Friday, January 30, 2015

Interview Sessions: Gillian

In the wake of yesterday's post, I'm so excited to be back with another interview.  And this one is with one of my favorite people to train with and turn to when I need advice.  I met Gillian during my first foray into training with the OTC, the Tour de France.  She was a bit intimidating at first - beautiful, smart, and a LONG distance triathlete.  Then when I joined HPS, I started to get to know Gill and realized that she was also one of the kindest and wisest people around.  Gill and I also got to do weekly lunches while she was working at a client in my building during the summer, and always had great advice to share during our chats.  I'm so excited to see where Gill goes next in her triathlon and running life. As you may have read last week (she shared the "travel tips"), Gill is going to Boston in April for the big kahuna - the Boston Marathon!

Let's meet Gill

Hello! My name is Gill Fischer. I am 24 years old and originally from Walkerton, Ontario, but have lived in Ottawa on and off since 2008. I typically run longer distance races such as half-marathons and marathons, and Olympic and half-ironman triathlons.

Outside of triathlon, I have a strong passion for painting (typically very colourful and bright large canvases), and love nothing more than biking or touring small quaint towns and villages, shopping at farmers markets, and enjoying an excellent cup of coffee or glass of wine.

My background in formal athletics is quite minimal, although my history in playing in the outdoors is extensive! I played rugby throughout high school and was always a somewhat decent long distance runner. I have always loved the outdoors and spent my teenage summers working at a camp where I taught swimming lessons, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing and much more! I am an avid hiker and have completed a few back country and long distance hikes over the years. The picture below was taken on a 4 day backcountry hike in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, in August 2012.

How did you get into the sport of triathlon?

To be honest the idea spiked from my mom. She volunteered at our local Sundridge triathlon and had encouraged me to think about completing it. I didn’t think I was capable at the time, but the idea always lingered in the back of my mind.

It wasn’t until I was living in Fort McMurray and was looking for a stress reliever and a new fitness goal for 2012, that I decided to take my mother up on her advice and train for the Sundridge triathlon. That Boxing Day, I bought a whole new set of gear from Unicycles in Edmonton, rented the “Triathlete’s Bible” from the Fort McMurray library, and secured a friend to help me get back into swimming! Luckily, Fort McMurray had just built a beautiful state of the art fitness facility which served as my indoor training grounds for the winter months.

I ended up completing 3 sprint distance triathlons that year, including the Sundridge triathlon, and my first ever half marathon. After that, I was hooked and came back to run 2 marathons and 3 triathlons the next season.

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

1.      Start with a small but meaningful race. I really encourage people to start with a local community race. Often times these races have more spirit, are less intimidating, and usually contribute to a good cause. For instance, Joe’s triathlon in Parry Sound is a not only an extremely well organized and excellent triathlon, but also a cancer fundraiser and includes community events such as a pancake breakfast, a live concert at night and several other activities, all while helping a good cause! Another great local race in the Ottawa area is the Lac Meech Triathlon in Gatineau Park.

2.      Join a team. The triathlon community is welcoming and overall wonderful, but it may seem intimidating and difficult to break into at first. By joining a team that includes sessions for beginners, you’ll have an easy way to meet people in the community, become part of a triathlon family, and learn about the sport. Not to mention you often have access to coaches or experienced triathletes who can help you along the way.

3.      Use whatever gear you can get your hands on. Try not to be intimidated by other people’s equipment. For your first race, use whatever gear you can get your hands on. Borrow a bike, rent a wetsuit and don’t worry about heart rate monitors or spaceship like aero helmets. There is plenty of time for that!

That being said, try not to be intimidated by other people’s fancy gear. I can still remember my heart dropping when I racked my bike at Syracuse at evaluated all the fancy and extremely expensive triathlon bikes on my rack. I was racing with a simple bike that was nowhere close to the caliber of those around me. I was very intimidated and immediately lost confidence in myself. At the end of the race, I had the 5th fastest bike time, all while riding on one of the lowest caliber bikes in the field. It reminded me never to worry about anyone else’s race except your own.

4.      At the same time, do invest in some essential materials... The first year my dad started training he began biking in jeans. It wasn’t until I took him for a coffee in the sports meca of Chelsea, Quebec that he started to see the value of bike shorts and tights. One he invested in some starter training gear, he was immediately more comfortable and confident! The next winter he asked to borrow a pair of my very colourful tights when he forgot his for one of our runs. I guess flowery tights are better than jeans!

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

There are so many! There has been at least one moment from every single race that has resonated with me. But my proudest moment has to be crossing the finish line side by side my father at the Ottawa Marathon last year. There are not many daughters that get the opportunity to run 42.2 kms with their fathers… every single step of the way J. (see photo below)

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

Balance. I struggle to find the balance between not over training and not under training, as well as striking the right combination of training for all three sports (should I spend more time on becoming a better swimmer and less on the bike, or more on improving my bike and less on the run?). It’s never easy, and I still have so much to learn!

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?

I think the most rewarding aspect is getting to a moment when you can give back. I would love to be a pace bunny in a half or full marathon next year, and help people achieve their goal time. I am extremely proud and grateful to have enough experience that I know I can confidentially run a certain time and still have energy to encourage those around me to achieve their goals. 

How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

Life as a triathlete has led to so many different things and new adventures. Had I not joined triathlon, I may not have gone on a bike trip across mid-western Ontario, started cross-country skiing, explored Gatineau Park, met so many new friends, experienced the calmness and absolute beauty of swimming in Lac Meech at sunrise, discovered the delicious bakeries in Wakefield while out on a ride, or travelled to new and exciting places to race. In addition, my interest in triathlon encouraged my father to pick up the sport as well, and in doing so, allowed him to take control of his body and drastically decreased his chance for heart attacks. The sport has given me and my family so much, I am very grateful!

What is your dream race?

In the triathlon world, I would like to go to 70.3 worlds, which is a long term goal of mine, and a focus for 2015/16.

In the running world, Boston has always been on my bucket list and I am extremely proud to be training for this year’s Boston Marathon right now!

But on top of all that, I would absolutely love to do the 100 mile Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc which passes through France, Switzerland and Italy. Completing this race would be a dream come true.

What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?

Dinner: Plain spinach pasta with olive oil and grilled salmon.

Breakfast: 1.5 bagels with peanut butter and honey (I always try to eat two but can never manage), banana and orange juice

Game plan for every race: Survive the swim, attack on the bike, and find good legs on the run

Swim, bike, or run?

The bike has been my biggest “mover” in the past, and often my preferred sport. Being a weaker swimmer, I find myself typically coming out of the water mid pack, so I rely heavily on the bike to move up and get into a good position for the run. I also tend to target races with hillier bike course to give me the extra advantage.

avorite motivational quote?

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible J (Walt Disney)

Picture below taken by my biggest fan, my mom J


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The triathlete's support network

Some of my HPS teammates

One thing that I have learned through my journey to happiness and through my journey as a triathlete, is that having a support network is crucial to my success.  I am so incredibly lucky to have friends, family, and teammates that support my goals, challenge me, encourage me, and pick me up when I am down. 

Training for an individual sport like triathlon can be really tough.  It is always up to you and you alone to put the training in, whether that means staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool, logging hours on the bike trainer, or waking up to fit your long run in before work or family time on the weekends.  It can be tough to do it alone or to have family or friends that don't understand why you can't just skip that workout.  It can be tough to constantly turn down invitations for drinks with friends or outings to do other activities on your rest day.  It can be tough to say no to family and friends for any reason that has to do with, "I have to train."  Sometimes you may hear, "So when is your next race?" and see looks of confusion when you tell them that it is months and months away.  It can be easy to justify skipping your workouts sometimes too, to avoid that guilty feeling of turning friends and family down yet again.  (A coach can be another crucial part of your support network in those cases.  Having someone to be accountable to can be really helpful in keeping you on track for your goals, and also can help you work through some of the tougher aspects of training.) 

Triathletes are all extremely busy with working, training 8-20 hours a week, cooking to fuel our bodies, washing our endless loads of dirty workout clothes, and trying to have some sort of social life.  This is where it is important to find balance in our lives and to make sure that we aren't sacrificing our relationships with our friends and family for the sake of our goals.  But it is also where it is important to have your friends and family onboard with your goals. If you're lucky, they will be supportive and understanding. 

Dad, Mom and Grandma hanging out with me at the airport after Chicago last summer. Best support crew ever!!

I definitely recommend making some friends with other triathletes.  This helps with the loneliness of the individual aspect of the sport.  Training with other people is more fun and will likely make you a better athlete.  You can suffer together and support each other along the way.   Becoming friends means that you might have a group to socialize with that understands your need to go to bed early so you can wake up for that 6 am swim practice.  BUT having friends outside the sport is also important.  Those friends and family members can give you perspective and can help you stay balanced.

So, I'm extremely thankful for my friends, family and teammates.  They have supported me through my ups and downs of learning to be a happier, healthier person.  They have cheered for me at my races and encouraged me through my tough training.  They have pushed me at practice and challenged me to be a better athlete, and human being.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of January 19

Another week of training in the books.  Last week's focus was taking it easy and holding back, staying focused on the aerobic part of my runs, etc.  So that's what I tried to do, just keep things nice and easy.  It has definitely been a huge adjustment to my mindset to embrace "easy," but I think it has been really good for me.  There were a few reminders last week that we have to be kind to our bodies and give them lots of rest and proper nutrition, so we don't get too run down and physically and mentally stressed out.  So I'm keeping those in mind for myself.

Monday:  My new schedule at barre has me teaching on Monday nights, so my Monday workout HAS to be in the morning now.  So I was up for a 70 minute easy run in the snow.  It was nice to get it done in the morning, but I definitely need to work on waking up earlier so I am not as rushed heading to work!

Tuesday: Morning swim practice - 3800m with a mentally challenging set of 100s (6x(3x100) with descending intervals).  It went better than the last time we did the set (the practice that prompted this post on my love/hate relationship with swimming). In the evening, I went to a yin yoga class.  It was so weird.  As it turns out, we hold our stress in our shoulders (and diaphragm which refers pain to the shoulder).  Well, we did a pose called "bowtie" and at first I was totally freaking out because my right shoulder was in severe pain, so I was worried that maybe I had an injury.  Then I started to cry and felt super anxious and stressed out.  That would be my stress "releasing," and my teacher was actually really excited that it was happening.  I was not, because I had so much snot in my nose that I couldn't actually breathe! Has that ever happened to you at a  yoga class? Apparently it is a thing!  Anyways, I know that I have been stressed lately, but I've decided to really just work on managing it better.

Wednesday: A busy day at work meant that I skipped my easy run.  In the evening, we had TTP with HPS.  We took a class photo and Dave brought us all mustaches to wear!  We always have fun as a group, and we push each other to work hard too! The workout was 3x10 minutes at high Z3 with bursts at high Z4/low Z5 starting at 30 seconds and working up to a minute. I took things a little easier since Mike told me to hold back a bit on my swims and bike workouts.  After our 70 minutes on the bike, we did our strength and conditioning circuit.

Thursday: A 50 minute easy run in the dark, cold, icy Ottawa winter evening.  The signs are right, "bridges freeze first,"  because the bridge to Quebec was super slick and slushy. Thursday was the day that I decided to re-focus on the positive and keep working on managing my stress.  The only way to get past obstacles in life is through action, and I took some steps to work on getting my head back on track.

Friday:  I did about 45 minutes of strength work, with a heavy focus on glute activation.  I skipped my swim in the morning since I had to take my car into the shop to have a leaking fuel line replaced.

Saturday: Track practice at the Dome. My main set was 5x1200 at Tempo with 45 seconds rest between.  The workout felt pretty good.  I had Colin take a video of my running after practice, so I could see my stride.  I've been really thinking about my running form a lot lately and was curious to see what was going on with it.  I think there are a few small adjustments that I can make and of course, continuing to strengthen my glutes and hips will be key to injury prevention and a nice strong run!

Sunday: Rest day!  This one felt well earned!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Interview Sessions: Jean-Francois

We're back with another instalment of the "interview sessions" et pour cette édition, nous avons la chance de pratiquer notre français.  J-F offered to do an interview in French and English for us.  Locals will understand, but for those of you not from the Ottawa region, it is a bilingual one.  Just on the other side of the Ottawa River is Quebec, home to our region's beloved training grounds, Gatineau Park and lots of super fast triathletes.  So, why not!?

J-F is also a member of the Ottawa Triathlon Club and I had heard talk of him for a long time before actually meeting him.  Like most OTCers, he is in the sport to have fun first and foremost and is always willing to share what he has learned through triathlon!

Thanks / Merci, J-F!!

I was born in Montréal, Québec, and I will not tell you what year, or century...  and was given a job opportunity here in 1998.  That was supposed to last a year, but I am still here after 17 years in a region that I really like. I have a Masters in Public Administration, where I studied the renewal of the public sector, particularly how to recruit and retain best talents.    
I grew up as the youngest of five children in a family where sports were omnipresent.  Until age 11, I would spend my summers at our cottage in the Laurentians on the beach playing in the water, swimming, waterskiing, any sport I could practice I would do.  I always liked being around water and enjoyed a good swim, it is always a way to relax.  Born with a severe flat foot, I never enjoyed running though for physical reasons and because there were so many other sports I could discover and practice! When I was younger, I was always looking for a longer bike ride and being from the east part of Montreal, I always loved jumping on my bike to ride out and back to have a chance to climb Mont Royal (where the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal is held every year).  Skiing in the winter has been part of my life for more than 30 years and I really enjoy it.

Je suis né à Montréal, Québec et je vous fais grâce du moment de ma naissance… (ça fait partie du quiz!!) et, en 1998, j’ai eu l’opportunité de venir travailler dans la région.  Cette opportunité ne devant durer qu’an, elle en est pourtant à sa 17e année !  J’adore la région! J’ai une maîtrise en administration publique qui porte sur le renouvellement de la fonction publique, particulièrement sur le recrutement et la rétention des effectifs. 

Dans ma famille, je suis le plus jeune d’une famille de 5 enfants sportifs.  Jusqu’à l’âge de 11 ans,  j’ai passé mes étés à la plage au chalet familial dans la Laurentides pratiquant à peu près tous les sports d’eau (natation, ski nautique etc..), bref, à peu près n’importe quoi qui fait bouger et courir! J’ai toujours aimé l’eau et la tranquillité qu’elle apporte.   Né avec un pied bot, je n’ai jamais affectionné particulièrement la course à pied qui se voulait plutôt ardue mais aussi parce qu’il y avait tellement d’autres sports à pratiquer, notamment les sports de balle ou ballon.  Plus jeune, j’adorais le vélo.  Habitant du côté est de l’île de Montréal, je me faisais toujours un plaisir dès mon adolescence, de prendre le vélo pour aller monter le Mont Royal  (où a lieu de Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal  à chaque année) aller-retour.  Le ski aussi fait parti de mes activités sportives depuis plus de 30 ans et j’adore !         

1.       How did I get in triathlon.

In the fall of 2010, OTC member Karol Lessard convinced me to sign up with him for the Ride to Conquer Cancer a fundraiser for cancer that would involve riding from Montreal to Quebec City in two days - 240 km.  We needed a good spin class and we discovered the OTC website.  Intimidated by spinning in a triathlon club, we quickly found out that OTC was for us.  The collegiality of its members and the variety of levels of expertise (at OTC humility and love of the sport is second to none) made us realize that triathlon is a sport open to all.  After our first Tour de France, we wanted to try TTP (Triathlon Training Program) and see where it would lead us.  Of course… of course, we signed up for the 2011 Early bird Triathlon at Carleton University, Sprint Swim-Cycle would be my first “hug” to triathlon. 

À l’automne 2010, Karol Lessard, membre d’OTC, m’a convaincu de m’inscrire au Cyclo-Défi pour le cancer qui consiste en une randonnée de 240 km (Montréal-Québec) pour ramasser des fonds finançant la recherche sur le cancer. Nous avions besoin d’un cours de « spinning » afin de bien nous préparer pour cet événement et c’est comme cela que nous avons trouvé OTC sur le web.  Intimidés au début par un Club de Triathlon qui donnait, nous avons découvert plutôt un club intéressant où les membres affables et sympathiques ont fortement contribué au plaisir que nous avions de participer aux séances de « spinning » d’une part.  D’autre part, c’est là que nous avons découvert que le triathlon est un sport ouvert à tous.  A la session d’hiver qui a suivi, nous avions tellement aimé notre expérience  au Tour de France que nous nous sommes inscrits au programme d’entraînement  de triathlon afin de voir où cela pourrait nous mener.   Nous nous sommes inscrits au « Early Bird triathlon » en mai 2011 et ma première expérience fut un « Sprint Swimcycle ».

2.       Advice for a new triathlete

Be humble with your objectives
In triathlon, there is nothing like the foundation of your experience as a triathlete.  Burning steps will catch up on you. Too much, too soon is a great recipe for injury and discouragement.  You have to progress patiently and be wise in your objectives, wise and realistic.

En triathlon, il importe de bien construire la base de notre entraînement.  Brûler les étapes nous rattrape inévitablement.  Trop, trop tôt se veut une garantie pour les blessures  et le découragement.  Il importe d’y aller progressivement et intelligemment, de façon réaliste.

Never, never a stupid question
Never hesitate to consult a fellow triathlete about any practice of our sport or nutrition.  Remember that every triathlete started somewhere.  We all started with a first race.  I found that the triathlon community is a humble one and especially at OTC, people are always happy to share experience, no matter at which level they are. 

N’hésitez jamais à consulter des collègues triathlètes sur l’entraînement ou la nutrition.   Souvenez-vous que tous ont commencé en quelque part.  La communauté du triathlon en est une humble, particulièrement à OTC, et ces gens sont toujours heureux de partager leurs connaissances peu importe leur niveau d’expertise.

Make your training a fun one
Run is difficult? Make a selection of the songs you like the most and put your earphones on to create enthusiasm while training.  Change your run courses too.

La course à pied est difficile?  Choissisez-vous des chansons entraînantes et rythmées que vous aimez pour créer un enthousiasme. 

Vary your run and bike courses
Running on the streets can be boring sometimes, bring it in the Gatineau Park or any trail where you will get a change in your running “panorama”.  Same for the bike, change your biking courses, include a little sprint... change your distances, make it fun and not a routine.   

Courir en ville n’est pas toujours intéressant. Allez courir dans le parc de la Gatineau, le long de la rivière, cela changera le « décor ».  Il en va de même pour le vélo, ajoutez à votre route de vélo un sprint, modifiez vos distances.  Faites en sorte de vous amuser aussi! .

Never underestimate yourself
Success in triathlon is all, like anything else in life, about training.  No matter what distance you have in mind, it is possible as long as you train properly for it.

Le succès en triathlon est avant tout, comme dans la vie de tous les jours, une question d’entraînement.  Peu importe la distance, vous pouvez y arriver, en autant de vous y entraîner en conséquence. 

3.       Greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete

Undoubtedly, completing my first IRONMAN 70.3 in Tremblant in June 2014.  I went through a depression in January 2013 that put me on the sideline, professionally, for four and a half months.  In July of the same year, while still trying to emerge on the other side of this, I was confronted with a separation. I really wanted to compete in Tremblant 2013 race, but had to be patient as recovering from my depression and training for this event was not possible. 

I find a lot of similarities with my own experience and triathlon.  Triathlon is an individual sport where you are the only determining force in whether you will succeed and you must count on your past race experiences and learn from them to become a better athlete.  Depression is similar in a way where you have to find in yourself the strength, courage, like in triathlon, to fight through it and to emerge, on the other side of this experience, a better person.          

All of this to say here I was finally on the beach of Lac Tremblant, June 22, thinking…: "hey, this is where I wanted to be and I finally have a chance to make it... let’s see where am I at now.  I had goose-bumps and tears falling off my cheeks from the moment I got out of the woods on the run portion with about 2,5 k to go.  I had finally made it.  It was certainly a big monkey of my back and after everything I had fought against the last year or so, I won, with the support of friends, coach Adrian and my own will.  I will remember that moment when I crossed the finish line all my life. Like Obama would say : “Yes we can” J    

Sans le moindre doute, terminer mon premier demi-ironman au Mont Tremblant en 2014.  J’ai fait une dépression en janvier 2013 qui m’a passablement affecté et qui a nécessité un congé de 4 mois et demi.  En juillet de la même année, alors que je me remettais lentement j’ai dû aussi composer avec une séparation.  Ces deux événements ont fait en sorte de remettre à 2014 une première participation à Tremblant. 

Je trouve beaucoup de similarité entre mon expérience personnelle et le triathlon.  Le triathlon est un sport individuel  lors duquel nous ne pouvons compter que sur nous-mêmes et nos expériences passées en courses et apprendre de celles-ci  afin de devenir un meilleur triathlète.  La dépression se vainc de la même façon qu’une performance en triathlon.  Tu te dois te trouver la force et le courage en toi lorsque la situation est difficile afin d’en ressortir au bout, plus fort et mieux outillé.

Tout cela pour dire que mon expérience de Tremblant est partie de bien loin et m’a permis de savoir où j’en étais comme individu, comme triathlète également.  J’y étais finalement sur cette plage.. à quelques minutes du départ.  La fierté s’est emparée de moi et j’étais prêt.   Avec moins de 2,5 km à parcourir une sensation incroyable m’a envahi lorsque je suis sorti de la piste cyclable et reconnaissant la rive du Lac Tremblant et voyant les pistes de ski, j’en avais la chair de poule et les larmes aux yeux.  Je savais qu’à cet instant, j’avais cette réussite, ce fil d’arrivée à portée de main.  Je me souviendrai toujours du corridor dans le village, du fil d’arrivée et de cette sensation indescriptible d’avoir réussi avec le support de mes mes amis d’OTC d’Adrian Wong, un entraîneur fantastique.   Comme le Président Obama  le disait si bien : « Yes we can !»          

4.       Biggest challenge

There are many.  For me the first one is the run!  As I wrote earlier, running is difficult for me because of a physical limitation that I am actually overcoming slowly.   Mental strength is one, I humbly think, that most of us have.  It is mine too.  On the run course, especially on longer distances, you have to keep your mind busy, distracted from wondering how long still to go.  OTC is an amazing tool to boost mental strength.   Its members are incredible cheerleaders that you can find all over Somersault races and other bigger events.  Those encouragements are always a good motivation to push through pain or mental weakness.

Il y a en plusieurs, la course au premier chef.   Comme je le mentionnais précédemment la course est un sport difficile pour moi en raison de cette limitation physique.  La force psychologique, mentale, en est un que nous avons tous en commun aussi et je n’y fais pas exception.   En course à pied, plus la distance est longue, plus on se doit de garder notre tête, notre esprit « occupé », de penser à autre chose que ce qui reste comme distance à courir à tout bout de champ!  OTC nous prépare à ce genre de chose de façon admirable.  La présence des membres d’OTC nous encourageant aux courses de Somersault et autres est très motivant.  Ces encouragements nous donnent une force additionnelle afin de continuer à performer lorsque notre volonté commence à flancher ou encore lorsque nos jambes nous font souffrir!        

5.       Most rewarding aspect.

Triathlon helps you to get stronger mentally and push your limits further.  As you progress in the sport (not only by completing longer distances, but also to get better in the same distance), you become more confident, tougher physically and mentally; able to believe in yourself.  Those lessons serve as tools not only in our sport, but also in our day to day lives.  It brings us to another level, a higher one.  This is, in my humble view, the most rewarding aspect of triathlon.  

La pratique du triathlon nous amène à renforcer notre force mentale et de façon générale nous aide aussi à repousser nos limites.  Au fur et à mesure que nous progressons en triathlon ( pas nécessairement  en pratiquant des distances plus longues mais aussi en s’améliorant sur une même distance), nous devenons plus confiant, physiquement et mentalement plus forts; nous croyons plus intensément en nous capacités.  Cela nous amène à un niveau supérieur.  C’est là, à mon humble avis, l’aspect le plus valorisant du triathlon.       

6.       How has triathlon influenced other areas of your life?

What I practiced in triathlon way more was to be persistent and patient.  Persistent in a way to fight adversity in a more convincing way, hence “take the bull by the horns" more !! I take on tasks with more determination than before triathlon.   Patient in understanding that it takes time to go wherever you need to go, to achieve your objectives.  As I wrote earlier, you cannot “fast forward” the steps to success.  It also takes strategy and planning and that works all together… with patience J
Ce que le triathlon m’a fait pratiquer plus que tout autre c’est la persévérance et la patience !!  Persévérance en ce qui a trait à vaincre l’adversité avec plus de conviction.  En fait, prendre le taureau par les cornes !  Je m’attaque aux tâches à accomplir avec plus de détermination que précédemment qu’avant.   Patient aussi dans le sens où il faut du temps pour atteindre nos objectifs.  On ne peut brûler les étapes.  La patience est de mise aussi dans la stratégie et la planification pour atteindre nos objectifs!   

7.       Dream race

Not one in particular… so far.  Kona?  Maybe J  But racing with friends and fellow OTCers is great and motivating.   I saw Ironman 70.3 Nice, that seems to be a cool race to sign-up for, but seriously, I do not have any in mind.  I like the feeling of a race eve where you get the adrenalin around it, the enthusiasm of the participants and the supporters.  This is my drug and every race has it... so a dream race?  No.  Maybe later.  

Pas de course de rêve jusqu’à maintenant. Kona?  Peut-être.  Mais les courses impliquant plusieurs triathlètes d’OTC est toujours motivant et amusant.  J’ai vu Ironman 70.3 Nice qui semble super intéressant, mais je ne peux pas dire que j’ai un endroit de prédilection où je souhaiterais performer.  Je dois dire que j’aime plutôt le « feeling » précédant une course, l’adrénaline, l’enthousiasme des participants et des supporters.  C’est ma drogue et chacune des courses donne ce “feeling” !  Alors, une course en particulier ?  Pas vraiment.

8.       Favorite pre-race meal and / or rituals

I used to grab a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee at the Tim the morning of Somersault events and it seemed to be okay for me.  I started to pay more attention last year and pasta the night before and oatmeal and banana in the morning of the race (Tremblant) was a good combination that worked for me.  It was not much of a change from regular habits I have, but I felt good and full of energy! 
As for rituals... it is funny. My brother tells me I am in my “bubble” the eve of a race.  Carefully looking at my transition bag and see if everything I need is in it.   For example, when I went to the t-zone the morning of the race at Tremblant, I went back to my room twice!  Forgot the air pump, then my helmet!   And of course I do not sleep much the night before a race.  I go to bed early but just relax... excitement kicks in! Other than that... I am not superstitious at all.   

J’avais l’habitude, lors du matin d’une course Somersault de prendre en passant un bagel avec fromage à la crème et un café au Tim et ça m’allait.  J’ai commencé à porter un peu plus attention à ce que je mangeais le matin l’an dernier, la veille du départ de ma course à Tremblant.  J’ai bien aimé les pâtes la veille et le gruau à l’avoine le matin avec une banane.  Ce n’était pas un gros changement à la routine « pré-course » mais je me sentais bien et plein d’énergie!

En ce qui a trait aux « rituels » pré-course, c’est amusant.   Mon frère me dit souvent que j’ai l’air d’être dans ma bulle la veille d’une course.  Je revois souvent le contenu de mon sac de transition afin de voir si tout ce dont je pourrais avoir besoin s’y trouve. Par exemple, le matin de ma course à Tremblant, j’ai dû retourner deux fois à ma chambre parce que j’avais oublié ma pompe à vélo.. et mon casque!  Autre détail pré-course, je ne dors que très peu la veille…trop excité ! Autrement, je ne suis pas superstitieux la veille d’une course.

9.       Swim, bike or run

Bike definitely, but the run is getting more fun and more enjoyable.  I never thought I could enjoy running lol.   But on the bike, I like the speed, the feeling of the road and yes, passing people!!!

Le vélo assurément, mais je dois dire que la course à pied est de plus en plus satisfaisante.  Je n’aurais jamais pensé aimer la course à pied!  Mais sur un vélo, j’aime la vitesse, le sentiment que procure le fait de rouler sur la route et, oui, dépasser des participants !!!

10.   Favorite motivational quote

To be frankly honest, I do not have one, but found this one I like posted on Paula Findlay’s Facebook page: “Fall seven times stand up eight”. It says it all about adversity and how we should approach triathlon and life in general.  For motivation... I am more about remembering the feelings of past races and visualization.  I had the chance to volunteer twice at Tremblant  (70.3 and Ironman) and I had an idea of what it would be like to arrive in the finishing chute.  When I need motivation, this is my best push, focusing on what I felt when arriving in the village in Tremblant close to the finish line.  Got me going every time!

Pour être franc, je n’en ai pas une en particulier qui me frappe autre que celle que j’ai vue sur le blog de Paula Findlay cet automne : «  Fall seven times, stand up eight ».  Ça dit tout quant à notre comportement face à l’adversité et comment on devrait approcher le sport du triathlon et la vie en général.  Pour ce qui est de la motivation à proprement parler, j’aime la visualisation et  les sentiments vécus lors de courses précédentes.  J’Ai eu la chance d’être bénévole à deux reprises lors des événements Ironman de Tremblant et j’avais une petite idée du « feeling » que les athlètes pouvaient éprouver à leur arrivée.  Lorsque j’ai besoin de motivation, c’est ma visualisation préférée. Je me remémore les frissons et la joie qui m’envahissait quelques instants avant l’arrivée. Ces sentiments me vivifient littéralement et me procure la motivation nécessaire pour continuer!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tips for staying active while on the road

My friend Gillian offered to share a few tips from her recent experiences in travelling for work.  She is an awesome triathlete and is currently training for the Boston Marathon in April! You'll learn more about her next week during her "interview session," but I wanted to share these tips of hers right away.  While these are awesome for people who travel for work, many are also applicable to those of us who have busy schedules at home with many different demands on our time. 

Thanks for sharing Gilly!


I experienced a major shift in my life this past fall when I started travelling to Calgary on a weekly basis for work. I jumped on the opportunity for a chance to explore a new city and progress my career, both which have proven to be extremely rewarding! However, there is a less glamorous side to business travel, such as late nights at the office, the absence of home cooked meals, jet lag, and above all, difficulty staying fit. Throughout my time travelling, I have developed a few key tips to help keep me active and healthy while on the road. I hope you find them useful!

1.      Schedule your workouts. When you’re travelling, it’s all about the schedule. You schedule your flights, meetings, hotels….so why not schedule your workouts? Set a reminder on your phone an hour before your planned workout to get you out of the office and thinking about your run, swim or bike. Your ability to actually complete a workout if it is planned ahead of time is much more likely than if it’s on an ad-hoc basis.

2.      Get your workouts done in the morning. Of course this is not always possible; however, it is not uncommon for colleagues, especially others who are travelling, to go for a drink or food after work, or to work late. These things can easily overrule your evening workout. It is unlikely that out-of-towners will be in the office early, but it is extremely common that they will stay late.

3.      Explore a new city by running. One of the first things I do when I’m in a new city is Google common running routes. Touring the city on a run is a wonderful way to explore a new place while getting a fun workout in! I’ve found great new coffee shops, explored beautiful parks and scenery, and noted some amazing architecture while out running! I would strongly recommend you speak with the concierge before you go to make sure you’ve picked the best and safest route for your run.

4.      Be creative! I have seen many different types of hotel gyms - ones that will blow you away, and ones that barely have a working treadmill. If you can’t get outside to run and have limited resources at your hotel, I would suggest learning a few at home strength exercises that you can virtually do anywhere (such as the OTC 10!). This way you always have a workout up your sleeve despite what equipment is available.

5.      Find out what’s going on in the community. A simple Google search can provide you a massive amount of information in the local community such as nightly runs by the Running Room, local gyms and classes, nearby yoga studios, and even community races. Take a look at what’s available, you may be surprised with what you find!

6.      Watch what you eat…and drink! I have always been one to make healthy choices, but when you eat all three meals out every day, it’s impossible not to slip a little. However, I do have a few recommendations to keep your waist line manageable.

a.       Breakfast – think filling and simple, and try to stay away from free hotel breakfasts. Although it is tempting to load up on the eggs, sausages and croissants at the free hotel breakfast, unless your hotel has healthy choices, I strongly recommend avoiding it all together. As an alternative, almost everywhere you go now offers oatmeal which is a healthy, tasty and filling alternative to sugary croissants and muffins. Add a few nuts and some honey and you’re good to go!

b.      Lunch – Find a salad bar or a place with fresh creations. My rule of thumb is to always try to find a place where the food is fresh and prepared on site. It’s easy to pick up a pre-packaged sandwich at Starbucks, but the sodium content is enough for the rest of the week! I tend to seek out salad bars or sandwich places with fresh toppings.

c.       Dinner – Stay aware. – This one is tricky. I will admit to ordering room service quite often or grabbing a bite to eat with a colleague at the pub. The main advice I have is to consider your portions when ordering dinner, and try whenever possible to limit your salt and deep fried content.

d.      Beverages – limit your consumption and don’t forget to drink water! – As mentioned before, it’s common for colleagues to grab a drink after work, but make sure you are cautious of how much you are drinking and how often. Likewise, between airports, late nights and time zones, it’s easy to lose track of the amount of coffee you’re drinking. Try carrying a water bottle around with you to substitute your need for caffeine and keep you hydrated.

7.      Be realistic & stay healthy. In all of this, the number one thing is your health. Between germs at airports, jet lag, hotel rooms and many other factors, it may not always be possible to achieve the same fitness goals as before. In the end you must be realistic with your goals, ensure you get enough sleep, and stay healthy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of January 12

Two lessons from last week. 1) I need to go to bed earlier. 2) Margaritas on Friday night and 7:30am track practice on Saturday do not mix well.  So, I'm going to be a little bit more focused this week on rest and on taking care of my body so that I get the most out of my workouts.  Parts of the week were pretty rough, mentally, too, which partially inspired this post on body image.

Monday: Morning trainer ride.  I was on the bike for 1:30 and did a series of 2 and 1 minute efforts at Z5 or Z6.  I definitely felt like I was really putting in the effort, but my heart rate just wasn't responding the way it should have (maybe because I had so much rest between?) Anyways, doing intervals like that definitely makes the time pass much more quickly while on the trainer!

Tuesday: 3k time trial at swim practice.  What!?! Haha, it's been probably at least 15 years since I have swam 3k continuously without stopping (the last time would have been a 5k ocean swim at Ocean City, Maryland).  I had no idea what to expect or how fast to swim, but in the end was pretty happy with the result. It sets a good baseline at least, though it will be quite a while before I ever do a 3k swim in a race! Time was 41:07 (1:22 / 100m pace). Total distance for practice was 5000m.

Wednesday:  Week 2 of OTC High Performance training.  It's so nice to be back training with this group.  We did 3x5 minute blocks at Z4 varying our cadence for each.  Then we did 2x through our strength and conditioning circuit.

Thursday: I hit the canal for an evening progression run: 10 minute warmup, 10 minute build to marathon pace, 10 minutes at marathon pace (7:40/mile), and 15 minute cool down. It is so nice to run along the canal and watch the ice skaters. We are so lucky to have such amazing places to do outdoor activities in Ottawa!

Friday: After suboptimal sleep all week, my body refused to get out of bed for swim practice.  So I finally dragged myself up for a strength workout with kettlebells before I went off to work.  The evening brought a little too much "fun" and that definitely hurt the rest of my weekend's workouts.  That will probably be the last time I go out on the town on a Friday night until the fall!! Yikes!

Saturday:  Somehow, I managed to get up for track practice. Mostly because I promised Colin that I would drive us.  I made it through warm-up and drills, but ended up bailing on my actual workout.  My head was pounding and while I think I physically could have done at least part of the workout, it wouldn't have been smart of me.  And mentally, well it would have been a real struggle.  Jenn and Colin were fresh and ready to run, so I was going to be trailing behind them, wishing I was keeping up and cursing myself for those margaritas the night before. Seriously, last time I go out on a Friday night.

Sunday: To make up for missing my workout on Saturday, I decided to do it on Sunday morning.  Alone.  In the end I only did 5 of the 7 rounds, so my workout was 5x1k at 10k effort, with 30 seconds rest. I pushed the pace a little bit, but after 5 was still so cold that I decided I had enough.  After the run, I went to meet up with friends for coffee, then got to enjoy a CRAZY, nerve wracking, but amazing Seahawks win to take them back to the Super Bowl! It was so cool to watch their comeback and to just know that the team believed in its ability to get the job done. Also, I kind of love the Seahawks' "Why Not?" quote.  Why not try?!