Monday, April 27, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of April 20

A solid week of training under the belt. It feels good to be training hard and continuing to make progress toward triathlon season.  It was a week of running, including my first 5k race of 2015!  I was happy to spend time training and racing with friends, and am super excited now for the rest of the season!

Monday: Rest day!

Tuesday:  Morning swim with Jenn and Dale. It is always more motivating to get to the pool when you know your friends are going to be there!  I swam about 3400m and did a main set of 4x100, 2x200, 400 strong.  I'm excited for the Carleton pool to open again and to be back to my ROCS practices, because swimming on my own has been tough!

Wednesday: Up and at 'em for a brick.  It was the reverse of what I would normally do, with an easy 45 minute spin on the bike followed by a hard run - 3x10 minutes at tempo with 3 minutes rest and 10 minute cool down (total 10k).  I managed to just miss the rain for my run - it poured both before and after! After the brick, I recovered with a shake made with Osmo Nutrition Acute Recovery for Women (now called Women's Protein!) blended with banana and strawberries.  In the evening, I went to strength train with the OTC.

Thursday: Long run in the evening - 14k!

Friday: Afternoon swim and a strength session at home.  The swim should have been longer, but the pool was super warm and all of a sudden, six people came out of nowhere to join me in what had been my own empty lane.  At that point, I decided I had swam long enough, so I cooled down and went home (2600m done).

Saturday:  An easy 30 minute run on the race course for Sunday's 5k, with some strides at the end.  The course was downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back!

Sunday:  The Ottawa Triathlon Club had 3 teams participating in the Alive to Strive 5k Team Challenge.  My team was stacked with some super speedy guys, and we came in first!  My time did not actually count toward our team time, but I was still happy to run my fastest 5k (in a race - 20:39) and to finish as the first female in the team challenge. The other OTC teams came in 2nd and 3rd.  It was so nice to be out with friends supporting a great cause on a beautiful day!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Alive to Strive 10k Run 2014

Alternate title for this post: "That time I peed my pants..."

I'm racing this weekend in the 5k Team Challenge at the Alive to Strive Race in Ottawa, and it reminded me that this blog didn't actually exist yet when I ran the 10k at Alive to Strive last year.    So, for a little throwback, I decided I would share last year's race report.  This might be my most embarrassing race report yet, but hopefully it gives you a little chuckle and a reminder to hit the port-a-potty line early at your next race!

After a solid winter of training last year, I was excited to test my fitness with my second 10k road race ever.  I had signed up for Alive to Strive based on the recommendation of Robin, a fellow HPS member, and one of the organizers of the race.  Alive to Strive benefits individuals living with chronic kidney disease. 

The morning of the race came and I got dropped off at the registration area at Hogs Back Park in Ottawa.  After getting my bib, I hit the port-a-potties then proceeded to do my drills and a quick warm-up.  It was a fairly chilly morning for late April (but such is life in Ottawa). 

I only had my Garmin on and I still haven't quite figured out how to make it show the actual time.  After giving my boyfriend (at the time) a hug and asking for the time, I realized that maybe I ought to pee again.  I went back over to the port-a-potties to find a huge line-up and only about 10 minutes to go until race time (the 10k started first, with the 5k and team challenge starting later).  There were only 3 port-a-potties (my only complaint about this race), so I was doing the pee dance, waiting and waiting for my turn.

There was one person left in line in front of me when I heard the countdown for the start...

So I sprinted out of the port-a-potty line and over to the start, crossing the line dead last.

You can bet that first mile was my fastest of the day, as I weaved through the other racers to get myself going and in position. 

Around the 2k mark, I realized that yes, in fact, I did have to pee. But despite a trickle and the thought that maybe I should just quit now, I kept going.  My pace felt great and quite sustainable.

As I approached the turn around point, I saw my Coach Joe and another teammate Stephan leading the way back.  I also realized that there was maybe only one other woman in front of me.  At the turn around, I was quite happy with my 5k time (something like 22 minutes), so I kept pushing myself to hold the pace. 

Then, I saw the only other woman in front of me and I decided that I would try to catch and pass her. I passed her at about 7k, then did my best to hold my pace as we hit the hill up to the finish.  It was a burner, but there were some students with cowbells on the side of the road and someone else told me that I was, in fact, the first female!

Things were getting uncomfortable though, and even though I really wanted to give it a good sprint toward the end, as I turned onto the Terry Fox track, the pee decided to make it's return.  Full out.  I wish I was kidding, but I just couldn't stop it.  I was able to see the clock though, and push through to finish under 45 minutes with a PB of 44:40.  The boyfriend was waiting to take my photo as I crossed the line, but I had to wave and shout to him that he should definitely NOT take my photo.  Navy blue running tights were not the best choice that day!

But, I was the overall female winner! So that was exciting!  I did my best to get cleaned up and waited to collect my award.  There was some great food and the volunteers were excellent.  A well run race and a fun day overall! 

This year, you better believe that I am hitting the port-a-potty nice and early!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of April 13

After a down week post-Florida, I was back at it with a solid week of training. I felt like I was back in my groove of getting decent sleep, fueling my body well, and generally taking care of myself.  My workouts felt great for the most part and we finally had some spring weather!

Monday: Monday is my new rest day! Now that the weather is nicer, I've had coach switch my rest day so that I can get outside on Sundays to train and enjoy Ottawa by bike.

Tuesday: I started the day with a nice, easy 30 minute run.  Our normal pool is closed for two weeks, so I decided to swim on my own in the evening.  I only got about 50 minutes in by the time I got myself organized to swim, but it was a pretty solid workout and the pool was set up for 50m!

Wednesday: Hard anaerobic intervals on the trainer in the morning before work.  This was a mentally challenging workout, as I was meant to go about 2-3% harder on each interval. It went pretty well and I dug deep to finish strong. In the evening, I watched part of the hockey game. Then I had a good chat with coach, discussing my race schedule, my upcoming training blocks, and ways to continue to improve on the bike. And then, I went to do strength with my OTC group.  It was a good day. Only made better by the fact that I got to order my Team Canada gear for Age Group Worlds!

Thursday: A gorgeous morning run along the Ottawa River - 65 minutes of bliss.  The paths are finally free of snow and ready for running and cycling.

Post-bath. Shiny and clean.

Friday: Strength work before work.  I was supposed to swim on my own in the evening, but wasn't terribly motivated to get to the pool.  So I cleaned my bike and watched part of the Ottawa Senators-Montreal Canadiens game.

Saturday: Our track workouts have moved outside!  We hit the Arboretum for drills and strides, then we all did our workouts.  I had hills at 5k pace.  It was a tough one, but it felt good and it was an absolutely beautiful morning to be out running with friends!  I made a delicious dinner on Saturday night - Maple-Dijon salmon, kale-beet-sweet potato salad with goat cheese and walnuts, and grilled asparagus!  That is a glass of Rise Kombucha Rose & Schizandra and Champagne on the side. (Rise is based in Montreal and makes amazingly delicious kombucha!) Yummy!

Sunday:  Another gorgeous day! Spring has finally arrived in Ottawa.  I met Jenn at Rockcliff Parkway for some intervals.  We both warmed up together, then set off on our workouts. Mine was 5x5 minutes at Z5 with 3-5 minutes rest between.  Then I had a 30 minute easy run off the bike. I felt pretty strong and relaxed throughout, though the wind going east was brutal! Followed the brick with a double brunch experience, then did some chores and watched the Sens game.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Weekly Training and Life Recap: Week of April 6

It was a fairly light week of recovery, following my huge week of training in Florida.  The sun and warm weather are finally starting to appear in Ottawa.  It was a tough adjustment to come back and I felt somewhat unmotivated to train, but I talked myself out of the slump and am back on the positive track!

Monday:  After a long two days in the car on the way home from Florida, my legs were quite happy to get out for a 30 minute shake-out run.

Snow is almost gone!

Tuesday:  After only 4 hours of sleep Sunday night, my body wasn't ready to get up for my morning swim on Tuesday.  So I listened to it and stayed in bed.

Wednesday:  I had a brick in my schedule, but then ran out of time for it after mis-judging how long it would take me to put my bike back together.  I had planned to do the run portion with Jenn, so I just went and did that.  It was a brutal run though and so cold, with pellets of ice falling from the sky and whipping my face as I ran.

Thursday:  After teaching the 6 am barre class, I scrambled home to hop on my trainer to at least do the bike portion of the previous day's scheduled brick.  Long blocks of Z4 effort with a focus on smooth and controlled pedalling. Whatever was going on during Wednesday's run was over, so that was good and the bike was a nice way to start the day.  I went for a walk on a break from work and got myself a birthday gift - new running shoes - and had a nice chat with Peter at Sports4 (my favorite running store).  We talked about being at our best and believing in ourselves on race day.

Friday:  Up for my 6 am swim practice.  It was definitely tough to be back at an actual practice after just using the swim as my recovery in Florida and after taking Tuesday off.  When the set went up on the board, I had some pretty negative thoughts at first, but I told myself I could do it or at least had to try!  While the set was quite hard, I pushed through and tried my best to refocus on the positives, letting go of my negative thoughts and self doubts. We are what we believe we are.  If we believe we can't do something, more than likely, we won't be able to do it.

Saturday:  My birthday!!  Stomach issues kept me from track practice in the morning, but I still got my workout in once we arrived at the cottage.  And when your friends are all also triathletes, it's no surprise that pretty much all of us had a workout to do when we got there. So I did my 12x400 on a nice stretch of quiet road.  The ice cream cone that I had from Kawartha Dairy on the way didn't really make things easier, but the workout still went pretty well.

Birthday flowers from my roommate (Check out Bloomfield's on Bank if you're from Ottawa!)

Birthday track workout at the cottage!

After a few glasses of wine, we attempt to get the bikes ready for Sunday morning's ride.

Sunday:  We all went out for a nice 50k ride around Bobcaygeon.  It was a glorious day, with sunshine and warmer temperatures.  It was nice to be out on my bike again! In the evening, the ladies all went to SWEET at Bushtukah, a local outdoors store. The annual event is for women only and brings together tons of local organizations and support services for runners, triathletes, adventurers, cyclists, and more.  There were two great speakers, who both offered some great reminders and good life perspective on happiness, trying one's best, adjusting our expectations and continuing to move forward.

Happiness and Bicycles

Friday, April 10, 2015

Eat Real Food: Apple Pie Energy Balls

As someone fairly new to needing to fuel on long rides (because I never used to ride that long or far), I'm still navigating what does and does not work for my body in terms of nutrition. I'm definitely in the "experiment and see" mode and have been trying a wide variety of things.  My primary desire though is to stick to stuff that has good for me ingredients.  One of the Osmo Nutrition tenets is "food in the pocket," so I have also been thinking about where I'm getting my calories from. Now, others may say that it's best to get your calories in liquid form, which may be easier to digest but could also slosh around in your stomach.  Like, I said, I'm experimenting to see what works best for my own body, and I would highly encourage you to do the same.

Two products that I used (one I had used previously and one new) on my long rides in Florida are the following:

Honey Stinger Chews

Very important to match your fuel to your kit!

I could pretty much eat Honey Stinger Chews like candy.  I love all the flavours and was pleasantly surprised with the caffeinated version, which I tried for the first time on my trip.  I liked the fact that it was caffeinated with white tea extract.  These contain multiple sources of sugars, so quicker digesting and some that take longer to digest, so the blood stream has sugars available readily.

Hüma Chia Gels

After reading about Hüma Chia Gels on someone else's blog (eek, can't remember who though), I wanted to give these a try.  The ingredients are minimal and all things I could buy at the grocery store (so I'm basically going to try to make my own next). And it happened that the Gear for Multisport at the NTC carried a bunch of flavors!  My only wish was that I hadn't waited til late in my ride to try the gels (I had raspberry and on a separate ride, lemonade with caffeine), because they were quite warm given the hot weather in Clermont.  But the flavor was pretty delicious, and they didn't seem to upset my stomach at all, as I've experienced with other "gels." Plus, the science behind Hüma gels is pretty cool and see this nifty infographic.

Real Food Alert -- Apple Pie Energy Balls

Because I was / am a food blogger in another life (see K&K Test Kitchen), I also like to experiment with making yummy, portable snacks for myself.  I made a batch of these apple pie energy balls to take on our road trip to the Newburyport Half Marathon in the fall, and then I never posted the recipe. So I decided to whip up some more for my Florida trip.  These turned out perfectly and were a great snack during my rides.  I even successfully unwrapped one with one hand while it was still in the back pocket of my bike jersey then ate it, while keeping up my 19 mph speed! These made my tummy happy.  You'll need to remember to wash them down with some water, but other than that, they seemed to do the trick!

Apple Pie Energy Balls

1 cup pitted, dried dates
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried apples
1/2 to 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (depends on how well your mixture is coming together)
Generous shake of cinnamon (to taste)
Dash of allspice
Dash of salt

In a food processor, pulse almonds until ground (stop before it reaches a flour like consistency!).  Remove the almonds to a separate bowl, then add the dates and apples to the bowl of the food processor and process until it starts to form into a sticky ball.  Add the almonds back to the processor bowl, then add the spices.  Process until the mixture again starts to clump into a ball. 

Form the mixture into small balls, then refrigerate before serving.  Should keep for a week in the fridge.

If you make 16 balls, this amounts to about 120 calories per ball (7 g fat, 14g carbs, 3g protein).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Florida Training Trip: Part 2

I promised a bit more on my Florida trip and what I have to share today are some reflections on my training and my feelings during the trip.

Sometimes Sour Patch Kids are necessary.

The Bike

I rode further and more frequently than I ever have last week in Florida.  I logged 226 miles in the saddle over the course of 14 hours and 53 minutes.  That was a lot of time for me to bond with my bike. And I feel like that is exactly what I did.  I felt the most comfortable and confident on my bike than I ever have.  And despite some issues, I feel like I am slowly learning how to handle my bike with confidence and efficiency.  The hills in Clermont are good teachers for sure.

From a physical perspective, I felt pretty strong.  I didn't cycle particularly fast, but that wasn't the point.  The point was to get some solid miles under my belt in a new and challenging environment.  Looking at my average heart rate for my rides, it's clear that I was mostly out for leisurely rides, just trying to ensure that I could endure to complete the milage.  I didn't fall off my bike (plus ++ for me).  I attacked some hills.  I spent some time trying aero bars out on the road for the first time!  I recovered quickly from my rides. I used a cadence sensor for the first time, and I tried to actually monitor what my legs were doing and when.

From a mental perspective, things were up and down, but mostly up.  The biggest issue is that I am just not comfortable riding in a group and trying to draft / work together.  I had a bit of an anxiety attack on our Friday long ride, and had to drop back to ride alone after about 20k.  The idea of staring at someone's wheel and having someone super close behind me was not an appealing prospect.  I prefer to enjoy the scenery and if I have to work hard, to just do it myself.  But I have already decided that the solution is actually to go on more group rides.  Do the things that scare you!  I also had a few instances where a voice in my head (or out loud) said, "Kelsey, you suck at this," or "Why is this so freaking hard?"  But I did my best to push those negative thoughts aside and focus on what was going well -- the beautiful scenery, the fact that I have two legs, a heart, lungs, etc. that allow me to ride my bike at all, the opportunity to challenge myself, the sun shining on my face and the wind whipping around me, and the fact that I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone big time.  It was truly the first time that I have felt that good and HAPPY to be on my bike. Happy to have to muscle my way up some steep hills (which seemed to always pop up in the second half of our rides). Happy to let my legs carry me all over Clermont and the surrounding area. It was a good week.

The Run

My runs were mostly easy, but I had two challenging runs. On my tempo run, my heart rate was crazy high and it was hot, hilly, and windy.  Again, I could have succumbed to the negative thoughts in my head, but I pushed through.  The long run with the group was another challenge.  I wasn't sure whether my psoas was cooperating or not.  It was again hot, hilly, and windy. The hills seemed never-ending.  I'd get to the bottom of a hill only to start making my way up another.  In all, I need to be a bit more consistent about getting all my runs done now that I am home and about 6 weeks from Race Weekend.

The Swim

Swimming in Florida was bliss.  That's pretty much all I have to say.  I love swimming outside. It makes me so happy.  The pool at the National Training Center is gorgeous and it made swimming such a treat.  Plus, as someone who craves my own time, it meant that I had a bit of time alone and away from the group, which helped to recharge my batteries during the week.

We also had a fun and informative swim clinic with Sara McLarty.  Sara certainly knows what she is doing when it comes to the swim in triathlon. It was interesting to try to implement some of her suggestions, though I think some of them are things that I already do (but not in training, only in racing).  Her biggest focus is on speeding up the recovery portion of the stroke, to build momentum and also because the recovery doesn't actually do much in terms of propelling us forward.  I think I swim like that in open water and when racing, but may give it a bit more thought now.

Gigantic chocolate-vanilla, covered in sprinkles cones are also necessary sometimes.

The Rest

Spending a week at training camp is the life.  When not training, the only thing you are responsible for doing is eating and recovering.  I certainly didn't mind the rest and relaxation aspects of the week, and my body definitely needed it given the training I was doing.  My nutrition could have been better -- hello, chip cravings -- but overall, it was okay. Now that I'm home though, I am going to do a bit more to focus on my pre- and post- workout fueling strategy.  I will share a bit more on Friday about what I ate during my rides and a quick, easy recipe for some portable fuel!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Florida Training Trip: Part 1

On a whim, a few weeks ago, I decided to go to a training camp in Florida. After enduring the brutal, cold, snowy, never-ending Ottawa winter, it was what my soul needed.  A week of sunshine and warm weather to spend cycling, running, and swimming outside is definitely good for the soul and good for my goals. And Clermont, Florida is a triathlete's dream come true in terms of weather, challenging terrain, and beautiful facilities.

I went down with a group of 6 other people, led by Rick Hellard of Zone3Sports.  Rick is a very experienced and accomplished triathlete and coach from Ottawa.  Most of his athletes focus on longer distance triathlons.  Our group ended up being a bit of a mix, since both myself and Kyle focus on short course triathlon.  It was a really great group of people and I'm happy to have met everyone and had a chance to train with them over the course of the week.

The big focus of the week for me was the cycling.  My bike and I haven't always been the best of friends, and my goal for the week was to change that.  My coach filled my Training Peaks schedule with rides with the rest of the group.  My week was a mix of Rick's workouts and workouts that Mike had given me, plus my own choice of what to do in the pool since my swim coach suggested that I just focus on the bike and run and use my swims as recovery workouts.

So today's post will be just a quick recap of my week's worth of workouts and then tomorrow, I will share some reflections on the week!

Sunday:  Group ride of 42k, then an optional 32k loop into and out of Clermont proper. Followed by a nice easy 30 minute run.

Monday: My longest ride ever of 94k! It was so hilly. Clermont is full of hills!!

Tuesday: Swim and Tempo run - 15 minute warm-up with drills and strides, 3x5 minutes at marathon-tempo pace with 1 minute of recovery between, and a 12 minute cooldown.

National Training Center pool. Beautiful!

Wednesday: Long run with the group - 14k (75 minutes). Swim clinic and practice with Sara McLarty.

Thursday: Solo 83k ride and a little bit of beach time, plus a visit with an old friend in St. Petersburg.

Love, love, love my Coeur Sports kits!

Friday: New longest ride ever - 114k - with the group, including a stop at a delicious bakery! Followed by the best swim ever - outside, long course, empty pool! Bliss :)

Cute German bakery in Yalaha

Saturday: Easy 30 minute run and a 2000m swim.

Path around the lake in Clermont

Sunday: Drive back to Ottawa.

Totals for the week:
Swim: around 10,000 m (never added up what we did at swim clinic / practice with Sara)
Bike: 226.7 miles
Run: 21 miles

The week was full of love for Coeur Sports and Osmo Nutrition. I sported some beautiful new kits (see the pink and green argyle above) that I got in the mail to my aunt's house in Philly where we stopped on the way down.  I cannot stress enough how much I love Coeur kits.  The seamless chamois is actually a life changer.  I spent 226 miles on my bike and even though I bought chamois cream, I actually forgot to use it the whole week, and I never once felt uncomfortable on my saddle. The #noangrykitty rings true.  Thank you Coeur!!!! 

And I used Osmo Nutrition Active Hydration for Women the whole week during my rides and runs, as well as the Acute Recovery for Women after my long rides and runs to refuel and replenish my body. I felt great all week, and felt like I was well hydrated and recovered nicely from my workouts.

It was a great week and I'm so happy that I decided to go.  Weeks like that teach you a lot about yourself and push you out of your comfort zone, which is exactly what I needed.  Plus a little Vitamin D does wonders!