong though, I do eat these things on occasion!!

Overall, I think about how I need to fuel my body properly to get the most out of it.  Choosing food that makes me feel good is key to that.  Getting enough macro and micro nutrients is also key.  In addition to my food, I take a liquid supplement (with vitamins, essential minerals, superfood mangosteen, and aloe vera) to ensure that I am getting everything my body needs.  The final element is balance.  It has always been important for me to not obsess over what I eat (clearly, I used to never think about it at all), and to allow myself to have whatever I want on occasion.  The key for me is getting back on track with my "nourish and fuel my body" philosophy rather than continuing to indulge in the stuff that may taste great, but doesn't make me feel great.  You have to put premium fuel in the tank to get the best results!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

K-Town Triathlon Race Report

Racing the K-Town Tri was a somewhat last minute decision. I signed up less than 2 weeks before the race on a whim while on my post-Magog high. At that point I didn't have any races scheduled, and I was feeling a bit lost, so I figured that I would do K-Town because it was a stepping stone to an Olympic distance race.  What I didn't consider was that I had barely trained during the month of July. I tapered for Chicago, recovered, trained for a  week and a half, tapered for Magog, recovered, then had a week to go til K-Town. Oops...  I could feel the lack of training, particularly on the bike.  In the end, I'm glad that I did K-Town, because I learned a lot from the race, and despite my suffering, I did have fun and Kingston is a lovely town!

Pre-race dinner at Olivea

Pre-race breakfast: Oatmeal with banana and almond butter, and a Chocolate Bode Shake

Pre-Race: It was a pretty low key morning before the race.  I woke up at 5:45 and made oatmeal à la Magog in the dorm room that I stayed in at Queen's University (banana and Justin's maple almond butter). Then I showered, prepped my water bottles and drove over to the race site downtown.  Everything went relatively smoothly.  The only issue was that I didn't have any coffee and I always drink a coffee in the morning. I ate part of a banana at the race site about 40 minutes before my race and made sure to drink lots of water and Gatorade.  After a quick warmup, I put my wetsuit on and was ready for the start.

Swim - 750m: Definitely the best part of the race.  I wore my wetsuit, since the air temperature was fairly low in the morning and since everyone else wore theirs.  We jumped off a dock and then had some time to warm-up on the way to the start line and tread water while the first wave started. I was glad to have on my wetsuit!  The only issue on the swim was that I had to stop to clear my goggles.  They were so foggy that I couldn't see the buoys (which were lime green and in my opinion a bit difficult to see even with clear goggles). So I did some breaststroke to fix my goggles, then was on my way. At the end I tried to push myself up out of the water, then realized quickly why there were people there to help! Not to mention, I felt like I was going to tip the dock and knock everyone into the water. Lessons learned: Wetsuits aren't that bad, time to invest in some anti-fog or new goggles, thank goodness I'm a strong swimmer.

Photo Credit: My Sports Shooter

T1: It felt pretty slow and clumsy.  The T-Zone was really close to the swim exit, so my wetsuit was soaking wet and I didn't want it to drip all over my running shoes, so I had to rearrange things. 

Bike - 30k:  I hate to admit it, but I felt like quitting so many times during the bike.  I was so frustrated with myself the whole time and couldn't quite figure out what was happening.  Since Magog, I've had some issues with my right side, from my low back through my glutes and hamstrings.  Part of me wonders if that was my issue on the bike.  Part of me wonders if maybe I should have taken my bike in for a tune-up pre-race.  I know that I was undertrained, since I hadn't ridden over 25k in the entire month of July, so I really shouldn't have expected much out of myself... but I always do. The hills on the course kept me from really settling into a consistent speed, and I'm sure I expended a lot of extra energy because of it. It seemed that I wasn't getting much help on the downhills either. It was a strugglefest all around. Lesson learned: continue to work on my bike, bike longer distances, always have my bike tuned-up pre-race (so I can't blame it!), and never quit!

T2: I tried to make it quick, since I knew I was so far behind going into the run.  Tried to relax my breathing since I had a bit of a side stitch from the bike.

Run - 7.2k:  The issues on the bike extended into the run.  I just couldn't get my legs going and struggled to shake off my bike legs.  At the start, I was also experiencing some numbness and tingling in my hands, yikes! Then, nearing the halfway point of the run, we hit a huge hill.  We got to run down the hill... but it was just to turn around, grab a drink of water (no volunteers had any cups available and they tried to tell me to go onto the long course run route!!), and then run directly back up the hill.  Not my idea of fun.  After getting to the bottom of the hill, I decided I really needed to try to pick it up to finish the race strong.  I got to see a friend from the OTC (doing the duathlon) and my coach (doing the long tri) on the way back and that helped. Plus there was a cheering station with about a mile left to go and they were awesome and had the funniest signs. I was able to pick it up to a respectable pace and even pass a girl in my age group coming into the finish.  A big smile for the cameraman because I was so, so happy to be finished!!! Lessons learned: more bricks, more hills, and more running in general and smiling helps you run faster!

Post-Race:  I love chocolate milk post-race.  I really do! So I was happy that Recharge with Milk was a sponsor of the race.  I grabbed my milk and my flip-flops and went to cheer for my remaining teammates. It was nice to have some familiar faces around after the race!  After hanging out for a bit, I said farewell to Kingston and made my way back home.

In the next month, I need to build my bike and run back up so that I am ready for the Olympic triathlon at Esprit Montreal.  I also need to learn how to fuel on the bike. The K-Town race was long enough that I probably should have had more than Gatorade, but I hadn't practiced with anything, so I was reluctant to try something new on race day.  I'm also going to work some more strength and stretching in to hopefully deal with whatever is bothering my right side. And of course, I'm going to keep having fun and enjoying summer, because in the end, while I want to be ready to race on September 6, I also don't want to miss out on the last bit of summer fun here in Ottawa.  Oh yea... I'm totally doing K-Town again next year for a redemption tour.

Overall Results:

Swim + T1: 11:57
Bike: 1:11:42
T2: 1:16
Run: 35:44
Time: 2:00:37.1
Place: 6/14 (AG), 34/83 (women), 134 overall

Monday, August 4, 2014

Training and Life Recap: Week of July 28

Last week was the lead up to the K-Town Triathlon, and I can now say that I wish I had done things differently last week. More sleep, better nutrition, smarter training... But I can't change the past so I have to just learn from it! I will share my race report from Kingston later this week.  For now, this is what last week looked like.

Monday: Morning run along the Ottawa River. I had to leave my Garmin at home since it was dead and my iPhone died after 2.5 miles, but came back on for a little bit before dying again, so I think I ran about 6-7 miles total and I was averaging about an 8:15 pace. I taught two barre classes in the evening. Then watched the finale of The Bachelorette, my guilty pleasure TV show.

Tuesday: Track practice - 5x1000 yards with 200 yds fast and the rest at 5k pace. On the first one,the 200 fast was first, then it was the 2nd 200, until we finished the last one with the 200 fast. We finished practice with 5x150 build from 70 to 90% (pretty much a full out sprint).  After practice, I had dinner with one of my new trip friends. Delicious salmon, green beans and tasty bread from the farmers market!

Wednesday: Rest day due to insane weather, I decided to stay home and skip our group bike ride. I'm glad I did since it poured, but I'm not happy with myself for not getting that ride in at all last week.

Thursday: 2400m swim - 500 warmup, 200 kick, 2x250 pull with paddles, 4x50 drill, 2x200 build, 4x100 descend, 200 warm down. A big reminder that I need to swim more! It felt great to get up and go to the pool though, which is something that I would have dreaded a few years ago. It's so nice to love swimming again! In the evening, I taught a barre class.

Friday: Rest day.  Up at 5 am to teach the 6 am barre class. I loved it! Such an awesome group of ladies to hang out with to start the day off on the right foot! I also sat down to write my August goals!

Saturday: Woke up and packed my bags for Kingston. Taught a barre class, then grabbed lunch and hit the road for the 1.5 hour drive to Kinggston. When I arrived, I went to the race site to pick up my race packet, then I went to ride the bike course. I spent about 20 minutes on the bike, then did a quick 20 minute run through the beautiful campus of the Royal Military College. It was a scorcher, so I went to check in to my room at Queens University so I could shower. I met a friend for dinner at Olivea downtown Kingston, then went back to my room to get organized for race day!

Sunday: Race day! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why I love barre workouts as a triathlete...

For the past 3 years, I have been a regular at my local barre studio - iNSiDE Out - in Ottawa.  I also recently started teaching barre classes there, and I love it!  For triathletes and non-triathletes alike, barre is an awesome low-impact workout with high-impact results.  My body shape transformed once I started taking barre classes.  The combination of isometric movements and body weight resistance, as well as some mental toughness, helped to reshape, strengthen and lengthen my muscles.  I truly believe that barre has been a beneficial part of my triathlon training, and here is why...

  • Barre creates strong, toned muscles without bulk, which is great for runners. 
  • Barre classes can be tough. Your muscles are shaking and all you want to do is quit.  The mental strength you gain from challenging yourself in a barre class translates to the mental strength needed to push yourself on race day!
  • Barre improves your posture!  Swimmer slouch be gone!
  • The movements in barre help to strengthen the small muscles around your joints.  This is hugely beneficial for stability.  For runners especially, barre targets your quads, glutes, core, and hamstrings in a way that helps to strengthen and stabilize your hips, knees, and ankles. 
  • Barre is a full 60-minute core workout and a strong core benefits all aspects of triathlon - running, biking, and swimming!
  • iNSiDE Out prides itself on being an injury-free workout. The last thing you want in the middle of your triathlon season is an injury induced by your cross-training.  Barre classes will help you get to the finish line stronger and injury-free.
  • Barre helps you make a mind-muscle connection teaching you to activate and fire specific muscles - like your glutes. 
  • Barre classes include a significant amount of stretching, which is obviously beneficial for triathletes.  I love the stretch portion, and it's impossible to skip, since it is built right into the class.
  • Finally, barre makes me happy!  I love the studio and all of the guests. Everyone is friendly and inspiring. It is hard to leave class without a smile on your face!  And, since we have so many other runners and triathletes attending classes, you're sure to see some familiar faces.