Monday, August 31, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 24

We are getting down to the wire now, with Chicago only 2 weeks and a few days away.  It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that my big scary goal race is now so close.  Last week was a pretty big week for a post-race week. As is always the case, there were some ups and downs, but overall, I am feeling good about how things went.

Monday: A rest day after the Cornwall Triathlon!

Tuesday: In the morning, I had a short, easy run.  The last OBC Women's Time Trial of the summer was an invitational, so I brought my friend Colin along with me.  What I didn't realize was that we were actually going to be able to do the time trial as a team.  It was so much fun to be able to work together! After the TT, there was an awards dinner. I won a sweet new cycling jersey for my participation in the TT series.

Wednesday:  I had a swim and a run on my schedule, but in the end, I did a spin with my OTC group.  It was the last session of TTP for the summer, and we had a quick 45 minute spin followed by beers to celebrate. (I taught barre in the morning, which kind of messed up my swim schedule for the day and couldn't find a pool time that worked otherwise.)

Thursday: A tempo run from hell.  As I was preparing a quick snack before my run, my vision went blurry and I could only see what was directly in front of me.  After a few scary minutes, it went back to normal, but then I had a massive headache.  I was determined to get my tempo run in though, since I feel like I still have a lot of catching up to do after my 6 weeks of no running mid-season.  In hindsight, I probably should have skipped the run, because the whole time I felt like garbage.  I stopped twice during my warm-up with the urge to puke (I didn't thankfully), but I did manage to get through the whole 45 minutes.  And the tempo part was right on the dot.  Apparently I had an ocular migraine... a first for me.

Friday: I was still feeling a bit icky, but I did manage to make it to swimming.  Thankfully it was a fairly low-key practice. 

Saturday:  Track practice was my first speed work test post-injury.  It went really well and I was super happy to be running fast again!  Mike was there too, which is always great, though he did have to tell me to slow down at one point.  I guess my legs were just excited to be let loose!  The workout was 10x1 minute at 3k pace, with 30 seconds rest.  Lots of fun!  After teaching a barre class, I met up with Jenn and Colin for a 40 minute open water swim at Meech Lake.  The water was so calm and lovely.  It was cold though, so we wore our wetsuits.  After the swim, we stopped for some delicious ice cream in Old Chelsea.

Sunday:  I like to jam pack my weekends apparently, so after teaching two barre classes, I took my bike out for a 2.5 hour ride in Gatineau Park.  After the ride, I made a quick turn around at home to head off to the RedBlacks game against the Saskatchewan Rough Riders.  I was supposed to be going to Yoga on the Field, a yoga class on the end zone and BBQ, before the game, but the bike ride took precedence.  It was a fun and busy day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Race Report: Cornwall Triathlon Sprint

The best feeling is watching things finally fall into place after falling apart for so long.
Yes. It sure is a good feeling. My Sunday in Cornwall was full of warm, fuzzy, good feelings.  It was an amazing day full of friends and fun and most importantly for me - a FINISH line.  After being injured and missing out on crossing two finish lines this summer, the finish in Cornwall was pretty sweet.  See below for more evidence of how much fun I had crossing that line.

The day couldn't have gone much better.  Racing with so many friends out on the course was a dream.  A second place finish was the cherry on top.  And I couldn't be happier going into the last few weeks before Chicago.

Cornwall Triathlon was my very first triathlon ever, just two short years ago.  My life has changed in the most amazing ways since that first race.  Cornwall has a very well organized race, with wonderful volunteers, great food, and an even better atmosphere. It is a small, but mighty race.  It also attracts a huge contingent from Ottawa, including many of my friends and teammates from the Ottawa Triathlon Club.  I'll never forget the conversation with Geordie that I had post-race two years ago, and am forever grateful for it, since that race and that conversation brought me into the OTC family and allowed me to meet some incredible, inspiring humans.  Naturally, I had always planned to return to race in Cornwall.  This summer, the timing was perfect and I signed up for the race at Christmas (thank you Grandma!!).  I received a Christmas card and a birthday wish from the race organizers.  Returning to Cornwall felt great and I'll certainly be back there again soon.


On Saturday evening, Dale, Jenn and I went to Whole Foods to grab some dinner. It turned out to be perfect.  And yes, my pre-race meal has changed this year. On Saturday night, I loaded up a box with kale, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted beets, shredded chicken, red curry vegetables, topped with almonds and balsamic dressing. We ate our meals out on some benches in the sunshine (it was 5:30 pm) and enjoyed a bit of dark chocolate that I had picked up at the store.  Then we had a beer. Yep, a beer.  Mine was a Kissmeyer from Beau's and it was delicious.  After dinner and beer, Jenn and I went home to clean and prep our bikes, and pack our transition bags. Before bed, I painted my nails (the same as in Cornwall two years prior) and I watched Dreams of Glory.  We would get to sleep in our own beds, since Cornwall is only about an hour and 20 minutes from Ottawa.

Race day essentials: Coeur Sports kit and team hat, Mizuno Wave Sayonaras, Oakley sunnies, Garmin, race belt, Pearl Izumi tri shoes, ROKA F1 goggles in two tints depending on the weather, Honey Stinger chews, Clif bar for post-race, Hammer gel just in case, baby powder, Vaseline, body glide, sunscreen for body and lips, and my band for muscle activation pre-race! Not pictured, but so essential: Osmo Hydration!

Race Day:

I woke up at 5:30 and organized myself to pick up Lauren for the drive to Cornwall. Gilly, Jenn and Colin had left in the earlier wave since they were doing the Olympic, which started earlier, and Dale would meet us there.  Before leaving the house, I drank some Osmo Hydration Pre-load, since it was supposed to be a hot day.  Lauren and I stopped for coffee and gas, and had a nice, easy drive to Cornwall. On the way, I ate overnight oats as an experiment.  Before we knew it, we were unloading the car and heading in to pick up our race packets.  Our bikes had to be in transition by the start of the Olympic, so we hustled to get racked and set up.  I did a quick change into my kit in the ladies room, then we went down to watch the swimmers come out of the water for the Oly.  After watching our many friends come out (very strong!!) of their swim, we got to business doing our own warm-up.

Swim: 10:25

Cornwall has a deep water start, so we were all able to get in the water beforehand.  I did a few strokes and got myself used to the water. The water was warm enough that a wetsuit wasn't really necessary, but everyone else was wearing theirs, so I had mine on too.  The men started first and five minutes passed quickly before they sent the women and relays off to swim.  As usual, I positioned myself in the front, and started out with a bit of a sprint to find some clear water and pull ahead of the masses.  I had spoken to a young guy in a relay cap before the start and told him that we should race, since he said he was a swimmer, but I guess I left him in the dust.  My number one goal on the swim was for it to feel hard. I wanted to race.  I wanted to feel the water and the burn in my arms.  And I think I was successful.  The first turn came quickly and before I knew it, I was at the mats and the volunteers, ready to run up the hill toward the T-Zone.  I was shocked and so, so happy to hear the announcer say my time - 10:25 - and that I was in the lead!! That is over a minute faster than any of my swims last year and five seconds faster than my goal time for Worlds.  As I ran out of the water, I couldn't help but smile and think that it was going to be a great day!

Bike: 36:24

The first time that I raced in Cornwall, I was petrified of the technical part of the bike course.  I am happy to report that this time, I had a blast on that technical portion and I felt like I was flying the rest of the way.  The bike course is two loops and there were still some athletes doing their loops for the Oly and the run course runs parallel to the main road as well, so I got to see so many friends out on the course either biking or starting their run. There were also huge crowds and a sign to show your speed near the entry/exit to the T-Zone, talk about motivation! The volunteers and police officers monitoring the course were fabulous and encouraged all of us as we rode along. My bike split ended up being about six minutes faster than two years ago, which definitely shows how far I have come in terms of my confidence on the bike!

Coming into T2

Run: 23:34

Mike instructed me to not go hard on the run, and to only run it at tempo pace.  I tried my best, Mike! Coming off the bike, I was in third place.  I saw the two women in the T-Zone and I made a pretty quick transition to my running shoes and shot off behind them onto the run course.  Within the first few minutes, I was able to pass one of them, so my goal became - "keep her behind you and don't let anyone else catch up."  The woman who won had taken off and I knew that if I was to follow Mike's instructions, I wouldn't be able to catch her.  And I really did try to keep things tempo.  My friends were almost done their Oly, so I got to cheer them on one last time as we passed each other on the running path. Again, seeing friends out on the course was awesome and definitely boosted the spirits (though I was flying pretty high on endorphins by that point).  It felt amazing to be running in a race.  At the turn-around, I saw the woman in third, and sped up slightly so as to keep her behind me. My smile grew and grew as I approached the finish line and I crossed with some jumps and fist pumps! The run included T2, so I believe it was also my fastest run in a sprint triathlon!

Final thoughts:

My injury and recovery have really made my summer an emotional roller coaster.  If you've been following along, you've read all about the ups and downs.  There were a few weeks in particular at the start of August where things were pretty dismal, but some great conversations with my wise, encouraging teammates/friends, coaches, and family helped me to gain some perspective and keep pushing forward. An attitude adjustment was just what I needed and I went into Cornwall happy and grateful to be able to race.  I was relaxed and I didn't put any pressure on myself, beyond just a reminder to go out there and actually RACE. The very best part was that I went out and had fun on the course. I got to see so many friends and I got to cheer people on the whole way.  The girl who finished third said to me as we collected our awards, "you were so cheerful the whole way, it was awesome!"  That is probably the best thing to hear after a race!

Thanks to my team Coeur Sports, ROKA for making awesome goggles, Osmo Nutrition for keeping me well hydrated, Mike for great coaching, OTC family and friends for being so supportive!

Congratulations to all my friends who raced in Cornwall! You are all amazing and inspiring!

Final Stats:

Swim: 10:25
T1: 2ish minutes
Bike: 36:23
T2 + Run: 23:34
Total: 1:12:26.9
2nd overall woman / 1st AG

So many OTC friends!

My TRI family!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pump Up Jams!

A little Flashback Friday - first TRI ever in Cornwall. Heading back this weekend!

I have a race on Sunday, and I'm pretty pumped up about it, because I get to actually finish this one! (If you're new here, you may have missed that I had a stress fracture that kept me from completing my races in June and July.)  But, I want to make sure that you are also pumped up and ready to tackle your end of season races, so I thought I'd put together a list of tunes for you. I know we are all different, and have different needs, but hopefully there is something for everyone here!

Find the playlist "Race Ready!" on Spotify:

  • Right Now - Van Halen (my #1 go to)
  • Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
  • We are the Champions - Queen
  • Lose Yourself - Eminem
  • Headstrong - Trapt
  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • Black Betty - Ram Jam
  • Remember the Name - Fort Minor
  • Touch the Sky - Brave Original Soundtrack (thanks Jenn!)
  • I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes
What would you add to this list? Is there anything that really gets your blood pumping and you primed to race!?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 10

Geesh, it was a roller coaster of a week.  A pitiful TT effort started things off on a really low note, and I had a hard time shaking it off until fairly late in the week.  In these times, I'm always thankful to have amazing people to turn to for advice and encouragement.  I've really realized how much being injured kept me from training with other people and how much I miss the social aspect of training. For the next 4 weeks, I'm going to try to inject fun and social-ness when I can in my training. And as I said last week, I'm going to work on taking some of the pressure off myself!

Monday: A rest day. It was a good one.

Tuesday:  Now that we've moved, I'm really enjoying my morning runs again.  It is so easy to get out there and run when you live super close to beautiful running paths.  In the evening, I had my worst TT effort  to date.  I don't have any explanation for it, except that my legs were just refusing to cooperate.  There was no wind, so I decided to try to really pace it well and start out a bit easy, then build to a strong finish. Well, I could never really pick up the pace, so I ended up so much slower than usual.

Storm clouds rolling in pre-TT


Wednesday: After a disappointing TT, I decided I needed to buck up and make sure the rest of my training was going well.  I woke up for a morning swim and in the evening met up with friends to run.  Well, I struggled mentally with the run and was totally comparing myself  to others and to my pre-injured self. That is not a fun game to play and not a healthy one either. Luckily, Coach Dave and Jenn gave me a good chat  after the run, and I started to feel much better.

Thursday: I spent the evening doing a few tough intervals on the parkway.  The workout went much better than the TT.

Sunset intervals

Friday: Another early morning swim and I ran into Mark (BlueCollarTri and head OTC coach) at the pool. We had a good chat, and then I ended up having a great swim. Thanks Mark!

Saturday: Coach Mike was at track, which was awesome. It was also my first "workout" since my stress fracture - 2x5 minutes at tempo with 2 minutes rest. Mike watched me run and reported that my form looked good (phew! I've been working hard on it lately). We also discussed the next 4 weeks of training and how the final build toward Chicago will go. (#superexcited!) And I got to congratulate him on his amazing 2nd place finish at Tour of Utah!

Sunday:  Holy heat! It was a scorcher by the time I made it out for my brick with roomie Jenn.  She had spent some time testing a new saddle on the trainer in the garage, then joined me for an hour and 45 minute spin out to the parkway. We decided we should throw in two repeats up Blair Hill Road for good measure, and were toasted by the time we got back to the house. But, I had to lace up and get out for a 20 minute T-run. The run, despite my poor choice of a route with NO shade, felt great! Super smooth and easy, plus faster than I expected. So thankful to have my bottle of Osmo Women's Hydration with me. It's a must on a hot, humid day! A great end to a somewhat mediocre week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of August 3

While the past day or so has been a bit tough (body not cooperating with my brain), writing last week's recap was a good reminder that I have been getting some pretty solid training in lately and that I am making a lot of progress with my running. However, I feel like I let myself get into a mindset where I was putting a LOT of pressure on myself starting last week. I had checked the countdown to Chicago, and I was following along with the performances of the girls in my AG at USAT Nationals, and I think I probably let those things get to me.  I started to think, "only 5.5 weeks left," "better make it count," "better hit every workout," "better not slack, because you are so far behind," and "if you don't put the work in, only you are to blame."  While sometimes those thoughts are positive, I think I let the negative connotations nest themselves inside my brain. I'm flipping my thinking around though and while I do plan on working hard over the next 5 weeks, I'm definitely going to be easier on myself and remember to still have fun with my training!

Monday: A nice, easy run after spending the weekend moving.  I followed it up with some time relaxing in our hammock. The perfect end to a long weekend.

Tuesday: In the morning, I had a light jog of 20 minutes. In the evening, my attempt at Time Trial Tuesday was a failure.  When we unpacked my car during the move on the weekend, I forgot that we also took my bike shoes out of the car.  I only remembered as I was almost to the Aviation Museum, so I had to go all the way home and by the time I was back, I had missed registration for the TT.  So I did my warm-up, then did the TT alone. It was a slog.

Wednesday: A longer swim (4200m) with a new coach was a nice way to start the day.  We did lots of drill, which was helpful, since I've been struggling to find my stroke lately.  My favorite yoga teacher, Phil, was teaching Yoga on Parliament Hill, so I made sure to bring my yoga clothes for lunchtime.

Thursday: An easy run in the morning before work, but I also got to do strides! It was exciting to open the legs up a bit.

Friday: My bike ride from Thursday night was postponed to Friday, but my leg was feeling really weird, so I ended up calling it a night after my warm-up instead of continuing on with my workout of hill repeats.

Saturday: Track practice with the Mile2Marathon crew and a workout of 40 minutes easy for me.  I also picked up some new tires for my bike at Cyclelogik.

Sunday:  One of the coolest things about Ottawa is that we have Sunday Bike Days, where parkways throughout the National Capital region are closed to cars so that people can get out and ride their bikes.  I was able to hop onto the parkway and ride all the way to Gatineau Park virtually free of cars.  It is always great to see so many people out enjoying the fresh air in the summertime. My ride was 65k, up to the Champlain Lookout and home, and it was awesome! So much bike love <3  Later in the evening, I went out to Meech Lake for a 30 minute swim. It was absolutely gorgeous!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beginner's Guide to Your First Race

Two years ago this August, I completed my very first triathlon.  It was one of the most exciting events in my life, and obviously a turning point as well. When I hear about other people getting into the sport for the first time, my heart races with excitement for them because I hope it changes their life in the way it changed mine.
While the end of the summer is approaching, I'm sure there are still many of you out there that will be completing your first triathlon soon.  I initially put these tips together for my mom, who did her first triathlon in June, and I wanted to share them with everyone else too. Cheers to challenging yourself and TRI-ing something new!  If you have any questions, feel free to email me or connect on the Happy Triathlete Facebook page.
Mom ready for her first TRI!

Here are my top things to keep in mind as race day approaches:

  • Remember, you've trained so hard! You have made huge strides and you are ready to put all that hard work toward your race.
  • Drink lots of water in the next few days!
  • Practice your transitions a few times.  Here are my tips on setting up your T-Zone.
  • Set out all of your gear and make sure you have what you need. See my checklist here.

On race day:

  • Eat breakfast well in advance of your race (aim for 2-3 hours pre-race).  Eat something that will fill you up and that you are used to eating.
  • Bring something small to snack on about 20-30 minutes before the race start.  For example, nuts, a banana, or a granola bar and have a few bites if you're starving as you wait for the race to start (don't eat the entire granola bar though).
  • Make sure your bike is in the right gear (or an easy gear) before the race starts so it is easy to get going when it is time to ride.
  • Warm-up! Do a light 10 minute jog around the transition zone (note the entry and exit for the swim, bike and run) after you've set up your stuff, and then head over to the water and hop in to get acclimated.

During the race:

  • Stay calm, don't panic on the swim. If you need to flip onto your back for a minute or do some breaststroke, do it! Take a deep breath and continue when you're ready.
  • Remember you have to put your helmet on before you can touch your bike and keep it on until you re-rack your bike at the end. You have to cross the bike mount line before getting on the bike.
  • Start "easy" on the run. You'll be going way faster than you think! But it will feel hard. Then build toward the finish. 
  • Smile as much as possible, have fun, say thank you to the volunteers, give little kids high-5s!
  • Tell someone to take lots of pictures!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Training and Life Recap: Week of July 27

It was another week of ups and downs, with some really solid sessions and some missed workouts. The biggest thing is to listen to my body and do what I can when life gets busy as it did last week with my move.  However, with Worlds only 6 weeks away though and another race only 3 weeks out, I need to really lock things down and get going. Now that I am moved into my new place, it's time to rein the nutrition in as well. The new house is going to be awesome, because my two roomies are my TRI sisters and we live so close to amazing places to train!

Monday: An accidental rest day... life gets in the way of training sometimes, which usually reminds me that I just need to wake up early and get sh!t done in the morning!

Tuesday: In the morning, I got in a nice easy run with 10 minutes running, 2 minutes walking, and 20 minutes running.  Then in the evening, I set a new PB at the Tuesday night time trial! I felt like it was coming after having to stop at the turn around the previous week, and I was excited to see that I "crushed" my previous best. Mike has set a goal for me to go 24:30 by Worlds, and I'm getting closer at 24:46.

Wednesday: Up and at 'em for a 4000m swim.  The main set was 48x50, alternating one steady and one at 1500m pace. Post-swim, I met with Jon to go over my strength program. After work, I got my run in by the river and followed that up with a softball game (I'm terrible at sports that require hand-eye coordination haha).
Sunrise pre-swim

Thursday: A planned rest day.

Friday: Short swim due to some tummy issues in the morning. I only did about 1500m before calling it a day.

Saturday: An easy 30 minute CONTINUOUS run! After barre classes, I met up with the gang for a gorgeous swim at Lac Meech. I am always in awe of how lovely it is to swim at Meech, and how close it is to the city.

Sunday: The move took precedence and I just couldn't figure out how to fit my 3 hour ride in on Sunday, so I instead of stressing out more, I just didn't do it.  Our bodies can only handle so much stress!

Other random tidbits from the week:

- If you've been meaning to de-clutter your home, pick up "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.  I haven't finished it yet, but just by completing the first step of going through my clothing, I ended up with 7 bags to donate.

- If you want to watch the most beautiful swim stroke around, check out Katie Ledecky break her own world record in the 1500m freestyle at Kazan.  Apparently her coach told her to "take it easy for the first 900m, build the next 300 and go hard, if she felt like it for the last 300." Blown away by this girl's swim prowess: